What is H&M’s Fashion Resell Program?

The first question to be asked: Is H&M fast fashion? 

According to Google, “H&M is the world’s second largest fast-fashion business, meaning it offers thousands of new items every week which encourages waste that ends up in landfill. The business model encourages the rotation of fashion trends and new garments, which in turn encourages the public to always want more” (Wear Next). 

H&M is one of the most successful fast fashion brands, thriving off their 52-season motto. However, the company has faced its own share of hatred due to the “promotion of ‘disposable’ fashion and constant rotations of new trends and products [which have] a huge environmental impact.” As a result, an increasing amount of cheap clothing ends up in landfill after only a few wears (“How Ethical is H&M?”). 

To fight critics regarding their unintentional lack of empathy toward environmental and humanitarian causes (a consequence of any fast fashion company)- H&M has decided to jumpstart a clothing reselling program. 

With the Resell Market growing, along with a fondness for thrifting and self-made clothing- H&M has started their ““H&M Rewear,” a “one-stop digital customer to customer (C2C) resell destination” powered by London-based Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) technology company Reflaunt” (Fashion United).

The general idea of C2C is to demote fast fashion culture with the constant cycle of buying and disposing. Canadian customers are able to buy and sell previously-worn fashion items without any brand restrictions. Meaning, this resell motive, though created by H&M, allows items from any company to be resold. 

Frederic Tavoukdjian, country manager of H&M Canada, explains “[We] want to provide a destination for Canadians to become active participants in circularity and find new homes for garments from any brand in their closet.” Overall, he stresses the importance of being inclusive to all brands (Fashion United).

This resell program is the latest step in recommerce. With the launch date getting closer (set to release on September 7th), the company’s sustainable development goals are simultaneously being reached. The new system enabled a search engine for H&M products which works by entering the product number from care label; picture retouching for a “premium visual experience”; and a price recommendation algorithm to help sellers improve their chances of selling successfully.

“Although we offer garment collecting in our stores, we felt it was important to find a second way for our customers to recycle their clothing,” said Geraldine Maunier-Rossi, head of marketing for H&M Canada. (Fashion United).

The Environmental Cost of Shipping: A Brief Explanation

America’s obsession with fast shipping is no secret, now more so than ever. You could purchase a whole wardrobe without having to step a foot out of your house- sometimes getting your delivery within the same day. The question is: Is the environmental impact that comes with shipping worth saving you one trip out the house? 

With Amazon’s announcement of same-day shipping for Prime members, other name-brands were forced to up their own delivery rates. As CNN wrote, “Fast lead times at no extra charge can make the difference between winning the sale or losing it.” Following Amazon, Walmart revealed their new free one-day shipping (no membership needed) and Target was holding steady with their own free one-day shipping for their cardholders. 

For the success of their products, brands are right to constantly improve their delivery rates. According to a recent UPS report, 43% of consumers consider delivery costs when researching products online. Amazon does not disappoint their members,  boasting it offers more than 100 million items for two-day delivery, more than 10 million for one day and more than three million for same day. According to the research firm Rakuten Intelligence, over the past two years the time from purchase to delivery has declined from 5.2 days to 4.3 days for other retailers, however Amazon is still faster- with an average of 3.2 days. 

UPS’ head of global sustainability, Patrick Browne explains “The time in transit has a direct relationship to the environmental impact,” says, director of global sustainability at UPS. “I don’t think the average consumer understands the environmental impact of having something tomorrow vs. two days from now. The more time you give me, the more efficient I can be.”

Miguel Jaller, the co-director of the Sustainable Freight Research Center at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis, found that if a delivery van makes less than about six stops on a trip, the emissions advantage disappears. With more stops per trip, there still may be more nitrogen oxide involved (CNN). The carbon emissions from shipping can be beneficial if done at the proper ratio. 

Overall statistics explain: 

Shipping is a growing source of transport greenhouse gas emissions and a major source of air pollution, causing health problems, acid rain and eutrophication. It’s estimated that between 2007 and 2012 the shipping sector emitted about 1,000 Mt CO2 per year, about 3.1% of annual global CO2 emissions (Transport Environment).

Why are brands shifting to more sustainable packaging?

A common topic in the realm of sustainability is sustainable products, and although product sustainability through both resources and production is imperative- there are other equally important factors that are less talked about. Product packaging plays a huge role in the ecological footprint of any company. Creating a net-zero product but shipping it in bubble wrap and styrofoam will completely overlook the point of creating the ecological item. 

The idea of sustainable products is to create something using eco-friendly methods to improve quality of life in terms of mortality, age, diseases, and illnesses. It ensures the safety of families and the planet from a long term view. However, if this environmentally-friendly item was being sold and shipped around in nonbiodegradable packaging, then the “eco-friendliness” of the item is a smaller degree. It’s essentially creating more waste than it would if it did not exist. 

Fortunately, the rise of sustainability advocation has reached consumers and impacted their buying habits. According to the World Economic Forum, Consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from sustainable companies.

With public interest in sustainable packaging, companies have a larger motive to spend their finances on backing up their products with ecological packing. The motive also includes corporate social responsibility. 

CSP is a motion to spread positivity around the world, including both the environment and people. More and more companies are setting sustainable development goals, one being Walmart. Walmart’s CSO Kathleen McLaughlin says Walmart’s goal is to take an assertive approach in transforming the retail sector for sustainability. By 2025, the company aims to have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.

It’s important for huge name brands like Walmart to create goals regarding their SDG’s because smaller partner companies take notice and learn. Seeing larger brands make their goals widely known connects corporate social responsibility and the fact that other retailers expect brands to be more sustainable. Retailer Target established five new sustainable packaging goals in 2017, noting customer expectations as the driving force. One of the stated goals was to eliminate polystyrene, which helps to reduce ocean plastic pollution while also making it easier for customers to figure out how to recycle it. Another goal is to include the How2Recycle label on more Target packaging so that shoppers can easily figure out how to recycle each item. Target’s revenue increased from $69.5 billion in 2017 to $75.36 billion in 2019 since the goals were established.

Carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are also motivations for greener packaging. HP began thinking about their own packaging in order to minimize their environmental impact. They worked with BillerudKorsnas to make notebooks out of friendlier materials- therefore lowering packaging materials by 29%. Another benefit for HP is that the box weighs less, which lowered shipping costs and reduced transportation emissions. 

“Working with BillerudKorsnäs has enabled us to offer a notebook box that weighs less, reduces our global carbon footprint and lowers costs, while protecting our products during shipment. This partnership supports our efforts to develop products, as well as the packaging used to ship them, that are more sustainable for our company and our customers.” (BillerudKorsnas).

A decreased carbon footprint has also proved to be cost efficient, saving substantial sums of money. As stated by BillerudKorsnäs: when you work with a sustainable packaging partner like BillerudKorsnäs, you will get custom packaging that is optimised both to lessen environmental impact and increase your efficiency. That means:

  • Less waste in packaging materials
  • Less waste in packaging design to increase sustainability in manufacturing, operations and the supply chain

The result is increased savings for a business.

The last point regards consumer demand. Consumers who care about environmental impact are willing to pay more money to companies that share the same values. Market research company GlobalWebIndex reports that 42% of U.S. and UK consumers seek out products that are recyclable or that use sustainable materials when shopping. 

Source: GlobalWebIndex

Consumers who care about the environment are ready to pay more for eco-friendly products and are willing to switch from less to more green brands.

Ultimately, in order to maintain a loyal consumer base, companies will want to keep their sustainable methods. This will reap both social and environmental benefits. 

Top Environmental Problems in US Right Now- Carbon Emissions

The environment’s wellbeing goes hand in hand with sustainability- as many ecologically related topics do. We know that all living things depend on natural resources provided by Mother Earth, and if humans continue their current ways- the world will be closer to destruction than ever before, simply in the matter of a decade or two.

With America being one of the top emitters of CO2 (5.41 GT in 2018- second most in the world), their climate karma is bound to catch up. Recent talk is revolving around the massive ice sheet in West Antarctica, which, if melted, would contribute to 11 feet of sea level rise. In 2014, we learned that our actions have put the ice sheet in such a position, that it would likely never turn around. 

In an article from the Washington Post, Chris Mooney explains “Humans have a hard time conceiving of the incredible scale of an ice sheet, so the consequences of such a change can be lost upon us. But in a new paper in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers — Forensic Engineering, researchers Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., and John Abraham of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. — summarize what we now know about West Antarctica. That includes a finding that may serve as a wake-up call for Americans in particular.”

If West Antarctica completely collapses — something that would likely take centuries, but begin now — the predicted 11 feet of sea level rise will not be evenly distributed across the ocean. The United States will experience a much higher rise in sea level than other parts of the world, possibly exceeding 14 feet. “Call it geophysical karma — we’re the nation most responsible for global warming and, at least in this particular case, we’ll get more of the consequences.”

Although America is currently ranked second highest in the list of carbon emissions, from  1850 to 2011 we were number 1. Research conducted by the World Resource Institute shows the United States alone produced 27 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the world. No other country even came close, with America producing more than all the nations in the Europe Union combined. 

While America is now in charge of a lower percentage of carbon emissions, carbon released from 150 years ago is still collected in the atmosphere. This means the current status of emissions released from the US will continue its impact for the next 2 centuries (at least). 

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Updated August 20, 2020

Gravity plays a huge role in the Ice sheet Crisis. The Ice in West Antarctica is measured to be about 500,000 cubic miles long, with some sections over 1 mile thick. The ice’s density creates a huge gravitational pull (thank you, Newton), which directs water to be higher surrounding the ice sheet. 

West Antarctica is so massive that the ocean is pulled up towards it, slanting up around the continent. However, if the sheet loses a significant portion of its ice, the gravitational attraction will weaken, and sea level will fall near the ice sheet even as it extends and grows across the global ocean. But the water would not spread out evenly, instead, locations farther away  would experience higher sea level rise- with North America experiencing the brunt of the impact. “The water that had been held close to West Antarctica spreads out across the ocean,” explains Penn State glaciologist Richard Alley, “and we’re far enough away that we weren’t in the ‘pile’ that was held close to West Antarctica when the ice sheet was there and its gravity attracted the water to make the pile, but we get our share of the water from that pile when it spreads out” (Mooney).

Mooney interviewed Jonathan Bamber and Harvard University’s Jerry Mitrovica to understand the approximate damage America will eventually face. Both scientists calculated similar numbers- “According to Bamber, at the high end, the U.S. might get about 25 to 27 percent more sea level rise than the global average. So multiply 11 by 1.27 and you get just shy of 14 feet. (Not every part of the U.S. coast gets exactly the same amount, of course, due to local factors.) Regarding coastal areas, Mitrovica says “The peak areas are 30 to 35 percent higher.” So here, you could conceivably be pushing toward 15 feet.” Climate Central researcher Benjamin Strauss has calculated that “12.8 million Americans live on land less than 10 feet above their local high-tide line.” On a further, generalized area scale- nearly 40% of American population lives on the coastline. Clearly, the damage of 15 feet of increased sea level is unfathomable. 

To conclude, the effects of the melting West Antarctic ice sheet will hurt America the most- but the country has the finances to shift to more sustainable methods on the level of corporations. Regarding money, the same can’t be said for poorer, less fortunate countries who will face the same  repercussions brought on by the big guys. 

Climate Change: A Take on Corporations Vs. People

Disclaimer: This is one side of the take on the debate between corporations and people. The relationship between the two is different for each sector, and is rapidly changing.

With the effects of our climate disaster becoming more widely felt around the world, the institutions with the most potential to mitigate the crisis have been handed the responsibility of doing so. The potential halt in climate change they could kickstart brings consumers to question their motives. Why are these companies resisting further time, research and funds regarding climate crisis? The biggest issue is: Why push consumers to lead sustainable lives, when they are not using their own resources and influence to the full extent?

Corporations manufacture almost everything we buy, use, and discard, and they play a significant influence in global climate change. Based on an article by Joshua Axelrod, since the formal recognition of human-caused climate change, a recent analysis found that 100 energy corporations had been responsible for 71% of all industrial emissions- and the energy sector isn’t the only one impacted. The top 15 food and beverage firms in the United States produce about 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, according to self-reported data. This means that this small group of 15 enterprises emits more greenhouse emissions than Australia, the world’s 15th largest annual emitter.

He goes on to explain how it is critical to understand business contributions to climate change, but it’s even more necessary for powerful corporations to limit their contributions as soon as feasible. Many companies have set greenhouse gas reduction goals, however most of these goals failed to acknowledge total emissions from the goods’ entire lifetime. Axelrod states that “[it] is important [to consider a product’s lifetime] because when a company makes a product, that product requires raw materials that created their own emissions during harvest, extraction, refining, etc. (known as upstream emissions); and when a consumer uses that product, there are further emissions that come from the product’s use and eventual disposal (known as downstream emissions). Failing to account for or address these emissions means that the vast majority of greenhouse gases attributable to corporations and their products are falling outside of well-publicized corporate climate commitments.”

Companies have created a notion of transparency between their values and consumers. By stating and following self-set (and possibly misleading) goals, they- to an extent- manipulate consumers into believing they are more green than they actually are. The “loophole” listed above is an example of a strategy many companies have taken to claim “eco-friendly” titles- without spending the money or time to actually utilize more sustainable methods. 

In-depth look at the impact P&G and a number of its competitors in the tissue sector are having on the world’s remaining intact forests.

The idea of general people purchasing net zero products to eventually end climate change is a stretch, if done alone. The media attempts to redirect their injustices onto the public by preaching “Save the Turtles” and “Don’t use plastic straws”- however, in order to reach the final goal, it’s important for both corporations and consumers to work together- to whatever extent they can. Carbon emissions can be reduced during production and distribution from companies, while the consumers can be more mindful of their own purchases. 

Along with redirecting blame, another common tactic is mixing up phrases. Companies overuse the words “green” and “sustainable” to the point where people view them as virtually the same, allowing companies more room to use them in whichever circumstance is most profitable to them. Here, Michael Lemonick explains the phrases and their differences- “It’s probably more difficult to see nuclear power as sustainable. Unlike the other alternative energy sources, it has long been anathema to environmentalists, largely because of the problem of storing radioactive waste. But nuclear reactors are also a highly efficient source of power, emit no pollutant gases and—with some types, anyway—can be designed to generate minimal waste and to be essentially meltdown-proof. That’s why Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, has become a nuclear booster and why many other environmentalists are beginning—sometimes grudgingly—to entertain the idea of embracing nuclear. Calling it green would be a stretch. Calling it sustainable is much less of one.” (Top 10 Myths About Sustainability ).  

The moral of the story concludes, there is no way to solve a problem if the solution is being handed to someone else. Corporations must advocate and act for their own truly green future, in tandem with the people.

Sustainable Beauty: Explained

What does “sustainable” mean in beauty? Because of the rise in false advertising, it’s important to get familiar with the definition of this term and be able to spot fake labelling. Essentially, it means that everything the company is doing regarding that product is not harmful. The materials, production and distribution would all be done in eco-friendly ways, in order for it to be considered sustainable. 

Companies must use the UN’s sustainable development goals as a benchmark for whether they are selling truly green products.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that “under U.S. law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA approval before they go on the market,” with color additives being the only exception to this rule. This means the companies themselves are responsible for making safe products and advertising true to the product. 

According to Teen Vogue’s interview with a former beauty industry marketer, “brands can put “cruelty-free” on their packaging, but not Leaping Bunny certification if they have parent companies that test in China. If selling in physical stores in China, products have to undergo animal testing, even if the company doesn’t do animal testing anywhere else: “Brands are careful about how they phrase things for customers. My old brand wouldn’t put sustainable, but would call themselves…eco-forward, to let consumers know they were trying, but weren’t there yet.” 

FDA states, in order for a cosmetic to label themselves “organic” they must adhere to both USDA and FDA regulations. For example, a product has to be composed of at least 95% organic ingredients to have the USDA organic label on it. Because of this, any material may contain 75% organic components but isn’t allowed to use the official emblem- which calls for 95%.

One upcoming part of sustainable beauty is waterless beauty-  a product containing no water. With water shortages increasing as a result of population and industrial growth, many companies are claiming “no aqua” products. According to Susanne Langmuir, founder and CEO of Toronto-based waterless skincare brand aN-hydra, “It’s a simple fact — where there’s water, there is also bacteria.” Water naturally prevents contamination but it shortens product lives- and is not completely safe for users. In order to fight off the bacteria produced by water, extra preservatives are added to diminish microbe birth- and this adds to the chemicals users put on their skin.

While this idea is theoretically positive, any product sale requires water. As pointed out by Formula Botanica, whether it be for gathering ingredients, production, distribution or use- there can never be a total absence of water. Teen Vogue (Sicardi) explains this further through Charlotte Parker, the CEO of Dieux Skincare and cofounder of Nice Paper. She has researched clean beauty loopholes, while developing her own brand alongside a dermatologist. “If your product is waterless and ‘all natural,’ how do you think that crop was made? With GMO-free good wishes? It takes water to grow a plant,” says Parker. “If I use a synthetic ingredient, with 10 ml of water, I can tell you that barbari fig seed oil took a hell of a lot more water to grow, clean, and process.”

She emphasizes that the most frustrating is the waterless beauty that actually has water in it. “There are two workarounds that I’ve seen brands do. They’ll add ‘extract,’ or ‘proprietary blend,’ which means you can just add water to any active on the supplier side, and then your lab can legally put it first on the list, conveniently not mentioning there’s water in that proprietary juice. They also switch out water for hydrosols. Hydrosols are perfumed water. Hydrosols are made during the essential oil process; it takes a lot of water to create both essential oils and hydrosols.” 

Along with product sustainability, there has been a notable growing responsibility for sustainable packaging. More important than making claims about 100% clean packaging, having transparency between producers and consumers will increase motive in both to choose more eco-friendly directions. In March 2021, L’Oréal’s incoming CEO Nicolas Hieronimus emphasized the company’s commitment to transparency and increased sustainability goals—from ingredients to packaging—at the firm’s first Transparency Summit. He also said packaging will include scannable QR codes so consumers can easily learn more about a product’s ingredients (Beauty Packaging). With no federal laws regarding sustainable packaging, it is up to the companies to stay true to their environmental goals.

Jamie Matusow, Editor-in-chief of Beauty Packaging writes, “Nick Vaus, partner & creative director, Free The Birds, says the UK government has imposed a new plastic packaging tax, arriving in April 2022. He says this “will no doubt be a catalyst for positive change in this direction [re-usable, refillable packaging]. He says U.S. consumers already have the chance to purchase durable, sustainable packaging from Loop and Ultra Beauty which can be refilled, limiting the plastic waste from beauty products, and “we might see more re-usable packaging here [UK] for certain products.” The crucial point,” he says, “is that beauty brands not only need to embrace sustainable practices like biodegradable packaging and organic ingredients, they also need to be transparent about their efforts and help educate consumers on how to take care of the packaging after use to create genuine, long-term impact on the sustainability agenda.”

Sustainable Jungle has compiled a list of zero-waste and ethical beauty brands. 

Check out their article for specifics on each brand and why they earned a spot on the list. 

I urge you to take a look at Beauty Packaging to understand the elements of sustainable beauty packaging and distribution.  

For further questions regarding sustainable beauty or sustainability in general, do not hesitate to follow our instagram (@letclotheslive) and reach out via email or direct messaging!

Top Environmental-Activist Celebrities to Follow

Over the past few years, the trend of becoming more environmentally-conscious has grown. Advocation for more sustainable lifestyles is regularly seen and is always regarded positively. Because of this, the number of celebrities in this field has also begun to rise. Another word for celebrities is “influencers,” because these individuals have the power to influence those around them. Whether you follow them or not, they are successful, therefore have a responsibility to encourage the right practices. The more successful you are, it is rational to gather that your actions will impact your following and you should essentially just do the right thing. 

While this is a given, some celebrities have faced backlash for supporting unenvironmental and nonhumanitarian brands. On the contrary, there are a handful who have truly devoted their platforms to the cause and spent significant time researching and advocating for ecological practices. Here is MY list of the top celebrity activists for climate change. 

Leonardo Dicaprio

If you follow him on social media, you are most likely aware of his activism. In addition to personally funding over 200 environmental/ animal rights programs, Dicaprio founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998, with the goal of “support[ing] projects around the world that build climate resiliency, protect vulnerable wildlife, and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.” Since then he has become the United Nations messenger of peace for climate change in the 2014 Climate Summit- which was aimed at catalyzing and galvanizing climate action towards a global climate agreement in 2015. He serves on multiple environmental boards such as Natural Resources Defense Council, Global Green USA, World Wildlife Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Following his win for Best-Actor at the 2016 Oscars, his speech surrounded the reality of climate change and the action orientation it needed:

“And lastly, I just want to say this: Making ‘The Revenant’ was about man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted. Thank you so very much” (Leonardo Dicaprio, Oscar Speech 2016). 

Mark Ruffalo

In 2011, Ruffalo’s farm was compromised due to the threat of fracking for natural gas nearby. After nearly being personally affected, Ruffalo learned about the water contamination that happens as a result of these industrial processes; this turned him toward projects such as producing the film Dark Waters, anti-fracking rallies, protests pipelines, co-founding The Solutions Project and campaigns for the Green New Deal. 

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© Peter Foly/EPA- Famous People Who Care About the Environment

When asked by the Sierra Club magazine, “If you could morph into the Hulk in real life, and use your superhero superstrength to make structural systemic changes, where would you start?”- he responded:

“I think that first, we have to get money out of politics—we need finance reform so that our politicians aren’t so beholden to people who finance their candidacies, which makes them beholden to whomever is giving them money. Corporations cannot be allowed to pollute the scientific debate with their bogus science and doubt. That, absolutely, time and time again, has corrupted policy; it’s corrupted consumer choice, and it’s clouded the waters. It’s evil and it’s caused us so much harm, whether we’re talking about opioids or tobacco or PFAS or climate change. And in every one of these buckets—fossil fuels, fracking—you have corporations publishing b******* science to muddy the debate, and to slow down any kind of regulation” (Mark Ruffalo, the Sierra Club Interview). 

To view more, read Mark Ruffalo, Real-Life Eco-Hulk?

Cate Blanchett

One huge element of Blanchett’s support for the environment is the implementation of sustainable energy. She worked to install a solar roof on Australia’s Sydney Theater Company, and with the cost of 5.2 million dollars, she installed 1906 solar panels, consequently covering over 70% of the theater’s energy usage. She also built the world’s largest rainwater collection system on the same building. Additionally, she is an Ambassador for the Australian Conservation Foundation through which she visited politicians and encouraged Queenslanders to be aware of climate issues. 

“Everyone will benefit if we protect the environment. There is a societal cost of increased pollution and that’s what I’m passionate about as a mother. That’s where it gets me in the gut,” she said. “I can’t look my children in the face if I’m not trying to do something in my small way and to urge other people” (Cate Blanchett).  

Bonnie Wright

Wright is an active spokesperson for environmental issues. According to Rainforest Alliance, “In 2017 Wright boarded the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise to trawl for micro-plastics and raise awareness around the issue. Since then, she has organized the first-ever Plastic Free Picnic with Greenpeace and started a sustainability meet-up group in Los Angeles called Waste Watch. Early this year she traveled to Guatemala to meet communities that have developed a regenerative forest economy in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance.” She is also currently working on a novel about environmental practices and how to implement them into your daily life. 

Gisele Bündchen

Through her ecologically-produced flip-flop line, she raises funds that go toward Amazon Rainforest protection. She also started the Clean Water Project, which reforests vegetated sections of the Amazon basin. Bündchen was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme in 2009 and in 2011, Harvard’s Center for Health and Global Environment awarded her a Global Environment Citizen.

World Environment Day

In honor of World Environment Day, today I will cover the history, goals and accomplishments of this celebrated occasion. 

World Environment Day is the fundamental platform used by the United Nations to promote environmental awareness and action. 

This day is celebrated every year on June 5th to remind people of their duties and responsibilities towards the environment. The event first started in 1972 when the conference on the environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden. It is hosted in a new location every year- along with a new theme; this year it is in Pakistan with the theme of “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”

“Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” applies to small changes in daily lives. While the UN has motives regarding larger corporations, the change can start in our own personal lives. Changing lifestyle habits such as planting more trees, reducing single-use plastic usage to reusable materials, switching off lights to save energy; these are all ideas this year’s theme promotes. 

This year, the United Nations will launch ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’- a 10-year plan that will make the authorities and corporations think on the path of stopping environmental degradation. 

One of the main focuses is protecting natural ecosystems. This year, the UN wants each nation to pledge to reversing the mindless practices that are polluting our cities, coasts and forests (Financial Express). 

According to the US Climate Resilience Toolkit, here are the seven goals identified by the US government in order to help ecosystems cope with the effects of climate change: 

  1. Conserve habitat to support healthy fish, wildlife, and plant populations and ecosystem functions in a changing climate.
  2. Manage species and habitats to protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable cultural, subsistence recreational, and commercial use in a changing climate.
  3. Enhance capacity for effective management in a changing climate.
  4. Support adaptive management in a changing climate through integrated observation and monitoring and use of decision support tools.
  5. Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife, and plants to a changing climate.
  6. Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife, and plants in a changing climate.
  7. Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.

While the goal is for nations to pledge an attempt to reverse the impacts of unsustainable production and pollution, setting goals is the best way to go about administering change. 


“For too long, we have been exploiting and destroying our planet’s ecosystems. Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and over the last century we have destroyed half of our wetlands. As much as 50 per cent of our coral reefs have already been lost and up to 90 per cent of coral reefs could be lost by 2050, even if global warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C.

Ecosystem restoration means preventing, halting and reversing this damage – to go from exploiting nature to healing it. This World Environment Day will kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global mission to revive billions of hectares, from forests to farmlands, from the top of mountains to the depth of the sea.

Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change and stop the collapse of biodiversity.”

Official World Environment Day

What is a Green Club?

Green Clubs have taken high schools by storm with the emergence of more “woke” teenagers on the topic of the environment and sustainability. 

East Brunswick SAVE Club Courtyard Garden

According to the United Nations sustainable development goals, eco clubs in schools empower students to participate and take up meaningful environmental activities and projects. They are forums through which students can reach out to influence, engage their parents and neighborhood communities to promote sound environmental behavior. 

Anyone with a platform on sustainability can agree that advocation is just as important as action, and with these clubs, both are possible. 

There are different names for Green Clubs; I’ve heard Eco-Green Club, SAVE (Students Against Violating the Environment) Club and Environmental Club. I am currently a sophomore at East Brunswick High School and am the Vice President of the SAVE Club. Through my experiences with the club and seeing the impact we have made, I have compiled a list of how to start your own club. 

  1. Start small and set goals

With starting a club, it is important to have an initiative and a series of goals. Have one main goal and then mini goals to reach the big picture. Having direction is the focus, begin with projects such as compost piles or recycling collections. You can see the success and student interest levels from these activities, and these projects will show administration the level of commitment. 

  1. Seize surveys and feedback

Before each project, send out surveys to members to see the level of knowledge they have on that particular topic. You will be able to implement these tactics into your own ideas. Send the surveys to other parents and teachers so you can maximize your own knowledge. Along with this, collect feedback after your projects. This way you can understand what others viewed as successes/failures, what you can change for next time and overall what to do to guarantee better results. 

  1. Advertise and grow your platform

The best way to do this is to recruit school/community members. Spread event information on social medias, create posters to hang in local hotspots and personally reach out to influential individuals. This can also lead to partnerships and donations. Other classrooms have seen success with this step, specifically with bird feeders, where they got local donations of seeds and building materials just by asking. 

  1. Document your progress

Spreading information about growing the club also involves showing the world your progress as a group. Create a website to keep onlookers and participants up-to-date, and regularly upload to social media. If the public can see what you have accomplished, they are more likely to take your club seriously, consequently gaining more followers and growing your platform. Directly communicate with your audience and keep them involved every step of the way. 

The biggest thing to remember is that you are putting in effort, and you need to be able to show results. The results may be small, but they will add up and eventually shape up into your main goal. Documenting your progress will tie all your hard work together, and you will capture unforgettable moments. 

Follow this list and keep an eye out for my next blog post, where I will touch upon activity specifics for your Green Club!

Make Earth Day Every Day

Every year, Earth day falls on April 22nd. Throughout the world, we see people posting about the environment and lifestyle changes they vow to follow for a better ecological future. While it is great to see the participation, most people make these switches for the day (at most a week) and then forget about it. 

When you think about Earth day, it is possible that the first thing that comes to mind is planting a tree and being done with it. While this is a viable solution, there are easier ways to go about “saving the planet”- simpler and more long term ideas that can be carried out daily. Planting a tree is a one time thing, and while it helps decrease a city’s temperature by up to 10 degrees and provides fresher air (among other things), there are other options. Here I will introduce a list of insanely simple ways you can make a difference. 

  1. Ride your bike

According to the EPA, motor vehicles collectively cause 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S and while the U.S. has 30 percent of the world’s automobiles, it contributes about half of the world’s emissions from cars. A 2015 study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded that a 20 percent increase in cycling worldwide could “cut carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050.” Biking will not only reduce carbon emissions, it also provides a great workout! For the occasions you can’t use a bike, try carpooling or public transportation!

  1. Buy reusable items 

Replacing plastic items with reusable alternatives is a better option both financially and environmentally. With this, you don’t have to make the switch to organic shampoo bars and toothbrushes right away, you have the freedom to start small. 

Bags -Every local grocery store has reusable tote bags, pick one up on your next shopping trip and then keep it in the trunk for future use. In California, shoppers are dimed for each plastic bag they walk out with, and other states are following their lead. They will be charged for each singular use of a plastic bag, a great way to prevent usage. 

Water Bottles – Drinking from plastic water bottles is becoming an increasingly shameful practice. Water bottles come in more shapes and sizes than any other object, and with the limitless options, there is no reason to use plastic bottles. Despite the convenience of having pre-filled bottles, America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. That’s not including the oil used for transportation. With the 50 billion plastic bottles used annually in America, only 9 percent is recycled. The rest goes into landfills, water bodies and litter on the streets. Along with the environmental repercussions, the monetary spendings on plastic bottles is comparatively much higher. The recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.  

  1. Buy local produce 

Through buying from farmers markets, you are not only helping support small businesses, it has a better environmental effect. The transportation emissions for the produce shipped to grocery stores and big name locations add up. It takes approximately 1,500 miles for the produce to reach the stores and the shipping causes pollution plus an increase of fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

  1. Take shorter showers 

Shorter showers save water along with the energy used to heat the water. With a standard non-conserving showerhead spraying over five gallons per minute (GPM), reducing your shower time from eight to three minutes would save you 25 gallons of water. Over a lifetime of showers, that’s enough to fill an Olympic tub. You can also use  low-flow showerhead to save even more water. (Get Out of the Shower.)

  1. Buy sustainable fashion

There are many ways to shop sustainably, from thrifting to simply choosing ethical materials. 

Check out 5 Tips For a Sustainable Closet for more in-depth information and ideas!

On Earth day, I posted on Instagram, briefly describing 5 ways to limit your unsustainable choices. 

Check it out, like and share with your friends and families to spread the word!