A mountain of textile waste that is destined for landfill in reference to one of the topics covered in this issue of weekly Eco-Friendly news.
Feb 12, 2024
weekly eco news

Fashion's Dark Side: The Environmental Toll and Why Plastic Bag Bans Are Important- 14th Issue

Pinterest Icon.Instagram icon

Mountains Of Clothes Seen From Space

A mountain of clothing waste against a blue sky and mountain backdrop.

Fast fashion waste is no longer ‘out of sight, out of mind’ with vast landfills visible from space. 

Developed countries use others, such as Ghana and Chile, as a dumping ground for their unwanted clothes. 

About 40% of the 15 million garments shipped to Ghana’s shores are considered trash. This is similar for other countries that receive secondhand shipments. These items are often rejected from charities.

In the past, this did create jobs in these countries; however, the fast fashion market reduced the quality of clothes, meaning less can be salvaged and more to be discarded in landfills. Traders also earn less for their resale value. 

Clothes, particularly fashion fast, are made with synthetic materials that cause harm to the environment. 

The EPA Tightens Soot Standard

smoke filled with dark soot exhausting from an industrial chimney.

The new EPA air pollution standard could save thousands from asthma symptoms and even premature deaths. Microscopic particles, often called soot, are produced by the burning of fossil fuels, such as gasoline and oil, as well as wildfires. 

“The body of science around this pollution is so robust,'' said Earthjustice president Abigail Dillen. “We know it takes people before their time; we know it gives children and adults asthma and other sicknesses.”

Air pollution is considered a deadly environmental injustice in the States with minority communities bearing the brunt of these negative effects.

This new limit is still above the recommendations of the World Health Organization. The tiny particles lodge deep into lung tissues, entering the bloodstream and contributing to heart disease and respiratory illnesses. 

Critics claim this new rule threatens economic growth. Some health groups are pushing for stricter limits.

Bans Reduce Billions of Plastic Bags

A turtle swimming in the ocean with a plastic bag tangled on its shell.

Littered plastic bags are the leading cause of death for turtles and cetacean creatures, such as whales and dolphins. These single-use items are not biodegradable, leaching microplastics into the environment for hundreds of years.

Luckily, a new study shows plastic policies as an effective solution. With single-use plastic bag bans, five U.S. states and cities cut their consumption by 6 billion per year. 

This study also proved that the bans reduce litter in the surrounding areas and beyond. Particularly in coastal areas, these reductions reduce the harm to marine animals. Yet, it is important to remember that plastics can travel miles to the ocean with the help of rivers, wind, and other forces. 

The most effective bans close loopholes, such as material thickness, and require a charge for single-use bags in hopes of extending their lifespan. Let’s hope more states follow the science!

The U.S. Postal Service Goes Green

The United States Post Office Sign against a brick building tinted green.

Your packages are now on a more sustainable route. Following criticism, The U.S. Postal Service announced their agenda to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030. Numerous changes will help them meet their climate goals.

Soon, the delivery routes will be performed by a fleet of electric vehicles. Over the next five years, the U.S. Postal Service plans to acquire over 60,000 electric vehicles, including a handful of next-generation models. To double down on transportation emissions, the service will design a more efficient system to reduce wasteful trips. 

Other shifts include grounding part of their airfleet and reducing waste in facilities. 

“These initiatives represent the strongest and most aggressive actions the Postal Service has ever taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Jennifer Beiro-Réveillé, the senior director of environmental affairs and corporate sustainability for the Postal Service.

A Sustainable Step for Scents

A glass drop bottle of fragrance set on a block of wood surrounded by green shrubbery.

Do you know the main ingredient of your fragrances? It's alcohol. Ethanol accounts for approximately 95% of perfume composition. This is the key issue for sustainable scents. 

So, manufacturers are pursuing ‘green’ alcohol alternatives to reduce their carbon footprint and help protect biodiversity. Several emerging solutions are tackling the transition. 

One of the solutions is recycling carbon emissions to create ethanol. This technology not only captures greenhouse gas emitted by steel mills, but also uses natural bacteria to convert the carbon into numerous raw materials. These materials include ethanol for perfumes. 

Other considerations for sustainable ethanol include regenerative agriculture for beetroots and legumes as well as a mysterious upcycled waste product.