The leaders of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia gathered on Monday to sign a historic climate action plan. Called the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, California Governor Jerry Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed the plan at the Fourth Annual Leaders’ Forum of the Pacific Coast Collaborative. The plan grew out of the Pacific Coast Collaborative whose membership consists of the three West Coast states and British Columbia. The three states and the Canadian province have a combined population of 53 million and GDP of $2.8 trillion, making the region the world’s fifth largest economy.
The four governments agreed to work together to count the costs of carbon pollution. California and British Columbia already have carbon pricing programs in place, and Washington and Oregon agreed to create programs. When there are carbon pricing programs in place in all four regions, they will link them together “for consistency and predictability and to expand opportunities to grow the region’s low-carbon economy.” However, it might be hard for the Washington governor to get a state legislature to pass a carbon pricing bill because the state Senate is controlled by Republicans opposed to cap-and-trade, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
The Clorox Company, a multinational manufacturer of consumer and professional products such as bleach, recently launched its third annual integrated report. The report titled Powerful, Purposeful, Proven, covers the company’s financial, environmental, social and governance performance. Although the section on environmental goals is a smaller part of the report, it shows that Clorox is committed to helping the environment. The goals for the year 2020 include:
- A 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, energy, solid waste to landfill and water use against a 2011 base
- Getting its top 100 suppliers to reduce their environmental impact
- Using only recycled or certified virgin fiber in packaging
- Having all palm oil either RSPO certified or Green Palm offset
“As we look forward to our next set of milestones, we’re leveraging the power of our brands, building on proven results and focused on a purposeful strategy,” Clorox Chairman and CEO Don Knauss said in a statement. “All the while, we’re remaining grounded in our strong principles of corporate responsibility.”
What comes to mind when I think of ethical fashion is an eco-friendly t-shirt with some sort of saying emblazoned on the front. However, browsing around in the online store called Helpsy changed my opinion. Think hip and fashion forward pieces. Created by Rachel Kibbe, a former fashion designer, Helpsy proclaims that its goal is to “change this misconception and to curate apparel and products that are as beautiful, exciting, and design-forward as they are ethical.” It sells women’s and men’s clothing, plus accessories.
Helpsy was created to provide ethical fashion that also happens to be cutting edge. What exactly is ethical fashion? Can there really be ethical fashion in an industry riddled with low wage labor? The online store defines ethical fashion by listing attributes that products must meet three or more of to be considered ethical, which includes fair trade. The other attributes are:
The Bangladesh government made promises last week to increase the minimum wage, Reuters reported. The current minimum wage for garment workers is 3,000 taka a month ($39), which is half of the minimum wage in Vietnam and Cambodia and a quarter of China’s. Garment workers earn about $54 a month on average with overtime pay included, which is 14 percent of a living wage.
Garment workers continue to demand that the minimum wage increase to 8,000 taka ($102) a month, which is two and half times more than it is now. Factory bosses reportedly offered garment workers 3,600 taka, but several workers told Reuters that they expect the Bangladesh government to set the minimum wage at 4,500 to 5,500 taka. Inflation has been almost nine percent a year since the last minimum wage raise in 2010. The government would need to set the minimum wage at 3,877 taka to stay on par with inflation, according to Reuters. The minimum wage was last raised in 2010.
Bangladeshi workers have protested in droves after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in April and killed over 1,000. The factory’s collapse not only set off waves of protests but garnered world attention. As many as 20,000 workers protested in May, demanding higher wages and better working conditions. About 50,000 protested in September. Protests are usually met with police violence, and over 100 factories shut down as a result of the protests in September. The government is increasing the minimum wage in order to fix the garment industry’s “image problem” Mikail Shipar, the top official at the Labour and Employment Ministry, told Reuters. A member of the independent wage board told Reuters that it would announce the minimum wage rate by next month.
There is so much to like about Honest Tea’s 2013 Mission Report. The company, founded in 1998, and purchased in 2011 by the Coca-Cola Company, increased organic purchases and fair trade premiums. In fact, Honest Tea increased organic ingredient purchases to 4.9 million pounds in 2012-2013, 13 percent more than the year before, and six times more than 2007.
The company is no stranger to organic ingredients. In 1999, it created the first organic ready-to-drink bottled tea, and in 2004 converted all of its tea and juice drinks to certified organic. The company contributed increased its Fair Trade premiums in 2012-2013 by 19 percent over the previous year. Honest Tea works with Fair Trade USA, and its organic products are certified by Pennsylvania Certified Organic and the USDA National Organic Program.
“Our progress in growing the demand and the supply of organic ingredients helps illustrate that our efforts to democratize organic and healthy beverages are bearing some fruit, but there is still more work to be done,” said Honest Tea co-founder TeaEO, Seth Goldman.
Nook Media LLC, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, Inc., and One Laptop per Child (OLPC) announced this week that a Nook App for Kids will be pre-installed on OLPC’s XO Tablet. Starting this week, the Nook App for Kids will be available on the XO Tablet, giving kids access to thousands of children’s books, both new and classic ones. The app allows kids to interact with the book they are reading by zooming in and around the graphics. The XO Tablet will also come preloaded with the full Nook for Android app so parents can use the tablet, giving them access to over three million titles, including over a million free titles.
The XO Tablet is described in a statement by Barnes & Noble as the “most flexible OLPC tool to date.” It is multilingual. Presently it is available in English and Spanish, and eventually will sell French and Italian versions in Canada and Europe. It is also described as both child-centric and family friendly. It allows up to three user accounts, and parents can set specific permissions for each user, which gives parents more control over their child’s use of the tablet. The XO Tablet is a 7-inch, Google-Certified tablet running the latest Android Jelly Bean OS. It has almost eight hours of battery life, contains a front and rear facing camera, and comes pre-loaded with over 100 free pre-loaded apps, games, books and other content worth $200. The famous designer Yves Behar and his team at the Fuse Project developed the tablet’s cover and packaging.
Adobe System’s, Inc.’s recently published 5-Year Data Summary 2008-2012 for its corporate responsibility programs shows that the digital marketing and digital media solutions company is on the right track. One of the major achievements revealed in the summary is that the company achieved LEED certification for 58 percent of its global real estate portfolio square footage in 2012, up from 47 percent in 2008.
Another achievement revealed in the summary is that Adobe achieved waste and water reductions. At its San Jose, California headquarters, the company achieved a 100 percent waste diversion in 2012. Adobe reduced total water consumption from 314,766 in 2008 to 217,941 in 2012. The total water saved at U.S. owned and managed facilities increased from nothing in 2008 to 73,508 gallons.
Adobe’s summary also reveals achievements in energy use and emissions reductions:
- Electricity use at owned facilities decreased from 52.2 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2012
- Electricity use at leased facilities decreased from 22 percent in 2011 to 17 percent in 2012
- Percentage of renewable electricity produced increased from nothing in 2008 to 23 percent in 2012
- Scope 1 emissions (metric tons) decreased from 3,241 in 2008 to 2,457 in 2012
- Emissions reductions from renewable energy installations (metric tons) went from nothing in 2008 to 16,442 in 2012
- Emissions reductions from energy efficiency projects (metric tons) increased from 362 in 2008 to 6,416 in 2012
- Total business travel (millions of miles) decreased from 74.7 in 2008 to 54.3 in 2012
The simple act of a child washing their hands with soap just might save their lives. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Every year, diarrhea kills around 760,000 children under five, and diarrhea is the leading cause of malnutrition in children under five.
Unilever’s health soap brand, Lifebuoy, established in 1894, wants to change the hygiene practices of one billion people by 2015 in Asia, Africa and Latin America by promoting handwashing with soap. On Global Handwashing Day, October 15, Lifebuoy announced plans to expand its Help a Child Reach 5 campaign to villages and communities in 17 countries. Every year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrating Global Handwashing Day, which Lifebuoy co-founded in 2009 with the Public Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW).
Lifebuoy launched the Help a Child Reach 5 campaign in 2013. The goal of the campaign is to end preventable deaths of children younger than five years old through teaching about the importance of handwashing. Lifebuoy’s handwashing programs, including Help a Child Reach 5, are run with partners such as PSI, Millennium Villages Partnership and UNICEF.
All the handwashing programs support Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan target to help over one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020. The handwashing programs have reached 130 million people around the world. In 2012, the programs reached 71 million, the year it expanded to 16 countries. In Africa alone, the handwashing programs reached over 11 million more people in 2012, compared to 400,000 in 2010-2011.
Food waste is a big problem around the world, particularly in developed countries. A report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers found that 30 to 50 percent of the four billion metric tons of food produced globally every year is wasted (1.2 to two billion tons). In developed countries, 30 to 50 percent of all food bought is thrown away by consumers.
Rotting food in landfills has a big impact on the environment. According to the EPA, over 97 percent of the food thrown away in the U.S. ends up in landfills. Rotting food produces the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane, which has a warming potential 20 times greater than carbon dioxide. Methane is the second most prevalent GHG in the U.S. emitted from human activities. In 2010, methane accounted for about 10 percent of all GHG emissions from human activities in the U.S. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of GHGs in the world.
Doug Rauch, the former president of Trader Joe’s, is opening a store in Dorchester, Massachusetts that sells food items with recently expired dates in order to limit some of these wasteful emissions. Called the Daily Table, the store will sell mostly “fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared product, stuff that’s really not brand-driven,” Rauch told NPR.
The company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard, now called HP, is the first IT company to set a supply chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal. HP recently announced its goal of a 20 percent decrease in its first tier manufacturing and product transportation-related GHG emissions by 2020 from a 2010 baseline. Earlier this year, HP became one of the first companies globally to publicly disclose its complete carbon footprint. In 2008, HP became the first major IT company to measure and publish aggregated supply chain GHG emissions.
HP plans to achieve its GHG emissions reduction goal partly by creating business incentives for suppliers to set and achieve. In addition, HP plans to directly prevent two million metric tons of GHG emissions across its supply chain through specific environmental projects, including:
- Expanding its Energy Efficiency Program for manufacturing suppliers
- Instituting specific emissions reduction initiatives with suppliers with GHG intensive operations (for example, an LCD panel manufacturer)
- Creating production transportation-related efficiency initiatives
There is an old adage that says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” You could probably call As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group, the squeaky wheel. The organization engaged McDonald’s, the largest fast food company in the world, for almost three years concerning replacing its polystyrene foam hot beverage cups with paper cups. This week, the fast food chain announced that it will do just that at all of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants.
In 2011, As You Sow introduced a shareholder proposal which asked McDonald’s to consider instituting stronger environmental policies for its beverage containers. The resolution pointed out that McDonald’s “has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to environmental leadership, yet continues to use polystyrene-based beverage cups 20 years after phasing out use of polystyrene-based clamshell food containers due to its negative environmental impact.” A total of 29.3 percent of its investors supported the resolution, which isn’t bad for a first-year resolution.
Power plants are the largest concentrated source of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S., accounting for about one-third of all domestic GHG emissions. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new proposals for carbon pollution standards for new power plants. Twenty-two major companies signed a letter in support of the proposed standards. The companies include Unilever, Levi Strauss, Symantec and Patagonia. All of the 22 companies that signed the letters have signed the Ceres Climate Declaration, which calls for a coordinated effort to tackle climate change. In fact, the 22 companies are the largest companies among the over 600 that signed the Declaration.
Other companies signing the letter include: Acer Inc., Akamai Technologies Inc., Annie’s Homegrown, Aspen Skiing Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Dignity Health, Eastern Bank, K2 Sports, L’Oréal, Method, New Belgium Brewing, Portland Trail Blazers, Saunders Hotel Group, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm, The North Face, Timberland, and United Natural Foods Inc.
Food waste is a big problem in the U.S. Enough food is wasted every day in the U.S. to fill the Rose Bowl. However, almost 15 percent of U.S. households were food insecure in 2011.
It is estimated that 30 percent of all food wasted in the U.S. could feed every food-insecure American their total food needs. Discarded food also has environmental consequences: all of the resources used to produce, store, transport and handle the food, including arable land, labor, energy water and fuel are wasted. A study by McKinsey & Company projected that about 100 million acres of cropland could be saved if developed countries reduced consumer food waste by 30 percent. An estimated 25 percent of the fresh water in the U.S. goes into the production of wasted food.
One key way to reduce food waste in the U.S. is through reforming the date labeling system, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic). Improving date labeling policies and practices will bring benefits to consumers by decreasing confusion, and will improve food safety. There are various forms of food date labels which include “use by,” “best before,” “sell by,” and “enjoy by” dates. Date labels are unregulated and not well understood by consumers, and the confusing date label system contributes to food waste in the U.S.
The U.S. military is a big emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. It takes a lot of energy to power all those military bases. Factor in all of its planes, jeeps, etc. and you get the picture. The U.S. Department of the Navy realizes that fact and is investing in renewable energy to reduce costs and risks associated with the transport of fossil fuels. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced recently that it will invest $30 million in Energy Excelerator, a Hawaii-based program that funds the development of clean energy innovations. The program part of ONR’s Asia-Pacific Technology and Education Program (APTEP), which supports innovative energy technologies.
Hawaii is a great market for renewable energy with its abundance of sunshine, wind and potential for wave power. Hawaii also is a gateway to the Asia-Pacific rim. Or, as Energy Excelerator states on its website, “Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the U.S., aggressive clean energy goals, diverse natural resources, and deep connections to the Asia Pacific markets.”
The FIFA World Cup is the world’s largest single-event sporting competition, so it only makes sense that FIFA wants to project what the carbon footprint of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be. That carbon footprint will be significant, with just over 2.7 million tons of carbon projected to be emitted altogether by both the 2014 World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup. Transportation is expected to account for 80.1 percent of the carbon footprint, according to a report released in May. Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary General, stated in a recent blog post that FIFA and the World Cup local organizing committee (LOC) will offset carbon emissions through offsetting projects and by encouraging stakeholders to “lower their carbon footprint.”
The cornerstone of the Sustainability Strategy for the 2014 World Cup is understanding the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that will be generated, according to the report. The report acknowledges that the environmental impacts are “indisputable.” One of the ways that FIFA plans on mitigating those impacts is through building greener stadiums. Most of the World Cup stadiums in Brazil are planning to achieve LEED certifications, and many are installing rooftop solar panels. In addition, FIFA and LOC are organizing certified training courses on sustainable management for stadium operators.