This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.
Around the world, flight emissions have decreased, rush-hour congestion has thinned, and air is cleaner in major metro areas. Had we viewed this through a crystal ball three years ago, we might have guessed that it was the world finally taking its Paris Agreement commitments seriously. But unfortunately, it’s just the result of the sad-but-necessary practice of social distancing. Hopefully, as Time and others have recently opined, we as a society can adopt at least this one positive from a dire situation — that it is possible to see major progress when the entire world acts together to create systemic change. While we’re stuck indoors in the interim, we can address our own situations from within. This week, in lieu of stepping out into the world, The Climate Win looks at ways in which our everyday home lives can be less impactful.
TP with a conscience
We start with an idea that, had you thought of it merely two months ago, could have eliminated one of the most important items on your doomsday prep shopping list. Not only does Who Gives A Crap take our kudos for the best brand name ever, but it has also developed a tush-friendly product that is revolutionizing the way we produce and buy toilet paper. The company turns recycled paper into toilet paper, wraps it in zero-waste recyclable paper packaging, and ships it to your door (in a recyclable box). This means you avoid the plastic-wrapped toilet paper sold in stores and there’s no need to even wait on line only to find empty shelves. And, 50 percent of the company’s profits are dedicated to building toilets in countries where they’re needed most. It’s a win, from top to bottom.
Making disposable coffee cups biodegradable
As good as you may be at bringing your coffee thermos with you, there’s always that time when it gets left in the car or forgotten at home. A company in Berlin is working to make these little slip-ups less impactful on the environment by making to-go coffee cups out of used coffee grounds. Kaffeeform ships portable and at-home coffee mugs for drip coffee as well as espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos (it’s European, after all). This means you could stock an entire cabinet with coffee cups for a variety of purposes, each actually made from coffee. Even if you personally don’t do that, the idea is that maybe international coffee brands might, making cutting down trees to produce single-use coffee cups a thing of the past. If that doesn’t satisfy your caffeine fix, nothing will.
The way these products come to your door is evolving
A major issue with online ordering is the footprint necessary to deliver the product to the buyer’s home. This often produces more carbon emissions than if the buyer were to pick it up at a store — particularly if that buyer is shopping for multiple things on the same trip. A big chunk of those emissions may be wiped out in the coming years as fully electric semi-trucks make their way into our country’s shipping and logistics infrastructure. Big rig producer Freightliner recently introduced its eCascadia and eM 106 models, all-electric semis with enough power and torque to pull full-sized loads from port to port without a drop of diesel. The New York Times reported this week that big-name manufacturers including Volvo and Kenworth are also developing electronic big rig models, and while it’s going to be years before they replace most of the diesel versions on highways now, the long-term adoption of these new rigs could knock off up to eight percent of the country’s total CO2 emissions — an accomplishment even bigger than the trucks themselves.
Taking the waste out of online ordering
This week’s action task will help you reduce or eliminate what undoubtedly ends up in landfill every time you order something online: the plastic packaging and fillers. In your Amazon Prime account, open up a chat with a customer service representative. Ask the representative to leave a note on your account to avoid plastic packaging, and to use as little packaging as possible when plastic cannot be fully avoided. There is, as of this writing, no way to do this manually. You’ll have to ask through the instant messenger. Though ordering products from a faraway warehouse will never be more sustainable than buying locally sourced goods, this is at least a way to mitigate the damage. Hopefully, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ recent $10 billion commitment to fighting climate change leads his company toward a meeting with Freightliner.