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”

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 wallsContinue reading “Sciencewashing: the new greenwashing?”

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”

High-steaks: the push for lab-grown meat

China has been in the news a lot recently. Headlines cover everything from their handling of the pandemic to alleged human rights abuses, rising carbon emissions to the upcoming winter Olympic games. But with the release of the Chinese five-year agricultural plan on January 26th, the media buzz was, for once, seemingly uncontroversial. Much toContinue reading “High-steaks: the push for lab-grown meat”

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”

Climate Policy: when environmental action is deemed illegal

As the COP 26 UN Climate Summit kicks off in Glasgow, Scotland, environmental legislation in the United States is facing new threats. On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, in response to lobbying from coal-mining companies and Republican-led states. TheContinue reading “Climate Policy: when environmental action is deemed illegal”

Plastic Microfibers: the plastic-pollution saga continues

We live in a world shaped by plastic – it’s everywhere and unavoidable, making our lives easier but our environmental footprint more significant. It’s a double-edged sword: the durability that makes plastic so important in our daily lives becomes a challenge when dealing with plastic waste. Plastic is persistent, especially when it ends up inContinue reading “Plastic Microfibers: the plastic-pollution saga continues”

Taking a Look at Leather: traditional animal leathers versus vegan alternatives

Shoes, bags, sports equipment, upholstery, your favorite jacket… chances are you own leather goods in some form. Traditional animal leathers date back to around 7 000 years ago, when humans first discovered strategies for preserving and using animal skins leftover from the food they would consume. Now, advances in improving leather’s durability and flexibility have ledContinue reading “Taking a Look at Leather: traditional animal leathers versus vegan alternatives”