Plastic Pollution & Climate Change Conversation

Climate change and plastic pollution are catastrophic problems that seem overwhelming. Can ordinary people do anything to make a significant impact? Yes! There are simple sustainable swaps that really make a difference in our environmental and future well-being. 

  1. Plastic pollution is the most widespread problem affecting the ocean ecosystem. It greatly affects wildlife, their habitat, and humans. That is why Down to Earth is focused on sustainability every day, and especially this Earth Month, by providing information and inspiration - all of us can make a difference with easy shifts in our daily lives. Join us in making real change and a positive impact one sustainable swap at a time.  
  2. Climatarian diet. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing what you eat based on the carbon footprint of different foods. Plant-based foods have the least impact on the environment, while meat, like beef, has 7 times greater impact. The principles of this diet involve: cutting down on overall meat to reduce carbon footprint, reducing food waste, and eating local, organic, seasonal, “land-efficient” foods, and drought-hardy crops. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post for more information! 
  3. Bring your own utensils. Swapping out the mentality of a “disposable culture” for a “reusable culture” is very important for the well-being of the environment. Plastic utensils are only used once and then thrown out. Billions of various types of utensils are tossed out every year. These can take centuries to break down and create high amounts of pollution in the manufacturing process.  Replace plastic items with eco-friendly ones. Supporting businesses that have taken the initiative to reduce plastic packaging is also important. Even though there aren’t options to replace every type of plastic product, there are still enough alternative materials to make some swaps.  The best part is that as people choose to purchase more environmentally-friendly products, more options will become available. Check out last week’s blog post on our Sustainable Starter Kit! 
  4. Composting. The Spruce gives an excellent explanation on a type of composting called “Bokashi”. This method uses fermented organic matter instead of worms, that can also be used to break down food waste. If you grow your own food this is a great swap for you! It enriches the soil, promotes healthy plant growth, and reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. If you are not a gardener that's okay because this method also diverts food waste out of landfill, reducing methane pollution, and maybe your neighbors need some enriched soil - you can never go wrong with composting. Start composting your waste from Down To Earth today! 
  5. Reuse plastic. Check out this very resourceful guide on ways to reuse plastic in your daily life! Leave with clear and tangible next steps to: 
    1. Create recycled plastic bottle supply cups 
    2. Reuse coffee creamer containers for snack storage 
    3. Make a DIY plastic bottle planter 
    4. Upcycle laundry detergent bottles into a watering can ...and more!
  6. Bring your own produce bags. The Zero Waste Chef has a great explanation of why we should all be using reusable bags for our produce, plus they have an easy tutorial on how to make your own. Why Shop with Reusable Produce Bags? Since the 1950s, approximately 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide and only 9% of that has been recycled. Every minute, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans. If we do not drastically reduce our plastic consumption, by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight. Because China will no longer accept our plastic waste (and why should they?), by 2030, the world will need to bury or recycle an estimated 111 million metric tons of the stuff. Micro-plastics are in our water, our air, our fish and even human stool. 
  7. Reduce food waste. Not only can you save yourself money from buying less food, but reducing food waste decreases methane emissions from landfill and lowers your carbon footprint. According to the EPA, it conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling of food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it). It is all about conserving our resources and choosing the most sustainable options. 

Our Down to Earth stores donate day-old deli foods to Aloha Harvest instead of throwing them out. Founded in 1999, Aloha Harvest is the sole food rescue organization in the state. Their mission is to “rescue and deliver quality, excess food to help feed the needy, hungry, and homeless in Hawai‘i”. Aloha Harvest picks up excess foods from our Oahu locations several times a week to share with local charities. Our produce waste at several of our stores is also donated to local animal sanctuaries and to farmers for compost. 

Our stores use World Centric products from forks and spoons to napkins, cups, and bowls. They are made from 70% non-GMO plastic and 30% talc. The outer wrapping is also compostable. These compostable utensils are designed to reduce waste and provide a safe, non-toxic alternative to plastic. These utensils are certified compostable, dishwasher safe, and can be reused at least 100 times! They require less energy to produce compared to petroleum products and when composted, they become soil. 

It is very important to offer these eco-friendly choices for our customers because we envision a Hawai'i where all people “Cherish the Land and Live in Health and Harmony” (E Mālama i ka ʻĀina, e Ola Pono). We hope that more businesses can put sustainability at the heart of their business in the future!