In elementary school, I joined an after-school club called “Eco-Dudes”. At the time, I joined because I thought the word “dude” was cool, but little did I know that “eco” was short for “eco-friendly” and I realized it was the beginning of my discovery into bettering our environment. I was about to join the most valuable club ever. In our club meetings, we went over sustainable home practices such as how to recycle properly, how to start your own mini garden, and we even went to a landfill site to learn about waste management. Needless to say, Eco-Dudes taught me to cherish planet Earth and treat it with the respect and care it deserves.
Today is Earth Day, an annual event held on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Since 1970, the organization has pioneered a global transformative movement by working with more than 75,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. This year’s Earth Day is centered around the theme: Restore Our Earth.
The popular notion that the COVID-19 pandemic has been “good for the environment”— that nature is recovering while humanity stays at home — appeals to many grasping for some upside to this global tragedy. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth: factories are doubling, if not tripling their volume, construction companies are given more permits than ever, and the Amazon rainforest deforestation rate has been the highest in a decade. Governments are simply ignoring the earth’s cry for help and acting on whatever it takes to boost the economy - and once again, capitalism prevails.
While climate change in itself can be a polarizing topic, one issue we cannot deny is the environmental challenge of disposable feminine hygiene products. In 2018 alone, “people in the U.S bought 5.8 billion tampons, and over the course of a lifetime, a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic wastes.” - National Geographic. The most common material in menstrual products contributing to landfill waste is plastic: tampons come wrapped in plastic and pads generally incorporate more plastic from its leak-proof base, to the sticky wing flaps, to the synthetics that soak up the fluid.
This doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways to cut down on plastic waste. A recent study indicated that of the surveyed women, 60% were considering reusable products and about 20% were current users. In Europe, most tampons are sold without applicators, and here in the US, we have seen a surge in alternatives such as reusable pads & underwears, as well as menstrual “diva” cups. Aisle, a certified B corp is one of the leading brands when it comes to reducing feminine hygiene product waste. From reusable period panties, to liners and cups, Aisle emphasizes high-performance, earth-friendly, and made-to-last period products designed for all body types.
Now, on an individual level, it might feel hopeless and unattainable to change fracking policies, and single-handedly stop deforestation, but one lesson I took away from Eco-Dudes is that even the smallest actions count. Here are a few daily actions that the NinetyEight team takes to be eco-conscious and ways each of us can be more sustainable:
How we show the earth love:
- Thrifting - moving away from fast fashion brands and instead purchasing clothes from thrift stores helps reduce textile waste. Brands like ForDays and H&M have a fabric recycling/repurposing program for individuals to donate their unused clothing items.
- Minimize “single-use” items - instead of ziplocs/saran wrap, try reusable containers (stasher!!!). Invest in dryer balls and reusable water bottles instead of dryer sheets and plastic bottles.
- Carpooling - not only is gas crazy expensive in LA, 75% of carbon monoxide emissions come from automobiles. Here at 98 we often carpool to go to the office and various production sites.
- Understand recycling - know what plastics can and can’t be reused/recycled. Oftentimes labels will indicate if such plastic is biodegradable and recyclable. It’s also important to wash out any jars, cartons and containers before throwing it down the recycling chute. Most recycling facilities won’t accept recyclable items that have food stains in it, thus ending up at the landfill once again.
- Cutting fabric/plastics - since the pandemic, I’ve been through at least 40 single-use surgical face masks (please keep wearing your masks!) and before I throw them away, I make sure to cut off the ear straps. I do the same with a 6 pack of beer or any weird shaped plastics that could potentially injure any sea animals.
Ways to be kinder to the earth:
- Being mindful of energy consumption - as the digitally native generation this is extremely challenging. So much of our lives depend on technology and devices that require electricity, batteries, and other energy sources. An easy way to start is by unplugging any cords that aren’t in use.
- Reduce meat intake - not to be biased… but as a vegetarian, I’m a huge advocate of this! Not only will your body thank you, so will the earth. Implementing “meatless Fridays” or only eating meat for only one meal a day is a great avenue to reducing meat consumption. If eating a bowl of spinach leaves is too jarring of a switch, substituting regular meat meals (i.e. a burger) with plant-based alternatives such as Impossible meat or Beyond meat is one way to ease into it.
- Volunteer at clean-ups - whether that’s a beach clean-up or a trail clean-up organizations such as Heal the Bay are always looking for volunteers. Who knows… maybe next month NinetyEight will organize a local beach clean-up!
But seriously, real talk - if Greta Thunberg can trailblaze a climate change revolution at 15 years old, each of us are more than capable of fulfilling our sustainable due diligence. Even small initiatives can make a huge difference!