Recycling is one of the best things you can do for the environment. It reduces landfill waste and diverts litter from the world’s oceans (hit with 10-20 million tons of plastic pollution every year) and prevents them turning into microplastics, tiny plastic particles that impact animals, natural ecosystems and, ultimately, humans. The eco action also conserves natural resources, offsetting the need to mine the planet for new, “virgin” materials.
Most of us have some experience with recycling, learning about it in school, growing up with it in the home, and understanding it to be an easy way to do good by the planet. But an issue plaguing recycling efforts is the fact that only certain waste is accepted for recycling while the rest has to be thrown away. Public recycling systems cannot handle many of today’s most common waste streams we interact with on a daily basis. Thus, most items are sent to landfill, where they can take years to break down.
Enter TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes, easy-to-use recycling boxes for households, individuals and businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact. The Zero Waste Box platform provides solutions for nearly every difficult-to-recycle waste stream that cannot be recycled through regular municipal recycling programs.
Coffee capsules, plastic packaging, disposable cups and cutlery, candy and snack wrappers, writing instruments, alkaline batteries, shipping materials, ink and toner cartridges, drinking straws and more can be easily and effectively recycled through the Zero Waste Box platform.
Here’s how it works: Select the size and type of box needed, fill with the appropriate waste stream, and ship the box back to TerraCycle using the pre-paid shipping label once full. Once collected, TerraCycle separates and processes the products and packaging by material to prepare them for use in new production.
In addition to Zero Waste Boxes for specific waste streams, the product line also offers room-specific solutions for waste generated in bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens or breakrooms. The most popular and all-inclusive of these solutions, the All-In-One Zero Waste Box, accepts nearly every type of waste from every room in the home or business without the need for separation or sorting. Available in different sizes, this no-separation option takes the guesswork out of recycling, no matter where you live.
We believe that making a positive impact through recycling can be convenient and accessible. TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box platform seamlessly integrates sustainability into the home, office, facility or event by making it easy to recycle life’s most common waste items. Conscious consumption considers the full lifecycle, sourcing to end-of-life, and we are pleased to offer TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes as a way to reduce your individual impact.
Let me guess, you read the title and jumped to questions like: “How can clothing be organic? I thought that was just for produce…” and “Hemp, that’s some kind of hippy thing, right?” and “Oh gosh, please tell me that rPET is an an acronym for something and you aren’t talking about actual pets…”
We get it–there’s a lot of fabrics and materials out there that go into ethical clothing, and it can get confusing to know what is best for your lifestyle. Let’s make it simple: cotton is a natural fiber, and can be certified organic while it’s being grown! Hemp is also a natural fiber which happens to be super versatile, so it can be used for anything from concrete, to durable textiles. And don’t worry, rPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate, which is synthetic fibers made from recycled plastics! Want to learn more? Check out the blog below where we break down 3 of our favorite eco-friendly textiles.
What you’ll learn:
Understand the benefits and drawbacks of each of 3 sustainable fabrics; organic cotton, hemp, and rPET!
Learn about organic fibers vs synthetic fibers
Hemp vs Organic Cotton vs rPET
Looking to upgrade your wardrobe without taking it out on the environment? At EarthHero, we work hard to select natural or recycled fibers for the materials in our clothing, without compromising quality or style. As you browse our clothing selection, you’ll come across three types of sustainable fabric that we often turn to, each with their own benefits (and downsides). Read about each of our favorite materials below, and let us know which one you prefer in the comments below!
Step up to the plate, hemp! This high-yield crop grows quickly and doesn’t rely on harsh pesticides and fertilizers, making it one of our favorite renewable resources. This plant actually addsnutrients to the soil instead of depleting them! Hemp is strong, breathable, and moisture wicking, and it requires minimal dye during fabric production due to its high absorbency qualities. You may call it magic–we just call it mother nature.
Benefits of hemp
Hemp is up to three times stronger than cotton! This makes it a great sustainable fabric for outdoor wear. Plus, with every wash, your durable hemp tee will continue to get softer–without wearing down as quickly as other materials.
Polyester and other synthetic materials contain microfibers, or microplastics, that can enter our waterways every time you wash the material. These microfibers are then consumed by fish, move up the food chain, and can cause a whole slew of environmental issues.
As a natural fiber, you don’t have to worry about microfibers when you wash hemp. Plus, once the durable material does run its course, you can toss it in the compost!
Plays nice with others
Hemp blends easily with other materials. This allows it to create soft, yet strong, fabrics! We’re a big fan when hemp and organic cotton come together, as hemp lends its durability while cotton still provides the soft feel you know and love.
Not only does hemp grow in a variety of climates and soil types, it also grows incredibly densely. This means that less land is needed to produce more material–hemp can produce 250% more fiber than conventional cotton within the same amount of land! Plus, hemp grows super quickly, resulting in more yields per acre. It can take as little as 3 months to be ready to harvest.
Perfect for summer
Hemp breathes well, absorbs moisture, and has UV resistant qualities. What more could you ask for from your sustainable summer wardrobe?
Thrives without chemicals
Since hemp grows so densely, it crowds out weeds on its own. This means that it doesn’t need herbicides to grow strong! Hemp is also naturally resistant to pests, so it doesn’t require pesticides either. This means chemical-free fibers for you, and a healthy environment for the workers who make it!
Naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial
Not enough time to do a load of laundry? No worries! Hemps natural antibacterial qualities mean less odor, so you can go an extra day without anyone noticing. Plus, hemp is great for people who have allergies or sensitivities–it’s naturally hypoallergenic. Think it ends there? This magical fiber is also mold resistant–say goodbye to mildew!
Downsides of hemp
Can get wrinkly
Without the same wrinkle-controlling chemicals that treat conventional fabrics, hemp can crease or bunch up. Sometimes, this may also cause the material to be scratchy, so look for hemp/cotton blends for a softer feel!
Looking for vibrant clothes to match your vibrant personality? Unfortunately, hemp doesn’t hold colors as well as other fabrics, so the colors are often not as rich.
Another sustainable fabric you’ll find on EarthHero is organic cotton! We look for cotton produced with organic over conventional methods, as organic production uses zero chemical pesticides and fertilizers, promoting a healthier use of land and decreasing harmful agricultural runoff.
Choosing organic cotton eliminates the use of insecticides and other harmful chemicals, promotes efficient resource use, and results in a safer products and a cleaner planet! Check out some of the benefits of organic cotton below!
Benefits of organic cotton
Chemical free farming
Synthetic chemicals aren’t just bad for land and water, they expose people to harmful effects too! When pesticides and fertilizers are used, they endanger the health of those working to grow the crops. Because organic farming does not allow the use of these harmful synthetic chemicals, they can avoid these destructive side effects.
Like hemp, we’re big fans of biodegradable fabrics. Cotton can be composted, unlike the polyester or synthetic fabrics that remain for centuries after you’re done wearing them.
Less water than conventional cotton
Farming methods for organic cotton have been shown to use up to 20% less water than nonorganic production methods.
It’s no secret that cotton can be incredibly soft, and becomes softer the more you wash it. This can be both a pro and a con, however, as cotton will break down relatively quickly. Like hemp, however, cotton is a great contender for sustainable fabric blends, so look for a hemp/cotton blend for a more durable option!
Downsides to organic cotton
The biggest issue with cotton is its water-intensive requirements. Cotton farming is the largest consumer of water in the apparel industry, and though organic does use up to 20% less water than nonorganic, it still requires a significant amount. When we compare hemp to cotton, land becomes a big factor–cannabis plants can produce 200%–250% more fibre in the same amount of land compared to cotton.
It’s recommended to wash cotton in cold water, as warm or hot water may cause your clothing to shrink, unlike with polyester. To keep your natural fiber clothes in the best condition, hang them to dry as well!
Learn more about why organic clothing is better, here!
And bachelor #3… rePETe! You’ll see this type of material called anything from rPET, rePET, to rePETE. No matter the name, this term describes material made using recycled PET plastic. This material takes this recycled plastic, melts it down, and spins it into yarn to create recycled PET fabric, or recycled polyester. By providing a use for recycled plastics, companies that create recycled PET products encourage recycling programs worldwide, while adding new value to discarded items.
Currently, over half of virgin PET production goes towards making new polyester. By utilizing recycled PET, companies are both diverting waste while taking the place of raw materials. This helps to reduce the demand for the extraction of oil, as well as energy used to produce new synthetic fibers.
Benefits of Recycled PET
Resource and energy efficient
This one’s simple: recycled PET utilizes resources that have already been used, and gives them a second life! Not only is it making use of materials already created, but a shirt from recycled PET uses much less energy than its virgin polyester counterpart.
Since its development in the 1940’s, polyester has been recognized for its wrinkle-resistant qualities. Recycled PET maintains the same wrinkle-free benefits of virgin polyester!
Flexible and fast-drying
Sustainable activewear companies typically turn to recycled PET for their clothing. The material is stretchier than natural fibers, allowing for the flexibility needed in most sports.
Downsides to Recycled PET
Synthetic materials, including recycled polyester, release tiny plastic particles into the ocean every time they get washed. These particles can cause issues in the marine life that ingest them, as well as in the humans that may consume those fish later on. Plus, no form of polyester is biodegradable–once plastic is created, it will exist for at least 500 years.
Chemicals used in production
Although creating a product from recycled plastic requires far less energy than creating first-time plastic, it still has its own challenges. Melting down recycled plastics releases volatile organic compounds that are harmful to the environment and wildlife surrounding the production site.
Recycled PET isn’t a perfect solution, and it doesn’t solve the fact that once plastic is made, it’s here to stay for a very long time. Finding a new life for these already-made products, however, is definitely a step in the right direction. You can read more about rPET here!
It doesn’t stop there!
While these three materials are big players in the eco-friendly fashion movement, there are plenty of other awesome sustainable fabric options out there. Are you a fan of linen, sustainably harvested wool, or Tencel? We like those too! You can find tons of information on every product, including the material makeup of an item, by checking out its sustainability features!
We all know being an informed consumer means lots of reading, research, and a whole lotta’ time. From lack-of-transparency, to lack-of-information, some companies like to make it almost impossible to tell if their products are truly sustainable.
But hold up–don’t get out your deerstalker, tweed jacket, and magnifying glass just yet, Sherlock. Here at EarthHero, we do all of the sleuthing for you. For every brand and product on our site, we run them through a rigorous five step evaluation to make sure you have the highest-quality, eco-friendly options to choose from.
Read on to learn how EarthHero’s methodology makes sustainable shopping elementary, my dear Watson.
What you’ll learn:
What sustainability values we look at when sourcing our brands & products
How to detect greenwashing, and shop smarter in today’s marketplace
Gain a greater understanding of the complexities that make a product “sustainable”
The EarthHero Methodology
It’s the number one question that we receive here at EarthHero. As more and more people make the switch to shopping sustainably, there’s one question that needs to be answered: what makes a product, sustainable?
What types of materials can be touted as eco, and why?
Which ingredients are best for your body and the planet?
Does it help you live a more sustainable lifestyle?
What kind of packaging is better than others?
The list goes on and on.
With all of this confusion around sustainability, it’s harder than ever to avoid greenwashing. Brands are popping up left and right promising “green”, “natural”, and “eco-friendly”–but have little to no information to back them up. We think: if they were truly sustainable, wouldn’t they want to tell us about all the amazing things they’re doing for the planet?
That’s why we do business differently, thoroughly vetting each brand in the growing EarthHero family using our 5 stage selection process. We then highlight everything that we’ve learned with you, our community. In the spirit of growing the movement towards more sustainable production, we’re sharing that methodology with you, right here, right now. Because voting with your dollar should be as simple as, well, shopping.
1. Materials & Ingredients
One of the first things we look at before we source any product is: what is it made of? We begin our search by looking for products made from the most sustainable, or “best-in-class” materials or ingredients in each particular product category. For example, the materials that we seek for our clothing is going to be very different than home supplies or shampoo!
In many cases, this means avoiding certain materials and ingredients as well. Think: virgin synthetic polyester, nylon, or other man-made materials that use toxins, pesticides, and petroleum to produce.
For clothing and other fabrics, we look for natural materials made from fast growing plants like hemp, or repurposed materials like recycled polyester. For traditionally chemical heavy textile crops (we’re talking about you, cotton!) we opt for organic varieties. We’ve learned that some materials are great in one form but not in others (Interested? Read our blog about why bamboo isn’t always a go-to eco material).
We also look for materials and ingredients that are what they say they are. If a brand claims to make organic skin care, is it USDA Certified Organic, or does it meet the NSF/ANSI 305 Guidelines for products made with organic ingredients? Are the wooden frames on those sunglasses made from sustainably harvested, FSC Certified wood? Third party certifications are our best friend–and we’re always on the search for products that can be certified organic, cruelty free, BPA free, and more.
It’s important to us that the materials and ingredients that our brands use preserve the planet for future generations. Raw, non-renewable resources are increasingly scarce, and the processing and refinement it takes to make them into most conventional products can be seriously toxic. But, lucky for us (and you!) there’s no shortage of brands who are making products using better, safer materials.
By making this the first step of our 5 stage methodology, we can promise you that the products you buy on EarthHero are made from better ‘stuff.’ Because we know that when you buy good stuff, more of the good stuff–and less of the bad–gets made. It’s simple economics!
And, just to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Earthhero experience, we provide resources so that you can see for yourself why the materials are absolutely awesome! Did you know bamboo is naturally water-resistant, anti-microbial, pest-resistant, stronger than steel, and the fastest growing plant on the planet? This makes it great for almost anything. We’re loving it as a replacement for single-use plastic utensils! Curious about why a certain material made the cut? Simply check the Sustainability Logos or Sustainability Features located on each product page, read the EarthHero Blog, or reach out to us!
2. Company Responsibility
Looking at materials is just the first step. In addition to the foundation of each product, we want to look at the foundation of each company. What are their company values? How do they show responsibility in the production of their products, the treatment of their workers, and corners that they refuse to cut?
Conventional manufacturing and production can be extremely bad for the planet, using immense amounts of energy, water, and resources–while creating a ton of waste, pollution, and emissions. We look for brands that are shaking it up. From the use of renewable energy like solar and wind power in their factories, to using water and energy efficient printing practices, to utilizing low-impact inks, we look for brands that take steps to make their manufacturing more sustainable.
Osom Brand, for example, has created an ‘awesome’ waterless, dye-free, and chemical-free manufacturing system. By using recycled fabric, they don’t turn to water to grow new materials, and they’re able to create fun patterns and colors without harming the ecosystems and waterways around them.
While we love supporting local and American-made brands, we also support companies that make their products responsibly abroad. We look for fair wages and labor conditions, direct and transparent deals, and Fair Trade Certifications, if applicable. Some of our brands are so local they drop their products off at our doorstep (looking at you, Khala Cloths!), while some are responsibly sourced and manufactured in China (what’s up, Bambu)!
We believe that location of production does not, on its own, determine the sustainability of the product (it makes sense to produce bamboo products in countries where bamboo grows as a native plant, right?), and try to weigh all of the benefits of each product and company together when making decisions about what to sell on EarthHero. At the end of the day, the decision is yours–we label all of our American made products with “Made in the USA!” so you can easily find products that match your values!
Sound a little confusing? Well, one great way that we determine if companies meet the mark is by looking for certified B Corp companies. Based off of the idea that government and nonprofits alone cannot change the world, Certified B Corporations are businesses that focus on the triple bottom line, people, planet, and profit. Through the certification process, they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Each Certified B Corp is tested to meet stringent standards for social and environmental responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
In addition to searching for brands that put their values first, we find brands that build responsibility into their brand in another way–through give back programs. EarthHero celebrates brands that make giving resources, time, and service to various environmental or social organizations a part of their everyday duties. From removing plastic pollution from the ocean, to planting trees for every purchase, many of our brands are actively involved in protecting our planet for future generations.
For example, tentree plants ten trackable trees for every item sold, while Bureo founded Net Positiva, a recycling program that collects and recycles used commercial fishing nets in small coastal towns in Chile–did you know fishing nets make up more than 10% of plastic pollution?
Another great way that we pick out purpose driven companies is by looking for certified 1% for the Planet members. As a part of 1% for the Planet, businesses commit to giving 1% of their annual sales to environmental nonprofits. This allows brands to form great connections with organizations that are making changes that they’re passionate about.
But, the giving doesn’t stop with our brands! Every single purchase on EarthHero gives back even more. We’re proud to donate 1% of our sales towards supporting environmental non-profits through our own partnership with 1% for the Planet. In addition, we offset all our shipping emissions with Carbonfund.org, so your purchase can reach your door in a way you can feel great about! So, no matter what you shop on EarthHero, you support a brighter future with every purchase.
Now… we’re guessing you don’t want tons of foam packing peanuts (why would anyone?) in a box headed to your house. Packaging is so often overlooked by other companies, which is exactly why we made it one of our key focus points.
We start by looking for products that have zero waste, plastic-free packaging whenever possible. From the hangtags on your new shirt to the bottle containing your vegan, organic shampoo, we want to know–is it packaged in glass, aluminum, or another easily recyclable material? Does the packaging contain recycled content? Does it have compostable or biodegradable packaging, or no packaging at all? Does it use bio-based plastic, or recyclable plastic? Can the packaging be reused, refilled, repurposed, or otherwise reinvented?
Sometimes, we find awesome products, usually personal care products, that are packaged in hard-to-recycle plastics. Although that’s something we hope to change, today’s infrastructure makes it difficult for manufacturers to break free of plastic completely. That’s why we’re closing the loop by offering a take-back program through TerraCycle for any plastic personal care products sold on EarthHero. Just ship it to us, and we’ll work with TerraCycle to make sure it’s recycled properly!
A great example of this is Love Bottle: the glass bottle is made with recycled glass and ships in zero waste packaging, but it also helps you reduce the use of plastic water bottles, encouraging a sustainable lifestyle for years to come. From reusable food wraps to stainless steel straws, we’re finding ways to break the single-use cycle. In this way, EarthHero is truly a lifestyle, as our products encourage a better way of living. So, go ahead, shop–and live–better. We’re here for you!
Real talk–now that we’ve shared our methodology with you, it’s important to go over one final thing: there is no perfect product. We search to find brands that check as many of our boxes as possible, and hope to provide our customers with “best in class” products that are made in ways that are significantly better than the average. We can assure you that for every product on our site, we’ve put in the time and effort to make sure it’s a sustainable option, pioneering the movement towards even better methods and materials.
However, we know that some of you may have a specific value set that makes some of our products more appealing than others. That’s why we offer the option to sort by values, like recycled content, cruelty free, organic, made in the USA, and more.
We also provide sustainability logos to help you identify and understand the eco-features of each item. Found on every product page, these logos make it super easy to see why each product made the cut. From BPI Certified Compostable, to Vegan, to 100% Organic Content, you need only look at the logos to shop with your values.
Have questions about our methodology? We’d love to answer your questions–just comment below!
Meet Niko Dellios, one of the founders of Crimson Goods, a climate positive company. But what do climate positive products truly mean in our changing climate, and how could they change the way the world does business? We interviewed Niko to get the full scoop.
What is the Crimson Goods story? What inspired you to want to make your products?
The idea for Crimson and climate positive products came to light while our founder, Niko Dellios was sitting on his laptop (powered by a solar battery pack) in the devastated USVI after hurricane Irma. He was thinking of ways he could help fix the world’s climate issues. He wanted to actually reverse the global climate problem and only one real solution came to mind. Bring products to the consumer market that don’t hurt the planet and actively help to reduce the problem.
Once we had our central focus of Climate Positivity and a way of properly accounting for and positively offsetting production, we then looked to sustainably developing products that we already use and love. Naturally, our first two products were natural surf wax and organic coconut oil. Surfing is a common thread in the Crimson team, so we go through a fair amount of wax. A totally natural wax alternative to synthetic surf wax options provides a solution to the suffering reefs and marine life.
Most of us were familiar with coconut oil for cooking, and following our marketing director’s claim for its use as a great natural bug repellent, we charged full steam ahead to create cold pressed coconut oil for topical uses and cooking.
What does “climate change” mean to you? How has a changing climate impact your own lives?
Climate change and pollution affects us both on an ideological and physical level.
Ideologically, it pains us to truly understand how much we are f-ing up the planet. We use layman’s terms when we discuss these issues, because passion gets lost in science. There’s not enough time to act like nothing is happening, when the roof is being ripped from the foundation of your home in a category 5 hurricane, or slowly forgetting that seeing blue skies in your city is not the standard.
We know that our brand cannot solve all the problems in the world, but we wanted to create a line of products that could have a simple impact. At least, with our brand we know from a carbon footprint perspective, the products help reduce the carbon problem, and actively educate the world.
What are some of the main goals for Crimson Goods? What are some of Crimsons goals looking into the future?
Education, waste reduction, and everyday offsets. We’d like to provide product solutions for most aspects of the average daily life. Solutions that reduce waste, offset daily consumer footprints, and make people question their habits. We see this happening with bulk (package-free) solutions, and locally sourcing as much as possible.
What does “climate positive” mean in terms of your products? How is “climate positive”different from “carbon neutral”? How do the carbon offsets that come with your products create an impact?
How do we do this? By calculating the level of CO2 impact caused by each product. To do this we take into account production, manufacturing, packaging and shipping. Once we know the impact, we calculate how much CO2 is needed to make the product carbon neutral and purchase an offsets via CHOOOSE. They reduces the amount carbon emissions big industry players (polluters) can get away with. But we don’t stop there. We then add an additional offset amount to make the product more than carbon neutral. This means that every Crimson products actually prevents more CO2 than needed to create it, and the extra offsets the daily lives of our community of consumers, that’s climate positive.
If you could have everyone on the planet do one thing to positively impact our changing climate, what would it be?
The biggest / easiest thing we can do it change our diets. Everyone needs to reduce their meat consumption and fully stop eating beef. It’s proven that methane from cows is actually 23X worse per unit than carbon from transportation. Not to mention, the clearing of forests, backward food supply chain that’s needs to produce cattle.
All together meat is really tough on the environment for not a whole lot of net benefit. We suggest a homemade black bean burger cooked in climate positive organic coconut oil, wink, wink.
How has Crimson grown since day 1? What challenges have you faced being such a unique company?
So many realities about the consumer goods market. With our “Climate Positive” business model, it’s been a crazy battle considering where sacrifices must be made in the supply chain and beyond. We would love to be champions of sustainability, and climate positivity, and habit change, and social influencing, and outdoor specialism, and conservationism, and material development…etc.
We’ve realized that supporting a global market in a “Climate Positive” way is ultimately progress. Sourcing goods from overseas to the U.S., if properly considering carbon costs, can be a solution, if the product doesn’t exist locally. We face these questions daily.
What do you do in your daily lives to live more sustainably?
Diet is the first frontier; keeping a local, very low meat diet is a big one. Mainly working remote (working from home) has definitely reduced our transportation footprint, and composting at home!
What’s your favorite Crimson Goods product?
Coconut Oil! It’s so versatile. Coconut oil on everything, with everything, for everything, seriously. The whole team uses it in some way every day. Brings back nostalgia of early morning surf sessions in Costa and SE Asia. Oh yeah, another goal of Crimson’s: [an] US based coconut farm.
What’s something unique Crimson Goods has done that your customers might want to know about?
We are gearing up to launch a wholesale distribution of paper straws! So if you or anyone you know has a restaurant or is doing an event and needs paper straws, hit us up! Plus, look out for “Climate Positive” events soon in California and beyond. Crimson will be diving into the “Climate Positive” space for experiences as well as products.
Simply put, Crimson is changing the way we think about shopping. Every product comes with a carbon offset, which makes the product “carbon neutral” (meaning it neither produces nor reduces our carbon emissions). Because big industry polluters are only allowed to have a certain number of carbon emissions permits, when we purchase them with Crimson products, we take them away from the big polluters who want them–which offsets CO2 emissions. This makes YOU climate positive (yay!), with most of their products reducing the amount of carbon emissions created by a roundtrip flight from Denver to Los Angeles. The end result is you get an awesome product, while preventing more CO2 then you create–which is reversing the impact of climate change! It’s not a charity. It’s a new way of consuming.