The GreenYour Blog

Mar 02, 2009

"Roll Call"

"Roll Call"

Not all toilet paper is created equal, in fact not even all recycled toilet paper is equal.  The biggest differentiating factor?  The percentage of post-consumer recycled content.   The other attribute to consider is the bleaching process.  Most environmentalists believe that those that are PCF (processed chlorine free) are superior to those that are ECF (elemental chlorine free) since toxic by-products are reduced with ECF, but they are not eliminated (as they are with PCF).

So who's the winner?  At the very top with 90% post consumer recycled content and PCF process is  "Green Forest",  followed closely by WholeFoods' brand, Trader Joe's brand and Seventh Generation, all with 80% post consumer recycled content and PCF process.   At the bottom of the class with 0% recycled content (let alone any post-consumer content) and an ECF process, is, drum roll...Walmart brand, Target brand, CVS brand, Charmin and (sadly) way too many to list here.

Feb 20, 2009

GreenYour Business Values

GreenYour Business Values

It's becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between companies that are doing the green walking and those simply doing the talking.  While many companies are jumping onto the sustainability bandwagon with hollow words and vague claims such as "recycleable content", few have sustainability woven into their culture, values, and core mission.

Enter - B Corporation.  B Corp certifies companies based on their social and environmental impact and the processes and practices companies have put in place to mitigate any negative environmental impact.  In addition, B Corp evaluates how a company is generating a positive impact across its stockholders and the environment.  Once certified, companies join a high-visibility network of enterprises promoted by the B Lab - a non-profit run by B Corporation founders. (See all companies here).

To date, over 170 small, medium, and large enterprises have become B Corps, from the usual green suspects - Method, Seventh Generation, and Nau -  to the less well-known but equally innovative enterprises like Bikestation, The Hub, and Mantria.  Several have even made the GreenYour list on our site (New Leaf, Moka Joe, and evo among others).

Feb 18, 2009

The upside of the downturn

The upside of the downturn

 

The economic crisis has a bright side:  we are trashing our planet less -- at least if you measure it by the amount of garbage that we're throwing away. Operators of one of the nation's largest landfills in California have witnessed a 30% drop in trash delivery. Volume across the state is the lowest it has been in three decades.    The cause?  Sadly its NOT a spike in garbage being diverted to the recycling stations, but it IS the result of people buying less and hence less packaging and unwanted purchases to toss.  Construction waste has also plummeted due to the downturn in the housing market.    

At some point the economy will turn around, but when it does, perhaps we can look back on these belt-tightening times and realize just how little we really need to not only survive but to feel good - a walk in the park leaves no cardboard to throw out, requires no plastic to tear through and provides a far better cardio workout than Wii bowling :)

Feb 16, 2009

Green cellphones - talk is cheap.

Green cellphones - talk is cheap.

Motorola recently introduced a new green phone, MOTO W233 Renew.  It is not only made from plastic that's been recycled from used water bottles but Motorola will offset 100% of the carbon used in its manufacturing.   Other manufacturers are also moving to showcase their green offerings.  A Chinese manufacturer (ZTE) and a Latin American service provider (Digicel) will be introducing the first solar-powered cellphone and Sony Ericsson has a concept phone called GreenHeart that has a charger that draws a fraction of the power of most chargers.

But the question is, will consumers pay a premium for this all green goodness?  In the U.S., there is a hodge podge of mostly voluntary green standards concerning electronics and it generally costs more for manufacturers to offer green components.  Moreover, there is still enormous confusion among manufactures as well as consumers as to what constitutes "green" and what is worth paying a premium for.   Unfortunately, in this economic climate, until there is pricing parity between green phones and "the rest of them", it may be that it simply IS asking too much to expect consumers to put their money where their  - mouths are.

Feb 13, 2009

Organic roses say "I love YOU" not pesticides

Organic roses say "I love YOU" not pesticides

Nearly 80% of cut flowers sold in the US are imported from Ecuador and Colombia, due largely to the elimination of import taxes on South American flowers.  An unintended byproduct of the off-shoring of the flower industry has been an increase in the chemicals coming into the US on the flowers.  All flowers that enter the United States are closely inspected for pests and diseases but not chemicals. 

One-fifth of the chemicals used in flower production in South America -- such as DDT and methyl-bromide -- are restricted or banned in the United States and Europe but products contaminated with these chemicals ARE allowed in.  Environmental laws in South America are either lax or not enforced and the consequences are frightening; according to a survey of workers on flower plantations near Bogotá, the workers were exposed to 127 different pesticides, 3 of which are considered extremely toxic.

So this Valentine's day, say "I love you",  not only to your sweetheart but to the thousands of workers in the flower industry who will continue to be affected until consumers speak out with their wallets and embrace organic.

Feb 12, 2009

Rubber Ducky in Hot Water

Rubber Ducky in Hot Water

In a victory for children’s health and consumer safety, last week a federal judge said children’s toys and childcare products laden with harmful chemicals called phthalates must come off store shelves.    Phthalates are a chemical that is commonly used in soft  toys to soften the plastic (think rubber duckies, teething rings etc)  but have been shown in multiple studies to be a hormone disruptor. 

As of February 10 it will be unlawful for anyone to manufacture, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import children’s toys and child care articles containing the prohibited phthalates. The result will reduce harmful exposures to children and assure consumer confidence in the safety of the products they purchase.   As a side note, parents will be pleased to know that "Sophie the Giraffe", one of the most popular teething-toys is made of natural rubber and will not be banned. A small victory for one-year olds everywhere :)

Feb 12, 2009

Yes you can grow your own fresh air!

Yes you can grow your own fresh air!

So what are these plants, the so called work horses of the plant kingdom? Check the link below to see images and get the full name, but suffice it to say, they're pretty common and you may have a few already. 

The study was done by a group in New Delhi (a city that could use a little air-cleaning) where they measured the air inside a building after placing several of these plants in the work area. The plants did everything from convert carbon dioxide into oxygen to remove formaldehyde and other VOCs from the air.  

They found that compared to other buildings in Delhi, the incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%, lower respiratory symptoms by 34%, headaches by 24%, upper respiratory symptoms by 20%, lung impairment by 10-12% and asthma by 9%.   

The only thing YOU have to do is dust the leaves -- did you think growing your own fresh air was going to be THAT easy?

Feb 02, 2009

"Rent-a-green-box"

"Rent-a-green-box"

Every year over 20% of the American people pack up and move.  The tools of this migration?  expensive cardboard boxes (used once and thrown away), sheets of packing paper (ditto), packing tape (lose the end of that thing and good luck finding it again), petroleum based bubble wrap,  and worst of all the toxic Styrofoam peanuts that cling to your clothes and (because they never truly "die") cling to the earth and the oceans.

"Rent-a-green-box" does away with all this waste.  It's a simple concept - you rent the boxes (made from 100% recycled plastic trash),  and buy the eco-accessories, such as: Geami paper ("bubble wrap" made from 100% cardboard sludge), Reco cubes (the green "peanut" made from newspaper sludge) and Reco Paper (recycled of course).

And the cost ?  Less than you'd normally spend, or so they claim -- their tag line being, "its cheaper than using cardboard".

They're currently operating only in the LA and Orange County region but planning to expand nationwide. So if you want them in your area -- drop them a note and tell them just how badly you want them.

Jan 30, 2009

Can a product's "goodness" be summed up in a number?

Can a product's "goodness" be summed up in a number?

Reading the back of a shampoo bottle is not only a strain on the eyes but a strain on the vocabulary -- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?  TEA-Dodecylbenzene?  What ingredients have been proven to cause cancer? Which ones are believed to affect the endorine system?   If only someone would do the hard work and make it simple for us to chose.  Enter GoodGuide, a new site that aggregates an enormous amount of product and company imformation and distills in down to one numerical "score".  In addition to the health issues (based on ingredients), they also score the company on its Environmental practices (do they use recycled packaging?) and Social practices (do they pay fair wages?) and come up with one overall score.  GoodGuide rates over 60,000 products in 30 different product categories (deodorant to toys and a lot in between) and will soon be adding Food to the category list.   Their mobile app makes it pretty easy as well to have the scores right at your fingers tips when you're in a state of shere confusion in the detergent aisle.

Jan 26, 2009

There are 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide in your orange juice.

There are 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide in your orange juice.

Can you count carbon the way you can a calorie?  And would knowing this number make a difference as to which product you buy?  

Pepsi has decided to give it a try and will begin measuring the carbon footprint (amount of carbon (or carbon equivalent) emitted from the production and distribution of its products) in many of its products.  It owns the Tropicana brand and has already conducted tests on the carbon footprint of its orange juice.  Interestingly the largest single component of the footprint was in the production of the oranges,  largely due to the high levels of fertilizer used.

But the bigger question for consumers is how can this information be made meaningful to us? We all understand what the caloric measurement is, and what 25 grams of fat per slice of pepperoni pizza can do to our waistline, but the concept of pounds of CO2 is (at least currently) much more abstract and much harder to compare across products and may ultimately be misleading given the complexity of the measurement.

In the current age of transparency, footprint size will very likely be the next measurement making its way onto the labels.  Its hard to imagine, but it was only in 1990 that nutritional information that we now take for granted was required on packaged food.  So is carbon the new calorie?