Kotoo subscribers have put sustainability on autopilot by taking the most impactful sustainable action - converting coal power plants to renewable energy. And you should sleep easy at night knowing that action is 20-40x more powerful than nearly any other sustainability recommendation because it causes systemic change in the power plants directly causing 40% of our pollution. Money spent restricting power plants' access to necessary pollution permits limits the supply of pollution to the air and is probably the sustainable solution you haven't heard of.
But what about all the sustainable recommendations you have heard of? We classify most of these recommendations as demand side solutions - if you can reduce consumer demand for polluting products, then those products will disappear because they aren't profitable. And I can hear the skepticism - haven't we been doing that for years?
The difference is that now sustainability has entered the mainstream consciousness thanks to Al Gore, Greta Thunberg, and the uptick in intensity of natural disasters. Regardless of the cause, the fact is - public awareness of climate change is causing companies to change. And here's the evidence:
- A recent study from 2013 to 2018 revealed that sustainably-marketed goods gain market share 5x faster than conventional counterparts.
- As a result, more companies than ever are trying to position themselves as sustainable. Everyone from investors to consumers are pressuring companies to change, and we're seeing results as more and more companies announce carbon neutral commitments than ever before.
So how can you execute sustainable consumer choice without doing a lot of research or worrying about greenwashing? Here are two dead simple things you can do (we only recommend things that don't involve significant personal sacrifice).
- Choose less packaging first and then choose paper, glass, and metal containers over plastic. Plastic recycling is largely a lie (don't get us started on how marketing and branding make you believe that plastic is recyclable) but glass, metal, and paper are infinitely recyclable. In fact you can spot things already made from recycled materials when glass is green or brown and paper is off-white. With 75% of the recyclable things going to the landfill, it's just better to avoid plastic as much as possible right when you buy it (do you really need a plastic produce bag? you're going to wash that produce anyways right?). Plastic isn't going anywhere, but if you look at something plastic and have a glass or metal option, choose that. Things like Olive Oil, 6-packs packaged in a cardboard box vs. with plastic snaps, etc.
Glass and metal take energy to recycle but as electricity moves towards renewables, it'll only become cleaner and cleaner. And since they're infinitely recyclable, we still save on all the mining and industrial chemicals made to . Most plastics either too small, too thin or are complex mixes of polymers and can't be effectively recycled (only recycle Types 1, 2, and 5, larger than 2" in diameter). Overall - recycling and packaging aren't going to solve climate change since packaging only makes up a few percent of a product's carbon footprint, but it does have downstream impacts on the health of natural ecosystems which do have a significant impact on keeping the planet operating smoothly.
- Choose pork or chicken over beef. If you don't care what type of protein is in your dish, pork and chicken have much lower environmental impacts because they don't burp methane (all grazing animals burp significant amounts of methane, a gas 84x more powerful than CO2) and don't cause as much deforestation. If your meat dish is heavily flavored - try a meat substitute (i.e. BeyondBeef). You'll get a similar texture to hold all that flavor. I like a good steak as much as anyone, but things like sausage or breakfast meatballs are so heavily spiced and sauced that meat substitutes are close enough that you can't tell the difference.
From a carbon footprint perspective - this simple choice can lower your footprint 10-30% since your diet makes up 5-10% of your footprint and chicken has a 30% lower impact than beef.
- Buy things that are used or last a long time. Since energy is the largest source of emissions and producing items consumes energy, extending the lifetime of items will mitigate the overall emissions of buying things.
Over the next couple months we'll let you know the companies that are leading their industries in sustainability (super-retailers like Amazon vs Target, airlines like Southwest and Delta, etc.). If you're trying to decide where to shop, these recommendations will help you focus on the sustainable options.
In summary, when it's easy:
- Choose pork or chicken instead of beef
- Glass, metal, and paper are always better than plastic
- Only recycle plastic types 1, 2, and 5 (triangle on the bottom) larger than 2"
- Buy things used or that are durable and last a long time
If you like content like this, join us for free - in two minutes, we'll calculate a detailed history of last year's carbon footprint for free. We'll show you the impact of going vegan, switching to an electric car, and shopping sustainability. And we'll take coal power plants offline and replace them with renewable energy if you decide that's the best option for you. In the meantime, we'll continue educating you with articles and getting more businesses and individuals involved in cutting off the pollution permits for dirty powerplants.