Environmenstrual concerns

Environmenstrual concerns

Hi, my name is Lilly and I’m on my period.  A statement to stop any conversation dead in its tracks.  So, I ask why, in 2020, with 26% of the global population of menstruating age, is there still a taboo and embarrassment around periods?  Why do we shy away from talking openly about something that those of us with periods spend years of our lifetime experiencing?  Not only are we doing people who menstruate an injustice, but the global issues relating to periods are gobsmacking. This isn’t an issue for individuals to deal with in private, this affects every single person on the planet, and we all need to do better! 

The UN Sustainable Development Goalare the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.  It’s shocking that period waste and poverty directly hinders five of these goals. Good health and wellbeing, gender equality, responsible production, quality education and reduced inequalities. That’s without considering the impact on life on earth and in our oceans from plastic waste and toxins. 

WASTEFUL PERIODS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS

According to the Women’s Environmental Networkthe average woman will use more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products throughout the course of her life.  Tampons, pads and panty liners amount to more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year in the UK, by comparison, RECOUP data shows that in 2019, household waste from plastic bottles amounted to 634,000 tonnes.   

Pads contain up to 90% plastic, and products are bleached white and filled with toxic chemicals (urgh!).  People are drastically changing their plastic habits, but this can’t be limited to straws and carrier bags.  We all know that small changes by individuals can have a huge cumulative impact. 

After years of quietly wondering what all the fuss was about, I switched to menstrual cups four years ago and can honestly say they have changed my (period) life.  You’ll struggle to find a user that won’t rave about the benefits.  Even if cups aren’t your thing, the choices for a cheaper, more sustainable and convenient period are endless, discs, period proof underwear and reusable pads… get googling! 

PERIOD POVERTY

Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities and waste management.  It affects those who experience periods all over the world and even right here in the UK there are many in need of period products unable to afford them. unable to afford period products.  Elsewhere, it is a huge obstacle in the progress for gender equality and the quality education deserved by deserved by all. One in ten girls in Africa miss school due to period poverty and 50% of girls in Kenya do not have access to sanitary products.  In India, it is estimated 42.6 million women cannot afford period products.  

THE GOOD NEWS

The switch to a more sustainable period has never been easier as the reusable period products available are excellent and there are options to suit everyone.  There are also incredible charities working to end period poverty and reduce stigma and taboo.  We must start this at home, let us talk with our families, friends and colleagues.  Let us have these conversations without embarrassment and make changes that are bloody good for the planet!

Some of the many charities fighting period poverty:  

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Environmental racism

Environmental racism

In 2016 I was writing my university dissertation on the history of environmental racism in America. I had never come across the term ‘environmental racism until it was highlighted in a documentary that had watched earlier that year. I was shocked to discover how minority and ethnic communities were disproportionately burdened with societies’ environmental hazards, and the extent of this systemic issue. Doctor Benjamin Chavis, a civil rights activist, coined the term environmental racism in 1981, which he defined as: “racial discrimination in environmental policy-making and enforcement of regulation and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of colour for toxic waste facilities and the official sanctioning of the presence of life-threatening poisons and pollutants for communities of colour” 

What emerged from my research was undeniable evidence of environmental injustice and minority communities blighted by preventable, yet fatal illnesses. report highlighted the excessive presence of hazardous wastes in non-white communities across America. It found that race was consistently a more prominent factor in the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities. For example, Scotlandville, Louisiana, had the nation’s fourth largest landfill and was made up of 93% African AmericansAlso, three predominately African American communities alone were burdened with 40% of the total estimated landfill capacity across America. Ethnic and minority communities were consistently living in the closest proximity to hazardous waste sites, which was shown to increase the probability of birth defects by 32%, and the risks of developing soft-tissue sarcomas by 700%. 

Coincidentally, whilst working on my dissertation, the Flint water crisis was unfolding. On 14th January 2016, President Obama declared a federal state of emergency in Flint, Michigan, confirming its water supplies were harming and endangering the safety of residents. A decision in April 2014 to change to the water supply to the town, resulted in exposing residentto drinking water that was contaminated with lead. Chronic lead poisoning can cause many health problems including elevated blood pressure, anaemia, kidney failure and cognitive impairment. Many have drawn close links to Flint’s environmental health threat to the racial and socio-economic backgrounds of its predominantly Black community. Aaron Mair, the first African American and current President of the Sierra Club, stated that the people of Flint are too poor, and had the wrong complexion for protectionThis was a clear and recent example of environmental injustice, awakening myself to the unquestionable reality that this was still to this day an issue. 

Four years later, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I find myself reflecting on this piece of work and am disappointed and hurt that this continues to be a prevalent issue in our society. For those that may question this, or are unaware, cases of environmental injustice are still faced by many around the worldFor example, a recent documentary on Netflix, There’s Something In the Water, highlighted a number of black and indigenous communities in Nova Scotia, Canada, that are still having to fight for their basic rights of breathing clean air and drinking clean waterand are still subjected to bearing the heaviest burden of environmentally hazardous sites compared to the rest of the region.  

Closer to home, research by the Mayor of London found that people living in parts of London with high proportions of black, mixed or other ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by air pollution compared to those in areas with a high proportion of white people. This has been linked to increased cases of asthma and other health conditions within these communities. For those interested in reading more about environmental racism, I found this article really eye-opening. 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in 1963 that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. This quote feels extremely poignant for me at this time of reflection. We know that our environment plays a key role in our health, and future generations’ health, so it is our duty to protect it, fight for change, and make a difference. But we must also actively fight for environmental justice and put an end to environmental racism. Individuals, businesses and governments can longer ignore these issues.

At The Planet Mark, we are in the business of positively changing the world. We are committed to educating ourselves, our community and beyond, and helping fix systems that lead to racism and social injustice.

To learn more about our commitments, and how we are helping others, read our open letter here. Together, we will make a world of difference.

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Plastic-Free July: Kerry’s Blog

Plastic-Free July: Kerry’s Blog

The ‘Plastic-free July’ challenge is simple – refuse single-use plastics during July.  

Back in 2011, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz from Perth Western Australia decided to go plastic free for one month. As she came across many challenges, from packaging to ingredients, she knew she had to do something. And from there, a global movement was born! 

So, what is a Single-Use Plastic? 

The most common single use plastics are straws, carrier bags, food packaging and bottles/take-out cups and lids. They are designed to be used and disposed of immediately, sometimes in mere minutes. Most of these plastics end up in our oceans, ingested by marine life and ultimately entering our food chain, with 1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption containing plastic. By 2050, it is anticipated that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, now that’s a scary thought! 

What can I do? As an individual  

We at The Planet Mark invite you to join the challenge and to refuse plastic throughout July (and beyond!) by finding new habits and solutions to the plastic revolution! From refusing a plastic straw when dining out (now that restaurants are opening again!), bringing your own reusable shopping bags or even shopping at your local Zero Waste shop. There are some easy, quick wins to be made! 

Speaking of Zero Waste shops… 

These environmentally friendly shops are becoming more and more popular not only in the UK, but worldwide! Over the past two years, over 200 zero waste shops have opened in the UK with a goal to cut out plastic packaging by encouraging shoppers to fill up their own containers and jars with produce. It also encourages us to only buy what we need, and therefore also avoiding food waste. Win win! 

These shops operate in a 5 step process; Weigh your empty container, Fill with your chosen produce, Weigh again, Label with price, Pay at the till, Simple!  

You can find your local Zero Waste shop by clicking here. 

The businesses on this site must fulfil at least one of four key objectives to be featured on their website: 

  • Package-free products or products with reduced packaging 
  • Sustainable production 
  • Waste reduction 
  • Promoting reuse and repair 

Here are some other ways you can reduce plastic consumption at home and be part of Plastic Free July! 

  • Investing in metal drinking straws 
  • Trying out Bees Wax Wraps in place of cling film 
  • Growing your own produce
  • Bring your own cup!
  • Switch from liquid soap to bars – Go one step further and buy products that don’t contain Palm Oil that contributes to deforestation like this one from The Planet Mark member soap & co.

What can I do? As a business?  

At The Planet Mark, we help organisations measure and reduce waste using one single metric – carbon dioxide. The programme helps businesses of all sizes measure and reduce the carbon emissions associated with their waste, energy, water, travel and procurement. On average, certified businesses make a 12% carbon saving per employee through reductions in these areas.  

Here are some of things you can do to start cutting your waste related carbon: 

Waste audit conducting a review of your current methods of handling waste will help you to identify what improvements can be made and ultimately gain further value from your waste materials and achieve maximum recycling levels. 

Engage your waste contractor – they can assist with your waste audit and allow you to create a robust waste management scheme. 

Employee engagement programmes – why not appoint waste and recycling champions to help spread the word and engage the wider team on new initiatives? 

For more ideas and information on how to get started, click here for our recycling and waste toolkit and join our “Tackling single-use plastics” webinar! 

The British Institute of Cleaning Science pledges to cut carbon with The Planet Mark

The British Institute of Cleaning Science pledges to cut carbon with The Planet Mark

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc), the largest independent, professional and educational body within the cleaning industry, with over 40,000 individual and corporate members, has achieved certification to The Planet Mark.

This is BICSc’s first year of business carbon footprint reporting and certification to The Planet Mark. BICSc’s total carbon footprint in the year ending December 2019 was 38.2 tCO2e and the relative carbon footprint was 1.3 tCO2e per employee.

It first calculated the carbon footprint of its Northampton operational site for the year ending December 2019 and set a target to reduce emissions by 5% annually. This year’s footprint includes emissions from purchased electricity, natural gas, fleet travel, waste, water and T&D losses for its head office. Electricity accounts for 15% of the total carbon emissions, natural gas accounts for 8% and fleet travel accounts for 74%. Scope 3 emissions account for 3% of total emissions.

Steve Malkin, Founder and CEO of The Planet Mark, said: “I’m delighted to see the British Institute of Cleaning Science join The Planet Mark and commit to cutting its carbon footprint. As an organisation with training and education at its core, it is no surprise that the realities and urgency of climate change resonate with it. Through walking the walk on sustainability, BICSc has a powerful message it can spread throughout its membership to create real change in the industry. It’s an exciting opportunity for a fantastic organisation.”

Neil Spencer – Cook, Chief Operating Officer of BICSc said: We are delighted to be joining the Planet Mark family. Sustainability has always been of the utmost importance to the Institute, as we approach our 60th Anniversary, this achievement highlights our commitment to making a change, and reducing our carbon footprint going forward.

First-year certification to The Planet Mark is based on the commitment to continuous improvement in sustainability in its business operations by measuring and reducing its carbon footprint and engaging its stakeholders.

BICSc is dedicated to promoting the sustainability of its membership. BICSc Standards combine intelligence from a number of highly regarded cleaning industry experts. This level of expertise and experience in delivery that gives it the authority among its membership that BICSc does not just offer education about cleaning practices, but an overall ‘Best Practice’ for the cleaning industry. As well as its standards, the Institute is able to promote sustainability through its membership packages, educational frameworks and accredited training and qualifications.

From engaging supply chains in promoting greener products to adequately disposing of waste, the cleaning industry has an important role to play in the fight against climate change. And as popular opinions continue to change, consumers will increasingly look to the sustainable credentials of cleaners and suppliers to choose the most environmentally friendly options. The industry must react to the pressing business and environmental needs to become more sustainable to future-proof themselves.

New Joiner Announcement

New Joiner Announcement

Our path to digital transformation and community engagement is strengthened further by the addition of Andrew Griffiths to our management structure. 

Following recent signification promotions internally for both our Certification and Sales teamsand by the addition of a brand new Head of Marketing, we are also embarking on a digital transformation project, which will further enhance the exceptional engagement element of the work we do in supporting our members of The Planet Mark community. 

We are delighted to announce we will be joined by Andrew Griffiths on 13th July as our new Director of Digital and Community. Andrew will lead the use of digital technologies and support community events to nuture new and exsisting networks, supporting increased engagment with existing The Planet Mark members and open up new markets in line with our digital vision, marketing and sales strategies. 

A wearer of many hats, Andrew is an astute problem solver for organisations working on a wide variety of projects including corporate reviews, L&D, business operations, communications and healthcare systems. He is exceptional at creating and celebrating community, having worked prolifically on a wide variety of community initiatives that bring people together. As Institute of Directors Ambassador for Young Directors, Andrew has organised huge range of professional events, including at the Houses of Parliament.  

Andrew said “Having been a huge fan of The Planet Mark for the past couple of years, I’m absolutely over the moon to be joining the team and can’t wait to hit the ground running with helping drive forward our mission of supporting organisations to reduce their carbon and increase social impact.”  

At The Planet Mark we recognise that we must bring together the best of people, technology and nature to tackle the climate crisis. We are embedding digital technology throughout our 3-step certification process to help better measure, engage and communicate every company’s contributions to society and the environment. 

2020-2030 remains the most important decade in human history, the #DecadeOfAction. We are aware of how crucial this time is and despite the exceptionally challenging economic circumstance we all find ourselves in, we have taken important steps to strengthen and deepen our commercial position as we continue to grow and support our community of The Planet Mark members.  

Steve Malkin, CEO, shares: “I vividly remember the moment Andrew accepted our offer to work with the team at The Planet Mark. In the moment it took for him to say ‘yes’ I was struck by the overwhelming feeling that we were going to go on and do something incredible.  He brings boundless energy, passion and knowledge to The Planet Mark that will help us grow and deliver even more positive impacts for society and the environment. We are overjoyed that he is joining.” 

Please join us in welcoming Andrew and celebrating our amazing digital journey together as a thriving community. Together, we will make a world of difference.