Monday, December 15, 2008

Green Cosmetics

Blog posted by Christy Perdue

Cosmetics. Beauty products. Spending extra money on high quality organic, earth friendly, green personal care products is important right? Well before you fork out the big bucks; it’s best to know who and what you are actually purchasing.
A comparative study done between Aveda and Burt’s Bees Cosmetics reveals the truth of how healthy high end retail products really are for your skin. The study examined what the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database listed as ingredients in both product lines. The findings where that Burt’s Bees had 72 products categorized as a low health concern; where as all but two of Aveda’s products ranked in the same category. This means that spending more money for what you think is better is not the case. Aveda, owned by Estee Lauder is marketed as an organic, plant based product. The proof is out, that big companies will do what it takes to appeal to consumers, even if it is false marketing; which is just another reason why consumers’ need to be educated on greenwashing. Good luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blog posted by Debra Slasor

A report from the Globe and Mail in November of 2008 underscores just how important dirty oil is to Canada’s designs on the US energy markets:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proposing to strike a joint climate-change pact with president-elect Barack Obama, an initiative that would seek to protect Alberta’s oil sands projects from potentially tough new U.S. climate-change rules by offering a secure North American energy supply.

This will be *the* tell-tale on Obama’s ability to push new energy solutions past the considerable influence of the oil majors. Cheap oil is out. What’s left is much more energy intensive to produce. Industry distracts policymakers with the promise of Carbon Capture and Storage. But even if CCS comes to pass (not bloody likely, but let’s say they make it in 2-3 decades from now, best case) and even if its implementation brings the carbon intensity of heavy crudes into line with conventional stuff, we’re only back to square one on the real problem–breaking free of a fossil-fueled economy. In fact, we’re two steps back because we’ve stranded our investments in an energy infrastructure that won’t outlast global warming.

One early sign of how Obama will respond will be his selection for the top spot on Climate in the new Administration. No doubt Canada’s oil lobby are rooting against reports that Mary Nichols is on the short list. As head honcho at the California Air Resources Board, she’s overseen development of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. Recently released drafts seek to reduce the carbon footprint of California’s transportation sector by imposing penalties on refineries that choose to process dirty crudes like those from Canada’s tar sands. It’s a bold move, and target #1 for Canada’s oil lobby in the US.

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Blog posted by Debra Slasor

After three decades of cheap oil, the rising cost of gasoline is finally driving consumers away from gas guzzling cars trucks and SUVs, the mainstay of Detroit’s profit margins. Now General Motors, with its 100,000 workers, 1300 suppliers and thousands of dealerships around the country, may go bankrupt without federal support. If Wall Street is worth a $700 billion bailout, then what should Detroit get?

Our answer – nothing, not without conditions that reduce our dependence on oil. Our money should be offered on our terms. No automaker deserves federal funds or loan guarantees unless it commits to producing and selling at least 30,000 plug-in electric vehicles by the end of 2011 – and after those three years have passed and they’ve met the terms of the bailout, then let’s talk about more support for more plug-ins. Taxpayers’ dollars should be used to stabilize the industry and the jobs that depend on it by producing vehicles that end the downward spiral of our dependence on oil. Electric vehicles recharged by a green grid means green jobs, less greenhouse gas pollution, a more competitive domestic auto industry, not to mention saying no to tar sands development and good bye to wars for oil.

President-elect Obama has pledged to put one million plug-ins on the road by 2015 and grow five million green jobs. Sounds great - let’s get started with GM.

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blog submitted by Debra Slasor
RAN released a new report November 19, 2008, “Financing Global Warming: Canadian Banks and Fossil Fuels“, which calculates for the first time the carbon footprint from financing of fossil fuels by 7 leading Canadian banks - RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, CIBC, Desjardins and Vancity. Along with the report, we also launched a new website, climatefriendlybanking.org.

The report results are striking. The half a million tons of CO2 operational emissions - the greenhouse gas emissions from running their buildings, employee travel and the like - are completely dwarfed by the 625 million tonnes CO2 of financed emissions resulting from their $155 billion in financing of fossil fuels, which are the principal driver of climate change. A lot of this money is flowing into expansion of the tar sands, one of the largest and dirtiest fossil fuel projects on the planet.



But what does this mean for the typical Canadian bank customer. Every dollar we deposit with banks, they can leverage into $10-15 in new loans and financing. Are banks using your money to finance fossil fuels and global warming? We created a special checking account carbon calculator where customers of any of the seven banks we studied can enter the average amount of their deposit accounts (or the amount they wished they had!) and measure its carbon footprint in kilos (since this is Canada we'll use metric) of CO2 per year. It turns out where you bank can have a big impact on the climate. Switching $10,000 in deposit accounts from the biggest carbon Bigfoot bank, Scotiabank, to the low-carbon climate friendly leader, Vancity (Canada’s largest credit union), would reduce your annual carbon footprint by 1.4 tonnes of CO2, a very meaningful reduction.
Blog subitted by Debra Slasor

Last week, Bank of America released a new coal policy on their website announcing that they would “phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal.” We were thrilled. We celebrated. We sent out a press release praising Bank of America for their decision to move away from financing mountaintop removal coal mining, and pressuring them to go a step further and pull out of coal financing altogether.

Bank of America’s announcement, and the responses of RAN and many of our allies picked up a fair amount of press coverage. I was pleased that the press coverage focused on Bank of America’s culpability in the practice of mountaintop removal. We were especially pleased to know that reporters were calling Bank of America representatives to ask hard questions about their vague policy, such as what is BoA’s time-line for phasing out mountaintop removal? And what companies in BoA’s portfolio will this policy affect?
Blog posted by Debra Slasor

Santa Clause was arrested while delivering stockings of coal and bundles of switches to the CEO’s of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Delivering coal is the least favorite part of Santa’s job but when TVA held a public meeting at their office in Chattanooga; Santa knew he had to deliver years of backlog coal
first hand.

At the board meeting Santa waited patiently for his turn to talk and then he told all the bad children why he was there. Santa told the TVA board and the coal executives attending the meeting that he had to deliver them lumps of coal not because they needed any more coal but because he was sent by the little children of Appalachia.

TVA is the largest purchaser of coal in North America–if not the planet and Santa apparently got allot of letters from children asking for his help.

The letters to Santa read were from sad children who could not go outside and play sometimes because of days were it is literally unhealthy to breathe in Tennessee.

Santa read letters from children sad that to many of their grandparents die slow deaths of extended asphyxiation while lugging around bottled oxygen.

Santa read children’s letters complaining that mountains are being blown up to get at that coal. The children said they felt that the drinking water was important and that they liked playing in the forest.

While telling his story, Santa was surrounded by police officers hired by TVA, handcuffed and hauled away.

Santa is a long time activist and stands in solidarity with United Mountain Defense, Three River Earth First!, Mountain Justice and coal-impacted residents of Appalachia.



our site: http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/
Blog posted by Debra Slasor
Representatives attending the recent American Banker’s Association’s Agricultural Bankers Conference predict over 40 ethanol companies will fail by 2009. On the heels of bankruptcy by industry giant Vera Sun and 24 of its subsidiaries, Mark Lakers of the Agribusiness and Food Association predicts industry consolidation.

The specter of consolidation sounds just like (guess who?) banking and automobile manufacturing — except ethanol producers, farmers and their corpulent intermediary Archer Daniels Midland don’t have to beg for help because they are celebrating their 30 year anniversary of government largesse.

I’m not convinced this is a requiem for ethanol, a fuel born as a commodity for drunks (it was a prohibited grain alcohol before it became a fuel) that has enjoyed a long history of tax subsidies, tariffs, loans and other love, starting with President Carter in the 1970s.

Even if we devoted our entire corn crop to ethanol, it would still only replace 15% of our annual fuel demand.

Corn-based ethanol, made from corn starch as opposed to the plant’s fiber or perennial grasses such as switch grass, carries a doozie of an environmental punch:

Pollutes surface and groundwater with pesticides and fertilizers.
Exacerbates the Gulf of Mexico Dead zone.
The most energy-intensive crop grown. Period.
Rapidly depletes topsoil and promotes topsoil erosion.
And while it’s not completely responsible, ethanol is part of the fuel vs. food quandary that’s doubled prices on wheat, soybean and corn in the last year, leading to food riots in Mexico, Pakistan, Italy, and Indonesia. In China, a marked increase in cooking oil prices led to a store riot killing three.

The ethanol industry is already drunk with excessive taxpayer-supported subsidies and bi-partisan support in Congress but now it’s facing opposition from a fascinating consortium of revolters ranging from The National Turkey Federation, National Cattleman’s Beef Association and (the very conservative) Grocery Manufacturer’s Association to the Environmental Working Group, Food for All and Earth Policy Institute.

In a mano-o-mano wrestling match, we can pair up Emeril and Rachael Ray against Dick Durbin, with an apartment sized E-85 vehicle and a Le Creuset French Oven as door prizes. For a light touch, check out the film King Corn and yet another fun You Tube explanation of the dangerous delusion called ethanol.
Blog submitted by Debra Slasor

Big Three selling jets, but just inching toward efficiency

It looks like it’s not just a buyer’s market for automobiles, but for corporate jets.

After being soundly criticized for arriving in DC via private jets, hat-in-hand asking for $25B, CNN Money reports that Ford and GM now have plans to get rid of their corporate jets (all 5 in Ford’s case, 4 of 7 in GM’s case), with both CEO’s driving to Washington in hybrid vehicles this time. No specifics were provided regarding Chrysler’s jets or their CEO’s travel plans.

Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, gave a keynote address recently at a statewide conference hosted by the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. Winston made the compelling argument that the Big Three were in trouble long before the U.S. financial meltdown. In May ‘08, the overall car market was down 11% from the previous year, but Ford was down 16%, Chrysler was down 25%, and GM was down 28%.

“Toyota was also down after making some mistakes and trying to sell some big vehicles also, but only dropped 4%. Nissan was up 8% and Honda sales were up an astonishing 16%. Let’s repeat that: Honda sold more cars this spring than the year before.”

Winston argues in his blog that “the companies that sell smaller, more energy-efficient cars are doing ok.”

So far, Ford seems to be the only one talking about efficiency, with pledges to boost fuel efficiency and calls for collaboration to develop high-tech batteries domestically. Detroit needs to convince the public that they recognize this sea change, and will be responsible with our tax dollars before they’re likely to garner more support
Blog submission from Debra Slasor

I live in the DC area and if you ride the metro (train) or have seen a bus in DC lately, you can’t escape Chevron’s “Will You Join Us” ad campaign. It’s precisely those of us who make smart transportation choices who have been bombarded by these greenwashing treats from Chevron, as if somehow we’re going think, man, if only I can support such a progressive and eco-friendly company! Oh, did I just forget that they spend millions of dollars to stop action on climate in congress? Oopsies!

Here’s what they’re suggesting we do:

“I will leave the car at home more.”
“I will take my golf clubs out of the trunk.”
“I will replace 3 light bulbs with CFLs.”
“I will finally get a programmable thermostat.”
“I will consider buying a hybrid.”



our site: http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

Greenwashing Zoos

When I hear the greenwashing, I recall the emission of car engine or organic something or such things. But I found this and I think it’s interesting. It is actually greenwash since they talk about the wild life and there are certain people who are deceived.

---------
David Hancocks, a former director and architect of zoos in the United States and Australia, is skeptical of the conservation benefits often claimed by zoos.
While many zoos tout breeding as a success story, Hancocks sees it as "merely basic zoo business: zoos must breed their animals to preserve their collections. Hardly any animals born in zoos are introduced to the wild."
Despite this, he wrote in an opinion column, "they nonetheless loudly position themselves as leaders in wildlife conservation. In truth, government and non-government agencies are most successful in restoring habitat and reintroducing wild species. Zoos play an occasional minor role - and want all the glory." Nor is he persuaded by the claims of many zoos that their redesigned enclosures improve conditions for the animals: "The new zoos, sans cages, make visitors feel better, but it is all deception. The animals typically have no contact with living plants, separated from them by electric wires." The attraction of such green washing is in attracting greater visitor numbers.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Greenwashing_Zoos

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

10 Signs of Greenwashing

I found this while I was serching for greenwashing.
I guess somebody showed the similar thing, but I like the way represented with pictures.



Melodies in Marketing
http://www.melodiesinmarketing.com/2008/05/29/10-signs-of-greenwashing/

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Green Collar Work

Worldwide the movement toward green has been the primary focus for everyone. People are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, companies are promoting their green products, and now even the job market cannot escape the green. But this is not ordinary run of the mill green; this is a way to help those in need in hard times, while making an environmentally impact as well. The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign (http://www.ellabakercenter.org/page.php?pageid=5) is dedicated to the green wave. As stated on their website, Green-Collar Jobs Campaign creates opportunities in the green economy for low-income people and people of color. Instead of the typical company looking to make a profit from the green, an organization is reaching out to make a difference in the world, and they are doing so on multiple levels. The concept that the Green Collar Job Campaign is using can easily be applied to many other not for profit organizations. An organization that is already committed to societal change would be able to implement programs to cause more friendly impact on the environment.
This example is a further illustration that the greenwashing has spread to all realms of the business world. However, it can be seen that as long as we as people look through the greenwash and question what is going on, there is the hope that we as a society can make healthy changes without moving to the fundamentalist mindset of GREEN. While continuing my search of green jobs I found another article from an organization that is about environmental justice. It brings to light green collar jobs. We are used to the traditional labels of blue and white collar jobs. The movement truly has enveloped all parts of business. Green collar jobs are everything that relates to the benefit of the environment. This label is being placed on anything and everything wherever possible. Until we are able to get away from this overwhelming urge to be green and contribute to the greenwashing, we will not be able to make a measureable difference; only one that has the label green.

Green Collar Jobs:
* Bicycle repair and bike delivery services
* Car and truck mechanic jobs, production jobs, and gas-station jobs related to biodiesel
* Energy retrofits to increase energy efficiency and conservation
* Green building
* Green waste composting on a large scale
* Hauling and reuse of construction materials and debris (C&D)
* Hazardous materials clean-up
* Landscaping
* Manufacturing jobs related to large scale production of appropriate technologies (i.e. solar panels, bike cargo systems, green waste bins, etc.)
* Materials reuse
* Non-toxic household cleaning in residential and commercial buildings
* Parks and open space expansion and maintenance
* Printing with non-toxic inks and dyes
* Public transit jobs related to driving, maintenance, and repair
* Recycling and reuse
* Small businesses producing products from recycled materials
* Solar installation
* Tree cutting and pruning
* Peri-urban and urban agriculture
* Water retrofits to increase water efficiency and conservation
* Whole home performance, including attic insulation, weatherization, etc.

Other Green Job Sites
http://www.greenforall.org/?gfa_splash=1
http://www.urbanhabitat.org/node/528

-Josh R

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A Smarter Green

My past two blogs have talked about how companies are using the term green to make more money without actually being green. This post is no different. As I was exploring the internet and the vast amount of articles about green and greenwashing, I ran across a site that goes one step further and shows how corporations are getting around regulations and getting to call themselves green. The interactive site on MSNBC (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18288820/) puts you in the driver’s seat to make the decisions for an industrial type of company. It gives the overview of how emissions credits work, the regulations, and the typical techniques to make sure your company does not go over. Getting to play with this simulator gives a graphical representation of how a company has the ability to abuse the system in order to look good to the community. It brings to the forefront that it is very much our responsibility as citizens to watch for this kind of misuse of the law and take action no matter how small we may think it is.
In order to know what we can do as individuals or as a small group, we first must understand and learn what we can do to make small differences in the world. It is not about going out and spewing the word of green wherever we are; it is make the small differences and leading by example. One fun and simple way to learn is by visiting Green My Brain (http://greenmybrain.com/ ) and playing the online game. The game is a way to inform people what they can do to make the small differences in the world that eventually makes the big differences. A public broadcasting company recently received a grant to develop a green game for kids. Though I feel this is yet another part of greenwashing, and with this it is starting at bottom rung of society, it is at least being acknowledged that it is important to teach children the little things they can do in their own lives to make the world a better place for their future.

-Josh R

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Its Not Easy Being Green...

There once was a time when people did not have such an active hand in the environment. One day something changed and people started to realize that we had to take care of the planet we live on or it would no longer be capable of taking care of us. Unfortunately like most good intentions, corporations got a grasp on the green movement. While at first this did not seem like a bad thing, but rather a turn for the better to get more people to take part; it eventually became an overwhelming message. As with radio stations that play the same song over and over, companies were and are using the term green wherever they possibly can. As consumers we are bombarded with the green message and because of such the term has lost its meaning. Who is to say what it means anymore to be green… How can everything be green all of a sudden… Who is determining what is green and what is not… Or has it become a free for all of labeling products green… Today there are several online watchdogs to help us put on our rubber boots and tread through the garbage of media that has become greenwashing. One of these watchdogs that helps to call attention to the worst, and the best, has been the EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index With the tools that have created the capabilities of spreading the greenwashing over us all, EnviroMedia is publishing the most authentic green and the worst offenders. Watch the videos below and see what you think… Who is benefiting, society or the pockets of the companies…You decide.

BMW (South Africa) - Defining Innovation
The New TXU
GE Energy
Malaysian Palm Oil Council
Ford Commercial

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Having the Green Pulled Over Your Eyes


Companies claim to be green and environmentally friendly every single day. For that matter, companies use the concept of green to gain a loyal consumer base. But what exactly is green and how do organizations prove it. The fact is for the most part they cannot prove it, or wont. What is the average consumer to do about companies that are misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service? We as consumers must begin to demand that companies show us what they are doing that makes their products ‘green’ along with a statement of what they think ‘green’ is. A page on the Terrachoice website speaks to what corporations are doing to pull the wool over our eyes. Their Six Sins of Greenwashing talks all about the techniques that are being used against us every day. It is a time we all stand up and take action. We must start with ourselves by learning how to make the eco-friendly choice not based on what a logo says on a product, but actually holding corporations accountable and buying that which can accurately be dubed as ‘Green’.

-Follow and print out this link to know what you can do to
avoid being greenwashed -

-Josh R

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Focus on Fred Pearce

Focus on Greenwashing:
Fred Pearce of the United Kingdom’s guardian newspaper.

Towards the end of our term we start to worry that our voices haven’t been heard, or that we somehow did not broadcast the message strongly enough to gain the attention that we feel that greenwashing deserves.

For my last post I would like to highlight one of the earliest crusaders against greenwashing and leave with a link to his online articles. Mr. Pearce has been adding information on greenwashing for the last five years and his voice is a responsible one amid the confusion generated by deceitful companies out to make a buck (or two).

His website updates with any new greenwashing special he puts up and I would encourage all of you to take a look at what he has to say. Thank you.

-John O

Fred Pearce's Articles

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Greenwashing/Australia

In August 2007 the New South Wales Greens complained to the Australian corporate regulator that Saab's "Grrrrrreen" advertising campaign makes deceptive claims and is green whasing. The "Grrrrrreen" ad states that "every Saab is green." Another ad for one car model, which runs on a part ethanol mix, proclaims it is "fueled by nature: enjoy more power with a cleaner conscience." Green member of parliament Lee Rhiannon argues that according to Australian government data, Saab cars have relatively poor environmental performance. Saab's best performing car was ranked 33rd.

In January 2008, Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal proceedings against GM Holden Ltd and Saab Australia, "alleging misleading and deceptive conduct and false representations concerning 'green' claims made in the advertising of Saab vehicles." A hearing on the legal challenge was set for February 6, 2008.

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Frosty the Coalman

I just read this article over at ThinkProgress detailing the insanely greenwashed new campaign from American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. It includes a humorously sung song about Frosty the Coalman, sung by chunks of animated coal extolling the virtues of clean coal. In one such lyric:

There must have been some magic in clean coal technology,
For when they looked for pollutants there was nearly none to see

There is even an interactive version at the ACCCE's website with hovering lumps of adorable coal with googly eyes. It's the worst sort of greenwashing, and frankly the most blatant. It would be almost hilarious, except for the fact that this coalition of big businesses apparently finds the American people so moronic that they would actually buy this garbage.

Read the article below or read the article and hear the song here. If you want to see the interactive version go here.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
‘Frosty the Coalman’: King Coal Launches Holiday-Themed Greenwashing Campaign»

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has launched a new holiday-themed greenwashing campaign through their website AmericasPower.org aimed at painting their “environmental oxymoron” clean coal technology as “clean,” “affordable,” and “adorable.” As Switchboard explains, the campaign features “animated lumps of coal belting out songs like ‘Frosty the Coalman,’ ‘Clean Coal Night,’ and ‘Deck the Halls (with Clean Coal!).’” An excerpt from “Frosty the Coalman”:

Frosty the Coal Man, is a jolly happy soul.
He’s abundant here in America and he helps our economy roll.
Frosty the Coal Man, is getting cleaner every day.
He’s affordable and adorable and helps workers keep their pay.

There must have been some magic in clean coal technology,
For when they looked for pollutants there was nearly none to see.

View the original interactive version.

It is not clear if ACCCE will expand its new holiday campaign beyond their website, but in the past ACCCE has spread its falsehoods on TV, radio, and in print, often spending millions. In early 2008, ACCCE’s clean coal campaign reportedly had $50 million to spend on pro-coal, anti-climate initiatives.

The Wall Street Journal recently credited ACCCE’s misleading campaign with convincing politicians, the media and the public that “clean coal” is a cure-all for global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. Even President-elect Obama has taken the bait.

Clean coal, of course, is nothing of the sort. Al Gore put it bluntly: “Clean coal’s like healthy cigarettes — it does not exist.” Similarly, Kevin Grandia writes, “Nothing like mercury emissions, asthma attacks and melting polar ice-caps to get me in the holiday spirit.”


----
Ecomerge post by Jeff Hammond

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10 Top Suspected "greenwashing" Companies

I read on www. greenwashing.net about the top 10 companies who are being accused of greenwashing. Beware of the following companies and their false claims of being "green":

The Accused

-- Kraft's Post Selects Cereals, for falsely promoting its cereals as having "natural ingredients" when, in fact, the corn used in the cereal is genetically engineered -- made in a lab, not by nature.

-- The Council for Biotechnology Information, for promoting genetically engineered foods and even preaching to children -- through books aimed at kids -- about the benefits of biotechnology without disclosing any of the risks to human health or the environment.

-- Tyson Chicken, for promoting its products as "all natural," even though the company treats its chickens with antibiotics.

-- The Audubon Nature Institute -- not to be confused with the National Audubon Society -- for falsely claiming to support the protection of natural habitats as a way to preserve animal species, while also belonging to the National Wetlands Coalition, which lobbies to weaken the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. The National Wetlands Coalition is made up of such corporate giants as the American Mining Congress, Chevron, Exxon and the National Association of Homebuilders.

-- Comanche Trace, a commercial developer, for false advertising. Comanche Trace bills its golf courses as "great habitats," even though golf courses deplete natural habitats and use pesticides that poison groundwater.

-- Clairol, for false advertising. The company claims to offer a "truly organic experience" with its Herbal Essences line of shampoos but, according to the report, uses chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and D&C red no. 33, which are not organic. (The report notes that Clairol does use some organic ingredients, does not test on animals and uses 25 percent post-consumer recycled plastic in its bottles.)

-- American Electric Power, for falsely advertising itself as environmentally friendly and concerned about animal habitats, even though it is a major polluter. Its harmful emissions contribute to air pollution, acid rain, global warming and mercury poisoning, according to the report.

-- Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, for falsely promoting coal as a "clean fuel," even though carbon dioxide, one of the byproducts of coal burning, is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warning. Continued global warming will result in rising temperatures, rising sea levels, increased rates of diseases such as malaria and continued water pollution.

(In a recent interview with the Advocate, Joe Lucas, ABEC's vice president of communications, said carbon dioxide -- also the gas that humans breathe out -- isn't a contributor to global warming because if it were, he rationalized, "the government would have to ask us all to stop breathing.")

-- General Motors, for falsely promoting its cars as environmentally friendly, with ads that place GM SUVs in natural habitats as if they were as natural as the birds. In fact, SUVs get very few miles to the gallon and are far more harmful to the environment than most other automobiles. General Motors is a member of the Coalition for Vehicle Choice, an organization that opposes clean air legislation and laws directed at reducing auto emissions.

-- ExxonMobil, for falsely advertising that the air we breathe is getting better, not worse. Along with the rest of the oil and gas industry, ExxonMobil helped to kill the Kyoto Protocol, an international initiative that called for tougher emissions standards.

Be smart! Don"t allow yourself to be sucked by these companies. Knowledge is the key to the truth.

~ Cynthia Pestner

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mobil Chemical's 'Biodegradable' Plastic Bags

This is just an example of green washing.
The Greenpeace Guide to Anti-Environmental Organizations, Carl Deal noted that Mobil Chemical added some starch to the plastic in their 'Hefty' trash bags and marketed them as biodegradable

"Unfortunately, this 'biodegradability' only took place if the bags were left out in the sun, not if they were buried in landfills - which is, of course, where almost all garbage bags end up. And even in the unlikely event that one of these bags was left out in the sun, it wouldn't rapidly biodegrade, but would merely break up into smaller pieces of plastic. A Mobil Chemical spokesman later admitted that 'degradability is just a marketing tool, We're talking out of both sides of our mouth because we want to sell our bags."
"The company was sued by six states and the Federal Trade Commission for making false and misleading claims, and Greenpeace issued a report written by Barry Commoner called Biodegradable Plastics Scam. Shortly thereafter, Mobil removed the word 'biodegradable from their packaging and agreed to stop making further unsubstantiated advertising claims.

The article found at http://www.sourcewatch.org/
-Tomohiro Kawasaki

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How green is your computer

Apple has recently launched a marketing campaign for its newest laptop: The “Green” MacBook. (Please view this commercial from Apple - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA_siP2H_co).

Apple’s website touts it environmental responsibility on it’s website, stating: “Apple recognizes its responsibility as a global citizen and is continually striving to reduce the environmental impact of the work we do and the products we create,” (http://www.apple.com/environment/). Despite their claims, Apple has been under the scrutiny of the Center for Environmental Health for having hazardous materials in their iPhone. One such material, phthalates, is toxin that has been shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems in animal studies, and can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.


According to Alternet.org, Apple does only what is legally required but does not go above and beyond like they claim to. “In December of 2006, Greenpeace released a report ranking the overall environmental policy of major technology companies. Dell was at the top but Apple found itself at the bottom. While top companies like Dell and Nokia have made great strides to eliminate the most toxic chemicals from their products and offer strong recycling programs, Apple has not,” http://www.alternet.org/environment/47228.


Not all hope is lost; apparently Steve Jobs has been paying attention to the critique. Apple has recently announced it will eliminate Arsenic from its displays by the end of 2008 as well as stop using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Additionally, Apple plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mercury by transitioning to LED backlighting for all displays.

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GREENWASHING our Conscious-a Performance Art Story

I thought this article was important in that it makes the point, very vividly, of how many of us in a sense, 'greenwash our conscious' when it comes to our own carbon footprints. I agree with her that carbon offsetting is not a bad thing, but directly to her point it is not and should not be the starting point. Change is difficult, but necessary, far too much is at stake and each of us has the power to make a difference in terms of our carbon footprints. Put down the keys, pump up the tires, get on the bike...

Bob Jellison
Portland State University
Capstone



Artist Pollutes to Criticize Carbon Offsets

Sometimes to make a point, you have to release some greenhouse gas. On September 29, artist Francesca Galeazzi climbed to a pristine spot on the Jakobshavn fiord in Greenland and—to the shock and horror of her fellow travelers—released a 6 kg tank of CO2 gas. “The CO2 came out violently, freezing the air around the nozzle,” she wrote on her website.
Galeazzi’s act of pollution may have been blatant, but it was just a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of carbon emissions each of us produces, and we do so no less consciously. In the U.S., that number is nearly 20 metric tonnes per person per year. Before Galeazzi pulled the stunt, she purchased an equivalent offset from one of the online Gold Standard Carbon Offsetting schemes—demonstrating how many of us justify our bad behavior. Buying carbon offsets seems to be a growing trend among the green-conscious, a form of environmental penance in which you can pay cash to have someone else wipe away your carbon footprint. In a recent interview, Galeazzi explained her criticism of carbon offsets:
Instead of embracing change, we are inventing new mechanisms to greenwash our consciences, in a way. I didn’t want to say that carbon offsetting is bad because I believe it plays a role within our strategy to tackle climate change. But not as a starting point.
Galeazzi was traveling as part of an expedition of artists and scientists organized by Cape Farewell. She kept her performance art piece a secret until the last moment because she wanted to see her fellow travelers’ gut reactions. Some were supportive, many were outraged, and one person refused to talk to her afterwards.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2008/12/08/artist-pollutes-to-criticize-carbon-offsets/

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Greenwash The Sun

In the quest for new blog material, I asked my husband for ideas about industries that could be greenwashing their products. His immediate response was the solar energy industry. As surprised as I was by this, I decided to look it up and determine what could possibly be wrong with this patently popular green energy source. It turns out there is a great deal wrong with this “clean” energy. Just by Google-ing “dirty solar plants”, I found numerous articles that point to the manufacturing issues that are happening in China.

In March, the Washington Post broke a news story about the illegal dumping of toxic chemical waste from solar panel plants in China. This horrifying story goes on to detail the component, called polysilicon, used to create solar panels and how the manufacturing of it is causing un-calculated human health risks. Similar to our problems of treating nuclear waste, China has not managed to design a way to safely dispose of the waste and the costs to recycle the material are prohibitive. Instead, trucks from these plants are pulling into small outlying villages and dumping the toxic chemicals in open public areas.



This issue should certainly offset the benefits of solar power and should be carefully considered. Since we purchase the components of our solar panels from China, are we not responsible for how those products are manufactured? This is a moral issue as well as an environmental one. Our earth is one planet, not separate biospheres and damage to one area in order to clean up another is counter productive. We have the leverage as consumers to demand that products we use be safely manufactured and this leverage needs to be applied. What good will the fields of solar panels do us when we are choking on the environmental destruction we created through their production?

-Gina Mason

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GREENWASHING PALM OIL

I found the below article and felt it was powerful in that it represents a good gone bad model that I think is consistently happening throughout business today. Palm oil...good, transfat free...good, deforestation...bad, global warming...very bad. Notice the sophistication and coordination of efforts as the producers of Palm oil seek to attain the 'sustainable' tag for use with their product, a total 'greenwashing' effort whose purpose is primarily to defend an industry that is not regulated and that is doing significant environmental damage through it's practices.

Unfortunately there is not, in my opinion, an easy answer. We want to eat healthy, we need to eat healthy, the issue is the complete disconnect we have between consumer products and the cost to the environment that is incurred by their production. We go to the market, pick the item off the shelf, and have no idea that by doing so we are supporting a global food supply system that is ruthless in it's methods and driven by the bottom line. For me personally it drives the message that we need to know what we are consuming, and the importance of shopping locally, the price paid because of the disconnection so many of us have with our food supply chain is simply too high and a price the planet, as in this example, cannot afford to pay.

Full text of the article and link follow below.

Bob Jellison
Portland State University
Capstone

-------------------------------------------------------------------------



EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that palm oil, common in snack foods and health & beauty products, is destroying rainforests? If so, what can consumers do about it? -- Emma Miniscalco, via e-mail

It's no wonder that worldwide demand for palm oil has surged in recent years. Long used in cosmetics, palm oil is now all the rage in the snack food industry, since it is transfat-free and therefore seen as healthier than the shortening it replaces.

But to produce palm oil in large enough quantities to meet growing demand, farmers across Southeast Asia have been clearing huge swaths of biodiversity-rich tropical rainforest to make room for massive palm plantations. Today palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries with dwindling expanses of tropical rainforest. Indonesia's endangered orangutan population, which depends upon the rainforest, has dwindled by as much as 50 percent in recent years.

The clearing of these forests is a big factor in global warming, given how much carbon dioxide (CO2) trees store when left alone. Once forests are cut, tons of CO2 heads skyward. Also, when not replaced by palm oil plantations, rainforests help maintain water resources by absorbing rainfall and then releasing it into streams and rivers, thus minimizing flooding and soil depletion.

Simply boycotting palm oil and the products containing it may not help, as reduced demand could force the companies behind the plantations to instead initiate more intensive timber harvesting and a widespread conversion of the land to agriculture, which would add a heavy pollution load onto the already compromised land, air and water. It is up to the countries involved in palm oil production to regulate the industry and budget sufficient funds for enforcement. But with huge profits coming in from the sale of palm oil, public officials in Indonesia and elsewhere are loathe to clamp down on their golden goose.

Several of the largest palm oil producers have joined forces with banks and nonprofit groups to try to green up the industry. In 2003, some 200 commercial entities in the global palm oil supply chain met and established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to promote the growth of palm oil in an environmentally friendly manner. RSPO works to develop definitions and criteria for the sustainable production of palm oil, while facilitating the adoption of more green-friendly practices throughout the industry. The group celebrated its first shipment of "sustainable palm oil" to Europe this past November.

Despite progress, many green leaders are skeptical that RSPO has the teeth to make a positive impact on the fast-growing palm oil industry. Greenpeace International considers RSPO to be "little more than greenwash," pointing out that at least one RSPO-certified producer -- United Plantations, a supplier to Nestlé and Unilever -- is deforesting Indonesia's vulnerable peat land forests. And Sinar Mas, another major RSPO player, has cleared tropical rainforest all over the country for its palm oil plantations, and is still expanding rapidly. Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on deforestation throughout Indonesia so that the RSPO and the government can take stock and then proceed accordingly.

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it here or via e-mail. Read past columns here.

.

http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/palm-oil-rainforests-461208

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

BP, Chevy and GE

Further exploring the concept of greenwashing, I decided to take a look at some of the biggest companies around the world and see how they go about giving their image a "green" vibe. Obviously, design plays a large role in this, plenty of earthy tones: greens, blues, browns, etc.,. Clean, simple designs, and (undoubtedly absurdly expensive) television advertisements with top-notch production quality. Here are three big ones that impact your everyday life:

At one time known as British Petroleum, BP is the third largest global oil company and is one of the so-called "Big oil" companies, a term often invoked in political contexts. As can be easily seen from this logo at the left, BP has rather successfully cast itself as a enviro-friendly company. A green and yellow starburst vaguely resembling a flower or the sun certainly gives the impression of a "green" company. BP, now dubbing itself "Better Petroleum" has given to producing animated television spots featuring Charlie Brown looking characters who find BP stations as wonderful, exciting oases in a sea of oil drudge. Here are a couple:


Additionally, you can see the BP website here to experience all the greenwashing for yourself.

Next up is Chevrolet. Chevrolet is of course not strictly run independently, but rather, is run by General Motors, the world's fourth largest automobile manufacture. But Chevrolet specifically has gone to great lengths to seem environmentally friendly. Below is an image capture from their website:
As you can see, Chevy prides themselves on being anywhere from "Gas-friendly to gas-free." This from a company whose cars boast up to 35 mpg (source, GM), when there are other cars on the road that can get up to 50 mpg and cars in the European market that can exceed that. Additionally, Chevy features a commercial with the Jonas Brothers, a rock band for the Disney market, where the Brothers demand that they're ride to a gig be in a "green" vehicle. Let's watch:

The car featured is the 2008 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, and while the hybrid technology is a plus, the vehicle still only gets 20 mpg.

The third and final big company on this list is General Electric. With their slogan, "imagination at work" GE has made a commitment to environmental friendliness called ecomagination. The ecomagination website features press releases, downloads and commercials for GE. GE, begun by Thomas Edison himself, is the third largest company in the world, owning subsidiary technology companies, as well as 80% of NBC Universal (one of the largest media companies in the world). This image is from the GE website:
GE has a horrible environmental record, once being titled the fourth largest corporate producer of pollution in the United States. And of course, the shameless greenwashed commercials:


Although, I've got to hand it to them, they do produce very charming commercials, if only they spent that money on developing those resources...

Posted by Jeff Hammond

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Carbon Credit Fraud

After looking into Live Earth and it's supposed enviro-friendly business model and reading about a number of artists claiming that they purchased carbon credits in order to offset the carbon production based on their travel, I decided to look further into the carbon credit system to understand how exactly it works. Fact of the matter is that carbon credits do just about nothing to help the Earth. Carbon credits should be considered more of a canceling out of pollution. Consider the following: I release 1 units worth of carbon into the environment, and at the same time pay someone to reduce their own carbon release, by 1 unit, therefore cancelling out (ideally) the unit I released. So in effect, purchasing carbon credits don't do anything positive for the environment, rather it remains neutral. Additionally, the problem is that purchasing carbon credits is based on the assumption that the individual selling and managing carbon credits will in fact release a fixed rate of carbon units into the environment.
Problems have also occurred with carbon credits and fraud. In fact the World Bank has been accused of carbon credit fraud, detailed thouroughly in this article at the Interpress News Agency. Perhaps the most important resource for adequate carbon credit information in the United States is the Chicago Climate Exchange, a company that "is the world’s first and North America’s only active voluntary, legally binding integrated trading system to reduce emissions of all six major greenhouse gases (GHGs), with offset projects worldwide. --Source (Overview CCX)."
Links
Interpress News Article: World Bank "Playing Both Sides of Climate Crisis"
Chicago Climate Exchange

posted by Jeff Hammond

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Greenwashing........ Bananas?

Just when you thought you were safe. And you thought you were doing the right thing - eating more healthy fruit. We've all been told to eat at least 3 servings of fruit a day. Well, before you eat that banana for breakfast, you may want to check out this link on greenwashing bananas. Apparently, when the bananas are harvested, they are placed in plastic bags and with packing peanuts for shipping. If the banana is not deemed edible or pretty enough, they are then tossed into a land fill which sends off toxic fumes. According to the article, twice as many bananas are tossed than are shipped. Imagine. A banana not worthy of being eaten. And if that's not enough, there are always the pesticides used to kill off any unwanted bugs. If the pesticides kill off bugs, what are they doing to the workers who have the job of harvesting the fruit? And what about the people who ingest the pesticide- enriched fruit? It definitely sounds like an "iffy" breakfast item to me. However, that's not the picture we get when encouraged to eat our fruits and vegetables. How about you? You want fruit for breakfast or snack?

http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/chiquita.cfm

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Political Greenwashing

It's November 4, 2008. Do you know what YOUR choice believes? Just when you thought politicians couldn't go any lower in trying to get a vote. Right before the election, Senator John Sununu from New Hampshire changed his views on drilling for oil in the United States. While his views and his votes were for drilling, he greenwashed his records to appear that he cares for the environment. Initially, he voted for drilling. Then he claimed to have voted against drilling but, when it was convenient, he then voted for drilling. According to Senator Sununu (on a conservative talk show) he said he voted for drilling. http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/24/sununu-global-warming/Now, I personally am for drilling for oil in the United States but I understand that some people feel we shouldn't drill in the United States. This is a hot topic - especially since this was an election year. What bothers me is that a person in a high office claims to vote a certain way in order to appear "green" and to appease a certain population but then changes his vote in order to benefit from the other segment of population - that's just wrong. He is not being honest. It smells like greenwashing to me.

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Greenwashing Floors?

Greenwashing your floor? Who would have thought? I recently bought a laminate floor thinking I would save the environment a few extra chemicals being tossed away after shampooing my old carpet. Plus, the idea of tossing my old carpet to be replaced with new carpet that would eventually need to be thrown away - seemed like an endless cycle and I decided I would end the cycle with new flooring. The flooring would be easy to take care of, I reasoned. All I would need to do is sweep and wipe up any messes that are tracked into the house. Well, I didn't think about my dog - and rainy fall weather. So, I purchased a new Swiffer. The Swiffer seemed like the most obvious choice since my daughter could easily push it around on the floor to clean up. After I purchased it, my daughter faithfully used the push-mop. Then she told me I need new Swiffer pads. Well, what was I to do? Of course, I bought them so I could keep my floor shiny and new. It seemed all good to me.Then came the shock I never expected. Swiffer advertises as economically friendly. It claims to save gallons of water yearly as well as the chemicals in the detergent used. However, on the website http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/03/06/greenwashing-101-the-swiffer-green-or-greenwash/ bloggers JENNIFER VAN DER MEER and JILL FEHRENBACHER expose Swiffer for the greenwasher they are. Swiffer touts being eco-friendly while the packaging materials for their product will sit in landfills for years to come - exposing the earth to the chemicals from the plastic wrap. And the Swiffer sheets used to clean the floor also contain chemicals that will seep into the earth from the land fill. Why does Swiffer feel it is OK to lead consumers to believe their product is helping to save the environment? I am back to wiping my floor with wet paper towels or wash cloths. While I realize I am sparing the landfill from some unwanted chemicals, I also realize I have to use something. I just wish companies would not try to tell us they are green when they clearly aren't.

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Greenwashing

Greenwashing....What's wrong with it? That was my initial reaction when I heard that we were going to put together a website that talked about Greenwashing. I thought greenwashing was just a term used by wacky environmentalists who had too much time on their hands. As I read more about it, I came to realize Greenwashing is a problem that affects us all. The way I see it is this: the main problem with greenwashing isn't just about the environment but also the deceit we are led to believe. Greenwashing is defined as the effort(s) companies or individuals go to in hiding the truth about their practices in regards to the environment. An example I read about was the hotel industry asking the patrons to re-use their towels and linens to save water and detergent. While this sounds good and makes the patron feel good to do their part in conserving, the article later pointed out that the hotel was not sound in their practices with waste management. Apparently recycling was not a priority as it did not net more money for the hotel. When I read this article, I wondered What is the worst sin? Is it the fact that they are not recycling or is it in the deceit toward the public. Even though I feel recycling is important, I think honesty and trust is much more important. While I have bought into recycling and re-using, I was dismayed that the hotelier was more concerned about profit than the environment he professed to be saving. When hoteliers or corporations or politicians set the example of deceit, this affects us all. It makes me want to check out not only the truth but also the motive.

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Eco-Friendly Homemade Household Cleaners

ECO-FRIENDLY HOMEMADE HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS

On a daily basis, people use household cleaners that are harmful to the environment. Some use them because they are convenient, and others use them because they believe there is nothing else in place of those cleaners.
The following are some ways household cleaners, that are not harmful to the environment, can be made.
•All purpose cleaner
Use ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar per gallon of water.
Add a dash of liquid castile soap and a dash of two of essential oil.
• Furniture polish
Mix 10-15 drops of lemon or lavender oils with a cup of water. Use rags
sponges, and scrubbers, instead of paper towels.
• Clean drains
Pour 1/3 cup of baking soda, followed by 1/3 cup of vinegar. After
several minutes follow with boiling water.

More info on www.eco-chick.com

The following sites can also give other ideas that can help go green.

HOW GREEN ARE YOU?
thegreenguide.com

PRODUCT REVIEWS
leafygreen.info

NATURAL CLEANING
frugalfun.com/cleansers.html

CLEAN WE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
mrsmeyers.com


C.R.

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Sustainability

video

For many people, sustainability is just another term or word that is supposed to make the world a better place to live. For others, it is a reality that if sustainability is not dealt with now, this earth may eventually become an uninhabitable place to live.
If you’ve never really thought of how you contribute good or bad to the environment, maybe it is time to stop and examine what can be done to make the world a better place to live, and how you can help. The following are several ways that can help make a difference on this planet.

 minimizing carbon footprints
 Save energy
 Improve and conserve water
 Recycle
 Limit car usage
 Improve natural environment

Although these are just a few ways that can help go green, it is good to start somewhere in doing making a difference.
Every community or county offers environmental programs that can assist in making wiser decisions to help the environment.


C.R.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Are Your Pet's Safe?

Pet products are major business, but did you ever wonder what your pet is ingesting? Many consumer pet products boast that they are organic is some way shape or form; however uneducated consumers searching for the best “green” shampoos, foods and toys etc. will be frustrated to find out that pet companies too are players in the greenwashing game.
One pet vender listed anchovies as organic. Come to find out that wild and farmed seafood cannot be certified organic; according to the USDA National Organic Board.
Another thing to look out for is when companies that produce pet shampoo, spray or perfumes list water-based products as organic. These products also cannot be considered organic because they are water-based and water cannot be considered organic. However it is important to not that herbal essences, oils and like minded additives can be certified organic.
Organic bamboo pet collars are of often considered by green consumers as a healthy environmentally friendly option. Harvesting bamboo can be certified organic; however the manufacturing process of bamboo into usable fabric commonly uses toxic chemicals. Also farms harvesting bamboo do not have a Forest Stewardship Council which monitors bamboo growth practices; because of this farms are frequently clear-cut to produces maximum yield.
Concerned pet owners searching for the truth can check out a companies sustainability credentials. These sustainability credentials pertain to companies claiming organic or free-range ingredients, sustainable manufacturing practices and free-trade components.

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Greenwashing Identified

Greenwashing like the term organic has become all too mainstream. According to Time magazine the market is being saturated with green products. According to a study done by Scot Chase the vice-president of Terra Choice, found that only one out of every 1,018 green products found in a given retail store where actually green.
Going green is bug money. According to the same source as above, the sales of organic products went from $10 billion in 2003 to more than $20 billion in 2007. To help consumers identify what is and isn’t green the TerraChioce website offers some guidelines called the Six Sins explaining Green from Greenwashing. Here they are as follows:

1. Hidden Trade- Promotion of one aspect of a product as environmentally friendly while its negative impact is obscured.
2. No Proof- Environmental claim that can’t be easily verified.
3. Vagueness- Assertion so amorphous that it’s meaningless- like a “nontoxic” claim when anything could be toxic if misused.
4. Irrelevance- Claim that’s technically true but unimportant for the planet.
5. Lesser of Two Evils- Claim that is narrowly true but ignores larger environmental problems-like “green SUV’s”.
6. Fibbing- Claim that is demonstrably untrue.

The Greenwashing Index (www.greenwashingindex.com) is a website that consumers can use as another resource to identify greenwashing. Consumers post ads that may demonstrate greenwashing. According to the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain 561 complaints where reported which is 117 more complaints than the previous year. The Federal Trade Commission is in the process of updating the Green Guide in hopes of helping consumers know what’s really green.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Education of Henry Ford

While we are on the subject of greenwashing, let’s have a conversation about the Big Three automakers in Detroit that are comprised of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. Recently they have made the news with the continued failure of their companies to make a profit, especially in this current economic recession. Now that banks have been bailed out by the Treasury Department, these automakers are hopping on the bandwagon and asking for financial help from Congress.

Well, not quite hopping on the bandwagon…more like flying in on their private jets. Once news of this fantastic faux pas hit the airwaves, the back peddling began and the CEOs made their next trip to DC in their companies new “green” cars. All of this hubbub aside, the “green” record of these Big Three leaves much to be desired.

Ford has designed a specific website to demonstrate it’s record of sustainability and willingness to develop more fuel efficient cars. At one point in the site, an article states that they have designed the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030. However, this wonderful claim is undermined by the fact that this is a legislative mandate that the company is being forced to meet. Yet, Ford manages to spin this situation into a marketing gimmick designed to convince the consumer that Ford is deeply committed to “climate stabilization”.

All of the focus in this Sustainability Report is around light-duty vehicles, instead of the development of better technology for the true polluters, the heavy-duty industrial vehicles. Think semi-trucks, people. By Ford’s own admission, light-duty cars and trucks account for only 11% of all CO2 emissions. While we all want better fuel-efficient cars for the consumers, very little is being done about the really big problem posed by massive scale freight transportation. You think Ford doesn’t produce big rigs? Think again. Check out the Ford F-650 or perhaps you like bigger, say F-800 series. These are the commercial vehicles that Ford has produced for the transportation industry and they manage to get a whopping 15 miles per gallon in the best-case scenario.

Don’t let the Big Three pull you in with their claims on environmental concern. If they really meant what they said, we would have had 40-50 mile per gallon cars ten years ago. This is just another case of greenwashed marketing.

- Gina Mason

Sources:

Ford Sustainability Report 2007/8

Ford - SourceWatch


Commercial Trucks - Ford


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Hybrid hoax

For me the most blatant example is greenwasing is a Hybrid vehicle. It's not the Toyota or Honda vehicles, which may not live up to hype but it's the transformation of the worst polluting vehicles into "hybrid" models. If you look at the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 2WD the first thing you will notice is the giant "HYBRID" written across the bottom of the doors. General Motors uses this in an obvious attempt to let the customer know that they will not face the scorn of other SUV owners because their car is “green”. It must be, it says so right on the door.

Now of course no one can argue with the MPG numbers right? It's a hybrid after all it must get amazing mileage. Not really, when compared to the standard 2WD model it only averages 20 MPG or 5 MPG better than the non-hybrid model. What do you pay for this huge HYBRID graphic and 5 MPG fuel economy? According to Edmunds.com the 2009 model is going for $71,915, that's $16,015 more than the non-hybrid model. According to a side-by-side comparison at the USDOE fueleconomy.gov website, that's only an annual savings (based on 15000 miles) of $453 per year. Now for salesmen this gives them the ultimate trump card, why would anyone pay over $16,000 for a savings of 453 per year? What this does for General motors is it allows them to claim that they make "environmental" vehicles that they never have to sell. They use this same treatment for the hybrid models of the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and GMC Yukon Hybrid.

Ok, the good news is that if you need a SUV hybrid there are better models. The 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid has a combined MPG rating of 32 MPG. That is an annual fuel cost of $850 per year and has an MSRP under $30,000. According to fueleconomy.gov that's more than seven (42 gallon) barrels of oil per year better than the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.


http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/sbs.htm

http://www.edmunds.com/ford/escapehybrid/2009/review.html

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cotton: Know Before You Buy

Most people can agree that cotton is the most comfortable, breathable and soft of all the commonly worn textile fabrics. From your most fashionable jeans to your favorite old T-shirt, everyone loves cotton. Not only does cotton keep the body cool in the summer and warm in the winter, it is one of the easiest fabrics to dye, which makes it extremely popular among fashion designers. In the many mainstream magazines and store catalogs, you are likely to come across an ad or two asserting that because it's a natural fiber (i.e. it grows from the ground), cotton is green, or environmentally friendly. Nothing could be further from the truth! Regrettably, when cotton is traditionally grown, our most favored fabric is associated with devastating abuse of the planet and the people who inhabit it. Did you know:

  • The production of cotton accounts for 25% of the world's pesticides
  • In India, 91% of cotton workers complain of illness caused by chemicals
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies eight of the pesticides used in cotton as possible carcinogens

The push for organic cotton in increasing, because the fibers are cultivated without pesticides, chemical herbicides or synthetic fertilizers that can be harmful to the environment. However, the supply of 100 percent organic cotton is fairly limited: only .03 percent of worldwide cotton production is organic, according to the Organic Trade Association. Sales of organic cotton is expected to grow over the next year, but at this time time only 1% of cotton grown is organic.

So the next time you see an ad like the one below claiming that cotton is green, you may want to reconsider unless it says, organically grown.











Mike Taylor
Portland State University

Sources:

http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/organic_cotton.html

http://www.salon.com/mwt/good_life/2008/01/07/organic_jeans






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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Green Guide

I thought I would share the information I currently aquired during my "greenwashing" research. On National Geographic site http://www.thegreenguide.com/products/; they have a Green Guide. In the guide they address different categories on how to do and choose things 'green'. The categories are as listed:

Accessories | Apparel | Appliances | Bath | Bedding | Cosmetics | Electronics | Food & Drink | Home Furnishing | Home Improvement | Housekeeping | Kids & Babies | Kitchen | Lawn & Garden | Personal Care | Pest Control | Pet Supplies | School & Office Supplies |

In each category they offer tips, best advice, problems, solutions, products and related articles. I wandered around the site for awhile and found it very educational and helped me understand why some products are not safe for the environment. Take some time and check out the site too! I think you might find it very benefical!

Looking to becoming 'green',
Cynthia Pestner

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Live Earth, the ultimate greenwash

As we delve further and further into the marketing tactic of greenwashing, I decided to check out Live Earth. For those who do not recall Live Earth is Al Gore's concert round the world that, in 2007, coordinated concerts in countries such as the U.S., England, Japan, Australia and more. The intent of the concerts were to raise awareness about the global climate shift, as well as encourage less wasteful policies in international business, relations, etc.,. Not surprisingly, an event requiring coordination from multinational for profit corporations such as GE (parent company to NBC Universal where many of the concerts were broadcast), produced an estimated 74,500 metric tons of waste according to a John Buckley of Carbon Footprint and cited in this article at England's Daily Mail.
By comparison, cites the same article, the average Briton, produces 10 metric tons of waste (approx. 22,000 pounds) annually. For us yanks, the 74,500 metric tons equals 163,900,000 pounds of waste. Americans, on average, produce 20 tons of waste equaling 40,000 pounds annually a statistic found here. These numbers are quite staggering considering the concert is meant to be an indicator of change, to help slow global warming. Instead, it would seem the situation will only be exacerbated by any future concerts. In fact there was another Live Earth concert scheduled to take place this December in India, but it was canceled after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai late last week for fear of security issues.
One of the harshest factors is the insistence on the part of many stars to fly in personal jets to their locations. In the research mentioned at the aforementioned Daily Mail article, it is revealed that five of the headlining acts of last year's Live Earth concerts had carbon footprints approaching 2000 metric tons annually. Many celebrities have purchased carbon credits to attempt to offset their carbon production, but these actions may be relatively empty as carbon credits can be purchased at a variety of locations and have differing value.
Ultimately, Live Earth is only reflective of the ideology that global greening and enviro-friendly movements don't have to stand in the way of corporate business and in fact, according to GE Executive Lorraine Bolsinger, quoted here, "what's good for the environment can be good for business, and what's good for business can be good for the environment." The operative word of course being "can."
OTHER RESOURCE(S): Alive Earth - A grassroots alternative to Live Earth.

posted by Jeff Hammond

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So true!



I found this comic while I was doing more research on the subject of "greenwashing". How funny but true!
Cynthia Pestner

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Dishwashing Liquid Not So Clean

Probably like many consumers, I feel that I should be able to trust the labels on the products that I purchase. However, as more and more research is done, it is becoming blatantly apparent that the companies of today have decided that they will sell their products to whoever, wherever, and at whatever cost to our planet and society. Long gone are the days where we as consumers knew what the terms we are faced with on product labels mean, or what the company behind those labels really stands for. While surfing the internet for some useful information on dishwashing liquid, I ran across an article written by Vanessa L. Facenda at Brandweek (http://www.brandweek.com/bw/news/recent_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003726559) regarding the dishwashing liquids that we have to choose from when it comes to taking care of the environment. These cleaning items state to be environmentally friendly and "green". However, upon a deeper look, it appears that the statements are nothing more than a blatant lie. In many cases, the manufacturers of these products are even facing threats of a lawsuit if they do not change the labels on their products and start disclosing the actual make-up of their cleaning products. As consumers, it is our duty and responsibility to make sure that we are aware of the products that we are buying and not believe everything that we are told regarding the items that we bring into our homes. The largest voice that we have is when we choose to buy, or not buy, a product. In choosing to give one company our hard earned money over another, we have the power to invoke change in the market place and show the large corporations what truly matters to us.

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Our Children, Their Market Sector

Through various media, such as movies and TV programs, we have become conscious to the fact that our children are being directly marketed to by large corporations with huge budgets. One of the large problems is the pervasiveness of advertising that bombards our children with messages that we do not support or undermines our values. While we are aware of companies like McDonalds and WalMart targeting our kids, we rarely expect to see it in our school systems. However, as any parent can attest, the advertising and the acceptance of advertising by schools, teachers, and parents has become outrageous.

Gone are the days when just local businesses supported a football or basketball team. Now we are bombarded with magazine subscription requests, cookie dough clubs, and other corporately organized fund raising. I, like many others, support the activity of fund raising by kids for a field trip or new band uniforms, however, modern fund raising has taken on a whole new marketing sector by enlisting children to encourage others to buy, buy, buy. Schools hang large banners with logos, distribute logoed collection jars, and host various other forms of subconscious advertising. Children are not just learning in schools, but becoming more accepting of marketing ploys from an early age. According to a recent article on Commercial Alert, the impact of all this marketing has demonstrated that “higher materialistic values are related to factors such as lower self-esteem, chronic physical symptoms, and higher rates of anxiety, depression and psychological distress” (http://www.commercialalert.org/issues/education/k12-schools/school-children-thrown-overboard-into-commercial-sea).

The toll of marketing doesn’t stop there. Kids are encouraged to “go green” and often with products that aren’t living up to the name. Through corporate sponsorships, corporations are gaining access to students, according to The International Encyclopedia of Environmental Politics:
“…through the development and distribution of ‘educational’ material to schools. The potential to shape environmental perceptions and improve corporate images at the same time attracts many customers to the firms designing educational materials for corporations. These materials inevitably give a corporate view of environmental problems and portray activities such as clear cutting forests, coal mining and nuclear power as environmentally friendly.”

As more funding is funneled into our public schools, we can expect to see more information passed to our children that include misinformation about fossil fuels and the use of natural resources. Isn’t the ultimate case of greenwashing when the children are involved?

- Gina Mason

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Apple isn't Green!

November 27, 2008

Apple vs. Greenpeace: Green Communication or Greenwashing?


This week, Greenpeace released their 10th version of the Guide to Greener Electronics, putting Apple behind competitors like HP, Dell and Acer. This comes despite Apple’s launch of a new campaign promoting “The new Macbooks. The world’s greenest family of notebooks.“.

Although there has been criticism regarding Greenpeace’s methodologies in determining rankings, judgement by organizations like Greenpeace does appear to be moving the electronics industry in a more sustainable direction. More and more often, we are seeing consumers choosing products based on their perceived environmental policies, notwithstanding the economic downturn.

While Apple’s policies are up for debate, one thing is certain: Their green communications have put the topic on the table. Many companies have superior policies, but do little to advertise them - an oversight that will soon become a thing of the past as 3rd party validation or criticism plays a greater role in consumer behavior.

Alex Haythorne for The Element Agency in Vancouver


I discovered this at a link listed as My Green Element. This supports a previous blog on computer companies (Microsoft) and their saying they are green. It isn't just the packaging that consumers need to be aware of, it is what is inside the plastic covers. We have all seen the dump sites on our website that are the end product of our old computers. The computer companies have been saying they are making their products greener, but there is still a long way to go to protect the future for our children and environment.

There is also a great U Tube video at this site with Al Gore speaking about the steps we can take to clean up out country.

Submitted by Kathy Sprick




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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Greenwashing Microsoft Style

Has anyone noticed Microsoft’s new campaign and website portraying the company as environmentally conscious and cheerfully hawking the companies Vista platforms’ energy savings? If you haven’t, and would like a very high budgeted example of greenwashing then you should give Microsoft.com/environment a look. Microsoft shows a gorgeous snow-filled mountain scene and talks about the wonders of saving energy for your organization; this is a notable aspect of Windows Vista, but completely overshadows the companies’ other endeavors, most notably the packaging of Microsoft products.

Microsoft is a large company, perhaps the powers that approved the environmental website have never been to a local store and looked at their companies’ retail offerings, or they didn’t receive a company-wide memo about the company’s packaging habits; regardless, the effect is a clear example of greenwashing, though you’d be none-the-wiser by looking at Microsoft’s self-professed environmentally friendly website. That of course is the point of greenwashing, cover up the bad with a smattering of the good…

Think on the companies packaging, how many of you have seen the solid plastic coffins that Windows Vista and other Microsoft applications come encased in? For Microsoft accessories, and their Xbox 360 platform particularly, well, good luck getting a new controller out of its plastic packaging. Seriously, you almost cannot open Microsoft accessories without a powerful set of scissors and an amazing amount of patience; apparently plastic has become a new renewable resource which is simply absurd.

Microsoft should know better than portraying the positive while blissfully continuing on with the environmental deprivations their company takes part in. Please visit our website and become informed on devastating consequences of greenwashing at http://sites.google.com/site/ecomerge2008/

-John O



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