What 2 Big Retailers and Jane Fonda Have in Common

Happy Friday!  Fridays have always been the best day of the week, maybe next to Saturday. But I’m loving the Friday High Five Series on the podcast. Each Friday we celebrate people and organizations doing eco-fabulous things and present them with virtual high-fives.  We have a lot to cover this week, including news about 2 major retailers and my new hero, Jane Fonda. Let’s get started.

Ikea is Replacing Styrofoam Packaging With Compostable Mushroom-Foam

We’ve all known for a long time that Styrofoam is terrible for the environment. But what exactly is Styrofoam?  Styrofoam is the trademarked name for polystyrene – a petroleum-based plastic. 

It’s made up of 95% air, which makes it great for packaging, but don’t let that fool you.  The air in the Styrofoam is what makes it unshrinkable, and it does not degrade.  The only way to break the product down is to be incinerated at very high temperatures.  This doesn’t reap much more than a little bit of water and carbon, and if Styrofoam is simply burned at normal temperatures it releases pollutants. 

But, it’s cheap and it protects our purchases we order online.  Is that low-cast packaging benefit worth the trade-off of using the 5th largest toxic waste product in the world….not if there are other options.

Ikea just announced they will be replacing all their Styrofoam with compostable mushroom-foam, which is as cheap as Styrofoam, requires zero fossil fuel, and creates no plastic pollution. 

Overall, Ikea is working hard at being a more ethical and environmentally conscious organization.  The furniture retailer has embraced solar energy, recycled wood materials and all of their cotton comes from sustainable resources. 

And now, the new fungi-packaging will add to Ikea’s goal to reduce waste and increase recycling.  Where Styrofoam is hard to discard and simply not biodegradable or easily broken down, this mushroom-foam will easily decompose in your garden in just a few weeks. 

As a society, we can try to buy less, but the fact of the matter is that we are a growing population and will likely purchase home goods online.  With hope, the new fungi-packaging could be a game-changer for both retailers and the planet.  High five Ikea!

Dutch Meat Company Goes Vegan

This week’s second high-five goes to the Dutch Meat company, Vion, who just transformed their giant beef facility into a vegan meat factory.  Interesting enough, this news broke the same week that Dean Foods, America’s largest dairy producer filed for bankruptcy.  Dean Foods is blaming millennials for choosing oat, almond and soy milk over diary.  Dean Foods may blame millennials, but Vion recognizes that 91% of Europeans now identify as flexitarian.

Also See: Can this Diet be the Answer to Preventing Disease

Vion commented that the organization is “exploiting its knowledge and expertise to take the next step in providing the world with alternative sources of protein within the area for which its responsible”.

Bottomline, Vion is choosing to pivot and adjust to the demands of cow dairy alternatives.  I’m certainly not one to celebrate the demise of any organization.  This high-five is for Vion and the foresight to accommodate and bend with the increasing demand of dairy alternatives. 

Costco says ‘No More’ to Roundup

Picture of big retailer Costco
SAN DIEGO, CA/USA – JANUARY 13, 2018: Costco Wholesale store exterior. Costco Wholesale Corporation is a membership-only store and second largest retailer in the United States.

We already talked about the  huge furniture retailer Ikea and their efforts to be more eco-positive, but another large retailer making this week’s Friday High Five list.  Costco is also making a statement in their decision to be the first major retailer to stop selling Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide.  Now, this is a super complex and technical issue – too deep for a fun Friday high-five, but here are a few important details. 

  • Roundup is glyphosate-based herbicide originally produced by Monsanto and acquired by Bayer in 2018.
  • Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in the united states.
  • There is growing evidence that roundup and other glyphosate-based products are linked to cancer, skin inflammation and in some cases severe burns. 
  • In 2018, non-hodgkins-lymphoma suffer Dewayne Johnson was awarded 289 million dollars in damages when courts found Monsanto guilty of not adequately warning consumers of the cancer risks linked to the product. 

I’m no scientist or doctor and I’m sure there is a strong counter-argument, however, there is enough evidence to pause and cease Roundup sales until proven otherwise.  High five to Costco for being the brave first retailer to take a stance against potentially harmful, and worse lethal, products. 

Ethical Entrepreneur Stopping Waste for it Happens!

This high five goes to ethical entrepreneur Jess Schreiber, founder of FABSCRAP.  In college Jess developed an obsession with recycling.  She joined the NYC Department of Sanitation and literally sorted trash into 180 different categories!  Soon she was overseeing the city’s clothing recycling program and learned that new Yorkers alone throw away 200,000 tons of clothing a year! By the way, it’s 2.88 million tons annually nationwide!

This pushed Jess to open FABSCRAP, an organization focused on picking up pre-production scraps before they end up in landfills and help recycle or redistribute them.  This company is literally stopping waste before it happens! High-five to Jess Schreiber and the team of employees and volunteers at FABSCRAP.

Jane Fonda is a “Famous White Women” with a cause!

Our fifth and final Friday High-Five, as well as, overall hero in my book goes to Jane Fonda.  I almost don’t know where to start with her….. 

So let’s break down the last month. Last Friday CNN reported that the actress was arrested for the 4th Friday in a row while protesting the climate crisis.  Fonda recently moved to Washington DC for the purpose of protesting. She and a group of other activists gather in front of the US Capital for “Fire Drill Friday’s” intended to raise awareness for the plant.  Fonda was taken into police custody on October 18th, Oct. 25 alongside actor Ted Danson, November 1st and most recently on November 8th.

But this is only the beginning of my newfound admiration for Jane Fonda.  In each picture the news prints of Fonda’s arrest the actress is wearing a bold, red trench coat that she says she bought on sale at Saks. She has stated, with an apology to Saks, that it will be the “Last piece of clothing I’ll will ever buy”.  She continues by explain that “we need to cut back on consumption”. Preach Jane!  I hear ya!

“Famous White Women. I’ll be Fine”

And just the other night I was up in the middle of night restless and happened to catch an interview with Jane Fonda on Extra.  Fonda was at the Glamour magazine’s woman of the year event accepting the award on behalf of 16-year old activist Greta Thunberg, which is incredible in its own right, but what really struck me during the interview was when the reporter asked Fonda about the conditions in the jails.  Fonda explains that beyond the gross conditions of jail, there are people there that should be in mental health facilities, not jail.  She also recognizes her white privilege and says, “I’m a famous white woman.  Nothing is going to happen to me.  I’ll be fine.”  She went on to explain that the majority of women in there where poor African Americans who are there because of poverty, racism and mental health issues.  Jane Fonda is not only advocating for injustice against the planet, but also for equality for women and ethnicity.  I am in awe of her work. High Five Ms. Fonda! 

That concludes our list of eco-fabulous people and companies!  I hope they inspired you as much as they did me.  What I shared here in today’s podcast is only the beginning. There is a ton to unpack on each of these topics.  I have included my resources in the show notes.  I encourage you explore more.  If you have questions or ideas, please get in contact with me.  You can find me on Instagram @heidialtree or leave a voice message on the podcast site: anchor.fm/tolovethelifewe live. 

You can find more Friday High-Fives every week on the Podcast! Check out “To Love the Life We Live” to get your daily dose of sustainable news.

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