Archive for the 'Green Consumer/Environmentally Preferable Purchasing' Category

December 2008 Site of the Month: Consumer Reports Greener Choices

Monday, December 1st, 2008 by

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.

November 2008 Site of the Month: Travel Green Wisconsin

Saturday, November 1st, 2008 by

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.

California Legislation on Green Chemistry and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 by

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.

IL Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by

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.

September is Organic Harvest Month

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 by

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).

September 2008 Site of the Month: US Business Council for Sustainable Development

Monday, September 1st, 2008 by

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.

August 2008 Site of the Month: INFORM, Inc.

Friday, August 1st, 2008 by

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 ININFORM logoFORM 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.

July 2008 Site of the Month: Minnesota GreenStar

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008 by

Minnesota GreenStar is a green building standard and voluntary certification program for both existing and new homes that promotes healthy, durable, high performance homes. The architect, designer, MN GreenStar Logobuilder or remodeler is provided green building training, registers the project, completes a checklist, designs the project, gets construction plans reviewed, and the project is built. Before, during and after construction, a third-party rater tests the home and verifies performance to MN GreenStar standards. Upon passing, the home receives Minnesota GreenStar certification at either a bronze, silver or gold level of achievement.

The program’s checklist and manual for both new and existing homes is available online. The web site also provides information on registering your project, including a registration fee schedule and the cost of training. Though not yet available, case studies will apparently be included on the site under “About GreenStar” in the future. In the meantime, check out the “Project Spotlight” section under “News & Media,” which currently features one gold and two bronze-level projects with photos from the sites. The gold-level project–Live Green, Live Smart’s Sustainable House–is Minnesota’s first remodeling project to achieve Minnesota GreenStar Gold Certification and the nation’s first home remodel to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The home achieved the highest level of efficient design in both programs.

June 2008 Site of the Month: Illinois Green Cleaning Schools Act

Sunday, June 1st, 2008 by

This portion of Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn’s web site provides information on the Illinois Green Cleaning Schools Act, which was enacted on August 13, 2007. Illinois schools began to be required to purchase and use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies on May 9, 2008, with the provision that they may deplete their existing supplies of cleaning products as of that date. The site includes a link to the text of the act, and the guidelines and specifications created by the Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council for use by schools. Contact information is provided for questions regarding the act and guidelines, as well as a list of qualified supplies, an application for alternative qualification, an exemption notification form for schools, fact sheets on the act, and benefits of green cleaning. Links to alternative qualification standards (EcoLogo and GreenSeal) and other resources are provided, as well as a form for schools to submit their own stories regarding the implementation of green cleaning programs.

P2 Go Bragh: Emerald Isle

Monday, March 17th, 2008 by

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For those of us of Irish descent (and those who pretend to be Irish, if just for today), I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time considering environmental initiatives in Ireland. Here are a few examples of green activities on the Emerald Isle:

  • Wind Power: According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, “wind energy provides electricity to the equivalent of 40 million European citizens, and wind farms in Ireland supply enough clean green power to support over 146,000 users.” Their web site provides an interactive map of existing wind farms in Ireland (as of April 2007). A recent post on the Green Tech Blog (“Ireland: Where Wind Power is King” by Michael Kanellos) discusses the great potential for further wind farm development on the island, both on and offshore.
  • Cultivate Living and Learning Centre: The Cultivate Centre in Dublin serves as a hub for environmental activities and ideas. Their web site provides a green map of Dublin; environmental workshop listing; a directory of schools, businesses and other organizations in Ireland that are teaching or training and have principles of sustainability rooted in their mission and strategies; information on energy issues and climate change; and a host of other resources. The themes addressed in their educational programs include green building, permaculture and organic gardening, renewable energy, energy conservation, and rethinking urban design and planning.
  • Cleaner Greener Production Programme (CGPP): This program of Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency encourages Irish business and industry to produce goods and services in more environmentally friendly ways. That agency defines “Cleaner Greener Production” as “the application of integrated preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment, for example: (1) Production processes: conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes (2) Products: reducing negative impacts along the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal (3) Services: encouraging and supporting the development of higher environmental performance in the service sector, by incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services.”

CGPP logo