Sustainable products for Earth Month

Pitch me once, shame on you; Pitch me twice, I'm going to delete your email

April is Earth Month, an opportunity for companies to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, “How can we pretend to care?”

I receive multiple pitches a day highlighting “eco” and “sustainable” products that are easy for me to see right through.

Because I am a bit busy and tired and cranky this week, I figured I’d go through my inbox and share a few today on Good Little Garbage Girl. Perhaps the products’ fallacies are glaring to you, or maybe this will be a helpful lesson in decoding bullshit. Let me know!

  1. Dental Floss Made From Recycled Plastic

    Ok, but this will still end up in the landfill or tied around an innocent seahorse. The world already makes plastic-free, biodegradable floss, so this product has come a little too late.

  2. A “Sustainable” Face Stick (?)

    This $28 facial cleansing stick (?) was presented to me as more “sustainable and eco-conscious” because it “replaces the need for three products with one single, compact stick.” I believe the three products being replaced are soap, water, and a towel? Because this was pitched to me as an earth-friendly sustainable option, I asked the rep to tell me about what the company was doing to deal with the plastic packaging when the product runs out. I have not heard back.

    A note here: If a company is touting its sustainability efforts, check out its website to dig a little deeper. I was interested in learning more about what this particular company was doing to combat plastic waste in the beauty industry.

    On their website, this brand, which is called Alleyoop, says it is fighting the plastic waste problem. Here’s how:

    “Most recently, we made it our mission to become plastic neutral! In partnership with Cleanhub, for every order you place with Alleyoop, we’re removing an equivalent amount of plastic waste that’s bound for the ocean. In turn, there’s less pollution in our environments and more sustainable job opportunities created around the globe. The definition of a win-win.”

    This is not the definition of a win-win. To me, this is the definition of dynamic equilibrium? Buy some plastic and we’ll remove that much plastic from the ocean. Ok? Huh?!

  3. Sustainable Yoga Mat

    “The Cork Yoga Mat offers an eco-sustainable option with natural antimicrobial cork. Only water-based inks are used for the prints, leaving you with a biodegradable, and beautiful piece of art. Cork harvesting is a total closed-loop supply chain, so you can rest savasana-assured that your collection has been ethically sourced and manufactured with conscious awareness.”

This sounds pretty great, and you know what? If this were the only mat the Yoga Design Lab was promoting, I’d probably leave the company alone. But this is just one sustainable-ish product offered by a brand that sells many more unsustainable products. This tactic puts the onus on the consumer to make the decision to either buy something more sustainable or buy something that probably functions better. If the cork mat worked just as well as the rubber / polyethylene mat, the company wouldn’t need to provide both options.

Selling both an “eco-friendly” option and a plastic-based option says to me that it’s up to the customer to make a choice: Will you prioritize materials that are less harmful to the earth, or would you rather have a yoga mat that does everything you want it to?

I don’t think these are ethical options to pose.

  1. The first-ever sustainable coffee pod on earth in human history reinvented

I have been receiving pitches for the first, best, only, etc. sustainable alternative to K-Cups for years now. If single-serving coffee is your thing, there are some good options out there, like reusable pods you just fill with coffee grinds. There are also some less good options, like Bruvi (pictured above), which is not just a pod alternative, but an entire Keurig machine replacement. So if you are seduced by Bruvi, you’ll ostensibly be throwing out your Keurig, which is made of a ton of plastic.

What will you do with your old Keurig? Will you put it in the recycling bin and say a little prayer that it will be recycled perfectly? Will you give it to a neighbor? Will you smash it with a baseball bat?

Moving along, Bruvi claims to be better because its pods, called B-Pods, are engineered to degrade faster. Here is the messaging:

See that cutie little asterisk I highlighted? I spent several seconds scrolling to the bottom of Bruvi’s website in hopes of finding the secret message associated with that adorable footnote. At last, it presented itself:

Lol you guys stink. Even though plastic #5 is one of the most produced plastics, it’s not accepted in many conventional recycling programs. There are a few drop-off and send-back programs that will take plastic #5, but as we’ve previously discussed, not enough people are participating in these programs to make a real impact.

Also, I would like to know what it means for the pod to be “engineered to degrade faster.” This is all I could find on the website:

What I gather from the 4-second Google search I did of “ASTM D5526 testing,” this is a test to qualify how well a plastic breaks down. But this information leaves me with more questions than answers. So…

To me, it seems like Bruvi purposely makes it as difficult as possible for me to understand how it’s eco-friendly so that I ultimately give up. Success — I’m not spending any more time on this, and I’m not buying a Bruvi.

As always, thanks for listening to your grouchy garbage grandpa girl.

P.S. Here’s a piece I wrote that was published this week. I’d love for you to read it:

My Husband, the Carnivore