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Major developing democracies face an interesting predicament these days. They have fought through decades of poverty and political irrelevance and have now landed on the world stage. Sure, a large percentage of their population may still live in shantytowns (India), or they may manufacture billions of inexpensive plastic items for export to America (China), but they have become socioeconomic forces to be reckoned with.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line & Sustainable Business News
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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact (Photo Credit: Davidson Read)
Whole Foods Market has announced that each of its 273 U.S. stores has been individually certified organic by CCOF, a non-profit, USDA-accredited third-party organic certifier.
“…It’s important for Whole Foods Market to maintain its certification as an organic retailer so our customers can trust that the organic food they choose has been sourced, stored, handled and marketed according to organic requirements,” said Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market.
In case you’ve been bluffing during all those happy hour Waxman-Markey debates, Jon Stewart is here to help you out in figuring out what this cap and trade stuff really means:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
And then he ends up with a great interview with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu (“of the Charleston Chu’s”) See below the fold… Click to continue reading »
Washington’s recent debate over healthcare reform has been quite a back and forth, to say the least. But, if a ClimateWire expert’s report is correct, the debate’s outcome could be more than complex: it could leave “blood in the water” for climate change legislation. Ick….Click to continue reading »
Developing brand and communications strategies to promote green products is top of mind for most consumer goods manufacturers and retailers, so they should be encouraged by the overall findings of the 2009 Green Brands survey that, despite the poor global economy, consumers still want green products.
The struggle to establish guidelines by which the world will cut greenhouse gas emissions continues. The newest development? China should, according to statements made Monday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, have to invest more definitively in environmental protection measures. In other words, China will, should Locke’s plan come to fruition, have to “pay” to decrease greenhouse gasses.Click to continue reading »
Austin Energy, Austin’s municipal power utility, was the first in the nation to give consumers the option of buying green-powered electricity. And as recently as last year the city’s green power program, called GreenChoice, was number one in the nation, in terms of sales.
This year, 99% of the city’s allotment of green power remains unsold, even after seven months on the market, according to the Austin Statesman. The reasons for the abrupt failure of the GreenChoice program serves as a warning to other green power programs nationwide, as well as a case study in how, with renewable energy, sometimes when you win, you still lose.
Before I knew what “green washing” was, I knew what “green dry cleaning” was. I felt guilty every time I didn’t utilize the eco-friendly clothes-washing experts. After all, their methods were touted by so many sustainability proponents. However, as more and more supposedly “green” businesses are busted for green washing, a query is warranted: is green dry cleaning really just green washing?
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reported that a number of self-proclaimed “green dry cleaners” may be just green washers in, ahem, a cotton plant’s clothing. The WSJ studied several companies that have “greened” themselves by eliminating use of a hazardous liquid solvent called perchloroethylene, or “perc.”
The solvent is a no-go for any truly eco-friendly dry cleaner: It is described as a “hazardous air pollutant” and a “probable human carcinogen” by the Clean Air Act and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, respectively. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring cleaners located in residential buildings to phase out their perc use, and some states have passed to-be-instated bans on the solvent. (Dry cleaning industry reps say these claims are founded on inconclusive research.)
Ikea’s slogan is “low prices but not at any price.” Ikea is known for its cheap furniture that customers have to put together at home. A recent article in The Atlantic asked (about Ikea), “Can we afford to keep shopping at places where an item’s price reflects only a fraction of its societal costs?” One of the biggest societal costs is environmental. As Boston University professor Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, puts it, Ikea relies “on consumers to carry huge costs for the company.”
Ikea is the third-largest purchaser of wood in the world, behind Home Depot and Lowe’s. Ikea gets most of its wood from Russia and China. In 2007, a senior Ikea staff member told the Washington Post that only 30 percent of the wood it purchases is from China. The same year the Post ran an expose on illegal timber that quoted a Chinese factory sales manager, who said, “Ikea will provide some guidance, such as a list of endangered species we can’t use, but they never send people to supervise the purchasing. Basically, they just let us pick what wood we want.”
Israeli start-up ETV Motors is testing what it hopes will be the future of the hybrid electric automobile. The car, yet to be named, does not have an internal combustion engine like many hybrid vehicles. Instead, the Israeli hybrid has an electric engine (in the rear of the vehicle) that is comprised of two primary parts: a super-capacity (high density) battery and micro-jet turbine engine.
The 4.7-volt lithium battery will exceed the voltage of existing lithium-ion batteries, which typically have just 3.2 volts. By allowing for longer driving distances with a smaller battery, the high voltage is expected to increase the vehicle’s longevity.
Clever Englishmen and women have devised the world’s newest carbon calculator. Using streaming data from the agencies responsible for maintaining the UK’s power grid, RealtimeCarbon.org adjusts the carbon footprint of each kiloWatt hour of juice every five minutes.
While there are a plethora of carbon calculators out there, Real Time Carbon is the first to adjust to energy use fluctuations during the day. When carbon output is above average, the website announces a “carbon alert” in the form of a little blinking red button on the site.
Chalk up another victory for sustainable business practices worldwide. Mars, Inc., the world’s largest candy maker, announced today a commitment to purchase 100,000 tons of UTZ Certified cocoa annually by 2020. The creator of M&Ms plans to use only sustainably produced cocoa by that date.
Mars has been feeling pressure to go sustainable in its UK market, where there is more interest in sustainable food than the US. Cadbury, a direct competitor, will have the Fairtrade Certified label on its Dairy Milk Chocolate bar by the end of the summer.
On a recent trip to Uvita, Costa Rica, I picked up a flyer offering a tour of Finca Carolina, an organic farm, plus birding, a hike to a waterfall on the property, and organic refreshments for $30 per person. As an advocate of sustainable food, I buy organic, local food to support these kinds of farms (in addition to the health and taste benefits, of course). This tour seemed like a really neat twist on the traditional ecotourism business model and a way to vote with my dollars to further support organic agriculture, so I decided to find out what it was like to run an organic farm in the tropics.
The tour started with “refrescos”, a snack of locally grown plantains, beans, and avocado, served with a delicious salad of tropical greens I had never seen before and a juice drink made with starfruit. The scenery was amazing, as the farm blended into the sprawling jungle behind it. We saw a handful of colorful tropical birds as we ate, and identifying them with my Birds of Costa Rica book turned out to be an effort in futility. How can there be 42 different bright yellow, blue, green, and red birds with curved beaks?! Costa Rica is home to more species of birds than the U.S. and Canada combined, despite the fact that geographically, it is about the size of Kentucky.
“Buying green” – a complicated task for most consumers – can be particularly hairy for antique lovers. The considerations necessary in the green purchasing of antiques (i.e. what a product is constructed of, how it was transported during and after manufacturing, whether it is re-usable or recyclable, and whether [and how] it will be disposed of) is complicated by the fact that antiques were, by definition, manufactured before formal “sustainability” efforts existed, and by the fact that many collectors will travel to Timbuktu and back to obtain hard-to-find items, thus creating quite the carbon footprint. On the other hand, antiques are reused almost endlessly, crafted for durability, and do not require new manufacturing. What is the eco-minded antique enthusiast to make of his dilemma?Click to continue reading »