EARTH DAY: 10 Suggestions Covering Cosmetics, Food, Fashion, eCars, iPhones and Health that will REALLY Benefit You and the Planet

WRITTEN BY Damian Dalton

April 12, 2024

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EARTH DAY: 10 Suggestions Covering Cosmetics, Food, Fashion, eCars, iPhones and Health that will REALLY Benefit You and the Planet

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Sustainability

Damian Dalton

12 Apr, 2024

Earth Day is an opportunity to take maybe even just a few minutes, to reflect on what is good for the planet and your health.

Here are some ideas to consider and hopefully one or two will be something new you can do.

 

1. Use Safe and Natural Ingredient Cosmetics

Queen Elizabeth I used cosmetics containing white Lead, and while the portrait artists of the day air-brushed the affects of this highly toxic substance on her skin, it is well documented that her health suffered the terrible side effects of hair loss and tooth decay. While such substances are now banned in cosmetics, there are still reasons to be concerned as most cosmetics have ingredients that will be absorbed by your body through the skin.

A 2021 U.S research Report and here found that more than half of the cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada contained some toxic industrial compound with potentially serious health effects, including cancer and low birth weight. They found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances), a toxic “forever chemical” used to increase their durability and water resistance. PFAS are also used in industry for nonstick frying pans and carpets, and many other consumer products.

Fortunately, you can check the ingredients used in hundreds of common high-street cosmetics and how safe they are to use, on the U.S-based Environmental Working Group website  and its EWG’s Skin Deep Database.

2. Avoid Fast Fashion

The fashion industry is the second-most polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry. It’s now moving at such a pace that it creates 10% of all global CO2 emissions. Textile dying alone already accounts for 20% of global waste water, and cotton production uses 16% of the world’s pesticides.

Cotton farmers in Asia and Indian farmers are encouraged to grow millions of acres of cotton to meet the insatiable demands of fast fashion. This depletes the natural fertility of the soils, so that extensive use of artificial fertilisers is inevitable. Land and ground water that would normally support  food production is lost to the latest trends in fashion. The natural balance of the local biodiversity is altered, and pest control with pesticides becomes an environmental problem.

Cheap, fast fashion also supports the petroleum-based, highly toxic synthetic fabric and dye industry, and imposes sweatshop conditions for garment workers all over the world.

Look at your wardrobe decide what you can wear again, or extend the life of that favourite, old jacket or pair of jeans with a patch or a stitch. They may even look cooler and more trendy !

If you must throw out the relics of old decency, then avoid putting them in the bin which will ultimately go into landfill and produce emissions and pollution. There are a growing number of pre-loved clothes and charity shops that are renting, reselling and remaking fashions and giving them another lease of life.

3. Be Sustainability Smart; Repair, Upgrade or Recycle Your Smartphone

Apple iPhones are notoriously difficult to repair or upgrade Repairing the iPhone . iPhone users with the slightest problems are compelled to return it to Apple for an expensive fix or to buy a new one.

Apple is calling the iPhone 15 a sustainability success, having shrunk its carbon footprint in production by nearly 30%. Its claim of improved environmental credentials is also attributed to its limited plastic packaging, and that multiple components are made from 100% recycled materials. However, data from Apple show that 80% of an iPhone 15 Pro’s full lifecycle carbon emissions come from its production, which means the longer consumers hold onto their devices, the more emissions they help to prevent.

However, there is a more sustainable, cheaper alternative for both iPhone and Android users offered by Swappie and Fairphone respectively. Their refurbished phones are easily repairable, come with a 5 year warranty and spare parts, and are made with 70% recycled materials.

Eventually, when you decide to upgrade, you can return your old phone, and the phone parts will be recycled again. With over several million happy Swappie and Fairphone customers, it is encouraging to see the circular economy in action.

4. Look Local, Buy Local

Buying food that has been produced locally means the items you purchase haven’t traveled as far as imported food – and therefore have a lower carbon footprint. This may mean buying fruits and vegetables that are in season, but that still leaves a lot of choice, particularly if you store, freeze or dry fruits and vegetables when harvested.

For instance, buying strawberries out of season involves large transportation costs, plastic packaging and use of pesticides. The overall carbon footprint is about 0.8Kg CO2 per kilo of fruit.

Buying organic strawberries in season reduces this footprint to whatever are the emissions of the transportation from the field to the market.

Buying local also puts money and jobs into the local economy and reduces food packaging.

The ultimate in “going local” is growing your own. Even if you haven’t got a large garden, try a few window boxes or a small glasshouse. There may be even an allotment in your area, a great way to socialise and meet new friends as well.

5. Go Public

Not all commuters have access to public transport, but services throughout Europe are improving and where you do have the convenience, why not take the bus or train ?

A daily 20Km round trip to a school or shopping centre in a 3.0 litre Diesel Land Range Rover will emit approximately 180gCO2/Km, resulting in  emissions of 1.3 tonnes of CO2 in a year. It would take over 50 mature trees to offset that amount of carbon.

Not all busses are electric yet, so carbon-neutral public transport using 100% renewable energy is still a few years away for many… but it is coming. In the meantime, even with diesel buses it is still more eco-friendly, since with larger passenger loads they use 5 times less energy per commuter per kilometre.

Public transport with bus corridors also offers faster transit times, less frustration and lower blood pressure with traffic jams, and no parking costs. Think of the benefits to your health and pocket.

With trains, the environmental advantages compared to car journeys are substantial, using 15 times less energy per commuter per kilometre. Additionally, you can work, read, eat or simply enjoy the journey as the countryside passes by.

6. Drive Electric

If you need a car, and can afford it, have you really considered an electric vehicle ? Insufficient charging points, winter heating draining batteries and re-sale values are just some of the major concerns and reasons for many, not to even look at an EV car (eCar).

But, if you review the latest deals, battery technology, standard features in the lower cost end of the eCar market, particularly with the entry of the Chinese manufacturer BYD, now the  largest eCar manufacturer in the world, you will notice the eCar industry is bringing long range, style and affordability into the main-stream market. Many life-long petrol-heads will soon be driving into a station to charge up, rather than fill up.

Energy-wise, electric versus fossil-fueled cars, it’s a no brainer. Only 20-25% of the energy produced by petrol or diesel in a combustion engine is transferred into moving the car, the rest is heat that is radiated away. In an electric vehicle 75-80% of the energy stored in the battery is converted into motion. Obviously, the much higher energy efficiency of the electric vehicle leads to much cheaper running costs. Technical electrical maintenance costs are also lower.

There has been much debate about the overall eco-friendliness of electric cars when the mining environmental impacts of extracting the lithium, nickel and other minerals for the battery industry are considered. True, the pollution, scarring and destruction of the landscape in countries such as Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and displacement and suspension of the basic rights of indigenous peoples is the dark, corrupt side of the battery industry. However, public debate, scrutiny and corporate accountability of these practices is  transforming this industry for the better.

Taking into account the carbon footprint over the entire life-cycle of fossil-fueled and eCars from raw material extraction, production, energy consumption to recycling, they are still a clear winner. According to Transport & Environment (T&E), the umbrella body for European NGOs promoting sustainability,  eCars have a footprint 3 times smaller. than fossil-fueled cars. With the elements in car batteries being entirely re-cyclable, and production methods becoming more sustainable, major manufacturers, GM, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Toyota have stated that their EV cars will be carbon-neutral along the entire value chain by sometime between 2040 and 2050.

7. Eat more Beans and Lentils

Food production is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions generated  by humans, and nearly 60% of those come from animal products. Ruminants such as cows and goats have a unique digestive system that unfortunately produces Methane gas as a by-product, which is a polite way of saying when they belch or fart. Although Methane unlike CO2 will only last ten years in the atmosphere, it is 80 times more potent a greenhouse gas.

Kilo per kilo, beef produces about 7 times as much emissions and uses about 7 times as much land as chicken and pork, and about 20 times as much land and emissions as lentils and beans. In countries such as Brazil, beef production is also closely associated with the destruction of the rainforest for their livestock and the cultivation of soybeans for cattle and poultry feedstock.

Why not try more beans and lentils in your diet? They are an excellent source of protein and minerals, and there are many delicious recipes on the internet to try. Go on, be adventurous, Just type “beans or lentil recipes” into Google and see what happens. You will find more than baked beans on toast and boring lentil soup.

And if, and when you do eat meat, keep the carbon footprint and the welfare  of animals in mind. Buy local, grass-fed, organic and free-range as far as possible.

8. Give Good Brands, Positive Feedback

Brands are like people. If you do a good job, its nice to get a complement and encouragement. Most likely as a result you will strive to do even better. The world is in a transition phase to a more  eco-friendly, circular economy. It’s not perfect but in many ways it is getting better—take a look at Utopia-The-Edit’s News and Development section.

So as you shop, if you notice a brand that is actively making genuine steps to be more eco-friendly in their products, services or practices, send them a comment or email and say Well Done—-even if you don’t need or buy their goods.

9. Add Sustainability to Your Book Club

What has been the range of topics, selected in your book club; Classics, Chick-lit, thrillers ? Have you considered introducing a book on some aspect of sustainability for your group ? Sustainability gives you a very broad scope for themes;  fashion, food, biodiversity, entrepreneurs, holidays, cars, so judge your audience and make your choice. If you need some assistance and suggestions on what is available, there is an open, global book club community Goodreads Sustainability Book Club which reviews titles.

Furthermore, rather than order your books on-line, support your local bookstore. Its another source of local employment, many can give excellent advice on the latest and upcoming titles, and it might also afford you the opportunity to take a walk and a have coffee while you browse the shelves.

10. Sustain Your Mind and Body

Don’t forget that looking after yourself is just as important as looking after the environment. While taking regular exercise and eating well are core components in any health programme, the Japanese philosophy of Ikigai , and the lifestyles of the communities living in the world’s Blue Zones emphasise the importance of an integrated, holistic approach to life for health, fulfilment and longevity.

In Ikigai, the secret to a long and happy life is attributed to finding a meaning in life that inspires and motivates you, and  which also gives purpose and direction in your daily routine. Its guiding principles cover most aspects of life; Surround yourself with genuine good friends, satisfy eighty per cent of your appetite, take time to reflect and live the moment, and connect with nature. In fact, recent scientific studies of the Japanese past-time of taking in the forest air, Shinrin-Yoku, has proven physiological advantages ; lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity compared to city environments.

The five Blue Zones in the world, Ikaria(Greece), Okinawa(Japan), Ogliastra(Sardinia), Loma Linda(U.S.A) and Nicoya Peninsula(Costs Rica) are locations where there is a preponderance of people not only living into their 90’s and beyond, but also enjoying a great quality of life. Dementia levels are a tenth of the norm and the majority still walk, talk and pursue body-active pursuits such as gardening. They have a lifestyle very similar in ethos to Ikigai. Nothing is too extreme. They have in common a Mediterranean style diet, rich in olive oil, fish, beans and fresh vegetables. Moderate alcohol consumption is also prevalent where it exists. Simple physical exercise is integrated into the daily routine. Socialising on a regular basis with neighbours and friends is also an important characteristic, as well as a higher incidence of spirituality or belief in a greater power.

So maybe take some time out just for yourself, and find out what you really enjoy doing.

 

 

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