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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Green, Doing it Right!

Good Day Oregon on Fox 12 did several shows tracking a "Green" remodel done by Neil Kelly of what they called the Jaqua home, right here in Portland, Oregon. I felt compelled to look a little further into the claims made by Dave Schmitke of Good Day Oregon so I went to the Neil Kelly website. There I found specifics about the companies "Green" projects and explainations about why the products used are "Green". I also found the videos from the Good Day Oregon series, which I watched again. If you don't have time to watch all 4 parts, which total about 20 minutes at least watch the last one Part 4--Cabinets Can Be Environmentally Friendly Too. http://www.neilkelly.com/pageview.aspx?id=21272

The Neil Kelly website has great information and if you or someone you know is in need of assistance with a Build or Remodel project or to learn more about Neil Kelly go to http://neilkelly.com/

Although our class project has been directed at greenwashing I felt it important to let others know when an honest and successful attemp is being made by one of our local businesses.

Thank you Neil Kelly for addressing environmental sustainability.

Submitted by
Juli Knapp

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are YOU Green?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Are You Being Greenwashed?



After researching about Greenwashing and finding out how naive I have been as a consumer; I thought that I need to become more aware and informed. After reasearching and educating myself I found a wonderful article from the Greenpeace website that discusses the 4 criteria for determing if something is greenwashing or not:

4 criterias:

Dirty Business - Touting an environmental program or product, while the corporation's product or core business is inherently polluting or unsustainable. For example, if a company brags about its boutique green R&D projects but the majority of spending and investment reinforces old, unsustainable, polluting practices.

Ad Bluster - Using targeted advertising and public relations campaigns to exaggerate an environmental achievement in order to divert attention away from environmental problems or if it spends more money advertising an environmental achievement than actually doing it. For example, if a company were to do a million dollar ad campaign about a clean up that cost less.
Political Spin - Advertising or speaking about corporate "green" commitments while lobbying against pending or current environmental laws and regulations. For example, if advertising or public statements are used to emphasize corporate environmental responsibility in the midst of legislative pressure or legal action.
It's the Law, Stupid! - Advertising or branding a product with environmental achievements that are already required or mandated by existing laws. For example, if an industry or company has been forced to change a product, clean up its pollution or protect an endangered species, then uses PR campaigns to make such action look proactive or voluntary.


These 4 criterias can be viewed on http://stopgreenwash.org/


Hope they can help you become better informed as they have done for me!

Cynthia Pestner

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Friday, November 28, 2008

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 haven't 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.



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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Swiffer

There’s a product on the market called the Swiffer. It’s a plastic mop-like contraption that is designed to replace the good old fashion mop. The Swiffer comes with a box of disposable, plastic-wrapped, chemical-soaked pieces of paper that’s guaranteed to get your floor cleaner than if using a traditional mop, but with less effort. At first this may seem like a great idea, but these chemical-soaked pieces of paper go straight from the floor to the local area landfill, where the chemicals leech into the ground. Yet, the designer of the Swiffer published a piece in Businessweek magazine about how he is all for the greening of the planet and this device is his way of contributing to that cause. He says: Cleaning the floor with an old-fashioned mop and detergent is a messy and unpleasant job that uses many gallons of hot water and great amounts of detergent every week in millions of homes around the world. The water, the energy needed to heat that water, and the environmental impact of dumping the detergent into the waste stream are terribly costly, and all for a job no one likes doing anyway.

Okay, he claims to be for the greening of the planet, but he did fail to mention that those millions of homes around the world, who would likely buy this product, will require the continual purchase of these toxic chemical sheets that are for the landfill -- sheets so toxic, that they should not be used on unfinished, oiled, or waxed wooden boards, non-sealed tiles or carpeted floors, because the chemicals will damage these surfaces. In my opinion, this is hardly a sustainable design solution.

Click here to learn more about the Swiffer.

Click here to read the Businessweek article.

Mike Taylor

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The Greenwashing Index and You!

The Greenwashing Index and You!

We have all heard of The Six Sins of Greenwashing , and now we have an Index to see if businesses are really Greenwashing or whitewashing with a green brush. Companies and organizations make their products look really healthy for the environment. We are lured in with the idea that we will be helping the environment. NOT SO FAST!! The Greenwashing Index provides us with a way to decide if a business ad is good for the environment. The goal of the site is to keep us educated about reading ads and being able to decide if what we are seeing is Greenwashing.
Enviromedia Social Marketing promotes the Greenwashing Index with the help of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
Here is the Greenwashing Index:
1. THE AD MISLEADS WITH WORDS
Do you believe the ad misleads the viewer/reader about the company’s/product’s environmental impact through the things it says? Does it seem the words are trying to make you believe there is a green claim when there isn’t? Focus on the words only — what do you think the ad is saying?
2. THE AD MISLEADS WITH VISUALS AND/OR GRAPHICS
Do you think the advertiser has used green or natural images in a way designed to make you think the product/company is more environmentally friendly than it really is?
3. THE AD MAKES A GREEN CLAIM THAT IS VAGUE OR SEEMINGLY UNPROVABLE
Does the ad claim environmental benefits without sufficiently identifying for you what they are? Has the advertiser provided a source for claims or for more information? Are the claims related to the company/product?
4. THE AD OVERSTATES OR EXAGGERATES HOW GREEN THE PRODUCT/COMPANY/SERVICE ACTUALLY IS
Do you believe the advertiser is overstating how green the product/company actually is? Are the green claims made by the ad believable? Do you think it's possible for the product/company to do the things depicted/stated?
5. THE AD LEAVES OUT OR MASKS IMPORTANT INFORMATION, MAKING THE GREEN CLAIM SOUND BETTER THAN IT IS
Do you think the ad exists to divert attention from something else the company does? Do you believe the relevant collateral consequences of the product/service are considered in the ad? Does it seem to you something is missing from the ad?
This site is available to make sure the environment isn’t sacrificed by our lack of information. They hope that businesses will start to regulate themselves by having a sustainable and be accountable for the sustainable practices they claim to have. Greenwashing can end.
Submitted By Kathy Sprick

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Spotting Greenwashing

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Spotting Greenwashing

Have you been Greenwashed? There are many companies that tell us they are good for the environment, but some companies are just Greenwashing. What does that mean? Some call it green marketing and the only thing green is the money they make off selling us their product. What can we do?

Here are some tips from the Enviromedia Social Marketing, which promotes the Greenwashing Index with the help of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, so we don’t get Greenwashed.

  1. Truth: If you see a green ad, take a look at the company as a whole. Can you easily find more information about their sustainable business practices on their Website? Do they have a comprehensive environmental story? Is there believable information to substantiate the green claims you saw in the ad? If not, buyer beware.
  2. The Whole Truth: Next, try Googling the company name plus the word “environment” and see what pops up. This is not very scientific, but if you as a consumer or advocate for the environment are upset with the company’s record, something’s bound to pop up. Like the Better Business Bureau for the environment, your responses count.
  3. And Nothing But The Truth: “I know it when I see it.” (These are the words of Supreme Court Justice Warren Potter in a ruling on hard-core pornography in 1964.) These are words to remember as a consumer when you see ‘being green’ marketing claims. When you see the ad, how does it make you feel? Does it sound true and authentic, or just hype? Smart Shoppers are everywhere around the world, and your own attention to the green marketing claims is one more thing to carry with you to the store.

Submitted by Kathy Sprick



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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How green is your Wii?

While perusing the video games shelves at my local Target, I couldn't help but laugh when I spotted a Nintendo DS game called "Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol." Nintendo describes the game as "one of the first games based on the growing environmental movement," and in the game, you are a robot that fights toxic "Smoglings" by planting flowers and building park equipment in a virtual environment.


How hypocritical is this? Afterwards - and out of curiosity - I went home and googled "Nintendo" and "greenwashing." Lo and behold, I found an article where Greenpeace ranked Nintendo as one of the least environmentally-friendly "gadget" companies out there today, flunking because of its "global policies on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded."  In addition, Greenpeace says, "Nintendo completely fails to show any environmental credentials," that they continue to produce too many toxic gadgets and that they don't do enough to live up to their green pledges. 


In other words, while a company like Nintendo may try to tout green tendencies via video games like "Chibi-Robo," the company itself does a lousy job being green in real life. It's stuff like this that makes me mad, and should really make a person think twice about supporting these companies that fail to measure up to their green claims. Unfortunately, being "green" is probably the last thing on a person's mind when they're trying to hunt down the Wii console or latest Wii games for their kids' Christmas presents.


Here is the source link.


- Cassie H.



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Buying Green

http://www.greengiftguide.com a website with an eye catching home page and an even better motto: LIVE RESPONSIBILITY. SHOP SUSTAINABLY. This site offers gifts of varied nature from business, clothing, pets, garden, home and even toys. You can find green ideas to trim your tree, wrap your presents, and even entertain for the holidays. You can also get tips and facts and learn how to start a recycling program.
Wow, a million years is how long a glass bottle will sit in a landfill doing nothing and 80-100 years is the lifespan of an aluminum can.
Cool, did you know that clothes are made from recycled material products that come from recycled plastic. Such things like T-Shirts, jacket fiberfill, fleece sweaters, and sleeping bag fiberfill can be made from materials that results when plastic is recycled.
Obvious is the products that recycled material from glass can be made into like glassware, tile, and new glass containers but not so obvious is what recycled aluminum cans can create, which includes picture frames, home decor, and even baseball bats.
I found some great information on this site but like all others I have to questions how much investigation goes into the products that found there. When I read the disclaimer and found the site taking no responsibility for the items that are sold on the site it made me wonder. However, there were many great tips and facts that were helpful to me. To get more information about this site go to the link above.
Juli Knapp

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Historical Trees

There have been several reasons, obviously, why the wood products industry would clear-cut our precious trees. Our trees serve many purposes, and have even been burned when our forests had been overcrowded with trees, especially dying and dry trees. The trees that were a fire hazard to begin with. Who would have thought we would have ever intentionally set fire to anything; especially once reallizing the devastation it was doing to the wildlife and ecosystem in the process.
Nevertheless, our wood products industry, continues to clearcut our trees not giving any consideration to what significance may be standing in front of them. Environmental history must be mobilized to save the rare remaining big trees of North America and their endangered ancient forest habitats-not help greenwash their extermination by the international wood products industry. American logging Corporation Weyerhauser has a notorious record for not only environmental devestation but also indigenous rights abuse. Stumps don't lie. Photos of 1,000 year old Cedar trees killed c. 2003 speaks volumes. It's no wonder the contemptible American tree cutting corporation has sought new ways of greenwashing its greed such as the 1999 merging of the Weyerhauser patronized American Forest History Society with The American Society of Environmental History through their joint Environmental History Journal.

Like so many of our precious natural resources; they are rich in value. Yet they come at a drastic price, a price that is felt by our wildlife more than any other. Like building our community, sustainability breeds from history. You can cut our trees, for God sake, there is history there as well.
(www.cathedralgrave.se/text/05)

Steven Campbell

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Diaper Debate

The great diaper debate – cloth vs. disposable

In an attempt to disclose another example of corporate greenwashing that we have not yet discussed, I went on a search for information pertaining to the use of cloth and disposable diapers. There is a plethora of information available on the web regarding the topic. For instance, an article from Wired.com (http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2004/04/63182?currentPage=1) discussed a woman who was buying so-called biodegradable diapers from Whole Foods only to discover that they aren’t much better for her baby or the environment. According to the article, “These diapers all contain super-absorbent gelling materials or AGM. AGM is linked to an increase in childhood asthma and a decrease in sperm count among boys. Environmentally, these diapers require as much water, energy and fuel to produce as any other single-use diaper. The bottom line is they offer no environmental or health benefits.”

"There is no answer," said Chaz Miller, director of state programs for the National Solid Wastes Management Association. No one can say definitively whether cloth or disposable diapers are better for the environment.”

Recently, the leading disposable diaper manufacturer, Proctor and Gamble, was accused of falsely labeling its diapers as compostable when only a few facilities in the entire country were equipped to do this type of processing. A clear case of greenwashing at its best. And the Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD) considers Proctor and Gamble to be among its most controversial members.

Here are some alarming statistics:
• The average baby goes through 5,000 diapers before being potty-trained.
• 95 percent of these diaper changes are disposable.
• Most disposable diapers end up in landfills making up 3.4 million tons of waste, or 2.1 percent of U.S. garbage.
• The most significant environmental impacts for all diapering systems are on resource depletion, acidification and global warming. For one child, over two-and-a-half years, these impacts are roughly comparable with driving a car between 1,300 and 2,200 miles.

Another website, http://www.thelaboroflove.com/articles/cloth-diapers-versus-disposable-diapers-pros-and-cons/ listed the pros and cons of disposable diapers vs cloth:

Disposable - The Pros:
• Ease of use; disposables seem like the easier choice. They are an all-in-one product, with less fuss than cloth.
• Throw-away; disposables can be thrown away once used, unlike cloth which will need to be washed.
• Easy to travel with; disposables are the easy choice to use when traveling.
• Leak less; disposables tend to leak less than cloth. They have a tight, snug fit and are very
absorbent.

The Cons:-
• More expensive; over the years you will probably spend around $1500 diapering your baby in disposables.
• Bad for the environment; it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year.
• Harder to potty-train; toddlers can’t feel wetness as much with disposables, so it’s harder for them to potty-train.
• More diaper-rash; according to one study, 78% of babies in disposable diapers get diaper-rash, compared to only 7% of cloth diapered babies.
• Babies health; the chemical used to make the super-absorbency of disposable diapers is Sodium polyacrylate, which has been linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and can cause allergic reactions.

Cloth - the Pros:
• It’s cheaper; cloth diapers can be expensive for the initial set-up ($250-$700), but in the long run they work out a lot cheaper than disposables, depending on what system you use.
• Less diaper-rash; cloth diapered babies tend to have less diaper-rash, because natural cotton fibers breathe more easily.
• Can be used for subsequent children; works out even cheaper because you can use for any more children you have.
• Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier, because the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin.

The Cons:
• Usually fastened with diaper pins, but you can now find ones with Velcro or snap fasteners.
• Some daycare centers won’t want to use them.
• Not good for traveling with; can be messy and not appropriate for travel. Most cloth-diaper users will use disposables when traveling or just being out and about.
• Can leak more than disposables; if not used properly.
• Environmental impact: water use and other resource depletion.

This debate is still not a clear issue. For more information, please see this short informational video on diapers and the environment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wp3ckVSr7I




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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Live Earth aka Greenwashing! Live

I apologize for being cynical, but I always chuckle when I think about the big Live Earth event that was thrown last year. The event itself was a take on the famous "Live Aid" and "Live 8" concerts meant to raise awareness of poverty and human suffering. On the outside, something like Live Earth sounds like a noble idea - a huge event designed to raise awareness about global warming and man-made pollution? What's not to like? Well... a lot, it turns out. As I watched clips of Live Earth on TV and on the internet - it was also broadcast on the radio - I couldn't help but think about how hypocritical and ironic the whole thing was. The event - headlined by who else? Al Gore - brought together more than 150 musical acts in eleven locations throughout the world, with celebrities and more "green" messages than you can count. However, it was just hard for me to believe in the "sincerity" of what these celebrities had to say, especially when so many of them have multiple homes, private jets, swimming pools and live lives of luxury. Does anybody really believe that these celebrities are "green"? Give me a break.

Another irony of Live Earth was how much energy it probably took to actually put ON the concerts. Wikipedia sums it up pretty well: "Although the intention of Live Earth was to raise awareness about human destruction of the environment, the event shuttled its participants largely through gas-based travel which has been viewed by many as a primary influence of the ozone destruction and the deterioration of earth. Additionally, it seems that the event's intention was to curb the destruction of the planet, but it is questionable if the event has had any considerable influence."

Chris Rock was interviewed by a MTV reporter before the event, and I think his comments sum up the whole thing pretty well: "I hope Live Earth does for global warming what Live Aid did for starvation and poverty in Africa." Ricky Gervais, standing beside him while being interviewed, burst out laughing at the comment... and so did I!

- Cassie H.

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Beware of Greenwashing during the holidays

It's the holiday season and folks are looking for gifts and wrapping paper that are green and eco-friendly. For good ideas peruse your local holiday market for handmade items like soaps, baths and crafts that are made with organic home-made items that are made locally and avoid the advertising and Greenwashing marketing that is abound in the stores. Try to be creative with paper bag wrapping paper, twine and newspaper wraps instead of using store bought non-recyclable wrap and tinsel. For more ideas and inspirations read on:

Go to:
http://www.lime.com/features/green-holiday/Top-10-Green-Gift-Wrap-Ideas
for more information and ideas on green wrapping and recycling for gift ideas.

It is also recommended that if you buy a christmas tree, buy a live one and recycle it properly. Go to: http://earth911.com/blog/2008/11/11/treecycle-this-holiday-season/.

This website can tell you how christmas trees get recycled and what happens in the process. At home, we personally have a fake tree that is 7 foot tall. We have had this tree for the last six years. We like an artificial tree because we like to decorate before Thanksgiving and a live tree usually does not last as long in our home.

For ornaments, there are also awesome ways that you can decorate a christmas tree by making handcrafted ornaments. One favorite for my family has always been making dough out of flour, salt and water. Cutting or creating shapes out with cookie cutters and using our imagination as to how we want out ornaments to look and be. Cook them in the oven and paint them or decorate them the way you choose. Here is the recipe: http://crafts.kaboose.com/saltdoughgifttoppers.html.

My Mom and Grandma used to make dough people, ornaments and pins to give away as gift
presents with the above recipe. These times have brought back many happy memories with my family and I hope to give those same memories and sense of using your creative edge in creating eco-friendly items that can become family heirlooms over the years.

Here is a link for more information on other eco friendly gift giving and ideas.
http://crafts.kaboose.com/saltdoughgifttoppers.html.

You can also visit your local recyling center for items to be used for making ornaments, wrapping and hand crafted gift items. In Eugene there is M.E.C.C.A which stands for Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts. One can only imagine how junk can be recycled and made into something fun and unique. http://www.materials-exchange.org/

Happy Holidays!
Christina Lymath

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bio Diesel

This isn’t necessarily a case of intentional green washing but I thought about the potential of bio diesel. When evaluating the bio diesel movement there are some things to consider. First there is a definite benefit to re-using old cooking oil to power a vehicle. It keeps oil out of a landfill or improperly disposed and it’s better on the environment. According to Greasecar.com Bio diesel produces 26% less CO2 and 39% less particulate matter. Restaurants produce about 100 million gallons of waste oil each year and for consumers it is cheaper that diesel and gasoline. Unfortunately if all of the waste oil was converted into bio diesel it would only amount to .07 percent of the total fuel consumed in America. The bigger problem is that only two major car companies sell diesel-powered cars. That translates into a smaller amount of cars available, both new and used, that can run bio diesel. The real benefit would occur if there were more diesels imported into the United States. Countries like Germany and Brazil subsidies bio diesel and use waste agricultural products to expand their program.

http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/21/news/economy/vegetable_cars/index.htm

http://www.greasecar.com/resources.cfm

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can you 'GREENWASH' water? Yes you can...

In the article below you see just one example of an environmental battlefront involving sustainability playing out, this one in the San Francisco bay area involving water use. Please read through the article by Amit Srivastava, it is a powerful subject when you consider the very real impact the absence of clean water has in the lives of over a billion people around the world, environmentalists and human rights activists are facing off against corporations over the control of water, with huge implications depending on the decisions and agreements that are eventually arrived at.

The scope and reach of greenwashing practices is truly global, in this case multi-national organizations that operate in countries where access to clean water is an issue almost certainly could do more to be environmentally safe and to improve the availability of clean water for people, it is both complete irony and a tragedy that water can be purified to produce a soft drink and at the same time so many lives are lost due to the absence of clean water.

Bob Jellison

Challenging Corporate Control of Water
by Amit Srivastava
Wednesday Nov 19th, 2008 6:08 AM
Challenging Corporate Control of Water
No! to Privatization, Yes! to Community Control of Water

Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Time: 7:00 – 9:30 PM
Venue: Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco
On December 2nd and 3rd, global corporations will meet in San Francisco at a conference called “Corporate Water Footprinting: Towards a Sustainable Water Strategy,” to discuss their use of water, and ostensibly, outline water conservation strategies.

A conference geared towards sustainable use of water is indeed welcome, but having the largest water abusers in charge is not.

Given the central role of water-intensive companies in the conference – Coca-Cola, Pepsico, NestlĂ© Waters, MillerCoors, Intel, Dean Foods, General Electric, ConAgra Foods – and the glaring absence of perspectives from those without access to water – it is clear that the conference is designed primarily to greenwash the practices of these very companies that have, in many cases, led to water scarcity and water contamination resulting in the denial of people’s access to water.

Access to water is a fundamental human right. With more than a billion people – about one in six – lacking access to safe drinking water, it is imperative that the international community act urgently to meet the growing challenge of providing access to water to everyone.

Join us to challenge the corporate agenda of privatization of water and place the focus on strengthening public institutions so that they do what they are supposed to do – deliver a public good to the public at large.

Speakers will include:

• Maude Barlow, Blue Planet Project, Council of Canadians, Special Advisor on Water to the United Nations
• Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food and Water Watch
• Caleen Sisk-Franco, Chief, Winnemum Wintu Tribe, Indigenous Environmental Network
• Amit Srivastava, Coordinator, International Campaign Against Coca-Cola and India Resource Center

Sponsored by: Blue Planet Project/Council of Canadians, Food and Water Watch, India Resource Center, Indigenous Environmental Network, International Campaign Against Coca-Cola

Initial endorsers include: Alliance for Democracy, Center for Political Education, Design Action, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Global Exchange, Movement Generation, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International Forum on Globalization, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International Rivers, Oakland Institute, Other Worlds, People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER), Ruckus Society, The Public Trust Alliance, Peoples Health Movement.

For more info or to endorse, contact Jeff at jconant [at] fwwatch.org or Amit at info [at] indiaresource.org

See our position paper at http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2008/challengecorporatecontrol.html

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Organics

I am one of the worst junk food eaters around. I like sweets of all kinds and eat everything that tastes good, even vegetables. Recently, I have gotten a couple of jobs where I purchase foods for different people. Wow! What a shock to my eating habits when I go to buy organic foods. Okay, it is a given that they cost more because they are…ah…organic.

Now, I understand that they are likely to be foods from local farmers or co-ops and they have higher costs as they are smaller. There are no added chemicals added to the growing of the products. Just what are ‘added chemicals?’ I water and feed my vegetables and use non-chemicals (other plants) to chase away the bugs that are eating my veggies. I think that is still organic. I don’t understand why the foods at stores are battered and bug ridden and cost much more that my own hand raised food cost.

I am all for the local farmers bringing fresh produce and that companies like Fred Meyers and Safeway are buying their foods since they both are going organic. But, why are we getting these vegetables sealed in plastic non-recyclable bags. Why are the fruits and vegetables looking like they need an infusion of herbal tea to perk them up?

Organic is not supposed to be decomposing in the bag or box. Recently, I searched for the little oranges and in all the boxes of the organic ones, there were numerous oranges with green mold growing on them. I was going to give them as a gift to a friend. I don’t think so! This is not what I call fresh organic food.

What I have learned is to be very choosy by checking each and every item, no matter if it is fruits, canned foods, or laundry detergent that says they are green, which may have lots of chemicals in them. I am still a junk food eater, but I am enjoying greater sense of health by eating healthier foods.

I don’t have to buy organic, if it is sicker looking that non-organic foods.

Kathy Sprick


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Expanding Out-What About Sprawl?

Our group here at Ecomerge has written at random on several issues, each issue in some fashion relating to the threat of corporate or legislative 'greenwashing'. From fuel-efficient cars, to alternative fuels, hopefully you-the viewing public-have grasped some helpful information on the topic of 'greenwashing.'

Where I believe we have fallen short thus far, is failing to provide, you, with a primary source of 'greenwashing' and the damage that it actually can do overall. If you understand what 'sprawl' is, then you understand that it alone contributes to the overall collapse of our landscape, ecology, habitat, economy, and community. Through the unnecessary expansion of development, which is 'sprawl', the small low-density population that can afford to move into the suburban life-style; one which not only pulls housing away from city limits, it opens the need for extra driving. Driving, the mandatory mode of transportation, that we have all become accustom to. The one form of transportation that we all cannot live without; the one that contributes to the highest amount of greenhouse gases and pollutants in our air that enter the ozone. Yes, that transportation. Only a small part of the greed that developers and home owners try to justify in these small rural developments. Private lives that are granted, now open up the doors for higher emissions of these greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Exactly what we have been trying to eliminate since the so-called Clear Skies Initiative. The one that has had to be revised several times for not meeting emissions guidelines. Another story for one of our nations greatest 'greenwashers.' Remember, with power comes the ability to manipulate the minds of others. Hence, the power to 'greenwash' the nation.

Let's not forget the economic factor that 'sprawl' poses on the American communities. 'Sprawl' raises the costs of infrastructures and services (e.g., roads, schools). As the development spreads, so to does the need for roadways, sewerlines, waterlines, policing, and firefighters. Thus the costs will rise as well.

Don't be fooled by the fast-talking salespitch; if you have to try to sell it to someone, generally what you are selling has some loose ends. So the developers want you to think that the projects are 'new green projects', but no matter how green they make them, you cannot overcome the damage that they are creating through 'sprawl.' After all, all things being equal, if they really cared about being 'green' they would have stayed around the city limits.

For more on this topic go to the google page; (www.greenwashing/sprawl)

Steven Campbell

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grocery Bags

Not realizing the size of my own carbon footprint, I have begun taking my own recyclable bags into the grocery store every week when I buy my groceries. This is a baby step towards a “greener me” but it’s an important one.

More and more stores are selling these recyclable canvas bags and usually they are reasonably priced. Stores like Fred Meyer, WinCo, and even Costco have their own bags that they sell which of course you can use at any other store. Sometimes the stores even give them away for free with a purchase of a certain amount of groceries. One of the best reasons to bring your own bags is because it takes an average of 15 to 1000 years for 1 plastic grocery bag go decompose. That is just 1 plastic grocery bag! Using paper bags really isn’t a step up either when it comes to being environmentally friendly. Also according to reusethisbag.com “plastic bags don’t biodegrade but are at risk for degradation” which is releasing toxic particles from the bags (http://www.reusethisbag.com/). The website also claims that 10% of the waste that is found on the beaches are plastic bags.

When deciding on purchasing recyclable bags, watch out for bags that are not made from 100% recyclable products. Lots of the bags that are for sale may contain partial recyclable materials, but they aren’t 100%. This is a type of greenwashing since companies advertise their bags are “environmentally friendly” or “safe for the environment” but actually aren’t.

Not only do I earn $.06 for every bag I bring in the store, I also am carrying fewer bags into my house. I use an average of 5 bags every week for my family of four which is a savings of $0.30 off my grocery bill. Plus the bonus is the canvas bags hold a lot more than the plastic or paper bags so that means fewer trips for me!

~Melanie P.

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Food and Greenwashing

After writing a blog on Greenwashing and water bottles I thought it would be informative to look up Greenwashing and food.

Have you ever wondered if packaged organic food is really organic or any better for than you than so called "regular" food?. Just because you buy a bag of chips in a brown paper bag does not mean it is any healthier than a pack of chips from Lays. Before you trust the organic promise and health claims that so called organic food companies market, read the ingredients to be sure the product is actually different.

Many companies claim that their food is "all natural" and organic which makes it seem healthier to the consumer but this is often a marketing ploy to get you to buy the product. For me I know that if the package of a product reads organic, healthy and low fat, I will buy it thinking that I will get healthier if I eat or drink that product or lose weight because the label says low fat. I find I lose more weight by limiting my portions of regular food, exercising and drinking water.

When I shop at Trader Joes, or Market of Choice in Eugene, I like the ambience and selection of the awesome looking produce and the smell of lavender oil from the natural soaps, but I wonder if these products that are sold next to non organic products and are more expensive are really any better than if I were to shop at Albertsons. The enticement for me with these markets is that they claim to sell organic products and so I trust that. I wonder if that is what also makes the products more expensive. There are some things I can find at these two markets that I can't find in any other chain, like crumpets or Paradise Tea and certain cheeses, but I always end up spending more money on the other products and cringe when I hit the check out counter. I wonder if the salad bar ingredients comes from packaged lettuce and spinach over organic, locally grown produce, but I have never done the research.

It is not just the ingredients in the food that matter, think about the packaging as well. Is it any better than foil packaging? any more sustainable than so called organic packaging and if so how? Do some research before you believe a marketing claim on foods. You might just be surprised to find out that you fell for a Greenwashing food claim.


Here are a few websites on this subject.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/greenwashing2.htm

http://www.thegreenguide.com/products/Food_&_Drink

http://blog.pennlive.com/naturalliving/2007/03/dont_let_em_fool_ya_greenwashi.html

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Greenwashing and technology

Has anyone discussed the technology Greenwashing? I found an article discussing the consumer electronics industry and their efforts to put a “green” label on their products in order to increase sales in the trendy “green” markets of today.
After discussing how the industry is putting a false “environmentally friendly” image on many of their new products, the author goes on to say that every consumer electronics product is bad for the environment. They all contain metal and toxic materials, and many have batteries and other acidic, poisonous components. The manufacturing, distribution, usage and disposal -- even recycling -- has some bad impact on the environment. Here's the link:
http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/columns/article.php/3767081/Green+Gadgets?+Or+Greenwashing?.htm

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sustain Our Environment

So where would we be if all decisions, policies, living standards, and products were determined by the 'Greenwashers' of the world? It is time that the public understands that the selfish acts of those throughout history, whether predetermined or not, have done much damage to our precious environment. The short-term planning, and bigger is better developing, has created a depletion of resources; resources that are thought to be an infinite amount by many. The United States has been the highest among the worlds nations in energy users. Our nations peoples uses electricity, natural gas, and oil to its fullest potential. Unfortunately, our people seem to think that we are never going to run out of these precious commodities as well. We have been brainwashed into believing this, so why not. It is time that the focus changes, that we take back what is rightfully ours.

We have lost touch with our sense of 'Place.' The 'Greenwashers' built in that taking up more of the 'Space' was better; while eliminating our history, and any meaning from the established grounds that we walk on. People have lost touch with their environment; many have no idea whether their home is built on or near a watershed. They may not even know what a watershed is. A home has become just an economic investment, while becoming 'de-physicalized' to the average home-buyer.

We will never be able to alter the minds of each person that views our site. We can only hope that you (the viewing public) is able to gather some bits of information that is helpful. Information either in avoiding the ill-effects of 'Greenwashing', or possibly some helpful hints on how to sustain our environment to its potential.

As mentioned earlier, many think our resources come in infinite amounts. In the fantasy world this is true, but in reality they are only finite resources. People need to learn to preserve resources. Population is growing each year, which is adding to the need for more homes. Urban development is essential to the ever-increasing 'urban sprawl.' Development must go 'up' while not going 'side-to-side' that only leads to more area taken. You can see where this goes with future planning, how the long-term needs to be taken into consideration. Otherwise we will end up sticking our children with the same problem that we have today. Having to tear down our roadways, our buildings, only to build bigger and wider ones. The same ones that people should have known to build 25 years ago. Our world can only sustain some many remodels, hopefully we are able to influence some minds to at least' think about it!'

Thank You!

Steven Campbell

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Monday, November 10, 2008

I have never really stopped to think about how my recycling efforts are paying off in relation to the energy expended to recycle those products. I just recycle. I recycle because it is supposed to be good for the environment and save landfill space. Then I saw this really great article at http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4290631.html that addressed some of the most important aspects of the recycling ideology. I think that as consumers it is extremely important to take a look at the ways in which we have come to believe that something is good for the environment may really also be creating more problems at the same time. We should all take a step back and re-evaluate the ways in which we believe we are doing the "right" thing for the planet and make sure that what we knew 10 years ago is still the case.


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Sunday, November 9, 2008

CAFE Standards (Safety Matters)

At the present, we are seeking to squeak as many miles out of our automobiles as possible. The price of oil has reached incredible levels. While the corporate average fuel economy raised standards beginning in the year of 1978. Seeking to build a more economical vehicle, the autos were to meet transportation averages of 27.5 mpg. A light-truck was to meet averages of 20.7 mpg. These averages were to be met by the year of 1985. The current averages of vehicles hovered around 16 to 13 mpg. Although the consumption of oil had decreased between the years of 1978 and 1985, it was inconclusive whether it was due to reduced gas prices or CAFE standards.

Fuel efficiency wasn't enough, when the consequence of these new light-weight trucks and small passenger car policies had resulted in a large increase of traffic fatalities that were attributed to the size and weight of the new vehicles. Due to the unfortunate disregard for human welfare, Congress seized the expenditure of Department of Transportation funds to make further revisions to the CAFE standards.

There are organization such as Resources for the Future who support the higher gas prices instead of increasing CAFE standards. In hopes to motivate new car buyers to demand higher fuel efficient autos, in which automakers would be reluctant to meet those demands. This in turn would force people to drive less, take better care of their vehicles, carpool, or use public transportation. What we didn't know about CAFE standards, and how they were meant to provide a more free flowing fuel efficient world; yet not much was put into the safety of these vehicles at first glance.

A possible site to view is at (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases, accessed April 28, 2005.

Steven Campbell

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EPA Fuel Economy Greenwash

I have always considered the Miles Per Gallon estimates a more marketing the actual fact. A look at these estimates through the lens of green washing we can see that they are somewhat misleading. First we should determine what ratings are, the EPA Fuel Economy Ratings are actually provided by the manufactures to the EPA. The ratings are calculated through controlled conditions in a laboratory environment. It is also interesting to note that auto manufactures do not necessarily need to test the car you drive. They often, according to the EPA, only are required to test a represented sample and that is often a production prototype. It is also interesting side note that especially large vehicles (built by the big 3) are exempt from the law that requires testing. Again, according to the EPA any vehicle over 8500 gross vehicle weight fits these categories, which as luck would have it, are the worst polluters.
I have also found some discussion that the very way we look a mileage is made to confuse consumers and hide how much fuel we use. Richard Larrick and Jack Soll of Duke University conducted a study that showed that people have trouble understanding the current MPG ratings. They recommend expressing fuel effency as gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon. There suggustion is that “18 mpg becomes 5.5 gallons per 100 miles, and 28 mpg is 3.6 gallons per 100 miles -- an $8 difference today.” This would put fuel economy in more real terms that average consumers could understand.
You can see their article and a helpful chart here:
http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/06/19/gallons.mile.would.help.car.shoppers.make.better.decisions

EPA fuel economy website.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/which_tested.shtml

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Health Claims-Structure Function Claims

The FDA is responsible for the safety of all dietary supplements and processed foods that are sold, (except meat, poultry, and eggs). The FDA is also responsible for monitoring the claims that are placed on the labels of foods sold in the stores. Manufacturers like to make extra claims on their labels for added purchase power. Everyone likes to think that what they are buying is going to benefit their health in some way. Just like when purchasing new cars, you like to think you are getting the better gas mileage one for todays oil crisis. Are you really getting what you are paying for? A question the average person is not going to know unless they do the proper research. Actual Health Claims are those that are made to ensure the buyer of supported evidence behind the claims. Health Claims do actual scientific research, which allows them to market phrases such as: "May reduce the risk of heart disease." Note the difference from the Structure Function Claim, which may not include any mention of disease or symptom, this claim would be illegal. Reason being is that the Structure Function Claim is not required to provide any scientific evidence to support the claim. So what might be seen is this: "Promotes a healthy heart." The two are similar in the verbage and direction. Both are trying to persuade the buyer into the purchase of a product with the thought of heart health involved. Only one actually does give reason to believe the claim. Point being is that "Greenwashing" or persuasion by the producer to try to sell their product is everywhere. Making it sound as a health solution, only when trying to compete with those who are actually beneficial. Don't be fooled. Your health and familys' health are the two most important components in a persons life. Don't let greenwashing 'buy you in' to false advertising. Do the research. Some sites to check out for more information on the guidelines of the USDA and what to look for is (http://www.healthfinder.gov/), and (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/).

Steven Campbell

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Fuel and Hybrids

With the rising cost of gas prices and the effects on the environment that fuel has, its time we all start thinking about alternative fuel options. There are a few options currently available to consumers and one of them is biodiesel. Biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum diesel and consists of both new and used vegetable oils and animal fats. It’s also better for the environment since it reduces emissions of carbon dioxide into the air. According to the US Department of Energy biodiesel also “reduces greenhouse gas emissions because carbon dioxide released from biodiesel combustion is offset by the carbon dioxide sequestered while growing the soybeans or other feedstock” (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/biodiesel_benefits.html). Another type of fuel is E85 which is comprised of ethanol and gasoline. Although it uses gasoline is still burns cleaner than unleaded gasoline.

Make sure you do your research when looking in to alternative fuel sources or hybrid cars so you can avoid greenwashing by the company selling the product. Items that need to be checked into include fuel economy, CO2 emissions, and just the general pollution the vehicle is emitting. Also there are new lines of hybrid SUV’s on the market, which are great since they consume less fuel however they are still an SUV and utilize more fuel than a compact car. Another type of greenwashing to watch out for are the car companies that produce a hybrid vehicle but the company themselves don’t practice being “green” in other ways.


~Melanie P.



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With the rising cost of gas prices and the effects on the environment that fuel has, its time we all start thinking about alternative fuel options. There are a few options currently available to consumers and one of them is biodiesel. Biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum diesel and consists of both new and used vegetable oils and animal fats. It’s also better for the environment since it reduces emissions of carbon dioxide into the air. According to the US Department of Energy biodiesel also “reduces greenhouse gas emissions because carbon dioxide released from biodiesel combustion is offset by the carbon dioxide sequestered while growing the soybeans or other feedstock” (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/biodiesel_benefits.html). Another type of fuel is E85 which is comprised of ethanol and gasoline. Although it uses gasoline is still burns cleaner than unleaded gasoline.

Make sure you do your research when looking in to alternative fuel sources or hybrid cars so you can avoid greenwashing by the company selling the product. Items that need to be checked into include fuel economy, CO2 emissions, and just the general pollution the vehicle is emitting. Also there are new lines of hybrid SUV’s on the market, which are great since they consume less fuel however they are still an SUV and utilize more fuel than a compact car. Another type of greenwashing to watch out for are the car companies that produce a hybrid vehicle but the company themselves don’t practice being “green” in other ways.



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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Even COAL can be GREENWASHED...

With the recent elections coal became a very hot topic in the final 24-48 hours, where statements made by Barack Obama concerning the coal industry were all over the media and used in ways meant to sway voters in coal producing states away from the democrats and over to the republicans. In this recent article as is often the case with GreenWashing it is all in the words, in the case of coal the use of the term 'clean coal' we find out is how the industry is trying to remarket coal and to essentially sell the public on it's continued use. 

Coal is big business, unfortunately the impacts to the environment by the use of coal are very harmful and far reaching, among them smog and acid rain. Please click through the attached link to read more about the subject and some potential solutions that are being talked about like CCS (carbon capture and storage).



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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My thoughts on the slideshow

I was fascinated by the slideshow the professor uploaded: "Understanding the Economics of e-waste Recycling." It really opened my eyes and revealed my own naivety when it comes to recycling e-waste. I always trusted the companies that offered to take my electronics - computers, computer accessories, cell phones, etc - would stick to their word and dispose of the waste with "green" care. This slideshow really jolted me into realizing that it's important to research the backgrounds of companies that take this waste, to make sure they're actually true to their word and won't let the stuff end up in situations as depicted in the photos. Now that I think about, it angers me that I put such a blind trust in random recyclers that promised to be green. I will definitely be researching their backgrounds from now on. The great thing about the slideshow are the photos themselves - there's nothing more jarring than seeing pictures of where the waste ends up, because pictures are worth a thousand words. Another thing that strikes me about the photos is the negative effects of rampant consumerism. All of this garbage... Did we really need it in the first place? It makes you think.

- Cassie H.

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Many companies are not being held responsible for what they sell and are free to claim that they are environmental friendly, organic or going green. Since companies are not being held accountable of how environmentally safe they are, more and more businesses are joining in and depicting that they are also “going green” but are actually “greenwashing” to make a benefit themselves.
These companies that sell to consumers are so into making a profit that they have left out what is actually eco-friendly or organic that they are selling. Many manufacturers that make anywhere from sunscreen, toothpaste and facial products, try to convey these philosophies through either environment-friendly packaging or organic certifications on product labels as noted on brandweek.com, and not what kind of ingredients are in the product itself, that are being sold. Consumers tend to buy into this statement without thinking to look up the information.
There are many websites that are available to check to see if the product the consumer is purchasing is actually eco-friendly and safe for the skin. Cosmetic database at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, gives information on how hazardous a product can be and also shows which products are actually eco-friendly.
It is important for consumers to take the time and do some research on which company is really meeting the criteria of what is environmental friendly.

C.R.

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