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Breaking down biodegradability

A few days ago, while eating in a restaurant, the drink I ordered came with a straw. As he handed it to me, the waiter volunteered that it was made from biodegradable plastic. “No more soggy paper straws,” he joked. But I had to wonder: would the straw really biodegrade in the landfill it was destined for or did the manufacturers evaluate its end-of-life behaviour exclusively under controlled composting conditions? Worse still, what would happen if it did make its way into the ocean? Would its impacts be as significant as those of demonized conventional plastic straws, or would it readily decompose in a marine environment?

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There’s no room for perfectionism within environmentalism

Many environmentalists advocate perfectionist lifestyles as the ideal way for individuals to reduce their impact on the planet. But perfectionism is a slippery slope in any domain, often pursued at a detriment to mental health and self-worth. Besides, in the context of current scientific knowledge and global supply chains, true environmental perfectionism is impossible. Sustainability…

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Sciencewashing: the new greenwashing?

While visiting Fiji in 1983, environmentalist Jay Westerveld became intrigued by a note hanging in his hotel room. The message urged guests to reuse their towels to protect the coral reefs and oceans, concluding with the phrase “help us to help our environment.” At first glance, the message seemed well-intentioned. However, beyond the four walls…

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