We get it. Saving a planet is no small feat. In fact, while 7 in 10 U.S. adults say they wish there were more they could do to combat climate change, 51% say they don't know where to start. So where do we begin? Well, it turns out that as consumers, we actually influence over 65% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is great news because it means that our purchasing power can, and does make a difference.
This month, we’re highlighting good news for the planet and amplifying small businesses on the leading edge of protecting our natural resources, supporting climate recovery, and prioritizing climate-forward solutions that are better for people, and our shared home. Keep reading to learn more!
Major ick alert: only 9% of plastic waste generated in the U.S. is recycled 40% of all plastic made is produced for packaging, and up to 14 million tons of plastic waste enter our aquatic ecosystems every year.
The good news? Zero waste strategies could reduce global waste emissions by 84%, or 1.4 billion tons. That’s the equivalent of taking 300 million cars off the road annually (or all motor vehicles in the U.S).
Thankfully, many are prioritizing the elimination of plastics, and creating products (and businesses) that utilize 100% zero waste systems: “versatile strategies that aim to continually reduce waste through source reduction, separate collection, composting, and recycling.” Take for example:
Ready for more zero waste alternatives? Check out our zero waste starter kit!
Did you know that the magical underwater forests created by kelp play a role in reducing the effects of global warming?
As we work to achieve a goal of global net zero emissions by 2050, individuals and businesses will not only need to reduce our emissions, but also actively negate greenhouse gasses by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One such strategy is carbon sequestration: the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide. In the past, we’ve looked to our forests as the primary leader in carbon sequestration. Yet, as we’ve seen in the case of the Amazon, this form of sequestration is often vulnerable since deforestation can release carbon back into the atmosphere, reversing the trees’ benefits.
Enter macroalgae. It’s reported that the ocean stores 50x more carbon than the atmosphere, and 20x more than land plants and soil combined. What’s more, one publication suggests that nearly 200 million tons of carbon dioxide are being sequestered by macroalgae every year (that’s near the annual emissions of the state of New York!)
(Source: 1% for the Planet)
We know that saving the planet will require far more than individual action. Policy makers, scientists, businesses, and systems change leaders will all need to work together in order to reimagine and implement innovative solutions that go beyond our current eco-zeitgeist. That’s where global movements like 1% for the Planet come in. Since 2002, 1% for the Planet has been driving critical philanthropic support to address our most urgent environmental issues, prevent greenwashing, certify reputable giving, and ensure climate accountability.
Every member that joins 1% for the Planet joins a global network of over 4,000 businesses spanning 60 countries who have committed to donating the equivalent of 1% of gross sales directly to Environmental Partners across six core impact areas including: climate, food, land, pollution, water, and wildlife.
Check out these and other small, 1% for the Planet businesses here!
(Source: Economist Impact)
Did you know that today the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of carbon emissions? Or that the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles are dumped into the ocean every year due to microplastics used in clothing production? How about that the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second? Ruh roh.
The good news: more and more businesses are implementing circular fashion models and prioritizing a circular economy: a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution, and is based on three principles: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature. Such models have the potential to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 39%, reduce the flow of plastic waste into the ocean by 80% in 20 years, and lower greenhouse gas emissions caused by the textile industry by 44%.
What’s more, some brands are going beyond circular fashion to re-imagine regenerative models. For example, regenerative agriculture is about working in harmony with nature using Indigenous ecological knowledge and farming techniques such as crop rotation and low-to-no tilling to help draw down carbon, enhance biodiversity, enrich the soil, and improve water systems. This ancient, nature-based solution to climate change helps land that has become degraded to regenerate and flourish and is being invested in by fashion brands as they work to address their environmental impacts and become climate positive rather than just carbon neutral.
(Source: World Wildlife Fund)
Findings from one survey reported that 66% of all respondents, and 75% of millennial respondents, consider sustainability when making a purchase. Another survey found that 71% of consumers ranked “protecting the environment” as “extremely important.”
When we consider the fact that consumers influence over 65% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the average person has the opportunity to reduce their emissions by 5-25%, it’s possible that this rise in sustainable online searches, climate-minded motivations, and decisions to purchase eco-conscious alternatives may actually present feasible opportunities to help change the fate of our planet.
More and more, sustainability seems to be taking its rightful place in the hearts of consumers as the expectation, rather than the exception.
Unfortunately, new insight into consumers’ environmental motivations have driven many large, corporate retailers to greenwash: the act or practice of making a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is.
After founder, Dr. Kristian Edwards learned that products marketed to Black women are filled with synthetic and toxic chemicals presenting and causing profound negative impacts on their health, she set out to make it easier for others to support Black-owned businesses, and to ensure they were able to access and purchase truly effective, safe, and non-toxic products. Blk + Green has compiled their own list of the most harmful offenders, verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), this list, called ‘The Toxic Twenty’ can be found on Blk + Green’s website, and will never be found in any of the products they sell.
While there are over 1,500 harmful chemicals banned or restricted by the E.U.― and here in the U.S. The FDA has only banned 11 of these toxins― Blk + Green has compiled their own list of the most harmful offenders, verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This list, called ‘The Toxic Twenty’ can be found on Blk + Green’s website, and will never be found in any of the products they sell.
Zero seeks to inspire a fashion movement that prioritizes transparency and promotes the highest level of sustainability that exists in the fashion industry. Zero’s high standards are listed on their site, and include requirements for all of the brands sold on their site, such as: Living Wages (all employees throughout the supply chain receive a living wage), Longevity (all pieces have a long life-use cycle rather than prematurely meeting a landfill), and Supply Chain Transparency (every individual and location that comes into contact with a piece is traced and regulated to ensure all practices are ethically and environmentally sound).
The vision of the Zero Waste Store is to “make the greenest choice the most convenient option every time for the everyday consumer so that a sustainable lifestyle can be accessible for everyone.” Rather than strive for perfection, the Zero Waste Store encourages each of us to aspire to as-close-to-zero-waste-as-possible by offering zero-waste alternatives for everyday items, and sharing approachable considerations for ways to adopt eco-friendly habits at our own pace.
At Parks Project, their goal is to protect and preserve parklands for generations to come by educating, advocating, volunteering, and activating park supporters to get involved in conservation. Today, the Parks Project has: given back over $2.5 million to support national parklands, logged over 5,522 volunteer hours, and hosted over 86 volunteering days in parklands across the country.
In addition, Parks Project recently became a Certified B Corp. B Corps are companies verified by the B Lab (a nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet) to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. To certify, businesses complete a rigorous assessment across 5 core impact pillars: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers. To ensure ongoing accountability and continued improvement, B Corps recertify every three years.
Support these and other small brands doing gooder for the planet here!
Good question. While we’re certainly no climate experts, we do know that saving the planet is a complex and interconnected challenge. The climate crisis will call upon all of us to become responsible stewards of the earth, and require that we individually and collectively reimagine how things can be done differently, and ultimately, better.
While we recognize that “sustainable shopping” can sometimes feel like an oxymoron, and we’ll always encourage folks to mend, borrow, repurpose (or in other ways) extend the life-use of the items they already own, when it comes time to invest in a new piece, we hope you’ll take pause to remember that a sustainable alternative exists, and that these small, intentional choices can– and do– matter.
Tools like goodbuy are making it possible for us all to vote with our dollar, and use our purchasing power to support businesses who prioritize people and our shared home.
So while we can’t save the world alone: we can do it together.