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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?

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. SustainabilityContinue reading “There’s no room for perfectionism within environmentalism”

Clean Beauty or Anti-Science: Part II

This article is a continuation of my last post, published on February 28th, 2022. Clean – for you and the environment “Clean” branding and greenwashing – a misleading marketing strategy used to deceive consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly – are often intertwined. While most instances of greenwashing are subtle, impliedContinue reading “Clean Beauty or Anti-Science: Part II”

Clean Beauty or Anti-Science: Part I

As a teen in the early 2010s, I remember watching YouTube videos of influencers’ makeup collections. These people would have thousands of dollars worth of cosmetics stashed away in custom Ikea closets, opening drawers to reveal hundreds of lipsticks in nearly indistinguishable shades or eyeshadow palettes of every imaginable color. In recent years, these over-the-topContinue reading “Clean Beauty or Anti-Science: Part I”

Refrigerants: pick your poison

Walk into any grocery store, big or small, and you’ll be met with walls of freezers and fridges working to keep your favorite foods fresh. A century ago, rudimentary refrigeration came from insulated rooms, filled with blocks of ice harvested in the winter months. Today’s refrigeration is much more sophisticated and reliable: behind these meticulouslyContinue reading “Refrigerants: pick your poison”

Artificial sweeteners: are they truly as sweet as they taste?

Strange beginnings It’s the number one rule in chemistry: don’t lick the science. When working with new or unknown molecules this is good advice, as any given substance has the potential to have toxic effects. But in a few instances, researchers have accidentally tasted their experiments, only to make some interesting discoveries. In 1897, aContinue reading “Artificial sweeteners: are they truly as sweet as they taste?”

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