Spring Cleaning: How to Tidy Without Plastic and Toxic Chemicals

With the weather warming up in the Northern Hemisphere, many people are now making time for spring cleaning. While often we associate home cleaning supplies with synthetic scrubbers and harsh ingredients packed in plastic packaging, it’s far healthier to clean without the plastic and toxic chemicals.

 Conventional cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals like ammonia, bleach, phthalates, triclosan, and more, in addition to the thousands of chemicals present in plastics. Some cleaning products also contain or shed plastic particles that pollute the environment and our bodies. Chemicals and plastics found in common cleaning supplies—including some synthetic products labeled “green”—have been connected to a number of serious health issues, including cancer, heart disease, hormone disruption, and respiratory illnesses.

You can avoid harmful chemicals and plastics by incorporating nontoxic and zero-waste principles into your cleaning routine. Luckily, it’s quite easy to do so, with many healthier, plastic-free cleaning options highly accessible, DIY-friendly, and available at an even lower cost than most conventional options.

What to Look For: Nontoxic, Plastic-Free Cleaning Supplies

DIY

When you’re looking for healthier cleaning supplies with just one or two ingredients to make yourself, the first step is to think simply. Look for tried-and-tested cleaning ingredients that do not expose you to toxic chemicals and plastics. These include:  

  • Baking soda, in cardboard — a great all-around cleaner, especially in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Castile soap, in paper or glass — excellent nontoxic soap
  • Citrus peels (lemon or orange) — work well when added to vinegar as a cleaning solution
  • Coffee grounds — useful for abrasive needs, such as scrubbing pans
  • Cornstarch, in cardboard — a great glass cleaner 
  • Essential oils, in glass — adds scent and cleaning properties to vinegar and water solutions
  • Olive oil, in glass — works for stain removal in fabrics
  • Salt, in glass or paper — useful abrasive for tile cleaning 
  • Soap nuts, in paper, glass, or canvas — for washing clothes or dishes without detergents
  • Vinegar (apple cider or white), in glass — a super all-around cleaner, dilute 1:1 with water
  • Vodka, in glass — good for disinfecting and cleaning glass
  • Washing soda, in cardboard — use instead of laundry detergent

Some of these cleaning items can be used on their own or by scrubbing with a little water, like baking soda, while others may be combined, such as vinegar and citrus peels, to maximize cleansing properties. With many of these cleaning items also commonly found in the kitchen, chances are, you have at least some already in your home. If not, you can find many of these items in grocery stores or at your local food pantry. Whenever possible, avoid purchasing cleaning supplies in plastic containers and packaging, and instead try to buy in bulk. 

Find more tips on choosing plastic-free and nontoxic cleaning supplies in our Plastic Pollution Coalition Guides. And find inspiration to kickstart your plastic-free choices, as well as DIY recipes, with the book I Quit Plastics by Plastic Pollution Coalition Notable Member Kate Nelson.

How to Store and Use Cleaning Supplies

There are many plastic-free ways to store and use your cleaning supplies. Reuse glass jam or pickle jars to hold dry or wet items until they are ready to use. For dry items, add a metal or wooden scoop. Glass-and-metal sprayers are a sturdier alternative to the plastic type and useful for spritzing the cleaning liquids on surfaces. Store coffee grounds and citrus rinds in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

When you’re ready to clean, hop online to learn about the many ways you can use the simple ingredients above to keep your home clean. When you’re ready to dive into your spring cleaning, equip yourself with any mix of the following items:

  • Bamboo and natural bristle toothbrushes for hard-to-scrub areas of your home
  • Coconut fiber, cellulose, and sea sponges
  • Cotton rags, made from old towels or t-shirts
  • Glass-and-metal sprayer
  • Metal bucket
  • Metal dustpan
  • Wooden and natural bristle broom
  • Wooden and natural bristle scrubbers 
  • Wooden string mop

Some of these items can be found in secondhand stores for a reduced price compared to buying them new. 

Ready-made Options

If DIY is not your thing and you’d rather purchase ready-made healthier cleaning products, Plastic Pollution Coalition Business Members offer some excellent options.

Blueland

Blueland strives to minimize waste and make cleaning products that are better for people and the planet. Simply fill the provided refillable spray and pump dispensers with water, drop in Blueland tablets, and start cleaning. And if doing the dishes or laundry, Blueland makes plastic-free washing tablets to pop in your dishwasher and washing machine.

EarthHero

EarthHero provides a wide selection of environmentally friendly products sourced from ethical and eco-friendly businesses, making it a one-stop shop for sustainable living—and cleaning. EarthHero offers all manner of cleaning supplies and equipment suitable for every room of your home.

I’m Plastic Free

I’m Plastic Free is a matchmaking platform you can use to find laundry and household cleaning products without all the plastic. Use I’m Plastic Free’s resources to learn how to swap conventional cleaning products for healthier plastic-free choices.

Life Without Plastic

Life Without Plastic offers reusable, nontoxic alternatives to everyday items that are so often made of plastic. In the cleaning category, you can find a selection of glass and bamboo storage jars, glass and metal soap dispensers, bamboo scrubbers, and more.

Meliora Cleaning Products

Meliora Cleaning Products is committed to offering eco-friendly laundry powder and other healthy cleaning products for homes, without any plastic. The company uses safe, non-toxic ingredients and packages their products in plastic-free reusable, recyclable, and compostable materials.

PlanetCare 

PlanetCare makes laundry machine filters designed to trap microplastics that shed from synthetic fabrics when they are being washed, keeping them out of water treatment systems. Unless your wardrobe and bedding are plastic-free and made completely from natural fibers, unfortunately, your washing machine is still creating microplastics with every wash. With each wash, a single fleece jacket is estimated to shed at least 250,000 individual synthetic plastic fibers into wash water, which is either discharged directly into your home septic system or into a sewer. Choosing clothing made of natural fibers like bamboo, hemp, organic cotton, or linen will best prevent the release of microplastics when washing laundry.

Refill and Zero-Waste Shops

Refill and zero-waste shops are another excellent place to find healthier, plastic-free cleaning supplies. And chances are, there’s at least one such shop near you! PPC Member Ecorate keeps a database of shops offering bulk refills of personal care and cleaning supplies with the aim of assisting users in reducing waste. PPC Member Plastic Free Future also maintains a platform listing a wide selection of zero-waste and refill shops.

Beware of False “Greenwashed” Solutions

As with most categories of stuff, if you look closely at the available selection of cleaning products available today, you’ll find greenwashed options among real solutions. If you’re looking to purchase cleaning products, check the ingredients lists to avoid plastics and toxic chemicals. This means avoiding microplastics, PEG (polyethylene glycol), phthalates, and PVA or PVOH (polyvinyl alcohol), as well as ammonia, chlorine and chlorinated chemicals, phenols, phosphates, SEA, SLS, SLES, TEA, triclosan and triclocarban. 

While polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is frequently praised as a “degradable” plastic, in reality it does not live up to its eco-friendly reputation. PVA poses a number of environmental and health risks that call into question its status as an ecological solution, despite its claimed degradability.

Take Action

Choosing healthier, plastic-free cleaning products is a great way to further eliminate toxic plastic and chemicals from your life. You can also help by supporting real solutions in your community—and on an even larger scale. 

Support policy actions, like the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in the U.S., and a strong global UN Plastics Treaty, to create the systemic change necessary to seriously reduce plastic pollution at the source. Sign the petitions below.

Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some influential change-makers. This month, we highlight four members who are increasing access to reuse businesses, advocating for people and the planet over plastics for Earth Day, inspiring plastic-free lifestyles, and mobilizing students to build zero-waste systems. 

EcoRate

EcoRate is a sustainability ratings platform that helps people easily locate cafes, restaurants, refill stores, and other venues that participate in waste-prevention initiatives. Through their interactive map and app, they provide visibility for plastic-free businesses and pathways for people to support them, building a zero waste economy and encouraging widespread adoption of reuse culture.

EcoRate scores retailers based on environmental criteria and even allows the user to search for “BYO,” “Mug,” or “Glass” filters to find locations that let you bring your own thermos, use mugs or glasses for dining-in, in addition to a “can carrier” filter that displays beer shops and other venues that collect beer can carriers for reuse.

Recently, EcoRate has been making significant progress indexing an inventory of zero-waste and refill stores. Now, people can also filter their map to show zero waste stores carrying the specific zero-waste items they’re looking for, offering users added convenience, reliability, and accessibility.

EcoRate just incorporated restaurant data from Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants Program into their interactive map. This makes it easier to search for eateries via EcoRate’s website and mobile app, and add even more plastic-free restaurants to your list!

EARTHDAY.ORG

EARTHDAY.ORG is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that emerged from the very first Earth Day in 1970. The organization aims to mobilize people around the world to advocate for, create, and implement solutions to the climate crisis. From voter registration to environmental education programs, they work with over 150,000 partners in 192 countries to drive positive action for the planet on a range of interconnected issues. 

EARTHDAY.ORG has helped pass landmark environmental legislation over the years through their advocacy efforts, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, as well as helped establish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Part of their important work now includes a program to end plastic pollution. This year for Earth Day, the organization uplifted the theme of Planet vs. Plastics to mobilize the world to understand the harmful health impacts of plastics, rapidly phase out single-use plastics, and push for a strong UN Plastics Treaty. EARTHDAY.ORG is calling for a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040, recognizing that production limits are imperative to ending plastic pollution in the long-term. 

To educate yourself on the impacts of plastic on human health, check out EARTHDAY.ORG’s Plastics Health Research Module, and their Earth Hub for all fact sheets, toolkits, press releases, and articles. Additionally, Aidan Charron, Director of End Plastic Initiatives, spoke as a panelist in our recent webinar, “People vs. Plastic: How the UN Plastics Treaty Must Protect Our Health.”

Life Without Plastic

Life Without Plastic is a mission-based Certified B Corporation working for positive social change, improved health, and environmental sustainability. Through their products, guides, and educational materials, they raise awareness about the health and environmental problems posed by plastics while making the solutions more accessible, and empowering people to be part of the change.

Life Without Plastic offers unique, high-quality alternatives to plastic products that are carefully designed and sourced from trusted suppliers. Recently, the company has been working to bundle its products to reduce the environmental impact from ordering and shipping individual products to consumers.

Earlier this year, Jay Sinha, co-founder and co-owner of Life Without Plastic, participated in the PPC webinar Plastic-Free Resolutions: Protecting Your Health in 2024, offering common-sense steps to reduce the amount of plastic in your life with low and no-cost recommended solutions. Be sure to check out his book: LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy, and the Life Without Plastic newsletter, which provides plastic-free news, tips on plastic-free living, and sales and specials from their online store.

Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN)

The Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) equips students with the resources and tools necessary to holistically understand our waste crisis and lead solutions on their campuses.

In collaboration with EARTHDAY.ORG, PLAN has allocated almost $10,000 in Earth Day Action Micro-Grants to student projects. These include demonstrations, art installations, actions, cleanups, and more around the global Earth Day theme of Planet vs. Plastics. Check out some of these projects, which have been posted to their social platforms from Earth Day onwards.

PLAN recently launched a new Community Hub to centralize their resources and tools available to support student-led zero waste programs. They have also been updating their manuals, the most recent being the Reusable To-Go Manual. PLAN recently received the Reusies Community of the Year award for the release of this resource!

PLAN’s Students for Zero Waste Conference, held in late 2023 at Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an annual space for network building, inspiration, and solution sharing to push the movement forward. They also hosted a Beyond Waste Student Summit at Marshall University’s campus—the first school in Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley to sign the Break Free From Plastic Campus Pledge.

Check out their newly revamped website to find up-to-date language on each of their projects, and sign up for their Community Newsletter to receive updates and exciting ways to plug in.

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

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Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on communities and ecosystems around the world. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some influential change-makers. This month, we highlight four members who are mobilizing communities through marine plastic research, revolutionizing safer household cleaning products, advancing ocean justice, and building reuse and refill infrastructure for tomorrow.

Algalita

Algalita Marine Research and Education is the organization that started the movement to end plastic pollution nearly 30 years ago. Founded by Captain Charles Moore, Algalita was the first organization to bring attention to the swirling soup of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean — a place now known by many as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Since then, Algalita has helped to evolve the plastic pollution conversation beyond tired industry narratives around “marine litter” and “plastic waste” by building a web of solutions-oriented connections between researchers, activists, educators, and young people across the globe. Algalita holds the belief that environmental educators are our greatest allies in this movement, as they are uniquely situated to inspire and equip the next generations to take action to address the growing issues facing our climate and global community today. This is why Algalita created the Wayfinder Society for Environmental Education — a program offering a diverse ecosystem of support for educators globally including unrestricted mini-grants, standards-aligned lesson plans, professional development events, classroom toolkits, and so much more. Here’s a quick video to learn more. Resources all connect to plastics but are interdisciplinary and touch on various interconnected environmental issues, including climate change, environmental justice, composting, and more. If you are an educator, sign up for their monthly newsletter for educators to get plugged into their free resources. 

In addition, Algalita’s presence in their local community of Long Beach, California, continues to grow. Recognizing that reuse is an important part of the plastics conversation, In 2017, they partnered with Julie Darrel, founder of BYO Long Beach, to open the first reuse storefront in all of Los Angeles County — and it’s connected to Algalita’s office! Now, BYO Long Beach has another storefront in the East Art’s District in Downtown Long Beach and also has an online store as well.

Want to stay up-to-date on Algalita’s work? Sign up for their newsletter here.

Blueland

Blueland is reimagining everyday home essentials to eliminate single-use plastic and provide consumers with safe and sustainable cleaning options that are convenient, effective and affordable. From hand and dishwasher soap, to mirror and multi-surface cleaners, Blueland is eradicating plastic from household cleaning with its nontoxic tablets and powders. Simply mix the cleaning tablet you desire with water in your reusable spray bottle and enjoy hassle-free cleaning that prevents single-use plastic pollution from cleaning products. The tablets ship straight to your home, saving you a shopping trip and the planet from emissions, as the tablets are significantly lighter to ship! And of course, the products are all in plastic-free packaging.  

To date, Blueland’s innovative products have helped divert just under 2 billion single-use plastic bottles from landfills and oceans, avoided over 10 million square feet of plastic packaging, and prevented 2.5+ million pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions from heating the planet. In addition to those metrics, Blueland meets a number of impressive standards to demonstrate their commitment to safe ingredients, efficient water and energy use, carbon-neutral shipping, and employee satisfaction. Some of these include: Cradle to Cradle, EWG Verified, EPA Safer Choice, Climate Neutral Certified, B-Corp, and more. 

Blueland has been advocating for the Pods are Plastic Bill, recently introduced in New York City, that would ban any laundry or dishwasher detergent pods and sheets that contain Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA). Because PVA does not disappear and pollutes our waterways after use, this bill would send an important signal to businesses and individuals that plastic products should not be designed to go down our drains, into our water, the environment, and our bodies. You can learn more about the Pods are Plastic Bill at podspollute.com and send a message of support to your representative. In addition to this bill, Blueland has also been lobbying for the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (PRRIA), which would require companies to pay for and manage plastic waste in which they produce, while prohibiting certain toxic chemicals in packaging.

Earth Law Center

Earth Law Center (ELC) is a non-profit organization working to advance ecocentric laws, policies, and governance for the well-being of the Earth Community, addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and degradation of ecosystems to restore a flourishing Earth Community on behalf of present and future generations of all species. The Ocean Program of Earth Law Center is diligently committed to engaging in and advancing plastic pollution mitigation and legislative initiatives. Emphasizing the concept of ocean justice—protecting the ocean, fulfilling human rights, and progressing social equity—ELC aims to amplify justice issues linked to the full “life cycle” of plastics alongside the UN Plastics Treaty negotiations, with forthcoming advocacy to engage and empower youth in partnership with EarthEcho International.

ELC recently published a report, “Advancing Ocean Justice in the Global Plastics Treaty,” which argues why a justice-centered approach to the UN Plastics Treaty that encompasses the whole life cycle of plastic is imperative to safeguard human and ocean health long term. The youth-led report provides textual recommendations for the treaty, offering a roadmap for embedding justice throughout its articles, including Emissions and Releases of Plastics, Microplastics, and a Just Transition. In addition to their new report and work on the UN Plastics Treaty, ELC offers a number of ways communities can learn and take action to combat plastic pollution, including this comprehensive toolkit to guide local policy.  

ELC actively participates in global initiatives as a member of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the UN Harmony with Nature Initiative, the High Seas Alliance, and as a partner of Mission Blue. They will feature at three events at next month’s EarthX Conference, hosted in Dallas, Texas, around Earth Day (April 22-26), reputed to be the world’s largest green gathering, welcoming nearly 200,000 visitors in prior years. 

Feel free to read and share their new report, contact them to collaborate or share ideas, sign up for their newsletter, and sign our petition to urge the U.S. government to take a stronger stance in the upcoming treaty negotiations.

O’Land

O’land is a company operated out of Montreal, Quebec, on a mission to build a world without single-use plastic pollution by providing reusable infrastructure, starting with water stations, that deliver basic human needs while protecting our health and the environment. Their water refill and hand sanitizing stations offer high-quality water dispensing infrastructures, eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles. 

Water refill stations are a key component of the transition towards a reuse economy, as they provide a healthy alternative to single-use plastic bottles that pollute the planet. O’land stations are helping to chart that course by making water refill and reuse easy. Installed at corporate events, large music festivals, and a multitude of other venues, their stations are 360 degrees, contactless, and fast, which help prevent lines and create a seamless refill experience for large crowds. 

With every refill, one single-use plastic bottle is avoided and won’t pollute our planet. In September 2023, the company reached one million bottles avoided after four years of operations, and helped avoid 100,000 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gasses. This year, they have expanded operations from Canada to the United States to increase their impact and help build a refill and reuse economy, one station at a time. 

Interested in renting or purchasing a station for your next event? Find out more here, and even enjoy custom branding.

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on communities and ecosystems around the world. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some influential change-makers. This month, we highlight four members who are showcasing grassroots organizing, storytelling for environmental justice, stainless steel replacements for solo cups, and a zero waste marketplace.

All Things Kind Market

All Things Kind Market is the first one-stop shop for zero waste products and refills in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Built on values of human kindness, mindfulness, and community, this sustainable home goods market is providing Centre County and an online community with a wide variety of everyday goods that are free of plastic. From reusable beeswax food wraps to nontoxic moisturizers and beauty products in aluminum packaging, markets like All Things Kind are paving the way for consumer awareness about plastic waste and inspiring a societal shift towards regenerative alternatives and reuse.

Last year, All Things Kind Market refilled 7,808 oz of soap, saving almost a thousand 8-oz plastic bottles from ending up in landfills, incinerators, or our environment. Their most popular refill items include hand soap, laundry soap, and toothpaste tablets—all products that most Americans buy in single-use plastic packaging that is hard to recycle and clogs waste management streams. 

On March 4, All Things Kind Market will be celebrating 1 year in business. They have recently opened a “small shelf” satellite store in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to expand access to their favorite sustainable goods. They also recently won Best New Business in Silver through Best of State College and were featured in Forbes as a sustainable brick and mortar store. View their online store to swap single-use plastic products in your home, support this small business, and help grow the zero waste movement!

Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group (BLARG)

Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group (BLARG) is a grassroots environmental justice organization from Bellport, New York, seeking to close and clean up the toxic Brookhaven Landfill, which has harmed the community of North Bellport and surrounding neighborhoods for almost 50 years. The landfill continues to negatively impact adjacent communities’ air quality, groundwater, health outcomes, economic future, education sector, and quality of life, and exposes systemic injustices from the culmination of human waste.

BLARG was formed after the death of George Floyd with the acknowledgment and realization that the only way to prevent premature death of Black people is to identify what systemic issues are putting Black lives most at risk. Like many communities across the U.S., Brookhaven experiences systemic racism from decisions to place heavy polluting facilities, such as a toxic landfill, next to communities of color as a path of least resistance. BLARG is working to expose, interrupt, and rectify the harm this landfill has caused through remediation, equitable regional and local waste plans, and zero waste solutions that reduce, reuse, and reconceptualize waste that restores communities and allows them to thrive.

In 2021, BLARG helped stop the expansion of the landfill which was a monumental achievement to protect future generations from harm. They also have led a successful Community Composting Collective for the last 3 years that has diverted tons of organic waste from the landfill, preventing significant amounts of planet-warming methane gas from being generated  and released in the atmosphere.

Visit their site to learn more about their work, how to conduct your own Community Waste Audit, or get involved.

People over Plastic

People over Plastic is a BIPOC-led storytelling collective that uplifts and centers the stories of leaders, activists, journalists, artists, and community members to build an anti-racist, plastic-free future. This cultural and media hub was kickstarted with a wildly successful podcast that features leaders on the frontline of petrochemical production and plastic pollution, which is now well into their fourth season. 

Their work focuses on the entire value-chain of plastic pollution, from fossil fuel extraction to waste incinerators, and documents stories from the heart of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities most harmed by big plastic. Their team operates through the lens of environmental justice, which they define as both a recognition and a remedy to a legacy of systemic racism and historical injustices from exploitation, cultural genocide, and enslavement. 

Through a series of nuanced, sensitive and in-depth podcasts, news stories, events, and other media engagements, they uplift stories of resilience and advance community-based solutions. People over Plastic aims to create accessible dialogues and thought-provoking conversations that spur systems change and restore communities.

For Black History Month, People over Plastic highlighted its pillar Food Sovereignty by featuring Barcelo Gardens in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Check out all four seasons of the PoP podcast to learn about stories of resilience, activism, and community-based solutions. Co-founder and president Shilpi Chhotray also moderated Plastic Pollution Coalition’s April 2023 webinar, Greenwashing: Debunking the Plastic Industry’s False Narrative.

Pirani Life

Pirani Life is a company on a mission to end the 500 Billion+ disposable cups wasted around the world every year. Their flagship product, the Pirani Insulated Stackable Tumbler, was designed to make convenience less wasteful and inspire more sustainable lifestyles as people celebrate. It’s stainless steel, triple insulated, stackable, dishwasher safe, and can keep a beverage cold for 12 hours!

Their tumblers are popular because of their versatility, feel, vacuum seal, and plastic-free packaging. These cups empower people to adopt more sustainable habits because they can be brought to every occasion, enhancing your next experience from a trip to your favorite coffee shop or an outdoor concert. 

Pirani is a small, family owned company that is a member of 1% for the Planet, working towards B Corp certification, and committed to initiatives that advance conservation and plastic pollution awareness. In addition to their plastic-free packaging and shipping practices, they are actively working on a circular take-back program for their products that provide customers with discounts in return.

This spring, they will be launching their newest 10-oz wine and whiskey stackable tumbler with enhanced organization features for maximum space efficiency. Check out their ultra-durable and plastic-free products and inspire reuse for your friends, family, and colleagues.

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

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As an official Nominator Organization for the third year running, Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited to announce our nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2024. We are honored to be among the 432 Official Nominators from 75 countries to select projects with ambitious but achievable goals that have the potential to restore our planet for generations to come.

Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020, The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history, inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot which united millions of people around the goal of reaching the moon. The prize aims to spark the world’s collective imagination and drive urgent action by supporting and amplifying changemaking environmental and social projects that aim to solve some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Winners of the prize are awarded GBP £1 million to scale their solutions. In addition to the prestigious title, project funding, and exposure from winning the prize, finalists receive mentorship, technical support and resources to help them accelerate their work.

This year, we selected two nominees that are rapidly scaling restorative and transformational solutions to an increasingly urgent plastic pollution crisis. Between them, our nominees are driving global policy change and leveraging infinitely regenerating biomaterials to avoid catastrophic climate change from petrochemical emissions and safeguard people and the planet from the perils of plastic pollution. With that, we would like to present our nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2024.

We need real solutions to end plastic pollution, and the solutions presented by our 2024 Earthshot Prize nominees could help contribute to a healthier world free from plastic pollution and its toxic impacts. The UN Plastics Treaty will only be as effective as what goes into it, and the High Ambition Coalition’s approach offers the best chance for an international agreement that would make a profound difference for people and the planet. The best solutions are still always reusable, non-toxic options, but when single-use is necessary, Ecovative’s mycelium technology is a promising, regenerative alternative.

— Julia Cohen, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition

1. High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC)

At a pivotal moment in modern history, the first of its kind Global Plastics Treaty presents an unprecedented opportunity to address plastic pollution through international diplomacy. 

The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution is an intergovernmental coalition of more than 64 countries working towards an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty that ensures urgent action and effective interventions throughout the entirety of the plastic life cycle, from fossil fuel extraction to disposal. Co-chaired by Rwanda and Norway, this coalition has taken a leadership role in advocating for binding provisions in the treaty that turn off the plastic tap through upstream policy interventions proven to curb plastic pollution and restore ecosystems and economic conditions across the planet. 

Backed by the global scientific community, the High Ambition Coalition is calling for provisions, including: 

  • Reduce and restrain the production of primary plastic polymers;
  • Eliminate problematic plastics and chemicals of concern, including by bans and restrictions; 
  • Develop global sustainability criteria and standards for plastics; 
  • Set global baselines and targets for sustainability throughout the life-cycle of plastics; 
  • Ensure transparency in the value chain of plastics; 
  • Establish mechanisms for strengthening commitments, targets, and controls over time; 
  • Implement monitoring and reporting at each stage through the lifecycle of plastics; and 
  • Facilitate effective technical and financial assistance as well as scientific and socio-economic assessments.

Industry groups and some international coalitions have stalled treaty negotiations to focus on waste management-focused and “bottom-up” approaches that would, among other things, allow countries to set their own targets and policies. Ultimately, this only works to serve fossil fuel and plastic interests, and harms people and the planet. In November, at the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3), industry representatives outnumbered delegates from the 70 smallest UN Member States combined. To combat industry influence and ineffective voluntary commitments, the High Ambition Coalition has mobilized a growing network of countries to stand up to the interests of fossil fuels and vehemently push for interventions that serve the interests of all people, with special consideration for frontline communities that have disproportionately burdened the toxic impacts of petrochemical production and plastic pollution.

The HAC provides the North Star for guiding ambition within the treaty negotiation process and is the only cross-regional group of countries with a clear set of priorities, approaches, and common ambition. There are other coalitions from different sectors – notably the Scientists Coalition, the Civil Society and Rightsholder Coalition, and the Business Coalition – which are all driving momentum as part of the constellation of ambition for the negotiations, but ultimately in a state-led process, it is this ambitious set of governments that are charting the course towards an effective agreement and clearly spelling out the necessary ingredients for success.

– Christina Dixon, Environment Investigation Agency

The HAC’s work has the potential to re-shape the fragmented and inadequate landscape of plastics policy globally, safeguarding human health and protecting critical planetary systems that are dangerously close to tipping points.

2. Mycelium Technology, by Ecovative

Ecovative’s mycelium technology is a socially and environmentally restorative nontoxic solution that can be rapidly scaled and applied to some of the most carbon-intensive and heavy polluting industries. Whether replacing harmful plastics in product packaging, clothing, and construction, or generating higher yields and improving economic conditions for farming communities, Ecovative’s innovative mycelium products have seemingly endless applications that are realigning business with the cycles of nature and regenerating the planet.

For millions of years, mycelium has powered the systems of nature by transforming decaying matter into essential nutrients. Now, Ecovative is harnessing its potential as a supermaterial to prevent plastic pollution and waste materials, conserve critical manufacturing inputs such as energy and water, drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve land management practices, create new job markets, and more.

Mycelium technology represents a new material category that not only competes with existing materials across industries, but also creates interesting new possibilities. Whether in packaging, leather replacements, construction materials, or food, their products and technology can be integrated directly into existing supply chains and processes while sparking innovation. The company has already demonstrated that they can replace materials at commercial scale, and have recently ramped up production capacities to respond to demand.

Earlier this year, Ecovative opened access to a major European patent to all individuals and businesses who wish to use its MycoComposite™ mycelium materials in their own innovations and businesses in Europe. The renewable MycoComposite material offers a nontoxic and more planet-friendly alternative to plastics and other fossil fuel–derived materials made from compostable and regenerative mushroom mycelium. The European Open Patent Program for MycoComposite is intended to encourage innovation in plastic-free products, and has the potential to stem breakthroughs in the technology which could have far reaching implications for industries seeking climate solutions.

In addition to the clear social and climate-positive benefits of mycelium, their recent advancements in production capacity, R&D processes, and strategic partnerships across industries positions Ecovative as an unparalleled leader capable of changing business for good and creating lasting positive impact.

What’s Next?

Over the next 6 months the Earthshot team will utilize a rigorous assessment process to select the 15 most inclusive, impactful and inspiring solutions to become Finalists. These finalists will be announced in the fall of 2024, and the five winners awarded the prize during the ceremony soon after. New this year, the Earthshot team is supporting nominees beyond the 15 Finalists with new initiatives and expanding the Earthshot Launchpad to connect more nominees with sources of capital. We wish our nominees the best of luck!

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Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) Members come from a wide range of sectors and are aligned in their mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts on communities and ecosystems around the world. The Coalition Spotlight is our monthly blog to uplift and showcase their work, giving our readers an inside look at some influential change-makers. This month, we highlight four members who are helping people start the new year with less plastic by making more informed purchasing decisions, navigating the toxicity of everyday products, and adopting less consumptive habits.

Karma Wallet

Karma Wallet is a financial platform that leverages cutting-edge technology and impact data to empower consumers to make better informed purchasing decisions. The platform makes it easy for people to align their sustainability priorities with everyday spending, by receiving personalized carbon footprint data and insights into their shopping habits, while earning rewards for choosing more sustainable retailers. 

Users can search over 15,000+ brands according to their people and planet scores, derived from social and environmental metrics from over 30 data sources that Karma Wallet has mapped to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. As a trusted data partner of Karma Wallet, Plastic Pollution Coalition enables consumers to compare retailers based on their commitment to plastic-free business practices. Filter companies according to the values you care about, which now includes an option to find PPC Business Members exclusively!

Karma Wallet was just named to the Inc. 2023 Best in Business list, is a Certified B Corp, and is a member of 1% for the Planet. Additionally, they are soon to launch their Karma Wallet Card: a prepaid, reloadable debit card that gives back to people and the planet. This card offers up to 20% cash back with thousands of sustainable merchants, provides eco-friendly rewards, and educates consumers about the social and environmental impact of the companies they shop with. 

You can support better companies with your dollars this year. Visit Karma Wallet for easy ways to switch to more sustainable brands.

MADE SAFE

What we buy matters. Our purchasing decisions send market signals that lay the foundation for large-scale change, and through them, we have the ability to build safer and healthier communities. 

MADE SAFE is a nonprofit organization that provides rigorous scientific and independent certifications for products free of any toxic ingredients known or suspected to harm human health, animals, or ecosystems. Products with the MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients™) seal are screened to ensure that over 6,500 Banned / Restricted List substances are avoided in product ingredients to eliminate chemical hazards that people are commonly exposed to in everyday routines. This takes the guesswork out of finding products that are safe for your family and the environment, making it easy to adopt better habits and support responsible brands this new year. 

In an effort to “revolutionize how consumer products are made,” the MADE SAFE team works with brands to develop ingredient formulas that adhere to substance-level specifications and ultimately meet the stringent certification standards. Unlike other certifications in health or sustainability, they are not beholden to corporate interests, and thus have gained an impeccable reputation of independence and trust. 

Connect with Amy Ziff, MADE SAFE Founder and Executive Director, during our upcoming webinar on January 18th—Plastic-Free Resolutions: Protecting Your Health in 2024. She will be moderating the event and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to what will surely be an enriching conversation.

Naturepedic

Did you know that most conventional mattresses contain toxic polyurethane foams (including memory foam, soy foam, and “eco” foam), which are derived from petrochemicals and typically contain plasticizers, harmful flame retardants, antimicrobials, and preservatives? 

Naturepedic, pioneer of the organic mattress revolution, completely eliminates polyurethane foam from all its mattresses, instead providing comfort and support with environmentally safer materials, such as organic wool and organic cotton—materials that are MADE SAFE certified and GOTS certified organic. For babies and kids, Naturepedic provides innovative food-grade waterproofing made without polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic of high concern as defined by GreenScreen® Benchmark 1. All of Naturepedic’s mattresses are also GREENGUARD® Gold certified to demonstrate their high standards for chemical management and prevent air pollution in our homes.

Recently, Naturepedic reinforced its position as a leader in the mattress industry by implementing a kraft paper roll-packing machine that allows the brand to roll-pack all mattresses, mattress toppers and comfort layers in fully recyclable kraft paper instead of single-use plastic. This effort alone will keep 55,000 pounds of plastic out of landfills each year. 

Last year was Naturepedic’s 20th anniversary, and we applaud their commitment to non-toxic products, continuous carbon- and plastic- footprint improvement, and transparent business practices for consumer safety. The company was recently featured in our 2023 Plastic-Free Holiday Guide, and are members of 1% for the Planet. 
Consider upgrading to healthier sleep for your family with Naturepedic.

Perpetual

Perpetual is a new PPC Organization Member and an established leader in the reuse space. Through multi-stakeholder engagement, they are working to catalyze system shifts that enable reuse infrastructure to be scaled and accessed by all. 

Perpetual’s current focus is to provide efficient and safe reusable foodware solutions for cities. Their team is designing open-loop systems for four communities in the U.S. through participatory cross-sector engagement and Ecosystem Mapping. They are establishing city-wide reuse systems that can exist in perpetuity for and from the communities in which they are built, overcoming inefficiencies and “imagination gaps” that can’t be tested in pilot programs. To bring proven reuse systems to city scale, they engage in workstreams such as: Interactive Community Design Processes, public and private funding mobilization, Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs), and Circularity Assessment Protocols (CAPs) with academic partners like University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and University of Georgia’s Circularity Informatics Lab.

Some of Perpetual’s most important work has been advancing reuse solutions for a global audience through their Living Landscap­e of Reusable Solution­s, a global list of for profit and nonprofit programs, campaigns, and systems that has demonstrated the feasibility of reuse around the world and inspired further action. From technical assistance and policy advocacy support to shipping & logistics solutions, the database includes both formal and informal ways of rapidly adopting reuse and refill systems. Their team authors a practical and informative bi-weekly newsletter showcasing these solutions and providing readers with pathways to stay connected and inspired. Sign up for it here.

Recently, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Hilo, Hawaii, Perpetual’s team has progressed to the next phase of unique systems design, incorporating feedback gained from community workshops, industry knowledge, and ongoing discussions with stakeholders. Their work in Galveston, Texas, and Savannah, Georgia will soon follow similar processes. Stay tuned!

Does your business or organization align with our mission to build a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impacts? Apply to join our global movement.

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