We are going to turn off the light to turn on the conversation on climate change. Here is a sustainable candle guide to celebrate earth hour.
Unsplash/ Elizabeth Lies
It’s Earth Hour in a week (Saturday, March 30th, 20198) which means from 8:30 to 9:30 pm millions of people around the world will turn off their lights for one hour to show solidarity for the environment and the plight of the planet.
No matter how you look at it, it’s the LARGEST eco action we have. 5,000 cities in 187 countries and territories, on 7 continents will turn off the lights out.
From New York to New Zealand and Paris to Paraguay, we will all take part to recognize the symbolic action. I think the biggest impact is leading up to the event the media will actually talk about the environment and highlight some of the bigger issues facing us today, which unfortunately does not happen very often.
So to mark this occasion, we want to make sure the candles you use are as eco-friendly as possible could be and a part of the solution too.
In North America, we spend about $2 billion in candles every year and the majority of them are made from paraffin. Scented candles like “pine scent” and “vanilla bean” are filled with unsaturated hydrocarbons. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that these chemicals are linked to endocrine-disruption and can have serious implication to our lungs.
Unscented paraffin is no better. When we burn these types of candles we are exposing ourselves to formaldehyde (which is cariogenic), benzene and toluene (a neurotoxin). AVOID like the plague.
Unsplash/ Mike Labrum
Is a BIG no-no for many reasons. First off, in Indonesia and Malaysia, local governments have allowed palm producers to ravage local areas to keep up with the demand for palm oil on this side of the world.
“Between 1967 and 2000 the area under cultivation in Indonesia expanded from less than 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) to more than 30,000 square kilometers. Deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil and illegal logging is so rapid that a report in 2007 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said most of the country’s forest might be destroyed by 2022.”
– The Economist – “The Other Oil Spill”
Most of that land has been clear-cut to grow palm oil from which palm wax is derived. Not only is this land home to most diverse rain-forests in the world, its also home to the Orangutan, which is now on the brink of extinction thanks to the growing need for palm oil here in Canada.
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In 2006, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), partnered with oil producers in the region to form the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization committed to finding a way to produce palm in “a sustainable manner based on economic, social, and environmental viability.”
BUT!! in the article from the Economist published in June 2010, they found “an industry filled with many companies whose production methods infringed on RSPO standards and Indonesian law. They discovered that while the RSPO is a respectable organization, it has virtually no control over the behavior of its members. Its lack of success in certifying sustainable oil has critics joking that RSPO stands for “Really Slow Progress Overall”.
What’s worse is that the article reveals that even ‘certified’ members of the organization (just 15 of 355 total members) only have to prove that a percentage of their supply is sustainable. So, even if you are buying from a certified grower, there is a good chance you’re getting tainted oil. So best to just avoid!!
Unsplash/ Priscilla Du Preez
Not the best option either, most of them are genetically modified and sprayed to death with toxic pesticides. They do burn better because they don’t emit benzene or other petroleum-based chems, but the bigger issue is the impact growing soy has on the planet.
Is the best option (not if you are vegan) from a non-toxic perspective. They don’t emit any harmful chemicals when burning, they last longer than any of the others, and have a natural fragrance. BUT, it takes about 10lbs of honey to make 1lbs of beeswax and with the current state of bees dying, it’s something to keep in mind. On the other side of the coin though, they generate minimal carbon emissions. If you are going to burn, these are your best bet.
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Safer, cause they can’t burn the house down, but not really the greenest option either! They are typically made from plastic, silicone resin or, for more authentic aesthetics, paraffin wax. They’re also powered by batteries, which have a nasty impact on the environment at the end of their lives. Some 94 percent of dead batteries end up in landfill, where they can cause damage to soil micro-organisms and affect the breakdown of organic matter.
What do you think of this sustainable candle guide to celebrate earth hour? What will you be burning this year?