3p Contributor: Ariel Schwartz

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Recent Articles

Singtex Produces Fabric from Waste Coffee Grounds

| Tuesday July 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Singtex Industrial Co., a Taiwanese fabric producer, has embraced the sustainable fabric craze, but with a caffeinated twist: recycled coffee grounds. The company’s S. Cafe material uses fibers from grounds to purportedly produce a fabric that is quick-drying, controls odors, and protects wearers from harmful UV rays.

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What Should Happen to the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill?

| Friday June 26th, 2009 | 3 Comments

The Waxman-Markey climate bill (HR 2454), passed in the U.S. House of Representatives today, is hailed by many as the most important piece of climate change legislation ever. Yet it’s still receiving a surprising amount of opposition from environmentalists, mostly for it’s plentiful polluter permits, weak renewable electricity goals, and low carbon emission reduction targets . Greenpeace outright rejects the bill, claiming that it “sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets” and warning that “We simply no longer have the time for legislation this weak.” Friends of the Earth also warns against the bill, saying that in its current form, Waxman-Markey could actually increase the risks of climate change. But I still think the bill should be passed in the Senate. Here’s why.

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Imara Wants to Dominate the Lithium Ion Battery Market

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Increasing interest in the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) and full electric vehicle (EVs) industry is breeding attention for another industry, too: batteries. A glut of start-ups have popped up in recent years to take advantage of the market–Boston Power, A123 and ZPower, to name a few–and put their own spin on the traditional lithium-ion battery. I recently had the chance to talk to the CEO and VP of Business Development of Imara, one of the up-and-coming li-ion battery manufacturers, to find out what makes the company different from its competitors.

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Starbucks Uses Systems Thinking to Develop a Recyclable Cup

| Thursday May 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Starbucks has taken a lot of flack in the past few years for its non-recyclable cups, lack of recycling bins, and shoddy water use policies. In the past, Starbucks has covered up environmental embarrassments with vague promises to build more energy-efficient stores and cut carbon emissions. Now the coffee company is making a legitimate attempt to do right by the environment with a plan to make sure that all single-use cups are recyclable by 2012. But Starbucks isn’t stopping there; the company is using systems thinking to ensure that the entire life cycle of the cup –from factory to recycling bin–is sustainable.

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Seeking the Eco-Friendly Golf Course, Part 2

| Saturday May 9th, 2009 | 1 Comment

A few weeks ago, I took a look at the Isla Viveros Resort’s purportedly eco-friendly golf course. Isla Viveros is doing more than many golf courses in its quest for sustainability, but does South Carolina’s Kiawah Island Golf Resort, established in 1976, do better?

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SunChips Pushes its Environmental Cred with Compostable Chip Bag

| Saturday April 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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The familiar sight of plastic chip bags littering the ground could soon be a thing of the past if companies follow multigrain chip brand SunChips’ lead. SunChips rolled out a serious Earth Day initiative earlier this month–compostable chip bags. No, really. The bag will crumble in the dirt after only 14 weeks.
The new SunChip bag’s outer layer will be made with polyactic acid (PLA), a compostable, plant based renewable material. By Earth Day 2010, all North American Sunchips bags will feature the new 100% compostable packaging. SunChips’ switch is expected to cut greenhouse emissions significantly and eliminate the use of petroleum in packaging

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Michelin: The Official Tire of Yellowstone Park?

| Saturday April 11th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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It seems somewhat counterintuitive that a national park has an official tire company–after all, aren’t parks supposed to be about enjoying nature on foot? But the reality is that some park are just too big to traverse on foot or on a bike. Hundreds of employees drive through the 3,500 square miles of Yellowstone National Park on a regular basis just to keep the place running.

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How Can We Fix the Green Trust Gap?

| Saturday April 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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How do you tell the difference between truly eco-conscious brands and those that just fake it? It’s a hard thing to do without extensive research. According to a newly released study from branding and marketing firm BBMG, nearly one in four U.S. consumers say they have no way of knowing if a product is green or actually does what it claims–in other words, there’s a serious green trust gap between companies and consumers.
It’s not that people aren’t interested in environmentally sound products. BBMG’s study, entitled Conscious Consumer Report: Redefining Value in a New Economy, shows that 77% of Americans think they “can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies.” But most people don’t trust product packaging and company advertising to guide them in the right direction. Instead, consumers look to certification seals and labels as well as ingredient lists to determine whether products are actually green.

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Monsanto Denounces GMO Crops, Launches Permaculture Design Service

| Wednesday April 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

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I’ve got to hand it to Monsanto. After years of alienating food-conscious consumers with genetically-engineered crops, destructive farming practices, and toxic waste, the agricultural company has performed a complete 180. As of today, Monsanto is ditching GMO crops completely. The company is also launching a permaculture design service to help its GMO-reliant farmers transition to organic practices.

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In Search of the Eco-Friendly Golf Course

| Friday March 27th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Here’s a fun experiment: go to your favorite deep-green environmentalist friend and say the phrase “sustainable golf course.” You’re likely to be subjected to at least half an hour of explanations about why golf is inherently unsustainable. Or maybe you’re the deep-greenie questioning the existence of the mythic green golf course–you’ve probably heard references in passing to such a creature, but you don’t really believe it exists. After catching wind of a golf course in Panama that is pushing its sustainability as a main selling point, I decided that it was worth finding.

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How Green Can McDonald’s Go Before It Has to Face Its Food Problem?

| Thursday March 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Few people would argue that fast food is traditionally “green”, despite the slew of gourmet green fast food restaurants that have popped up recently. But Inhabitat’s coverage of student-designed biodegradable packaging brings up an interesting point: how green can fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King actually ever be?

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