Debunking 4 Myths about Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the Latin verb sustentāre, which means to ‘support’, ‘care’, translating into ‘to sustain’ (sustinēre). Throughout decades of the environmental movement, sustainability has become a household term. We hear it applied to many things such as sustainable cars, sustainable economics, sustainable lifestyle, etc. However, sustainability is a concept we often use in our lives but do not fully understand its meaning. In this article, we will debunk the four most commonly known myths about sustainability.

Myth 1: “Sustainable” means “green.”

The term “green” is often used to describe practices that seek to protect the environment. In contrast, “sustainability” aims to protect the environment and improve people’s quality of life at present and in the future. The difference between these two approaches comes down to the limits of our natural resources. Going green is often associated with reducing environmental impacts to zero. On the other hand, sustainability aims to expand and explore activities that will improve the quality of life while having far less impact on our environment. (Check out a detailed breakdown here.)

Myth 2: Sustainability is too expensive.

Some people argue that sustainability is expensive. There is some truth to this, however, “it’s only true in the short term in certain circumstances, but certainly not in the long term”, says Anthony Cortese, founder, and president of the sustainability education organization Second Nature. When there is an unsustainable system in place, the image of sustainability being too expensive comes into the picture. Governments and companies can take bigger steps compared to individuals by pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and cut down their energy use. Of course, pledges should be partnered with action and accountability.

Myth 3: We can make do with recycling.

In the early 1970s, recycling was the most eminent message that surfaced out of the environmental movement. While recycling is important, it is only a piece of the puzzle. There is some ugly truth that we need to acknowledge when we recycle. A more sustainable way of helping our environment is reducing our consumption to only what we need.

Myth 4: Sustainability is a population problem.

We often hear that the problem is the growing population of our world. While this holds some truth, it also represents a false solution. “At the current population level of 6.5 billion, we’re using up resources at an unsustainable rate”, according to Michael Lemonick of Scientific American. There is no humane of reducing the population without desecrating individual human rights.

 

2021 Wish List: A Plastic-Free Future

The world is facing a plastic pollution crisis that impacts our planet and many vulnerable communities worldwide. The adverse effects of single-use plastics, in their entire lifecycle, affect different ecosystems. The irresponsible consumption and production of plastic continue to poison our oceans so it is essential to look for actionable ways to keep them safe. Moreover, it is also important to keep the fossil fuel industry accountable for manufacturing plastic and worsening the climate crisis.

As this year comes to an end, we want to welcome the new year with our 2021 wish list:

By 2021, we want to hold big companies, like Coca Cola, Target, Amazon, accountable for their single-use plastic reduction goals.

  • We want big plastic pollution companies to embrace sustainable solutions. We can make this happen by signing petitions and reducing the consumption of these plastic items.

By 2021, we want the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act to become a law.

By 2021, we want President-elect Biden to act on the plastic pollution crisis the US is facing today.

By 2021, we want more companies to commit to giving back to the planet by advancing their corporate social responsibility.

  • One way to do this is by partnering with environmental non-profits to raise awareness about the plastic pollution crisis. We can make this happen by introducing CSR opportunities, like the one we have in Barrel Bag, that directly give back to the environment.

By 2021, we want to mobilize and encourage more individuals to organize their local cleanups.

By 2021, we want to become more active in supporting the most vulnerable communities affected by the plastic pollution crisis.

  • We can make this happen by amplifying their concerns through our platforms, listening to diverse voices, and partnering with communities and organizations that help support the cause.

By 2021, we want to pick up new sustainable habits like switching a plastic item to a more sustainable one.

  • We can make this happen by joining the Plastic Swap Project, which encourages us to slowly let go of plastics in our lives and creatively think of sustainable ways of living.

10 Tips for Reducing Plastic-Waste During the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! Finally, the year of unfortunate events is coming to an end. I bet you are already making menus to feast on your holiday dinners or maybe wrapping gifts for your loved ones. Although we might be spending our holidays far from each other, we can still make sure the holiday spirit is felt wherever we are coming from. And while we sing our favorite songs, eat our favorite meals, spread the holiday cheer, we also want to welcome 2021 free from plastic pollution. Here are some tips we gathered for you:     

  1. Make your own decorations using paper or biodegradable materials you can find around the house.
  2. Reuse your last year’s holiday decorations and spice them up!
  3. Use reusable dishes and cutlery for holiday zoom parties and get-togethers.
  4. Wrap gifts in reusable or recyclable gift wrap like a cloth or a Barrel Bag!
  5. Choose a real Christmas tree if still on a budget! There are places where you can give back the trees for replanting.
  6. You can re-gift items you don’t want anymore.
  7. Make heartfelt messages, cards, or letters instead. For sure, they will love it and keep it forever!
  8. If possible, stay away from food items packed in so much plastic and glitter. 
  9. Bring reusable bags when you’re out shopping.
  10. Gift products that promote a plastic-free lifestyle & leave a little note that says why this lifestyle change is important for you.

Where Does Our Plastic Waste Go?

Many reports, including the one published in 2016 by the Ocean Conservancy and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, listed these top 5 countries as the most prominent plastic polluters: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ironically, four out of five of these countries contribute the least to annual carbon emissions worldwide.

There are multiple reasons why these countries are coined to be the “biggest plastic polluters,” including the mishandling of plastic waste, inaccessibility to sustainable goods, or outcomes of consumerism and capitalism. Out of curiosity, I wonder why reports usually end up with these rankings. After investigating, I found out that there is a coin often unturned. The plastic waste found in these countries does not entirely belong to them.

HOW DID ALL OF THIS START?

Until 2018, China managed to buy recyclable plastic waste from many western countries like the US, Britain, and Germany, among many others, to transform these into new products sold back worldwide. However, the problems of contamination and pollution forced them to ban the importation of plastic waste. They declared they would no longer buy plastic waste that is not 99.5% clean or pure, leading to the US and other western countries scrambling to offload their trash elsewhere.

“Instead of taking responsibility for their waste, US companies are exploiting developing countries that lack the regulation to protect themselves,” said John Hocevar, Oceans campaign director for Greenpeace USA.

Many Western countries grew into the practice of dumping their waste on different soil. In a recent report by the Guardian in 2019, they discovered how US waste travels overseas and overwhelms the world’s poorest nations. They found that thousands of tons of US plastic are shipped annually to poorly regulated developing countries because of recycling’s labor-intensive process.

Last 2018, they discovered that the US exported 68,000 shipping containers of American plastic recycling to developing countries like Bangladesh, Laos, Ethiopia, and Senegal. These countries became a hotspot for US plastic recycling because of the cheap labor and limited environmental regulations. Aside from the US, the European Union is also a significant contributor to plastic waste.

Now, this poses a new question: Is recycling an effective way of combatting plastic pollution?

GIVEAWAY: in partnership with Guppi and Grass Straws Official

The need for more people to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle is undeniably one of the simplest things we can do to protect our future. Barrel Bag has partnered with, Grass Straw and Guppi to bring you products that will help you make that switch. In this giveaway, you will receive 2 boxes of Grass Straws, $100 gift certificate from Guppi, 1 hat and clean up bag from Barrel Bag.

These two amazing small, sustainable businesses are based in the US. Grass Straw is made of Lepironia Grass which comes from the wetland area of Vietnam in the Mekong Delta. The harvested grass goes through a series of rinses including saltwater, freshwater, and ozone rinse, and then finally baked in an oven to dry. Grass Straws are environmentally safer and economically smarter than the alternative single-use straw being used in the market today. These straws are biodegradable and compostable. You can check them out here.

Another small business we partnered with is Guppi. Just like Barrel Bag, Guppi has an admirable passion for our seas. With 75% of our oceans’ pollution being plastic, they aim to lower that number by providing products that are made from recycled plastic. Did you know that they also increase their social responsibility by donating 10% of every purchase to beach clean-ups across the country? You can check their cool products here.

To enter the giveaway, make sure to follow all 3 accounts on Instagram:

——-> @guppistyle

——-> @grassstraw_official

——-> @barrelbag

You must also tag three friends in the post and share it on your story for an extra entry! The winner will be announced on Monday, November 23, 2020. Good luck!

The Complicated Relationship of Plastic and Climate Change

When we first think about plastic, what usually comes to mind is where they end up after disposal. We know that many of our plastic pollutions, especially single-use plastic, end up in our oceans, waterways, and landfills. The way plastic makes almost everything convenient for us subsequently poses a danger to our marine life and clogs our landfills. But do you know about its genesis? 

Plastic and Climate Change

Scientists project that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fishes in our seas. Plastic is genuinely one of the most persistent pollutants present in different ecosystems, and they would live longer than any of us. Most single-use plastic lasts for 400 years or more. At the beginning of its “life,” plastic creates greenhouse gas emissions that harm our atmosphere and contribute to global warming. They continue to emit more once they are exposed to sunlight and heat for a long period of time.

According to this article by WWF Australia, “almost all plastic is derived from materials (like ethylene and propylene) made from fossil fuels (mostly oil and gas).” There are billions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses released in our atmosphere when we extract fossil fuels and manufacture different kinds of plastics. 

The problem doesn’t end there. In its lifetime, plastic enters different ecosystems. Our relationship with plastic causes an extra level of harm to our environment. Let me share with you some of these facts according to SeedScientific.com:

  • Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year. 
  • The world uses 500 billion single-use plastic bags every year.
  • A plastic bag is used for only 15 minutes on average but can last for a millennium.
  • 91% of all the plastic ever created has not been recycled.
  • Among the grimmest plastic pollution facts of 2019 is that no beach on the planet today is free of plastic trash
  • By 2050, landfill plastic waste will be 35,000x as heavy as the Empire State Building.

What can we do?

There has to be a systemic change in curbing plastic production and recycling plastic waste globally. We must proactively appeal to our government leaders to stop greenhouse gas emissions exacerbating climate change in all sectors. At a local level, reducing our plastic use and practicing a more sustainable lifestyle are some of the things we can collectively do to slow down the effects of climate change. Here in Barrel Bag, we offer eco-friendly and sustainable cleanup bags made from fabric made of recycled plastic. We also hold virtual cleanups during the pandemic to avoid plastic accumulation in our oceans, waterways, and even just in our neighborhood. We must continue educating ourselves on the effects of our current behaviors and reevaluate the practices that we do that brought us here in the first place.

 

Sources:

https://www.wwf.org.au/news/blogs/plastic-waste-and-climate-change-whats-the-connection#gs.l225i6

https://seedscientific.com/plastic-waste-statistics/

3rd Virtual Cleanup Results

Last October 24-31, we held our 3rd VIRTUAL CLEANUP in celebration of the International Day of Climate Action. Once again, we were reminded that every little thing that we do for our planet matters.

During last week’s cleanup, we recorded 9 new cleanups, 6 Cu. Ft. increase in trash collected, and 8 Cu Ft. increase in plastic collected. I think we all deserve a pat on the back!

Also, congratulations to our Waste Warrior and also one of our interns, Pragya, for participating in our virtual cleanup. She did an amazing job doing her own cleanup in her neighborhood.

Thank you so much once again to our community members, partners, & our entire team for joining our movement and leading the way to keep our environment clean. If you’re bummed you didn’t get to join, don’t worry, we will be hosting another Virtual Cleanup soon! Follow us on Instagram @barrelbag for updates!

Why Life Below Water Matters

Our oceans make up about 3/4 of Earth, so there is no denying that they are an essential factor supporting life on the planet. They absorb about 23% of carbon dioxide emissions that humans generate annually, and 90% of the climate system’s excess heat. Oceans are home to nearly a million known and unknown species to man. For the longest time, they have continued to support over 3 billion people’s economic, social, and environmental needs.

Over the years, the vast exploitation of life below water has led to an alarming degradation level. The increasing number of debris in our oceans has an impending environmental and economic impact on everyone and every living creature on this planet. According to the United Nations, “every year, an estimated 5 to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic enters the ocean, costing roughly $13 billion per year.” The primary source of pollutants in our oceans is plastic litter brought about by the massive and worldwide use of single-use plastic items. Irresponsible tourism can also pose a significant threat to our oceans and natural resources.

Taking Action

In protecting life below water, solutions come into different levels: global and local impact. Many countries achieve sustainability by increasing international agreements and cooperation in protecting our oceans and other natural resources. Governments must pivot into understanding the effect of climate change and create a comprehensive and inclusive plan that will efficiently and equitably conserve life below water and ensure their people a sustainable future.

In our communities, we should pivot to a lifestyle that does not harm our environment. We should make wise decisions in purchasing products that harm our environment, like avoiding single-use plastic. There is an urgent need to eliminate plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways by organizing clean-ups on our beaches or even just outside our homes. Our journey to protect our oceans can also begin by raising awareness about the importance of life below water and why we need to protect it.

 

To Read More About UN Sustainability Goal # 14, check THIS out!

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/E_infographics_14.pdf

A Complete Introduction on Marine Conservation with Eco-Conscious Diver

Even though the global pandemic kept us indoors, Barrel Bag continues to find ways of bringing you opportunities to learn more about our environment and its conservation. 

This month, we are thrilled to share with you that we are partnering with Eco-Conscious Diver to bring you everything you need to know about Marine Conservation. This 6-hour online course is a step by step guide to learning and implementing your marine conservation journey! This self-paced program is perfect for aspiring conservationists, recreational divers, or anyone who simply loves the ocean and wants to learn more about it, how to take action. When you enroll in this course using our affiliate link, you’re also donating to our ongoing fundraiser, Barrel Bag Community Impact Campaign!

 

 

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to:

  • Speak intelligently about our underwater world.
  • Learn how to begin taking action immediately.
  • Be equipped with tools to gain data survey experience.

Upon enrollment, you’ll have immediate access to all course content, including:

  • Video Lessons
  • Workshops
  • Helpful Links/Resources
  • Private Online Community 
  • 24/7 access to members-only community to ask questions and network with other like-minded newbie marine conservationists.
  • Lifetime Access Across All Devices *including all future updates*

Upon completion, you’ll receive:

  • A certificate of completion
  • 2 PADI certifications: Project AWARE & Coral Reef Conservation
  • 10% OFF entire Eco-Conscious Diver website & upcoming trips/events.
  • Access to an exclusive Facebook group for weekly live Q&A sessions.
  • Quizzes & activities to check knowledge and retention.
  • Training for data surveys & materials.
  • + TWO Bonus Education Sections: Shark & Ray Conservation, Marine Protected Areas.

Click HERE to enroll now!

Barrel Bag Community Impact Campaign

The Barrel Bag Community Impact Campaign aims to partner and support other nonprofit organizations focused on ocean conservation, youth environmental education, and plastic policy.

Our first partner is the Green Schools Alliance, a worldwide network of schools committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating sustainable solutions.

We will use a portion of the funds raised through this campaign to provide free Barrel Bags to a Green Schools Alliance member school.

 

Today, we are happy to announce that we are 20% closer to our goal! Thank you so much to all of our generous donors throughout the past few weeks. No matter how big or small your contributions were, know that you are supporting our mission to protect our world.

 

To donate, click the link below.

https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/barrelbagimpact/barrelbag?fbclid=IwAR135V-unP2vKrLVj0wy43N1JmobCeO9rcP-FAzi_43M4Kq-Ta_JvqUYBBo