The Art and Act of Going Green
Ahhhh, the art of going green! It seems like an easy task, but when it actually comes down to it, it’s pretty tricky.
Most companies will say that they are going green, but what does that really mean? Nowadays the market is getting into a cycle of “greenwashing,” where companies try to push products under the guise that they are clean, chemical-free and made with environmentally conflict-free methods.
Unfortunately, saying and really doing are two totally different tasks; the standards vary from company to company, and from country to country.
Were you aware that Carnegie Mellon's Green Design Institute found that choosing to shop for 100 percent of purchases online would lead to a 35 percent reduction in emissions?” One way to decrease waste is to simply offer more online shopping!
By reducing the amount of cars out on the street that go to purchase individual items and shipping through fleets, there is actually a reduction in the amount of CO2 (carbon emissions) dollar-for-dollar of goods sold.
Look at Germany: They actually have one of the most efficient systems of reducing the amount of waste byproduct. How do they do this and how do they ensure that everyone plays along? They put the onus on the manufacturer to make sure that all of the product containers and waste from their products is recycled. In doing so, Germany has seen a drastic reduction in the amount of waste that is produced, and have increased the amount of recyclables that are picked up.
Plastics Get Complicated
Now onto the talk about plastic bottles.
I wish this was a lot easier of a task, but it’s really hard. There is a huge movement to make plastics more biodegradable and from natural sources, like corn. In theory it sounds great, but many of these options still give off noxious gases and cannot be used in organic farming. Traces of the material that the container is made from won’t fully break down, and they are impossible to separate from the soil.
And here comes the real kicker: It might have better ability to biodegrade on land. “In the oceans, the water is usually too cold to break down biodegradable plastics, so they either float forever on the surface (just like conventional plastics) or, if they do break down, produce tiny plastic fragments that are harmful to marine life.”
AKA, welcome to the wonderful world of micro plastics. So, if the container doesn’t have a zero marine toxicity seal of approval -- meaning it will not harm or add to the pollution in the ocean --it’s still a big nope.
That takes us back to tried and true, which is still slightly better than throwing something away, which means looking for the easiest plastics to recycle: #1 PET and #2 HDPE plastics.
Truthfully, there are many companies decreasing the amount of overall plastic that they use, and some that I was actually surprised to learn about:
Coca-Cola wants to recycle one bottle or can for every bottle or can that they sell by 2030.
McDonald’s will have 100 percent recycling in all of their locations by 2025.
Aramark has a huge campaign to reduce single-use plastics by 2022.
Even if they decrease their waste by a small amount, these companies are so widespread and emit so much, that they will have a global impact with even a fraction of the reduction in plastic waste. If we can’t get a government-mandated reduction, or bills passed to force companies to be more sustainable, at least some of the biggest players in our economy are trying to turn the tides.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if corporations work together, people will feel the impact.
What about ONLY?
What is ONLY doing in this great race to help decrease waste?
For starters, we are trying out more eco-friendly packing materials. For instance, the filler that surrounds the bottles will be now padded with the most biodegradable form of recycled paper. Take it out of the box, and it can immediately be used in the garden to help keep moisture in the soil. And you don’t have to worry about any additives that have been sprayed on the paper, or waxy residues that don’t break down.
We are also exploring reusable containers that can be refilled at retail locations, or through a mailer that will be included with purchases to send the old bottle back for refilling. In the meantime, we will ONLY use plastics that are the most accepted at recycling plants until we can find -- or someone makes -- something durable enough to hold product and not decompose while sitting in the shower.
We will also look into going fully fragrance-free. I know this will upset some people because I also love the smell, but it brings up many issues of what all it takes to make smells, aromas and compounds that make up fragrances in our product. Some of the essential oil isolates used in ONLY are on the endangered plant list (one example being Sandalwood).
Studies even go as far as saying that essential oils should never come into contact with any open water or groundwater because contamination will have long-lasting effects and they are extremely toxic to marine life. BUT don’t worry: I will have many discussions about the essential oil isolate in upcoming blogs to hear all of your comments.
How would you like to see ONLY become more environmentally friendly? Sound off!