Saving the Ocean – One Load at a Time
Caring about the environment can be frustrating and emotionally draining. There are so many aspects of our everyday lives that have an impact on our planet and so many areas where the consequences of our actions are painfully visible. So, I was delighted when I recently came across some good news, and I can’t wait to share it with you!
THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a floating island of plastic waste bigger than Texas, located between California and Hawaii, and certainly qualifies as “painfully visible consequences” of plastic pollution. When then-19-year-old Boyan Slat founded “The Ocean Cleanup” in 2013, his idea was to mechanically capture and recycle floating plastics from the ocean. The project has since been supported by individuals, companies, and a successful crowdfunding campaign. They have led expeditions, gathered data, built and improved prototypes, and added trash barriers to rivers to stop pollution at the source.
After receiving a lot of skepticism over the years, on October 20th, 2022, The Ocean Cleanup could finally announce that they have reached proof of technology – and are now on track to clean 90% of macro-plastics from the surface of the ocean by 2040! And they are not only talking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch but plan to tackle all 5 large marine gyres across the globe.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, apart from the fact that it’s refreshing to hear some good news every now and then, floating trash is also part of the origin story for the brand I most recently vetted for inclusion in the askBelynda product suggestions.
Sustainable Shopping Made Simple
SHEETS LAUNDRY CLUB
Sheets Laundry Club is a great example of how experiencing a problem first-hand can inspire action. In their own words:
Our CEO and co-founder, Chris Videau, and his wife Laurian have collectively served over 27 years in the military and traveled to over 20 different countries. During their time overseas, they both became painfully aware of the vast amount of plastic that pollutes our oceans. (Not so fun fact – Did you know that the equivalent of a dumpster truck full of plastic is discarded into our oceans every SECOND? Yeah, not cool.) Chris and Laurian had the opportunity to see the global plastic crisis first-hand and they wanted to do something about it. So, after leaving the military, they set to work creating a plan that would allow for a more sustainable future for the generations to come.
One type of floating plastic you see over and over is high-density PE bottles – the typical container for laundry detergent. While HDPE is a highly recyclable material, EPA estimates that less than 30% of the production is recycled in the US.
The founders of Sheets decided to give consumers an alternative. They developed laundry sheets – a lightweight solid alternative to liquid detergent – that not only allow for plastic-free packaging but also substantially reduce transport emissions.
COMPACT BY DESIGN
You may have heard the term “compact by design” when looking for sustainable packaging. What it means is that the product and the packaging are designed in a way that reduces the size and weight of the packaged product to improve the carbon footprint of shipping.
Sometimes that means sending less “air” by reducing the size of the packaging or packing products more tightly. However, it is even more impactful to ship less water. When you think about it, most cleaning products, detergents, and personal care products contain a lot of water, which adds to the weight and volume of the goods. Another great side effect of solid products is that you can usually pack them without using plastic.
Recently, there has been a lot of innovation around reducing these unnecessary impacts on the environment, leading to the rise of all kinds of solid products.
Today you can get solid shampoos, dish soap, deodorants, and floor cleaners (and that’s just a selection of what Sheets Laundry Club has expanded into …)
Next time you replace any of your household or personal care liquids on Amazon, notice how many of the suggestions from your askBelynda plugin are solid and/or compact by design.
And if you haven’t done so yet, download the free askBelynda browser extension. Once installed, it pops up with carefully curated sustainable options for the products you are searching for on Amazon.
BIODEGRADABLE – FROM THE INGREDIENTS TO THE WRAPPER
Plastic-free packaging made from recycled and biodegradable materials is great. It’s even better when that sustainable packaging is wrapped around a sustainable product.
Sheets Laundry Club uses only plant-based ingredients; doesn’t test on animals and makes sure their naturally derived products are safe for marine organisms. Of course, the products themselves are also free of (micro)plastics.
Protecting the ocean – one load at a time.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.