The good news: Countries around the world are starting, this month, to work on a treaty to limit plastic pollution! The bad news: Plastic use is exploding, and only 10 percent of the plastics ever made have been recylcled.

We welcome a forceful UN treaty limiting plastic waste. But we need more than a treaty (hopefully printed on recycled, sustainably sourced paper). We need a massive evolution in consumer tastes. You and I can make an effort to avoid barely-used, but long-lasting (and often hard-to-open!) single-use plastics.

Small vendors often make an effort

At Emeraldology, we can commiserate with all the greener small vendors like us. We’re trying to find quality, environmentally friendly packaging for products. But avoiding single-use plastics is a focus for some, but not all, green-focused consumers — and it’s not easy. We were amazed when making an environmentally friendly trivia board game, Triviavore, that it cost more money NOT to shrink wrap the game. (We were less amazed that we had to pay extra for sustainably harvested paper sourced in the USA).

Kudos to our vendors, such as Tru Earth, which have a laser focus on packaging that generates a very light environmental footprint. Tru Earth’s zero waste, compostable, and plastic-free packaging reduces transportation fuel consumption and global-warming carbon emissions very dramatically. This is especially true compared to liquid detergents. These are bulkier, heavier, and almost always packaged in plastic.

And kudos to our third-party provider of mailing materials, Eco-Enclose, for providing us with recycled, recyclable and naturally biodegradable postal packaging. The post office wants us to cover our mailing labels with plastic tape. Beyond that, you will see very little plastic from our shop.

And more kudos to the trade blocs, countries and states (like our home state of WA) trying to create incentives to wean us from single-use plastic packaging and bags.

Good news headlines

Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the most popular wilderness to visit in the United States. And the Biden administration has just set the stage for its permanent protection. A campaign to save Boundary Waters from mining, especially copper mining, has been revitalized. Biden is promoting renewed, legal restrictions to study if mining poses “the risk of irreparable harm” to 1.1 million acres.

Meanwhile, Grist, a quality news source on the environment, recently sent us an Energy Efficiency Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. This group found that in 2021 at least a dozen states passed new clean energy legislation or adopted new energy-saving incentives. These encourage fuel switching and electrification as well as clean heating systems.

On a related note and on the smallest scale: a broken heater recently prompted my household to switch to an all-electric heat pump. The short-term, unexpected cost wasn’t exactly good news! But we’ll tell you more about the pros and cons of that needed upgrade in a future environmental update. It helped us on a personal level to know we were taking a small step to break with our utility’s annoying addiction to (natural) gas.

Feature photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash