The “gases that trap heat in the atmosphere”. The emissions of greenhouse gases come from a variety of sources including carbon dioxide by the burning of fossil fuels, nitrous oxide from soil cultivation practices, methane from cows, and more. Greenhouse gas emissions are measure by the use of clean air monitor stations. For example, there is a clean air monitoring station ran by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. It is located in Wellington, New Zealand, where a wind that has not been affected by humans blows in from the south.
This leads to more accurate data not affected by the actions of the local city (Measuring Greenhouse Gas Emissions). Of these gas emissions, the primary source is energy use. This energy use is mainly electricity and heat, transportation, manufacturing, and construction which all leads to carbon dioxide emissions.
Deforestation causes carbon dioxide emissions as well. Forests are known to store carbon dioxide that trees have taken in. When these trees are removed not only are there no more trees to absorb carbon dioxide, but that of which was stored in wood, leaves, and soil is released into the atmosphere.
A carbon footprint is how much greenhouse gases that we produce by our actions. Carbon calculators combine information of your actions to calculate a measurable tonnage of carbon. Examples of this include how much energy a production lines uses or how much fuel is burned in transporting products. Companies try to limit carbon use as much as possible then offset carbon dioxide emissions they cannot erase by offsetting the rest.
Companies can carbon offset by paying to reduce greenhouse gases. This payment funds projects to reduce emissions.
These projects include planting trees, updating equipment to be more efficient, and promoting better energy use transportation. I do not believe carbon neutral rankings for different companies is a valid claim. One reason is that many companies will see carbon offset as a bailout to continue poor eco-friendly practices because they can just pay it off in the end. Also, energy use can be very difficult to measure across all stages of a package or products life. This will lead to inaccurate representation of how much energy a company has actually used.
“The Clever Little Bag” by puma was one of the more sustainable packaging designs of 2019. It is sustainable in terms of the definition, “is physically designed to optimize materials and energy” (About Us). Normally, shoe boxes have a large, strong lid to cover the top of the box, but Puma challenged this standard by replacing the lid with a non-woven polyester bag. This change in designed optimized material use by reducing the package’s paper material by 65%. Also, shoes are able to ship with less energy and fuel consumption (What Is PUMA’s Clever Little Bag?). Since “The Clever Little Bag” is made of non-woven polyester, it is stitched with heat, thus creating less waste and production. Puma claims that this design reduces water, energy, and diesel consumption for the manufacturing side alone by 60% (Puma Clever Little Bag). Usually, a shoe box will be discarded once the consumer returns home and takes the shoes out of it.
However, this polyester bag is reusable to carry the shoes wherever you may go. This can be very beneficial for the likes of sports cleats that can be very dirty or smelly. Patagonia is one of the clothing industry leaders in sustainability. Patagonia significantly focuses on outdoor wear and accessories so it makes sense that it was one the first of its kind to take a huge step in helping the environment. With Patagonia’s help, leaders in the apparel industry, non-governmental organizations, academia, and the Environmental Protection Agency all came together for the first meeting in 2010. They sought after the possibility of working together to create guidelines for environmental and social performance (Sustainable Apparel Coalition). This group became what is known today as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s vision is, “an apparel, footwear, and textile industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities”. The SAC today is made up of 100+ retailers, 75+ manufacturers, and other organizations (The SAC).
What makes Patagonia a sustainable company is its platform. The company has made great strides to be more sustainable such as having 72% of its line using recycled materials, all of its cotton grown organically, and all of its down being certified to the Global Traceable Down Standard. Patagonia has set goals to be carbon neutral by 2025. Furthermore, Patagonia practices mechanical and chemical recycling (Our Footprint). One innovation of Patagonia was the “sushi rolls” baselayer packaging. This hexagonal-shaped package uses 100% post-consumer waste. This package helps in Patagonia’s goal to reduce its carbon footprint while also created a new shape of package that will benefit the products’ marketability (Core77 Design Awards). The introduction of this hexagonal package has seen an increase of 70% sell-through at retail (Patagonia).
As for energy use, Patagonia is a huge supporter in solar energy. Their headquarters in Southern California uses solar power from solar panels. Patagonia has also created a $35 million partnership with Sungevity to install solar panels in 1,500 homes in the United States. A previous $27 million fund by Patagonia saw 1000 homes in Hawaii provided with solar panels for power. Of course, this has been beneficial to Patagonia as they receive earnings off of the solar energy making it very profitable (Weiser, M). So, it is not in just good spirit and eco-friendliness that Patagonia has taken strides with solar energy, but they have seen this market as the future of energy revenue.
Macroplastics are large pieces of plastics that can be seen in an ocean. They represent waste in its first stage as the original product that is now a pollutant. An example of this would be a plastic bottle in the ocean. Macroplastics usually do not have a direct impact on the food chain (“Macro-, Meso-, Micro-, but What About Nanoplastic?”). However, sea turtles have been known to eat plastic grocery bags in the ocean. The sea turtles think that the plastic bags are their favorite food, jellyfish. In contrast to macroplastics, “microplastics are small plastic pieces that are less than 5 millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Microplastics can have a direct impact on the food chain due to their small size (“Macro-, Meso-, Micro-, but What About Nanoplastic?”).
The Layson Albatross population is very significant to “plastic ocean” as they are a common figure for plastic ingestion. There are many pictures all over the internet and maybe even awareness commercials showing these birds deceased with plastic inside of them. Its population saw a 30% decline from 1992 to 2002. These birds are known to roost on Midway, an of garbage, which has a detrimental effect towards the species dietary habits as most of the birds consume some of the trash. A key albatross rite of passage is obtained if an albatross makes it to 5 months. The bird will have regurgitation of its first bolus. The bolus is a combination of foods, wood, feathers and plastics. An albatross having the ability to regurgitate bolus will allow for its body to defend against harmful plastics which is incredibly important in their survival.