By Brett Wilkins
A new report published Wednesday by a trio of progressive advocacy groups lifts the veil on so-called "net zero" climate pledges, which are often touted by corporations and governments as solutions to the climate emergency, but which the paper's authors argue are merely a dangerous form of greenwashing that should be eschewed in favor of Real Zero policies based on meaningful, near-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, The Big Con: How Big Polluters Are Advancing a "Net Zero" Climate Agenda to Delay, Deceive, and Deny, was published by Corporate Accountability, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth International, and is endorsed by more than 60 environmental organizations. The paper comes ahead of this November's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland and amid proliferating pledges from polluting corporations and governments to achieve what they claim is carbon neutrality — increasingly via dubious offsets — by some distant date, often the year 2050.
However, the report asserts that "instead of offering meaningful real solutions to justly address the crisis they knowingly created and owning up to their responsibility to act beginning with drastically reducing emissions at source, polluting corporations and governments are advancing 'net zero' plans that require little or nothing in the way of real solutions or real effective emissions cuts."
"Furthermore... they see the potential for a 'net zero' global pathway to provide new business opportunities for them, rather than curtailing production and consumption of their polluting products," it says.
According to the report:
After decades of inaction, corporations are suddenly racing to pledge to achieve "net zero" emissions. These include fossil fuel giants like BP, Shell, and Total; tech giants like Microsoft and Apple; retailers like Amazon and Walmart; financers like HSBC, Bank of America, and BlackRock; airlines like United and Delta; and food, livestock, and meat producing and agriculture corporations like JBS, Nestlé, and Cargill. Polluting corporations are in a race to be the loudest and proudest to pledge "net zero" emissions by 2050 or some other date in the distant future. Over recent years, more than 1,500 corporations have made "net zero" commitments, an accomplishment applauded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the U.N. Secretary General.
"Increasingly, the concept of 'net zero' is being misconstrued in political spaces as well as by individual actors to evade action and avoid responsibility," the report states. "The idea behind big polluters' use of 'net zero' is that an entity can continue to pollute as usual — or even increase its emissions — and seek to compensate for those emissions in a number of ways. Emissions are nothing more than a math equation in these plans; they can be added one place and subtracted from another place."
Behind #NetZero pledges is the reality that #BigPolluters can keep: 💵 Buying carbon #offsets instead of cutting e… https://t.co/Y3YmUYJ8Ft— Global Forest Coalition (GFC) (@Global Forest Coalition (GFC))1623227415.0
"This equation is simple in theory but deeply flawed in reality," the paper asserts. "These schemes are being used to mask inaction, foist the burden of emissions cuts and pollution avoidance on historically exploited communities, and bet our collective future through ensuring long-term, destructive impact on land and forests, oceans, and through advancing geoengineering technologies. These technologies are hugely risky, do not exist at the scale supposedly needed, and are likely to cause enormous, and likely irreversible, damage."
Among the key findings of the report:
- Big polluters, including the fossil fuel and aviation industries, lobbied heavily to ensure passage of Q45, a tax credit subsidizing carbon capture and storage. A 2020 report from the U.S. Treasury Department's inspector general found that fossil fuel companies improperly claimed nearly $1 billion in Q45 credits.
- The International Emissions Trading Association — described by the report's authors as "perhaps the largest global lobbyist on market and offsets, both pillars of polluters 'net zero' climate plans" — has leveraged its considerable power to push its greenwashing agenda at international climate talks.
- Major polluters have contributed generously to universities including the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Imperial College London in an effort to influence "net zero"-related research. At Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project, ExxonMobil retained the right to formally review research before completion and was allowed to place corporate staff members on development teams.
"The best, most proven approach to justly addressing the climate crisis is to significantly reduce emissions now in an equitable manner, bringing them close to Real Zero by 2030 at the latest," the report states, referring to a situation in which no carbon emissions are produced by a good or service without the use of offsets. "The cross-sectoral solutions we need already exist, are proven, and are scalable now... All that is missing is the political will to advance them, in spite of industry obstruction and deflection."
"People around the globe have already made their demands clear," the report says. "Meaningful solutions that can be implemented now are already detailed in platforms like the People's Demands for Climate Justice, the Liability Roadmap, the Energy Manifesto, and many other resources that encompass the wisdom of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis."
Sara Shaw, climate justice and energy program co-coordinator at Friends of the Earth International and one of the paper's authors, said that "this report shows that 'net zero' plans from big polluters are nothing more than a big con. The reality is that corporations like Shell have no interest in genuinely acting to solve the climate crisis by reducing their emissions from fossil fuels. They instead plan to continue business as usual while greenwashing their image with tree planting and offsetting schemes that can never ever make up for digging up and burning fossil fuels."
"We must wake up fast to the fact that we are falling for a trick," Shaw added. "'Net zero' risks obscuring a lack of action until it is too late."
Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development — which endorsed the report — warned that "proclamations of 'net zero' targets are dangerous deceptions. 'Net zero' sounds ambitious and visionary but it actually allows big polluters and rich governments to continue emitting [greenhouse gases] which they claim will be erased through unproven and dangerous technologies, carbon trading, and offsets that shift the burden of climate action to the Global South."
"Big polluters and rich governments should not only reduce emissions to Real Zero, they must pay reparations for the huge climate debt owed to the Global South," added Nacpil.
In conclusion, the report says world leaders must "listen to the people and once and for all prioritize people's lives and the planet over engines of profit and destruction."
"To avoid social and planetary collapse," it states, "they must heed the calls of millions of people around the globe and pursue policies that justly, equitably transition our economies off of fossil fuels, and advance real solutions that prioritize life — now."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
In its latest environmental commitment, New Zealand has announced a ban on the majority of single-use plastics by 2025.
The new measure builds on the country's 2019 decision to phase-out plastic bags and includes everything from disposable cutlery to ear buds and fruit labels, The Guardian reported.
"These types of plastics often end up as waste in landfills and cause pollution in our soils, waterways and the ocean. Reducing plastic waste will improve our environment and ensure we live up to our clean, green reputation," Environment Minister David Parker said in a statement reported by TVNZ on Sunday.
New Zealand has made a name for itself as an environmentally-conscious country in recent years. It has banned new oil and gas exploration off its coast and passed a bill pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. However, when it comes to waste, the country still has work to do. It is within the top ten worldwide for the amount of landfill waste it produces per capita, according to The Guardian.
"Every day, New Zealanders throw away an estimated 159g of plastic waste per person, making us some of the highest waste generators in the world," Parker said, as The Guardian reported.
The new ban will come in three phases between late 2022 and July of 2025, according to Stuff. The plastics targeted by the ban include polystyrene and PVC food and drink packaging that is difficult to recycle. Items like food stirrers, plastic straws, cotton buds and plastic plates and cutlery will also be phased out.
Plastic cups, wet wipes and certain types of polystyrene used to transport cold goods will not be included in the ban for now, but the government will study possible replacements and announce a decision on these items by 2022.
In addition, Parker announced a $50 million Plastics Innovation Fund to find new ways to deal with plastic throughout its lifecycle, from production to disposal.
"The fund will help tap into our collective ingenuity to find ways to use less plastic, and make what we do use recyclable for the benefit of the environment – while also boosting jobs and supporting the economic recovery," Parker said, as TVNZ reported.
The phaseout is part of a campaign promise on the part of New Zealand's Labour Party, Stuff noted, and also part of its cooperation agreement with the Green Party following Labour's 2020 election victory. However, while the Green Party leader was pleased with the new ban, she also thought it did not go far enough.
"Phasing out expanded polystyrene takeaway containers and single use items such as plastic produce bags, cutlery, and tableware by October 2022 is good for people and planet. It helps reduce plastic waste and pollution," Green Party waste spokeswoman Eugenie Sage told Stuff. "But it is disappointing the Government had delayed a decision until mid-2022 on whether to phase-out expanded polystyrene used in packaging for large items and chill boxes, and has not yet acted to phase out so-called 'flushable' wet wipes containing plastic."
Meanwhile, associate professor Terri-Ann Berry, the director of Environmental Solutions Research Centre at Unitec, said one weakness in the measure was that it focused more on consumer than industrial plastic waste. While the former is important, waste from construction and demolition accounts for as much as 50 percent of the waste sent to landfills in New Zealand.
"it's very easy to forget that some of our more commercial sectors are also big plastic users," she told The Guardian.
The majority of all Texas residents live in a deregulated energy market. This means every day, people have the freedom to switch to a different provider in their service area to save money. Competition helps keep prices down, and Texas energy rates are below the national average.
- The average Texas residential electricity bill is 13% lower than the national average.
- The average Texas commercial electricity bill is 4% lower than the national average.
- Texas leads the nation in wind and ranks fifth in the nation for solar electricity generation.
- Texas legislators, however, are actively campaigning against renewable energy solutions.
- Consumers in Texas can use their power of choice to demand smarter energy solutions.
- In this article we'll talk about energy options in your service area and discuss the pros and cons of energy deregulation.
But as we have discussed at EcoWatch, deregulation and a race to the bottom of prices also creates risk. Infrastructure falls into disrepair and when the grid fails, customers and legislators point fingers.
This article is designed to talk about the best energy companies in Texas, show how rates vary across the state, and give you some clarity on how Texas energy works. If you searched for other websites for info about "Texas energy" you probably encountered plenty of properties whose sole aim is to sell your information to an energy company. This is not one of those pages. This is meat to be informative. Our goal is to paint a picture of the landscape and talk in-depth about the green energy plans available in Texas.
Why Trust EcoWatch to Talk About Energy
An energy plan is something you have to have. Lights aren't optional for most people. For more than a decade we have written about the importance of renewables. Lately, through both legislation and media attacks, renewables have come under fire. We want to bring energy choice to the forefront, and center the conversation around renewables.
- Independent journalists. Our team of journalists covers renewable energy, solar power, and electricity rates to help consumers understand the energy landscape.
- Local perspective. We regularly source customer opinions, installation experts for quotes, and state-by-state data to better understand the energy landscape.
- Simple education process. Like all our product-focused content, our mission is to help people buy things they were already going to buy in a way that helps the planet.
What is "energy deregulation" in Texas?
In most states, consumers get their electricity from a local utility company. The Texas energy market is different. In Texas the market is deregulated, meaning people and businesses have the power to shop a marketplace of electricity providers.
Renewable and "green" electricity in Texas
Texas leads the nation in wind energy generation. It's also a top five states for solar power. This means, despite being closely associated with oil, Texas consumers can pick from green energy plans. The hard part is finding specifics on what makes a plan "green."
To find the specifics of your Texas electricity plan, you have to look at your Electricity Facts Label. If your local Texas electricity provider is unclear about their renewable energy sources, try looking at the green energy plans from Rhythm, Gexa Energy, Chariot Energy, and Green Mountain Energy.
Finding the right energy plan in a deregulated market is hard. You have to research each electric provider, their energy rates, and then pass a credit check. The most important things to consider are (1) am I lowering my monthly bill, and (2) am I moving my home toward a more renewable source of power.
Types of electric plans in Texas
You pay the same rate every month, regardless of season or changes in the energy market. A fixed-rate electricity plans may require a contract with an annual commitment. An early termination fee can be charged if you leave the contract early. This plan may be right for you if you don't plan to move for a while.
Variable-rate plans change based on the energy market. If demand goes up, so do your prices. We saw the consequences of variable-rate plans in the recent Texas energy crisis. When demand shot up, so did prices for energy customers.
Green energy plans
A green energy plan will rely on wind, solar, and other renewable resources. This is the plan for you if you want to offset 100 percent of your home or office emissions
Your credit score has an impact on how much you pay—as it's supposed to be a predictor of how likely you are to pay your bills. Prepaid energy plans allow people with poor credit to acquire power on a prepaid basis.
Texas electricity rates chart
Texas deregulated its energy market in 2002. Since then, consumers have been able to shop for the best rate in their area. It has also brought about a steady increase in competition since the marketplace opened. This means more choices and more for consumers to learn about the process of switching providers.
Best Green Energy Plans in Texas
Here's a chart outlining some of the 100% renewable energy plans available in Texas. We're currently sourcing customer reviews for each company plan and will update this page regularly with new information.
|Plan||Term (months)||Rate (¢/kWh)|
|Gexa Saver Deluxe 12||12||6.9|
|Gexa Saver Supreme 12||12||7.3|
|Gexa Saver 12||12||7.8|
|Gexa Saver Save Select 12||12||9.0|
|Gexa Saver Value 12||12||12.1|
|Gexa Saver Freedom 12||12||12.2|
|Gexa Saver Freedom 36||36||12.2|
|Gexa Saver Premium 12||12||13.5|
|Gexa Saver Premium 24||24||13.5|
|Gexa Superb Saver 12||12||14.8|
|Green Mountain Pollution Free e-Plus 12||12||11.1|
|Green Mountain Pollution Free e-Plus 24||24||11.3|
|Lone Star Green 12||12||11.9|
|Lone Star Green 24||24||11.6|
|Lone Star Green 36||36||11.2|
|Rhythm Texas Breeze 12||12||11.3|
|Rhythm Texas Breeze 24||24||10.6|
|Rhythm Texas Breeze 36||36||10.2|
Energy shopping checklist
- Download the Electricity Facts Label before signing any contract to be sure you understand the price you're paying for power; the percent of your power coming from renewable sources; and any fees (like early termination fees) attached to moving or changing your plan.
Texas Electric Companies FAQs
What if I own a business in Texas?
Texas commercial energy rates were the third-lowest in the nation in 2020. Texans who own companies can shop the same electricity market for their best electricity plan. Pricing info is available with each provider. Cheap electricity rates are also available for companies who work off-hours, and may include some free nights.
Is there a cheap energy rate in my area?
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) tracks average retail electric rates in Texas. The season, your energy usage, and your provider may impact your rate.
When you use the power can also effect your rate. Customers who use power at an off-peak time can get a lower rate.
What is the difference between a Utility and an Energy Provider?
Utilities are in charge of the operation and maintenance of the energy grid. Utilities are focused on the hardware and infrastructure that runs the grid. Texas utilities include Oncor and Centerpoint Energy.
How do I switch energy plans in Texas?
All a consumer has to do is (1) compare Texas electric providers, (2) switch your electric provider using an online service or form, and (3) verify your lower rate and green energy plan details using the Electricity Facts Label before completing the necessary paperwork.
What is Power to Choose Texas?
Power to Choose is the website managed by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). It lists energy plans for consumers to compare. It does not list commercial electricity rates.
How do I find the best Texas energy plan?
Most of the searchable energy rates are attached to a zip code, so you'll need to find the best rate for your area. A Texas energy plan can vary dramatically—so the most important thing is, again, the Energy Facts Label.
You have the power, as a Texan, to push your state toward more renewable energy consumption by switching your home to a green energy plan.
How much can I lower my electric bill?
Find the right plan for your home and lifestyle is key to controlling your energy costs. Electricity companies are competing for customers, which is an advantage for the homeowners.
Deregulation also means there are power outages related to mismanagement and lack of oversight. Every time you look to lower your electric bill, think of the quality of electricity company you are partnering with. How will they impact your wallet, your power supply, and the planet?
What is the best energy provider in Texas?
The top providers in Texas are TXU Energy, Reliant Energy, Direct Energy, and TriEagle Energy.
Electricity companies focused on renewable energy sources and green energy plans include Gexa Energy, Chariot Energy, Green Mountain Energy, and Rhythm.
Gexa Energy is also one of the cheapest electricity providers in the marketplace. They offer a number of affordable electricity plans that are all 100% green.
In Today's Eco Update
- Keystone XL is dead.
- Revived Siberian microorganism.
- The Big Con.
- Record CO2 emissions.
- Dr. Bronner's chocolate.
– summaries below written by Angely Mercado
"The Company will continue to coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe termination of and exit from the Project," the company wrote.
The news was met with jubilation from environmental and Indigenous groups who had spent years battling the project over concerns it would worsen the climate crisis and harm the ecosystems and communities along its route.
24,000-Year-Old Microorganism Revived From Permafrost
Scientists in Russia have revived a bdelloid rotifer — a multicellular microorganism found in wet environments — after the invertebrate spent 24,000 years frozen 11 feet beneath the Siberian permafrost.
According to a study published in Current Biology, research has suggested these tiny creatures can slow their metabolisms down to almost stagnant and survive frozen for up to 10 years. Scientists from the Institute of Physicochemical and Biological Problems in Soil Science found that rotifers can survive for much longer. The 24,000-year-old rotifer was able to reproduce and feed after being thawed.
Report Details Fossil Fuel Industry's Deceptive 'Net Zero' Strategy
A new report published by a trio of progressive advocacy groups unveiled the so called "net zero" climate pledges, which are often touted by corporations and governments as solutions to the climate emergency. The report's authors argued that it's simply a form of greenwashing that should be eschewed in favor of Real Zero policies based on meaningful, near-term commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The report, The Big Con: How Big Polluters Are Advancing a "Net Zero" Climate Agenda to Delay, Deceive, and Deny, was published by Corporate Accountability, the Global Forest Coalition, and Friends of the Earth International, and is endorsed by more than 60 environmental organizations.
CO2 Reaches Its Highest Level in Human History
Last month, EcoWatch reported that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels this year were expected to climb to beyond 2019 levels, despite falling during the pandemic. Two reports released earlier this week detailed that CO2 levels have indeed spiked, and that the annual peak reached 419 parts per million (PPM) in May, the highest level in human history.
Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who published the reports, have tracked atmospheric CO2 for more than 60 years. But using other data, researchers were able to estimate that CO2 levels haven't been this high on Earth in more than 4 million years.
Dr. Bronner's to Launch Vegan, Organic Chocolate Bars
Dr. Bronner's, a popular natural soap brand, is releasing Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate this Aug. 1 and will sell its product online by the fall. The dairy-free chocolate will come in six different flavors: roasted whole hazelnuts, crunchy hazelnut butter, salted whole almonds, salted almond butter, salted dark chocolate and smooth coconut praline. The bars will be made from cocoa grown through regenerative organic practices, and are made with lower-glycemic coconut sugar.
The push to produce chocolate began when Dr. Bronner's learned that the Ghanian farmers who supply its Regenerative Organic Certified Serendipalm also grow cocoa and decided to expand the partnership. The company's farming partners use dynamic agroforestry, a farming method used by Indigenous peoples of Latin America. Dynamic agroforestry creates "forest-like systems with high biomass production," according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Antidepressants are designed to make humans feel better, but they can have a surprising impact on non-human animals when they enter the environment.
That's the take-away of a study published in Ecosphere Tuesday, which tested the impact of antidepressants on crayfish, important players in freshwater ecosystems, and found that they altered the animals' behavior in ways that could threaten their survival.
"Our study is the first to look at how crayfish respond when exposed to antidepressants at levels typically found in the streams and ponds where they live," lead author and University of Florida assistant professor A.J. Reisinger said in a press release.
Antidepressants in the environment change crayfish behavior
To test the impact of common antidepressants on crayfish behavior, the researchers mimicked natural conditions in a lab. In one artificial stream, the water was not treated with any medication. In the other stream, the crayfish were exposed to 500 nanograms per liter of citalopram, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), as National Geographic reported. The scientists observed the two groups over a two-week period and took notes on their behavior.
What they found was that the crayfish exposed to the antidepressants stuck their heads out of their built-in shelters twice as quickly when they smelled food, emerged altogether almost one minute earlier and spent 400 percent more time in the food section of their environment. For crayfish in the wild, such actions could be dangerous.
"This change in behavior could put them at greater risk of being eaten by a predator," study co-author and University of Florida assistant professor Lindsey Reisinger said in the press release.
The antidepressants also changed crayfish behavior in ways that could impact their environment. The exposed crayfish actually increased the amount of algae present in their artificial streams, The Guardian reported.
"We think that's because they are both stirring up a little bit of sediment on the bottom but also they are excreting when they feed on stuff on the bottom of the stream," A. J. Reisinger told The Guardian. "So crayfish are changing kind of where and how many different microbial components of the ecosystem are located."
However, the researchers found that exposing the crayfish to antidepressants did not alter the overall rates of photosynthesis or energy consumption in their ecosystem, potentially because the study period was so short.
The research is not the first to indicate that human medication might alter animal behavior. These medications can end up in waterways by various means, as National Geographic explained. Humans excrete them as urine, wastewater plants aren't designed to filter them and sometimes individuals or companies will pollute the environment directly by washing them down the sink or other improper disposal methods. Once there, SSRIs can decrease anxiety-like behaviors in aquatic animals or make them more aggressive or mobile.
None of this, of course, is an argument against taking necessary medications.
"The answer is not for people to stop using medications prescribed by their doctor. One big way consumers can prevent pharmaceuticals from entering our water bodies is to dispose of medications properly," A.J. Reisinger said in the press release.
This means never flushing them down the drain, taking them to drug take-back events if possible and disposing of them safely in a trash can if not. To do so, remove the medication from its packaging; put it in a sealed container with coffee grounds, cat litter or some other undesirable substance; remove your personal information from the medicine container and put both the empty container and the medicine in the trash.
Plastic Free July lands smack in the middle of vacation season, and this year, my summer plans included leaving North Carolina and driving through four cities in Florida to spend some time in the humidity sun. The challenge was: Could I really carry out a plastic-free road trip?
With a lot of planning and even more improvising, I was able to significantly cut down my waste and successfully avoid single-use plastic throughout the entire journey. Here, I'll share the best tips I learned and a few items to pack if you're embarking on your own plastic-free road trip.
Disclaimer: If you want to take it a step further and have a zero-waste road trip, you may need to adjust some of the following tips.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Plastic-Free Road Trip Food and Drinks
Road trips usually mean a lot of eating en route. Here are a few ways to have plastic-free food and drinks while traveling by car:
Snacks are an essential part of any road trip, but there are few gas-station finds that aren't wrapped in single-use plastic. One of the best ways to avoid this waste is to stock up before you hit the road. Fill up reusable containers with fruits, veggies and dry goods. If you run low, see if the cities you're driving to (or through) have zero-waste shops, farmers markets or stores with bulk bins to refill your containers.
In my experience, you can usually bring your own cup inside a gas station or inside quick-service restaurants for sodas and water. Just tell the cashier how many ounces your cup holds (or offer to pay for the largest-size cup they carry). You can also fill up your reusable water bottle at rest-stop water fountains.
If you need something to help you stay alert on a long drive, many gas stations and convenience stores sell caffeinated sodas, energy drinks and coffees in cans. Don't forget you can bring your own cup to Starbucks as well. If you're striving for even less waste, you can make and bottle your own coffee or cold brew ahead of time and pack it in your cooler.
For meals, dine in at a quick-service restaurant that uses real tableware, like Panera. (Or, to get back on the road right away, order your food for dine-in and carry it out in your own reusable to-go container). You could also opt for a place like Chipotle, which packages many items in foil and other plastic-free containers. Just remember to bring your own silverware and cup or water bottle.
In a pinch, many fast-food chains wrap items like burgers and tacos in biodegradable paper. Subway wrappers, for example, even say "please compost" on them. If you go this route, just ask for no sauce packets/cups, silverware and other small sources of plastic.
If you're packing a cooler, you'll need to keep it cold without buying plastic bags of ice. If you're staying at a hotel, use the ice machine to replenish your supply. If you're staying somewhere else that has a freezer, bring re-freezable ice packs or pack ice trays and freeze them overnight. If you're camping or don't have freezer access, freeze a tub of water and pack strategically, keeping your most perishable items nearest to the tub. A large block of ice will melt much slower than individual cubes.
Avoiding Plastic While Lodging
If you aren't driving through the night, you'll likely be staying at a hotel, campsite or rental home. Use these tips to avoid plastic in each scenario:
One of the biggest culprits of waste in hotels is in-room amenities. From ice bin liners to mini toiletries to coffee bar items, there are a lot of single-use plastics that can be easily avoided. If you leave these items untouched, it's likely the housekeeping staff will keep them out for the next guest. When checking out, make sure to return your key card so it can be passed on as well.
If your hotel has a continental breakfast or other type of buffet, you may be able to find some plastic-free fare. However, the utensils and plates may be disposable. Be sure to bring your own tableware and a cup for coffee or juice.
Food and drinks are often the biggest sources of plastic waste while camping. Sure, a dehydrated backpacking meal is convenient and quick, but you'll be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't come in plastic packaging.
Here are a few alternatives:
- Cook your own meals at home and dehydrate them before the trip, then rehydrate them at camp.
- Cook your own meals at home and freeze them, allowing them to thaw a bit in your cooler before you heat them at camp.
- Plan, pack ingredients and prepare plastic-free meals at camp.
- Stop for a meal before heading to camp for the night.
Staying at an Airbnb or other rental home is the easiest way to cook your own food, as many have kitchen setups and all of the cooking and dining dishes you may need. Some homes may have single-use plastic items like coffee pods or mini toiletries, so make sure you avoid these.
Plastic-Free Packing: Toiletries
From shampoo bars to cardboard-cased deodorant, more and more sustainable toiletry items are becoming widely available. (In fact, I found both of these plastic-free items at Target.) However, toiletries can still be a big source of waste while traveling. Here are a few ideas to avoid the unnecessary plastic:
When packing for a road trip, you'll have at least a trunk's worth of space. While it can be tempting to throw everything from your shower into the car, it's often a better idea to just bring what you need.
For liquids like cleansers, shampoo and conditioner, I used Cadence's leakproof capsules, and they worked like a charm. If you're using other containers and are worried about spillage, instead of using a Ziploc, pop them into a reusable storage pouch like a Stasher bag.
Dental Hygiene Products
If you're like me and refuse the plastic-filled goody bag of travel toothpastes, toothbrushes and flosses at the dentist, you may not have any totable dental hygiene products lying around. This is where bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets and refillable floss containers come into play.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Traveling on your period? There's no better time to make the switch to plastic-free menstrual products. A menstrual cup is one way to go, as it can be worn for up to 12 hours. However, they do require regular washing, which can be difficult in a public restroom. Another option is to pack a few pairs of leakproof period underwear from a company like Proof. These can be washed by hand (which, again, can be difficult in a public bathroom) and hung to dry overnight.
Must-Have Items That Made My Plastic-Free Road Trip Easier
Planning is the key to a successful plastic-free road trip. As you make your packing list, here are a few things I recommend bringing along. Many of these items turned out to be useful in more ways than one, and having each of them in tow, I was more easily able to avoid single-use plastics.
|Item||Why Pack It on Your Plastic-Free Road Trip?||Product I Used|
|Reusable bags||Having a stash of reusable grocery bags can come in handy for everything from restocking your food supply to organizing your vehicle.||BAGGU Reusable Shopping Bag|
|Reusable water bottle||Rather than buying dozens of plastic water bottles, bring your own eco-friendly water bottle and fill it up wherever there is a soda fountain or water fountain.||Hydro Flask Water Bottle|
|Reusable cup||Plastic cups for soft drinks and Styrofoam coffee cups can easily be avoided if you BYOC.||YETI Rambler 20-Ounce Tumbler|
|Reusable cutlery||Whether you prefer metal or bamboo utensils, bringing a fork, knife and spoon (or all-in-one tool) will let you skip single-use plastic cutlery.||Light My Fire Titanium Spork|
|Reusable plates||From food prep to serving, you'll get plenty of use out of the plates you pack.||MSR Alpine Plate|
|Reusable straws||Straws can make it much easier to drink out of a cup while driving. Pack your own reusable straws so you can avoid single-use plastic ones.||Klean Kanteen Steel Straws|
|Reusable containers||Along with using them for packing, bring a few empty reusable plastic or glass containers for storing leftovers or miscellaneous items in your car,||Ball Mason Jars with Lids|
|Car trash bin||It doesn't have to be fancy, but making sure you have a dedicated trash receptacle in your vehicle will help keep your car fresh. Bonus points if you have separate recycling and compost bins as well.||HOTOR Car Trash Can|
|Heavy-duty cooler||When you aren't buying as many items on the go, you'll need to pack more perishables. A well-insulated cooler that can keep ice frozen for days is a saving grace.||RTIC Hard Cooler|
Final Thoughts: Plastic-Free Road Trip
Although a plastic-free road trip is no small feat, it can be done with a little effort. When traveling by car, you're already creating a large amount of pollution through vehicle emissions. Cutting out single-use plastics is a good way to make your vacation a little more eco-friendly.
By Jenny Shalant
If you're new to hometown activism, now is the time to get a few pointers. To start, recognize that no matter how small they seem, local actions matter. Remember the famous words of Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Find Local Allies.
To make real change in your community, you can't go it alone. Does your town have a conservation committee, a sustainability circle, or a friends group that supports the local park? How about a chapter of YIMBY ("Yes in my backyard") or Indivisible? Reach out. Get on the listserv, attend the meetings, learn about the priorities of your fellow concerned citizens, and see where you can lend a hand. These groups can lay the groundwork for big changes in your community and often have a line of communication with elected officials to help advance their mission beyond the neighborhood.
Make Your City a "Climate Sanctuary."
By fighting back against the expansion of fossil fuels at home, you'll help build momentum for a broader national movement. Now that you've joined forces with a local green group (see above), here are some goals to pursue.
- Tackle the food waste stream: According to the U.S. Composting Council, we sent 35 million tons of food waste to landfills in 2018—where it sat around, off-gassing methane. If we composted all that waste, the council says, the impact to our emissions levels would be the same as removing 7.8 million cars from the road. With that big picture in mind, take the first steps by composting at home—it's way easier than you think. Then work with your local green group to conduct workshops for residents. Once the practice starts to gather traction, you can work toward setting up a community composting program. Some cities, like Seattle and Toronto, today run comprehensive, mandatory compost pickup programs that started small but now boast huge waste-diversion stats.
- Switch off dirty energy: Lobby local officials to change your community's default electricity provider to one that uses renewable power resources, like solar, wind, low-impact hydroelectric, or geothermal. It's likely that green energy can save your town money, too. Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina expect to save $2 million in electricity costs with the development of a new large-scale solar project. You can help your town cut energy consumption on Main Street as well. Advocate for LED-powered streetlights (New York State provides a handy how-to guide), a "curfew" for commercial lighting through a dark-sky ordinance (as several Colorado cities have done), and energy-efficient appliances in municipal buildings.
- Conserve water: Climate change is expected to shrink freshwater supplies and bring water shortages to one-third of all counties in the continental United States. But there's plenty you can do to keep your city from contributing to the billions of gallons of water our country wastes daily as a result of leaky pipes, inefficient fixtures, and thirsty landscaping. By making a few changes, such as installing efficient toilets and sink faucets, you can save 11,000 gallons of water per year in your own home. Imagine what the impact would be if your entire neighborhood did the same. For inspiration, consider the city of Los Angeles, a leader in sustainable water management. Thanks to its comprehensive efficiency measures (as well as its water treatment and stormwater capture systems), it has kept its water usage on par with the levels Angelenos consumed in the 1970s. That's a pretty big deal considering that the city's population has grown by more than a million since that time.
Protect Your Local Ecosystems.
In addition to pushing the federal government to strengthen the laws that protect the air you breathe, water you drink, and ecosystems we all rely on, you can organize efforts at home to protect the local environment. Convene a cleanup of a nearby waterway or a vine lop effort to beat back invasive plants taking over your town woods—a threat that has increased with climate change. Advocate for town ordinances that prevent pesticide use in parks or on lawns, or organize a tree-planting project. Over the course of eight years, 50,000 citizens contributed to planting and caring for one million trees in New York City as part of a project that has become a greening model for metropolises around the globe.
Get to Know Your Elected Officials.
Your members of Congress are supposed to give your community a voice in the national agenda. Set a calendar reminder to call their offices regularly to continue pressing on the issues of most concern to you. Follow them on social media, and engage with their posts. Organize a postcard-writing campaign with your neighbors. The louder you are, the more likely they will be to hear you.
Reposted with permission from NRDC.
By David Coman-Hidy
The actions of the U.S. meat industry throughout the pandemic have brought to light the true corruption and waste that are inherent within our food system. Despite a new wave of rising COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently submitted a proposal to further increase "the maximum slaughter line speed by 25 percent," which was already far too fast and highly dangerous. It has been made evident that the industry will exploit its workers and animals all to boost its profit.
The revelations continued when Tyson Foods, the world's second-largest producer of chicken, beef and pork, cooperated with the Department of Justice to avoid scrutiny into the company's role in the monopolization of the industry to fix prices of chicken for both consumers and retailers. This news comes at a time when Tyson has already been under fire for exposing its workers to an enormous risk of contracting COVID-19. We can now add competitors and consumers to the ever-growing list of those victimized by the corporate giant. This is further evidence that it's time for our nation's food supply chain to change in a big way.
Tyson Foods former CEO Noel White, replaced by Dean Banks in October, rushed to cooperate under the Department of Justice's antitrust leniency program, stating, "I am proud to lead a company that took appropriate and immediate actions in reporting the wrongdoing we discovered to the Department of Justice." What White failed to mention is that cooperating will afford Tyson protection from public scrutiny and legal fines, at the expense of its competitors.
Unethical business practices seem to be the norm for Tyson Foods. Due to a lack of proper safety measures and harsh attendance policies, more than 10,000 Tyson plant workers tested positive for the virus, substantially more than any other U.S. meat company. Before the pandemic, working on a meat processing line was one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Now, with the constant threat of COVID-19 looming over these elbow-to-elbow assembly lines, meat processing may be among the most deadly jobs in the world. Workers are not just getting sick from this virus—they're dying.
The pandemic has led to major disruptions in the supply chain. While Tyson has not yet engaged in the mass "depopulation" of animals that other producers resorted to, in a typical week, the company slaughters an estimated 37 million chickens. The poor treatment of the chickens within its supply chain—including breeding birds to grow at such an unnaturally fast rate that they can't even hold up their own bodies—has made Tyson the target of public campaigns urging the company to make meaningful changes.
More than 120 labor, food justice, animal welfare and environmental organizations have banded together to take action against the company. Tyson must take immediate action to protect the safety and well-being of its workers, make improvements to support animal welfare and reduce its harsh impact on the environment.
For too long, the unethical, avaricious practices of the meat industry have been hidden from view. The scandals surrounding Tyson and other major producers are making clear that vulnerable workers, abused animals and a rigged system are the foundation of an unethical and destructive business model.
Tyson had a role in creating the industrialized system, and it must step up its role in fixing it. The meat giant has had one singular focus since its inception: profit. The company's greed has caused it to exploit anyone in its path. Tyson's disregard for human and animal life extends to its workers, animals killed in its plants, consumers and now its competitors. Tyson took ownership for rigging the system using price-fixing. It's time for Tyson to take ownership for exploiting and endangering its more vulnerable victims as well.
Sign the petition urging Tyson to stop neglecting workers, animals and public health.
Sign the petition urging the U.S. chicken meat industry to end the cruel practice of boiling birds alive.
David Coman-Hidy is president of The Humane League, a global nonprofit working to fix our broken food system and end the abuse of animals raised for food.
For those looking for a quick and convenient way to eat delicious, hearty meals with little to no hassle, there are plenty of meal kit delivery services to choose from. But out of all of the brands available, which is the best meal delivery service for the environment? We review the top eco-friendly meal kit services and discuss what makes a meal delivery service sustainable.
We've all seen the overwhelming number of meal kits promoted online, but many consumers are left wondering if these delivery services are really worth the purchase. Despite all the hype, these programs can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including their environmental impact, which you can read more about below our reviews.
Each kit comes with pre-portioned packets of produce, meat, or fish if requested, and all of the spices and seasonings you need to complete a chef-inspired dish at home. We've reviewed several leading meal kit delivery brands like Sunbasket, Freshly, and Purple Carrot, plus the best vegetarian meal delivery services, that promote their eco-friendly approach. Here is our list of the best eco-friendly meal delivery services.
Our Picks for the Top Eco-Friendly Meal Kits
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Sunbasket
- Best Plant-Based - Purple Carrot
- Best Keto & Paleo - Snap Kitchen
- Best "No-Cooking" - Splendid Spoon
- Best for Giving Back - Everytable
- Best for Snacks - Nature Box
- Best for Desserts - Love + Chew
How We Reviewed Each Meal Delivery Service
To create our list, we looked at each meal kit delivery service based on their food options, ingredient sourcing, packaging, and customer reviews to find the services we think are best for the conscious consumer.
- Dietary options - For the actual meals we considered both the quality and variety of the recipes and whether they offered vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.
- Ingredients - We then examined how they sourced their ingredients, whether they were organic, non-GMO, and locally grown. We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project, and the Marine Stewardship Council.
- Packaging - An important component of our review was also the packaging for each meal, how much was recyclable or biodegradable, and whether the brand used recycled materials in their packaging.
- Customer reviews - Finally, we looked at customer reviews to see what users liked or didn't like about each service.
The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Meal Kit Services
Prices shown are starting price per serving/meal unless otherwise noted.
Best Overall: Sunbasket
Sunbasket is our favorite organic meal kit brand. Sun Basket delivers a box of 100% organic produce, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, and farm-fresh eggs. Their approach to sourcing wild seafood was named Best Choice or Good Alternative by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® Program.
Why buy: Sun Basket aims to support farmers who push for sustainable water management and crop rotations, as well as ranchers and fisherman who treat the planet with respect. Read our full Sunbasket review to learn more about the brand's sustainability efforts.
Best Plant-Based: Purple Carrot
Purple Carrot offers all plant-based meal kits in a variety of tasty menu items. There's even a black bean burger if you want to prepare the vegan-skeptic member of your family a familiar plate. They make eating more plant-based meals easy and delicious.
Why buy: Purple Carrot meal kits, in many ways, support the idea that many small, smart choices can add up to a big impact. According to researchers, you could cut the carbon footprint of your diet by 60% by eating plant-based meals for two-thirds of your diet.
Best for Keto & Paleo: Snap Kitchen
Snap Kitchen is all about delivering clean, delicious, and sustainably-sourced meals that are ready to eat at affordable prices. They craft a variety of keto-friendly, paleo, low-carb, and Whole 30 meals that make it easy for people with busy schedules to eat healthier.
Why buy: We like that Snap Kitchen offers so many different dietary options for their prepared meals. Plus, their food is always free from hormones, preservatives, antibiotics, gluten, and artificial sweeteners.
Best "No Cooking": Splendid Spoon
Splendid Spoon offers plant-based smoothies, grain bowls, soups, and noodle bowls that are ready-to-eat and made with real ingredients. Their smoothies are a great option for when you are on the go, and the grain bowls, soups, and noodle dishes can help you add hearty, plant-based meals to your routine.
Why buy: We love that Splendid Spoon offers so many different plant-based meal options, especially for those who don't like to cook. Plus, they have a real commitment to sustainability, and their packaging is 100% recyclable.
Best for Giving Back: Everytable
Everytable is a meal delivery service with a purpose. Their goal is to help make nutritious, delicious, chef-prepared meals available to everyone in order to help build a more just food system. They offer a huge variety of hot plates, salads, wraps, snacks, breakfast foods, and more.
Why buy: We love that Everytable is committed to making good food available to underserved communities at fast food prices. These ready-to-eat meals offer a delicious way to do good in the community. The only drawback is that they are only available in Los Angeles at the moment.
Best for Snacks: NatureBox
NatureBox is all about creating healthier snack options that taste great and are actually good for you. Their snacks are made without high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, and contain less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. You can order specific snack products or get boxes that contain a variety of delicious snack options.
Why buy: We like NatureBox because they make it easy to enjoy healthier snacks at home or at the office. Choose from foods like popcorn, cookies, dried fruit, chips, crackers, nuts, jerky, and breakfast items like oatmeals. The price shown is for one box.
Best for Desserts: Love + Chew
The superfood cookies from Love + Chew are so much more than a sweet treat. They include 7 grams of protein and are made with clean label ingredients like almonds, real fruit, chia seeds, Fair Trade dark chocolate chips, and sea salt. Enjoy eating a dessert that's good for you with these vegan and gluten-free super cookies.
Why buy: We love that Love + Chew superfood cookies pack so much good stuff into each delicious cookie. You can join the Cookie Club to get regular deliveries of your favorites. The brand is also AAPI/Women-owned and donates a portion of all profits to Oasis for Girls, a San Francisco-based nonprofit for young girls. The price shown is for one box.
Are Meal Kits Really Sustainable?
Whether meal kits are really sustainable depends on how you define sustainability. While they produce more waste, they have lower greenhouse gas emissions and result in less food waste compared to grocery store meals.
Both a 2017 study out of the University of Texas at Austin and a 2019 study published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling found that meal kits are more sustainable than purchasing ingredients from a grocery store for the following reasons:
- On average, meal kits produce 33% lower greenhouse gas emissions than grocery store meals.
- The pre-portioned ingredients in meal kits lead to less food loss and waste.
- Meal kits have lower last-mile transportation emissions than grocery store meals.
- The ice packs used in meal kit packages present an average emissions decrease versus retail refrigeration.
Now, if you plan your meals out each week, use all of the ingredients you intend to, compost what you don't use, and buy locally from a farmers market or other community shop, meal kits will likely be a step backward in terms of your food-related sustainability.
The studies also mentioned that meal kits produce more packaging waste than grocery store meals — UT Austin estimated an average of 3.7 more pounds of packaging material per meal. Because meal kits come in cardboard boxes and ship ingredients in small packages (for example, if you need a tablespoon of pine nuts for your recipe, they'll likely come pre-portioned a small plastic sleeve), there's much more plastic waste produced. One study found that "disposable packaging can represent over 50% of per-meal energy use for meal-kits."
Some of these items can be repurposed, such as the tiny glass jars that spices and condiments come in, which can be used for travel, crafting, or storing small objects. Others can be washed and recycled, depending on your local recycling guidelines. But most of the waste will end up in a landfill.
So, it's up to you whether you think the pros of lower carbon emissions outweigh the cons of more plastic waste.
Getting Started with a Meal Delivery Service
With so much variety, selecting a meal delivery service can turn into a stressful endeavor. Additionally, brands like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Daily Harvest are options that might try to win you over, but they may not have as sustainable methods as some of the options listed above.
Although, the sheer number of meal kit options can also work to your advantage. These companies are competing for customers and often offer sign-up specials and discounts to get you started. When shopping for a subscription service, try multiple options, and take advantage of these deals. With many programs, you have the freedom to change or cancel your subscription, so you can try a few different options to find one that fits your taste and your budget. We also recommend that you compare your per-meal cost to what you might spend on dinners at the grocery store to maximize your savings.
If you give one of these meal kits a try, let us know what you think. We'll update this list regularly as we get feedback from readers and add additional sustainability notes as we dive deeper into new services.
Melena Gurganus is passionate health and wellness and her writing aims to help others find products they can trust. Her work has been featured in publications such as Health, Shape, Huffington Post, Cannabis Business Times, and Bustle.
- A Sustainable Meal Kit: Our Take On Sun Basket - EcoWatch ›
- Purple Carrot Eco-Friendly Plant-Based Meal Kit Review - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Best Vegetarian Meal Kits and Why You Should Try Them - EcoWatch ›
- Are Meal Kits Better or Worse for the Environment? - EcoWatch ›
- Best Produce Delivery Services for Fresh Veggies and Fruits ›
- 44% of Ocean Plastics Are Linked to Takeout Food ›
- Could ‘Upcycling’ Turn Food Waste Into Your Next Meal? ›
- 10 Best Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas Plus The Best Brands ›
- 9 Ways to Be an Eco-Friendlier Grocery Shopper ›
When hunger strikes, it's best to assume you're going to eat whatever is in easy reach. That's a good thing if you've planned ahead with healthy snack options but can spell disaster for your health goals if you only have junk food around. And this can be especially hard if you follow a vegetarian diet.
Thankfully, it's easier than you might think to ensure that you have lots of healthy vegetarian snack options around. With things like eco-friendly meal kit delivery services and plant-based protein powders, there are so many great choices out there. Here are our choices for the ten best snacks for vegetarians to stave off hunger and our recommendations of the best brands with healthy snacks made from real food.
How to Choose the Best Vegetarian Snacks
When choosing the best healthy vegetarian snacks and vegetarian meal delivery services, we looked at four criteria to see which options topped the list.
- What's the protein content? This essential macronutrient helps you feel full. Too little protein in your snack, and you'll be reaching for something else soon after finishing it. Alongside vegetarian snack protein content, you may need to add things like a vitamin subscription service to help get all of the essential nutrients you need.
- Is it portable? Hunger rarely strikes at convenient times. The best vegetarian snacks should be easy to transport so you can consume them on the go. In addition to produce delivery services for fresh fruits and veggies, you can now get pre-made vegetarian snacks delivered to enjoy on-the-go.
- Does it mimic meat? You may be avoiding animal products for health or ethical reasons but still love their taste. Snacks designed to mimic meaty flavors may be appealing.
- What are the added ingredients? Sometimes manufacturers compensate for missing animal products by pumping in sweeteners and other unhealthy additives. You aren't doing any favors for your health by filling up on simple carbs or added sugar.
Our Top Healthy Vegetarian Snack Brands
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Check out our full review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Sweet Treat - Love + Chew Protein Cookies
- Best Vegan Protein - Sunwarrior Plant-Based Protein
- Best for Fresh Veggies - Purple Carrot
- Best for Smoothies - Splendid Spoon
- Best for Salty Snacks - Nature Box
Top 10 Best Healthy Snacks for Vegetarians
1.) Protein Cookies
For those who prioritize convenience, plant-based protein cookies can offer a sweet snack that's 100% gluten-free and made with nutritious ingredients. Almonds and almond butter typically make up each cookie's base, with different types of gluten-free flour added. These can be a great vegan or keto-friendly option for satisfying your sweet tooth.
2.) Roasted Edamame and Chickpeas
If you're craving something salty, it's hard to beat dry roasted beans. Both chickpeas and edamame (soybeans harvested before peak ripeness) are loaded with protein and beneficial fiber. Edamame contains up to 18 grams of protein per one-cup serving, while chickpeas offer almost twice this protein content at 39 grams for the same serving size.
You can easily transform fresh or canned beans into this savory snack. Simply rinse the beans and pat them dry before tossing them with olive oil. Roast them at 400°F for around 30 minutes, or until dried and crispy. Sprinkle with your choice of toppings—parmesan, cayenne pepper, paprika, and even cinnamon are all popular.
3.) Homemade Energy Balls
Skip the granola bars that are candy in disguise and snack on homemade no-bake energy balls instead. There are no rules regarding how you can customize their ingredients, so homemade energy balls are among the best vegetarian snacks available for those who can be creative.
Recipes abound online for making your own, but the general steps are simple. Choose an assortment of nuts and dried fruits (with a few cacao nibs tosses in for chocolate lovers), add everything to a food processor, and pulse until smooth. If you've got the ratio right, the mixture should clump together and easily roll into balls. Set each ball on a cookie tray and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before enjoying or storing in freezer-safe containers.
4.) Air-Popped Popcorn
It's hard to beat popcorn if you're looking for a snack that's light on calories. This nutritious whole grain contains impressive amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and manganese—minerals that aid digestion and energy production.
Using an air popper is preferred, as they don't require added oil. Think beyond salt and butter by seasoning your kernels with paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, or an herbal blend. If you're craving cheese, add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast. At less than 100 calories per two cups, popcorn is filling without being fattening and offers a blank canvas for your favorite flavorings. It's one of the best vegetarian snacks for mindless eating without consequence.
5.) Hard-Boiled Eggs
Eggs deserve more attention after breakfast time, as they offer one of the best snacks for vegetarians any time of day. Research shows that eating eggs improves cholesterol levels and boosts satiety to support weight loss.
Each egg gives you 75 calories and seven grams of protein to stave off hunger, as well as a mix of selenium, vitamin A, and crucial B vitamins. Prep them at the beginning of the week, and you'll have a high-protein finger food available at a moment's notice that comes in its own packaging.
6.) Green Smoothies
Eating a salad takes time, but the right green smoothie can offer similar amounts of nutrients in a more portable package. Making homemade green smoothies provides a quick and convenient way to fit in more daily servings of vegetables and can be bulked up with vegetarian protein powders to keep you feeling full. Consider blending one big batch at the start of the week so you can start each day with a smoothie.
Green smoothies offer concentrated servings of leafy greens and other superfoods, and they can be customized to your preferences. It's best to avoid the temptation of buying premade drinks with added sugar or using sweetened ingredients like flavored yogurts to ensure the drink stays healthy.
7.) Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Stay full while satisfying that sweet tooth with Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit. This slightly thicker take on the traditional form of dairy gives it a rich texture that's well suited for a midday pick-me-up. One cup of Greek yogurt contains 25 grams of protein. It makes for a nutritious substitute for fattier forms of dairy (like sour cream) and tends to be easier on the digestive system for those who are lactose intolerant.
Skip the flavored tubs that can contain over 15 grams of added sugars and opt for unflavored varieties that you top with berries or chopped bananas for a boost of fiber and antioxidants. Craving something sweeter? Make your yogurt a dessert substitute by drizzling it with honey or maple syrup.
8.) Homemade "Chicken" Salad
Look no further for a healthy vegetarian lunch option than a chickpea "chicken" salad. This recipe combines chickpeas, grapes, celery, mayo (choose vegan if desired), and more a sandwich spread that's just as tasty served with crackers or as a salad topper. It's so filling and flavorful even meat-lovers will be a fan.
This vegetarian-friendly salad mixes up quickly and requires little more than opening a can of chickpeas. It's a great way to change things up at lunchtime if you're tired of hummus and mimics one of the world's most popular chicken dishes.
9.) Mushroom Jerky
Stave off hunger and satisfy your inner carnivore while remaining meat-free with mushroom jerky. Many brands now carry this vegan snack, which consists of dried mushrooms (most often shiitake) flavored with seasonings like soy sauce, teriyaki, applewood BBQ, and more to pull out its distinctive umami flavoring. This is a tasty way to get many of the same nutritional benefits found in mushroom supplements.
Mushroom jerky offers premium flavor options and meaty texture without the use of animal products. Pack some for a day outdoors, and you won't miss the meat. Keep the jerky on hand for whenever you get hangry, and it's a healthy vegetarian snack even meat-lovers will reach for.
10.) Baba Ganoush
Take a healthier turn with your chip dip than a creamy ranch spread by whipping up a batch of baba ganoush instead. This classic Middle Eastern dish is made with roasted eggplant and can be used just like hummus for dipping fresh vegetables and pita chips. Keep some in the fridge for a portable side dish that adds pizzazz to snack time.
Baba ganoush is low-calorie and versatile enough for a variety of dishes. It makes for a refreshing dip you can serve with dinner or pack in Tupperware to snack on anywhere.
The Best Healthy Vegetarian Snack Brands
Ready to restock your pantry with some of these exciting vegetarian snack ideas? Here are the top five brands we recommend for vegetarian snacks and meals.
Best Sweet Treat: Love + Chew Protein Cookies
Each of Love + Chew's four cookie flavors (banana bread, mocha chip, cherry almond, and chocolate chia) contains between 250-280 calories, with seven grams of protein. For extra convenience, you can subscribe for automatic delivery every two to eight weeks and get 15% off each order.
Why buy: These cookies are sweet enough to satisfy cravings without relying on refined sugars—plus, they contain enough protein to keep you from snacking again soon after. We love that they are certified vegan, paleo-friendly, and individually wrapped for extra portability.
Best Vegan Protein: Sunwarrior Plant-Based Proteinsunwarrior.com
Plant-based protein powders make it easy to mix up a delicious smoothie or shake that can sustain you between meals. Sunwarrior Organic Warrior Blend is a plant-based protein powder made from pea protein, hemp protein, goji berries, and coconut MCT oil.
Why buy: We love that Sunwarrior Organic Warrior Blend protein comes in so many different flavors, including mocha, vanilla, chocolate, and berry. It's also USDA organic and vegan.
Best for Fresh Veggies: Purple Carrot
Looking for a way to add more fresh fruits and veggies to your day? Purple Carrot makes it easy to cook healthy plant-based meals and snacks with their meal kit delivery service. Sign up for the subscription option that works for you to have all of the fresh ingredients and recipes delivered right to your door.
Why buy: We love that Purple Carrot makes it so simple to discover new plant-based meal options. You can learn new recipes and discover favorite new veggies and fruits with each delivery.
Best for Smoothies: Splendid Spoon
Splendid Spoon offers a wide variety of plant-based, vegan, and ready-to-eat smoothies, noodle bowls, soups, and more. Their low-sugar smoothie options make it easy to fuel up with something good when you're on-the-go, and work great as a meal-replacement option.
Why buy: We recommend Splendid Spoon because they offer lots of plant-based snacks and meals that are ready made and full of real ingredients. Their smoothies are made with things like pea protein, real fruit, and real veggies for a filling vegetarian option.
Best for Salty Snacks: Nature Boxnaturebox.com
Nature Box offers healthy and unique snack boxes for all kinds of eaters. You can select snack options for vegan, paleo, keto, gluten-free, and low-carb diets. Some of their vegetarian snack options include plantain chips, lentil loops, kettle corn, dried fruits, and more.
Why buy: Nature Box is a great option for those who enjoy salty or savory snacks. You can customize your snack box to include your favorite combinations of vegan snack mixes, dried fruits, granola bars, and lentil loops, which make a great replacement for potato chips.
Why Eat Healthy Vegetarian Snacks?
There are many compelling reasons to eat less meat.
To start, it's better for the environment. The livestock industry accounts for almost 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions today and consumes copious amounts of the planet's natural resources. For example, it takes over 1,200 gallons of water to produce a single 8-oz steak, compared to just 60 gallons for the same amount of tofu.
Second, a meat-free diet is excellent for your health. Research shows that going vegetarian leads to a decreased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and many forms of cancer. Those who follow a plant-based diet are more likely to have a BMI in the healthy range and to avoid dying from any cause. In fact, replacing just 2 percent of calories from animal proteins with plant foods is associated with a 32% lower risk of death.
However, following a vegetarian diet alone can't ensure you're making healthy choices. It's possible to be meat-free but consume nothing but simple carbs and soft drinks all day—hardly the blueprint for a healthy lifestyle.
Making smart food choices requires you to fill your diet with the best vegetarian snacks that are filling, nutrient-dense, and able to satisfy your craving, so you don't double back for less healthy fare. Here's our advice for how to choose the best snacks for vegetarians to ensure you make healthy choices when you're hungry.
Eating well doesn't need to feel overwhelming. It's easier than ever to find healthy vegetarian snacks that satisfy cravings while keeping you full so you don't indulge in less healthy foods later.
Plan ahead to ensure you have some of the best snacks for vegetarians on hand, and you'll always have access to what's necessary to make smart eating choices.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
- 8 High-Protein Vegan Snacks You Can Take With You Anywhere ... ›
- 10 Healthy Vegan Protein Bars - EcoWatch ›
- 6 Best Vegetarian Meal Kits and Why You Should Try Them ... ›
- 7 Best Eco-Friendly Meal Kit Delivery Services of 2021 - EcoWatch ›
- 7 Best Plant-Based Meal Replacement Powders of 2021 Reviewed ›
Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.
The Massachusetts senator, said advocacy group Friends of the Earth, is "leading the way."
BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren has signed our #NoBigAgMoney pledge! 77% of Iowa Democratic caucus goers want candidate… https://t.co/A0VudN01tO— Friends of the Earth (@Friends of the Earth)1579706562.0
"We applaud Sen. Warren for listening to voters that overwhelmingly support candidates rejecting Big Ag's money and influence," said Lisa Archer, food and agriculture director for Friends of the Earth Action. "We urge all presidential candidates to take the No Big Ag Money pledge and prioritize our families, farmers, food chain workers, our planet, and our democracy over Big Ag's profits."
The "No Big Ag Money Pledge" was launched last week. It states (pdf):
I pledge not to take contributions over $200 from large food and agribusiness corporation executives, lobbyists, and PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, farmers, food chain workers, our planet, and our democracy.
The document lists dozens of companies that fall under that category, including giants Bayer, Caterpillar, Tyson, General Mils, and Sodexo. Rejecting cash from those entities, says the coalition behind the pledge, would show that presidential candidates won't favor the interests of factory farms over those of family farms.
If the opinion of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa serve as a guide, candidates would be wise to sign on to the plege.
According to a poll (pdf) out earlier this month — commissioned to the Friends of the Earth Action and conducted by Lake Research Partners — 77 percent of these likely caucus-goers agree that presidential candidates should reject campaign contributions from Big Ag. Sixty-four percent also said they support breaking up the biggest food and agriculture corporations — a proposal backed by Warren and Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Make no mistake, Big Ag wields significant power. As Friends of the Earth outlined in a statement last week,
Currently in the United States, four corporations (many of them foreign owned) control 84 percent of the market for beef, 70 percent of the market for soy, 66 percent of the market for hogs, 80 percent of the market for corn, 59 percent of the market for poultry, 84 percent of the market for pesticides, and 60 percent of the market for seeds.
The food and family farms groups say that campaigns not accepting contributions from these interests would be a step towards neutering their political influence.
"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of Citizens Regeneration Lobby. "It's time to stop agribusiness monopolies from using campaign cash and lobbying dollars to put a stranglehold on federal food and farm policy."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
Although it's convenient, single-waste plastic is plaguing our planet. Thankfully, some people are looking to reduce their plastic consumption. If you're one of them, you may face a crossroads with the complicated plastic razor.
Though not categorized as "single-use," billions of plastic razors end up in landfills each year. Razors are sharp objects that can't be recycled because they're made from mixed materials. A standard disposable plastic razor is good for three to 10 shaves before it gets blunt, and clogged — then off to the landfill, it goes. Additionally, constantly purchasing new razors means more waste created from plastic and cardboard packaging.
Around 2 billion pounds of disposable razors were trashed in America in the 1990s.
Still, the product is a part of many people's grooming routine, putting the razors in a cycle of buy, use, throw away, repeat — each razor unrecyclable.
Recycling Razors: The Exception
Though generally unrecyclable, there are a few exceptions when it comes to razors. However, the few options available aren't widely used or accessible.
BIC, a French, mainstream razor company, started an unsuccessful recycling program a few years ago in France.
In the U.S., Gillette attempted a similar idea in partnership with Terracycle, an organization that helps with odd and hard-to-recycle waste. However, the program can be impractical, since as of 2019 there were only 200 recycling centers. And, for those who don't live near a recycling drop-off, if you choose to mail Terreacycle your old razors, the shipping cost is on you.
"In order to send it through your curbside or municipal recycling program, the logistics and processing of the razors is actually more than the value of the material for the processing facilities," Darby Hoover, senior resource specialist of food and agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said to HuffPost. "They can't make a profit from it, so it's deemed non-recyclable."
With limited recycling options, it can be helpful to look for alternatives to the standard, plastic disposable razor.
Looking into sustainable alternatives, such as metal, brass, and bamboo razors can help minimize the amount of plastic ending up in landfills.
A typically metal alternative called a safety razor, or a double-edged razor, is a good option for those who want to ditch their plastic razors. It uses a double-edged blade so the razor is versatile and can be used on both sides. Most safety razors are made from either brass or stainless steel.
Safety razors, once you get the hang of it, are relatively easy to use. They offer a closer shave than disposable razors and are easier on the skin.
The only part of a safety razor that needs to be disposed of is the blade. Many people who routinely use safety razors keep their used blades in a jar or "bank" to take to scrap recycling plants later.
Each part of the country has its own policies when it comes to recycling. Be sure to check where certain materials are accepted in your area.
If you're nervous about making the switch to a heavy-duty razor, there are other alternatives to plastic razors. There are razors that shave just like your disposable one, but they're made from recycled plastic. Preserve makes a good eco-friendly razor, for a reasonable price. Preserve will also take back your used razor handle for proper recycling, according to HuffPost. Gillette sells a reusable razor made from recycled bottles, and the packaging is also made from 85% recycled plastic.
There are other razors made from recycled or biodegradable materials other than plastic.
If you're not into safety razors and prefer a multi-bladed razor that'll last you a long time, there are metal razors that will do the same thing as your disposable razor, without the waste.
The Leaf Shave makes a kit with a three-blade razor for those looking to change their shaving routine to be zero-waste.
Eco-Friendly Disposable Razors
For those who don't want to part with their disposable razors, Ak Hippy Chic makes an eco-friendly, disposable razor. This product is better for Earth than your plastic one, because it's made from a wheat straw handle, and shaves with stainless steel blades.
"I think we have to look at that as part of the overall culture and crisis of disposable plastic items. We keep making more and more things from plastic, which is a nonrenewable fossil fuel-derived material, and then we keep using these things once and throwing them in a landfill," Hoover said. "It's ludicrous and outdated at this point to continue to use this nonrenewable fossil fuel-derived material to make products that are used once and thrown away."
In general, being more aware of your consumption, and limiting and substituting products, like your razor, when you can, can make a big difference.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
- Did You Know There's Plastic in Most Chewing Gum? - EcoWatch ›
- Ocean Plastic: What You Need to Know - EcoWatch ›
By Isabela Martel
When British environmental geochemist Jon Hawkings arrived in Greenland for the first time in 2012, he was impressed.
"It's mind-blowing: You look onto the horizon and it's just ice and it goes on for 150, 200 kilometers at least."
He went to the Arctic with a group of international scientists. Their goal was to investigate the relationship between nutrients entering coastal ecosystems from glacial meltwater. But the group's research took an unexpected turn.
The scientists analyzed samples from meltwater rivers and fjords and found concentrations of dissolved mercury among the highest ever recorded.
Like Contaminated Rivers in China
Despite it being a pristine and remote environment, with no industrial activity or apparent source of pollution, runoff water coming from three different glaciers in southwest Greenland contains as much mercury as water in far more industrialized areas.
"Mercury concentrations this high would usually only be seen in quite contaminated systems. We compare it to contaminated rivers in China, because that's where similar kinds of concentrations have been found before," Hawkings, who is the lead author of the study published in Nature Geoscience, told DW.
Normal amounts of dissolved mercury in rivers are around 1 to 10 nanograms per liter (ng L-1 ). According to Hawkings, that is comparable to "a grain of sand in an Olympic size swimming pool." But in the water samples from southwest Greenland, the researchers found values of 150 ng L-1, far higher than average.
Unlike what is seen in China, the evidence indicates that the mercury in Greenland originates from natural geological sources in the ice sheet bed.
The findings were a surprise. Back in 2012, the scientists casually took water samples to test for mercury. Their intention was "to get an idea of what mercury concentrations were in the meltwaters, just because we could measure it," Hawkings recalled. That was when they came across high concentrations for the first time. At that point, however, the data was limited, as it was a pilot study.
When the group went back to Greenland in 2015 they decided to investigate a little more in detail, and again obtained similar results. Three years later, in 2018, they returned to the same region once more. The results confirmed what was first observed in 2012 and 2015.
"I just didn't quite believe it! Because the numbers were so high, it was so unexpected," Hawkings said. "As a scientist, there was an element of excitement, of finding something new that nobody else had looked at before. But also concern."
The group of researchers camped in front of the Leverett Glacier, where they collected some of the samples.
Why Is Mercury an Issue?
Mercury (chemical symbol: Hg) is a toxic heavy metal that occurs naturally in air, water, and soil ― through volcanic eruptions, for example. Its presence, however, is amplified through pollution caused by human activity. Coal power plants and gold mining, for instance, are responsible for much of the mercury released into the environment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies mercury as one of the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern. Exposure to it, even in small quantities, can lead to numerous health problems including toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as in organs such as lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
Consumption of seafood is one of the main reasons for overexposure to mercury. The element accumulates in organisms and enters the aquatic food chain as methylmercury, which is its most toxic and concerning form.
The concerns about mercury's consequences for the environment and its effects on humans are so significant that in 2013, governments agreed to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The global treaty entered into force in 2017. It requires countries to take action by addressing anthropogenic (human-caused) mercury emissions and phase out a variety of mercury-containing products, such as batteries, fluorescent lamps and thermometers.But, as Hawkings points out, the Minamata Convention "doesn't take into account these climatically sensitive natural sources that are much more difficult to manage than, say, closing a coal-burning power plant."
The study's results imply that the international community should start focusing on this issue.
Dangers May Increase With Global Warming
Despite naturally originating from the ice sheet bed, the mercury found in Greenland raises concerns. One of them has to do with global warming. Around 10% of the world's land area is covered by glaciers. As glacial systems increasingly melt, Hawkings affirms that should the results found in southwest Greenland be true to other parts of the island as well, a concerning trend could take place.
"Glaciers melting may mean more mercury in rivers and potentially in coastal systems," he said.
Linked to that is another point of alarm: The mercury could potentially endanger the health of Greenland's Indigenous people. Fishing is a primary food source and economic activity for these populations. The island is, in fact, a major exporter of shrimp, halibut and cod.
The degree to which mercury has made its way into the food web is uncertain, as the study only measured its concentration in water, so it remains difficult to assess the risks. "It's unclear yet just how dangerous the situation is for Indigenous populations of Greenland at the moment," said Hawkings.
Hawkings thinks it's urgent to learn more, as the Arctic systems are still understudied. How wide the effect is in Greenland, whether the mercury is going into coastal ecosystems and how local populations could be affected constitute some of the most important study topics to be explored.
"If the ice sheet is a source of mercury and it could exacerbate some of those effects, then people need to know about it and how to manage it," said Hawkings.
Reposted with permission from DW.
- New Study Changes Understanding of How Greenland's Ice Melts ... ›
- Greenland's Ice Sheet Has Reached 'Point of No Return' - EcoWatch ›