Category: Green lifestyle

Adidas and ThredUp want to resell your used footwear

Read the full story in Fast Company.

The program aims to “extend the lifecycle” of clothing items by rewarding consumers with points in exchange for their old gear.

PFAS in cosmetics: Clearya and GSPI found PFAS in 1,000 products from 120 brands

Read the full story from Clearya.

Clearya is a browser plug-in and a mobile app for iPhone and Android phones that works automatically while consumers are shopping online. When users browse products on Amazon, Sephora, and other online stores, the cosmetics’ ingredients are automatically analyzed. As a result, the user is then instantly notified of unsafe chemicals it detects, including PFAS. The goal is to make it easy for shoppers to choose products without chemicals of concern and make informed decisions.

Google Flights adding environmental impact of users’ travel

Read the full story in The Hill.

Google unveiled a new feature on Wednesday that lets passengers factor in carbon emissions when booking air travel.

Climate Solutions at Work

Download the document.

This easy-to-flip-through guide—published by Drawdown Labs—will help the climate-concerned employee assess whether or not their company is taking adequate steps to address the climate crisis, and how they can utilize their power to push their company well beyond ‘net zero’. It can also be used by the general public to be more sophisticated judges of the corporate climate announcements we often hear about.

Throughout, the guide mentions specific job functions (e.g., marketing, human resources, government affairs, etc.) that have enormous untapped potential to drive climate action. As employees read the guide, we also encourage them to also think about the specific solutions they can integrate into their climate work.

Nature is medicine. But what’s the right dose?

Read the full story at Outside.

A new app called NatureQuant harnesses the latest research to track and rate your time outside. Next up: determining how much you need.

Should you exercise outside in air pollution?

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

EPA researchers are working to improve knowledge about the relationship between exercise and air pollution, which, until recently, has not been an active area of research. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a workshop to review the state of the science and existing public health guidance on physical activity and outdoor air pollution exposure. The international experts attending the workshop recommended additional research to assist with future public health guidance.

Since then, the study of potential health effects of air pollution during exercise has gained in popularity, especially in the last five years, says Stephanie DeFlorio-Barker, an epidemiologist in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. DeFlorio-Barker and colleagues have conducted a systematic scientific review of the literature published between 2000-2020 on the short-term health effects from exposure to air pollution during outdoor exercise. 

Fit for purpose: how to save clothes that no longer suit your shape or lifestyle

Read the full story in The Guardian.

From subtle tweaks to a complete remake, garments that you love but that no longer work for you can enjoy a second life.

P&G stuck in the past in a shifting tissue marketplace

Read the full story from NRDC.

The 2021 Issue With Tissue scorecard shows many companies have made major shifts toward sustainability, but laggards like Procter & Gamble (P&G) remain stuck in the past.

‘Forever chemicals’: the hidden threat from the toxic PFAS on your shelf

Read the full story in The Guardian.

PFAS are used in paints, food packaging and even cosmetics. We know they are in our water, air, soil and bodies – but less about how they will affect us.

Menstrual cups are a cheaper, more sustainable way for women to cope with periods than tampons or pads

A woman holds a menstrual cup in Kenya. Gioia Forster/picture alliance via Getty Images

by Susan Powers (Clarkson University)

Every year in America, women spend at least US$2.8 billion on sanitary pads and tampons that can take hundreds of years to decompose. Is there a more economical and environmentally friendly way? To find out, we asked Susan Powers, a professor of sustainable environmental systems at Clarkson University about her work comparing the environmental impact of tampons, sanitary pads and menstrual cups.

What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a type of reusable feminine hygiene product. It’s a small, flexible bell-shaped cup made of rubber or silicone that a woman inserts into her vagina to catch and collect menstrual fluid. It can be used for up to 12 hours, after which it is removed to dispose of the fluid and cleaned. The cup is rinsed with hot water and soap between each insertion and sterilized in boiling water at least once per period. A cup can last up to 10 years.

Although menstrual cups have been around for decades, they historically have been less popular than pads or tampons.

Are menstrual cups growing in popularity?

Yes, their popularity is growing as women, as well as men, become more comfortable dealing with and discussing menstruation. They have been a topic in news media ranging from Teen Vogue to NPR. Another part of their growing popularity stems from the general public’s concern about solid waste associated with any disposable product, including disposable pads and tampons.

You have been researching the life cycle of different feminine hygiene products. What is a life cycle assessment and what have your studies shown?

A life cycle assessment provides a broad accounting and evaluation of all of the materials, energy and processes associated with the raw materials in a product, including their extraction, manufacture, use and disposal. Impacts considered include climate change, natural resource depletion, human toxicity and ecotoxicity, among others.

A woman in India holds a sign to raise awareness about using eco-friendly menstrual cups instead of sanitary pads. Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I have worked for several years on a range of these assessments for consumer products and energy and agricultural systems. When Clarkson Honors Program student Amy Hait approached me about her idea of completing a life cycle assessment on feminine hygiene products, I was intrigued and happy to work closely with her to complete the study and publish the results in the journal Resources, Conservation & Recycling.

We compared three products: a rayon-based tampon with a plastic applicator, a maxipad with a cellulose and polyethylene absorbent core and a menstrual cup made of silicone.

The assessment also included packaging materials and the processes to make and transport these materials. In order to make a fair comparison among products, we looked at the number of products used by an average woman in one year. Based on published average values, that would be 240 tampons or maxipads. A menstrual cup has a 10-year lifespan, so its use for one year is the equivalent of one-tenth of the overall manufacturing and disposal impact.

Our assessment included eight different categories to evaluate the overall environmental impact. These include measuring the impacts on the environment and human health.

The life cycle impact assessment provides quantitative scores for the impacts of each of these individually. We also used normalization factors for the United States to enable us to come up with a total impact score. Higher scores reflect greater overall impacts.

Is using a menstrual cup more environmentally sustainable?

The results of the life cycle assessment clearly showed that the reusable menstrual cup was by far the best based on all environmental metrics. Based on the total impact score, the maxipad we considered in our study had the highest score, indicating higher impacts. The tampon had a 40% lower score and the menstrual cup 99.6% lower. The key factor for the high score for the maxipad was its greater weight and the manufacture of the raw materials to make it.

Most people choose a reusable product because they believe it won’t add waste to landfills. But our study shows that most environmental benefits are from the reduced need to prepare all of the raw materials and manufacture the product.

Taking the tampon as an example, the extraction and preparation of the raw materials used to make it contributed over 80% of the total impact. Disposal, which people often pay more attention to, really contributes substantially only to water pollution, which is a very minor component of the overall impact.

The life cycle assessment also identifies sometimes surprising sources of environmental and health impacts, including dioxins from bleaching wood pulp for pads, zinc from rayon production for tampons and chromium emissions from fossil fuel energy sources. By not having to produce more single-use products, we can avoid emitting many of these pollutants.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]

As with any other consumer goods, the impacts associated with the manufacture and disposal of products are greatly reduced the more times you reuse anything. Using a reuseable cup for even just one month instead of the average 20 pads or tampons was still an environmentally preferable approach.

What is done to encourage the use of a more sustainable feminine hygiene product?

The taboo nature of talking about menstruation is changing with young women, at least in the United States. Women at Clarkson University, for example, worked with a cup manufacturer to provide a very public giveaway program to distribute free cups to over 100 college students. That would never have happened when I was a student decades ago. Many health-related web sites like WebMD and Healthline provide relevant and reliable information on the proper use and care of menstrual cups, which should help to reduce concerns over their use and encourage more women to try them.

Susan Powers, Spence Professor of Sustainable Environmental Systems and the Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Clarkson University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

%d bloggers like this: