3p Contributor: Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie Cheeseman Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Recent Articles

Adidas Group Exceeds Sustainable Cotton Target

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday February 26th, 2015 | 1 Comment

cottonThe Adidas Group made a big announcement this week: In 2014, the company sourced more than 30 percent of its cotton as Better Cotton, exceeding its original 25 percent target. That is the most sustainable cotton used in the company’s history.

The majority of the Better Cotton sourced by Adidas came from India, Pakistan and Brazil. The company will provide more information about its progress in its 2014 Sustainability Report, scheduled for release in April.

Adidas has set a goal to purchase 100 percent of the cotton it uses from sustainable sources by 2018. It aims to use 40 percent Better Cotton by 2015. The athletic wear brand’s goals on cotton are part of its overarching sustainability strategy, which includes a low-waste initiative.

Why is Adidas’ announcement so important? The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) serves as a way for companies to work with the cotton sector to create a more sustainable system. BCI’s Better Cotton Standard System includes a traceability system, and farmers in 19 countries are using it to produce Better Cotton.

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Keurig Green Mountain Releases 2014 Sustainability Report

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 25th, 2015 | 0 Comments

KeurigMost of Keurig Green Mountain’s facilities are in low water risk regions, except for the one in Castroville, California. That facility is located in Monterey County, which, like nearly the entire state, is suffering a severe drought. The good news is that Keurig’s Castroville facility only withdraws a small amount of water from local supplies. That’s great in a county so drought-stricken that does not allow some of its residents to do outdoor watering during the day.

Keurig’s latest sustainability report points out that the Keurig brewing system actually reduces water use as compared to conventional systems, as it uses only the amount of water that will be consumed. (About 12 to 15 percent of home brewed coffee is wasted, on average, the company said.)

Keurig conducted a water footprint analysis related to the manufacturing and use of its coffee portion packs. What the water footprint showed is that it is not a large direct consumer of water. That’s a good thing, particularly for this California girl.

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Marine Stewardship Council Streamlines Standards

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 24th, 2015 | 0 Comments

seafoodThe need for sustainable seafood is great. Overfishing is a global problem with about 90 percent of the world’s fisheries either fully exploited, overexploited or collapsed. The world’s fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level, and several key commercial fish populations have declined to the extent that their survival is threatened. That makes sustainability standards for seafood, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), very important. And MSC has recently updated its Chain of Custody Standard.

MSC’s new Chain of Custody Standards are now “more streamlined, clear and accessible,” as a press statement puts it. The new requirements are designed to make it easier for restaurants, fishmongers and caterers to use them. Published on February 20, the updated Standards will apply to all MSC Chain of Custody audits from September 1, 2015 onwards.

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Nestlé USA to Eliminate Artificial Flavors and Colors

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 2 Comments

Nestlé Coffee Crisp

Nestlé USA recently announced it is removing artificial flavors and artificial colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of this year. Over 250 products and 10 brands will be free of artificial ingredients. By mid-2015, products featuring a label that declares “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” will start appearing on store shelves.

Nestlé USA plans to replace artificial flavors and colors with ones from natural sources, and cites several examples. In the Butterfinger candy bar, annatto, derived from the seeds in the fruit from the achiote tree, will replace Red 40 and Yellow 5. In Crunch, natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin.

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Organic Valley Targets Bros In New Ad

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 2 Comments

Organic FuelOrganic produce is better for our health and the environment. What’s not to love about a farming system that eliminates toxic herbicides and pesticides? One company wants to tout the benefits of organics in a humorous way. That company is Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based organic farmer co-op. Humanaut has produced a faux public service announcement (PSA) for the company called “Save the Bros.”

Save the Bros uses the stereotypical muscle man who lives to go to the gym to get across the message that organics are better and so is Organic Valley’s Organic Fuel drink. The Save the Bros campaign also has a website that touts Organic Fuel. It mentions that the drink has 26 grams of protein, organic milk and is free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, synthetic hormones, and artificial sweeteners. That is all great, but there is a big problem with Organic Fuel: it is loaded with sugar, 26 grams to be exact.

Ed note: Organic Valley reached out to let us know that their formulation was designed with the needs of athletes in mind and the sugar content of the formulation helps with muscle recovery. 

Dietary experts have linked the regular consumption of sugary drinks with the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over one-third of all U.S. adults are obese.

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How Sprint Supports Net Neutrality

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 20th, 2015 | 1 Comment

SprintAn open Internet is something that is important to me as a freelance journalist, and apparently it is important to one of the major telecommunications companies, too: While AT&T, Verizon and Comcast have made things difficult for supporters of net neutrality, Sprint is taking a different tack.

Sprint Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye spoke to Reuters: “It’s one of those topics that is highly charged, highly politicized, and we took a step back and said it works in the interest of our customers, our consumers and the industry. And we frankly found some of the arguments (of our competitors) to be less than compelling,” Bye said. “Our competitors are going to continue to invest so they are representing a situation that won’t play out.”

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Seafood Distributor Makes Sustainability Policy Front and Center

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday February 19th, 2015 | 0 Comments

seafoodIt makes good business sense for a company that sells seafood to buy its products from sustainable sources. Sea Delight, a leading frozen fish distributor, recently made its sustainable seafood policy public — and front and center — on its website.

Sea Delight partnered with FishWise, a sustainable seafood consultancy, to develop the policy. Moving forward, FishWise will collect data on the seafood Sea Delight procures and use the data to assess, monitor and create an evaluation framework.

Sea Delight has set certain measurable goals for its supply chain, including:

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Lead and Cadmium Found in Popular Chocolate Candies

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments

ChocolateThere’s just nothing like a bar of chocolate. As a consummate and passionate chocolate lover, I am dismayed to learn that I might be ingesting lead and cadmium when I eat a chocolate bar.

The nonprofit foundation As You Sow tested 42 chocolate products for lead and cadmium, and found that 26 of them (62 percent) have lead and/or cadmium in levels that violate California’s Proposition 65 law. Under Proposition 65, companies are required to warn consumers about significant amounts of chemicals present in the products they buy. Proposition 65 also requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Both lead and cadmium are on the list.

As You Sow filed notices of legal action with 16 manufacturers for not providing the required warnings that their chocolate products contain lead, cadmium or both. The companies include Hershey, See’s Candies, Mars and Godiva. The reason As You Sow filed the legal notices is because “consumers need to know that chocolate may contain heavy metals,” Eleanne van Vliet, As You Sow’s toxic chemical research director, said in a statement.

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Coalition Files Lawsuit to Stay EPA Decision on New Herbicide Combo

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 17th, 2015 | 15 Comments

crop dusterA coalition of environmental groups and farmers is trying to stay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s October 2014 decision to approve Enlist Duo, a powerful new herbicide.

Enlist Duo is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate, and it’s approved to be used on genetically modified (GMO) crops in six Midwestern states. Enlist Duo approval is expected to expand to 10 other states.

The coalition argues that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by not consulting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about the impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those six Midwestern states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.

The whooping crane is one of the world’s most endangered animals. In 2006, there were only about 338 whooping cranes in the wild. The EPA admitted that during the whooping crane’s migration the birds “will stop to eat and may consume arthropod prey” that may have been exposed to Enlist Duo and that exposure is toxic to them. The Indiana bat could suffer reproductive damage from Enlist Duo exposure. Scientists cite pesticide contamination of their food supply as one of the reasons for their decline.

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Zara Parent Company Drops Angora Products

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday February 12th, 2015 | 0 Comments

angoraPictures or videos of animal cruelty immediately capture our attention. Most of us like animals and want them to be treated humanely. A company that buys angora wool, often associated with animal cruelty, is going to be targeted by activists. That’s what happened to Inditex, the parent company of the clothing chain Zara. A few years ago PETA investigated abuse on angora farms and released a video of rabbits having their fur ripped out and screaming in pain. I saw the video. It’s beyond upsetting.

Inditex recently announced that angora products will no longer be sold at its 6,500 stores. The company also owns Bershka and Massimo Dutti. “The angora products have been removed from the stores, in particular items that were in last year’s autumn and winter collection,” a spokesperson told the AFP. The company’s website states that it “does not sell products containing angora wool.”

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Facebook Doesn’t Enforce Its Own Standards On Hate Speech

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 11th, 2015 | 2 Comments

FacebookHate speech and the Internet can go hand-in-hand, including on Facebook. It recently came to my attention that Facebook does not enforce its own standards regarding hate speech. While scrolling through posts on my Facebook feed, I came across a post about an anti-Armenian group. The name of the said group was “F–k Armenia.” The posts in the group were very derogatory of Armenia and Armenians. Using “F–k Armenia” as a search term turned up about 10 other groups with that name.

There is a context to the proliferation of anti-Armenian Facebook groups that many may not know. This year on April 24, Armenians worldwide will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government. About 1.5 million Armenians, or 3 out of every 4 Armenians living under the Ottoman Turkish empire, were murdered. To this day the Turkish government refuses to recognize the genocide and continues its campaign of denial, even going to the extreme of stating that Armenians murdered Turks.

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Obama Administration Deems Climate Change a National Security Threat

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 2 Comments

coal trainClimate change is a national security issue. That’s the conclusion of the Obama administration’s recent National Security Strategy report. Or, in the words of the report: “Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.”

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Solar Rapidly Expands in Hawaii

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 10th, 2015 | 0 Comments

solarSolar power is really growing in Hawaii, as a recent report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows. Over the last five years, solar power has grown exponentially, particularly in Oahu where most of the state’s population lives: About 12 percent of Oahu residents have rooftop solar, compared to the U.S. average of 0.50 percent.

As larger and more efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are installed, the average capacity of residential net-metered PV systems has been increasing all over Hawaii.

Hawaii is unique when it comes to energy fuels in that it imports all that the state needs, and a large share of the state’s power comes from oil-fired generators. Hawaii’s electricity prices are the highest in the U.S. and that makes wind and solar power “economically attractive alternatives,” as the EIA report states.

But there are problems: Delays are slowing residential solar PV additions.

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Rooftop Solar? This Texas Town Says ‘Not in My Backyard’

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday February 9th, 2015 | 2 Comments

NIMBYNIMBY (not in my backyard) is alive and well in a Fort Worth, Texas suburb — and this time with a solar twist.

Back in December, the North Richland Hills town council passed an ordinance requiring homeowners whose roofs face the street to get permission to install rooftop solar power systems. The ordinance also states that solar panels can’t extend “beyond roof edges.” The town council’s reason for the ordinance, according to its website, is to “balance benefits to [the] homeowner with any potential impacts to the surrounding property owners.” That means some homeowners in North Richland Hills face an obstacle to installing rooftop solar, along with a special use permit fee that the Dallas Morning News reports could cost up to $600.

After receiving a petition from citizens, on Jan. 26 the town council agreed to “revisit” the ordinance on solar panels. The council will survey residents to decide what changes citizens want to the ordinance, and any amendments to it will go through a public hearing process. The special use permit fee will be waived while the ordinance is being reviewed.

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Shell Supports Shareholder Resolution On Climate Change Risk

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

shellAnother fossil fuel company is realizing the need to report on the risks associated with climate change.

Royal Dutch Shell, the multinational oil and gas company known by most as Shell, is supporting a shareholder resolution that requires the company to recognize climate change risks.

A group of shareholders called the  “Aiming for A” coalition, coordinated by ClientEarth and ShareAction, filed the resolution last year. It was co-filed by a total of 52 institutions with a combined 52 million shares of Shell.

Shell will recommend that its shareholders vote for the resolution at its annual general meeting in May, the company announced last week.

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