The hottest trend in e-commerce to get rich quickly? Bitter truth inside

In Bali, co-working spaces are packed with remote workers from abroad looking to make serious money— and to do so instantly. Through a business scheme called dropshipping, sellers can target prospective buyers via Facebook and Instagram ads with products they never see or store themselves.

By Hetty Sarinah Samosir
01 June 2020

Have you heard of a relatively modern form of lifestyle, the life of a digital nomad? Digital nomads are location-independent people and leverage technology to work remotely. The digital nomad lifestyle has been made attainable through low-cost Internet access through Wi-Fi, smartphones, and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) to keep in touch with customers and employers. Digital nomads can be seen working all over the world. The locations of digital nomads include Bali’s co-working spaces in Indonesia, cafés in France, libraries in Argentina, beach huts in Thailand, net cafes in Tokyo, and office shares in Australia. Those who pursue a nomadic lifestyle tend to be younger people (Hayes, 2020).

A digital nomad working from his computer in front of rice fields in Bali
Credit: Jorge Moya

However, in Bali, many people refer it to Silicon Bali, inside the coastal town’s co-working spaces, people are establishing business empires selling products they have never seen and handled, from countries they have never visited, to consumers they have never met. Welcome to the world of dropshipping (Kale, 2020). Dropshipping is a business model for a digital nomad and is a retail fulfillment method of selling products in which traders do not physically stock the products and never see those products themselves. Whereas a dropshipper essentially acts as an e-commerce middleman or retailer in a globalized supply chain. The dropshipping method possibly generates a higher profit per unit sold due to cost savings in which the supplier stocks those goods ordered, bears warehouse expenses and distribution expenses. Dropshipping differs from the traditional supply chain. In a conventional supply chain, retailers or middlemen purchase items from wholesalers or suppliers and stock items in their warehouse before sending them to buyers (Zając, 2014). For many digital nomads, conducting a dropshipping business from Bali is attractive because the town offers a very cheap living cost, beautiful beaches, nice weather with paradise ambiance, and good internet speed. Unfortunately, there are no official figures available that could determine the market value of the dropshipping industry conducted in Bali, Indonesia. However, the report by Deloitte University (2015) highlights that dropshipping is a huge business: an estimated 93 percent of Facebook’s $8 billion ad market, made up of over a million advertisers, is comprised of retailers selling by dropshipping.

Digital nomad working from his hammock on the beach in Bali
Credit:
Olezzo

People do this lucrative business scheme mainly through the Chinese e-commerce platform, AliExpress. As AliExpress offers free shipping worldwide, in this way, dropshippers are confident they can sell the goods to European or American customers. Dropshippers then establish a website utilizing Shopify. To identify and target customers dropshippers typically employ Facebook ads. Dropshippers can also be found on other platforms, including Instagram, or selling through marketplaces such as online homeware store Wayfair (Kale, 2020). If your social media accounts, including Instagram and Facebook, happen to receive ads of a product that you can also find on the AliExpress e-commerce website, this means that someone is trying to advertise their dropshipping businesses to you.

Successful dropshippers often solve so-called “pain points” as defined in marketing as the needs, wishes, or worries (real or perceived) of consumers through products they offer. Here is a sample of how the dropshipping scheme might look. Perhaps in the era of pandemic COVID-19, people need to wash hands more frequently, however finding pressing the soap dispenser a chore. Dropshippers spot the consumer pain and find a hand-free soap dispenser on AliExpress. They then do marketing via Facebook. They will make a video demonstrating its benefits (videos exceed description). Dropshippers then frequently advertise goods, haunt customers on social media with that video aimed to influence customer decisions until the customers finally purchase those dispensers. When customers then place an order, the dropshipper purchases the item through AliExpress and ships it directly to buyers. At this point, customers will wait up to a month for shipping because the item is being shipped from China. Long order processing times are normal for dropshipping. At the end dropshippers pocket mark-up minus marketing cost (Kale, 2020).

Hand-free soap dispenser
Credit: Mr and Mrs Store, AliExpress website

Many successful stories in conducting dropshipping businesses are available on websites like YouTube. One of them is the story of Thomas Despin (cited in Kale, 2020). When Despin arrived in Bali in May 2016, he was broke. He was informed about dropshipping and went into a partnership with a friend back home in France, who granted him €3,000 initial cash to begin. Gradually, Despin came across an attractive idea: selling shapewear to French women using a video that he and his partner stole from another online store. Despin found the video awful, however, it worked successfully: $750,000 of turnover, and around $100,000 of profit for Despin, in just eleven months. To this day, Despin has never looked or touched the shapewear.

While this all seems impressive, we would suggest waiting a bit before quitting your job to pursue a quicker way to earn a living and jumping headfirst into the dropshipping adventure. First, because many statements, although less visible than the YouTube tales of overnight success, show that not everybody can be the next Jeff Bezos (European Union Intellectual Property Helpdesk, 2019). Second, many experts raise a lot of questions and call out social, economic, and environmental problems of the dropshipping scheme that will be discussed after closing the dropshipping story of Thomas Despin.

After securing $750,000 sales, Despin and his partner announced shutting down their dropshipping business. Here is why “I’m the opposite of what dropshippers like to say because they like to see themselves as good entrepreneurs because they made money,” Despin says. “I’m completely fine with saying that I made a lot of money, six figures, and still I think I was dumb. I didn’t know what I was doing.” He adds that he dislikes his clients as they complain a lot.

Thomas Despin, a former dropshipper
Credit: Kale

What are the problems inside dropshipping business considering sustainability?

1. Social challenges: “Dropshipping is prominently starred in a work-at-home scam and is overrated.”

During the COVID -19 pandemic, scammers are using a dropshipping scheme to take advantage of the situation. Keller and Lorenz (2020), on New York Times website, report nearly 500 e-commerce sites (with web addresses containing “Corona” or “COVID”) showing up every day on Shopify to sell COVID -19 virus-fighting products. Many of those sites are being closed for generating exaggerated claims or selling fraudulent products. It was discovered that many of the sellers do not own the goods, nor have they verified that the goods are certified. Frequently, the sites’ operators are dropshippers who fulfill customers’ orders by purchasing articles on other websites. One of the new sites marketed as an “oxygen concentration” machine for $3,080. Another offered “Corona Necklace Air Purifier,” which for $59 claimed to provide “All Day Protection.” A third offered a $299 pill that ensured “Anti-Viral Protection” for 30 days. And sites such as CoronavirusGetHelp.com and test-for-covid19.com marketed home test kits for $29.99 to $79, none of which have been accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Increasing daily number of new sites on Shopify containing “Corona” or “COVID”
Source: Keller, DomainTools, New York Times, 2020 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, dropshipping was already prominently starred in internet-based home business scams. Already in 2018, the founder of Weebly, Rusenko (cited in Mann, 2018) emphasized dropshipping is the newest scam. “It used to be the Nigerian prince that was emailing you, and now it is the burner brand on Instagram.” The State of Michigan Attorney General (2020) has warned to be on the alert for fake “gurus” promoting dropshipping as a very profitable remote work opportunity. The warning message includes that many dropshippers are trained to fool customers about where a product is originating from. The country of origin may not be revealed, or the dropshippers may post stolen photos of any physical storefronts to make buyers think the company has a physical location or that the product is originating from a particular place. Prospective dropshippers may be lured to pay for high-priced courses intended to teach them how to become a successful dropshipper and these courses may promote prospective dropshippers to trick buyers. Furthermore, dropshippers have neither control over quality as they never saw goods, nor over packaging (they cannot add extra protection). Thus, sometimes, these products do not match the customer’s quality and size expectations and lead to customer disappointments accusing dropshippers practicing scam.

2. Environmental costs: “Lack of transparency on electricity consumption and greenhouse emission data by the main supplier. Consumers and dropshippers have lack of awareness on environmental impacts”

Supplier side: A report by Greenpeace (2020), a non-governmental environmental organization, points out CO2 emission from China’s internet industry is skyrocketing. Power consumption from China’s internet industry is predicted to go up by two thirds from 2019 to 2023. In 2018, China’s internet data centers were powered by 73% by coal. Thus, Greenpeace calls out giant tech companies, including Alibaba Group on the urgency to dramatically scale up clean energy procurement and increase their transparency as Alibaba did not disclose electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emission data. Alibaba Group is the owner of the main supplier of dropshipping businesses, AliExpress. Considering transporting goods from China to buyers overseas, plastic and Styrofoam packaging, coal energy powered internet industry, we could imagine the negative impacts of the e-commerce business on the environment.

Consumer side: Professor Cohen (cited in Evans, 2018) from Columbia University who is teaching courses in Retail Enterprise says, consumers do not care where the goods are coming from, they see it, they desire it, they purchase it, they expect to receive it as promised. He also points out suspiciously cheap articles online are coming to a consumer from a dropshipper and consumers do not care for it. This is also reflected by the result of KPMG’s global survey (2017) conducted with] the 18,430 consumers in the 51 countries about what drives them to buy online or offline in the first place. The top three answers are the ability to shop 24/7 (58%), the ability to compare prices (54%), and the online sale/better prices (46%) respectively. Sadly, from all twelve drivers, sustainability is not part of consumer reasons.

Reasons consumers shop online instead of in stores
Source: Global Online Consumer Report, KPMG International, 2017

Dropshipper side: Many dropshippers expect to make a lot of money online quickly. Thus, they do not consider long-term impacts on the environment and society and source products they sell from low-cost Chinese marketplaces like AliExpress. Even more, they use the sustainable message to attract buyers. From the interview of Kale and a former dropshipper, “Ellie” (who asked anonymity so that she could talk openly about her experience) describes the journey of her dropshipping business trading eco-friendly, plastic-free homeware almost ended in a catastrophe. Is not dropshipping about the least environmental-friendly method of buying and selling? “Obviously to the outside world” – Ellie says she was interested in selling eco-friendly homeware to make a difference. However, she admits she did the dropshipping business because her parents and she spotted a trend. In the count-down to 2018’s Christmas, Ellie and her partners were placing orders of $10,000 plastic-free homeware. However, their Chinese supplier was unable to cope and discontinued shipping the ordered goods. The goods arrived in poor conditions and covered in plastic packaging. Consequently, their inbox was full of raging emails from buyers, accusing them of committing a scam. One very disappointed customer sent a photograph of this plastic-free product in the trash bin (Kale 2020). 

Ellie, an entrepreneur and former dropshipper
Credit: Khoo Guo Jie

Furthermore, before the Pandemic COVID-19 began, dropshippers in Bali were environmentally unfriendly as they flew around the world non-stop (Neubauer, 2019). There is a potential risk that dropshippers will return to old habits “flying around the world non-stop” when the COVID-19 virus over.

3. Economic problems: “Despite making a lot of money, dropshippers do not pay any taxes and take off. And the dropshipping model raises a lot of questions and risks related to intellectual property rights.”

People look for an exotic place with cheap living cost where they can apply their technology and expertise to quickly make a lot of profit and avoiding income taxes, and not put back anything into the community. The immigration office in Bali does not have enough resources. As per the Ministry of Immigration’s statement in 2019, only ten immigration investigators are working in Bali and thus they cannot oversee so many people (Neubauer, 2019).

The analysis of Google Trends on how frequently the “dropshipping” search term is entered into Google’s search engine relative to the total search volume from over a period in the past five years may be used to see the significant increasing trend and interest in dropshipping. Particularly in the era of the Pandemic COVID-19 from March 2020 to May 2020, dropshipping became a significant increasing topic in search interest. It might be due to the economic crisis where a lot of people have lost their jobs so that people are looking for a way out to generate money and a more flexible way of work. Malaysia and Indonesia are the two top countries with the highest interest in dropshipping followed by Ukraine. In Indonesia, Bali is the hub of the dropshipping business. Looking at this, there is an urgency for the local authority to increase their immigration investigators to tackle income tax avoidance in Bali, Indonesia not to miss the opportunity as more and more people are interested in dropshipping.

The increasing trend of “dropshipping” search term in the past five years
Source: Google Trends, 2020

The European Union Intellectual Property Helpdesk (2019) points out the dropshipping model raises a lot of questions and risks related to intellectual property rights. Just because these goods are available on renowned websites such as AliExpress does not assure that they have a license to be sold in the country of prospective customers, or to be sold in the European Union. IP protection is territorial: a product may be legally sold in China (for instance, if no patent was filed there) but infringing IP rights in Europe (if one of its components is protected by patent in European countries). Hence, importing this product to Europe may imperil dropshipper in patent infringement claims. With this, the EU IP Helpdesk mostly refers to the fact that many “dropshippers” utilize third-party pictures on their websites, to advertise the goods sold. Rather than taking pictures of the products by themselves (which may be difficult when you have no stocks and never see them), dropshippers tend to utilize the product pictures made available by the manufacturers, or by global platforms such as AliExpress. The outcome? You have imagined it – copyright infringement claims from the owners of the pictures.

What are my lessons learned (personal reflection)?

In the past, I read some articles highlighting many startups leaving Silicon Valley for Bali, and people began to rename the coastal town “Silicon Bali” making a pun of “Silicon Valley” and an increasing trend of the digital nomadic lifestyle and co-working spaces in Bali. I was assuming that people moved to Bali to do some sophisticated computer programming aimed to develop e-commerce while spending their free time surfing, attending yoga classes, or enjoying marine biodiversity through diving. However, after discovering many digital nomads in Bali employ the dropshipping scheme, surprisingly via AliExpress, I am sort of disappointed.

The first time in 2016 I heard about AliExpress. I was surprised at how expensive prices of study supplies in Switzerland that are generally ten times higher than in Indonesia. Several former colleagues at the BFH Business School then suggested I checked on AliExpress to find more affordable study supplies. I came up with the dropshipping topic because out of curiosity as I often receive ads on personal Facebook and Instagram accounts from sites selling products that can also be purchased on AliExpress’s website. I received even more ads during the COVID-19 stay-at-home than before. I discovered there are many YouTube videos, articles, even more, online courses from self-declared successful dropshippers on how to start dropshipping and how to make six-figure sales in less than a year. However, when I was looking for dropshipping statistics and academic references on the internet, it was a bit challenging as the outputs of Google’s search and other search engines were dominated by dropshipping ads. It may be also because the dropshipping topic is relatively new, unlike avocado or shrimp production issues in which a lot of academic papers available to support data. This blog writing focuses only on the dropshipping model of the digital nomad and analyzing dropshipping impacts socially, environmentally, and economically. Writing solutions and analysis of effective measures to tackle dropshipping challenges are suggested.

To conclude, taking all this new information into account, I have become more aware of the negative consequences of the dropshipping model and will try to become more mindful of products I consume in regards to sustainability, for instance, product origins and supply chain. And I will look at a more sustainable way to generate income and will try not to go into dropshipping thinking, “I will get rich quick”.

Bibliography

Literature

Deloitte University Press. 2015. “The retail transformation Cultivating choice, experience, and trust” [Online] Available: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/za/Documents/consumer-business/ZA_RetailTrans_ConsumerBusiness_101515.pdf [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Evans, P. 2018. “Dropshipping: Why those online deals are usually too good to be true” [Online] Available: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/dropshipping-retail-1.4946929 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

European Union Intellectual Property (IP) Helpdesk. 2019. “IP and the Dropshipping Business – Beware of Infringements! [Online] Available: http://iprhelpdesk.eu/blog/ip-dropshipping-business-beware-infringements#page-start [Accessed 26 May 2020].”

Greenpeace East Asia. 2020. “Greenpeace releases first-ever clean energy scorecard for China’s tech industry” [Online] Available: https://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/press/2846/greenpeace-releases-first-ever-clean-energy-scorecard-for-chinas-tech-industry/ [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Hayes, A. 2020. “Digital Nomad“ [Online] Available: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/digital-nomad.asp [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Kale, S. 2020 “It’s bullshit’: Inside the weird, get-rich-quick world of dropshipping”. [Online] Available: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/dropshipping-instagram-ads?fbclid=IwAR3TOVGFiw8Yjttn2nPvY2JpYo_RG6VvqsJYkQciBa3vNsbjIODTb4j4OHo [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Keller H. and Lorenz, T. 2020. “Coronavirus Spurs a Wave of Suspect Websites Looking to Cash In“ [Online] Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/business/coronavirus-ecommerce-sites.html?auth=login-facebook [Accessed 26 May 2020].

KPMG International. 2020. “The truth about online consumers: 2017 Global Online Consumer Report”. [Online] Available: https://advisory.kpmg.us/articles/2017/true-about-online-consumers.html. [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Mann, S. 2018. “Why Weebly’s CEO Is Saying No to the Hottest Trend in E-Commerce“ [Online] Available: https://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/weebly-dropshipping-burner-brands.html [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Neubauer, L. 2019. “The big problem with the so-called ‘digital nomad’ life in Bali” [Online] Available: https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/money/the-big-problem-with-the-socalled-digital-nomad-life-in-bali/news-story/35098dfd84f03b8ab13a1bfc7096076f [Accessed 26 May 2020].

State of Michigan Attorney General. 2020. “Drop-Shipping: What you Need to Know Before You Buy or Sell Online” [Online] Available: https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-81903_20942-512905–,00.html
[Accessed 26 May 2020].

Zając, D. 2014. “Dropshipping as Logistics Business Model of e-Commerce”. The University of Lodz, Faculty of Management, Chair of Marketing. Article No. 5069
[Online] Available: [Online] Available: https://www.czasopismologistyka.pl/component/jdownloads/send/308-artykuly-na-plycie-cd-6/5194-artykul [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Picture

Feature (header): Gajus. (n.d.) “Oops sign over yellow background” [Online] Available:https://stock.adobe.com/ch_de/images/oops-sign-over-yellow-background/319385353 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Cover: Mipan. (n.d.). “Blue mouse and cable in the shape of dropshipping word – 3D illustration” [Online] Available:  https://stock.adobe.com/images/blue-mouse-and-cable-in-the-shape-of-dropshipping-word-3d-illustration/237378437 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Google Trends. 2020. “Drop shipping”[Online] Available: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&q=%2Fm%2F04q204 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Jie, Khoo Guo. 2020. “”Ellie”, an entrepreneur and former dropshipper”. [Online] Available: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/dropshipping-instagram-ads?fbclid=IwAR3TOVGFiw8Yjttn2nPvY2JpYo_RG6VvqsJYkQciBa3vNsbjIODTb4j4OHo [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Kale. 2020. “Thomas Despin, a former dropshipper”[Online] Available: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/dropshipping-instagram-ads?fbclid=IwAR3TOVGFiw8Yjttn2nPvY2JpYo_RG6VvqsJYkQciBa3vNsbjIODTb4j4OHo [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Keller H., and Lorenz, T. 2020. “Registrations rise for Shopify sites with web addresses containing “corona” or “COVID [Online] Available: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/business/coronavirus-ecommerce-sites.html?auth=login-facebook [Accessed 26 May 2020].

KPMG International. 2020. “Reasons consumers shop online instead of in stores”. [Online] Available: https://advisory.kpmg.us/articles/2017/true-about-online-consumers.html. P. 27 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Moya, J. (n.d.) “Nomad a digital trabajando desde su ordenador frente a campos de arroz en Bali” [Online] Available: https://stock.adobe.com/images/nomada-digital-trabajando-desde-su-ordenador-frente-a-campos-de-arroz-en-bali/283058129 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Mr and Mrs Store. 2020. “Touchless Bathroom Dispenser Smart Sensor Liquid Soap Dispenser for Kitchen Hand Free Automatic Soap Dispenser” [Online] Available: https://mrandmrs.aliexpress.com/store/1969291?spm=a2g0o.detail.100005.1.284a7b6ai4rgfT [Accessed 26 May 2020].

Olezzo (n.d.) “Young attractive guy a man with a beard in a hammock with a laptop on the background of the sea and sunset, distant work, freelancer, blogger, vacation and travel“ [Online] Available: https://stock.adobe.com/images/young-attractive-guy-a-man-with-a-beard-in-a-hammock-with-a-laptop-on-the-background-of-the-sea-and-sunset-distant-work-freelancer-blogger-vacation-and-travel/238119402 [Accessed 26 May 2020].

RECYCLE, REUSE, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY REDUCE

Happy #GlobalRecyclingDay! Today, we come together to put our Planet first!  That means protecting our resources & reduci… | Recycle poster, Reuse  recycle, Recycling

Source: Pinterest

Due to all the environmental campaigns on different media, most people by now know that systematic waste management is the way to go if we don’t want to be buried under our own trash in the near future. Improper waste management is one of the main causes of environmental pollutions, which could impact our daily lives in a number of ways.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), improper waste disposal, especially that of medical waste, can be a source of many serious and at times fatal diseases (World Health Organization, 2018). However, the consequences don’t end there.

Usually when there is no better way of disposing solid waste, they are transferred to landfills or open dump sites. Although this practice is more common among developing nations, as it is relatively cheaper, it is not only exclusive to them (Aljaradin & Persson, 2012).

In landfills, which are essentially large dumping holes, the garbage is methodically buried to breakdown at very slow pace in order to lower the speed of its negative impact on the environment. However, even when this is done systematically, landfills still remain one of the major sources of environmental pollutions. Landfills can produce toxins/leaches that contaminate the soil and ground waters, making nearby farming either impossible or its products toxic for consumption. Moreover, they emit high levels of greenhouse gasses, such as CO2 and methane gas, which are known to be one of the main contributors to climate change (UNISAN, 2020). Not to mention that dumping sites are not aesthetically nor odorously pleasing.

We can therefore conclude that we need better ways to deal with our garbage, as the consequences could affect our health, a wide range of industries (hence our economy) and our environment as a whole.

Source: Politico Magazine by Matt Chinworth

Naturally as the population grows, so does the generated waste. Of course, lifestyle changes due to urbanization also have a huge impact on its rate (The World Bank, 2019).

So, what can we do?!

One of the promising ways of proper waste management is recycling. According to a study, Germany  with a recycling rate of 56.1% was the leading recycling country followed by Austria, South Korea, Wales, and Switzerland. These countries manage this issue better than the others due to better governmental efforts to set up effective recycling programs / infrastructures, educating people and incentivizing them to do so (PG Paper Company Ltd, 2018).

Consumers who are environmentally conscious tend to mostly purchase products that are recyclable, but could recycling alone save us all from the garbage apocalypse?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Even if the packaging says the product is recyclable and everyone separates their trash, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get recycled. While many countries have recycling programs in place, the rate at which they can recycle is not comparable to the amount of trash that is generated (CHO, 2020). Moreover, some materials such as plastics are more difficult to process and/or can be very costly to recycle (Ecobin, n.d.).

In the past, many of the higher-income countries including the US relied heavily on exporting their excess recyclable materials for processing to lower-income countries in East Asia but also those who have better capabilities in that regard like China. However, recently China, as the biggest importer of these countries, started banning the imports of such materials, especially hard-to-recycle plastics (Brooks, Wang, & Jambeck, 2018). Unfortunately, this means the countries that don’t have the necessary infrastructure to deal with these materials have no other choice but to transfer the discarded recyclable material to landfills and the cycle of polluting the planet continues.

But even if this wasn’t the case consumers tend to overlook the fact that even though recycling is significantly less polluting, it’s not completely pollution free (Department of Facilities by MIT, n.d.). Not to mention certain materials can only be recycled a limited number of times as they lose quality in each cycle (Howard, 2018).

In conclusion, while proper waste management including recycling is a good place to start, getting into the habit of reusing and most importantly reducing our consumption, i.e. our waste footprint, can guarantee a batter future for both ourselves and the future generations.

Source: YouTube by ToffeeTV

REFERENCES

Literature and Online Sources:

Aljaradin, M., & Persson, K. M. (2012). Environmental impact of municipal solid waste landfills in semi-arid climates-case study–Jordan. The open waste management journal, 1. doi: 10.2174/1876400201205010028

Brooks, A. L., Wang, S., & Jambeck, J. R. (2018). The Chinese import ban and its impact on global plastic waste trade. Science advances, 1. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat0131

CHO, R. (2020, March 13). Recycling in the U.S. Is Broken. How Do We Fix It? Retrieved from Earth Institute by Columbia University: https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/03/13/fix-recycling-america/#:~:text=What%20actually%20gets%20recycled%3F,tons%20were%20recycled%20or%20composted.&text=Sixty%2Dsix%20percent%20of%20discarded,percent%20of%20plastics%20were%20recycled.

Department of Facilities by MIT. (n.d.). Recycling Facts. Retrieved from Department of Facilities by MIT: https://web.mit.edu/facilities/environmental/recyc-facts.html

Ecobin. (n.d.). What is the most difficult material to recycle? Retrieved from Ecobin: https://www.ecobin.com.au/what-is-the-most-difficult-material-to-recycle/

Howard, B. C. (2018, October 31). 5 recycling myths busted. Retrieved from National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/5-recycling-myths-busted-plastic

PG Paper Company Ltd. (2018, August 24). Recycling rates across the globe. Retrieved from PG Paper Company Ltd: https://pgpaper.com/global-recycling-rates/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20report%20compiled,with%20Switzerland%20recycling%20almost%2050%25.

The World Bank. (2019, September 23). Solid Waste Management. Retrieved from The World Bank: https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/urbandevelopment/brief/solid-waste-management#:~:text=With%20rapid%20population%20growth%20and,impacted%20by%20unsustainably%20managed%20waste

UNISAN. (2020, August 26). What is a landfill? Why are landfills bad for the environment? Retrieved from UNISAN: https://www.unisanuk.com/what-is-a-landfill-why-are-landfills-bad-for-the-environment/#:~:text=When%20organic%20material%20such%20as,more%20potent%20than%20carbon%20dioxide.]

World Health Organization. (2018, February 8). Health-care waste. Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/health-care-waste

Images and Videos:

Image 1: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/0f/6b/15/0f6b1512adf1e6a621b4ded5493821f6.jpg

Image 2: https://www.politico.com/interactives/2019/what-works-five-things-garbage-2019/images/Politico_Trash-lede.png

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Nq4b_07Fc

How To Be Sustainable While Maintaining a Lazy Attitude

If you have never heard of the signs of our planet near its breaking point, you must be living under a rock. Everyone on earth has heard of the consequences of exhausting our natural resources. But how many people are willing to sacrifice their time and effort to become more sustainable? The question becomes easier to answer when the time and effort to be more sustainable is less. 

Source: Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World. United Nations.

According to a section on the United Nations page, they believe that even the laziest person is capable of being a part of the solution. Here are seven hacks to help you be more sustainable with the least amount of effort possible.

1. One Bag for Produce

When you go to a grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables, there is a plastic bag all over the section. Instead of bagging your fruits and vegetables, why not directly weigh them and place them in one bag. The sticker labels can all go outside of the bag for faster checkout. The solution is simple, time-efficient and when you get home, you can just pour all your fruits and vegetables into your fridge.

2. Smart Bulbs

Old-fashioned light bulbs are a waste of electricity. By buying smart bulbs, you not only use less electricity but most smart bulbs are LED. LED is one of the most energy-efficient lights. In addition to saving energy, you can connect the switch to your phone, so you don’t waste time and effort to get up and turn off your lights. 

3. Composting

Whether you are living in an apartment or a house, get a container and start throwing your food scraps in it. This not only saves a few trips to the garbage bin but it also reduces landfill wastes. 

4. Dine In

When asked whether you should dine in or take away, as much as possible, you should dine in. In a restaurant, they use a lot of plastic packaging for takeaway. There are also many more reasons why dining in is better. You don’t need to wait until you get home to eat warm food, you don’t need to wash the dishes and you don’t need to throw the garbage as often. So next time, when you are asked, dine in. 

5. Bring-Your-Own-Container (BYOC)

Bringing your own container to buy takeaway. From the plastic food container to the plastic bag to contain your food. By bringing a container, you eliminate plastic waste. Another container that is meant by BYOC is to bring your thermos. Now and then, you may have the urge to buy coffee from your favourite cafe. Instead of getting your coffee to go, have them place it in your thermos.

6. Don’t wash your Clothes too often

I’m not saying, “wear the same shirt for a week and not wash them”. I just mean to not wash your sweaters or winter coats as often. According to Ocean Clean Wash, washing your clothes often sheds microfibres into the water, and that in most treatments plants, they cannot filter microfibres.

By washing your clothes too often, you are contributing to pollution. This solution not only saves water in many ways, but it also saves you time and effort.

7. Bathing is a reward, not a daily thing

On average, a person uses 30 to 50 gallons of water to bathe. While showering only takes around 2.5 to 5 gallons per minute, this does not necessarily mean that you have to rush with showering, it just means that you need to be mindful of water usage. By seeing baths as a reward, you can condition yourself to only bathe on special occasions. And by reducing your baths, you are conserving water.

For more tips on how to be sustainable while taking less effort, you should check out the UN page for more suggestions.

Source: Ezgi Pancar. Youtube.

Bibliography

Pictures and Videos

How your savings can have an impact.

Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries. To manage the immense amount of wealth, we need to be wise and create a positive value.

After I finished my apprenticeship, I travelled for a few months around the globe and enjoyed my freedom. Getting to know many people from different countries, I often was confronted with the same statement: “Oh, you are Swiss – So you must be rich”. As I learned, it is a well-known cliche that Switzerland is not poor at all. And to be fair, the people I met were not wrong. Switzerland is leading the scoreboard with the highest wealth per adult compared to any other country. On average, it is a staggering amount of USD 598’400 (Shorrocks, et al., 2020). Of course, many of these treasures are locked behind pension funds; nevertheless, we cannot deny how fortunate our position is. However, with such a treasure comes great responsibility. As Robert Walser (1990) said: “Money rules the world”. This post will look at how your savings can make a difference in shaping the world into a better place. 

Sustainable investing

Even with minimal amounts of money, you can start investing your savings into companies. This is nothing new. The first modern stock market opened up in 1611, located in Amsterdam (SoFi Learn, 2021). However, by investing in a company’s stock or bond, you support their activities by giving them money. With your investment, you help a company to grow and develop. How is it possible to help these companies that reflect your values of a more sustainable future? Here are three ways to do it (UBS AG, n.d.):

  • Exclusion: First, let us look at companies that work against sustainable goals. Some examples are the Tabacco, weapon or nuclear power industry. We exclude these from our portfolios.
  • Integration: Secondly, integrate companies into your portfolio that represent your values well. Some examples are firms that invest in renewable energies or have useful measures against corruption. We want to invest more assets into these kinds of cooperation.
  • Impact: Finally, use your power as an investor to speak up for sustainable change in the companies invested. We give the company money and therefore have influence.

Of course, not many individuals have the resources and the knowledge to do it themselves. But many financial investors and banks help you with that goal. For example, there exist sustainable funds that work with the mentioned three criteria. Just open your internet search engine and search for Sustainable investing or speak to your local bank manager.

How to assess companies?

There are thousands of companies listed on the stock market. How is it possible to have a good overview of which companies act sustainably and which do not? One modern method is ESG-Rating (MSCI, n.d.):

  • Environmental Factors: Climate Change, Natural Capital, Pollution & Waste and Environmental Opportunities.
  • Social Factors: Human Capital, Product Liability, Stakeholder Opposition and Social Opportunities
  • Governance Factors: Corporate Governance and Corporate Behavior

Specialised firms then make ratings for each of the mentioned criteria for all the publicly listed companies. This helps investors to assess which companies are acting sustainably without analysing each position individually. Nevertheless, there are some problems. Smaller companies might be working sustainably; however, they do not have the resources to fully report all the criteria. Another problem is that these criteria are still not standardised to thoroughly compare companies (Amel-Zadeh & Serafeim, 2018). Nevertheless, ESG is already much better than not being intentional about your investment at all.

A quick video that explains what an ESG-Rating is (MSCI, 2020):

Be aware of greenwashing.

Sustainability is fashionable and sounds fancy on every company advert. Nowadays, almost every bank offers some sort of sustainable product. However, there are massive differences between the products. Some funds are called sustainable simply because they exclude some sectors. This aspect is OK but noway good enough to be called sustainable (ROBECO, n.d.). Therefore, always check if the product covers all the elements of exclusion, integration and impact. Otherwise, find something better.

Join the movement

The more money is managed with a sustainable goal, the more significant its impact on the public listed companies will be. So far, very little money has been allocated sustainably by private investors (Paetzold & Busch, 2014). Nevertheless, the share has been growing in recent years. The volume of sustainably managed assets has increased year for year and will multiply even further soon (BlackRock, n.d.).

Development of Sustainable Investment (BlackRock, n.d.)

Today I ask you to reconsider your personal investment plan. So often, we are unintentional about where we put our money. But is that good stewardship? Is it not only fair if we can make demands on how to use our savings? Even if they are tiny, my personal assets should not be used to push tobacco products to make people more addicted or support companies profiting from child labour.

And maybe just pause here for a second and ask yourself. How would the world look if managers have to think about their decisions’ environmental and social consequences and not only how to make money? If you like that dream, join the movement.

We do not know what is going to happen.

To be fair, so far, there is not enough evidence that sustainable investing impacted companies. Too little money is invested in sustainable funds (Kölbel, et al., 2020). It reminds me of when a few students started going on the streets to protest for governmental change. First, they were ignored, and nothing happened. But once more and more came, politicians woke up and took action. The same things will happen with Wall Street once the force is big enough. So let’s go and tackle these managers.

References

Amel-Zadeh, A. & Serafeim, G., 2018. Why and How Investors Use ESG Information: Evidence from a Global Survey. Financial Analysts Journal, 74(3), pp. 87-103.

BlackRock, n.d. Sustainable investing. [Online]
Available at: https://www.blackrock.com/ch/individual/en/themes/sustainable-investing#sustainable-solutions
[Accessed 23 February 2021].

Kölbel, J. F., Heeb, F., Paetzold, F. & Busch, T., 2020. Can Sustainable Investing Save the World? Reviewing the Mechanisms of Investor Impact. Organization & Environment, 33(4), pp. 554-574.

MSCI, 2020. YouTube: ESG ratings explained: What are MSCI ESG Ratings?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79rZm7FCkOU
[Accessed 28 February 2021].

MSCI, n.d. ESG Ratings Key Issue Framework. [Online]
Available at: https://www.msci.com/our-solutions/esg-investing/esg-ratings/esg-ratings-key-issue-framework
[Accessed 28 Februaray 2021].

Paetzold, F. & Busch, T., 2014. Unleashing the Powerful Few: Sustainable Investing Behaviour of Wealthy Private Investors. Organization & Environment, 27(4), p. 347–367.

ROBECO, n.d. Greenwashing. [Online]
Available at: https://www.robeco.com/de/unsere-expertise/sustainable-investing/glossary/greenwashing.html
[Accessed 23 February 2021].

Shorrocks, A., Davies, J. & Lluberas, R., 2020. Global wealth report 2020, Zürich: Credit Suisse Research Institute.

SoFi Learn, 2021. A Brief History of the Stock Market. [Online]
Available at: https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/history-of-the-stock-market/?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=f3b9cbe29b856fda63c6902a47f99669f2a9f36c-1614085359-0-AaXCF8JhOM9Sga41Z32MrNDEhp3t7qNGCB2Y7rYi_dey-SpRaBjGvcGA4eSlaJzOZ2nLK6mIBz5FpGRaA84moswX56UibAQOUxclmXlRegbYIeB8sE6W3
[Accessed 23 February 2021].

UBS AG, n.d. All about sustainable investing. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ubs.com/microsites/sustainable-investing/en/education.html
[Accessed 23 February 2021].

Walser, R., 1990. Masquerade and Other Stories. 1st ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Warehousing Industries: A Comprehensive look in the Predatory Practices keeping Covid-19 Pandemic in Focus.

“We are not anti-union, but we are not neutral either. We do not believe unions are in the best interests of our customers, our shareholders and most importantly our associates. Our business model is built upon speed, innovation and customer obsession- things that are not generally not associated with unions.” This is directly quoted from a training video made by Amazon for their managers [1]. When companies with such predatory business strategies meet opportunities (?) like ongoing Covid-19, we ought to take a closer look and raise questions about customer & employee safety, the truth behind claimed sustainable value creation and what we can do for a restructured approach from a systemic perspective.

The rise of E-commences has taken away jobs from the brick and mortar retail stores and created similar number of jobs in warehousing industries. To understand the question of sustainability for this warehousing industries focusing on employees as an auxiliary variable and on a further degree how it affects everyone during this pandemic, at first, we have to take a deep dive on the prevailing practices in this industry. While companies like amazon make false advertises[2] (with comments turned off on youtube) to mislead everyone into believing their workplace environment is fun, safe and happy; meanwhile injury and illness rate in warehousing industry remains higher than industries like coal mining, construction and logging.[3] The New York Time’s article on the interviews from mothers victim of miscarriages due to pregnancy discrimination directly shows that the underlying reasons for their sufferings are not accidents; rather being victim of negligence, cruelty and being denied of basic human rights [4]. The XPO supervisors forced the workers to continue working while Ms. Neal’s dead body was lying on the floor. Ms. Neal was denied an extra break that day when she was feeling unwell.[4]

Now let’s look at the scenes behind the curtains what companies like amazon doing to protect their employees during this pandemic and whether their predatory policies have changed or reaching up to even the customers. In March 2020, Amazon stopped shipment of non-essential items, but just a month later when the coronavirus cases are devastating the world, they have again started to accept non-essential items into their warehouses.[5] For deep cleaning purposes many warehouses that were rented and managed by companies like Amazon were temporarily shut down when workers tested positive. But these initiatives are mostly taken after state orders.[6] Discontent starts to rise up among employees as Amazon fails to provide minimum protective measurements. In couple of warehouses protest started and people started to walk out. And the warehouse worker who planned and led the walkout for the sake of better protection was fired.[7] This is not an isolated case. By April, Amazon publicly terminated six workers as a method of retaliation for speaking out against the prevailing warehouse conditions citing the social distancing guidelines.[8] And has a final nail in the coffin, the unlimited unpaid leave policy is terminated. That essentially means even if someone still have coronavirus they are still expected to show up.[9] At least Walmart had the decency to pay second round of cash bonuses to its workers in June. Target has increased the hazard pay it was paying up to July. But the 2$ hazard pay Amazon decided to pay, they decided to terminate that as well.[10]

As a matter of personal reflection, we have to take into account the practices of companies solely relying on warehousing and being wary of the consumed products and question ourselves about the essentiality of them. Over the years we have ignored when Amazon has faced criticisms and lawsuits for refusing pregnant workers longer bathroom breaks or fewer continuous hours on their feet and firing them.[11] The more we look at these companies the more we realize the conveniences they offer comes with a real cost. We do not need to get to the shops to get the products, they are brought to us and somehow, they managed to make it cheaper. This has not been achieved with a clever algorithm rather siphoning the life force out of the people in the lowest level. And when these companies hit their all-time high stock prices [12] while considering the employees expendables we as consumers, activists and policymakers need to show solidarity to eradicate these predatory practices.

  1. Amazon’s Union Busting Training Video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQeGBHxIyHw
  2. Tour an Amazon warehouse. Amazing technology, amazing people.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-fyLCM_0Y4
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Injuries, Illness and Fatalities
    https://www.bls.gov/iif/
  4. Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination – The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/21/business/pregnancy-discrimination-miscarriages.html
  5. Amazon allows sellers to start shipping nonessential items again.
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/13/amazon-allows-sellers-to-start-shipping-non-essential-items-again.html
  6. Amazon Closes Kentucky Warehouse After Workers Test Positive – NPR
    https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/26/822045229/amazon-closes-kentucky-warehouse-after-workers-test-positive
  7. Amazon fires warehouse worker who led Staten Island warehouse walkout- CNN
    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/tech/amazon-worker-fired-staten-island-warehouse/index.html
  8. Fired Amazon worker says termination was retaliation for speaking out
    https://www.cnet.com/news/fired-amazon-worker-says-termination-was-retaliation-for-speaking-out/
  9. Amazon set to end ‘unlimited unpaid time off’ policy
    https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-set-to-end-unlimited-unpaid-time-off-policy-2020-4?op=1
  10. Amazon says it will END hazard pay in June for its warehouse employees who received extra $2 an hour and double overtime during the pandemic
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8320733/Amazon-says-END-hazard-pay-June-warehouse-employees-received-extra-2-hour.html
  11. Amazon fired these 7 pregnant workers. Then came the lawsuits
    https://www.cnet.com/features/amazon-fired-these-7-pregnant-workers-then-came-the-lawsuits/
  12. Amazon stock hits a new all-time high as it sees unprecedented demand
    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/14/amazon-stock-hits-a-new-all-time-high.html

Covid-19 is leading to more deforestation in Brazil

A burned area of the Amazon rainforest

One would think that Covid-19 had pretty much put the world in quarantine and basically stopped almost all activities, except for food distribution to and health care for the population.

But there are some people abusing this quarantine. The deforestation in the Amazon actually has not stopped or decreased, it has in fact increased. That seems illogical at first sight but the absence of the environmental agents patrolling and more economic hardship in rural areas, has actually led to a 64% increase of deforestation in April 2020 compared to the same month last year (1). The illegal loggers obviously were not in quarantine and the poor population was trying to generate some income even when it was only helping the illegal loggers.

According to Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) (2), which uses satellites to track deforestation, the chart below shows that starting a year ago, logging increased substantially over the previous 5 years and April 2020 was even worse than April 2019. The figure for May 2020 is as of 21st, therefore not for the entire month and therefore lower as last year’s figure for the full month.

The current government has been known it is not doing much to stop illegal logging. According to Ibama, the Brazilian Ministry for Environmental and Natural Resources, since October 2019 thousands of fines for illegal logging were suspended and only 5 were actually issued (3).

According to a video which was released last Friday, the environment minister, Ricardo Salles said in a ministerial meeting in April that “we need to make an effort while we are in a quiet moment for press coverage because they only talk about COVID” (4).

That does not bode well for the future of the world’s lung and could turn into a vicious circle where deforestation leads to more pandemics and during pandemics more deforestation will happen. Scientists have concluded that there is a link between wildlife and habitat destruction and viruses. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (5), three-quarters of new diseases originate from animals driven from their natural into manmade environments.

Not only are we, the first world through our consumption and irresponsible lifestyle, indirectly responsible with help of the Brazilian government for the destruction of the primaeval forest and force animals closer to densely populated areas, but we also are destroying the thousands of known and undiscovered natural medicines hidden in the Amazon.

Smoke rise over a deforested plot of the Amazon jungle in Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, last August.

Brazil’s rainforest is the world’s biggest medicine cabinet with more than 80’000 kind of plants (6)
25% of all medicine we are using today, originate from there and many are promising to cure diseases like cancer (7).
It is a paradox that we are possibly destroying a future cure for a future pandemic by our lifestyle and ignorance towards nature.
I hope the quarantine gave us some time to rethink our life, our behaviour and our ignorance towards our mother earth. Let’s try to live more sustainable, more attentive, more compassionate, more responsibly. Our planet is the only one we have.

References:

(1) Hale, T., 2020. As Covid-19 Continues, Deforestation In The Amazon Soars. [online] IFLScience. Available at: https://www.iflscience.com/environment/as-covid19-continues-deforestation-in-the-amazon-soars/ [Accessed 30 May 2020].

(2) Terrabrasilis.dpi.inpe.br. 2020. Amazônia Legal Brasileira – Avisos De Desmatamento. [online] Available at: http://terrabrasilis.dpi.inpe.br/app/dashboard/alerts/legal/amazon/aggregated/, [Accessed 30 May 2020].

(3) G1. 2020. Multas Por Desmatamento Ilegal Na Amazônia Estão Praticamente Paralisadas, Alerta Human Rights Watch. [online] Available at: https://g1.globo.com/natureza/noticia/2020/05/20/multas-por-desmatamento-ilegal-na-amazonia-estao-praticamente-paralisadas-alerta-human-rights-watch.ghtml [Accessed 29 May 2020].

(4) Phillips, D., 2020. Studies Add To Alarm Over Deforestation In Brazil Under Bolsonaro. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/28/studies-add-to-alarm-over-deforestation-in-brazil-under-bolsonaro-covid-19 [Accessed 29 May 2020].

(5) Watts, J., 2020. ‘Promiscuous Treatment Of Nature’ Will Lead To More Pandemics – Scientists. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/07/promiscuous-treatment-of-nature-will-lead-to-more-pandemics-scientists [Accessed 30 May 2020].

(6) Holland, J., 2019. Nature’S Pharmacy: The Remarkable Plants Of The Amazon Rainforest – And What They May Cure. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/how-to-be-a-botanical-buff/ [Accessed 30 May 2020].

(7) Loman, J., 2020. Medicinal Secrets Of The Amazon Rainforest – Amazon Aid Foundation. [online] Amazon Aid Foundation. Available at: https://amazonaid.org/medicinal-secrets-amazon-rainforest/. [Accessed 31 May 2020].

Vegan milk for animals and the environment.

There are various reasons for choosing vegan milk instead of milk. There are different reasons why people choose vegan milk, such as low calories, lactose intolerance, and animal freedom. Recently, more people seem to choose vegan milk due to the problem of the factory-style livestock industry and environment that occurs during the milk production process. I think it is very meaningful to choose vegan milk for sustainable consumption.

If the value of “sustainability” is important in purchasing a product, there are so many things to consider. Until the release of various vegan milk on the market, the representative food that replaced milk was surely soy milk. I was always cautious when I bought soy milk. ‘Do you use GMO beans? (Domestic soybeans?) , do they include food additives?’ Because it’s natural to want to buy healthy products.

According to an analysis of a research paper by Oxford University’s research team, the land area, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions needed to produce vegan milk produce fewer resources and greenhouse gas emissions than conventional milk production.

source: Poore& Nemecek(2018), Science. Additional calculations, J.Poore

In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land-use areas, milk is ahead of vegan milk. With the exception of milk, the share of vegan milk is similar. But the water use sector was different. The amount of water used to produce almond milk seems to be quite high.
It is only ‘green compared to milk’ but cannot be ignored by absolute figures. According to data on almond supply and water consumption, most of the articles were about California. It is an area that produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Excessive almond production is directly linked to the survival of honeybees as well as water shortage problems. Generally, honeybees are needed to grow almonds to hydrate the crops. The deal between beekeepers and almond orchards is concluded, and as the almond industry expands, the number of honeybees is also put in more to keep up with it. Although pesticides are used in all crops, almonds use 35 mlb a year, more absolute than other crops.


For the first time in 2006, a record number of bees disappeared or died. The main culprit is a type of insecticide called “neonics” that has had a fatal effect on bees. There are many chemicals that are not classified as toxic, even though they can make honeybees sick and weaken the immune system. This will prevent them from enduring the winter and exterminate the entire colony. Pesticides used in the cultivation of almonds have a fatal effect on the disease and death of honeybees.

Like sending bees to war': the deadly truth behind your almond ...
source: ‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession, The Guardian, Wed 8 Jan, 2020.


Even if it is not necessarily related to the almond industry, the threat of bees becoming extinct has been a much-debated issue. Honeybees play an important role in the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature as a medium for helping plants reproduce. Currently, honeybees are declining worldwide, and major causes include insecticide exposure, habitat loss, and climate change. The causes are also intertwined with each other, making it difficult to clarify the causal relationship. To solve these problems, almond orchard and manufacturing enterprises are working to develop sustainable farming methods, composting processes. However, consumers also need to keep an eye on such corporate efforts.


Recently, it refers to oat milk as the most eco-friendly vegan milk. As you can see in the graph above, the amount of water used to produce oat milk is much less than that of almond milk. It is not encouraging to drink oat milk, but it is more fundamentally important to recognize its production process and mechanism whatever it consumes. Also, choosing a product with a certification mark can be one of the solution. For example, Haagen-Dazs ice cream is producing products with Bee Better Seal. I think sustainable development is possible when we are always on the lookout for the negative effects that exist on the growth plane.

References:

“‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession”, The Guardian, 8 Jan, 2020.

Poore& Nemecek(2018), Science. Additional calculations, J.Poore

Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs, “Climate chagne: Which vegan milk is best? , BBC News, 22 Feb 2019.

Greenwashing

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing refers to campaigns and PR activities that put individual products, entire companies or political strategies in a “green” light, thus creating the impression that the players are acting in a particularly environmentally friendly, ethically correct and fair manner.
Companies that engage in greenwashing present a green image in the eyes of buyers and the public and sell the consumer the label “ecologically valuable”. In the case of greenwashed products, however, this external appearance does not correspond to the ecological facts.
In order to be able to do better public relations work and to increase the brand and company value, companies misuse the basic ideas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which are based on the motto “Do good and talk about it” and focus on sustainable business.

Why do companies do greenwashing?

The focus is clearly on economic interests: instead of actually acting sustainably, companies hope to achieve greater profits through greenwashing. There are numerous instruments of greenwashing with which companies hope to gain an advantage:

  • Better image: A green product has a better image, as a good conscience is sold along with it.
  • Higher price: An ecologically produced product justifies a higher price.
  • Weaker regulations: If it is made credible that certain standards are voluntarily adhered to by business, then policymakers may be more “generous” in regulating environmental values.
  • Stronger lobbying: Under the guise of sustainable business, companies receive greater political support – even though the same companies are unofficially active against climate protection regulations in the background.

7 sins of greenwashing

A study from 2010 has shown that greenwashing misdemeanours can be classified into 7 sin categories. These are by name:

  • Sin of the Hidden Trade-Off
    The sin of lazy compromise refers to the emphasis on some environmentally friendly product features in order to disguise other, more important and environmentally harmful product characteristics.
  • Sin of No Proof
    The sin of unverifiable statements refers to the specification of an environmentally friendly property without the possibility of proof.
  • Sin of Vagueness
    Unclear, fuzzy or ambiguous wording, which ultimately only confuses the consumer, should be avoided.
  • Sin of Irrelevance
    Irrelevante Aussagen betonen eine richtige, aber im Kontext nicht wesentliche Produkteigenschaft.
  • Sin of Lesser of Two Evils
    The highlighting of individual positive product characteristics in order to divert attention from more negative characteristics is obviously a form of misleading.
  • Sin of Fibbing
    The sin of false statements refers to the indication of environmentally friendly characteristics which are false.
  • Sin of Worshiping False Labels
    The use of unrecognized fantasy labels leads to even more confusion in the label jungle.

Popular example

Chiquita Logo

A well-known example of greenwashing is Chiquita. The company has become known for its greenwashing through heavy criticism in the media. Although the company has been talking about its environmentally friendly and fair trade for more than two decades, the plantation employees have repeatedly brought negative things to light: above-average salaries are very low and trade union rights are repeatedly disregarded. The media has also heard that employees who dare to resist such structures are immediately dismissed and do not get a job anywhere in the region.

Tips for the consumer

When buying fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables, preference should be given to local products. The same applies to seasonality: buying out of season leads to long transport routes – and encourages cheating on the sustainability of the products. When buying, the seal of approval should also be taken into account (it must be an official and not freely invented seal of approval).
A critical approach to the advertising messages of companies is essential. One should always question the following? Does this company really do sustainable business, or do the figures in the environmental balance sheet only make the consumer believe that it is behaving sustainably? Is the supplier’s assertion, for example, that it produces tomatoes from purely organic cultivation, really credible?
Ultimately, it is always best if everyone obtains independent information for themselves and form their own opinion.

Sources

www.sinsofgreenwashing.org
https://reset.org/knowledge/greenwashing-%E2%80%93-die-dunkle-seite-der-csr
https://thesustainablepeople.com/greenwashing/
https://www.vorteile-nachteile.info/meinung/greenwashing/

How collective consciousness could sustain our lives

It was never as simple as now to be up to date. A short look on your smart phone, your laptop or other digital device and you know what is happening around the world. Do you know this feeling of being overwhelmed by a fact that you found in the internet and you have a desperate need to share this information with someone to be convinced of it? But how can you be sure of the truth of what you read? 

Even in YouTube are many videos and contents on climate topics that go against the scientific consensus on climate change. At least one out of five users will receive misinformation in this and many other disputed topics. Influencer and advertisers try to convince the audience that there is no relation between human activity and global warming, or they even do climate denialism. As YouTube’s algorithm “helps” you finding the next video with the “up next” feature it is more likely to be guided on a track full of misinformation. This is a very dangerous source, and harmful contents are spread instantly over the world wide web. There are claims against YouTube of profiting by spreading misinformation and intentionally placed ads alongside these videos. Public’s pressure let YouTube change their policy in December 2019 but as this giant of a concern structure is quite un-transparent of their doings it is still not clear how many harmful contents are spread. [1]

It is not only YouTube that influences our lives, there are so many more negative influences, fake news and conspiracy theories going around in the internet, in the media and even in the news. There is a huge danger in denying  climate change, especially as it takes a great part in political affairs which have a global impact. Two famous denialists of climate are the U.S. president Donald Trump and Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison. [1][2]

Ketan Joshi, Something else is out of control in Australia: climate disaster denialism

Australia’s latest summer heat broke every historical record, it has been the most intense bushfire season ever. Many animals died or lost their homes and hundreds of thousands of Australians experienced the largest mass evacuation in the history of their country. This tragedy changed the perspective of many Australians and they would probably vote in the next election for a prime minister who cares for the environment. [2]

Denialism is about not being insulted as denialist, Freud explained it as they have taken the private sickness of denial and turned it into public dogma. But denialism is very closely linked to what humans do on a large scale and it is rooted in what we do on  a small scale. [3]

Opting out!

As solution for scientifically inaccurate information spread by YouTube, advertisers, institutions, companies and individuals should put pressure on concerns like YouTube and online media to take more action on climate denial content. This success is depending on the company’s leadership and their political “will” to do so. In addition, YouTube has now strict ad policies where ads are allowed and also give the advertisers tools to opt out of unaligned content. Furthermore, there is an urgent need for “political consensus” in all countries about climate change. [1]

Denialists are excluded from scholarly journals and academic conferences. But as they are still there and denying the obvious climate change it is necessary to unmask them. Unfortunately, in a democratic society it cannot be beaten legally yet.

Collective Consciousness
Nudging for the truth

It seems that denialism is insuperable, and the awareness of global warming will never reach a consensus.
Therefore, YOU have to contribute your part: if you find any news be cautious and critical, check all the background information and do some further research. Be aware of your privacy and data policy by using YouTube or any social media. 
It is also advisable to be self-critic for not being denying our collective ability to understand the world. We should not wait for another catastrophe to happen, for realizing that we need to take care of our mother earth. If you have the chance, speak up! Educate your friends and family by nudging for the truth. Do not deny the humans dependency on earth.

The world is changing fast, so sustain on the right train. Porter already established a business model where social and community needs are more important than profit, it is about conscious enterprise emergence with shared value creation through expanded conscious awareness. [4] You can also become a member of a collective awareness platform for sustainability or social innovation projects. For more detail klick here: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/caps-examples

Sources

[1] https://time.com/5765622/youtube-climate-change-denial/

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/08/australia-climate-disaster-denial-bushfires-online-rightwing-press-politicians

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/03/denialism-what-drives-people-to-reject-the-truth

[4] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-013-1726-y

Remove your makeup without harming the environment

A night routine many can relate to: after a long day of working, studying or just spending time with friends or family you get home and cannot wait to finally remove your makeup and let your skin breath. You get to the bathroom take one cotton pad put your makeup remover on it and clean your skin. The cotton pad lands in trash and sometimes you pick a few more to get rid of all makeup rests. A short and familiar activity which many do not question.

What if I told you that renouncing cotton pads could help safe our world?

Cotton fields. Source:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Cotton_field_kv32.jpg

Cotton is used for diverse productions

Cotton counts as one of the most important no-food crops. It is known for its softness. The plant provides three main products: cotton lint, linters, and cottonseed. They are used for several means.

  • Cotton lint: clothing, pillowcases, denim, towels, and dollar bills.
  • Linters: cosmetics, plastics, and paper products
  • Cottonseed: broke down into oil, meal, and hulls

The countries with the biggest cotton productions are (in 1,000 metric tons) India with 5770, USA with 3999 and China with 3500. In general, over 100 countries produce cotton. India, the USA, China, and Pakistan own 70% of the overall production.

Aspects which make cotton unsustainable

The problem lays in the roots – the production.

WATER: Production of cotton demands high water input at all stages from growing to processing. It takes up to 2,6% of the world’s overall use of water. Producing one kilogram of cotton can require up to 10,000 liters.

Many countries in which the production takes place are water scarce and suffer from the production’s high demand. It is claimed that cotton is the agricultural good with highest water usage.

The global water footprint of cotton products has been calculated and lies by 233 billion cubic meters per year. It is divided in three parts: Blue water footprint, Green water footprint and Grey water footprint as explained below:

Water footprint of cotton by component Source:
https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Assessm_water_footprint_cotton_India.pdf

POLLUTION: The Grey water footprint which defines the water polluted in cotton production is 13%. The pollution is caused by the use of diverse pesticides and fertilizers which run off from the fields to lakes and rivers nearby. It threatens the health of farmers as well as the quality of fresh water.

DEGRADATION: Cotton is mainly grown on established fields although heavy utilization forces the farmers to expansions which destroy living areas. Moreover, the quality of soil goes down and the biodiversity gets lost.

It is your choice now

Recently the beauty industry introduced several alternatives which replace the traditional cotton pads. They vary in textures and forms, but they all have the same in common: they are reusable, do not harm your skin and are cotton-free or contain organic cotton.

Reusable makeup wipes Source:
https://www.self.com/gallery/reusable-makeup-wipes

Although, it is not neccessary to buy them. You can also create own reusable make up remover pads. Use materials you have at home or get a design you wish for your individual make up pads. Watch the tutorial below and get started!

Sources:
http://www.agintheclassroom.org/TeacherResources/TerraNova/clr_cottonnews.pdf
https://www-statista-com.lib.fontys.nl/statistics/263055/cotton-production-worldwide-by-top-countries/
https://www.self.com/gallery/reusable-makeup-wipes
https://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Assessm_water_footprint_cotton_India.pdf
https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton