It’s Q&A time here on the Environmentor. We answer some of your most frequently asked questions about the environment and living more sustainably.
Q: Do you have any environmentally friendly/low waste cosmetics recommendations?
1. Elate Cosmetics
Elate is one of our favorite environmentally-friendly cosmetic brands because it addresses sustainability from so many angles. Their packaging is 75% waste-free and their ingredients are 75% organic and 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Elate offers a great recycling program, where you can return their packaging and containers, and Elate will recycle them at no cost. A ton of their products also come with a refill option where you can send back empty containers and they will refill your product to avoid excess waste.
2. Pacifica Beauty
Pacifica is a 100% vegan and cruelty-free cosmetic brand that has skincare, sun care, hair care and makeup options. What we love most about this brand is their recycling program where you can send back packaging and they will recycle it into razors and toothbrushes.
Biossance is a skincare brand that focuses on sustainability in their packaging, shipping and product creation. This brand committed not to use Squalane (which comes from shark liver oil) and has instead created a vegan version of this product. Their packaging is completely recyclable and is made from renewable sugarcane paper. In order to offset carbon emissions from shipping, Biossance also plants trees and funds reforestation projects.
4. Dab Herb Makeup
Dab Herb is a zero-waste product with vegan, cruelty-free and fair trade practices. Their shipping is fully plastic-free, and they even re-use their suppliers’ shipping material.
Q: How do you recycle plastic pumps? (Like the ones in soap or shampoo bottles.)
Lots of soap or shampoo brands make their plastic pumps out of recyclable plastics. The first step is to check if your pump has a recycling sign on it. If it doesn’t, reach out to the brand or look on their website to see if their plastics are recyclable. If they are, wash out all soap or shampoo from the pumps and remove any non-plastic materials from the pump. The next step is to see if your town’s recycling program picks up hard plastic or if you need to drive to a recycling depot to recycle hard plastics. Either way, there is likely some hard plastic recycling option in your town. If your current plastic pumps are not made from recyclable plastic, try another brand that does offer recyclable plastic. Another option for more sustainable shampoo and soap is to buy products from a refill store where you can use the same vessel over and over again – if you do not have a store like this near you try Blueland for great refill products. Buying bar soap and shampoo is also a great alternative with less waste.
Q: What are some other environmentally-minded brands?
Pyrrha is a carbon-neutral jewelry brand – they focus on reducing their carbon emissions and offset any outstanding emissions the brand has. They are part of the ‘1% for the Planet’ movement and donate at least 1% of their net sales to eco-movements. Pyrrha also has a huge recycling component to their brand. They cast all their jewelry in recycled metals and their gift and shipping boxes are also made out of recycled material.
We mentioned them above, but they’re worth mentioning again. Blueland creates everyday eco-friendly cleaning products that skip the single-use plastic packaging. Their products are formulated without water and minimize the carbon footprint generated when shipping products to your home. Their products are paired with reusable bottles so you only buy the bottle once and never have to throw it away.
A fellow Canadian and B Corp Certified company, rainbo is a medicinal mushroom-based line of supplements and functional foods. Not only do we love their beautiful branding and packaging but we applaud the sustainable practices they’ve implemented across each facet of their business.
For other sustainable brands, check out the B Corp directory.
Q: How much CO2 is captured by 10 trees?
This is a tricky question. When we look at our own planting projects, picking the right tree species is crucial to make sure tree planting benefits both people and planet. The best combination, according to scientists, is a mixture of trees native to the local area including some rare species and trees that provide economic perks, but avoiding trees that could become invasive.
When it comes to how much CO2 an individual tree can capture, it varies depending on the characteristics of the tree itself and the ecosystem it lives in. For example, mangroves sequester up to 4x as much as tropical rain forests, mostly due to their ability to store large amounts of carbon in the soil around their root systems. Because of this they’re one of the most efficient carbon-sequestering trees in the world.
On average, each mangrove tree removes over 680lbs (308kg) of CO2 from the atmosphere over the growth life of the tree. This calculates to an average of 185lbs (12.3kg) per year per tree, so roughly 1,850lbs per year for 10 trees.
Q: We’re building a home next year, any suggestions for building sustainably on a budget and keeping our energy bills low?
1. Use enough insulation in order to retain more heat
2. Orient a home to receive the maximum amount of sunlight to reduce the need for warming in cold months
3. Recycle as much waste as possible during the build
4. Use energy-saving light bulbs in the home
5. Install low flow toilets
6. Use organic eco paints
7. Try to use recycled or sustainable materials. Find examples of these materials at this link
Q: How does going vegetarian or vegan benefit the environment?
Going vegan or vegetarian is environmentally important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut back on water use, protect land and oceans, reduce pollution and minimize deforestation practices. The livestock sector is responsible for emitting carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and these emissions accelerate climate change impacts. According to the UN, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gasses than all the trucks and cars in the world combined. Livestock production also uses significantly more water. For instance, one pound of meat requires 2,400 gallons of water. The livestock sector is responsible for large amounts of land degradation and deforestation. For example, livestock is responsible for 70% of deforestation in the Amazon. This industry also produces toxic pollutants that end up in soil or oceans. By cutting out meat and other animal by-products from your diet you can help mitigate some of these negative environmental impacts. Another way to have a more environmentally friendly diet is to follow the 100 mile diet and focus on buying local food and eating food that is in season.
Q: What are the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint on top of being vegan or vegetarian?
1. Buy Local
One great way to reduce your carbon footprint is being aware of where you are buying from and trying to buy as local as possible to reduce transportation emissions. This can apply to food, clothing, appliances or any other product you are buying.
2. Reduce Driving & Flying
Another strategy is reducing the amount of driving you are doing and cutting down on flying. Try to focus on more green transportation methods (busing, biking, walking, carpooling).
3. Reduce Energy Use
Reducing your use of energy in your home is a great way to cut down on your carbon footprint. This can look like getting energy-saving light bulbs, turning off lights, reducing your thermostat temperature and taking shorter showers. Canada is the top per capita energy producer in the world, so this is a super important place to put our attention!
4. Buy sustainably & buy second hand
Another strategy is to reduce your consumption of new items or buy sustainably. This is important because some brands have large carbon footprints. Making new items releases carbon emissions during stages of material extraction, production, and transportation. Try and focus on using your current items for as long as possible and try to buy secondhand or sustainable options rather than new where possible.