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Environmental education is vital to winning the fight against climate change. Without it, the leaders of tomorrow will be ill-equipped to overcome the environmental challenges the world will face. Parents and teachers can help students understand their role as environmental stewards by encouraging student outdoor learning programs and supporting young folks who engage in student activism. 

Education can make a difference in the fight against climate change. Recent surveys show that people with more education were more likely to view climate change as a threat and that, today, most people see climate change as a major threat to our planet.  

However, promoting environmental education in schools can be tricky. Climate change is seen as a bipartisan “political” issue in some countries, and many educational bodies push against climate education entirely. 

More must be done to ensure that young people have access to environmental education. Robust climate education will give the decision-makers of tomorrow the skills they need to advocate for nature, protect vulnerable environments, and mitigate the effects of global warming. 

The Importance of Environmental Education

Education is often overlooked in the fight against climate change. While policy changes and global commitments are necessary to prevent global warming from further worsening, improved education is the first step toward achieving our goals. 

Environmental education can help alleviate climate anxiety, too. This is broadly defined as a “chronic fear of environmental doom” and may be exacerbated by a lack of understanding. Educational resources that clearly explain the mechanisms behind global warming equip students with the knowledge they need to do something about climate change. This can help them feel empowered and foster a greater appreciation for the planet’s resources. 

Environmental education can also promote critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. This is particularly important today, as students need to be able to evaluate the long-term impact of social, economic, and ecological policies. Combating climate change effectively requires a global effort and activism often relies heavily on a thorough understanding of the issue and the ability to persuade others that something must be done. 

Improvements in public education may also promote a sense of stewardship and aid conservation efforts. In particular, environmental education programming can make a real difference to researchers who are advocating for policy changes. 

For example, recent public programmes like the BBC’s Planet Earth II and Wild Isles appear to have significantly impacted researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. Reflecting on the public program, Professor Callum Roberts states that the “UK must now deliver genuine protection for wildlife,” and should focus on building resilience against climate change. 

Connecting Students with High-Quality, Reliable Resources

Environmental education can empower the decision-makers of tomorrow and improve the public understanding of climate change. However, connecting students with the resources they need to understand global warming can be difficult – particularly if students live in a nation like the US, where climate change is seen as a partisan “political” issue. 

Climate-aware parents can introduce their children to climate change with outdoor play in natural environments. Natural playgrounds, like those built from sustainable materials and found objects, are the perfect place to discuss environmental protection and the importance of stewardship over the Earth’s resources. 

Living a sustainable lifestyle at home can be an important part of children’s environmental education. Parents can help their kids understand the importance of sustainability by reducing their home’s carbon footprint together, by implementing and practicing environmentally friendly habits in the home. Simple sustainable activities — such as upcycling furniture and composting leftover food scraps as well as teaching children how to recycle – help reduce our own emissions and promote a sense of responsibility for the environment. 

You might also like: How to Live a More Sustainable Life in 2023

Student Activism

A sense of stewardship is vital for the long-term preservation of the Earth’s natural resources. However, students who care about climate change should be empowered to engage in activism, too. Youth activism has a meaningful impact on policy and shows politicians that climate change is a hot-button issue for future voters. 

Successful activism begins by educating students about the issues. Teachers can strengthen their students’ understanding of climate change and ecological protection by hosting student projects that encourage outdoor learning. By building eco-systems on school grounds or signing up for community clean-ups, students will learn to take pride in the world around them and become well-equipped to share their knowledge with others.

Most high schools and universities have a climate advocacy group that young people can join to amplify their voices and make a difference. Students can further their climate advocacy by joining groups that have partnered with the Climate Action Network (CAN). The CAN helps 1900+ organisations get the support and funding they need to prevent environmental degradation and fight climate change. 

Climate-conscious students can also partner with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like: 

These NGOs tackle the biggest environmental issues today and can put students in a position to maximise their impact and gain important professional development skills. 

You might also like: How Youth Climate Action Is Shaping a More Sustainable Future

Professional Development

Preventing climate change requires more than goodwill and public understanding. The decision-makers of tomorrow need to be equipped with interdisciplinary skills to tackle the challenges that climate change presents. However, many teachers are ill-equipped to teach environmental education in their classrooms. 

More must be done to empower climate-conscious teachers. Professors should feel comfortable discussing the facts of climate change in their classrooms. They should be able to identify the transferable skills that their class can give to climate-conscious students. Fortunately, teachers today can find plenty of free resources from sites like: 

These resources are entirely free and can be weaved into any class. A climate-inspired project will help students connect with the importance of environmental education and give them the skills they need to take on skeptics in the future. 


Environmental education is key to understanding and preventing climate change. A robust climate education can empower students and help them engage with advocacy and activism groups. Even minor education experiences, like participating in a community clean-up, can help students understand the importance of stewardship and build the interdisciplinary skills they need to advocate for environmental protection. 

In case you didn’t know, we have a Kids’ website aimed at explaining a wide range of environmental topics to younger generations. Visit Kids.Earth.Org to learn more about climate change

Pet ownership is a staple in many families worldwide, and estimates suggest that over half of the global population have a pet at home. However, owning a dog, cat, or any other pet might not be as sustainable as many think. We take a look at the environmental impact of pets and explore solutions to make pet ownership a more sustainable practice.

Climate change affects everything and everyone, including companion animals. Heatwaves and rising infectious diseases from pathogens caused by climate change harm the pets we love so dearly – albeit in a much less significant way than most human activities and industries, the pet industry also partly contributes to increasing heatwaves and pathogens. 

An average-sized cat can produce 310 kilograms (CO2e) annually. An average-sized dog generates 770 kg of CO2e, and an even bigger dog can emit upwards of 2,500 kilograms of CO2e, which is twice as much as the emissions deriving from an average family car per year. 

Fortunately, raising a pet does not have to be environmentally harrowing for the planet, nor do we need to abandon societal’s fondness for owning a companion animal altogether. If we are already taking steps to become more sustainable in other industries like business and fashion, the pet industry (and ownership) can indeed follow suit.

Promote Sustainable Pet Food Consumption

The modern food system is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with meat consumption alone accounting for about 60% of the total.  

As mentioned before, pets account for a significant carbon footprint. According to Gregory Okin, a professor from the University of California Los Angeles, our pets’ meat consumption generates about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide annually in the US, the equivalent of driving 13.6 million cars. 

In the US alone, our pets’ diet contributes to 25-30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption. Here, the amount of meat that only dogs and cats consume ranks just behind the total meat consumption of Russia, Brazil, the United States, and China.

“If Americans’ 163 million Fidos and Felixes comprised a separate country, their fluffy nation would rank fifth in global meat consumption,” Okin noted.

meat industry. cows in a farm

Meat accounts for nearly 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production.

So, what does all this mean? It is clear that the meat we feed our cats and dogs has a significant environmental impact. For this reason and in a climate change-ridden world, it is important to inform owners (and consumers) about the footprint of their pets and promote sustainable food consumption in the pet industry. 

Sustainable Pet Food Alternatives

While there has yet to be a bigger boost of alternative pet food, sustainable options are on the rise. 

Pet owners can choose pet food brands certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council or the Marine Stewardship Council. Food products with these certifications indicate that the protein in this food is caught legally and produced responsibly. 

In the last five years, pet food products with sustainable seafood, verified by the Marine Stewardship Council, increased by 57% in the United Kingdom. In the United States, they increased by 614%

While using fish as a protein source does have its environmental issues, a study from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania revealed that the carbon emitted from capturing most types of fish is much less than the carbon emitted from the production of red meat. Specifically, catching a kilogram of fish generates one to five kilograms of carbon, depending on the location, whereas producing a kilogram of red meat like beef and lamb generates between 50 to 750 kilograms of carbon – a substantial difference. 

Insect-based pet food is another way to promote sustainability as the overall carbon footprint is much smaller than that of livestock. Indeed, insect-based pet food requires fewer resources, such as land, water, and transportation fuel.

You might also like: Insect Farming: The Sustainable Future of Food Production with FlyFarm

Another way to alleviate the environmental impact of the pet food industry as an owner is to simply feed your dog or cat less.

In 2022, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported that 61% of cats and 59% of dogs were obese or overweight. This means that many owners feed their pets much more than necessary, inadvertently wasting resources and adding to the environmental impact of pet food. As an eco-conscious pet owner or wanting to become one, feeding your pet the right amount of food helps keep the planet healthy (and your pet, too).

Manage Pet Waste Properly

Rather not talked about, our dog’s and cat’s waste can, in fact, impact the environment. 

With the 163 million dogs and cats owners in the US alone, the amount of faeces produced is not far off the amount of garbage produced by the population of the state of Massachusetts. To put things into perspective, 163 million dogs and cats generate a total of approximately 5.1 million tons of faeces annually, about the total waste generated by 6.63 million people.

Unfortunately, much of our dog’s waste is left on the ground. Specifically, 40% of pet owners do not clean up after their dogs. This is problematic. Dog waste comprises various viruses, bacteria, and parasites that are transmittable and can thus harm humans and other animals. 

street sign inviting dog owners to clean up their waste to avoid the spread of diseases

Street sign inviting dog owners to clean up their waste to avoid the spread of diseases.

Our dog’s waste can also harm the environment by contaminating soil and water bodies. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pet faeces contain bacteria, viruses, and nutrients categorised as “pollutants from urban runoff”. Pathogens from canine waste can remain in the soil for years and affect wildlife and vegetation. Nitrogen is also found in faeces, and, if washed into lakes or rivers, it can result in the growth of invasive algae that damage aquatic life. 

As for cat waste, clay-based cat litter is not exactly sustainable, unable to break down in landfills. Simply put, it is not biodegradable. This type of litter is also not sourced in the greenest manner as it uses strip mining, a form of mining that entails removing vegetation, trees, rocks, and topsoil, to obtain clay. Removing the planet’s surface materials in such a manner leads to unrepairable damage to the mining site and environmental disruption such as erosion.

Silica-gel-based litter (or crystal litter) is not sustainable either. This form of litter is made from quartz, which is a non-renewable resource found through mining practices. Manufacturing silica-gel-based cat litter has a high carbon dioxide emission, as a single ton of silica gel needs about five tons of coal. Silica-gel-based cat litter has around ten times the carbon dioxide pressure than other litters.

Silica-gel-based litter is not disposable; cat litter

Silica-gel-based litter is not biodegradable.

As someone who owns a companion animal, whether a dog or a cat, it is paramount to learn how to manage their waste properly to minimise the environmental impacts associated with it.

Owning a dog means picking up after them. This small act can lead to a huge milestone in becoming a more sustainable pet owner. Instead of plastic bags, use bags that are good for the planet, such as compostable ones. It is also important to keep in mind that bags that companies often label bags as “biodegradable” for marketing purposes to entice consumers to purchase, a practice infamously known as greenwashing.

Cat owners can also take more environmentally-friendly actions when managing cat waste, such as opting for litter boxes that are produced with sustainable materials. For instance, recycled paper, grass seed, and renewable wheat are all greener alternatives to clay-based and silica-gel-based litter, as these materials can easily break down in the environment. 

Flushing cat litter down the toilet also causes more bad than good because it can damage septic systems and sewer lines. At times, cat waste can carry a parasite, toxoplasma gondii, which can spread into streams, lakes, and water supplies, subsequently affecting wildlife and even humans. So, make sure to dispose of your cat’s litter box properly

Choose Eco-Conscious Pet Supplies

Having a pet necessitates purchasing supplies such as toys, bedding, food, and grooming products. Ever thought about the sustainability level of these supplies? How eco-conscious are these companies? 

Pet products generate approximately 300 million pounds of plastic waste in North America alone, crowding landfills with these environmentally damaging components. Landfills are filled with dog and cat toys as many are non-recyclable, as they are entirely made up of or contain some sort of plastic material. 

The plastic used for pet food packaging is just as bad as the plastic used for pet toys. According to the Pet Sustainability Coalition, “99% of all pet food & treat packaging goes to the landfill each year.” Shocking, yet this is reality. 

As society is working profusely to lessen the use of plastic and establish more sustainable businesses, companies producing pet products must do the same and pet owners must be more eco-conscious. 

The Pet Sustainability Coalition, committed to building a more sustainable pet industry, launched a campaign called The Packaging Pledge, which supports companies in the pet industry to gradually transition to “100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025.” Some companies that have already signed this pledge are Open Farm, Primal Pet Foods, and Stella and Chewy’s. 

Besides the Pet Sustainability Coalition, rePurpose Global is another organisation that strives to create a greener world as it focuses on reducing plastic waste. So far, a total of 20 pet companies, such as Earth Animal, Four Leaf Rover, and Nature’s Logic, have partnered with rePurpose Global. The partnership has already proven successful and helped recover 2,000 tons of plastic waste, the equivalent of about 111 million plastic bottles.

As a pet owner, opting for environmentally-friendly pet products is an effortless way to become a more sustainable owner. Buying toys for your cat or dog means choosing ones assembled from “natural, sustainable and biodegradable materials,” as the David Suzuki Foundation puts it. Along with purchasing clean and green toys, pet owners can also build toys using household items – ensuring these homemade toys are safe for them. 

Final Thoughts

With companion pet ownership being so widespread, owners should take into account the environmental impact of their pets, especially when the climate crisis keeps worsening by the day. Although it may appear so, it is not as difficult to direct how you care for your dog or cat in a more planet-friendly manner. Choosing sustainable pet products from genuinely eco-friendly brands can make a world of difference in reducing the pet industry’s carbon footprint. 

You might also like: Are Humans an Invasive Species?

In recent years, the importance of sustainability has gained increasing attention, as people became more aware of the impact of their actions on the environment. In a world that is experiencing an exceptional rise in global temperatures and is increasingly confronted with the devastating consequences of a changing climate, corporates have started to recognise that sustainability in business has evolved from a luxury to a necessity. In this article, we explore different ways to create a more sustainable workplace and reduce the environmental footprint of your company.

The Environmental Challenges of Businesses

Businesses have a moral obligation to become more environmentally responsible and accountable, given that they are responsible for high numbers of the world’s energy consumption and carbon emissions (25.8 million tonnes are emitted by small businesses alone). 

Since the 2015 Paris Agreement and the United Nations’ Net Zero Coalition, there has been increased pressure on organisations to take immediate and meaningful action. It is only fitting that businesses take the proactive initiative to adopt eco-friendly practices across the board, for the benefit of themselves and the climate. 

Failing to do so will ultimately result in potential reputational turmoil and distrust from environmentally-conscious consumers, partners and investors. Internal and external stakeholders are demanding improved transparency when it comes to a business’s environmental programmes and policies. Customers are growing increasingly conscious of where their hard-earned money goes, with many preferring to work with companies that take sustainability seriously, according to a recent McKinsey survey

Conversely, businesses are under increased scrutiny, with many being accused of greenwashing and facing severe backlash to the point that their reputation is irreparably damaged. It goes without saying that committing to sustainability has to be the result of genuine effort and attention. 

In order to establish more eco-friendly workplaces across the board, businesses need to approach this challenge from several angles. They need to look at the ‌company’s culture, objectives, policies and structure, as well as their buildings, energy suppliers, products, materials, equipment, and other physical elements of their sustainability goals. Adopting an improved eco-friendly approach does not just benefit the environment but can also save long-term costs and improve a business’ reputation.

You might also like: How to Lower Your Carbon Footprint Through An Eco-Friendly Home Audit

5 Ways to Foster a More Eco-Friendly Workplace

Here are some important steps that business owners can take to create a more sustainable and environmentally-minded workplace.

1. Reduce Energy Consumption

The first step towards a more sustainable workplace is to reduce your energy usage. This has a financial benefit too; the less energy you use, the lower your energy bill

The company should start by replacing its incandescent bulbs with LED, low-energy versions which use less electricity and last significantly longer. Taking advantage of LED bulbs will also result in a huge cost difference, particularly if you use them strategically with plenty of natural light.

In larger organisations, it is common for energy wastage to be higher. Employees may leave desktop computers on overnight or put them on standby rather than shutting them down, and the latter is better to adopt as a practice going forward. Other ways to save energy in the workplace are to make slight adjustments to the air conditioning power and the thermostat, which, while small in the scheme of things, can contribute to huge long-term cost savings and energy efficiency. 

2. Focus on Cleaner Forms of Energy

In light of lowering energy consumption, businesses can make substantial savings and reduce their carbon footprint by switching energy suppliers and adopt alternative, sustainable types of energy to power their offices.

Switching to energy suppliers that distribute clean energy is also a good way to ensure that you are being more ethical. Even if energy prices are soaring right now, this is a much greener choice to adopt in the long run, and once prices stabilise, you will be grateful for making the jump to an eco-friendly provider.

You can also make smart choices to source renewable energy using commercial solutions like heat pumps, solar panels and batteries. This means that green energy is sourced from elements like sunlight or air, which are inexhaustible. By showing that you adopt such practices, you will be demonstrating a commitment to reducing your environmental damage.

You might also like: How Solar Panels Can Lower Your Electricity Bills in 2023

3. Promote Recycling and Waste Reduction

Recycling and waste reduction are essential components of a sustainable workplace. Each tonne of recycled paper saves 3 cubic metres of landfill, 7,000 gallons of water and 380 gallons of oil. In addition, currently, 55% of all the United Kingdom’s plastic waste ends up in landfills or the ocean. Commercially, businesses need to do better.

You should aim to encourage employees to recycle paper, plastic and other materials in designated recycling bins, which should be easily accessible. You could also consider implementing programmes for composting to reduce food waste, as well as reusing materials and resources when they are still able to be used. 

In the long run, you could reduce your paper usage. With today’s widespread connectivity and technological innovation, using paper should be a novelty, at best. Reducing paper usage by embracing digital transformation, and opting to use recycled paper when necessary, can be a significant greenhouse gas emission reducer (2.28-2.9 gigatons, to be exact). 

4. Promote Sustainable Transportation

Transport is a huge contributor to mass carbon emissions and pollutants. Even though the average daily commute to work does not appear that damaging on paper, when you consider the collective actions of millions of workers worldwide, it looks significantly worse. Reducing the amount of travelling that your employees do for work, particularly by car, is important for your business’s overall sustainability. 

Encourage employees to take public transport or lift shares, or incentivise them to take up schemes like the Cycle to Work scheme. Not only does this promote better health choices, but it can also provide financial benefits to businesses. This is also handy to bear in mind alongside governments’ efforts to boost electric vehicle accessibility and infrastructure in their quest to achieve net zero status by 2050.

You can significantly reduce the impact of transportation by encouraging remote or hybrid working if your business allows it. This is much more sustainable and eco-friendly and also provides work-life benefits for employees. By allowing  your team to work remotely, you will be accomplishing several goals simultaneously.

5. Implement Sustainability Policies

Think about the strategic and long-term goals you want to achieve with your sustainability efforts. Depending on your organisation, creating and implementing environmental policies and procedures will help to promote a culture of sustainability in the workplace.

Your policy should outline why you want to make your workplace more eco-friendly and how you plan to do so. This could include reducing paper usage, promoting greener commutes, or using renewable materials, and even education on how employees can make more sustainable choices. Whatever your policy, it is crucial for creating improved collective efforts towards making positive change. 

Additionally, your business can take part in large-scale initiatives to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. You could plant trees regularly with a corporate partner like the Woodland Trust, involve yourself in reforestation and biodiversity projects from companies like Ecologi, and even offset your employees’ carbon emissions to become a net zero or even a carbon-negative company. This may take some time to establish, but doing so can be a huge green flag to prospective employees, investors and clients. 

Creating a more sustainable workplace is not only beneficial for the environment but can also save costs and improve the reputation of the business. By making small, incremental changes and then fostering a culture of sustainability, businesses can work their way up to becoming influential to others and spearheading increased efforts in protecting our planet and resources. 

You might also like: Why CEOs Fall Short In Meeting Environmental Goals

When corporations set a goal to be more environmentally friendly, people expect them to keep their word. However, it is often the case that their attempts aren’t successful. Why do CEOs fall short of their environmental goals? 

9 Reasons Why CEOs Fall Short of Meeting Environmental Targets

1. Lack of Accountability

Many chief executive officers (CEOs) are responsible for environmental goals and initiatives because they are the highest-ranking executives. While it seems they could easily make decisions for their organisations, they often face challenges and fall short of their goals. One of the primary reasons this occurs is a need for more accountability. 

Out of 530 corporate executives, over 50% feel unconfident in the longevity and success of their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) programmes. Generally, no repercussions exist for those who do not focus on the success of their initiatives because their stakeholders cannot or will not enforce any. 

The lack of accountability concerns many, considering companies set and monitor the targets themselves. Since they decide the timeline of their plans, there is no real pressure to succeed. For example, less than one-fourth of firms are on track to meet their goals for the Paris Agreement as of 2021. When CEOs do not have a strict schedule, they are more likely to push back their ESG programs in favour of other priorities. 

You might also like: ESG Investing in 2023: A Rising Trend Amid Greenwashing Concerns

2. Unforeseen Circumstances

Even when CEOs are devoted to their organisation’s environmental impact, situations may prevent them from achieving their sustainability goals. For example, over 111,000 non-residential fires occurred in the US in 2020, causing damages of over US$3.4 million. Businesses cannot predict such situations, and it can be challenging for them to prioritise their ESG program in light of unforeseen circumstances. 

3. Conflicts of Interest

Some organisations fall short of their ESG goals because of conflicts of interest. For example, the CEO of BlackRock stated that sustainability “is the new standard” despite continuously investing in fossil fuels and delaying their ESG achievement dates. He received pushback from stakeholders for claiming to be environmentally conscious while funding an unsustainable practice. When top executives say they will improve their green efforts without following through, they fall short of their commitment.

4. Lack of Support

Even when CEOs implement environmental goals and attempt to follow through with them, there is not always complete support. In fact, 81% of business leaders feel unconfident in their formal programmes because their organisation does not meet its own standards. While they can declare new programmes and establish a plan of action, this requires assistance from every company level to succeed.

5. Complexity of Commitment

Following through with an environmental initiatives can be complex. Business leaders must consider the financial, legal, and ethical aspects going into their decision, along with possible repercussions for the entire organisation. 

Additionally, many variables can make it challenging to stay aligned with their ESG programmes. For example, around 83% of CEOs claim that current geopolitical instability limits their ability to achieve their sustainable development goals. A lot of work goes into figuring out how to integrate their plan with their business, and the complexity is enough to make many fall short of their commitment.

6. Challenge of Scalability

When a business cannot adapt to growing demand, it typically has to reduce its commitments. Although many CEOs are initially successful with their environmental initiatives, they might fall short because of scalability issues. Most businesses are unable to scale their environmental initiatives because of conflicting internal beliefs about sustainability. They might give up if they cannot balance their efforts with expectations.

7. Regulatory Concerns

Many CEOs stray from their ESG programmes over concerns of regulatory organisations. In fact, over 50% of companies feel regulations are the most significant external factor that will impact their operations within the next few years. They are typically less likely to commit to sustainability when they are limited by laws or have to deal with various policies to stay compliant. 

8. Greenwashing

Greenwashing refers to a situation in which an organisation convinces its stakeholders they are positively impacting the environment without actually taking action. It is the process of misleading people into thinking a company is environmentally friendly by exaggerating its sustainable aspects or impact. CEOs fall short in environmental initiatives when they greenwash their organisation’s services or products.

You might also like: 10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing

9. Perceived Low Value

Although most CEOs claim they recognise the competitive advantage of a sustainable business model, less than half experience revenue growth, and only 25% see reduced expenses. While the value of environmental initiatives is high for consumers and the planet, many businesses simply do not see a financial incentive. 

On top of that, many feel they should de-prioritise environmental programs in general. A 2023 study of 1,476 executives conducted by The Harris Poll found that ESG programmes dropped from their top priority to their third. For most, the main reasoning behind the decision was that there was too much external pressure to stop prioritising them. 

What Are Potential Solutions for CEOs Falling Short of their Environmental Targets?

The success of environmental programmes falls to the top executives, so it is essential for them to receive help and resources. Many of the reasons they fall short of their goals have simple solutions.  

There are a few potential solutions for CEOs who are falling short:

CEOs can succeed with better internal education, stronger accountability, and research proving how valuable their ESG programme is. There is no single solution that can fix everything, but an actionable and direct response can help. 

CEOs Can Meet Their Environmental Goals 

CEOs are not successful in their attempts at making their organisation more environmentally friendly when they lack support, accountability, and information. It is fairly easy for them to fall short of their goals when they don’t have the proper tools to maintain a green initiative. Still, potential solutions like increased accountability and education can help them stay on the right track and ultimately succeed. 

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Billions of people use social media every day, making them the perfect platform for climate researchers to share their findings and generate public interest in environmental protection. However, misinformation threatens to undermine the hard work of climate scientists and progressive organisations. This article assesses the strengths of social media in furthering climate research and suggests ways to build resilience against misinformation online.

Social media is integral to winning the fight against climate change. Whether we like it or not, social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok greatly influence the way we think and the actions we take. 

The negative impact of social media is well-documented. 74% of web users say they have come across false or misleading information online. Concerningly, the ad revenue generated by misinformation exceeds $2.6 billion. Misinformation and half-truths are rife online and the loudest voices are often amplified over voices of reason and peer-reviewed research. 

However, social media can also be a tool for good. With the right checks and balances, researchers and climate advocacy groups can help folks around the world access research and become part of a wider conversation about global warming. Social media can also highlight the hard work of environmental activists, like Greta Thunberg, who use their platforms to help fund climate research and push politicians into action. 

social media, facebook

About 4.9 billion people and over two-thirds of internet users (one in three people worldwide) are using social media as of 2023.

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4 Ways Social Media Can Further Climate Research

1. Creating Communities

Tackling climate change will require fundamental changes to our way of life. We need to adopt more harmonious, ecologically sound lifestyles that minimise carbon production and environmental degradation. However, convincing people to adopt more climate-conscious behaviours can be tricky – particularly if they do not feel social pressure to change. 

Social media can further the impact of climate change research by hosting climate-conscious digital communities. This is particularly important for folks who live in areas where the biggest environmental problems are largely ignored or misunderstood. Would-be climate activists can connect with researchers and organisations to fund their climate-change projects and raise awareness in their area.  

Researchers can connect online, too. Some of the biggest social media sites like Twitter and TikTok are built to help experts connect with the public and share their research in an open forum. Similarly, professional social sites like LinkedIn can help prospective researchers find funding for their work and build their network. This kind of networking is vital today, as a coordinated global response is necessary to spread trustworthy information to the public. 

2. Public Information

Climate change can be difficult to understand. Many people may fail to grasp the widespread effects of climate change and make the connection between their actions and the environmental impact they may have. 

A recent study titled “Social Engagement with Climate Change” and published in Climate Policy shows that social media is the perfect platform to share climate research with the public. Researchers found that pages run by state agencies, NGOs, and international organisations can use their platform to raise awareness and convince the public that we have a “shared responsibility to address climate change”. In particular, the report suggests sharing posts that: 

These kinds of posts generate engagement online by fostering an emotional connection between climate change and our actions. A 2023 survey completed by the World Bank titled “Human Capital and Climate Change” found that education is key to voter preferences and policy changes. Folks will be more likely to vote for policymakers when they authentically care about rising sea temperatures, local green spaces, and the wider impact of global warming. 

Sharing public information about climate research can also help alleviate climate anxiety. Millions of people experience “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” Yet, when used correctly, social media can help us better understand issues related to climate change and environmental degradation. 

Climate-conscious users who share useful content online will experience the mental health benefits of social media, too. When used correctly, social media helps people find new friends, create communities, express their ideas, and share “good news” stories and other climate-related accomplishments. 

Good news stories about topics like Team Seas are particularly powerful online and can foster greater public support for climate change policies. Alleviating climate anxiety with “good news” stories can defeat the doom scroll and show the world that positive change is possible. This will generate greater public interest in climate-related research and may even change voter preferences in upcoming elections around the globe. 

3. Disaster Response

Rising global temperatures cause more severe climate-related disasters. Today, the wildfire season lasts longer, owing to drier summers and land mismanagement. Similarly, NASA-led research suggests that hurricanes are more severe and extreme storms are more common due to rapidly warming oceans that fuel tempest-like cyclones. 

Responding to disasters requires a coordinated, clear response. Governmental agencies can use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to share messaging designed to save lives and minimise the impact of disasters. 

Social platforms can also be used to share information about current events and improve public awareness about disasters like major oil spills. Raised awareness pushes politicians to hold businesses accountable for their actions and can help prevent potential ecological disasters in the future. This is particularly important today, when misinformation threatens to derail climate research and undermine the hard work of climate scientists. 

4. Tackling Misinformation

Peer-reviewed, scientifically credible research isn’t easily digestible for most people. However, climate scientists and reputable influencers can help tackle misinformation by guiding their followers through the climate “debate” with integrity and care. 

This sentiment is echoed in a recently published issue brief of BSR, titled “Building a High-Quality Climate Science Information Environment: The Role of Social Media”. Researchers found that most major social media platforms “work with independent fact-checking organisations,” and flag potentially misleading posts. 

On the flip side, the study found that many social sites are unable to detect climate misinformation and fail to account for “more subtle forms of climate misinformation.” Their research also shows that simply removing misinformation is largely ineffective. 

Instead, more must be done to create “high-quality information,” that can compete in the “online attention economy”. This means that climate scientists who want to work in public-facing roles must be given social media training to improve the quality of their content and bolster engagement with their posts. 


Social media can be a tool for good in the fight against climate change. Researchers can connect with other scientists online and climate-conscious organisations can spread high-quality information to the masses. Social sites like TikTok and Reddit are great for community building, too, and can help spread “good news” stories that generate widespread interest and firm up public interest in climate research.  

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Sustainability is necessary to reverse the dangerous effects of climate change. One way to reduce your carbon footprint is by embracing the many eco-friendly housing options that are good for you and the planet. It can be hard to embrace change, and the stigmas associated with many green housing options prevent many from accepting a new type of home. However, by breaking free of the stereotypes, sustainable housing can become more popular and produce positive change.

What Is Sustainable Housing?

A sustainable home is built, operated, and maintained in ways that reduce the owner’s carbon footprint and the impact of climate change. Modern technology and conscious practices formed many ideas for building more efficient homes, one of which could be ideal for you. 

1. Prefabricated Homes

Manufacturers produce these homes in factories and transport them to the building site, where they are permanently assembled. They do not take nearly as long to construct as traditional houses, making them energy-efficient and cost-effective. 

These houses are only exposed to weather conditions during a week or two of assembly, so they can be sturdier than others facing months of sun, wind, and rain. These structures are often made from high-quality materials since they come in set designs and are built at scale. 

Why they are not popular (but should be): Many people do not like the idea of their home being assembled in pieces instead of being built from the ground up. There is a stigma that they are cheaply made and unattractive, but that is far from the truth. Many companies offer customisation options, and they can last as long as stick-built homes with proper care. 

prefabricated home

Photo by Harry Pepelnar on Unsplash.

2. Tiny Homes

These homes, often built on trailers, are the epitome of convenience. They are typically 100-400 square feet, making them great for singles or small families who want the flexibility of moving their house while having a unique, sustainable design. 

They do not take up a lot of space and have a significantly lower carbon footprint than conventional homes. Homeowners also save money on utility bills that they can spend elsewhere. Tiny homes are ideal for those who want a large yard or wish to be more minimalistic. 

Why they are not popular (but should be): There is a common belief that tiny homes have no storage, but that is not true. They do not hold as many items as traditional houses but they boast unique storage options that let you have everything you need under your roof. Some might also think these homes are not as sturdy as standard-sized houses, especially since they are mobile. However, with the right materials, they can provide plenty of space. 

3. Earthships 

Earthships are built for off-the-grid living and feature modern luxuries in innovative ways. Homeowners can use solar panels for electricity and other energy needs and advanced water-collection techniques for a consistent supply. While they can be challenging to build, they also provide a paradise that is good for the environment. 

Why they are not popular (but should be): Off-the-grid living seems scary for most people, but Earthships have everything a modern home needs. They are often made from adobe bricks or compacted earth and are well-insulated with enough energy to fuel modern appliances. Create a garden for food and you can be in charge of your own oasis. 

4. Straw Bale Homes

These unique homes combine new technologies with building techniques of the past. Builders use hay or straws to construct extremely insulated houses. Then, they cover them with plaster and clay to create a smooth, strong, relaxing space. Straw bale homes take less time to build than most other options, are made from low-impact materials, and do not require much maintenance.

Why they are not popular (but should be): Straw bale homes can be seen as archaic and less convenient than modern structures, but that is far from the truth. These houses could help you save a significant amount of money on your energy bills thanks to the insulation. Their low construction costs let you make your residence as traditional or unique as you want.              

5. Shipping Container Homes

Millions of shipping containers carry items across the sea each year, but after they are discarded, they can decompose at a snail’s pace in landfills. These giant containers can be recycled into fully functional homes, giving new life to the container and providing a fantastic house for over a decade. 

Why they are not popular (but should be): Many people struggle to see these containers as homes, but the right renovations can make them look and feel similar to a small modular house. It is true that they do not last forever. And yet, they are excellent options for someone pursuing an education or performing a work contract. They can also serve as unique rental properties for investors. 

shipping container home

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash.

How to Make Sustainable Housing More Popular

There is hesitation around sustainable housing, but there are ways to make these homes more popular:

Embracing New Housing Options 

Sustainable housing is a step in the right direction toward a happier and healthier planet. Emphasising its benefits could help people find the perfect home for them.

Featured image by Andrea Davis on Unsplash.

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The world needs positive climate action from tech corporations. If you need April 22 as a concrete motivator to start making greener changes, the best time to start planning is now. Here are 6 ways in which tech companies can celebrate Earth Day and switch to more sustainable practices.

These are some of the most impactful ways for tech companies to celebrate Earth Day and mitigate their environmental impact. It is sure to provide benefits for companies’ bottom lines and employee morale, alongside improving the health of out planet.

1. Intentional Carbon Offsetting

Every tech company has a carbon footprint. Driving for commutes, shipping phones, and booting up PCs all contribute to the endless pounds of greenhouse gases wearing down the atmosphere. Instead, you can invest in carbon offsetting programmes. When carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, its climate impact can be cancelled out by absorbing equal amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Companies can compensate for the climate impact of their greenhouse gas emissions by supporting projects that reduce or store carbon emissions. This also allows your business to reflect on carbon usage and take responsibility.

There are hundreds of ways to offset carbon, one of the most popular being tree planting. Consider alternative options more aligned with a tech company’s specialty, such as funding emerging carbon-capture technologies or reducing emissions from e-waste.

You might also like: Is Carbon Offset a Form of Greenwashing?

2. Mindful Parts Sourcing

Every tech company is solely responsible for sourcing every part of its products. Earth Day is perfect for evaluating suppliers and seeing where greener options are available. Apple is taking charge of this and finding recycled metals to replace everything from circuit boards to remotes. Focusing on reusing materials instead of encouraging raw material mining is one of the most remarkable ways to make a greener tech sector.

3. Careful Energy Use

Tech companies use copious amounts of energy. Therefore, if you can invest in cleaner renewables, there is more to gain than just a good conscience. Any renewable energy source – like wind power or solar – could help cut utility bills, freeing company budgets to meet staffing needs or invest in more eco-conscious initiatives. Start researching corporate options for renewable energy for Earth Day because it might be the most financially intelligent investment you’ll make all year.

4. Noteworthy Remote Work Opportunities

Celebrating Earth Day represents progress, changing to keep up with a developing world. Some tech companies may need to catch up because of antiquated technology or clunky business models. One of the best ways to free time and resources is by offering employees remote work options, which forces tech companies to digitise and adapt to more eco-friendly and streamlined operations.

Remote work is more than just reducing fossil fuel use from commutes. It also means moving to greener digital storage solutions like the cloud instead of using old, energy-intensive internal hardware. Moreover, resource expenditure for office buildings decreases drastically. Moving to remote work makes companies evaluate the options they have. When they do this, they recognise every outdated item could upgrade to a more eco- and energy-friendly alternative.

5. Practical Electronics Recycling

E-waste is one of the most prominent waste surpluses on the planet. You can begin researching options today to take swift action on this global issue. Here are a few options tech enterprises can consider:

Electronic waste sits in landfills and underprivileged communities, adding to global emissions and leaking toxins into the soil and waterways. You can take a stand this Earth Day to minimise these effects.

You might also like: ​​What is E-Waste Recycling and How Is it Done?

6. Influential Goal Setting

Maybe your company does not have the resources to buy solar panels or travel the world to take care of e-waste. Brainstorming goals for the year inspired by Earth Day is just as significant.

There are myriad objectives to work towards, and you can commit to as few or as many as the organization can handle. Focusing on a few eco-conscious goals well is more valuable than spreading resources too thin. 

Here are some ideas of environmental goals tech companies can work on:

Be as creative as you can with your resources. No effort is too small. If you need models to work from, corporate social responsibility and environmental, social, and governance approaches are practical frameworks to cite for inspiration.

Celebrate Earth Day With Purpose

Whether it’s recycling a pound of electronics or installing solar panels, every effort to celebrate Earth Day will matter for tech companies. Each step is valuable and sets a precedent for the industry. Each tech company that makes a promise this Earth Day puts the planet one step closer to a sustainable future that equally supports nature and humans.

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The fast fashion industry is projected to reach a value of US$38,2 billion in 2023, a stunning figure if one considers its massively detrimental impact on the environment. As consumers, we have the power to make conscious choices that can drive sustainability and considerably reduce the impact of this industry. But how can we spot the culprits and learn which fast fashion brands to avoid?

Fast fashion is a large sector of the fashion industry whose business model relies on cheap, rapid, and large-scale production of low-quality clothing that big fashion retailers market worldwide at extremely low prices. The sector, which in 2020 reached a global market value of nearly US$69,000 million, is tremendously detrimental to the environment. From the water consumption in the production to the emissions deriving from the shipment of clothing around the world and the 92 million tonnes of textile waste that the industry generates annually, fast fashion is contributing to global pollution and climate change in an astronomical way. In fact, it is emitting even more carbon dioxide than the aviation industry. If this industry were a country, its emissions would rank almost as high as the entire European continent.

The list of fast fashion companies that have taken over the global clothing market and whose successes lie in the cheaply-produced clothing is long. As consumers, we have the power to make sustainable choices and thus slow down this dangerous trend. But how do we know if a brand is ‘fast fashion’? Here is a list of points that you should note when evaluating the sustainability of a brand.

What is the Brand’s Philosophy and Marketing?

In order to understand the main goals of a brand and recognise whether they are sustainable, it is always good to look back at the definition of fast fashion. When we refer to fast fashion, we are talking about an industry that produces and sells massive quantities of clothing collections that mimic current fashion trends at extremely affordable prices. 

Of all brands that explicitly promote values such as affordability and trendiness, SHEIN is probably the best example of a brand promoting a fast fashion-oriented philosophy. Founded in 2008, the Chinese online retailer is one of the fastest growing companies using this type of business model. On Instagram alone, SHEIN has 23,3 million followers and it is explicitly thanks to social media platforms that the brand was able to grow at such a fast rate. Influencers and celebrities helped spread the word, pushing Generation Z consumers to buy from a company whose motto is: ‘Everyone can enjoy the beauty of fashion’. SHEIN does not only satisfy the ‘cheap’ aspect of a typical fast fashion brand by selling clothing at alarmingly low prices, but it is also the best example of a ‘fast’ brand. The company adds thousands of new products to its website every week, promoting the idea that more is better and making buying clothing ridiculously accessible.

Is the Price of the Brand’s Clothing Justifiable?

One of the biggest characteristics of fast fashion brands is how they catch the eye of consumers with their extremely low prices. While it might be the most appealing factor of all and it is certainly the reason why so many people around the world choose to buy clothing from such brands, we should always ask ourselves: why are prices so low and how can the company afford it? How is it able to cover the cost of garment workers, the manufacturing process, and transportation and still make a profit out of it? 

An excellent example of a cheap fast fashion brand is Primark. The Irish multinational retailer and England’s top-seller markets trending clothes at incredibly low prices, a practice that encourages consumers to buy an abundance of items only to discard them after wearing them a few times and go back to buy more. This practice alone generates colossal amounts of fashion and textile waste. The only way the fashion giant is able to maintain prices low is by sacrificing other sides of the business: Primark does not spend much money on marketing as some of its competitors like H&M and Zara do and, by sticking to retail sale instead of providing an e-commerce platform to its customers, the company is able to cut costs that would derive from having an online website, such as packing, shipping,  and providing customer support. While this makes it a ‘less fast fashion’ brand, Primark is still promoting overconsumption which massively contributes to its significant environmental footprint.

Cheap prices are also indicators for fast fashion brands to avoid; low price tags are often a signal that something is wrong behind the scenes, meaning issues related to poor working conditions and environmentally-unfriendly production. Cheap clothing production often arises from the mistreatment of workers. Fast fashion brands are more often than not associated with violations of basic workers’ rights, such as the lack of safety rules, low salaries, and excessive working hours. Some go as far as describing the fast fashion industry as a ‘modern form of slavery’. Primark of all examples has often been at the centre of of scandals related to inhumane working conditions, with factory workers hiding desperate notes inside clothes to denounce abuses and slave labour conditions. The American fast fashion giant Forever 21 has also been involved in controversies related to labour practice. After a 2016 investigation, for example, the US Labor Department discovered that the company was paying its factory workers as little as USD$4 an hour, way below the legal minimum wage.

You might also like: The 9 Essential Fast Fashion Statistics

Does the Brand Produce More than It Can Sell? 

A significant part of emissions generated by the fast fashion industry comes from textile waste and overproduction. While large-scale production of clothing, which allows brands to sell them at lower prices, is the main driver of overconsumption, the biggest issue related to excessive manufacturing is what companies do with unsold goods. More often than not they are destroyed, a practice that companies seem to prefer over selling them at extremely discounted rates once they go out of season. Doing so would damage their reputation and exclusivity, as explained by Fashinnovation: “Recycling requires sorting through and separating the garments, which requires more labour, which requires more money”.

Thus, since the main goal of fast fashion companies is to generate profit, destroying clothing is their best and cheapest alternative.

Some examples of brands known for producing more than they can sell and for the reckless disposal of unsold clothes are Nike, Urban Outfitters, and H&M. The latter produces on average 3 billion garments a year, huge portions of which remain unsold: in 2019, the company had produced nearly US$ 4,1 billion worth of unsold goods. However, the Swedish multinational clothing company and world’s second largest fashion retailer is on a mission to become more sustainable by promoting and facilitating the recycling of old clothes. While H&M’s approach is certainly a step in the right direction and could eventually mitigate the company’s impact on the environment as well as lead the way for other fashion giants to follow, the underlying issue remains unsolved. H&M is a fast fashion brand that, along with many others, produces more than it can sell and promotes overconsumption.

Is the Brand Practicing What It Preaches or is it Trying to Greenwash?

One last crucial point to learning which fast fashion brands to avoid is understanding whether a company’s sustainability claims are more than just a marketing strategy. Having a sustainable clothing line does not automatically mean that the brand is eco-friendly. Greenwashing occurs when companies spend much more time and resources marketing their sustainability plans than actually executing them. More often than not, fashion giants promote misleading information to make consumers believe they are ethical or appear to value transparency by sharing information regarding their emissions only to forget to set clear targets to lower them. 

A 2021 investigation by the Changing Market Foundation found that 59% of all claims by European fashion brands are inaccurate and misleading. While many brands are investing millions of dollars in sustainable projects, a large majority of them still depend on fossil fuel-based synthetic fibres. H&M, which recently invested millions into recycling facilities around the world and that has its own ‘Conscious’ collection, is actually hiding real information regarding the materials they use to produce their clothing. For example, one such ‘Conscious’ collection was found to contain 10% more synthetic fibers than its fast-fashion line. Primark also ranked at the top of brands that lack transparency over their green claims. It is SHEIN however, that tops the ranking for being the least transparent fast fashion brand in terms of sustainability, as it does not share any information about production, supply chain and the impact of its business.

How to Avoid Fast Fashion Brands

The aforementioned brands from Zara and Primark, to Shein and H&M, are just some of the most influential fast-fashion brands on the planet. However, the list goes on and on. While it might be relatively easy to identify them, it is more difficult than it seems to avoid these fast fashion brands and resist the temptation buying into their trendy and extremely affordable collections. However, if we really want the industry to change and contribute to fighting climate change, we as consumers have the power and duty to rethink our choices and understand that our actions have consequences; and it can all start by opting for more sustainable and ethical over fast fashion brands.

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Food waste is one of the biggest environmental problems and challenges of our lifetime and it must be eradicated at all costs. However, some see it as a business opportunity ready for innovative solutions. If we properly educate ourselves about food waste, we would see that taking the steps to reduce it can be an excellent way to lower costs, generate profits, and alleviate climate change. Here are 11 effective solutions to tackle food waste for businesses, producers, retailers, and consumers. 


The issue of food waste ranges from industrial to individual; there are many contributing factors towards why food is wasted, such as purchasing preferences, excess production, retail standards, convenience, cost and more. 

Food waste affects all three realms of sustainability: environmental, economic and social. It is a societal issue that touches everyone around the globe, and it contributes to the larger issue of climate change. It has been estimated that food waste accounts for one-third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and generates 8% of greenhouse gases annually. 

Solutions for food waste are needed now more than ever. Everyone can be a part of the solution to food waste, from large corporations to small communities. Innovators have explored food waste solutions in the science and technology industry, but there is still more that needs to be done. 

Addressing food waste does not need to be a charitable thing or a form of philanthropy. What often goes unrecognised are the huge benefits that can be achieved from reducing food waste, and they are not just environmental. They can differ from improvements in one’s health, to profits generated in a company with innovative solutions to tackle the crisis. 

If businesses redirect excess food to communities with limited access to it, they can save money and reduce their methane emissions at the same time. Educating the public about the benefits of reducing food waste will also encourage businesses and consumers to monitor their waste more closely. 

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Creating Circular Food Systems

Businesses can benefit in the reduction of food waste economically, socially and on a broader scale, environmentally.

Inspired by Patagonia’s sustainability effort, the University of Maine’s Mitchell Center Team Project conducted a research project that looked into “Food Management: Empowering Main Businesses Towards Sustainability”. This study was conducted in collaboration with stakeholders who were persuading business owners to adapt food waste solutions into their practices. 

The aim of the project was to determine how easily these changes can be adapted to fit the individual lifestyles of consumers. 

The stakeholders involved work in Maine’s food-related industries, such as grocery stores, farms, restaurants, and hospitals. Key stakeholders included Hannaford, Northern Light: Maine Coast Hospital, City of Portland, and the Maine DEP, as well as many others.

In this study, using a triple bottom line approach, businesses were encouraged to equally prioritise their monetary profits with their environmental and social responsibilities. 

They recommended food systems to be reworked from a linear one into a circular one. In a linear system, there is a simple relationship between production to consumption, in which the end result is waste. However, with a circular economy, the goal is to recycle waste into a resource that can be used to create new products. 

The study was successful in that stakeholders were interested in collaboration at the end of the project. It also highlighted the importance of education and accessibility to landfill alternatives. Six solutions were developed from the collaboration in the project:

1. Measuring and tracking all food storage 

Businesses were encouraged to use pre-existing food waste tracking technology. These systems can help make businesses aware of the money they are wasting on food waste that never gets to consumers. 

2. Creating a “Food Rescue” system

This solution utilised a web-based system that matched locally available food to local food needs and volunteers to transfer the food to the ones that need it. 

3. Promoting statewide consumer and producer waste education

Consumer education and awareness about the food system and the waste was encouraged. Doing so helped people see the true value of the food they are purchasing. There is a general lack of awareness, so implementing education programmes in schools can be an effective way to educate the public. 

4. Building of food handling and processing infrastructure

This solution focuses on “upcycling” food that is already in the system, e.g. turning tomatoes into tomato sauce and increasing demand in canning and processing food for long-term storage. 

The aim here is to connect key members of the food system and create synergy among handling and processing stakeholders. Primary issues to be addressed are transportation availability, storage limitations, and restrictions associated with food donation. 

5. Educate producers on the advantages of donating 

This solution is also related to the second solution. The primary goal for this solution is to educate stakeholders on food donation incentives, legal protection, and offer guidance on relevant governmental agencies. 

6. Composting alternatives 

This solution aims to increase available options for composting and other alternatives to disposal of food in landfills. Developing statewide practices to divert food waste from landfills can make huge cost savings possible. 

solutions for food waste

Changing Food Crops

The International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC)  recommends producers and farmers to consider a change in crops. They believe that improving food security and lowering greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved through changing what we eat, and growing more sustainable and hardy crops. These types of crops can be ones that are low maintenance, can cope with extreme weather events, and crops that can be interspersed with pastures and arable land.

Avoiding deforestation for additional farmland could also prevent more than 70 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions.

For other ways to reduce food waste on the producer level, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recommended the following solutions for producers and farmers: 

1. On-farm storage 

On-farm storage is a great way to reduce post-harvest loss. Farmers should have effective, safe and accessible storage for their products. Some countries might offer a farm storage facility loan programme (USDA) where they provide low-interest financing to help producers build or upgrade storage. 

2. Value-added products

This is where you can enhance the value of products by upcycling them into another product. The potential to reduce food waste can be made if we create value-added products. A good example of this is growing out black solider fly larvae to bioconvert the organic waste into sustainable insect protein, oil and frass which eliminates or abates on farm emissions. 

3. Secondary markets that produce delivery services

There are many businesses in some countries that offer weekly or bimonthly boxes of food products that have been directly sourced from the farmers. Farmers could directly collaborate with these markets to effectively control their food production. 

4. Donations 

Donations from farmers can help provide individuals with fresh produce if they have limited access to it. There have been laws and programs created to make donations easy —  liability protection, tax benefits, picking and pack-out costs, gleaning etc. 

5. Feeding animals 

Using the food scraps as feed for animals can also be done. This is a common practice that has been around for centuries and is an easy way to divert food waste. However these animals especially cattle – produce methane. So better ways to recycle the waste need to be deployed, such as insect farming. 

Redirecting Food Surplus and Educational Campaigns

Food waste from restaurants and business constitutes 28% of the food wasted. To rectify this, we can push for policies that limit waste and redirect uneaten food to places where it is needed. This can be in the form of food recovery programmes to direct surplus to shelters.

There are other wide varieties of changes retailers can make in order to reduce their food waste. Some of these include upgrading their hardware with the latest technology, focusing on long-term sustainability rather than maximising returns from a product in the short-term, modifying their policies and regulations and ensuring all food is accepted to be sold etc.

Supermarkets can also create campaigns, where they provide education, inspiration and advice to their customers. Sainsbury’s – the second largest chain of supermarkets in the UK – research found that people look to supermarkets for guidance on how to tackle food waste, therefore retailers could provide literature in the form of magazines and membership programmes, that can provide ideas on how customers can prevent food waste, as well as recipes on how to utilise leftover food.

A good example is the rising number of “wonky” vegetable initiatives that have been implemented by supermarkets in recent years. These initiatives encourage consumers to buy food that does not meet aesthetic criteria, and they have been marketed in a way to make them appealing. In 2021, it was reported that Tesco’s food waste scheme Perfectly Imperfect saved at least 50 million packs of fruit and vegetables from being discarded.

solutions for food waste

Rethink Our Food Perceptions and Habits

Food waste is also the responsibility of us as individuals, as food waste at home can amount to 37% of overall food waste. We need to change our habits in ways that significantly reduce the amount of food that we waste.

One of the easiest solutions for food waste is through organisation methods. We could organise our fridge in a way that ensures the food that will go off first is clearly visible to us when we open the fridge. We could keep a list of the food we have bought on hand, and make a note of all the use-by labels. While this can be time consuming, a study in 2020 indicated that if you put these small efforts into reducing food waste, you could end up saving a substantial amount of money.

We also need to change our minds and the way we perceive food. Rather than preparing and cooking a meal we are in the mood for, we should base our cooking decisions off of the food we see in the fridge that needs to be used first.

Researching literature or buying cookbooks that provide ideas on how to utilise food scraps and leftover food can also be beneficial. Additionally, composting your food waste can help reduce carbon by equivalent of 12 million passenger vehicles off the road for 30 years.

Changes to our diet also need to be made. Experts have stated that there is too much fish, fats, sugars, dairy products and processed foods in our diets. Aside from incorporating more fruit and vegetables in our diets, Dr. Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, has recommended that we change our diet to consist primarily of low-CO2 emission food. By doing so, we can ensure that we maintain a balanced diet based on foods such as secondary cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, and even animal foods obtained with low CO2 emissions. We can do this by making conscious decisions to eat food that has a low carbon footprint such as plant-based foods. Meal-prepping is another great way to save time and resources, which can also prevent you from overbuying during food shopping. 

6 Key Facts to Help Consumers Make More Conscious Choices

Most foods are labelled in supermarkets and retailers, and understanding what these labels mean can help you organise your food shopping. 

1. “Sell by” date 

This is the date the retailer should display the product until withdrawing it from the shelves. This date does not indicate that the food has spoiled, but merely specifies the day that it will be past its best quality. The food is still safe to consume.

2. “Best if used by (or before)” date 

This date is for sellers and indicates when the food will be at its best quality to eat. It does not mean the food is inedible after this date, but merely informs the customer of when the best time to consume the food will be for it’s flavour and freshness etc. 

3. “Guaranteed fresh” date 

This date refers to the date when the item is at its optimal freshness. This is usually used for bakery items. 

4. “Pack date” 

This is usually the date on canned or packaged food. This date tells us when the product was packed. It does not indicate when it needs to be consumed by. 

5. “Use By” date 

This is the last date that the manufacturer guarantees the product to be at its maximum quality. 

6. “Expires on” date 

This date refers to the date that it is recommended that the product should be consumed by. If you decide to eat the food after the date, it is at your own risk. 

Overall, knowing the meaning of these dates is useful. However, it should be noted that some manufacturers might not put them on their products. For example, if you go to a meat market or a fish market, you may receive products in an ordinary bag, without a label. 

Here is a basic guide for when food is safe to eat:

Benefits of Reducing Food Waste at Home

Even though you will be making a conscious effort to help the environment, you will also be receiving benefits from reducing your food waste:

  1. Money saved by planning what to buy properly
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing overeating
  3. Lessening the chances of food poisoning in your household, as storing contaminated food could accidentally be consumed without you realising
  4. A well-organised, fresh-smelling pantry. There will be no bad smell or messy food waste around your pantry
  5. Pest control You can keep away pests, such as rats, flies and cockroaches

Earth.Org believes that there is a gargantuan opportunity to recycle organic waste and believes companies like FlyFarm, Ynsect and Innovafeed are showing that insect bioconversion eliminates emissions at the same time as produces high value sustainable protein. Challenges remain for post consumer waste around waste segregation and incentives for consumers to ensure their waste is free of contaminants. Governments should focus on ensuring that organic waste can be recycled.

Featured image by Marco Verch/Flickr

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Fast fashion is a multifaceted problem that not only threatens the environment but also poses ethical concerns. As the global community starts moving towards a more sustainable approach in all aspects of life, the clothing industry appears to be following suit with consumers leading the charge. We take a look at some sustainable alternatives to fast fashion. 

What’s Wrong With Fast Fashion?

The amount of resources required and waste produced by the fashion industry is inarguably massive. According to the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating roughly 20% of the world’s wastewater. The industry is also responsible for a massive 8-10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than maritime shipping and international flights combined.

Part of these emissions come from unsustainably grown and harvested cotton — from the irrigation water required for irrigation to oil-based pesticides and machinery used for harvesting. According to the estimates published by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, fashion industry emissions are expected to increase by 60% by 2030.

On top of that are emissions generated from transportation of these products all over the world as well as the fact that so much of it ends up being thrown out as people try to keep up with trends.

According to a study by researchers at Finland’s Aalto University, the textile industry produces more than 92 million tonnes of waste per year globally, while the Global Fashion Agenda forecasts that by 2030, a figure that will skyrocket to 148 million tonnes per year.

Kirsi Niinimäki and other authors of the study have concluded that slow fashion is the solution to this alarming problem. However, they have also emphasised that it takes the consolidated effort of all stakeholders, from designers and manufacturers to end consumers, to ensure this new framework is effective and sustainable in the long term.

On the workforce level, the fast fashion industry also raises ethical concerns related to the workers’ rights to a fair living wage and safe working conditions. When a shirt costs just US$2 to make, it is almost certain that the people engaged are exploited and underpaid, and such production is guaranteed not to be environmentally friendly as well. 

As society has begun to take stock of the problems that fast fashion poses, more clothing brands and consumers are seeking sustainable alternatives to fast fashion offerings. 

You might also like: The 9 Biggest Fast Fashion Statistics

Alternatives to Fast Fashion: What is Sustainable Fashion?

In simple terms, sustainable fashion refers to clothing produced with social, economic and environmental factors kept in mind. This includes fair wages to the workers throughout the supply chain, providing safe and healthy working conditions, and monitoring the environmental impacts of the products made.

These alternatives to fast fashion can look like sourcing and using materials that are grown and harvested in a sustainable way, produced with fewer resources with less toxic materials, and minimising the carbon footprint of a product.

The term “sustainable fashion” is sometimes interchangeably used with other terms like “ethical fashion” or “eco fashion”, with the latter bringing the environmental aspect to the forefront.

In an interview published by Vox, Dana Thomas, the author of Fashionopolis has emphasised that the onus for a real shift to take hold in the way we consume fashion today lies with consumers pushing brands to make effective and sustained choices.

 “So for shifts to happen, it has to be really strong-minded changemakers like Stella McCartney poking people with a stick, it has to be economically viable, or it has to be put down in law. But it’s on the brands,” Thomas explains.

“And the poking can come from consumers; it can be something as simple as a boycott – ‘We’re not going to buy this stuff anymore, this stuff is terrible, change it up.’ Look how quickly we got rid of plastic straws. It shows that consumers can push brand new companies and businesses to change very fast if we put our minds to it.”

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What Can You Do as a Consumer?

Whether you’re an avid fashionista or just treat clothing functionally, there are several things you can do as a consumer to help steer the fashion industry towards a more ethical and environmentally friendly model. In short, give up fast fashion for sustainable fashion instead.

One of the ways to do this is to be aware of where your clothes come from. A quick and easy step is to start shopping for clothes from brands that use sustainable materials like ethically grown and harvested natural materials, reclaimed fabric or even recycled materials.

Pact is a Colorado company that sells clothing made out of certified organic and fair trade cotton, ensuring that the entire supply chain is as sustainable as possible. In fact, the company also reuses old clothing to create many of its garments, ultimately reducing the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills. Other brands like H&M and Nike have also released lines of clothing and footwear made from recycled materials. Though H&M is still very much a fast fashion brand, it has taken steps towards becoming more sustainable.

Another great indicator of whether a clothing brand is actually sustainable is to look out for certifications from third party organisations like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which sets a global standard for organic textiles, or Fairtrade, which is an internationally recognised and trusted label for sustainability.

Brands that are certified by these organisations are generally proud of the fact and would showcase those certifications, telling consumers that they have adopted a sustainable model. A quick check on a brand’s website or social media will show you all you need to know.

On that note, a brand’s transparency about where they source their materials, where the products are made, and who makes them also clearly indicates that their sustainability claims are credible. The importance of a clothing brand’s transparency in regards to their supply chains cannot be understated.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies out there that are greenwashing their brands to appear sustainable and eco-friendly, when it is often not the case. A quick check of their certifications and claims is a simple way to figure out where a brand stands on the sustainability scale.

For example, Everlane openly shares the production costs of each item and states where their products are made. The brand has cultivated strong relationships with the factories to ensure that the HR and production processes are up to their high ethical standards.

Moving on, one of the many other alternatives to fast fashion is to adhere to the slow fashion approach. Suggesting a solution to our overconsumption of clothes, Fee Gilfeather, sustainable fashion expert at the Oxfam charity, said to BBC: “Secondhand clothing is giving clothes a second life and it’s slowing down that fast-fashion cycle.”

As mentioned, fast fashion thrives on the rapid trend cycles, coming up with new collections on a weekly basis and relying on consumers, who keep purchasing new items with the intention of throwing them out or donating after just a few wears. In fact, this has become the norm to a point that clothing is made with poorer quality that is not meant to last long, necessitating regular purchase of newer items to replace the ones that wear out quickly.

On the contrary, slow fashion is about buying clothes that are meant to last and using them for a long time. This also includes buying second-hand or pre-used clothing, which essentially extends the product lifecycle, therefore reducing its overall carbon footprint.

Another useful approach to extending a garment’s lifecycle would be to mend old clothes instead of replacing it because of a broken zip or a torn seam. There are even brands that have adopted this philosophy.

Patagonia charges a small fee from its customers to repair their clothing instead of making them buy new ones, while Red Wing Boots offer resoling and re-stitching services to breathe new life into worn out footwear.

As a consumer, there are many alternatives to fast fashion but more importantly, consumers have the power to create lasting and meaningful shifts in the fashion industry – moving it from the nightmarish fast fashion to a sustainable and ethical model through more conscious choices about how and where you shop. With joint effort, the fast fashion problem can be overcome.

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