(Image Description: A meatless Beyond Burger looking like a burger made out of animal products courtesy of Beyond Burger)
By SydneyBlu Garcia-Yao
Beyond Meat is a company that strives to create meat products without soy, gluten, GMOs or actual animals without sacrificing the textures, appearance or nutrition of meat. They do this by focusing on what they believe are the four building blocks of meat: protein, fat, minerals and water. By replicating those in the correct proportions they are able to mirror and exceed the qualities of beef and other products. Beyond Meat's signature The Beyond Burger has, for the same quantity, have more protein and iron than beef while having less saturated and total fat, cholesterol and calories. Besides The Beyond Burger they also carry many other products that boast very similar nutritional contents and qualities. More information on what exactly goes into their products can be found on their website which will be linked below. They currently also sell the Beyond Sausage (Flavors: Brat Original and Hot Italian), Beyond Chicken Strips (Flavors: Grilled and Lightly Seasoned) and Beyond Beef Crumbles (Flavors: Feisty and Beefy.)
Besides the health qualities of Beyond Meat, their other selling factor is that they are very environmentally friendly. the following statistics are all based on a study by the University of Michigan:
1. They use 99% less water which is extremely important as many governments are currently using their supplies very short-sighted and many are reaching Day 0 as underground reservoirs take millions of years to replenish and purifying braken water is very hard.
2. Raising cows is very land-intensive, not only because cows take space but the land used to grow their food. Many are worries about overpopulation, but this Earth could easily support 10 million individuals if not for all the space it takes to grow meat. Beyond meat cuts down on land usage by 93%.
3. Climate Change has been all over the news for good reason. It is caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, water vapor and more. Cows create a lot of a greenhouse gas called methane which is 84 times more potent than the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Beyond Meat cuts down on these greenhouse by 90%.
4.Beyond Meat cuts down on energy by 46%. Energy is often found in oil and coal due to how cheap and easy they are, but burning them causes greenhouse gases, meaning that saving on energy is very important.
Beyond Meat is a great place to get buy food for holidays or just so eat on the couch! Their products can be found in grocery stores, Whole Foods, and more.
(Image Description: Seventh Generation lavender dish wash and hand soap.)
Seventh Generation believes in not only doing what's right in their cleaning products, but also in advocacy. Their products contain only plant-based ingredients, which, as explained above, is one of the best choices for the environment. Not only is their packaging recyclable, but they create it from recycled materials. They advocate for both climate justice by creating mini documentaries and supporting clean energy. Part of their strategy is by promoting #Readyfor100, meaning that cities should be having 100% clean energy now. Clean energy is extremely important because other types of fuel like coal cause greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that lead to climate change. Seventh Generation's other campaign is for ingredient disclosure with their hashtag "RightToKnow" and "ComeClean." These hashtags champion consumers understanding what goes into their products, especially for those dealing with personal hygiene. Both of these projects contain an archive of articles educating consumers on these issues and how it affects them. Founded in 1988, they have had many years to create many different types of products. They carry everything from feminine care to trashbags to dishwash.
However, while this may all sound good, Unilever bought Seventh Generation in 2016. According to some reports, Unilever ranks only 53% sustainable in palm oil compared to companies that are much higher like PepsiCo and Hershey. Producing palm oil can lead to deforestation which leads to a lack of biodiversity. In Indonesia, a third of mammal species are critically endangered because of it. Deforestation also perpetuates climate change as the invaluable timber and undergrowth are typically burnt which creates smoke and makes Indonesia emit the third highest amount of greenhouse gases worldwide. Upon further scrutiny, Unilever has many other hypocrisies when it comes to being eco-friendly. This is not to say that what Seventh Generation is doing is not helpful to the environment. But it does leave questions on how much is really genuine now that Unilever owns the company. Many times the only true company value is to make more money, which can mean supporting causes their base believes in. But that doesn't completely invalidate the fact that they are doing good in the world.
(Image Description: A wide range of spices Numi Tea uses and two packs of ready-made tea on a weathered table.
The slogan for Numi Tea is "Celebrating people, planet and pure tea." This is shown in how they focus on nuances that most companies wouldn't care about, and that won't necessarily make consumers buy their product, but is extremely important for the environment. Numi Tea developed their own plant-based compostable tea bag wrapper, which is unlike the typically plastic-paper combo. This is better for the environment in many ways, from it being compostable to plant based, but one of the one the previous companies I have mentioned have yet to cover is the plastic. Plastic is a big problem, especially for our oceans. With over eight million tons of plastic being dumped into the ocean each year, no one can deny that something is seriously wrong. Numi Tea is taking a step in plastic reduction so instead of it being thrown out and ending up in the ocean, it is compostable. Their wrappers are also made of 72% post consumer recycled content, which is a lot until you look at their boxes. Their tea boxes are make almost entirely of recycled goods at 90%.
Besides making their product eco-friendly, they have made many decisions towards a more sustainable future. (These figures are for the 2017 year.) They offset 1, 184, 764 pounds of CO2 emissions, a major greenhouse gas creating climate change. They have conserved 5000 trees which absorb carbon dioxide and do many other things necessary for humans. Numi has saved 3000 BTUs or 879 watts of energy, which is enough to power 59 light bulbs for an hour. (That may not seem like a lot, but little things add up.) They also save 659,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, four million gallons of water and 317,000 pounds of waste. That's a lot for a small, family-owned tea-selling business.
Numi Tea also places itself in many important partnerships. For example they are currently working with Soil & More Impacts to become carbon positive (which means to emit more carbon than they give out; the Sustainable Food trade Association which aims to reverse global warming; and Carbonfund.org to help support renewable energy projects in both China and India.
In addition, Numi Tea is organic which means that they don't use chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides that hurt bees and other animals.
(Image Description: Burt's bees hand salve with the iconic picture of Burt as well as some bees on a yellow honeycomb background courtesy of Walgreens.)
Burt's Bees is a lip, hand and personal care company specializing in things made with beeswax like lip balm. They try to make their packaging more environmentally friendly by making their packaging out of post-consumer recycled content. Their primary packages containers like the tins, lip balm shells, etc. are made on average with 34% of recycled goods, while their plastic bottles average 71%. Burt's Bees secondary packages average 36% and their primary packaging for other items have an average of almost 90%. On some of their products they have reduced excess material by half.
The company is very diligent about making the world a better place. They have a zero waste policy of nothing going to landfills. Even though they have over 350 employees in three facilities, nothing goes into a dump. They achieve this by their workers volunteering to work hard at recycling, composting and sending waste to energy bins. In addition, to save energy they have efficient lighting systems and production equipment - as well as their employees being conscious of water and energy waste.
Since they acknowledge they they aren't fossil free and water neutral, Burt's Bees has tried other paths to make sure they can still make an impact. The company has achieved a carbon neutral certification as well as spending money in water restoration programs that are equivalent to their own usage. They achieved being carbon neutral partially from taking methane from landfills and converting it into energy. The way this works is that microorganisms break down the trash through anaerobic digestion and create a biogas with methane. Once the methane is extracted from the landfill it can be turned into energy with a turbine or internal combustion machine.
Burt's Bees has a report on their 2020 Sustainability Goals and the last time they have released an update is this year. One step they have taken is in distributing 440,000 USD to human and honeybee health. They have planted over 15 billion seeds over 4400 acres of land in the goal of making 145,000 acres of farmland more pollinator-friendly. Burt's Bees provided these seeds to 40 farms for honeybee health. The company also assembled and gave out 2000 honeybee health monitoring kits to collect data on pests and diseases and how different practices affect the honeybee.
This holiday season, if you're looking to get a long-lasting, useful gift for any bee-lover, Burt's Bees is a great option!
(Image Description: Different types of "ugly" produce that don't make the cut for grocery stores courtesy of Portland Monthly.)
Imperfect Produce is a company that aims to take fruits and vegetables that wouldn't otherwise be sold and sell them. Over 20% of odd-looking produce never leaves the farm which leads to tons of food being wasted every year. Fruits and vegetables take a lot of resources, money and effort to create them and all of that goes to waste when They send out their produce in a weekly box at a discount of about 30%. Thanks to this box they have saved 30 million pounds of food waste. Through that high number they have been able to save 900 million gallons of water and 91 million pounds of C02.
You may be wondering what types of produce they offer. While this varies, they typically have about 30-40 items that customers can choose from in their box. The type of organic veggies they sell are the ones that are deemed unsellable by groceries for any of these six reasons:
1. The produce may be too small or too big for grocery stores. They tend to like uniformity and odd sizes don't fit in cases, even though they taste just like normal sized ones.
2. The produce may be in an odd shape. If things such as double or even triple carrots form or something as small as a bell pepper not being able to stand up can make a grocery store reject it, even when consumers may enjoy its unique shape.
3. The produce may have marks on it and when there are too many, stores don't sell them because they don't look as nice.
4. The produce may not have a consumer market like the leaves and stalk of broccoli even when they're perfectly fine to eat.
5. The produce may have discoloration or not be as bright or have splotches of color that don't look as nice as the ones shown on TV. For example, the classic lemon is a bright, shiny yellow. But it can also have green patches and tints while still being good to eat.
6. The produce may be good in every way, but grocery stores may not have enough business. When there is too much product, the produce isn't "imperfect" but they don't want to buy stock they can't sell.
Of course, there are many other eco-friendly shops besides these and some research on their website can point you in the right direction of where to buy your holiday gifts. Also, check out part one of this mini-series! So this holiday season, try to pick a place that helps the environment!