Finnish Firm Seeks Funding For ‘Performative Sneakers’ Made Of Coffee Waste

Finnish footwear firm Rens is working on creating performative trainer sneakers that are made from recycled plastic bottles and used coffee beans. 

The company recently launched an online fundraising campaign for their latest sustainable clothing, which they claim to be completely climate neutral in its production, packaging, and transport. 

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“Shoes made from recycled coffee grounds may seem novel to some, but we wholeheartedly believe that this is just the beginning of a revolution in garment technology and manufacturing.”

Sun Chu, the firm’s co-founder, said the shoe, known as Nomad, will be made from coffee waste and recycled bottles. Recycled polyester will be used to create the membrane of the shoe which will also make it waterproof. 

This is the company’s second shoe that they’ve produced using sustainable materials and practices. 

Their initial shoe was extremely successful, but Jesse Tran, co-founder and CEO of Rens, claims the popularity of their initial product created a demand for a more performance-related product. 

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The original shoe was made up of 21 cups of coffee waste and six bottles of recycled plastic each. 

“With the new model, we are continuing our mission to promote sustainable fashion with technology and innovation.” 

“We are particularly pleased that we were able to include the feedback from our previous customers in the development of the Nomad, who explicitly requested a performance sneaker,” Tran explained. 

Athletic wear made from sustainable and recycled materials have become extremely popular in recent years, as the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to worldwide climate change. 

Mintel, a market analyst tool, revealed that in June more fashion brands were releasing athletic wear specifically made from recycled materials. Mintel predicted that more brands will begin switching to sustainable production processes to encourage customers and other brands to go green.

Bottled Water

Bottled Water Impacts The Environment ‘3,500 Times Greater Than Tap Water,’ Research Shows 

Scientists have found that the impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water. 

The research specifically examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where the demand for single-use bottled water has increased in popularity in recent years despite the city’s improvements to their tap water quality. 

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The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s entire population drank bottled water, the city would be paying 3,500 times more on resource extraction than if they all drank tap water; it costs about $83.9 million a year. 

The impact of bottled water on ecosystems is also 1,400 greater than tap water. 

The lead author of the study, the ISGlobal researcher Cristina Villanueva, said: “Health reasons don’t justify the wide use of bottled water. Yes, strictly speaking, drinking tap water is worse for local health, but when you weigh both, what you gain from drinking bottled water is minimal. 

“It’s quite obvious that the environmental impacts of bottled water are higher compared to tap water.”

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In the US, about 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce the plastic needed to meet the annual bottled water demand. Bottled water in the UK is also 500 times more expensive than tap water. 

“I think this study can help to reduce bottled water consumption, but we need more active policies to change that.”

“For example, in Barcelona, we could have more education campaigns to make the public aware that the health gains from drinking bottled water are minor compared to the environmental impacts. We need to improve access to public water, to public fountains, to public buildings where you can bring your own bottle and don’t need to buy one,” Villanueva explained. 

“We need to facilitate access to public water in public streets. People trust bottled water because advertisers have done a good job of convincing people it’s a good option, so we need the effort on the other side.”

Renting Clothes Is Less Sustainable Than Throwing Them Away, Study Finds

A recent study performed by the Finnish scientific journal Environmental Research Letters has shown that renting clothes is actually worse for the planet than just throwing them away. Before, renting clothes was thought to be one of the easier solutions when it comes to the sustainability issues the fashion industry has. 

The study specifically looked at the environmental impact of five different ways of owning and disposing of clothing; including renting, resale, and recycling. 

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The study found that “renting clothes had the highest climate impact of all. The hidden environmental cost was found to be delivery and packaging costs. Renting involves a large amount of transportation, taking the clothes back and forth between the warehouse and the renter. Dry cleaning is also harmful to the environment.”

Renting clothing was thought to be one of the more sustainable ways to lessen your impact on the fashion industry’s major sustainability issue. According to GlobalData, the rental clothing industry is expected to be valued at $2.3 billion by 2029. A report from the World Economic Forum suggested that the industry has already generated 5% of global emissions. 

Dana Thomas, author of ‘Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes’, wrote that instead of relying on rental clothing to solve fashion’s environmental crisis, the concept should just be completely recategorized. 

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“We should think of renting like second-hand shopping. It’s not something we do all the time, instead of buying our clothes and swapping out outfits nonstop, but on occasion, when the need arises, like proms or weddings.”

“Many rental brands misuse the term circular economy – the system where clothes are passed from person to person before being recycled – as a form of greenwashing. No executive wants to overhaul their business, and that’s what ‘going green’ will require, not tweaks but an entire overhaul. They are too focused on short-term gains to invest in long-term benefits,” Thomas explained. 

“Only regulation will solve that problem. No company, in any industry, will volunteer to take a loss for the sake of the planet. They’ll do so when it’s the law. The biggest obstacle is greed.”

The study concluded that if rental companies change their logistics to make the process in which they rent out clothes more environmentally friendly, then renting would be at the same level as reselling. 

Mason Jar Outdoor Lights

Outdoor Projects To Liven Up Your Yard This Summer

Being stuck at home, many individuals have found themselves finally checking off every home project they’ve had on their lists for months now. Beyond that, many are beginning to get creative in the ways they decide to renovate and redo their living spaces. Now that we’re in the middle of summer with not a lot of places to go, many are looking to their own outdoor spaces to create an environment of summer fun during a global pandemic. So what are some fun projects you can do yourself this summer from home?

One of the most timeless ways to keep children entertained outdoors is chalk. Beyond just drawing in the driveway, creating an actual board/wall for your kids to draw on while standing up can be even more engaging. If your outdoor space has a blank wall space, consider painting over it with some chalkboard paint to make “drawing on the walls” an afternoon activity as opposed to a punishable offense. 

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Repurposing old things into new decorative pieces is one of the most creative projects you can do for your space. For example, turn old wine bottles into makeshift tiki torches by adding some scented oil and a wick down the bottle. Using citronella oil specifically will also help keep mosquitoes away. 

Repurposing an old bookshelf or dresser can be used as a vertical pallet garden for hanging plants. Stain the furniture to match your outdoor space and buy plants with long leaves/vines that will droop down and overlap one another to give your yard a real jungle feel. 

Older bookshelves and dressers can also be used for their intended purpose in an outdoor setting as well. This is another great yard addition if you have kids and not a large garage space. Buy a set of cheap plastic bins that can easily slide onto the shelves and store whatever outdoor toys or tools you may need!

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If you wanted to get a little creative with the way your specific address number is displayed in your front yard, consider making some customizable flower buckets. Steel buckets are the best material to use for painting your numbers directly onto the buckets. If your address is “453”, make a bucket for each number, however, if you have a single digit address, make a bucket for the house number and street name. For example, if your address was 5 Main Street, you could have a bucket for 5, main, and street. 

Mason jars are one of the most popular items to use for sprucing up a space because there’s so many possibilities! One of the most popular being filling them with twinkly lights at night to give the illusion of fairy dust jars. You could put any sort of battery operated light inside of the jars to give an ethereal glow to any area. Some like to buy multi-colored T-candle lights to put inside of them for random pops of color throughout their yard, and others attach rope to the top so they can hang the lights all throughout. 

Have an old outdoor rug that’s in good condition but just isn’t your style anymore? Change it up! Instead of buying a whole new rug, which can be extremely expensive, buy some fabric safe paint, painters tape, and create your own geometric design by taping off random lines and making shapes. Make sure to do this either in a garage or on a very sunny day to ensure your rug has enough time to dry. Wait until the next day, peel the tape, and boom! You have a whole new statement piece at the center of your whole space. 

Plastic Bags

New York Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Full Effect This Week

New York’s plastic bag ban will go into full effect this Sunday (3/1) and store-owners throughout all five boroughs are preparing themselves by buying paper bags in bulk, and implementing new marketing strategies to encourage customers to bring their own bags. A lot of establishments throughout the state of New York have already begun transitioning out plastic bags from their businesses, however, for others it’s a bit of a scramble. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation last year on Earth Day as a means of reducing litter throughout the state, especially in New York City, but also to combat climate change in general by protecting wildlife from eating said litter, and reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions that are directly linked to plastic bag production, distribution, and disposal. 

As previously stated, the ban goes into full effect on March 1st and states that all New Yorkers will either have to bring their own reusable bags when going grocery shopping, or pay a five cent fee per paper bag they need; the fee does not apply to individuals who use SNAP of WIC. Certain bags are exempt from the ban, such as garbage or garment bags, or any kind of bag that’s used to wrap perishable foods. 

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“It’s self-explanatory. It’s the right thing for the environment, and we really care. Our clientele also appreciate the fact that we care about the environment. Yes, it’s going to be a little bit of transition for many stores — being a shortage of bags or whatever it may be — but we wanted to be proactive on it,”  said Carlos Alfara, director of produce for all Union Market stores in NYC.

Union Market has also created their own informational campaign that they’re calling “BYOBag” as a means of informing all NYC residents on the specifics of the new law. Part of their campaign also instructs all sales representatives and cashiers to talk to customers about the new policy, as well as offering a 10 cent discount to every customer who brings their own bag.

For Union Market, however, as a chain making this transition isn’t as financially impactful as it would be for smaller, independently owned businesses who are paying nearly three times the amount for paper bags, hence the fees. Store owners are encouraged to also keep all cardboard boxes they recieve in case customers want to use those for groceries as well. At the end of the day, customers will get used to the change, and the planet will surely thank New Yorkers in the long run.

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New York has now become the third state in America to fully ban plastic bags statewide; California and Hawaii being the other two. According to Riverkeeper, a water advocacy nonprofit, New Yorkers use more than 23 billion single-use plastic bags every year, and the average life cycle of each bag is about 15 minutes long, before being improperly disposed of. Riverkeeper has also been outspoken about their discontent with this specific ban, stating that it’s simply not enough, especially when compared to the massive amounts of single-use plastic that New Yorkers go through in general annually. 

Plastic containers used for take out throughout the hundreds of thousands of places to eat in New York contributes to some of the most plastic waste for the state. Additionally, critics of the ban claim that while it is a step in the right direction, the amount of fossil fuels required to transport containers and paper bags is just as much as it would be for regular plastic bags. 

“They’re [plastic bags] cheap, convenient, waterproof, strong enough to hold groceries but thin and light enough to make and transport using scant energy, water or other resources. Though they’re called single-use, most people reuse them, typically as trash can liners. When governments ban them, consumers buy thicker substitutes with a bigger carbon footprint,” wrote John Tierney in The Wall Street Journal.

The Department of Sanitation for New York City will be scattered throughout the five boroughs this Friday handing out reusable bags as preparation for the change. While it may not be the biggest accomplishment in terms of combating climate change, it’s this type of systematic action that we need worldwide if we want a shot at saving our dying planet and all its inhabitants. 

Cleaning up Plastic

Plastic Bank Is Cleaning Up The Planet Of All Plastic, One Country At A Time

When it comes to climate change, one of the biggest man-made contributions lies in our single-use plastic consumption. Plastic floods our oceans, litters our forests, and distributes micro plastic pieces throughout our bodies. Efforts are always increasing to make the planet more green, and less artificial, now, Plastic Bank, a relatively new “social enterprise” based in Canada, is monetizing recycling plastic to benefit the planet, and the people in more underdeveloped areas of the world in which plastic creates the most issues. 

According to CNN, the overall goal of Plastic Bank, is to motivate individuals in underdeveloped areas of the world to collect and recycle plastic products in exchange for cash, goods, and services such as food, clean water resources, and even tuition for children struggling to afford education. 

“After collection, plastic is weighed, sorted, chipped, melted into pellets and sold on as ‘raw material feedstock’ to be manufactured into everything from bottles for cleaning products to clothing. I saw an abundance; I saw an opportunity. We inherently reveal the value in this material,” CEO David Katz told an audience at the Sustainable Brands Oceans conference in Porto, Portugal. 

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Katz went on to explain that the company began back in 2013, and started in one of the poorest countries on the planet, Haiti. Now, there’s over 2,000 individuals working for Plastic Bank in the country and all those individuals are, on average, 63% above the poverty line thanks to income they’ve made recycling! The business is able to pay its workers through an app based system, which has also helped a lot of those individuals open their first bank account, (CNN). 

Plastic Bank has reported on their website that since 2013, the company has expanded into the Philippines, Indonesia, and most recently Brazil. Through their efforts and now multiple collaborations with major corporations such as S.C. Johnson, they’ve recycled over 13 million pounds of plastic! The company also reported that in 2020 they plan to expand into parts of Egypt, Colombia, and Vietnam. Egypt and Vietnam have been on the Bank’s radar for quite some time, both the Nile River in Egypt, and the Mekong River in Vietnam are responsible for up to 90% of plastic debris travelling into the planets seas, (CNN). 

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While the business is constantly growing and helping reduce the massive amounts of plastic littering our natural world, there needs to be more done on the opposite end, in terms of plastic manufacturing and distribution. In order to truly clean up the planet and help make a real major difference, more plastic alternatives need to be introduced and mass produced. Single-use plastic is one of the number one culprits in terms of pollution, general society can help by switching to more paper-based, or any other biodegradable alternative for those single use products.  

“If we add large streams of other bio-materials … and we eliminate the value of what’s already on the planet [single use plastic], and nobody goes to collect any of it, and no one wants to trade it, then what? An increase in plastic alternatives has to occur while not interrupting or degrading the value of the plastic that’s already on the planet. What we need to do is get away from traditional capitalism where shareholders benefit first. Companies that stand forward to repair the damage will win. The regeneration economy is emerging,” Katz discussed at the conference

At the end of the day, Katz says his company’s mission is clear, we know the world has all the resources, and means to end excessive plastic use and production, and increase much greener options while remaining economically stable. It’s about everyone coming together and agreeing upon a plan to help save our planet and all the individuals habituating it.


Microplastics Are Saturating Our Environment, Here’s How You Can Help At Home

Microplastics are defined as pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters in length, most commonly found in plastic drinking supplies, bottled water, as well as lakes, rivers, oceans, and even us.