Eco-Friendly Gifts Blog: Why Being Green Is Important
As we transition into a greener economy, built on renewable resources rather than fossil fuels, we change our mindsets as well.
We prioritise sustainability in our eco-friendly gifts, just as much as the quality of them. In this blog, we're going to look at why choosing to lead a greener lifestyle is beneficial to everyone.
Ways of Going Green
There are a few areas of life which can easily be made more sustainable, and there are a few that are more difficult. Choosing to travel on public transport reduces the number of cars on the road, as well as the emissions being produced.
Choosing to go local when buying food is another option that reduces demand for food items being flown in from countries on the other side of the world. As well as decreasing air miles, buying from a farmer's market will reduce the amount of single use plastic, used to wrap the food.
Single use plastic is having a devastating effect on our natural environment, causing populations of marine species to dwindle.
With an estimated 300 million tonnes of plastic being produced each year, the plastic pollution crisis is apparently not yet bad enough for governments to regulate plastic manufacturers.
Because of this lack of leadership, it falls on us to choose other options that are kinder to the environment. Reducing demand, when done on mass, will reduce the amount of plastic that plastic producers are making.
In order to combat plastic pollution, we need to turn the tap off. If you walked into your kitchen and saw the floor was flooded because the sink was left on, your first move would not be to try and dry the floor. The first move would be to turn the tap off, and then clean up.
No real positive progress will be made in the fight against plastic pollution, if millions of tonnes of plastic are still being produced every year.
Marine Plastic Pollution
The impact of plastic on the marine environment is catastrophic, and the presence of plastic is putting entire ecosystems under pressure. When marine animals come into contact with floating plastic debris, they can mistake it for food. Once ingested, plastic can be lethal.
There are two reasons for marine animals being attracted to plastic. The first is simple - many creatures can't understand the difference between small plastic chunks and their prey.
The second is down to animals thinking plastic smells like food to them.
DMS, dimethyl sulfide, is a smelly gas released by algae as part of their natural processes in the ocean. Krill hunt algae, so both krill and algae are often in close proximity to each other.
Unfortunately, plastic debris gives the perfect setting for algae to thrive. This means that marine animals now associate plastic will krill, as they've worked out that the smell of DMS means krill will be present, as krill are near to algae.
This means that marine predators are inadvertently consuming plastic, when they are trying to hunt krill.
Once in the stomach of a marine animal, let's take the sooty shearwater for example, the plastic pieces will fill the stomach of the bird up, not being digested.
This means that the bird thinks its stomach is full of nutrition, when in fact it is just filled with plastic. This means the bird doesn't feel the need to hunt, and will slowly starve to death.
As well as impacting marine animals, marine plants are also being damaged by the reach of plastic.
Coral Reefs and Plastic Pollution
Coral reefs are key to keeping the local marine environment going. Without them, marine eco-systems are likely to collapse.
Coral reefs are the ocean's nitrogen fixers, meaning they convert nitrogen on a molecular level into compounds that are useful to marine plants.
In turn, these marine plants feed many smaller marine creatures. If there aren't any coral reefs, the plants that need the converted nitrogen won't be able to survive.
This will have a knock on effect for the whole food chain.
Plastic appears to affect coral reefs in two main ways. When plastic debris come into contact with coral reefs, they can sometimes penetrate the 'skin' of the coral.
When the plastic has abraded the coral, any pathogens on the plastic will spread through the coral, slowly killing it. Plastic is the perfect material for pathogens to survive on, so this process happens on a regular basis.
When studying the Southeast Asia pacific, there was a substantial increase of disease in coral reefs that had come into contact with plastic, compared to reefs that had not.
Coral reefs that had come into contact with plastic had an 89% chance of being diseased, compared to just 4% for reefs that had no contact with plastic.
Plastic debris also has the potential to block sunlight from reaching the coral, which is necessary for the coral to survive.
An example of our eco-friendly gifts built around minimizing plastic is our Pampering Gift Set For Her.
Due to many of the products being wrapped in completely plastic free packaging, and reusable tins, the gift has an extremely low plastic footprint in comparison to other Pampering Sets.
If you would like to read more about this gift, there is a section a bit further down in the blog.
When talking about plastic, we are referring to conventional plastic. Conventional plastics are produced from fossil fuels, and are unable to biodegrade.
There are seven types of plastic produced on a mass scale. Each plastic is assigned it's number, based on the difficulty of recycling it.
Number one, PET, is the easiest to recycle, while number seven, mixed plastics, are the hardest.
PET, polyethylene terephthalate, is one of the most common plastics used today.
As it's produced from fossil fuels, producing PET has a large carbon footprint. Buried oil and fossil fuels release the carbon that was trapped under the ground for an extremely long time.
At every stage of producing PET, carbon is released. From extraction to transporting fossil based plastic, each stage requires or releases carbon.
Plastics are now able to be produced from renewable resources, such as corn starch. Plastics with the ability to biodegrade, are produced from fossil fuels, or both, are known as bioplastics.
The benefits of using renewable resources to make bioplastic are headed up by the reduced carbon footprint.
Using bio based resources such as cornstarch capture carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and convert it into carbon which is stored in the plants and surrounding soil.
This carbon will only be released in selective disposal methods, such as incineration. This can lead, in some cases, to bio based bioplastics having a negative carbon footprint, meaning they reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere overall.
Living a green lifestyle is not just about changing materials we use in our daily lives, it's about moving away from the single use culture all together. Sometimes it is necessary to use single use plastic, and in that case, sustainable bioplastics should be used.
For the most part, reducing and reusing are great ways to become more sustainable.
Problems With Recycling
Recycling is not efficient, and doesn't really work.
Only 9% of all plastic ever created has been recycled, leaving the rest in the natural environment, landfills or incinerators.
Because of this fact, reusing and reducing should always come before recycling, as there is less than a 10% chance of the plastic actually being recycled.
Plastic recycled in developed countries such as the UK is exported to other countries on a large scale.
This is because it's cheaper for the UK to send it's plastic waste abroad to countries such as Malaysia, rather than process it internally. The main country that plastic waste was sent to before 2018 was China.
Since 1992, China has imported 45% of the world's waste. This is because it's cheaper for China to import plastic waste to be recycled, rather than manufacture it themselves.
In this respect, both sides are happy - exporting countries such as the UK have good recycling rates and no plastic waste in sight, while China uses it's cheap labour work force to make huge profits recycling plastic.
However, what these rates don't count, is whether the plastic actually gets recycled in its destination country. There were many reports of plastic not of a high enough quality just being burned or dumped illegally.
This all changed in 2018 when China implemented it's National Sword Programme, a national effort to reduce plastic waste. The main point from the plan is that China would only import plastic waste of a 99.5% purity from 2018 onwards.
This meant that much of the UK's recycling could now not be exported to China.
Since then, other countries have started to take in the waste that would have been sent to China.
Malaysia is one of those countries. However, Malaysia recently cracked down on plastic due to the ever increasing size of plastic pollution in the country.
The Malaysian environmental minister said that her country would not be the dumping ground of the world, and rightly so.
Green Gifts: Pampering Gift Set For Her
Our Pampering Gift Set For Her is an example of us selecting products on the basis of being green.
We don't see a reason why wanting to give an amazing gift should come at the price of the environment, and that thought is a key factor in curating our Pampering Gift Set For Her.
Through writing this blog, we wanted to give a few examples of why living a greener lifestyle is important, and ultimately necessary for humans to coexist with other species on our planet.
Humans need animals and the global ecosystems at large to avoid going extinct.
Through plastic pollution attacking the building blocks of the marine ecology internationally, the food chains are taking a hit, all the way back up to us. If we don't find alternatives that don't cause such danger to our lives, and the lives of wildlife species, it will get very dangerous, very quickly.
When choosing from our range of sustainable gifts, we want you to know that the entire life cycle is considered.
Our unique assortment of sustainable gifts are environmentally friendly in both their creation, and end of life.
If you would like to read more about why choosing lifestyles that are kinder to the environment, feel free to subscribe to our email list at the bottom of the page.