by Leila Hernandez-Webster
One concept that is often left undiscussed when dealing with climate change is the potential that people have to enact sustainable changes that can raise our societal quality of living. Implementing change on a personal and communal level can have major benefits for our global community as different groups of people and governmental systems work towards a more sustainable future
It’s True: Green Living Leads to Better Sustainable Health Systems
A crucial idea that could shape the future of sustainability worldwide is the concept of collaboration. By encouraging interactions between people and their governments, the issues that the global community is facing can be addressed comprehensively. These interactions may be vital to securing a brighter and safer future for people all around the world. Not only will these interactions be great conversation starters on climate change and sustainability, but they could also address underlying issues that often get overlooked when discussing the state of the environment. Many of the topics currently being discussed push aside most anthropocentric environmental issues, leaving many people to suffer in silence. By becoming an active participant in conversations about climate change and the environment, people can draw attention to these issues and make sure that the topic of human wellbeing and health equity will be addressed.
How are Health Equity and Sustainable Hygiene Related?
While more attention has been brought to the issue of health inequity in recent years, people are currently still struggling with health-related disparities worldwide. These inequities leave certain populations more vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change based on region, country, or socioeconomic status. In addition to the fact that certain groups of people are more susceptible to environmentally harmful activities, they also face a problem when it comes to accessing sustainable hygiene products. The gap in health equity between different populations, specifically between lower, middle, and upper-class people, has caused many people of lower socioeconomic status to have difficulty accessing zero waste products as many of these items aren’t offered in certain communities and can sometimes be more expensive. If we wish to see inequalities like this disappear, or at least be minimized, there needs to be a way for sustainable products to be more readily available to all. This shift towards accessibility focus will get more people involved in actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions which, in turn, will benefit individuals from all walks of life. Along with making these products more accessible, we need to make environmentalism more considerate of human wellbeing by allowing people to voice concerns and opinions about the current state of health inequality.
Being able to pay attention to environmental issues and having the means to shift to more sustainable products is often thought of as a luxury that only a few can afford. Seeing as this is a view shared by many, there is a clear need to reframe the environmentalism movement to include all groups of people, regardless of class or status. In order to do so, sustainable hygiene products need to be made more accessible. In the fight to achieve health equity, the decision to make sustainable products readily available could bring us one step closer to eliminating these disparities.
Why There is a Lack of Health Equity in the U.S.
The lack of Health Equity in the United States has often been linked to factors of identity. The most notable aspects of identity that can become underlying reasons for experiencing this inequity are race and class. Despite the fact that race being seen as the root of many American problems has often been disputed, there has been extensive research done to support the argument that people of color often bear the burden of different strains of inequality.
As race comes into play in the conversation of health equity/inequity, socioeconomic status then becomes a compounding variable. There are different aspects of identity, such as gender, age, and disability, that often intersect when dealing with matters of discrimination based on identity as well. Depending on the group(s) that individuals identify with, they may face a multitude of forms of discrimination that target certain populations. All of the previously mentioned compounding variables play a role in health disparities such as water access issues, proximity to toxic waste, and exposure to harmful substances through food, water, and/or air. The result of people experiencing these inequities can result in serious health problems and the lower overall standard of living for more vulnerable populations.
Now is the Golden Age for Hygiene Product Consumption Systems Changes
Now more than ever, the topic of equity in relation to climate change is making its way up on the global agenda. With the help of technological advancements and widespread media access, the problems of climate change are now being widely discussed. Alongside the political rhetoric that is based on reducing greenhouse gases, there is a budding awareness about the human collateral that has resulted from the destruction of our ecosystem. This new awareness of how certain populations are more vulnerable to the effects of climate has also shed light on health inequity around the world. With the recognition of health equity issues, the promotion of sustainable hygiene products has become highly popularized. For example, with the increased understanding of water scarcity and access issues, there has been a push to make zero water products more affordable in an effort to reduce waste. These waterless products promote green living while simultaneously benefiting those who previously lacked access to sustainable products.
Aside from the recent advancements in sustainability promotion through consumer products, there has also been more discussion about how businesses are involved in sustainable marketing. Businesses are slowly becoming more attuned to their consumer’s desire to make products more environmentally friendly. These conversations have, in part, been discussed through social media, a tool that is becoming increasingly powerful in implementing positive change.
Being able to interact with the companies advertising and selling goods has been incredibly influential in the way that businesses conduct themselves and how they respond to any concerns about how certain products negatively affect the environment. Having a platform through which consumers can collaborate with companies big and small is yet another way in which talks of sustainability have gotten more recognition in recent years. With more accessible platforms comes a greater awareness of typically unsung issues. These issues in turn stand a chance of being more widely understood and promoted. By recognizing the issues people face and creating a space where solutions can be discussed, efforts may be made to implement change that can benefit people worldwide.
Is Being Eco-Friendly a Social Justice Issue?
For years, the concept of eco-friendly initiatives has primarily been focused on ecosystems around the world. Unfortunately, this narrowly focused view of ecosystem health has often excluded the human aspect of the inflicted damage. This view is slowly beginning to change and more stories about human collateral are being shared daily. The discussion, though relatively new, is shifting the way that environmentalists view environmental issues as the need to include humans under the umbrella term ‘ecosystem’ rises. Part of this shift will have to include acknowledging how people have suffered as a result of climate change and what measures can be done to prevent further harm.
The growing awareness of climate change’s effect on human affairs also puts social justice issues in the spotlight. Since many of the grievances that people suffer from are rooted in prejudice and injustice, the conversation around how certain communities are disproportionately affected by environmentally harmful activities is becoming popularized. This crisis has taken a toll on marginalized communities around the world. Without taking discriminations factors into account, even the most well-intentioned environmental development plans could still negatively affect these vulnerable groups. To make sure that all people are guaranteed adequate protection from environmental harm, there must be at least a partial focus on social justice so as to ensure that more vulnerable communities aren’t burdened with the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Sheets
One way to actively participate in promoting health equity is to switch to zero waste products. By cutting down on the resources used during the manufacturing process, you can begin to limit the amount of waste that could potentially sit in landfills or end up causing environmental harm in underserved communities. Switching to waste-free products such as eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets is an easy way to reduce greenhouse gases and preserve the environment. Products like these waste much less than the typical consumer brands as they use less material and are often packaged in reusable containers. By reducing materials and eliminating plastics from the production and sale of these products, there is little to no waste produced that could potentially damage the environment and threaten the cleanliness of the planet.
On top of creating less personal waste, the change to more eco-friendly products will ensure that the people around you are less susceptible to environmental harm. Eliminating plastic from your weekly grocery run will cut down on the amount of trash that litters our landfills, oceans, and sidewalks which will ultimately enhance the day-to-day experience of all living beings on this planet. Simple changes in your daily habits can greatly benefit humanity and the world we inhabit as we strive for a healthier future for all.
‘Eliminate Plastic’ is So Much More Than a Sexy Slogan
As discourse about how the production of goods may be harming our planet continues, the topic of plastic production and the devastating effects of its waste has become a central focus. Over the past several decades, we have prioritized the convenience of plastic over the wellbeing of our environment. Since the production of plastic has already caused a lot of damage, there is an urgent need to eliminate plastic and switch to more sustainable alternatives. Beyond preventing further damage to the environment through producing plastics, there are several reasons why eliminating them completely could be incredibly beneficial to the wellbeing of our ecosystem.
Reason 1: Recycling is Inefficient
There is a common misconception about the salience of the plastic pollution problem since it is believed that recycling justifies the use of single-use products. While there is some benefit to recycling, the majority of plastic that is thrown in the recycling bin doesn’t actually end up being recycled. In fact, most of the plastic that has been produced currently occupies space in landfills. Plastic products then stay in these landfills until they can break down, a process that typically takes thousands of years. This means that every piece of plastic ever created is currently still on the planet, waiting to break down into microplastics that still cause harm to the environment.
With this in mind, it is incredibly important that we not only minimize, but eliminate the production, sale, and improper disposal of plastic to preserve the environment and protect our ecosystem. Eliminating plastic use will also declutter landfills and reduce litter. This reduction of waste would be incredibly beneficial to the environment as fewer living organisms will be affected by the toxins contained in these products. By eliminating plastics, we could create a substantial difference for our ecosystem’s health which, in turn, would create less harm to humanity and any other species that are currently living under less than ideal environmental conditions.
Reason 2: Wildlife Preservation
Speaking of species living under less than ideal conditions, eliminating plastic use could potentially save thousands of defenseless animals from environmental harm. Plastics that are currently invading the habitats of vulnerable animals pose a great threat to their wellbeing.
The presence of plastics in a species’ natural habitat raises the risk that an animal might consume some plastics by mistake or be physically harmed as they interact with the foreign object while having no background knowledge on the potential danger it presents. On top of the risk that animals might confuse plastic for food, there is also the risk that marine wildlife could unknowingly consume microplastics. Microplastics pose a great danger to species as they can unknowingly ingest them which can eventually lead to internal health problems and an untimely death.
Eliminating plastics could prevent such harm from ever coming to these animals. Seeing as these animals cannot defend themselves against the destruction of their habitat and the potential threat created by the presence of plastics, we need to step up and intervene to ensure that the planet doesn’t suffer from biodiversity loss. By cutting out plastics, animals will be less likely to consume them which could eventually save mass amounts of animals from being threatened by human negligence.
Reason 3: Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Much of the discussion around climate change has centered around the notion that we need to significantly reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions. By doing this, we would slow down global warming and reduce the likelihood of catastrophic weather-related events. One major contributor to overall greenhouse gas emissions is the manufacturing of plastics. On top of that, the majority of plastics are created using non-renewable fossil fuels such as petroleum. This means that most plastic products are produced unsustainably and therefore have an incredibly damaging effect on the environment.
From its creation, plastics have utilized unsustainable resources. By eliminating the use of plastics, we could prevent further harm from being done. With a halt in the production of these products, fewer greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere which could substantially reduce the effects of global warming. Not only that but by eliminating plastics, there will be less litter that runs off into waterways that could potentially harm unsuspecting animals and organisms along the way. Keeping plastics out of water sources will help keep the plant and animal life healthy by ensuring that no habitats are harmed or degraded.
Eco-Friendly Products That Are Revolutionary for Human Hygiene Equity
By eliminating plastics and opting to buy more eco-friendly products, everyday consumers can play a huge role in ensuring hygiene equity for all people. Eco-friendly products are sustainably made while also ensuring that the production and disposal of said products doesn’t harm the environment. A simple switch over to eco-friendly versions of the brands you love is an easy and effective way to reduce the damage done by less sustainably made goods. If enough people get on board with this, the new way of eco-friendly consumption will create substantial change and allow people to continue living a similar lifestyle with the addition of newly instituted environmentally friendly habits.
Zero-waste laundry detergent sheets are just one example of these eco-friendly products. These products are made to reduce excess material usage and eliminate plastics from your laundry routine. By switching over to products like this, you can significantly reduce the presence of environmentally harmful products and byproducts from your home which, in turn, will benefit the wellbeing of the environment.
The choice to switch over to eco-friendly alternatives will also benefit people other than just primary consumers. While people begin to incorporate environmentally friendly products into their daily lives, less pollution and runoff will be created thus ensuring that people in the more affected communities will struggle less with any excess pollution. This allows for consumers to take responsibility for any excess waste that may be created as a result of careless consumption which, in turn, allows for cleaner communities across the board. In short, this is the pathway to establishing the importance of environmental equity amongst different populations.
Greenwashing, Low-Income Communities, and the Price of Consumerism
Greenwashing, the practice of making unsubstantiated claims that a specific product is environmentally friendly, also plays a huge role in the struggle to create a greener society. By deceiving consumers, people can be easily convinced that certain products are less harmful than they actually are. This practice could potentially take a huge toll on the environmentalist’s goal of achieving health equity as low income and other marginalized communities are likely to be hit the hardest by this practice. By greenwashing certain products, a consumer may be led to believe that they made an environmentally sound decision when purchasing a product when, in fact, these falsely advertised products may still cause a decent amount of environmental harm. With this in mind, it is extremely important to research products beforehand to ensure that nothing you purchase can harm those who have to deal with the waste left behind.
About Generation Conscious
Generation Conscious is a hygiene and health equity initiative that collaborates with university administrations to ensure that low-income students have access to sustainable and effective hygiene products.
The Generation Conscious system is built on making sustainability simple, accessible, and affordable. Because helping the environment shouldn’t be a luxury.