Whalebird Green facts

Water

27% of Americans’ daily water use comes from flushing the toilet. This is a crazy one trillion gallons annually in America. Take two empty cans of Whalebird and place them upright in the tank of your toilet to displace water and save around a quarter gallon per flush. This can add up to almost ten thousand gallons per year for a household family of four!

  • A brick in the tank of a toilet can displace around ½ gallon of water per flush
  • Americans use 27% of daily water on the toilet
  • Placing an item in the toilet only saves water if the item extends above the lower water-level line. Before you flush a toilet, the water fills the tank up to the higher water-level line in the tank. As you flush, the water drains down to the lower fill line, then slowly starts to fill until it reaches the higher line once more. If your displacement item sits in the water completely submerged beneath the low fill line, it does nothing to conserve water. If you place an item on one end so that half of the item sits above the high water-level line, you conserve the volume of one half of the item with each flush. For example, consider a [can] measuring [8 by 4 by 2 inches, or 64 cubic inches.] If exactly half of the brick sits between the high and low fill lines, you’re saving 32 cubic inches of water, or 0.14 gallons per flush.
  • If feasible for your budget, installing a low-flow toilet is more effective overall.

Household leaks can account for around 1 trillion gallons of water wasted annually in the US! A quarter of US household water use is from the toilet. To help save one of our most precious resources, check your toilet for a leak! It’s as simple as putting a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank – if any color seeps into the bowl within ten minutes, you have a leak!

  • Household leaks can account for around 1 trillion gallons of water wasted per year.
    • Around 27% of household use comes from toilet.
  • Toilet leaks are usually caused by over-worn toilet flapper (valve seal).
  • When replacing a valve seal, take the original with you to the hardware store in order to match sizes.
  • The EPA assures that food coloring in the toilet tank is an effective way of diagnosing leaks.

Household leaks can account for around 1 trillion gallons of water wasted annually in the US! A quarter of US household water use is from the toilet. To help save one of our most precious resources, check your toilet for a leak! It’s as simple as putting a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank – if any color seeps into the bowl within ten minutes, you have a leak!

  • Household leaks can account for around 1 trillion gallons of water wasted per year.
    • Around 27% of household use comes from toilet.
  • Toilet leaks are usually caused by over-worn toilet flapper (valve seal).
  • When replacing a valve seal, take the original with you to the hardware store in order to match sizes.
  • The EPA assures that food coloring in the toilet tank is an effective way of diagnosing leaks.
Faucets in the bathroom and sink can put out up to 4 gallons of water per minute! To help conserve one of our most important natural resources, you choke down the valves under your sink – just not too hard 😉 Or, make sure your sinks and showers have aerators attached, which can reduce water flow by up to 50%.
  • Older taps can use up to 15 liters/minute at open flow. An aerator can reduce this usage to around only 6 liters / minute without reducing water pressure. 
  • Faucet aerators in bathroom sinks and shower heads can reduce water use by 50% (think of how much water is used in bathroom between toilet, sink, and shower in a day). 
  • When using hot water, the water heater needs to kick on. Using an aerator minimizes the amount of water that needs to be heated, minimizing the electricity/gas spent on heating that water. 

Tip 1: Look for aerators with the EPA WaterSense label on them. These limit flow to less than 1.5 gallons / minute.

Tip 2: Clean your aerators once a month by removing them and scrubbing them with a small brush.

The production of denim is an extremely water-intensive process. One pair of jeans can take up to 2500 gallons of water to manufacture, and up to 2 billion pounds of chemicals are used annually to produce the world’s denim supply. Purchasing for quality over quantity can help reduce your waste associated with denim, and save you money in the long run!

  • A standard pair of jeans can take up to 2500 gallons of water to produce
    • 1 lb chemicals is used to make every pair of jeans.
    • 2 billion pairs of jeans are produced globally annually.

On average, American households use 50 gallons of water a day just showering. Water is one of the most precious human resources, and every minute you shave off your shower time can save 1,200 gallons of water a year!

  • The average showerhead uses 2.1 gallons/minute.
    • The average shower lasts around 8 minutes.
    • Every minute you cut from your shower can save around 1200 gallons of water over a year.
  • 17% of indoor water usage comes from showering.
  • The average family uses over 300 gallons of water daily, 50 gallons of which comes from showering.

Food

Choosing poultry instead of beef from concentrated animal feed operations (CAFO’s) can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of a meal by 90%. And that number will only increase when fish, eggs, and plant-based alternatives are swapped in, hot damn!

  • 1 kg (2.2 lb) of beef produces 60 kg (120 lb) of GHG (greenhouse gasses)
    • 1 kg of poultry produces just 6 kg of GHG -> 90% decrease
    • 1 kg of farmed fish produces 5 kg of GHG -> 92% decrease
    • 1 kg of eggs produces 4.5 kg of GHG -> 93% decrease
    • 1 kg of pork produces 7 kg of GHG -> 88% decrease
  • Shifting to a vegetarian meal one day a week could save the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles.
  • According to various different tests conducted by Weber & Matthews: “Both figures show a clear trend for red meat; no matter how it is measured, on average red meat is more GHG-intensive than all other forms of food.”
  • Around 70% of cows raised in America are on CAFO factory farms. 
  • DEFINED: A CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is a factory farm with more than 1000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1000 pounds live weight and equates to 1000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 lbs, 125 thousand broiler chickens, or 82 thousand laying hens or pullets) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year.

Global food waste produces more greenhouse gases (GHG’s) than every nation combined except China and the US ~ 4.8 billion tons annually! When you put food into your trash can it goes to the landfill where it decomposes and makes GHG’s. Avoid the trash can by buying less food and composting… its the new sexy!

  • In 2011, of all food produced in the world never reached a plate on the table.
  • The further along the chain wasted food is, the more waste it will generate.
    • A tomato that wasted at the vine is minimal impact – if it is wasted at the grocery store, it also wastes the transportation emissions, store electricity emissions, etc.
  • Composting is a good solution because it minimizes production of methane.
    • When organic matter decomposes normally, it creates predominantly CO2.
    • When forced to decompose in an anaerobic environment (like a landfill), the bacteria that be actually end up converting it into methane, not CO2.
      • Can produce N2o, which is 300x worse than Co2 in terms of GHG potency.
    • Every metric dry ton of food that goes to landfill generates a quarter ton of methane within 4 months.

67% of all agriculture-related deforestation comes from growing feed for livestock – including cows that make milk! Switching to a plant-based alternative to milk can help reduce global deforestation! Experts say that soy milk and oat milk are two of the best alternatives from a sustainability aspect!

  • Research has shown that soy and almond milks are the best alternatives to milk, but that milk is the most balanced in terms of the nutrients within it.
  • With the exceptions of almond milk and cashew milk, alternative milk sources have a much lower impact on the environment.
    • GHG emissions are higher for dairy milk primarily due to the fact that it requires feed – lots of deforestation occurs for feed.
      • 67% of all deforestation for agriculture comes from growing livestock feed.
    • Vegetables such as soy are much less land intensive.
  • Dairy has higher levels of waste than plant-based milks due to spoilage.

Chewing gum, an American staple, is mostly made from synthetic, rubber-like ingredients that can take up to 1500 years to decompose in landfill. Consider cutting chewing gum out of your daily schedule to help mitigate this strain on the planet!

  • Synthetic chewing gum (the gum that we normally consume) has been shown to take over 1500 years to biodegrade in nature.
  • The chewing gum market is worth around $47 billion annually globally:  lots of gum is being chewed and discarded annually.

44% of the tea consumed in the United States comes from tea bags – which include plastic in their composition, and upon steeping, can release over 11 billion particles of microplastics into a single cup! Manufacturing these tea bags also uses plastics, increasing demand for fossil fuels. Loose-leaf tea is more efficient in terms of packaging, health, and environmental impact – consider switching today!

  • Studies have shown that billions of microparticles are released into the tea you drink when it is steeped in a tea bag.
  • There are many different ways to go about drinking tea that does not have tea bags, including loose leaf – our favorite method!
  • 44% of the tea sold in America is in the form of tea bags.

Electricity

Many devices, like phone and laptop chargers, TVs, and even coffee pots draw electricity from the wall even when powered off or not connected to anything. This spooky Vampire Electricity accounts for up to 10% of home energy use, $3billion/year in the US, and 1% of global greenhouse emissions!

  • DEFINED: Vampire electricity is used when appliances inside the home continuously draw electricity even when powered off – this is known as the appliances existing in “standby mode.”
  • Vampire electricity costs the US $3 billion per year (~$100-$200 per household).
  • International Energy Agency attributes 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions to vampire electricity.
  • Standby power consumption accounted for 2% of global power use and 10% of residential use in developed countries in 2017.
  • Network connections consume more power than other sources of vampire energy (smart plugs, remote-controlled lights, etc)
    • Televisions maintain continuous reception to satellite, and are on standby awaiting a signal from the remote (not fully powered off).
    • Microwaves, ovens, etc, display the time (not fully powered off).
    • Coffee pots have timer systems (not fully powered off).
  • Devices with “bricks” or “cubes” (like cellphone or laptop chargers), are pulling energy even when not being used.

NOTE: “New standby power targets” shared with expressed, written permission from original author, to be used for educational purposes.

17% of average home’s entire energy bill comes from the energy used to heat water in the clothes washer. Up to 90% of the energy cost associated with each load of the washer comes from heating the water! Consider choosing to use cold water when possible.

  • A household using cold water in their washing machine can eliminate around 1600 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
  • Cold water actually works best on delicates
    • Clothing is less likely to shrink and fade
    • Can reduce wrinkles in clothing
  • Per EPA, 17% of average home’s entire energy bill comes from the energy used to heat water in the clothes washer 
  • Per EPA, up to 90% of energy used in a washer cycle comes from heating the water

Traditional lightbulbs can waste anywhere from 80-95% of their energy as heat. These hotheads add up to a huge waste of money across the world. Not chill! Furthermore, fluorescent lights contain chemicals toxic to the environment. By switching your light bulbs to LEDs, you can use 75% less energy, your lights can last 25x longer, and the waste generated will not harm the environment!

  • Incandescent (traditional lightbulbs) emit 90-95% of  their energy as heat, not light.
    • CFL (compact fluorescent lights) release 80% of their energy as heat.
  • LED lights use 75% less energy than traditional lights and can last up to 25x longer
  • CFLs are also extremely toxic to environment, as they contain mercury.
    • LEDs contain no toxic chemicals within them.
  • LEDs have less of an impact on the air, water, and soil than CFLs or Incandescent bulbs.
  • LED lights are far safer – much lower threat to start a house fire, etc.

Heating and cooling homes accounts for just under half of all home energy use in the United State, adding high levels of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere through the electricity and gas used. You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling and decrease your carbon footprint by turning the thermostat back 7°-10°F from your normal setting!

  • A household can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by turning thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.
    • The percentage of savings from setback is greater for buildings in milder climates than for those in more severe climates.
  • Residential sector’s electricity use for cooling was about 226 billion kWh in 2019.
    • 16% of total residential sector electricity consumption.
    • 6% of total U.S. electricity consumption.
  • Heating and cooling account for just under half of total home energy use in the United States.
  • Most electricity use is generated by fossil fuel use.
    • Heating and cooling done with either electricity or gas.

Almost half of the energy used to power personal computers in the United States is wasted in desktop versions. The greenhouse gas emissions from this wasted energy is the equivalent of 3 million cars on the road! Set your personal computer to energy saving settings to help cut down on this problem!

  • Computer energy waste in the United States is equivalent to what’s put out by 3 million cars each year. 
  • The EPA recommend  “sleep modes” instead of screen savers after a period of five minutes of inactivity for laptops, 30 minutes for desktops. 
  • This includes:
    • A time management system that automatically sends computer to sleep.
    • Toggled to apply even when laptops are plugged into their charger.
  • Half of the energy used to power computers is wasted in idle mode.
  • Find other energy saving best practices here.
  • US would save $1 billion annually if all computers were in sleep mode when inactive.

Plastics

Single-use plastics account for 60-95% of global marine plastic pollution and only about 2% of it can be effectively recycled. This includes 40 billion plastic utensils and 180 billion plastic straws per year. Ordering takeout has become a normal part of life, now more than ever. Next time, request the bare minimum packaging necessary to hold your food, and skip the extra bags and cutlery.

  • 500,000,000 plastic straws are discarded into landfills and oceans every day. 
  • 40,000,000,000 plastic forks, spoons, and knives are used and discarded annually. 
  • Single-use plastics (SUPs) contribute to 60-95% of global marine plastic pollution. 
  • Only around 2% of Earth’s global plastic use is effectively recycled.
  • Plastic production is expected to triple by 2050.

NOTE: “Reducing marine pollution from single-use plastics (SUPs): A review” shared with expressed, written permission from original author, to be used for educational purposes.

There are well over 8 million tons of plastic pollution entering Earth’s oceans every year, damaging aquatic ecosystems and disrupting nature’s balance. You can do your part by reducing your bottled water usage and electing to drink from the tap and purchasing a reusable water bottle on the go!

  • 8 million tons of plastic are entering the Earth’s oceans every year
  • 57.3 billion plastic water bottles were sold in the United States in 2014 – around 190 bottles per person!
  • Plastics that enter the ocean not only harm wildlife, but they also emit microplastics into the waterways
    • Some microplastics are small enough to pass through membranes in the body and affect the bloodstream
    • This is an issue because plastics are made with many chemicals that are harmful to the organic body systems, and even more plastics have unknown results

Microplastics are microscopic pieces of plastic that have broken down from plastics all over the world. They are toxic to nature and the human bloodstream, but US water samples showed up to 9.24 particles of microplastic per liter of tap water! You can do your part to slow the spread of microplastics by cutting down on your plastic use wherever possible.

  • Microplastics are defined as plastics that are smaller than 5 millimeters in size.
    • Nanoplastics are plastics smaller than 100 nanometers.
  • Microplastics are the natural result of plastic use – though plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it breaks down into microscopic pieces
  • Water samples contained an average of 5.45 particles (fibers and fragments, although mostly fibers) per literbut samples from the U.S. had the highest average for any for any country — 9.24 particles per liter.
    • Bottled water only increases risk of microplastic ingestion – if one were to drink only bottled water for an entire year, they would ingest 90,000 more particles than someone who drank only tap water over that time period.

Most plastic garbage liner bags are actually not recyclable curbside. Using garbage bags can actually cause an entire bag’s worth of recyclable goods to not be recycled at all! Talk about one spoiled apple! To minimize this risk, put your recycling in an open paper bag when you put it in the blue bin.

  • With exception of two cities in US (Franklin, Tennessee and NYC), plastic garbage bags should not be put in recycling bin.
  • Recycling should not be put in plastic garbage bags.
    • Loose paper bags are okay. It is also okay to collect in plastic bags, dump the recycling into the blue bin, then throw the plastic bag into the trash – although this generates more waste.
  • Contamination rate is a big issue with recycling as well.
    • Avoiding contamination is essential if we are to establish a high national recycling rate.

Single-use coffee pods generate over 350 million pounds of waste annually, and are unlikely to be recycled. These plastic, single-use pods are extremely slow to decompose in landfill, and the coffee grounds inside them decompose anaerobically, producing methane, the worst of greenhouse gasses. If you have a single-use brewing system, consider buying a reusable pod and measuring out your fresh coffee to cut down on waste!

  • In 2018, over 40% of Americans owned single-use coffee pod systems.
    • They are the statistically worst way to make coffee from an environmental standpoint.
  • 27% of Americans use their single-use system for their coffee consumption.
  • In 2012, enough single-use pods were used to encircle the Earth over 11 times.
    • Very few of these are ever recycled.
  • A single company sold 13.2 billion single-serve cup packs in 2015.
    •  12 grams total (most times consumers do not empty grounds out to recycle, so it all turns to waste) 13.2 billion * 12 = 349 million pounds of waste – from just one of the many single-use coffee pod companies.

Red plastic party cups are typically made from #6 polystyrene, which is very rarely accepted by municipal recycling programs. Americans use billions of plastic party cups annually –  this type of plastic can take 500 years to decompose in landfill. 500 years ago, the Aztec Empire was still around – imagine what the world will look like 500 years from now!  Next time you reach for plastic cups to play booch pong with your friends, consider using reusable cups instead.

Americans use over 170 million plastic straws every single day! Plastic straws are non-recyclable, and continue to add to the growing problem of marine plastic pollution. Consider cutting out your use of plastic straws! You can go further by starting to cut your use of other single-use plastics as well.

  • 150 million metric tons of plastic currently contaminate Earth’s oceans.
    • Plastics are on pace to outweigh the fish in the oceans by 2050.
    • Straws are only small part of problem, but can be a good starting point!
  • It is almost impossible to recycle plastic straws due to their lightweight nature.
  • A conservative estimate shows that Americans use 170 million straws daily.

Most toothbrushes are typically made from polypropylene and other mixed plastics, making them non-recyclable. Over 1 billion toothbrushes are discarded annually in the United States alone, taking up valuable landfill space and adding to the global plastics pollution issue. Consider switching to a bamboo toothbrush or reusable handle to minimize the amount of waste you generate!

  • Overall, bamboo toothbrushes offer a better alternative than plastic toothbrushes, even if the bristles themselves are not (should be cut out to properly recycle).
  • 264 million Americans use manual toothbrushes (typically made from plastic).
  • 1 billion toothbrushes are discarded annually.
  • Extra information about the issue can be found here.

 

 

Disposable lighters account for over 7,000 tons of plastic waste annually in the United States. The unlabeled plastic is rarely accepted by recycling programs, and most of the waste sits in landfill or is littered directly into the environment. Consider investing in a refillable or rechargeable electric lighter to cut down on your plastic waste, or look for environmentally-sourced matches!

  • Lighters are made from mix of plastics (which is almost never identified)
    • As a result, they are often non-recyclable.
    • Very frequently, unlabeled plastics are not accepted for recycling.
  • 1 billion disposable lighters are sold annually in US.
  • Lighters generate over 7,000 tons of plastic waste annually:
    • 13 grams net – 4.5 grams of butane = 6.5 grams of waste * 1 billion units annually.

Cotton swabs are made from water-intensive cotton and (usually) plastic. Almost 400 million pounds of cotton swabs are manufactured annually, consuming over 250 billion gallons of water per year, and the plastic waste adds to the 80 million tons entering Earth’s oceans each year. Consider replacing your purchases of cotton swabs with reusable makeup removers or reusable cotton swabs!

  • 1.5 million cotton swabs are manufactured each day.
    • Made of cotton and plastic (both excessively water-intensive crops)
    • There is a plastic waste issue as well.
    • One pound of plastic takes 22 gallons of water to manufacture
    • One pound of cotton takes 1360 gallons of water to produce.
  • This only adds to issue of plastic waste
  • 547 billion cotton swabs are manufactured annually.
    • 547 billion * .330 g per swab = 361,020,000 lb mfg annually (half cotton, half plastic)
      • Accounts for over 250 billion gallons of water annually

2 billion disposable razors are produced every year in the United States. Oftentimes made of mixed plastics, disposable razors are usually non-recyclable, and end up in landfill or the environment. Straight-edge razors, on the other hand, are made of steel or aluminum – much more likely to be accepted by recycling programs. And, they are usually cheaper! Consider making the switch today.

  • 158 million Americans used disposable razors in 2020.
  • 2 billion total disposable razors are produced annually. 
  • Disposable razors are oftentimes made of mixed plastics, which are very hard to recycle.
  • Straight-edge razors are typically made of carbon steel or stainless steel. 
    • These can be recycled, making them the better alternative for the environment.

Transportation

One gallon of gasoline burned in a passenger vehicle can emit 20 lbs of Co2 into the atmosphere. Emissions like these are contributors to global climate change. Split up your carbon footprint by picking up a coworker and carpooling to work! If one in every 100 cars adds a carpooler, we can save over 7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually!

  • Carpooling reduces the number of cars on road, saving money, while reducing both emissions and stress.
  • If every car going to work in the US added one additional passenger as a carpooler, 33 million gallons of gasoline could be saved per month.
    • Significant amount comes from carpooling’s traffic reduction – less overall idle time for all cars on the road.
    • If one carpooler were added in every 100 vehicles, 7,200,000 ton reduction in GHG emissions annually.
    • If one carpooler were added in every 10 vehicles, 68,000,000 ton reduction in GHG emissions annually.
  • One gallon of gasoline burned typically emits 20 lbs of Co2 into the atmosphere.
    • A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Inflating your car tires to the manufacturer recommended PSI will save gas and reduce over 1 ton of greenhouse gas emissions annually through increased efficiency. This also saves money!

  • When tires are underinflated, they cause more friction with the road, resulting in lower fuel efficiency.
  • Every 1 psi drop in tire pressure can reduce efficiency by .2%.
  • The average cost of under-inflated tires can be from $300-$500 in gasoline, along with around 1.5 tons of Co2 emissions. 
    • Properly inflated tires are also safer (faster stopping time).

Completing all your shopping stops in the same trip from home can reduce your GHG emissions if you are driving a car! Adding even one trip on your way to/from work rather than saving it for the weekend can reduce the miles driven for that errand by up to 30%! 

  • Trip chaining is combining as many “trips” (i.e. grocery store, bank, Whalebird) as possible at one time.
    • Reduction in VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) is the main benefit – reduction in GHG emissions by proxy.
  • Adding one non-work destination to a work trip can reduce VMT of that trip by anywhere from 5-22 (between 20%-30% reduction in VMT).

General Waste

Paper towels accounted for 2% of the total American landfill waste in 2018. As paper towels break down, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. They also add to global deforestation, which negatively impacts climate change. While reusable rags are our go-to, for messes that need paper towels, consider using recycled, bamboo, or sugarcane paper towels! These are sourced from ingredients that grow back much faster than trees. You can also find tissues, napkins, and toilet paper made from sustainable ingredients as well!

  • Paper and cardboard waste make up the largest percentage of waste materials in the USA
    • Paper towels are not recyclable, so they go straight into landfill.
  • 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used annually in the USA.
  • Americans lead world in paper towel usage
    • Full third higher than next highest nation (Norway)
  • Almost 4 million tons of paper tissue (paper towels, napkins, tissues, etc) were in landfill in USA 2018
    • Minimal recycling happens – most of the waste ends up in landfill.
  • 51,000 trees are cut down daily for paper towel consumption in the United States.
  • Tree loss is a key cause of climate change – up to 10% of climate change can be attributed to forest loss around the globe.
  • Some sources state that bamboo, sugarcane, hemp, etc. can be worse for environment if they were grown from land that was deforested to grow these crops.
    • Overall, it is better to use these than paper products from virgin fibers.
    • Best alternative to toilet paper is a bidet.
      • Bidets reduce water usage (via water used to make toilet paper) along with paper usage.

Electronics waste (e-waste) accounts for only 2% of the mass in landfills across America, but accounts for 70% of the toxic waste! Make sure to dispose of your e-waste at proper e-waste recycling centers to ensure that your items are properly recycled. Most Home Depots will take batteries and small e-waste! 

  • E-waste makes up only 2% of the mass of landfill in the United States, but makes up around 70% of the toxic waste.
    • Lots of large parts of e-waste can be reused.
  • It takes 530 lbs of fossil fuel, 48 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.
    • Recycling e waste is a good way to minimize the impact your electronics have.
  • As of 2012, we are disposing of around 3.2 million tons of e-waste a year in the US, with a recycling rate of only 29%.

The United States produces over 67 million tons of paper and cardboard waste annually! Billing statements constitute 43% of all mail sent and received in the US. While some of this is recycled, most of this paper goes to landfill, also contributing to climate change through the deforestation needed to produce the paper. One thing you can do to reduce your paper usage is switch to online billing wherever applicable!

  • The USA produces over 67 million tons of paper and cardboard waste annually.
  • Collectively, Americans received 13.4 billion bills and 3.9 billion statements through the Postal Service in 2016 (p.43).
    • Bills constitute 43% of all paper mail in United States.
  • Benefits of electronic billing can include: 
    • Minimizing paper waste.
    • Extension of billing period due to lower wait times.
    • Low balance and fraud detection more quickly.
    • Some banks offer discounts for paperless billing.
    • Ability to check account balances while away from home.
  • These processes can help you opt out of physical junk mail not related to banking:

Over 500,000 metric tons of batteries are produced annually, less than 5% of which are recycled in the United States! This is problematic, because batteries can leach toxic chemicals into the ground and start fires in landfill. Be sure to properly recycle your batteries – check your zip code on Call2Recycle or Earth911’s websites to know where to take them!

  • Less than 5% of standard lithium-ion batteries are recycled in the United States.
    • Many of the heavy metals and other metal components within lithium-ion batteries can be recycled and reused.
    • If not recycled, they sit in landfill, where they can poison groundwater.
  • You can recycle batteries by dropping them off at any Cal2Recycle center.
  • Labeling for battery types:
    • UN3480: Lithium Ion Batteries
    • UN3481: Lithium Ion Batteries Contained in/Packed with Equipment 
    • UN3090: Lithium Metal Batteries
    • UN3091: Lithium Metal Batteries Contained in/Packed with Equipment 
  • Batteries in landfill have high risk to start fires in the landfill.

Each new book, on average, takes around 7.8 kg of Co2 to produce. Books in landfill also leach ink into the ground, which can be toxic as well. If you’re in college, consider renting textbooks, or finding online versions of them, when possible, to tangibly reduce your carbon footprint! Some online retailers also offer used options for physical books. If you’re the casual reader, the same still applies. 

  • Paper makes up 75% of publishing industry’s waste footprint. 
    • Materials – paper, ink (toxic)
    • Transportation
    • Disposal (landfill waste)
  • Essentially, combining all these functions into one with a laptop spreads the associated waste costs of materials, transportation, disposal, and waste across various different functions, minimizing the grand total.
  • If you buy an entirely new e-reader, you need to read around 40 books on it before you start to reap the environmental benefit.
    • Most college students are reading textbooks on laptops that have already been purchased and mimic the function of several appliances.
    • Production of a kindle ~178kg Co2
    • Production of a book ~ 7.8 kg Co2
  • Libraries are also very environmentally beneficial – small number of books can benefit a large number of people.
  • Amazon and other retailers offer “used” option for paper books – good option to take advantage of.

Over 300 million pounds of solid waste are created from paper receipts annually in the United States! While paper receipts can be extremely valuable, if you find yourself tossing them out as soon as you get home, start asking for no receipt to be printed at all! If a store offers a digital receipt, opt for that option.

  • Paper receipts are oftentimes made with BPA.
    • BPA is known to be toxic to ground when it decomposes.
  • Receipts produce over 300 million pounds of solid waste annually

Over 95,000 paper cups are thrown away every minute in the United States! These cups are rarely accepted by most recycling programs, instead going to landfill or incineration, where they each release .25 pounds of greenhouse gasses. Consider taking a reusable thermos to your favorite coffee shop to skip the disposable cups – some even offer discounts!

  • In US, 50 billion paper cups (WDPCs) are thrown away annually.
    • 95,129 per minute
    • 95% paper fiber by weight, with a polyethylene coating on the inside.
    • There is potential for progress in the field of recycling WDPCs, but because of the plastic coating they have, they are usually just sent to landfill or incinerated.
    • Decomposition of WDPCs is actually methane-heavy (one of the worst GHGs)
    • Thus, for most consumers, best thing to do is to just avoid them and use a travel mug/thermos for your coffee/tea when on-the-go.
  • Recycling is only feasible in highly specialized centers – since most WDPCs are taken away from their source (mobile coffee/tea drinkers), they rarely end up at these specialized facilities at the end of their life.
  • 1.6 million trees are cut down annually just to support the number of paper cups that Starbucks uses. 
  • .24 pounds of greenhouse gasses are emitted for every single paper cup in landfill.

America uses over 65 billion sheets of paper every day, which is the equivalent use of 815,000 pine trees. Where possible, avoid printing, print on scrap paper, or print double-sided. Methods like this can help cut paper use down by 25% across the nation, saving valuable raw materials and helping mitigate deforestation.

  • The average American office worker uses up to 10,000 sheets of paper per year.
    • Studies show paper use can be reduced by 25% by utilizing digital forms and doing double-sided copies.
  • Around 45% of office paper is thrown in the trash by the end of the day that it was printed on
  • Total paper use in US is over 65 billion sheets daily.

Americans dispose of 151 million smartphones annually – most of which are not recycled properly. Many cite battery issues as a reason for upgrading – so, practice good battery-extending techniques to extend the life of your phone and reduce your waste. If your battery is dying, consider buying a repair kit rather than an entirely new phone to cut down on the amount of waste!

  • 151 million smartphones are thrown into trash annually in the United States.
    • Many people cite battery issues as a main reason for tossing their phones.
  • Heat is a major damager of cell phone batteries.
    • Mind the external temperature
    • Using your phone while charging can heat it up
  • Here are some battery tips for extending your phone’s battery life:
    • Turn down the brightness.
    • Note the number of apps you are running.
    • Turn off the Location Services.
    • Turn off the auto-email functions.
    • Reduce push notifications for apps.
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Almost half of the global use of synthetic fibers comes from the textile industry. Examples of synthetic fibers include polyester and nylon. These materials emit microplastics into the waterways when washed – around 500,000 particles per load! They can also take anywhere from 20-200 years to decompose. Consider buying organic cotton or hemp materials the next time you shop for athletic gear. 

  • Around 45% of global synthetic fibers in the world were used in the textile industry in 2017.
  • Polyester and nylon-based clothing release microplastics directly into waterways when they are run through washing cycles.
  • These materials can take anywhere from 20-200 years to decompose in nature/landfill.
  • The process to make polyester creates slightly lower VOC emissions than other types of synthetic fibers – but not enough to warrant its rampant usage.

With Your Money

It’s no secret that money makes the world go ‘round (even though we wouldn’t mind kombucha as currency!). If you want to ensure that yours is not being used to invest in fossil fuels or other environmentally damaging fields, consider putting your money into a bank with a B-Corporation certification! These are banks that have agreed to focus on a “triple bottom line” – people, planet, and profit. Check out our list of B-Corp banks!

  • Banks have the potential to positively impact communities in both social justice and environmental initiatives.
  • A list of banks with high B-Scores: 
    • Beneficial State Bank: 176
    • City First Bank: 146
    • Aspiration: 128
    • Sunrise Bank: 144
    • Amalgamated Bank: 115
  • Check out B-Corp’s website to find more sustainable banks near you!

 

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For Reuse

9.6 million tons of furniture are sent to landfill annually in the United States alone! Furniture with paint and other chemicals contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Where possible, consider buying vintage, antique, or pre-owned furniture to help mitigate your emissions!

  • In 2018, over 9.6 million tons of furniture were sent to landfill in United States.
  • Furniture largely composed of wood can still take up to 13 years to decompose in landfill.
    • Not including wood that is painted (large majority) or furniture composed of other materials as well.

Over ⅔ of textiles consumed globally (including clothing) goes to landfill. These clothes take up valuable landfill space and contribute to global climate change. Try to shop second-hand where you can, and use your clothing for as long as is possible! Consider buying hemp or bamboo-based clothing where possible – these fibers use less water!

  • Over of all textiles consumed in the world go to landfill after use.
    • Global annual consumption of textiles is 13 kg per person.
    • Huge cause of microplastic and microtextile waste in the ocean. 
    • Only 15% of textiles are recycled.
  • Nordic region exported textiles for re-use in 2016, saving 80 billion gallons of water.
  • Purchasing clothes from fast fashion and then donating them at a rapid rate still perpetuates the concept of fast fashion. 
    • Just because you donate your old clothes instead of tossing them does nothing for the demand for fast fashion.

Over 9 million tons of clothing and footwear items were tossed into American landfills in 2018! Each cotton shirt can take over 500 gallons of water to manufacturer – donating shirts and other clothing for reuse can help conserve resources and reduce manufacturing emissions. Consider donating your old clothes once you notice you no longer wear them!

  • If everyone in the US donated a single cotton shirt for reuse, over 1 billion pounds of CO2 emissions could be saved.
  • Over 9 million tons of clothing and footwear items were landfilled in 2018.
  • Clothes in landfill end up decomposing through anaerobic breakdown.
    • This produces methane, the worst greenhouse gas.
  • A single T-shirt can take up to 700 gallons of water to manufacture.
    • Each shirt donated can save the manufacturing of another one as people reuse them.

OUR FLAVORS EMBODY OUR MISSION TO PROVIDE THE WORLD WITH DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY BEVERAGE OPTIONS.