3p Contributor: Audrey Khuner

Audrey is a freelance copywriter. She has worked with every kind of company, helping them to communicate their message of sustainability. Careful to never greenwash, Audrey believes that transparency in marketing is just as important as branding. And that doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. When she's not blogging, marketing sustainability or writing radio commercials for Chinese food, you can find Audrey rock-climbing, riding her bike around San Francisco, or looking for work (she's available for hire, call now!)

Recent Articles

Surprise! Sigg Bottles Did Contain BPA After All.

| Wednesday September 2nd, 2009 | 11 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

sigghonest2A bottle full of BPA-laden tears. That’s what I’ve cried for you, Sigg. You have let me down. To think, you were my proud symbol of healthy environmentalism. You represented anti-plastic bottled water as I filled and refilled you every day at the tap. Now I am filled and refilled with shame for you and your company’s non-transparent ways.

I’m not so mad that your lining did in fact contain the reproductive health problem-causing BPA (the main reason consumers like me made an effort to avoid plastic in the first place), it’s that you lied. Perhaps the BPA in your lining does not leach into the liquid contained by your bottles, but your web of lies has leached into the consumer’s conscious. Good luck talking your way out of this one.

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Is There Such a Thing As Green Pesticide? EcoSMART Says Yes

| Monday August 31st, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Finally, a pesticide that can rid your house of all those pesky children and animals. Oh no wait, scratch that. It’s SAFE for children and animals. That packaging had me confused.

EcoSMART claims to be the only 100% safe insecticide that is proven to work.

Their products are based on the essential oils from plants and trees that the flora themselves use as natural defenses against insects and pathogens. According to their site, “EcoSMART’s proprietary botanical oil blends attack attributes that are specific only to pests, they have no effect on people, pets or the environment.”

And, according to their site, all the active ingredients in EcoSMART are FDA approved. In fact, they’re often found in cake, soft drinks and lipstick. Yum.

In addition to touting their eco-friendly pesiticides, EcoSMART is also raising awareness about harmful chemical pesticides in schools and playgrounds. They promote federal school pesticide/pest management legislation to protect children from hazardous pesticides used in and around schools while selling their product. How convenient.

Everything about this brand, that has been in existence for “many years,” sounds great. So why have I not heard of it until now? I praise this company for drawing attention to the problem of toxic pesticides in schools and playgrounds. My big question now is, does it work? I just purchased a 14 oz. can of “Flying Insect Killer” from their website. So stay tuned…

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Double the Pleasure: Recycle Your Old Sex Toys

| Tuesday August 25th, 2009 | 18 Comments

dildobin_bigStop filling up your garbage can with cheaply made vibrators. No more broken dildos piling up in landfill. Now you can recycle your old sex toys!

Yes, that’s recycle, not reuse, which is where my mind initially jumped.

According to the Recycle my Sex Toy site: “Finally, there’s an environmentally friendly way to dispose of used or broken vibrators, dildos, plugs, or any other sex toy you may have. Our Sex Toy Recycling program offers you a way to recycle sex toys that you no longer want or use.”

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Naturally Gorgeous? Sephora Has Their Own Definition

| Wednesday August 19th, 2009 | 8 Comments

sephora-natural A recent trip to Sephora to replace my favorite (and highly toxic) lip gloss sparked a question: What is “natural” beauty? I would define it as something unchanged by human hands, as in a sunset, a wild flower, or a good-looking person with no make up. Sephora defines it as make up containing “natural” ingredients.

But here’s where we start getting into trouble. There is no official definition of “natural” when it comes to beauty products. Unlike Certified Organic, there’s no USDA when it comes to cosmetics. The government regulates what passes through our lips, but not what we put on them. This leaves the door open to companies like Sephora to create their own definition of what  natural products are.

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Pee in the Shower: Save the Rainforest.

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 6 Comments

pee in the showerSOS Mata Atlantica Foundation, a Brazilian non-profit organization, is currently running a TV campaign encouraging viewers to save the Atlantic rainforest by peeing in the shower. Their kid-oriented commercial shows recognizable silhouettes, from King Kong to what appears to be Gandhi (really?), reducing their water usage by, uh, making some “rain” of their own in unusual places.

What does urination location have to with saving rainforests? The group says that by avoiding one toilet flush each day, an average household can save up to 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually. They don’t even mention the amount of toilet paper saved, or maybe they do, I don’t speak Portuguese.

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Clean Coal: The Battle of the Marketers

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 3 Comments

clean coal marketing With every great greenwashing campaign comes an equally fascinating anti-greenwashing campaign.

I have to credit the person who came up with the label “clean coal” because (while as of yet it’s a complete oxymoron) it says it all in the name, right? It’s coal, BUT it’s clean. As the Coen brothers explain in their fake ad, “Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word ‘Clean’”

America’s energy companies and watchdog organizations alike are having a field day with this one. Americans are seeing everything from “Factuality” to “Reality” grace their TV and computer screens.

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Does Evian’s New Campaign Go Too Far?

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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I’ll admit it, I’m already pretty biased against all bottled water companies. Anyone that takes a product that flows freely in most cities, puts in a plastic bottle, ships it thousands of miles and sells it for money is crossing quite a few environmental lines. But calling anything about that process “natural” is even more offensive. This is what Evian touts in its latest campaign.
This water is untouched by man until it reaches your lips,” boasts the website, billboard and ads.

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Less Plastic? Really, SanDisk?

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 11 Comments

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It’s time for SanDisk to rethink its packaging. Oh wait, it already has.
Really, SanDisk? Is that much really plastic really necessary? I don’t mean to pick on this company specifically. Many electronic companies need to come up with better solutions to packaging, and some are working on it. However, they need to come up with something just a little better than this sad display before boasting about it.
Thanks for the photos, Phil Villarreal.

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Organic Odor Eraser from Poo-Pourri

| Friday July 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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PooPourri.jpgAt last, an organic way to eliminate odors before taking a crap. I’m so sick of all those harsh chemicals I usually use to spray the toilet before going number two. Oh no, wait a minute, I never spray the toilet with anything, because, frankly, pooping is about as natural as you can get.
But that doesn’t stop Poo-Pourri from coming out with a new all new organic bathroom spray, aptly named: “Nature’s Call.”

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Electronic Cigarettes. Safer? Greener? Or Just Weirder?

| Thursday June 25th, 2009 | 8 Comments

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They look like cigarettes, act like cigarettes, give smokers their nicotine fix. And yet, they’re not cigarettes. They’re electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigs.” According to this CNN report, sales of e-cigs have been increasing over several years in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Brazil.
The claimed benefits? Instead of inhaling smoke, “e-smokers” (I just made that up) inhale a mixture of vaporized water, nicotine and propylene glycol (a common additive in food coloring and cake mixes). Yum. Their exhalation is not odorous second hand smoke, but just water vapor. According to the e-cig sellers, these battery-filled butts do not contain tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide or any of the other thousands of cancer-causing toxins in real cigarettes. Like the patch or the gum, e-cigs claim to help smokers kick their habit.
So are they healthier? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not entirely convinced. E-cigs are still an unapproved new drug due of a lack of scientific proof that they’re safe or effective.

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New 1% Rule Proposed for Reporting On Energy-Savings

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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We have certifications for organic claims, guides for green marketing, why not impose a new rule of thumb for news articles about energy-saving products or projects?
David MacKay of The Guardian proposes a rule that a device or project can only be reported in the public arena if it leads to energy savings of at least 1%. He complains that currently, valuable newspaper space is being wasted by the latest “green” inventions, “creating a delusion of happy progress while distracting people from serious change.”

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FTC Ensures Truthfulness of Environmental Marketing Claims

| Monday June 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

fresh-bath.jpg“Best tasting.” “Preferred by doctors.” “Will change your life forever.”
When it comes to advertising, brands are obviously not allowed to say anything they feel like. And yet when it comes to environmental claims, many still seem to think that they can.
Sadly, they often get away with it. Look at 7-Up with their “100% Natural Flavor” or Campbell’s Soup with their “100% recyclABLE packaging.” I’m sorry, but last time I checked, high fructose corn syrup wasn’t exactly “natural.” And wow, Campbell, your all-metal can is recyclable? That’s not exactly an environmental claim, and putting it on cans is a blatant attempt to fool the customer into thinking it’s recyclED.
Luckily, however, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on some of these semi-true claims with their Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.

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Walmart Releases 2009 Sustainability Report

| Wednesday June 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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It’s no secret that the very existence of “big box” stores that plant themselves in giant parking lots to bring cheaply manufactured goods from third-world countries to America (and around the world) is unsustainable. However, with its almost 8,000 stores, 2 million associates, over 100,000 suppliers and 200 million customers, any step in the right direction from the world’s biggest corporation has a huge influence. And Walmart has been making some definite steps in the right direction.
Walmart’s environmental goals are clear: “To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.”
So how close is Walmart to achieving these goals? I’m glad you asked. I have just the place for you to find out: Walmart’s 2009 Sustainability Report, released this week. Walmart has made some impressive leading environmental moves in some areas while also falling short in others.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Gwen Ruta, the vice president of corporate partnerships at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), commented on the latest from Walmart on EDF’s Innovation Exchange blog.

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McDonald’s Reports its Global Best of Green

| Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment

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The sustainability movement touches every company, incluing the folks that wrap factory-farmed beef products and feed them to the poor, obese masses. That’s right, the 2009 “Best of Green” innovations have come to McDonald’s. But it gets better, you can vote on them here!
This list of best practices highlights local innovations to be shared and applied in other McDonald’s markets around the world. The best practices cover many fronts including energy, packaging, anti-littering, recycling, logistics, communications, greening the restaurants, greening the workplace, sustainable food and supplier leadership.

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SF To Build California’s Largest Solar Plant (Despite the Fog)

| Wednesday May 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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If there’s one thing I know about being a longtime resident of San Francisco, it’s that it’s always hot and sunny here. Oh wait, did I say hot and sunny? I mean cold and ridiculously foggy. And the foggiest part of the city is, ironically, call the Sunset. Maybe it’s the name that threw them off when the SF Board of Supervisors approved a new 5-megawatt solar plant to be installed at the Sunset Reservoir.
Under a proposal approved Tuesday, Recurrent Energy, a privately owned solar power company, will create this new solar plant to sell the energy to San Francisco at a cost of about $2 million annually.

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