My sustainability journey started in 2020 and as I slowly adapt to some sustainable ways, here are some things that I don’t completely understand –
1. Vegan food in plastic packaging – I know a lot of people don’t go vegan for the environment but do it for animal rights or other reasons. But I would assume that a lot of them are conscious about the environment too. It boggles me every time I order vegan products and they come in plastic packaging. While I am going vegan for my health as well, primarily my motivating factor is helping the planet – I don’t know how much good I’m doing if I am creating more plastic waste.
2. Recycled plastic products – while it is a great idea to recycle plastic waste but there are reasons why it isn’t all good –
a. Plastic recycling is very power intensive (consuming even more fossil fuel based energy)
b. Recycled plastic products require virgin plastic to be more durable, usually the products are made of a very small portion of recycled plastic and a larger portion of virgin plastic (leading to the creation of even more plastic)
c. Cleaning out plastics gotten from the ocean bed/landfill is very challenging. Even a little impurity reduces the overall durability of the recycled plastic – making the process of recycling plastic time, money and energy intensive. Further, making the output recycled plastic products extremely expensive.
d. Most companies use a very tiny portion of recycled plastic and greenwash their buyers into thinking the entire product is made from it.
I appreciate the organisations working to find ways to use plastic waste into their products but recycled plastic products do seem like a grey area. Here is a video that sheds some light on some of it –
3. Companies claiming to be carbon positive basis carbon offsets – Many giant corporations have been claiming that they will become ‘carbon positive’ in the next few years. Carbon positive means that they are taking out carbon from the air than they are creating. While it is a great move, the problem is that these claims are made on the basis of investment in carbon offsetting projects (that remove carbon from our environment) and hypothetical calculations which could be totally wrong. Hypothetically, if Company X creates 100 units of carbon in a year, they are now investing in “green projects” such a say funding a solar energy station in xx country which might help reduce the carbon produced if fossil fuels had been used by 101 units. So, X claims to be carbon positive but X continues to create the 100 units of carbon every year minus any guilt. Is it good enough? I really don’t know.
If you have more information on these than I do, please shed light to help solve my confusions. Have you also come across these situations and been confused about the impact of such sustainable moves? What are some other environment friendly moves that confuse you?
Read about my sustainability journey here.
Give my other recent posts a read –
7 Comments Add yours
Very well articulated Moksha . The concerns raised by you are genuine specially the one concerning generating carbon points .
Stay blessed always 🙏🌹🙏
Great points! I totally believe that the major manufacturers need to switch from using petroleum based plastics to plant based plastics which are biodegradable. The knowledge and the technology exists, it just needs to be implemented. If consumers put more pressure on the large Worldwide corporations they may cede and make the needed changes!
True! Thank you 🌍😊
I actually studied carbon offsets when I did environmental economics. Bottom line: if you don’t do it right, pollution ends up greater than before. We studied the Kyoto Protocol and why it flopped and actually increased pollution. I can understand that in the 90s, but we know more now and we should know how to do it properly. Even carbon offsetting is successful, it’s still not perfect. Whenever I fly, I do offset my emissions, but that’s really the only time I would do it
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This is important information and we should make it a priority to inform ourselves about these matters. If recycling is not perfect, should we do it? Minimising plastic is perhaps preferable?
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Minimising plastic is definitely the way to go. But with a lot of product types – plastic free alternates may not be readily available. I think finding a way to reuse plastic products to the maximum (like repurposing them) before recycling is also a good idea. This is as per my imperfect knowledge on this topic. 🙈
Thank you for reading.
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Re-using plastics in lots of ways is a good way to approach it. Right now I am re-using non recyclable plastics as mini greenhouses for cuttings I have taken from my garden plants. The one good thing about plastic is it is fairly durable. You can also use those bottles as funnels for directing liquid into containers. This is just the start of re-uses. I am sure you can think of many more.