Easy to digest environmental information
Backed up by raw data

Global Plastic Production

Published May 29, 2019

Leo Baekeland invented the first fully synthetic plastic in 1907 in New York. It was not until the 1960’s that this new product went into mass production. Currently factories around the world produce over 400 million tonnes of plastic every year. At the current rate production doubles every two decades.

Reference: https://ourworldindata.org/plastic-pollution

As of 2015, around 6300 million tonnes of plastic was produced and only 9% was recycled. 79% of the plastic waste ended up in landfills and in nature.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5517107/

Currently 8 million tonnes of plastic is entering our oceans each year.

Source: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_New_Plastics_Economy.pdf

What can we do about it?

In short: quite a lot. Think about the daily activities that involve the use of plastics and read our list of tips on how to reduce them:

  1. Drinking – instead of buying disposable plastic bottles, try multi-use water bottles. You can have one for water, one for coffee and one for juice and still save a lot of plastic waste by eliminating the single-use bottles from your life.
  2. Shopping – Buy reusable shopping bags that you can use each time you go for your groceries. There are multi-use bags for vegetables and fruits that can save additional single-use plastic waste. Plastic bags can take up-to 1000 years to degrade.
  3. Packaging – Go for products that involve the least amount of plastic packaging. If it’s a razor, take the one where you can replace the blades while keeping the handle.
  4. Plastic Straws – If you really need to use straws, buy multi-use bamboo or metal straws. They are perfect and eco-friendly. Refuse straws in bars and restaurants if they are plastic.
  5. Chewing Gum – Avoid if possible. Chewing gum is essentially flavored plastic.
  6. Food Containers – Buy reusable food containers instead of single use ones. Use it when you go to restaurants for take-away food.
  7. Food Ordering – Unless they provide re-usable containers that you can send back at your next order, limit food ordering. It creates a lot of waste.
  8. Smoking – Give up smoking and help yourself and the environment. Cigarette buds are made of plastic, a non-biodegradable cellulose acetate. On top of that they contain toxic chemicals such as
    acetic acid, hexamine, arsenic, and chromium that poison our waters.
  9. Diapers – Billions of diapers are discarded every year. Try to use cloth diapers, they are less convenient but more eco-friendly.
  10. Furniture – Wood or other natural materials are better in the long term. Make sure that the wood used for the furniture comes from a sustainable source.
 

Beyond Burger vs Beef Burger

Published May 20, 2019

We inspect the most famous fake meat burger created by the Beyond Meat, the first vegan company to go on the stock market. Their plant-based meat substitutes are sold at large brands such as Whole Foods, TGI Fridays or Carl’s Jr. How does this new product compares then to a traditional beef burger when it comes to environmental impact and nutrients?

Reference: http://css.umich.edu/publication/beyond-meats-beyond-burger-life-cycle-assessment-detailed-comparison-between-plant-based

How green are the Beyond Meat burgers?

The lack of animal products in the Beyond Meat patties result in a big advantage over regular meat patties when it comes production effectiveness. Cows require a vast amount of water and land to raise them, while the solely plant-based ingredients of Beyond Meat products do not, as you can read about it in our article about different protein sources.

What about the nutrients?

In the Beyond Meat burgers protein comes from peas, and the blood-like redness from beetroots. They have double the amount of iron as in a regular burger, slightly more protein, half the amount of saturated fats and most importantly no cholesterol.

The full list of ingredients is as follows:

Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavors, Yeast Extract, Apple Extract, Salt, Vinegar, Potassium Chloride, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Beet Juice Extract (for color), Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Lycopene Color.

It’s easy to see that plant-based alternatives can be both more eco-friendly (as in this example) as well as more nutritious than the originally meat based versions.

How much does it cost then?

A Beyond Meat burger is much cheaper to produce than a beef burger, as less energy, land and water is used. This means that the burger we buy at one of the outlets is also cheaper, right? Wrong. Unfortunately there are a lot of meat industry related subsidies as well as until the production rate is on similar level as beef burgers the prices will be negatively affected.

Carl’s Jr. sells Beyond Famous Star burger with cheese for $7.29. The regular Famous Star with cheese is $4.39 at the same location.

 

Environmental Impact of Different Protein Sources

Published May 13, 2019

Protein is one of the most important nutrients. It’s essential to stay healthy and to maintain our body composition. In this chart we have collected the data to indicate how does a daily average dose of protein impacts the environment. The daily suggested intake according to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

Reference: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6392/987


The averages for adults are:

  • 56 grams per day for the average man
  • 46 grams per day for the average woman

The actual amount of protein intake need differs from person to person depending on age, muscle mass and state of health.

Source: https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/1

What does this mean?

Depending on where the cows are raised and what they feed on, the difference between eating beef meat or eating nuts with the exact same amount of protein that’s needed for our body can be vast. As much as 177 times more CO2 emission.

What should I eat?

As a general rule of thumb, the less meat and dairy products and the more vegetables and nuts. Plant based diet has a major impact in reducing your carbon footprint. A solely beef based diet could generate 6,460 kg (6.5 tonnes!) of CO2 emissions in a single year compared to a plant based diet that would have 36.5 kg of CO2 in the same time range. These are two extremes to highlight the differences.

 

The Killing of Sharks

Published May 10, 2019

The number of sharks we kill annually far exceeds what many populations need to recover. As a result many species face extinction if the trend continues. The Marine Policy Volume 40 publication estimates that between 63 to 273 million sharks are killed every year.

References:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X13000055
https://taronga.org.au/conservation-and-science/australian-shark-attack-file
https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/shark-attacks/maps/world/

Between the years 1958 to 2018 there were a total of 439 fatal shark attacks, which means on the average sharks kill 7.3 people each year. The disproportion of humans killing sharks and sharks killing humans can be illustrated by a simple data. If sharks killed the same amount of people as we kill sharks it would mean that sharks kill 500 to 600 million people every single year. In other words, sharks would kill nearly the entire population of Europe in a single year.

 

Land Mammals Mass on Earth

Published March 28, 2019

Humans and livestock account for 96 percent of mammal biomass on planet Earth. Images on Discovery Channel leads us to believe that there is a thriving wildlife out there. How does that compare to reality, when it comes to the land mass of humans, the species we raise for food or keep as companions and the wildlife?

Reference:
https://www.pnas.org/content/115/25/6506

– 60% of primate species are threatened with extinction

Source: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/1/e1600946

– The extinction rate of plants and animals is 1000 to 10,000 times higher than before humans came along

Source: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/344/6187/1246752.abstract

One of the countless examples to illustrate how humans directly effect the decline of number in species are the American Bison. An estimated 30 to 60 million bison lived in North America in the 1500’s . During the next centuries mass killings, cattle diseases, loss of natural habitat caused their numbers to plummet. There were around 325 wild bison left in the United States, including 25 in Yellowstone in the year of 1884.

Source: https://www.fws.gov/bisonrange/timeline.htm