Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Making e-commerce packaging sustainable

The rise of e-commerce through Amazon and other online marketplaces has made all of our needs available to us with just a few clicks of a button. The convenience and accessibility of e-commerce have led to a major rise in online shopping that’s projected to double over the next four years.


Unfortunately, the rise of e-commerce has brought with it an increase in single-use plastic and packaging materials that flood landfills. Currently, packaging materials make up approximately 65% of all household waste , with that number projected to increase dramatically by 2050 if no changes are made.

In today's blog post we look into how e-commerce can be improved to reduce waste and make our shopping habits more sustainable.

The Problem In e-Commerce Waste

E-commerce currently accounts for 13% of all retail in the United States and is predicted to increase exponentially over the coming decades. In some ways, e-commerce is more sustainable than shopping in physical stores, as it reduces the amount of mass shipping needed to distribute goods to stores - and eliminates the emissions from customers driving to the store and back. 

However, the fundamental problem with e-commerce lies in its excess packaging. Often we see our purchases packaged in plastic wrap inside at least one cardboard box. The plastic used in shipping is most often designed for single-use purposes and then thrown away once the package has been safely delivered. This leads to massive amounts of plastic waste in landfills and our environment, as the vast majority of shipping materials are not designed to be recyclable or reusable.


Shipping materials have improved dramatically over the past few decades, but as e-commerce begins to overtake traditional retail, packaging systems need further efforts towards sustainability. The heavy usage of Styrofoam packaging has been on the decline for several years, but the cardboard and single-use plastics that make up our packaging still account for more than half of our household wastes. As the use of e-commerce is expected to rise in the coming years, the plastic pollution that comes with it will outweigh the progress that has been made.


Finding Sustainability in e-Commerce

Companies around the world are looking to improve their packaging systems to be more sustainable. Amazon has recently recognized the growing trend of using disproportionately large cardboard boxes to ship small products, as well as using split shipping to separate multi-item orders into multiple shipments. While Amazon is undoubtedly still a major contributor to environmental problems, after recognizing and addressing these concerns, Amazon has worked to eliminate more than 83 million cardboard packaging boxes. 

Many online companies are using environmental auditing services to improve their quality management systems. A significant portion of a product’s waste comes from its supply chain, but approximately 69% of companies lack full supply chain transparency. By analyzing quality management systems, companies can track and manage their supply chains to gain better control of their packaging and shipping processes. In an effort to reduce the dependence on single-use material, companies can invest in biodegradable packaging. 


Biodegradable materials differ from traditional recyclable cardboard in that they are designed to degrade without leaving any harmful residues in the environment. Recyclable materials are a limited and imperfect system, as materials can only be resalvaged a few times before the material is no longer usable. Biodegradable packaging, however, is designed to break down after a few months, leaving no waste behind.



Some options for biodegradable packaging include materials made of:

● Cornstarch

● Sugarcane

● Bamboo

● Mushrooms


These types of materials can double for both plastic and cardboard substitutes, and can help significantly reduce the amount of long-term waste e-commerce generates. 

The effort to reduce packaging waste rests not only on the shoulders of e-commerce merchants, but on consumers as well. By pressuring online sellers to transition away from single-use materials, consumers can use their purchasing power to shift online retail industries into more sustainable practices. 


As conscious consumers, we have the responsibility to reach out to our favourite brand and demand more sustainable products and packaging. With enough pressure, companies have no choice but to do what their customers expect them to. Next time you receive a delivery, and you notice excessive and single use packaging, email the brand and ask them to switch to sustainable packaging.






Monday, 11 April 2022

Celebrating Mother Earth 🌍

Since the first Earth Day in 1907, teach-ins have played a critical role in getting the word out about threats to the environment. From elementary schools to university campuses to commuity centers, the knowledge transfer that happens at these learning events is vital to our fight for the planet.

This year, EARTHDAY.ORG have prepared a list of Fact Sheets and Quizzes for people to expand and test their knowledge about several environmental issues. Check them out!


SEE THE FACT SHEETS

SEE THE QUIZZES



LEARN 💚 SHARE 💚 CARE is the main theme behind EARTH DAY GREEN FAIR, taking place on 22-23-24 April 2022 at The Farmoury & Il-Majjistral Park, Manikata.


This year Earth Day will be transformmed into a family-fun weekend which will offer a wide variety of talks, workshops, kids zones, wellness, food, music, market and a long list of activities geared toward environmental protection to climate action. 

Talks & Workshops



2 large Kids Zones



Free Wellness Sessions



and more....




Scan the code for the full calendar





The event we've all been waiting for is finally here!


EARTH DAY GREEN FAIR

When
Friday 22 April (Kids Zone only) 11am-2pm
Sat 23 & Sun 22 April (Main Event) 11am-6pm

Where The Farmoury & Il-Majjistral Park, Manikata
3 minutes walk away from Golden Bay



We are inspiring and challenging citizens to fnd alternatives to everyday products, food, transporation and living so a better earth can be created. Join this unique event and be part of the change!


Plan on starting early for a fun-filled Earth Day Green Fair! 💚🌍🌱







Earth Day Green Fair is being organized by Eco Market Malta, in collaboration with The Farmoury at the Veg Box, Il-Majjistral Nature Park NGO, PARKS Malta and the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Earth Hour ideas for businesses

Every year since 2007, at 8.30pm on the last Saturday of March, people in over 190 countries unite to raise awareness and inspire action for climate change and bio-diversity loss - two urgent threats to our home and our standard of living.  Earth Hour is more than just a yearly occasion, it is a movement fighting for a better, healthier and more sustainable future. 




Today Earth Hour has become a catalyst for positive enivronmental impact, sparking global conversations on protecting nature and tackling the climate crisis. Several businesses around the globe are enthusiastically embracing Earth Hour - from turning off lights at headquarters, flipping the switch on iconic landmarks, and spreading the word amongst employees and customers to participate. This single act is provoking discussion and building momentum towards a renewable future. 


Earth Hour is a great opportunity for your business to demonstrate your commitment to the environment, showcase your existing environmental work and engage with your communities. Here are some tips for how your business can support Earth Hour 2022 - Saturday 26th March.




Switch off the lights

Switch off non-essential lights in your buildings, facilities and signage during Earth Hour from 8.30pm to 9.30pm. For offices that are closed over the weekends, ensure that all lights are turned off on Friday evening.



Nominate an 'Earth Hour' champion

Elect an Earth Hour champions for your business. Their job will be to introduce more sustainable measures to the workplace and ensure the lights are out and appliances are switched off and ideally unplugged, not only for the hour but at the end of each working day. Large companies may want to look into the concept of creating a Green Team.



Incentivise your employees

In the fight against climate change, no action is too small. Ensure recycling bins are accessible all over the workplace. Avoid single-use plastic in the office, like one-time coffee pods; opt instead for fair-trade coffee. Choose zero-waste items for your kitchenette and toileteries. Incentivise car-pooling, public transportation and biking to work. 



Spread the world

Spread the word about Earth Hour in your office, building, and on your digital networks. You can add a banner on your online pages and websites, change your email signature or make a temporary tweak/addition to your logo or branding. Create buzz at the office, ask employees to wear a green T-Shirt on the day or print some yourself with your brand logo and the Earth Hour symbol. 



Invest in nature

The science is clear. The health of the planet is declining at rates never seen in human history and that is putting our global economy at risk, as well as undermining human health, well-being and progress. Food, energy, and water are critical resource challenges for any company, and offering sustainable alternatives will enhance your business's reputation with features that modern investors and customers are seeking for in a company. 



Redefine your purpose

A clear company purpose that drives business and sustainability can help customers make informed choices and live more sustainably. Take the opportunity to align your company's policies and values with sustainability, and embrace forward-thinking eco-sensible solutions. 



Go beyond the hour

The purpose of Earth Hour is to instill sustainable habits. This means making a commitment to a continual change throughout the year that reduces your impact on the environment. Organising environmental stewardship activities for your employees is an excellent way to inspire climate action amongst the workforce and highlighting your environmental contribution to customers and shareholders. Visit this LINK to read about Eco Market Malta's CSR activities.  



Use the SDGs 

The UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a blueprint for business leadership. Get familiar with them, print a copy and stick it on your cork board or use the global goals as your desktop picture. They will serve as a guide for a better and more sustainable future for all. 



Last but not least, download the official Earth Hour 2022 Business Pack which includes a handbook for employee engagement.


Thursday, 17 February 2022

Top 5 Sustainability trends for islands in 2022

The concept of sustainability has garnered an increasing amount of focus over the past few years, especially in light of the continuing pandemic. Stakeholders in the environmental arena, including governments, members of the public, the private sector, the civil society and academia, are all increasingly recognizing the need to adopt sustainable practices as a way to build resilience in island communities. Here are the top 5 trends which will help to overcome the climatic, environmental, social and economic challenges that islands face, and which will help to nurture a sense of collective purpose.


1. Sustainable Finance



According to sustainablefitch.com, the financial world is sitting up and taking notice of the need to focus on creating innovative and relevant financial instruments to more adequately address issues related to Economic and Social Governance (ESG). 

The term 'Impact Investment' refers to 4 main elements;


* Intentionality: An investor's intention to have a positive social or environemtnal impact through investments.

* Return Expectations: Impact investments are expected to generate a financial return on capital or, at minimum, a return on capital.

* Asset Classes - Impact investments target financial returns that range from below market to risk-adjusted market rate, and can be made across a variety of asset classes, including cash equivalents, fixed income, venture capital and private equity.

* Impact Measurement - A fundamental concept of impact investing is the commitment of the investor to measure and report the social and environmental performance and progress of underlying investments. This has the added benefit of ensuring transparency and accountability while informing the practice of impact investing and building the field. In this regard we recommend reading 'The Clean Money Revolution' by Joel Solomon.


2. Climate Positivity

This refers to a more positive, holistic and regenerative approach to combating climate change, while not diminishing the seriousness of the situation. This positivity will balance the negative and seeks to establish a new framework to not only neutralize carbon emissions, but to positively create environmental benefits.



The main sectors which will need focus are industrial animal agriculture, mobility, green buildings, and affordable clean energy. Indeed, it has been established that renewables increasingly undercut the existing operational costs of utilizing fossil fuels, therefore more economic renewables can provide developed islands a strong business case to power past coal in pursuit of a net-zero economy in 2022 and beyond. 




3. Ocean sustainability

This is a crucial trend of island nations, as the 'Blue Economy' is an emerging economic paradigm that focuses on creating better stewardship of our ocean and blue resources, with the primary goal of keeping global heating within 1.5 degrees C. The ocean plays a major role in the social, economic and cultural identities of island inhabitants, so it is critical that it protected and regenerated. 



Plastic pollution must be addressed as a matter of urgency in 2022, as current estimates indicate that at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic debris is now the most abundant type of litter in the ocean, making up 80% off all marine debris found from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Island countries need to be aware of the plastic's negative impact not only on the marine ecosystem, but also on food, human health, tourism and climate. 


4. Innovation in nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions are emerging as some of the most sustainable ways for islands to deal with the climate crisis. These solutions have become a trend which focuses on using biodiversity and the natural functions of healthy ecosystems to deal with some of the most pressing challenges caused by climate change, while providing numerous economic and social benefits. 





The term 'Nature-based solutions' refers to the sustainable management and use of natural features and processes to tackle socio-environmental challenges; such as climate change, water security, water pollution, food security, human health, biodiversity loss, and disaster risk management. 

The key to innovate in nature-based solutions is to involve as many stake holders as possible; including the local community, entrepreneurs, students, scientists, NGOs and social enterprises - support them and provide them with the necessary funds and resources to conduct R&D and to start sustainable businesses and eco-tourism solutions. 

5. The Circular Economy




Perhaps one of the most significant trends of 2022 is the evolution of the circular economy. This trend is generally seen to have been rooted in the positive images of nature that emerged during the pandemic, and which prompted an increased awareness on the part of consumers about the healing powers of nature. They became more environmentally optimistic, and determined to protect this optimism by investing in eco-friendy products, as well as praticing recycling. A recent study by the World Economic Forum illustrated that, based on the current consumption patterns, we will soon need three times the amount of natural resources, which means three more planets. 



The emergence of these sustainability trends and their relevance to islands all over the world show us the necessity of pursuing innovative solutions to challenges facing island communities. These trends are an important aspect of building the empowerment and resilience necessary to build a sustainable, strong and vibrant future for all islanders!


Credit: islandinnovation.co



Friday, 14 January 2022

Why happiness is good for the planet

What makes us happy?

Money? Stuff? Success? Relationships? Family? 


An increasing foundation of scientific research shows a significant linkage between personal well being and environmental behaviours. This is not a coincidence; it is a profound truth of crucial importance in the quest to create sustainable socities. It proves beyond a doubt that sustainability has nothing to do with sacrifice and everything to do with creating a better world for ourselves and our children. 


If you think about it from an anthropological point of view, it is not surprising. Happiness is an evolved trait that optimizes our behaviour for successful living and therefore survival. No surprise then that behaviour that harm ourselves and the planet are increasingly lowering our well-being and vice-versa.

According to EcoHustler, below are 5 of the top reasons why people are happier.

1. Living a more local life

Modern transportation brought a new era of individual freedom; however society has restructed it around a range of social problems; pollution, congestion, obesity, stress, respiratory problems and traffic accidents. When one's life revolves the same local area, it results in fewer resources used, less pollution, more time for leisure or family. Other well being benefits include a resurgence of active communities, greater closeness of people to the natural environment, improved safety and improved environmental quality of communities. 


2. More vibrant healthy communities

Walking or cycling to work, school and shopping increases your regular contact with people in your community. This is fundamental to improving wellbeing because human relationships are consistently found to be the most important correlation with human happiness. 


3. Connection to the natural world

Green people have an appreciation of their place within the great natural scheme of things and tend to feel closeness to other organisms and to wild spaces. This can be a source of inspiration and enrichment thoughout life. Caring for nature focuses ones attention out of oneself which helps to void the angst and self obsession that is a by-product of our individualistic consumer times. 


4. Less materliastic

People who are less interested in material things have a tendency to consume less and therefore use fewer resources and have a lower ecological footprint. These people are also usually happier than those who hold on to stuff and constantly crave for more. Once we have all that we need to survive (food, water, shelter), additional material things have less and less impact on our wellbeing. Many surveys have discovered that people were happier after spending money on experiences, rather than physical things. Socializing, sport, creative arts, performance, music, cooking, gardening, hiking - all are popular pursuits that increase happiness and reduce ecological footprints. 


5. Personal development

When we look at the 'Hierarchy of Needs' (as described by Abraham Maslow), we see that the lowest levels are occupied by physiological needs. As these are met, higher levels of needs emerge, these are termed growth needs and are associated with psychological needs. While our lowest needs must be met, our higher needs are continually shaping our behaviour. Marslow, who studied people such as Einstein and Roosevelt, declared that self-actualized people embrace facts and realities rather than denying or avoiding them; they are interested in solving problems, and have a system of morality that is fully internalised and independent of external authority. Personal development allows people to turn their attention and create energies to find solutions to big challenges, such as our collapsing biosphere.



Happiness vs GDP

Some argue that, GDP is crucial for governments to make investments that improve well-being for their citizens and protect the environment. But is it really so? The Venn diagram below compares the 10 highest-ranked countries in three categories; wealth, happiness and environment. 


The central takeaway from this diagram is the significant overlap between happiness and environmnt. Seven countries appear on both lists: Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Austria. Out of the tp environmental performance, the only countries that failed to earn a spot on the happiness list are the same ones that overlap with GDP (UK, France and Germany).

Click here to see Happiest countries in the World 2021 list

At a bare minimum, we can conclude GDP is not the most important factor in determining environmental sustainability and th well-being of people. That's because GDP only measures how much money a country has, not how it chooses to spend it!

For this reason, GDP can b counterproductive to happiness and the environment. But it doesn't have to be. Governments need to start seeing GDP as a limited measurement that factors into national progress, but is ultimately inferior to the measurement of happiness and environmental sustainability. Such a fundamental shift would allow lawmakers to prioritize the issues that save the planet while improving the lives of everyone on it.

Credit: earthday.org


If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk.

If you want to be happy for three days, get married.

If you want to be happy forever, make a garden.

Chinese proverb