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Tag: ecofriendly

ecofriendly office supplies

5 Ways to Operate a More Sustainable Office at Home

Since the pandemic, many of us have experienced a change in our workplace environment. Commercial spaces emptied and the downtown core saw an outflow of employees moving their work from office to home. Our workplace environment has changed and so has our mode of business operations.

With less commuting, less overall business activities and to some degree, reduced consumption, we realized that this new normal improved our environment, specifically our air quality. Less carbon emissions from the commuting public and less manufacturing activities cleared the air (as they say). Working from home has now taken root and many employers are now accepting this as part of the new corporate reality.

With many of us now permanently working at home while others are working within a hybrid model, how do we maintain the eco progress we have made during the pandemic and ensure that we continue down this greener path?

One answer is to adopt more sustainable ways to operate your office and business. At home, you have full control of your environment from heating, electricity, waste management to purchasing office supplies. Here are ten easy tips on how to maintain a more sustainable workplace at home:

1. Minimize the Printing

There are many ways you can help to save a tree. Remember that wood is not as sustainable as bamboo and requires approximately 50 years of maturity before being harvested into pulp and paper. Reducing the need to print will help slow down the deforestation (which impacts a host of other biodiversity issues). Here are ideas on how to adopt this quickly:
Choose email as a way to receive mail rather than physical documents

  • When printing, double side your print jobs to reduce the number of pages and ink required
  • Digitize everything. If you have paper copies, scan them using a printer / scanner or take a photo of it to create PDF documents and then recycle the paper
  • Instead of printing and distributing presentations, choose to screen share at the meeting or send a link prior to the meeting to prepare attendees for your meeting discussions

2. Cut down on Electricity Use

When not in use, turn things off. Sometimes we don’t realize that office equipment like printers, devices and other computers are using up electricity while idle. There are many ways you can conserve energy at your home office:

  • Use the same computer (desktop or laptop) for working and listening to music if possible in order to cut down on the number of devices you are using
  • Turn off printers, monitors, devices and other equipment when not in use
  • If you have a lot of natural light in your home office, consider positioning your desk near the window to reduce the amount of lights you need
  • Replace light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs
  • Wear warmer clothes to reduce the amount of heat required or turn off your heater during warmer weather

ecofriendly office supplies3. Recycle and Reuse Office Supplies

We buy a lot of office supplies that we throw away after a single use. While there are some items you can’t reuse like notepads with writing, there are many that you can recycle and reuse.

  • Binders are reusable and practical. They are expandable, durable, multi-purpose and versatile and a perfect replacement for single use notepads
  • Page Flags can be reused. They may not be as sticky as the first time you use them, but they still do the job when reused a second time.
  • Rulers and scissors can be reused. If you have a dull scissor, sharpen them instead of throwing them away
  • Reuse paper as scrap. Before throwing away a single sided piece of paper, use it for scribbling, sketching, doodling or note taking
  • Paper clips and rubber bands can be reused many times over
  • Replace single use plastic pens with refillable mechanical pencils.
  • Reuse printer cartridges by refilling ink jet or recycle the old ones appropriately

4. Buy Eco Friendly Supplies

Another option to creating a sustainable office is to buy eco-friendly supplies made of bamboo. A majority of office supplies are made from man made materials like plastic which are non biodegradable. Consider replacing these plastic supplies with bamboo made products. Bamboo is 100% biodegradable, eco friendly and far more renewable than wood. Here are some supplies that can be replaced with bamboo:

  • Pens and pencils
  • Pen and pencil holders
  • Drawer organizers
  • Device caddies
  • Rulers and straight edge sets
  • Pencil sharpeners

ecofriendly office supplies5. Choose Sustainable Kitchen Products

Working at home means having more frequent access to the comforts of our kitchen. This might mean more cups of coffee or eating snacks more often throughout the day. There are many opportunities to improve our habits in the kitchen. Here are ideas on how to adopt a more eco friendly practice:

  • If you’re using k-cups consider using instant coffee or filtered drip coffee to reduce waste
  • Make coffee at home instead of buying them from the coffee and then disposing cups that only add to landfills
  • Consider using paper bags for your garbage instead of plastic garbage bags.
  • Reduce the use of disposable food containers by making food at home instead of ordering out often
  • Use stainless steel or eco friendly bamboo utensils instead of plastic take out utensils

Working at home gives one a lot of flexibility and the ability to create a good work-life balance. For the most part, working remotely allows you to have the freedom to choose office supplies that are the most eco-friendly, control your energy use and configure your office in a way that optimizes your space for improved productivity.

bamboo climate change sustainable

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Bamboo 

So many are curious about bamboo and its benefits to our environment. So as part 2 of our knowledge base about this incredible plant, we answer some of the most common questions many still have. 

 

If you’ve read Everything You Need to Know about Bamboo and other blog articles, you probably already know that there are over 1,000 species of bamboo in the world and thousands of applications and uses. It is the most versatile plant in the world and definitely worth learning about. 

 

How Does Bamboo Spread ?

There are two types of bamboo roots – clumping and running bamboo. Clumping bamboos have a pachymorph rhizome system whose buds underground grow upwards instead of outwards making it more controllable as it spouts directly up from the ground. Running bamboo has a leptomorph rhizome system which grows laterally underground pushing through the soil with new rhizomes growing perpendicularly to its parent rhizome.. The running bamboo can spread as far as 20 feet underground from its original parent rhizome and can spread as much as 3 to 5 feet per year.

bamboo climate change sustainable

Why Does Bamboo Grow So Fast? 

Certain species of bamboo, like the moso bamboo, can grow as fast as 0.00003 km/ hr or 1.5 inches per hour. Several studies have found that plant hormones including gibberellin, indole acetic acid and zeatin may play a role in promoting the fast growth rate of bamboo shoots.

Gibberellin (GA) is one of the plant hormones that regulate a wide range of processes involved in plant growth. Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is an auxin produced by terrestrial plants, like bamboo, which influences development through a variety of cellular mechanisms, such as cell elongation. Zeatin promotes growth of lateral buds.

How Does Bamboo Grow?

Bamboo grows in marginal land with little to no pesticides required. Bamboo stores sugars in its underground rhizomes (root system) and as it grows, it produces fine root hairs and buds that develop into new rhizomes. Each culm breaks through the soil surface as its final mature diameter (its stalk’s diameter does not widen as it grows). The culms (stem) grow to its full height between 30 – 60 days and its branches and leaves fold out from the culm in the next 30 – 60 days.

Because bamboo has high tolerance to various environments, bamboo is a good candidate for afforestation, carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation. 

 

Is Bamboo a Grass?

Yes, bamboo (subfamily Bambusoideae) is a grass. It is a subfamily of treelike grasses called Poaceae. Bamboo has more than 115 genera and approximately 1400 species.

bamboo climate change sustainable

How Tall Does Bamboo Grow?

Some species of bamboo can grow as high as 30 meters or 100 feet high and 10 – 12 inches in diameter.

 

How Long Does It Take Bamboo to Grow?

Bamboo takes about three years to get established. Once established the new shoots that emerge in the Spring (they will still only grow for 60 days) will continue to get bigger and more numerous from year to year as the colony grows towards maturity.

 

What Do the Rings on the Bamboo Mean?

The bamboo rings are called nodes. Each culm (stem) is segmented by these nodes or joints. 

bamboo climate change sustainable

Cam Bamboo Act as a Fire Retardant?

Because it contains large amounts of silicate acid, bamboo is abnormally flame resistant and could curb forest fires. Making clumping bamboo a part of a tropical reforestation effort could be beneficial to reducing future instances of wildfires.

 

Can Bamboo Prevent Soil Erosion?

Because bamboo is a grass, it has a very shallow root system. Most of its rhizomes live on the top 6 inches of the soil while the rest can spread as deep as 14 inches. Because the roots are so densely clumped, they help to deter soil erosion which reduces soil fertility and contributes to flooding and landslides.

bamboo climate change sustainable

How Does Bamboo Help with Climate Change?

Bamboos helps to mitigate the effects of climate change by: 

  • Absorbing and storing carbon during its fast growth and frequent harvesting process which happens more often than trees, bamboo can store and absorb more carbon 
  • Protecting forests by mitigating the spread of wildfires with its unique fire retardant characteristics
  • Protecting watersheds by reducing soil erosion that produces sediments that block waterways making areas more susceptible to flooding
  • Insulating environments against extreme weather because of its flexibility and resilience in surviving natural disasters including typhoons and hurricanes
  • Providing low-cost, green housing option that produces lower carbon emissions
  • Providing cleaner biofuels that reduce our reliance on fossil fuel extraction and production

 

Does Bamboo Produce More or Less Carbon than Trees?

When plants decompose, they release carbon dioxide. When bamboo is actively managed (harvested), farmers will harvest the mature bamboo culms before they decay, so the total amount of carbon stored by the ecosystem increases as new culms emerge faster than they decay resulting in more carbon sequestered in subsequent years. Harvesting bamboo culms doesn’t kill the plant and the extensive rhizome (root system) continues to store the carbon below ground even after the bamboo is harvested.

 

As long as bamboo forests or farms are actively harvested and remain productive, more carbon is sequestered than produced from decaying culms.

 

On the other hand, when trees are clear cut, there is a huge loss of carbon arising from the decomposing organic matter and because it would take 13 years before the replanted tree begins to absorb more carbon than its releasing from the decomposition, the net effect is a net loss of carbon when trees are harvested.

 

Why Does Bamboo Release More Oxygen than Trees?

Because of bamboo’s fast growth and replenishment rate (it is the fastest growing plant in the world), it experiences photosynthesis more often than other types of plants. Photosynthesis is the process that transforms light energy into oxygen and glucose.

 

Within the plant cell, the water (H2O) is oxidized (losing electrons) and transforms into oxygen  while the carbon dioxide (CO2) is reduced (gains electrons) and transforms into glucose or sugar that the plant stores for its future use for growth.

 

Some bamboo species, like Thamnocalamus and Sasa Fargesia, need little sunlight but still perform the same photosynthesis process. Because of bamboo’s fast growth rate and its ability to thrive even in partial sunlight or shade, a grove of bamboo can produce 35% more oxygen than trees of the same area.

 

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Are Bamboo Cotton Swabs Any Better than Q-Tips?

Cotton Swabs, or as we know them, Q-tips (which is actually a brand), are commonly found in many bathrooms. They are used regularly as part of our personal hygiene routine. Many of us think that they are completely harmless for us and the environment. But, the truth is depending on what type you are using, they can actually be quite harmful to both humans and our planet. 

 

The Origin of the Q-Tips

Q-Tips were invented in 1923 by Leo Gerstenzang, a Polish American inventor after observing his wife use cotton on a toothpick to clean her ears. He manufactured these Q-tips® as part of his baby care accessory line and the product was originally called Q-tips® Baby Gays. In 1926, he dropped the word Baby Gays and just marketed this line as “Q-Tips”.

 

The “Q” stands for quality while the “tips” describes the cotton swabs at the end of each wooden stick. Originally, all Q-tips® were made of wood until around 1958 when the company acquired Paper Stick Ltd of England, a manufacturer of paper sticks for confectionery goods. The bonded paper and paperboard Q-tips® stem was then introduced as an alternative to the wooden sticks.

 

In 1998, Q-tips® antimicrobial cotton swabs were launched. The q-tips were dipped in boric acid in the factory during the manufacturing process so they can be promoted as “personal hygiene” products. Boric acid provided the antiviral and anti-fungal properties. 

bamboo, cotton swabs, q-tips, biodegradable, ecofriendlyDo Cotton Swabs do More Harm than Good?

As far as health is concerned, many people believe that cotton swabs actually do more harm than good. Some say that the cotton pushes the ear wax even further into your ear canal and can possibly damage sensitive tissues. If improperly used, the cotton swab can actually compress the wax even more and cause damage to the sensitive ear organs. If you are using cotton swabs or Q-tips® for other purposes, like cleaning tight crevices, they are extremely helpful and harmless. They are a simple invention with multiple practical uses. 

 

For the environment, cotton swabs made of paper or bamboo are generally safe and harmless when disposed of. Paper and bamboo are both 100% biodegradable and compostable. They typically decompose within months. 

 

Are Cotton Swabs Recyclable? 

Cotton swabs are not recyclable. They are too small and lightweight to be sorted through the normal recycling process and may end up causing more environmental harm because they will pollute the waterways.

 

Regardless of whether they are made of bamboo sticks or paperboard, unfortunately, they will all end up in the landfill. So the best option we have is to buy and reuse ones that are 100% biodegradable made of natural cotton and bamboo or paperboard sticks in order to minimize the environmental impact. If either the cotton tip is made of synthetic or the stick is made of plastic, then the whole piece is not considered eco-friendly and will take years to decompose.

bamboo, cotton swabs, q-tips, biodegradable, ecofriendly

Why Switch to Bamboo Cotton Swabs?

So many may be wondering what’s the benefit of buying bamboo stick cotton swabs instead of the paperbonded applicator. The key benefit is that when using bamboo, there is no chemical, like adhesive, used to bond and stiffen the paper into a stick. Therefore, composting the bamboo variation is easier and faster. 

 

Bamboo is far more renewable than wood. It regrows to maturity within 5 years whereas wood will take 50 years. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant and can be found throughout the world. With very little agricultural input requirements, like pesticides, to grow, they are hardy, low maintenance plants considered to be one of the most eco friendly resources.

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plastic toothbrush

Plastic Toothbrushes Contribute to Climate Change

When we buy a plastic toothbrush, we don’t often think about what they’re made of or how they are disposed of. From the various selections available at the stores, we pick out what we need without any thought as to how our choices can impact our environment.

 

Retail stores give us a large selection of toothbrushes with various handle designs, colors, sizes and styles at affordable price ranges. But what you may not have noticed is that the selections are all made of plastic. Three and a half billion (with a “B”) toothbrushes are sold every year worldwide and millions of plastic toothbrushes are disposed of every year. 

 

Many of us are unaware that our limited choices corner us into buying from the selection of plastic toothbrushes that contribute to the plastic pollution that is causing climate change. This is serious stuff. 

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Plastic Toothbrushes Contribute to Climate Change

According to Statistics Canada, just over one-third (37.5%) of Canadians brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. The average person buys a new toothbrush every 3 – 4 months. This amounts to millions of plastic toothbrushes disposed of every year. But why is plastic used for toothbrushes and do we know its impact? 

 

Plastics are durable, versatile and cheap and for this reason, they are widely used in many household products such as toothbrushes, floss casing and dental picks. Unfortunately, plastic is hazardous to our planet from the beginning to the end of its lifecycle. Nearly every piece of plastic begins as a fossil fuel, and greenhouse gases are emitted at each stage of its life: 1) fossil fuel extraction and transport, 2) plastic refining and manufacture, 3) managing plastic waste, and 4) its ongoing impact in our oceans, waterways, and landscape

 

We are treading on dangerous territory if we continue to consume at the rate we are going. Even if growth slows after 2030, plastic production and incineration could emit 2.8 gigatons of CO2 per year by 2050 and accumulate in the atmosphere over time. Projected growth in plastic production and incineration will consume more than ten percent of the earth’s remaining carbon budget and this needs to change.

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Changing our Lifestyle and Choices

A transition toward a “zero waste” lifestyle which involves the conservation of resources from responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of materials without incineration or landfilling – is the best path to reduce emissions and slow down the pace towards climate change.

 

Knowing what impact plastic products have on our environment and its implications on our health now and in the future, we need to consciously make the right decisions. In our everyday life, we need to look at the various plastic products that we use and start replacing them with eco-friendly alternatives. It may seem like your impact will be small just by replacing your plastic use for biodegradable products, but your contribution will influence others to make changes in their choices as well.  

 

plastic toothbrush, dental, ecofriendly, chanelle dupre

Practical Implementation of Zero Waste Living

Our path to a zero waste lifestyle means being eco conscious. Here are rules to consider when trying to live a zero waste life:

  1. Refuse – do not buy plastic products
  2. Reduce – get into the habit of not buying things you don’t need
  3. Reuse – repurpose used products or buy products you are reuse versus dispose
  4. Recycle – separate your waste so it can be disposed efficiently including composting organics

You can start by choosing biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic ones. You can also offer the gift of biodegradable products to people on your gift list so they can be introduced to a new way of life that will be better for future generations.

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EcoLuxe Products, Sustainable, Sustainability, dental, bamboo toothbrush, Chanelle Dupre

How the Unassuming Toothbrush is Killing our Planet

Millions of people have plastic toothbrushes. We’ve been using them since we were kids. We were taught at home and in school that maintaining a healthy dental hygiene is important. It’s a daily routine that we do everyday. For some of us more than once a day! 

Good oral health is important in preventing serious diseases that could affect our cardiovascular or digestive system. In keeping up with our healthy dental practice though, we should be brushing at least two times per day. With higher frequency and usage of dental products, we tend to cycle through more – buying, using and disposing of our plastic toothbrush. 

Soon, we will create landfills of non-biodegradable toothbrushes that will take years, maybe even centuries, to decompose. We forget to consider the impact we have on the environment when we dispose of plastic dental products. 

The Origins of the Toothbrush

The concept of a toothbrush has been around since 3000 BC. In ancient times, they used chew sticks much like dogs do now to keep their teeth clean. But the first mass produced toothbrush invention in the world was in England in 1780 by William Addis. Then a century later, an American, named H.N. Wadsworth patented the toothbrush in 1857. 

In 1938, the toothbrush was mass produced and sold commercially in the US. It became an essential household product and daily ritual for many families in the industrialized nations. Its introduction into our daily lives was influenced by military personnel coming home from the war effort and trained to maintain good dental hygiene and oral health. 

Since then, dentistry became an important branch of medicine and the dental industry grew to generate billions of dollars in dental product sales.

Ecoluxe Dental2

EcoLuxe Dental 1

 

The Non-biodegradable Nature of the Toothbrush

While we mass produce the toothbrush, we mass dispose of them as well and for centuries, they have been sitting in landfills or other places on the planet to decompose. 

For the past few decades, toothbrushes have been commercially mass produced using plastic and synthetic materials. The handles are formed using molds with plastic poured into them. The most common plastics used are polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene. In some cities, Polypropylene, known as PP5, can be recycled. While in other cities, PP5 is not currently accepted for recycling. Its tough, lightweight and heat resistant properties make it ideal for use as a handle for toothbrushes. 

Polyethylene, on the other hand, has 3 different types of recycling classification – recycle number 1, 2 and 4.  Polyethylene number 1 or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and number 2 or HDPE (high density polyethylene) can be recycled and are widely accepted by recycling companies. However, polyethylene number 4 or LDPE (low density polyethylene) is not widely acceptable for recycling and is the most commonly used materials for the toothbrush handle.

Handle Design

The four broad classes of toothbrush handles are straight, contra-angle, non-slip grip and flexible. These designs offer diversity to meet the various preferences, shapes and sizes of both hands and mouth. 

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Are Bristles Biodegradable?

The bristle is also another part of the toothbrush that has evolved over the years and has been introduced in the marketplace with variations in material and design. Some prefer soft bristles for more sensitive gums, while others prefer harder bristles to get rid of plaque more easily. 

Bristle pattern can also play a part in providing more effective cleaning of your teeth. Common varieties include wavy, crisscross, tapered and circular. The head of the toothbrush where the bristles sit come in various shapes – round, square or even diamond to help provide better reach inside the mouth.

In the past, bristles were made of boar hair but because it has been known to retain bacteria, it is not commonly used for toothbrushes that are mass produced for public use. Instead, nylon, with its antibacterial properties, is the preferred material and considered the most effective in cleaning away plaque and build up.

Unfortunately, nylon bristles are not biodegradable. They are synthetic materials made of carbon-based chemicals like coal and petroleum. The creation of nylon itself is not a sustainable practice. It requires a lot of water and energy to cool the plastic fibers. The water absorbs pollutants from the fibers and then released into the environment again through whatever water supply is for dumping waste. 

During the manufacturing process, nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas is emitted into the atmosphere contributing to the carbon pollution that is linked to global warming and climate change.

 

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The Alternative

Plastics and synthetic nylon used to produce toothbrushes offer the durability, flexible design possibilities and antibacterial properties that are essential considerations for an effective dental product. But unfortunately, the materials are not only non eco-friendly but also the manufacturing process doesn’t apply sustainable practices.

So why do we use plastic based toothbrushes that contain non-biodegradable materials that can’t be broken down to other reusable materials? 

Well, manufacturers produce products that fulfill consumer needs and they design them in such a way as to fulfill the regulatory requirements to meet safety and health standards. 

If we were to make an impact on preserving our planet, we need to do it one toothbrush at a time and choose a more eco-friendly alternative made of bamboo and plant-based bristles. Although not yet widely sold in stores, you can find them online and buy them for yourself or as a gift.

If you’re a business and you want to consider distributing or selling bamboo toothbrush made of biodegradable material, fill out the form.

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EcoLuxe Products, Sustainable, dental, bamboo dental floss, Sustainability, Chanelle Dupre

1 Significant Ecofriendly Impact Dental Industries Can Make Now

The dental industry needs to be aware of the environmental impact they have with distributing plastic vs eco-friendly dental kits.

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5 Reasons why Bamboo is the Perfect Ecofriendly Alternative to Plastic

Bamboo’s ability to grow between 1 – 4 inches per day and be harvested every three years makes it the number one renewable and sustainable resource.

EcoLuxe Products, Sustainable, EcoFriendly, Bamboo, Biodegradable, Sustainability, Chanelle Dupre, recycling, packaging, environment.

The Difficult Challenges of Recycling

Our increasing appetite and obsession for material things has contributed immensely to the growth of our landfills. Products, whether bought at a store or delivered to our homes, are packaged with materials that are often not biodegradable.