If there were ever a time to step back from our lives and take a critical look at our impact, this is it. Not only is it the 50th celebration of Earth Day, but as a species, we are experiencing an unprecedented event on an unprecedented scale, the consequences of which we will feel for the rest of our lives. This virus, both tragic and deadly, affords us a unique opportunity – to look at the impact of our daily lives and to make changes for the better.
This message is a departure from the pessimistic and fear-inducing ethos of the media over the past few weeks. It is about hope.
Several bright spots have emerged across the globe in the past month, perhaps clear spots is a more appropriate term. From India to California, Wuhan to New York City, air quality has improved dramatically. In cities where smog and pollution reigned supreme, nature has staged a silent coup. Blue skies have edged out polluted air and bird songs have replaced sirens in the street. As shelter-in-place orders and quarantine mandates spread, pollution and air quality has improved markedly.
According to health experts, extended exposure to pollution increases the chance of death from the Corona Virus by up to 15% (Theissen). In a macabre twist of fate the virus that is erasing our air pollution is also propelled by it. So what does that mean for the future?
For us, it means changing the status quo. We understand that quarantine and the widespread halt of industry is not a long-term solution for humanity. After only a month, the social and economic impacts are profound and are likely to worsen. So how can we balance our economic and ecological prosperity?
The answer: Sustainability.
Over the past 6 months we rolled out our BlueWave Sustainability Policy. Our initiatives revolve around two goals, (1) reducing our waste and (2) reducing our carbon footprint.
To reduce our waste we went back to basics and started by reducing/eliminating personal waste in our office. Gone are the days of K-cups and Styrofoam. We buy our coffee from local roasters, steep the beans in a French press, and pour our black gold into reusable BlueWave Yeti mugs.
Our supply chain also carried extra waste that we have since trimmed. By simply asking our vendors to remove the single-use packaging from their shipments, we removed an estimated 500lbs of plastic trash from the waste stream.
Our physical technology creates waste as well. To help reintroduce some of these parts back into circulation, we instituted a technology recycling program, giving old access control boards, ethernet ports and various components another life.
Reducing our carbon footprint is not an easy goal to achieve and even more difficult to track, but that has not stopped us. Most of our short-term carbon sequestration efforts are focused in our community. One of the most efficient ways to sequester carbon from the atmosphere is through photosynthesis or plants! So, we decided to invest in a local farm…sort of. Good Neighbors Garden is a local nonprofit that uses urban space (school gardens, backyards, small plots) to grow organic produce for the city and surrounding communities of San Diego. Not only does this enable us to offset some of our emissions, and literally improve the soil beneath our feet, it keeps our money in this community. Paying for the fruits of our neighbor’s gardens is good for everyone involved – not to mention, the produce is out of this world delicious.
Another effort at reducing our footprint is our investment in recycled cardboard boxes. We ship all our material in cardboard – and the virgin manufacture of cardboard is exhaustive! For every ton of recycled cardboard, paper and plastic we use, we save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 16.3 barrels of oil (EcoEnclose). Again, a figure of carbon sequestered from this effort is difficult to come by, but any difference is an important one, and we are proud of the direction we are headed.
Our efforts are just the tip of the melting iceberg, and we know more must be done. Through constant audits of our policy, we hope to continue to evolve and improve. We are currently working to shorten our supply chain and find vendors a bit closer to home to help reduce shipping costs and the associated environmental impact.
And so, on the 50th annual celebration of Earth Day, and in the grip of a global pandemic, we are pledging to continue our current efforts and strive for more. Our goals for the future include:
By 2021 we hope to eliminate 2,000 pounds of plastic waste from our waste stream.
Include more recycled boxes in our inventory (We utilize one size right now. We will get to three).
Double our investment in local, organic vegetable agriculture.
Participate in 4 local beach cleanups.
Add a fully biodegradable credential to our product line.
We all must go back to work and we all must work together to create a healthier planet. Through pollution and pandemic, the only way forward is united, secure and inspired.
EcoEnclose, Why Recycled Content Matters, Link: https://www.ecoenclose.com/Why-Recycled-Content-Matters/
Thiessen, Tamara, How Clean Air Cities Could Outlast Covid-19 Lockdowns, Forbes Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tamarathiessen/2020/04/10/how-clean-air-cities-could-outlast-covid-19-lockdowns/#28ec1eb66bb5