Archive for the 'Green Consumer/Environmentally Preferable Purchasing' Category
Recently Indiana became the 19th state in the U.S. to enact electronic waste regulations with the signing of HB 1589. The group of states with such regulations also includes Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois in the Great Lakes region. According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York will be considering e-waste legislation in 2009. At the local level, New York City also has electronic waste regulations. At the federal level, H.R. 1580, the Electronic Waste Research and Development Act, has been voted upon by the U.S. House of Representatives and been received by the Senate.
Given this trend, it seems appropriate to launch a resource collection on the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) site focused specifically on e-waste issues. The GLRPPR Electronic Waste Sector Resource will include links to relevant legislation, news, events, funding opportunities, and contacts. This resource list is under development, so if you are aware of resources for e-waste programs in your state, please feel free to send links to Joy Scrogum for potential inclusion in this new resource list. An RSS feed is available for the Electronic Waste Sector Resource so you can be aware of new resources as they are added.
GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) a national network of pollution prevention information centers. Another P2Rx center, the Western Sustainability Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) has also developed a P2Rx Topic Hub on Electronic Waste. This is linked to within the new Sector Resource on the GLRPPR site and is also available on the main GLRPPR Topic Hub page.
So, there I was at the back of the room during the Tuesday morning 2009 Environmental Summit plenary presentation by Marueen Gorsen – a smart & witty presenter who made the start of a rainy day very tolerable. She was opening up about the conundrum we all face – how to justify buying more stuff when consumerism (spending = 70% of the US economy) is at the heart of our environmental problems. Specifically, she offered her rationalization for buying an i-phone. She said it was because she wanted to use a nifty (& free) application called Good Guide. Scott Butner later mentioned that one of the developers of the application has history with the P2 community and specifically with our P2Rx sister center, PPRC.
I didn’t think more of this until I heard a Living On Earth podcast this morning, in which author Daniel Goleman expounded more on the virtues of the Good Guide than on shilling his new book, Ecological Intelligence, even going so far as to take a shopping field trip using the app to buy shampoo. Glad I looked it up – because I’m not a terribly good listener, I’d been hearing its name all along as “Good Guy.”
BTW, I added GoodGuide as a P2TagTeam bookmark on delicious, too.
It’s holiday time again, which means you’re probably going to buy at least one gift for someone, as well as items for celebrations and holiday meals. You may wish to consult Consumer Reports Greener Choices web site, which provides information to help choose more environmentally friendly products. Articles and “green ratings” are available for the following product categories: Appliances, Cars, Electronics, Food & Beverages, and Home & Garden. Within these sections, you’ll find links to articles, information on conservation of resources (such as energy, water, fuel, etc.), resources for shopping greener, and information on recycling and disposal. The “Hot Topics & Solutions” section of the site includes the Eco-labels Center (which helps you interpret what product labels really mean), the Electronics Recycling Center, the Global Warming Solutions Center, and sections on Energy, Water, and Waste.
The “Toolkit” section includes calculators to help save energy, water, and money, as well as a Toxics Search tool to find out whether there’s a potential for exposure while using a particular product, and how that can affect your health. The “Community” section of the site includes links to Consumers Union campaigns, forums and resources for further information, as well as blogs on cars, food safety, green homes, and safety.
Travel Green Wisconsin is a voluntary program that reviews, certifies and recognizes tourism businesses and organizations that have made a commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Specifically, the program encourages participants to evaluate their operations, set goals and take specific actions towards environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The program is also designed to educate travelers to Wisconsin about sustainable tourism practices. It promotes smart business practices, giving the state’s tourism-related businesses and organizations a significant point of differentiation from their competitors, and supports the state’s overall tourism brand. Examples of the types of businesses that can participate include: accommodations, attractions, restaurants, shops, resorts, convention, centers, golf courses, campgrounds, marinas, tour operators/leaders, events/festivals, chambers and CVBs.
Travel Green Wisconsin actually has two separate web sites. The organization’s consumer web site provides lists of certified businesses in the above and related categories, certified events, a map of the certified business locations, FAQs, and future goals. The organization also has an industry site that details how to participate in the program and the benefits, as well as discussion forums.
According to the California Office of the Governor web site, on September 30, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 375, “by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), which builds on AB 32, California’s first-in-the-nation law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by adding the nation’s first law to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl…In order to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Californians need to rethink how we design our communities. SB 375 does this by providing emissions-reduction goals around which regions can plan-integrating disjointed planning activities and providing incentives for local governments and developers to follow new conscientiously-planned growth patterns.” The legislation directs the California Air Resources Board to develop regional greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to be achieved from the automobile and light truck sectors for 2020 and 2035, and provides incentives for the creation of walkable, sustainable communities and the revitalization of existing communities. The Governor also signed SB 372, which “establishes the Strategic Growth Council and will appropriate $500,000 from Prop 84 to the Resources Agency to support the Council and its activities.” Read the full press release regarding this legislation here.
On September 29, the Governor also signed AB 1879 and SB 509 related to green chemistry. “AB 1879 establishes authority for the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to develop regulations that create a process for identifying and prioritizing chemicals of concern and to create methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals. It also allows DTSC to take certain actions following an assessment that range from ‘no action’ to ‘restrictions or bans.’ The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel made up of experts to provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies, as well as ensuring implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation. Moreover, it expands the role of the Environmental Policy Council, made up of the heads of all California Environmental Protection Agency boards and departments, to oversee critical activities related to the implementation of the green chemistry program. SB 509 creates an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse, a web-based database, to increase consumer knowledge about the toxicity and hazards of thousands of chemicals used in California every day.” A Green Chemistry Initiative has been established to develop policy options for implementing a green chemistry program. The initiative’s goal is to evaluate the health risks of chemicals and possible alternatives in a systematic way, rather than on a case-by-case basis. Read the full press release here.
On September 17, 2008, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced legislation requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle or reuse electronics products. At no charge to consumers, the law authorizes the use of a combination of incentives and mandates to reduce the ever-increasing amount of electronic waste – televisions, printers, computer monitors, computers, laptops, printers, fax machines and MP3 players – and their toxic substances, such as lead, cadmium, copper, flame retardants, and phosphorus, from being disposed in Illinois landfills. It also gives manufacturers flexibility in the strategies they use to meet their goals, such as partnering with retailers and local governments to sponsor collections. Manufacturers, recyclers, refurbishers and collectors must also register annually with the Illinois EPA. Effective January 1, 2012, landfills would be prohibited from knowingly accepting any of the covered electronic devices for disposal. SB 2313 is effective immediately.
For further information on SB 2313, as well as a link to the resulting Public Act (095-0959; the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act), see the Illinois General Assembly web site.
According to the Organic Trade Association web site:
“In 1992, the Organic Trade Association implemented ‘Organic Harvest Month™,’ a widespread promotion of organic food and agriculture through regional and local events. The objective of Organic Harvest Month™ is to highlight organic agriculture and the growing organic products industry. September is also an ideal time for consumers and retailers to celebrate the bounty of the organic harvest.”
Organic agricultural methods are relevant to pollution prevention because they typically involve the use of fewer, non-toxic, more environmentally friendly pesticides, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), composting, the elimination of the use of antiobiotics and synthetic hormones, etc. To paraphrase the National Organic Standards Board definition of “organic” as presented on teh Organic Trade Association web site, “Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony…Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water…The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.”
The Organic Trade Association web site provides a quick overview of organic agriculture and production; an overview of organic standards (including U.S., Canadian and other international standards); a section on public policy; several online directories for the use of consumers, organic product manufacturers and the agricultural industry; various fact sheets and links; as well as a newsroom, calendar and bookstore (which includes training materials, market research, and industry guidelines).
The United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) is a non-profit association of businesses whose purpose is to deliver highly focused, collaborative projects that help its members and partners demonstrate leadership in the United States on sustainable development and realize business value. US BCSD leverages member participation and partner support to serve five platforms of activity — By-product Synergy, Ecosystem Services, Value and Supply Chain, Energy and Climate Change, and Water Resource Management. In addition to information on each of these activity areas, the US BCSD web site includes member/partner profiles, information on joining the council, and a list of upcoming events.
INFORM, Inc. is “dedicated to educating the public about the effects of human activity on the environment and public health.” Its goal is to “empower citizens, businesses and government to adopt practices and policies that will sustain our planet for future generations.”
The INFORM web site provides information on current projects, including Waste Prevention: Extended Producer Responsibility, Cleaning for Health, and INFORM Media, the organization’s effort to spread environmental literacy by “making strategic use of video and the web to reach a greatly expanded audience with critically important information about how to preserve the environment and protect human health.” Thus far, INFORM has produced “The Secret Life of Cell Phones” as part of its media project, with future videos planned to focus on paper, jeans, antibacterial soaps and single-use plastic bottles.
The INFORM site also provides publications and topical RSS feeds. New site features reportedly “coming soon” will include blogs and a “tools and calculators” section.