Upgrades for Earth DayPosted by Whole Earth | 04.20.2022
Upgrades for Earth Day!
Earth Day, the 52nd, is almost here! While our love for the planet is stronger than ever, the problems facing us today are in some ways quite different from those of 1970. Climate change and the explosion of plastic and other waste were on the radar then, but top today's list. We have a few suggestions for everyday eco-upgrades that can help us make a difference now. We'll also call out some green brands and a few books that may be useful in making changes for a more sustainable way of life and one on learning more about the water challenges we're facing here in Texas.
One easy way to cut down on the trash we're generating at home is to start using cloth dish or tea towels in place of paper towels. They won't completely replace paper towels, but you'll be surprised at how much longer a roll of paper towels will last. We can use them to dry our hands, wipe up puddles of water on the kitchen counter and quick dry dishes, pots and utensils. While paper towels will still have a place for draining fried foods, stock up on some reusable dishtowels and dramatically cut the waste paper.
Do you use lots of tissues during allergy season? We used to, but not since we replaced them with bandanas. We carry a neatly folded bandana in our pocket or in a bag, ready to be deployed when needed. One bandana can replace quite a few tissues when used and folded and then used again in another quadrant. And instead of tossing a tissue in the trash, toss the bandana into to the laundry. When clean, we fold, stack and they're ready to use again when needed. We can also use bandanas to replace paper napkins at the table. We keep a some handy and even use napkin rings. Unless it's been a particularly messy meal, the same bandana can be used for several meals. We give them a wash on laundry day, and we're good to go.
Refillable water bottles
A refillable water bottle makes sense. Financially, bottled water purchases can add up quickly. Buy an insulated water bottle and the money you would’ve spent on bottled water can stay in your pocket. The other reason for using a refillable bottle is that our world is choking on plastic, especially plastic water bottles. They’re polluting our land and water, and even if you’re regularly putting plastic bottles in the recycling, many of those bottles are still dumped rather than recycled. There are just too many of them despite some of the ingenious ways people have developed to reuse them. So we suggest kicking the plastic bottle habit altogether with a reusable bottle.
There are lots of water bottles to choose from. We’re partial to insulated bottles which can keep a drink icy cold for hours. They come in a variety of sizes - from small bottles for kids to jugs that might take two hands to carry (in-store only). Lids come in a surprising range of sizes and configurations for both narrow and wide-mouth bottles. We’ve got lids with flip tops, screw tops, built-in straws and lids with straw holes that open or close as needed. Some bottles have handles built into the lid. And if you want to keep your hands free, try a bottle sling that you can carry over your shoulder. Whichever refillable bottle you choose, you'll be taking a major step in reducing your plastic bottle footprint!
When we're offered a plastic straw to go with our beverage, we just say no and pull out our reusable food grade stainless steel straw. Plastic straws can't be recycled. They're too small and fall into the waste piles under recycling sorting machines and then get thrown away in the trash. There's definitely a need for good straws. It's required for a thick shake or smoothie. So bring your own! Stainless steel straws come in various sizes, most are dishwasher safe, and some are collapsible, come with compact carrying cases and cleaning brushes.
At Whole Earth we're always on the lookout for quality products made with the planet in mind. Here are just a few of the companies we're proud to support.
Sustainability has been built into Nomadix towels from the start. Each towel is made of a fabric that uses polyester thread made from certified post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, approximately 30 bottles per towel. Rather than dying threads and then weaving the designs, they've chosen to print them instead, reducing the amount of wastewater used in the process. Nomadix also participates in 1% for the Planet, where they donate 1% of their sales — not just profits — to environmental causes.
Cotopaxi is a favorite with people who love color. The company uses 100% remnant fabric, keeping it out of the landfill by creating colorful jackets, packs in assorted sizes including hip packs, and now travel cubes. They are also a Certified B Corp and are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. They also donate 1% of their annual revenues to outstanding nonprofits working to improve the human condition and alleviating poverty.
Most sunglasses are made with plastic lenses and frames based on petroleum products. Zeal Optics is committed to using renewable resources and eliminating the use of fossil fuels in their manufacturing process. The Castor Bean is the star of the show. Z-Resin is derived from castor oil and replaces traditional plastics in their sunglass frames and lenses. The Castor Bean plant does not compete with food crops and can be planted in places where other plants cannot grow. With Z-Resin, Zeal uses significantly less energy in the manufacturing process, reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. Zeal is also a member of 1% for the Planet and donates 1% of their gross sales to environmental organizations.
Green Toys make colorful toys for young children that spark imaginative play. They offer a full complement of transportation toys, construction vehicles, boats, airplanes and a submarine, as well as a tea set, a wagon, and even a recycling truck. All of these toys are made in the US with recycled milk jugs. They’ve used over 122 million so far. By using recycled plastic, Green Toys diverts materials from landfills, saves energy, and reduces our carbon footprint. Even their packaging in 100% recyclable. Green Toys are tough and ready to play outdoors or inside. And if they need a cleaning, pop them in your dishwasher.
Plan Toys never cut down a single tree to make their wooden toys. They use reclaimed rubberwood from rubber trees that no longer produce latex and would normally be burned. Instead, the rubberwood is slowly dried to make it tough and safe for use by children. All the company’s toys exceed international safety standards including those of the United States and the European Union. For the past 40 years, they have increased their use of sustainable natural resources, including solar energy, and work to create minimum to zero waste throughout their entire production process. Designed with a modern sensibility, Plan Toys use elegant shapes, bright (safe!) colors and an occasional touch of humor to engage children and parents alike.
Now read this!
Welcome to the Circular Economy - The Next Step in Sustainable Living
We've heard a lot about the Circular Economy of late, but what does it mean for us as individuals and how we live our daily lives? Welcome to the Circular Economy aims to help us understand what it is and our part in making it a reality for the benefit of the planet and all who call it home. As Claire Potter, and many others have pointed out, humans are the only species on Earth who create waste. The detritus of the natural world is repurposed as food and building blocks for life. Our waste is just piling up with a small portion being recycled. We can and must do better. Potter uses a spider web design to help us chart our strengths and areas for improvement within our personal circular economy. She then takes a deep dive into each of the twelve threads and what we can do to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refill, Retail, Rent, Redirect, Recycle, Resources, Regenerate and Regulate. It's thought provoking and inspirational read.
A Thirsty Land - The Fight for Water in Texas
If you live in Texas it seems as if there's either too much water or not enough. Supercell thunderstorms can turn an arroyo into raging river, not to mention the catastrophic floods set in motion by hurricanes. Texas is a big state and for the most part, it's dry. And for those of us who are closely watching the ever-worsening drought, (El Niño, please come home!), Seamus McGraw's A Thirsty Land: The Fight for Water in Texas is required reading. Fear not, A Thirsty Land will not put you to sleep or talk over your head with jargon. Instead, starting with the ancient creators of the White Shaman painting on the Pecos, McGraw takes us across the state telling the stories of ranchers, farmers, environmentalists, government officials and everyday folk, like us, whose lives depend on the free flow of water. He untangles the questions of who owns what kinds of water in the state and the consequences that flow from those decisions made in the past. He also has a novelist's eye for surprising details that bring his subjects to life. A Thirsty Land will help us all become better advocates for protecting the waters around us.
The Thrifty Veggie: Economical, sustainable meals from store-cupboard ingredients
The Thrifty Veggie is a book made for this moment in time. If you've been thinking about adding some vegetarian recipes into the weekly mix of meals or you're looking for ways to reduce the cost of your trips to the grocery store, this cookbook may be just what you're looking for. Nicola Graimes combines pantry staples with seasonal produce to provide fresh, tasty economical dishes. Her staples include beans and lentils, pasta, rice, nuts, eggs, cheese and dairy products, and the often overlooked and economical frozen vegetables. The recipes are international in scope and may introduce you to new and delicious flavor combinations. The recipes are given with both American and English measurements and many dishes include added directions for easy transformation into vegan offerings.
So we hope that on this Earth Day 2022, you'll take a moment to congratulate yourself for all the things you're now doing and consider other changes you could make to help our beloved planet Earth return to health and wellbeing.