Conscious Consumerism

Keep Our Problems Bottled Up

eco, lifestyle, plasticNick OgdenComment

Fresh water, a crucial necessity of life. Simple. Bottled fresh water, a glamorous idealistic hyper-destructive source global degradation. Globally we consume a million plastic bottles a minute, more then 480 billion a year. That is a damn large amount of plastic and that is a damn large amount of money to pay for something that is almost free (in most developed countries). Globally, our obsession with plastic bottled water is having a massive tole on our ecosystem, contributing mass amounts of plastic pollution to oceans, creating huge environmental impact. Even in places where efficient recycling practices are in order, they are being over burdened with a product that does not have to be there.

In recent blog posts I have talked about plastic as a general problem to our oceans and a major cause for ecosystem degradation and plastic one-use water bottles a major contributor. Surprisingly it isn't even entirely North America's fault; Asian Pacific countries like China, Thailand, and the Philippines are adopting North American fast-paced and quick-use cultures which are responsible for upwards of 60% of the plastic being dumped in the ocean. I am not saying North America doesn't have a lot to do with the problem but with large population countries like China we are seeing a shift in contribution. China has recently put a ban on importing of foreign garbage and recyclables, not explicitly stated, I would argue partly due to their own overwhelming production. Having a quickly changing culture to a one-use and dump creates a lot more garbage and the need for a more efficient way to deal with the excess garbage. Industry is always slower to change compared to consumer demand so having an exponentially larger amount of garbage being produced industry could not handle it as well as foreign. But what are the solutions? 

Stop using plastic. Sure, in an ideal world everyone globally would stop using as much or all plastic but that isn't going to happen. More realistic, cut back on the unneeded plastic like packaged water. Unless there is a crisis and no other immediate solution, plastic bottled water is just so redundant I just can't even comprehend it. Go and grab a cool reusable water bottle, many companies that produce them do much more then produce reusable water bottles!

Klean Kanteen supports access to clean water campaigns and understands the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans. 

Nalgene is strong in the fight against plastic bottled water, for obvious reasons to maintain their customers and they realize the impact they have on the environment.

Once you have your slick new reusable water bottle there are some really handy apps that give you a map of your city to let you know where you can fill up for free! Tapit, Water 2.0, Reefill, and Refill (UK) are just 5 of the many other apps that help people find refilling stations around their city to top up water bottles. There are so many options and helping hands in our day-to-day to stop us from using plastic one use water bottles, Now more then ever we need to really think about our plastic waste consumption and ways we can reduce it. If we all, globally, work together we can steer our planet back to equilibrium and a space not filled with so much garbage. 

Thank you for reading and have a great one! 



Decompose My Garbage Heart

environment, garbage, ecoNick OgdenComment

As I thought about this weeks blog post I couldn't stop thinking about my future and what I means to be on this earth. We have been blessed with such a beautiful and mysterious planet, filled with all wonders of life. As humans we stumbled upon this evolutionary path that has led us to this point and has given us the power to sculpt the earth. So far, we have done a pretty terrible job. I do however, think that there is still time and many people left that want to correct our mistakes realigning our societies back to more natural orders. We have built our society's on a "take" mentality where naturally a "give" should be, depleting a cyclical system. This week I want to focus in on why it is so important to realign ourselves back with a more natural rhythm of a give mentality.

I have always considered myself an optimist, with climate change and human degradation of ecosystems I still have this view. As humans, we have used our power to build great buildings and fantastic civilizations but at the expense of our natural world. It is now time that we must flip the coin and give back to our planet. One main way we can do this is through figuring out our garbage problems. Here in North America we a very one-use policy when it comes to most of the items we purchase. This is taking a huge tole on our ecosystems though, putting great strain on natural regulatory cycles that we depend on to make many of our one-use things. Lets face reality here and take a look at how long it takes for some of our garbage to decompose into the ecosystems that they are dumped in. 

Buss Transfer: 2 weeks 

Cardboard: 2 months 

Cotton Garments: 3 months 

Plywood: 1-3 years 

Painted Wood: 13 years 

Cigarette Butts: 10-12 years 

Leather Shoes: 25-40 years 

Nylon Fabrics: 30-40 years 

Tin Cans: 50 years 

Rubber Soles: 50-80 years 

Batteries: 100 years 

Aluminium Cans: 200-500 years 

Plastic Fishing Line: 600 years 

Tinfoil: Never 

Styrofoam: Never 

Depending on what your garbage habits are, any trace of the goods you consumed can last on earth from 2 weeks to eternity. We must take the time to understand what we are throwing away and where it goes. If we simply throw away our aluminium cans we are waisting precious resources and forcing ourselves to find new ones. Through the simple act of sorting your garbage you can make a real difference. If we recycle metals, glass, and cardboards more often then not they will be turned into new items helping us to transition to a cyclical society. By unnecessary waste we are contributing to the destruction of our habitable planet.

A cyclical society is one that consumes goods, disposes them accordingly with the availability to up-cycle, re-cycle, or reuse. This kind of society would produce virtually no waste or produce waste that can be used again and again. Let us make shifts in our personal lives to live more cyclically Through our buying habits we can influence producers to be more cyclically conscious and we can impact our planet less. Cyclical consuming and living is not hard. It simply takes a solid look on our consumption patterns and changing a few things. Think cyclically or a more give mentality. Give yourself the chance to be less impactful on our planet, and give back to ecosystems by not adding to their degradation through garbage pollution. By understanding the time it takes for our garbage to decompose we can get a simple quantitative measurement of our ecological impact. Think about what you are throwing away and ask yourself, "Can this be reused, recycled, or up-cycled?" If we shift our thinking a bit we can have a real positive impact on our planet. 

If you liked what you are reading make sure to share on your social media platforms. 

Thank you for stopping by! 



environment, plastic, oceanNick OgdenComment

I have spent my entire life living within a few minutes of the ocean, it has been as big a port of me as the people in my life. It helps define me. It helps me understand. It helps me be me. Without being as close to the ocean as I have always been, I don't know that I would be the same person I am today. With that being said, every ocean in the world is in trouble. Really serious trouble. They are being polluted every single day, very single hour, and probably every single minute of every day with plastic. We have let copious amounts of plastic enter our oceans, from the microfibers I talked about last week to the really big ugly pieces that are obvious. Sea creatures, birds, and their ecosystems are suffering because of our lax waste standards. Things have to change if we want to move toward a clean sustainable future. If we want the world to be healthy and self regulating with humans fitting back into natural systems and not disrupting them then we need to figure this out. We need to make things happen to right our wrongs.

And things are happening.

One of the biggest problems with plastic getting into the oceans are the garbage patches that form around ocean gyres. Ocean gyres are where currents meet, spin around, and overall have a great time together, think of them like giant ocean water parties with garbage crashing in and ruining the fun time. There are several party crashers in our oceans: The North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. The most famous garbage patches are in the Pacific Ocean and that is where most of the effort is being placed to eradicate them. The Pacific patches tend to be much bigger and more of a problem because of the countries that surround it. They tend to have more lax garbage disposal methods and much bigger nations then those in the Atlantic regions. But do not mis-read me, there are garbage problems in every ocean and every ocean deserves to be cleaned and stay clean! 

One proposed method to get rid of the garbage, first in the North Pacific, is to use several large surface garbage collection machines powered by ocean currents from The Ocean Cleanup project. This group will deploy semi-large scale skimmers to collect the garbage then rely on ships to take the garbage back to shore, recycle what they can and make new up-cycled products, and then sell these products either as final consumables or raw materials. This project has been met with several scepticism from the scientific community, primarily due to the reactionary method of the project and not create systems to prevent this from happening. This is a double edged sword, do we just let the garbage sit out in our oceans or do we focus our efforts preventing this from happening? 

We need to do both, we need to intercept plastic before it becomes ocean plastic. And we need to clean up what is out there.

Boyan Slat is the early 20's powerhouse behind The Ocean Cleanup project and understands what his critics are saying but he makes a good point. Yes, we need to stop garbage from getting into our oceans but we also need to get out there and take the garbage out of them. He understands the harm of just leaving the garbage out there and he wants to stop that harm from getting worse. This is not a simple problem that can be solved with just one solution, there needs to be constant work thrown at solving it and if Slat can contribute then let him. As consumers we have a role to play in all this as well. We need to change our habits to contribute less as well as actively support those trying to solve the problem. Here are some things we can do to help: 

Stop Using Plastic: the best way to prevent the situation is to just not contribute. Stop using plastic as much as you can. 

Bring Reusable When You Can: bring reusable clothe bags, cutlery when eating takeout, and metal or glass straws. These are three major contributors to our garbage problem overall. 

Cut Down On Takeout: unless you call ahead and let the restaurant know that you have your own packaging materials, then they will most likely put your food in throwaway containers. Eat in, make a night or a moment of it! 

Don't Buy Bottled Drinks: bottled water to me is the most wasteful, unless your local drinking water is tainted, there is no reason to by bottled water. Tap water is pretty well free and almost always safe. 

Opt For Glass or Aluminium: when those cravings do kick in and you find yourself in need of soda or another packaged beverage try and find glass or aluminium packaging. These forms of containers can be recycled much easier, and in the case of aluminium its easier for manufacturers to recycle your container then it is to make a new one! 

Recycle: if you have to use plastic, separate it from the rest of the garbage and get it to facilities that can take care of it responsibly.

There is no one answer to correct this problem, other then to not use plastic ever, but our society is so wrapped around it that it is hard. Do your best in your life to reduce your dependancies on it and when you are forced to use it, dispose of it responsibly! As consumers we can change industry to more sustainable ways through our buying habits. Make those habits better for the planet and demand less plastics! 

Thank you for reading and have a great week. 

Micro Problems. Big Deal.

apparel, environment, plasticNick OgdenComment

Last week I briefly discussed the problem of plastic; China is no longer taking much of the world's recycled plastic so countries are having to find new ways to deal with their waste. One of the biggest issues with plastics is one that we don't even think about, microfibers. All clothing produces small bits of fabric that rubs off in the wash, cotton and other mostly easily biodegradable fabrics will disappear and rejoin the ecosystems they are deposited in. The other kind of non-biodegradable or synthetic microfibers are those derived from fabrics made of plastic or petroleum bases. These would include nylons (not made from bamboo), polyesters, polar-fleece, and the like. Often these types of fabrics are used for cheap fast fashion clothing, active wear, and waterproofed clothing. As we wash our clothes they slowly and sometimes quickly degrade leaving behind bits of fabric to be washed down the drain. More often then not the bits of fabric are so small that a lot of modern public filtration systems cannot sift out these micro bits of fabric, letting them get into our water ways and our oceans. We let a lot of things get into our waters but why is this such a problem?

Microfibers are a real problem not just because they do not biodegrade in an short amount of time but also due to the fact that many forms of marine life mistake them as food. This causes massive problems for the marine life that consumes the fibers because they not only block normal digestive patterns of the organisms they also are tend to cary chemicals. These chemicals take their tole on the organisms that eat them, leaching their toxins into the organism and then progress up the food chain as bigger and bigger organisms feed. This can be thought of much like mercury levels in large fish. The chemicals are leached into the organisms that consume the microfibers but also the ecosystems, introducing foreign chemicals to the fragile ecosystems that they are not native to. The real concern with microfibers is the passive nature of their devastation.

More often then not, the problems that are pushed to change by consumers are those that smack society in the face. The real big problems that are obvious and we are reacting to. Microfibers are the opposite, they are created during the cleaning of fabrics and go unnoticed to consumers until it is a real issue. Still there is debate by some consumers that their contributions are making an impact on the problem but they are. Due to the actual size of the fibers and how they are created, they are a passive issue, one that can be actively avoided but because consumers aren't directly effected by them its a non issue. This is not the case! All consumers that own synthetic fabrics are contributing to this problem every time they put a wash of clothing on. Scientists are still fighting the fight against GHG emissions contributing to climate change because again, these are basically passive contributions. Yes, we have come a great way and new tech is always hitting the market with reduced or zero GHG emissions during their productions and promised during their use but there is still a disconnect from some consumers. It takes consistent beating over the head with hard facts but we will get there. It is not only up to consumers to push markets, it is up to industry to do so as well. One of my favorite companies, not only apparel company but overall just fantastic organizations, is Patagonia.

I have dusted many of my articles, briefly discussing my affinity, with Patagonia. They are a badass renegade of a company that flies in the face of the fashion and sporting world. Recently, they realized the impact of synthetic microfibers on ecosystems and their disruptive nature of natural processes. Patagonia has also realized the lack of government regulation due to ignorance, with this in mind they put together a scientific literature review which provides background to the subject and critical analysis of microfiber impact. The review is concluded with clear recommendations for policy-makers and organizations to address microfiber pollution from synthetic fabrics. Their analysis concluded with two distinct factors that majorly contributed to microfiber pollution: garment age and type of washing machine. Older clothing, with lose fibers, washed in top-load machines create more microfibers then the same jackets [as well as new] washed in front-load machines. The reason they found that top-load machines produced more microfibers was often due to their central-agitator, popular in that style of machines. Other factors included temperature of the wash, cycle length, and detergent type. The review did not take into consideration the use of high-efficient top-load machines, which they recommend further analysis of. Lastly, the analysis finished admitting there are no current alternative fibers that offer the same performance as the synthetics.

Patagonia admits, through the analysis discussed above as well as on their website, that there is simply no alternative to many of the synthetic fibers that they use. The technology just is not there yet. However, they are researching hard to find alternatives and they do give a few suggestions to minimize a persons contribution to microfiber pollution: 

  1. Keep Using It: by using gear and clothing longer and getting the full valued lifespan out of a garment then we are overall impacting the earth less. 
  2. Wash Less Often: by washing synthetic garments only when needed as they dirty and not on a constant rotation, we can minimize garment degradation during wash resulting in fewer microfibers released into ecosystems. 
  3. Invest in Front-Load Washers: from their critical analysis Patagonia and the other researching groups found that front-load washers degraded garments slower releasing less microfibers. 
  4. Use Fiber Filters: These are bags that you put your synthetic garments and fabrics into that help filter and capture microfibers released during washing. Patagonia is selling a version of these bags AT COST to help reduce this problem and incentives consumers to use them. 

Taking all this into consideration, Patagonia is doing their part to increase awareness of this problem as well as giving consumers the opportunity to reduce their contribution to this problem. If you use synthetic fabrics and garments made from these, I beg you to look for alternatives or do your part and reduce your contribution! Organic and natural fibers are often a better environmental option then synthetics, in some cases and conditions these options are not suitable. Keep an eye and an ear out for new technology hitting the market, we will solve this problem. 

Here at NO Standard Co. we are committed to producing garments and apparel that are as least impactful on the environment as possible. All our clothing is made from natural fibers, usually a blend of organic cotton and nylon derived from bamboo. -Pass the word along!-

Thank you for reading and don't forget to subscribe! 




We've Got A Problem: Plastic

eco, environment, plasticNick OgdenComment

I would like to open this article with a warm "Happy New Year" and a "thank you" to everyone who takes time out of their weeks to read these articles. 2017 was a great first (half) year for NO Standard Co. and 2018 is shaping up to be pretty rad. On that note let us dive into this weeks discussion: Our Plastic Problem!

In mid September of 2017 the Chinese government announced that it would be putting a ban on all imported plastics, shutting down a lot of countries "recycling" programs. Several countries including Canada and the United States have relied on China to take their plastic. These used plastics would be refined and turned into recycled goods like water bottles, plastic housing components, synthetic fibres, etc. Now that this regime is over, we have a major problem. Here in Nova Scotia we relied on China to take our garbage as well, now that the doors have shut we are faced with the harsh reality of our plastic problem. 

Here in Nova Scotia we have somewhat strict garbage regulations that seem to have become lax in the last little while. Everyone's fear of being stickered come collection day was real, if a sticker was placed on your bags the garbage collection worker's refused to take the garbage and you would be forced to re-sort your waste. This was a good initiative to force people to be more conscious of their waste but it wasn't enforced in apartment buildings and as of recently seems to be less and less enforced on households. Black bags were primarily banned with the exception of one per collection period for sensitive waste. As I roam about the city I have noticing more and more black bags pop up, this is a problem. This means that people are not sorting their garbage and the collection services are not enforcing their regulations. Here in Nova Scotia we spend more then the national average on the operations of organics and recycling facilities and are just below the national average on transportation. Unfortunately these stats are almost 8 years old and are the most up-to-date public data on Stats Can. With 8-year-old data, there is no way the Federal Government could impose national regulations to curb waste, but this may be what we need. Nova Scotia, like most of Canada, is overall behind in our waste management system, some say almost 15 years. One solution to propel us back to the future would be a pay-per-waste system, where we are charged for what we throw away. This would incentivize people to reduce their waste and figure out more multi-use options. No matter the solution, we need to break our dependance with plastics and figure systems that are either biodegradable or reusable.

Plastics take anywhere from 450-1000 years to decompose; since the 1950's and the large scale production of plastic we have produced, globally, an estimated 8.3 billions tons of plastic with an estimated 91% not recycled. Most of the plastic we have produced has ended up in landfills and natural habitats, with the vast majority ending up in the ocean. We have had so much of our garbage reach the ocean that it has created an island, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If this doesn't scare you, I'm not sure what will. Once the garbage has reached the ocean, currents take it and converge to create garbage islands eventually combining with the Great Garbage Patch. Most of this waste is plastic, being non-organic and very slow to decompose. Marine life and ecosystems are struggling to survive and and being choked to death. With the loss of one of the world's plastic dumping grounds this problem might get even worse. Without a receptacle, plastic will find its way to the oceans and other habitats, expediting the degradation and strangling of ecosystems.

The planets ecosystems are fragile, knitted together through give-and-take relationships that keep the natural flow of energy moving. Humans have had major impacts on all ecosystems around the world, may it be through clear cutting for cattle farms or drastically increasing climate change causing receding ice fields in the arctics. We are the most invasive and destructive animal on earth but we are also the most creative and compassionate. If we understand our actions and the lifecycle of our consumption then we can start to change the world for the better. If we stop using plastics then we will take the choke-hold off ecosystems that are already struggling to deal with our impact. We can make the world a home for everyone but it takes a global social shift in all markets to make it happen, starting with plastic!  

Some solutions that can make a real positive impact are: 

  1. Bring re-usable cloth bags while shopping. This may seem like a small thing but plastic bag usage is a major, unnecessary, contributing to plastic waste. 
  2. Use metal/glass/ceramic drinking containers. If we stop using one-use coffee cups we will not only save our local businesses money but we will reduce our waste. When we stop using plastic bottled water, we are cutting down our contribution to the use of 1 MILLION plastic water bottles PER MINUTE (globally)! 
  3. DO NOT USE STRAWS! Straws, unless sometimes necessary due to health reasons, are a majorly stupid waste product! We have lips and the ability to suck! SO USE THEM! If you really like them, grab a glass or metal reusable one and bring it with you! 
  4. Buy organic fabrics. Nylons, polyesters, and other synthetic fabrics may seem like a good use for some of our plastic waste but they create microfibres that do not breakdown in ecosystems. This causes major devastation to the areas they plague. 
  5. Use metal or glass containers to shop for bulk food. A major contributor to plastic waste is food packaging, everything from the little piece of plastic on our noodle boxes to the containers our hummus comes in. If we shop in bulk and bring reusable containers we eliminate the need for this excess plastic waste. 

These are just 5 of a vast number of things that we can do to reduce and eliminate our dependance on plastic. Leave a comment below of more ideas to reduce our plastic waste. If we work together we can change the world for the better. Remember, team work makes the dream work! 

Thank you for reading and don't forget to subscribe!