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Seeing Red on Climate

Todd Tanner has a pretty sweet offer for his fellow Montanans: a new shotgun in exchange for science-based evidence that he’s wrong about climate change.

The conservationist uses the challenge in an attempt to raise awareness about our warming planet. A lot of people where Tanner lives in Bigfork, Montana, would probably like to take him up on his offer: The state has one of the highest rates of outdoor recreationists in the country, and Tanner is no exception. He was planning on going hunting after we finished our interview. “You wouldn’t know it,” he said over the phone, “but I’m literally walking around in a pair of wool pants.”

Tanner is sure he’ll never have to hand over that new shotgun, though he says he would love to find out that anthropogenic climate change isn’t real. “If someone shows me the error of my ways they can have their choice,” he said. “They can have any rifle, shotgun, pistol, or rod I own, and I’ll walk away feeling like I got the better end of the bargain.”

Since 2011, Tanner has harnessed his prominent position in Montana’s hunting and fishing communities to get people engaged. After wildfires incinerated forests and droughts desiccated rivers in Big Sky Country this year, agitated sportsmen and women have become easier to find. Tanner’s nonprofit, Conservation Hawks, is part of a coalition of grassroots organizations trying to pull conservatives into the conversation about rising temperatures.

And it’s starting to work. There’s a small but growing alliance of concerned conservatives who want to reclaim climate change as a nonpartisan issue. This motley crew of lobbyists, Evangelical Christians, and far-right radicals call themselves the “eco-right.”

Christine Todd Whitman, former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, believes the eco-right has a real chance at inspiring action in Congress. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, and a record-breaking year of environmental disasters finally behind us, 2018 could be the year the party reverses course. “If you look at the damage from just this last summer, from the floods, the droughts, the fires, it’s pushing $300 billion out of our economy,” Whitman said.

In Montana, Tanner diligently crafts his messaging in the hopes that he can turn even a small portion of the red state’s hunters and anglers into climate activists. There’s also a broader, national effort to target American conservatives. RepublicEn, for instance, is a coalition of more than 4,000 conservatives and libertarians pushing for environmental action. The organization hopes that, generations from now, the eco-right will be remembered for leading the United States out of the climate crisis and into the clean energy revolution.

Alex Bozmoski is the director of strategy and operations at RepublicEn. It’s a job he’s well-suited for — he used to be a climate denier himself.


Alex Bozmoski

As an undergrad at Georgetown, Bozmoski enrolled in a climate science class as a joke, planning to heckle the professor. But when challenged to justify his skepticism, Bozmoski found he had drawn erroneous conclusions fueled by conservative radio shows and Fox News. He cast around in his network of fellow Republicans and conservatives for people he could discuss his newfound understanding of climate change with, but he kept coming up empty.

Bozmoski found that, despite a long legacy of environmental leadership in the Republican Party, most modern-day members weren’t even thinking about our overheating planet, let alone figuring out how to address the problem.

Environmental issues weren’t always this polarizing. President Nixon set a firm national precedent when he created the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970. The Senate passed the Clean Air Act that same year, 73 votes to 0.

Fast-forward to the 2012 presidential election, when multiple Republican candidates advocated for abolishing the EPA. Two years later, just one of all the 107 Republicans running for Senate mentioned climate change.

It’s no wonder Bozmoski felt betrayed by his party and ill-equipped to apply his conservative thinking to the issue. Yet he could still understand why his fellow conservatives didn’t care.

“When you don’t trust anyone talking about climate change, when you don’t see your tribe talking about solutions that fit with your worldview, it’s really easy to cope with the problem by ignoring it or denying it,” he said. Bozmoski did neither.

He went hunting for like-minded Republicans and found Bob Inglis, a former U.S. representative from South Carolina who came out swinging against global warming in 2010 (a position that likely cost him his seat in the House). Bozmoski tracked the ousted politician down in 2012, and they started a project called the Energy and Enterprise Initiative. RepublicEn grew out of that project. They popularized the term “eco-right.”

RepublicEn hit the road in 2014, traveling across the country to persuade conservatives that their principles and values can be applied to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, RepublicEn has held 300 events across America, mostly for expressly conservative audiences. Bozmoski estimates that the organization has reached more than 26,000 Americans. He gets people to listen by reminding them that they have power.

“You are the most important environmental champions on planet Earth,” he tells them. “Republicans won’t lead without first being led by their constituents. You have an outsized influence on our ability as humanity to deal with this problem.”

RepublicEn hopes to generate conservative support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. “It’s the only solution that’s effective enough to address climate change and fits with conservative principles,” Bozmoski said.

A carbon tax is pragmatic and relatively simple: Put a rising fee on the use of fossil fuels, forcing companies to curb their emissions. To make it revenue neutral — and more acceptable to conservatives — the money generated by that fee goes back to Americans through checks or by cutting payroll or sales taxes.

A carbon tax in any form is unlikely to make it through today’s highly partisan Congress, so, in the meantime, RepublicEn advocates for a level playing field for wind and solar energy, less leaky oil and gas infrastructure, and nuclear power.


Jessica Fernandez, a lifelong Floridian and conservative, was one of the people inspired by RepublicEn’s national eco-right tour. Her upbringing might have had something to do with it. “At my house,” she said, “we grew up with solar panels on the roof and composting.”

Jessica Fernandez

In 2014, she met Alex Bozmoski and Debbie Dooley, head of a subset of the Tea Party called the Green Tea Party. Fernandez, a long-time director of the Miami Young Republicans, liked their pitch that conservatives should be leaders in conserving the environment. “It’s groundbreaking, I know,” she said with a chuckle. When trying to engage other Republicans on green issues, she quickly learned that an alarmist attitude just doesn’t work.

What approach does work? A focus on money. Fernandez said that conservatives are more likely to respond positively if you say, “Hey! Fixing the climate is something that can benefit you economically.” She tells them about community solutions like solar co-ops, groups of homeowners who use their collective purchasing power to install solar on the cheap, thereby reducing monthly electric bills.

Tanner, the conservationist from Montana, approaches the issue from a different angle. He thinks talking to conservatives about climate change requires language that is hyper-specific and localized.

The fine lines between demographics are razor-sharp. Messaging that works for a hunter might not work for a fisherman, even though both face the same set of environmental consequences: a scarcity of fish and game. “It’s almost like code,” he said. “As soon as you try and talk to people who aren’t like you, all of these barriers go up.”

For that reason, Tanner says the messenger and the message have to be authentic. He spends his weeks customizing language that personally appeals to various sub-demographics of sportsmen and women. There are millions of hunters and anglers in the United States. “That’s a ton of us,” he said. “If even 20 percent or 30 percent of them got engaged, it would have a huge impact.”


James Tolbert

James Tolbert is an unlikely environmental lobbyist. He spent 27 years helping big corporations clean up pollution. In 2013, the engineer was wrapping up work on the fallout from a million gallons of crude oil spilling from the Enbridge Pipeline into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan when he decided to switch teams. He traded in his senior position at energy infrastructure firm AECOM for a role as a lobbyist at Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

While Conservation Hawks and RepublicEn use grassroots organizing to drum up support among conservatives, lobbyists like Tolbert use a “grasstops” approach to push Republican representatives in Congress to support solutions.

We “create political space with a member of Congress by showing him that there is support from key members in his community,” Tolbert said. Citizens’ Climate Lobby calls these key community members “influencers” — business leaders, members of the chamber of commerce, even regional newspaper editorial boards. He sees them as crucial to getting anywhere with members of Congress.

When a Republican representative hesitates to accept climate change for fear of losing an upcoming reelection campaign, a well-placed opinion piece in a hometown newspaper or an endorsement from a local business leader can occasionally tip the scales.

It’s premature to say the winds of change are blowing, but we may be seeing the beginnings of a breeze. This month, more than 100 congressional lawmakers, including 11 House Republicans, wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to address climate change and the threat it poses to national security after his administration left the issue out of its national security strategy.

William Ruckelshaus, who served as EPA administrator under Nixon and President Reagan, has met with a number of eco-right organizations. He believes massive support for significant action on global warming is “going to have to include conservative groups, and virtually every discipline in society.” When Republicans do finally warm up to the idea of a conservative environmental movement, the eco-right will step out of the wings.

“They’re going to begin to get worried” about the growing impacts of a warming planet, Ruckelshaus said. “If there are organizations that they feel more comfortable with, they’re more likely to sign on.”


Todd Tanner.Image credit: Jeremy Roberts

The eco-right hasn’t exactly received a warm embrace from the conservative movement. In 2014, the Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm Berman and Company launched the Environmental Policy Alliance — yes, EPA for short. The outfit is “devoted to uncovering the funding and hidden agendas behind environmental activist groups.” Among its targets: climate-conscious organizations like Tanner’s Conservation Hawks.

Shortly after it started, the alliance launched a website called Green Decoys, which claims that left-wing environmental NGOs use sportsmen as a cover for their “radical environmental activist” agendas.

The site has a different informational video targeting each kind of American conservation group. In the “Montana” video, a man in camouflage carrying a rifle speaks straight into the camera. “I’m a real sportsman,” he says. “And I’m a member of organizations that support hunting and fishing.” His double appears on screen, wearing a camo neckerchief. “And I’m a phony sportsman,” the double says. “I support candidates that think we cling to our guns because we just don’t know any better.”

Tanner isn’t worried about people who question his legitimacy. “If the folks who run Green Decoys, and I’m well aware of who they are, want to get together and see who’s a better hunter or fisher, or who’s the real deal and who’s not,” he said, “we are more than happy to have that conversation.”

Bozmoski recognizes that some conservatives have gone too far down the path of denial to be receptive to RepublicEn’s message. “We aren’t big enough to go around persuading people who really believe, to their core, that this is a government conspiracy,” he said. “We don’t worry about the people on the fringe who are hobbyists in antagonism on climate change.”

Fernandez hopes the tide of support for environmental legislation will rise to the highest levels of government.

“Climate change doesn’t have a political affiliation,” she said. She believes that even President Trump might change his tune if the solution is “repackaged as something that benefits the United States of America.”

What should the eco-right do while the top dogs on Capitol Hill insist on looking the other way? Ruckelshaus, the former EPA chief, says to “keep on.” But as we descend into ever-worsening environmental chaos, the question remains: How soon can these conservatives alter the course of history?

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Seeing Red on Climate

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Should We Be Taxing Single-Use Cups?

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Should We Be Taxing Single-Use Cups?

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10 Unusual Uses for Olive Oil

Olive oil is a “healthy fat” and in moderation can help reduce your risk for all sorts of ailments, like heart disease and high blood pressure. We know that olive oil is healthy for our insides, but did you know it has all sorts of other uses for you, around the home, and even for pets?

Let’s take a look at some uses for olive oil beyond the kitchen, and I’d love to hear your unusual uses for olive oil in the comments!

1. Make your own sugar scrub

You can use olive oil to create a moisturizing, exfoliating sugar scrub that’s great for soothing dry winter skin. Just mix up sugar with enough olive oil to form a paste, add scent with your favorite essential oils, and you’re ready to rock. Massage the sugar scrub into your skin in the shower or bath.

2. Moisturize your hands and feet

To give those dry hands and feet some extra TLC this winter, massage a small amount of olive oil into your skin after you take a bath or shower. Put on socks and gloves afterward to help that moisture absorb into your skin. You’ll notice results almost immediately!

3. Oiling your hair

Oiling your hair is a practice that’s been around for centuries. While some tutorials call for coconut oil to oil your hair, olive oil works just as well. Just put a few drops of olive oil onto your hands, massage into your scalp, then brush or comb to distribute the oil evenly. Let it sit for about an hour, then wash the excess oil away with your favorite non-toxic shampoo.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by pinguino

4. Hairball prevention for cats

Even your cats can benefit from olive oil! Depending on your cat’s size, feed her 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to help prevent hairballs. The olive oil will help their coats look shinier, too!

5. Unsticking a zipper

Ever gone to take off your boots, only to discover that the zipper is stuck? Free yourself by dabbing a bit of olive oil onto the zipper’s teeth to help it slide along smoothly. Remember: a little oil goes a long way.

6. Makeup remover

Store bought makeup removers and cold creams are often loaded with toxic mystery ingredients. You can skip the polysyllabic guessing game with olive oil instead. Use a warm, damp wash cloth or a cotton ball with a couple of drops of olive oil to remove makeup and moisturize your face at the same time.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Perfecto Insecto

7. Soothe a sunburn

You don’t want to put oil onto your skin the day that you notice a burn, but start moisturizing with olive oil a day or two later to help prevent peeling and heal your damaged skin.

8. Treat a dry scalp

Forget the Head and Shoulders, which is full of mystery ingredients! Massage a small amount of olive oil into your scalp to moisturize and fight those flakes.

9. Revitalize wood furniture

Whip up a mixture that’s 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Put a small amount of oil on a soft cloth, and wipe down your wood furniture. It will keep the wood from drying out and help hide small nicks and scratches.

10. Wash your face

Washing your face with oil may sound counter-intuitive, but many green beauty gurus swear by the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). Need some tips to get started? Kayla Coleman has an excellent how-to for OCM newbies!

I bet this only scratches the surface of olive oil’s many uses. How do you use olive oil when you’re not cooking with it? Let’s keep the ideas coming in the comments!

Related:

15 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds
49 Uses for Tea
20 Great Uses for Tea Tree Oil

Main Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by avlxyz

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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The start of a new year is traditionally the time to reflect on the past and set goals to improve in the future. As you do so, consider setting some personal environmental goals to help you on your path to living a greener, healthier, more sustainable life. The three goals below are a great place to start.

Reduce Your Food Waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year. Clearly, cutting back on food waste is something most of us could work on. Shopping smarter is the first step in reducing your food waste. Walking into the grocery store with no plan can be a big mistake. Without a plan, it’s easy to buy far more food than you’ll actually eat, or foods that you won’t eat all of, during a given week.

By planning effectively, you can buy exactly what you need without getting too much excess. Finding good recipes is a key component. Often, recipes will call for a small portion of something, such as half a bell pepper. As you plan your meals for a week, find recipes that use many of the same ingredients, so you won’t be left with extras. Don’t forget to visit the bulk bins, where you can get exactly the quantity you need of certain ingredients. And make sure you actually eat the leftovers, rather than watching them grow mold in the back of your refrigerator.

When you do have leftovers that don’t get eaten, a backyard composting heap can be an excellent way to reuse them. Composting can be done regardless of your yard size, and can even been done when you live in an apartment.

Decrease Time in the Car

Cutting back on time in a car can be a daunting task, especially if you’re one of the many people that has to commute to work each day. But there are a number of things you can do to reduce the mileage.

One, you could switch to public transit a few days each week if this is available in your area. Riding the train, subway, or bus may not always be convenient, but by doing it just a couple of days per week, you’ll make a significant impact over the course of a year.

Two, carpool with a coworker. I get it, carpooling can be a bit of a pain. You’re forced to work on someone else’s schedule and there’s no “swinging by the store” on your way home. But instead of carpooling every day, why not do it a few days each week? If you carpooled every Tuesday and Thursday, you’d reduce your driving and get to know your coworkers better.

Carpooling is cool! Photo: Adobe Stock

Three, work from home more. While not every employer is open to the idea of remote workers just yet, why not try easing your boss into it. See if you can work from home just once a week or even one day every other week. As they see your productivity unchanged, they may open up to letting you do so more often.

Cut Back on Consumption

The last goal I’ll list here for you to consider setting this year is to consume less. Every new item you buy requires resources to manufacture and transport. In many cases, these items will be used a limited number of times before ending up shoved into a closet or, even worse, in the trash.

When considering a purchase, first think about how much you’ll actually use it. If the answer is rarely, consider borrowing it from a neighbor or friend. You may not need a power sander regularly, but your neighbor may be willing to let you use his. Participating in the sharing economy can be an effective way to reduce your consumption. There are also many services that rent out equipment and items for short periods of time.

If it’s something you will use often, first consider buying it used. There are so many great ways to shop for used items these days, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in good condition somewhere. If you do need/want to buy new, always strive to buy quality items. This is especially important when it comes to clothes and shoes. You may have to pay a bit more, but in the long run, it’s absolutely worth it.

While these three green goals are a great place to start, there are many more out there. What are some of your green goals for this new year?

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Predicting the Biggest Green Trend for 2018

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Although Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green,” over the past decade, it sure has been cool to live green.

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006, there seems to be one eco-friendly product or innovation that takes the U.S. by storm each year and enters the mainstream. In many cases, it’s a product that has been around for years that becomes popular due to legislation, lower prices or a scientific health study.

Even without a crystal ball, we can look at some of the green trends that appear to be on the rise heading into 2018.

What Makes a Green Trend?

In order to identify which green trend is about to take off, it’s helpful to look back at how previous green trends came to play. Here are the biggest green trends since 2007 and the trigger that started each:

Year
Green Trend
Cause(s)
Impact
2007
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL)
Legislation, price
Highest U.S. CFL sales of all-time
2008
Proper disposal of medications
Scientific study
DEA starts national drug collection events
2009
Television recycling
Legislation
Consumers stop buying CRT screens and recycle old ones after digital switch
2010
Metal water bottles/ Bisphenol A (BPA)
Scientific study
Drop in reusable plastic water bottle sales due to BPA concerns
2011
Online shopping/
Cyber Monday
Price
Cyber Monday catches Black Friday for consumer interest in holiday shopping
2012
Hybrid/electric cars
Price
High gas prices, new models lead to 73 percent increase in hybrid sales over the previous year
2013
Fracking
Legislation, social media
New tech for acquiring natural gas leads to countless protests over environmental impact
2014
Farm-to-table food
General trend
Americans demand (and pay for) locally sourced foods
2015
Graywater
Legislation, natural disaster
California droughts make graywater a hot topic to water plants and grow crops
2016
Dakota Access Pipeline
Legislation, social media
Native American tribe protest goes viral on social media
2017
Flexitarianism
Scientific study
Documentaries like What the Health lead Americans to consider more plant-based diets

There’s no real pattern to discern from the past 11 years, other than the fact that these green trends were fueled by new laws, health studies, social media or a reduction in price. All of these circumstances are difficult to predict.

Candidates for 2018’s Greenest Trend

Before we crown a winner, here are a few contenders for the biggest green fad of 2018:

Companies embrace telecommuting: Yes, working from home already feels big, but only 3 percent of the U.S. workforce got to work from home in 2015. The environmental benefits are obvious, from reducing car emissions to limiting office waste. But companies are finally starting to see the cost savings in telecommuting, and as the unemployment rate falls, working remotely will be a top way to recruit new talent in industries like technology and health care. Expect to see fewer employees around the office next year, and for a positive reason.

Telecommuting will only rise in popularity in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock

Emphasis on food product labeling: Consumers have already shown they want to know where their food comes from and its ingredients, but labels can tell so much more. The FDA will be requiring food manufacturers to print new nutrition labels starting in 2018 that provide a more accurate account of nutritional elements. Whole Foods has also announced that all its food products must provide genetically modified organisms (GMO) information on the label by September 2018. Expect to spend more time at the grocery store researching what goes in your body.

We’ll spend more time reading labels in the store in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock

The solar revolution takes hold: Until recently, most of the investment in solar technology was restricted to commercial buildings and the richest homeowners. But the price of solar panels continues to fall, and it’s not just for buildings anymore. Some of the coolest innovations in electronics are due to solar power. Expect to see more solar-powered backpacks, watches and city trash cans, as Americans embrace the power of the sun.

Expect more roofs with solar panels this coming year. Photo: Adobe Stock

And the Winner Is . . .

Emphasis on food product labeling

This trend has everything consumers care about when it comes to green trends: government involvement, health concerns and even the price impact as health care cost increases necessitate better nutrition. Plus, in two of the past four years, the green trend was related to diet.

What do you think the big green trend will be this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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Predicting the Biggest Green Trend for 2018

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10 Easy Things to Make Your Home Smarter

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10 Easy Things to Make Your Home Smarter

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How to Store Leftovers Without Plastic Packaging

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How to Store Leftovers Without Plastic Packaging

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How to Green the Marijuana Industry

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From the outside looking in, the marijuana industry might appear very eco-friendly. After all, it involves harvesting plants — what could be greener than that? But there’s a darker environmental underbelly to many cannabis operations and, in a time where legalization is sweeping the nation, something has to be done.

Confronting the Problem

The problem with marijuana production is that most growing is done inside warehouses, greenhouses and other carefully monitored environments. As such, growers have very specific light and temperature requirements. Paul Isenbergh, who owns three cannabis-growing facilities in the hotbed market of Denver, Colo., told The Guardian he pays at least $4,000 per month for electricity. And when you consider that there are thousands of people just like Isenbergh, it’s not hard to believe a New Frontier study that says 1 percent of all U.S. energy is used to grow cannabis.

When it comes to outdoor growing, the situation isn’t much better. The pesticides used to protect the crops often pollute bodies of water and kill creatures.

“A bunch of fish may turn up dead in a creek, so we’ll go look, walk upstream and inevitably run into a marijuana growth site,” Patrick Foy from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told the International Business Times.

3 Things Industry Leaders Can Do

Clearly there’s a problem. While making the public aware of the issue is one thing that can be done, it’s ultimately up to the leaders of the industry to take charge — and many of them are doing so.

Here are a few specific things that are being done, or can be done, to make the cannabis industry greener.

1. Improve Supply Chain Visibility

For cannabis dispensaries, marijuana growers, and manufacturing and sales operations, visibility is an absolute must. It’s impossible to run a profitable and sustainable business without having a clear understanding of what’s happening within the business. Thankfully, progress is being made here.

Agrisoft Seed to Sale software is one product leading the way. Developed specifically for the cannabis industry, Agrisoft makes cannabis compliance a breeze and ensures businesses can track inventory and remain 100 percent accountable to regulators and lawmakers.

2. Dial Back Energy Usage

Energy consumption is obviously a big deal. In order for growers and harvesters to do their part, they’ll have to discover what it looks like to dial back energy usage without compromising the quality of their product.

According to Amy Andrle, who runs the only cannabis retail store in Denver with official sustainability certification, there are some specific things cannabis-related businesses must do. She encourages the use of LED lighting and avoiding peak demand by staggering when lights are turned on and off. She also suggests hand-watering plants and limiting gray water productions.

3. Enhance Packaging

Did you know that 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year — and that half of it is intended for single use? This might seem like an unrelated problem, but the reality is that almost all cannabis products use plastic in packaging. (In a recent list of approved cannabis packaging types that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission put out, 28 out of 29 options included plastic.)

Believe it or not, the cannabis industry can have a very real impact on the reduction of single-use plastic packaging consumption. Many companies are already working hard to do their part, but it’s important that more join the fold.

Make Marijuana Green Again

As the decriminalization of marijuana continues to happen in more and more states around the nation, it’s important for marijuana growing, packaging and sales to become greener.

Sustainability is what will allow the industry to move forward.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
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How Medicine Makes the Environment Sick

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Anna Johansson

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna loves enjoying the great outdoors with her family. Follow her on

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Latest posts by Anna Johansson (see all)

How to Green the Marijuana Industry – September 8, 2017
Partnership Forms to Recycle Waste in the Antarctic – August 10, 2017
Cultivating Mindfulness Helps You Care for the Earth – July 17, 2017

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Watering Guide for Summer Vegetables

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Watering Guide for Summer Vegetables

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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