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Apparel industry leaders team up, for green’s sake


Have you ever really looked at your clothes and wondered how they were made? And then go a step further… and wonder how the creation of your favorite article of clothing affected the environment?  Isn’t it strange that there aren’t any regulations on how clothes are made?  Especially since most of the apparel industry is produced globally…

Well, that’s about to change.

They call themselves the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and include

…leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic experts, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…

from companies like:

Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

The new Coalition formally debuted today, and announced that their goal is

…to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry-wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance.

The NYTimes article explains this in layman terms:

The coalition’s tool is meant to be a database of scores assigned to all the players in the life cycle of a garment — cotton growers, synthetic fabric makers, dye suppliers, textile mill owners, as well as packagers, shippers, retailers and consumers — based on a variety of social and environmental measures like water and land use, energy efficiency, waste production, chemical use, greenhouse gases and labor practices.

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland explains how this relates to the consumer,

“…This will ultimately put the power in the hands of the consumers, because the apparel industry is saying out loud, ‘We’re going to find a way to disclose to you what’s behind this purchase decision — beyond color, size and fit.’ ”

From a supply chain with no regulation, to allowing the consumer to have all of this information disclosed…is pretty awesome.

Similarly to learning how my favorite  restaurant in NYC was graded, I’m a tad nervous to learn the truth about the clothing supply chain… only because I know that what we’ll learn won’t be pretty.

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Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , , ,

Banning plastic bags, everybody’s doin it


It’s only January 11th, and already 4 different locations have enacted the plastic bag ban.

Italy started off the year, banning plastic bags as of January 1st.

The government of Italy has become the first in the European Union to outlaw the use of plastic bags by all retailers, signaling a large shift in a country which uses over 20 billion bags per year (400 per person) – an amount equal to 25 percent of the total produced and used in the entire EU.

On January 5th, the great city of Brownsville (15th largest city in Texas), joined the bandwagon, and today, both Kaua’i and Maui, HI, can proudly say that they’re part of the club.

After doing a little research, it turns out that a lot of other places ban plastic bags too.

2002 – Dhaka, Bangladesh enacted the ban.

2003 – rural Alaska & South Africa joined

2005 – Eritrea & the Republic of Somalialand

2006 – Rwanda, Tanzania, & Zanzibar

2007 – Kenya & Uganda, and San Francisco, CA

2008 – China

2009 – Buenos Aires, Argentina & American Samoa

2010 – Mexico City, Mexico

Click here and here for additional locations I may have missed.

It’s interesting that the list above includes countries like Eritrea (3rd world), and China, which is the 2nd strongest GDP and has a population which accounts for 19.5% of the word’s entire population.

Something tells me that if this smorgasbord of a list can do it, so can the rest of the world.

Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , , , ,

If reusable bags are bad for the environment, how should we carry our groceries?


If you’re a semi-eco-friendly individual, you probably own at least one reusable grocery bag. It’s sort of your contribution to the environment-at-large.  One small step…  Well, I am here to advise you to check the label of origin of that bag… make sure that it’s made in the USA, and not in China.

…reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead.

I know what you’re thinking…what now?

Concerns have proliferated so much that Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent a letter on Sunday to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue.

I say use paper, and check to see where your reusable bag is made.  Maybe US companies will finally start noticing that outsourcing EVERYTHING has its side effects…

Cheaper labor does not equal better quality.  I’m just saying.

Filed under: Business, Green, Health, , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s your burger’s carbon FOODprint?


A popular food chain in Sweden – Max Burgers, which is second-largest to McDonald’s in its area, is taking food labeling to that next level.

Richard Bergfors, CEO of Max Burgers says

adding the carbon footprint to the chain’s menuboard was a way for the company to be honest about its affect on the environment.

According to an article in Scientific American Magazine, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report found that with regards to beef production,

…current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of “CO2-equivalent” greenhouse gases the world produces every year.

In layman’s terms:

…producing half a pound of hamburger for someone’s lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.

[A Jeep Cherokee weighs nearly 3,000 lbs… just for visual reference.]

Trying to show its customers that there are yummy alternatives to beef burgers

Max Burgers has rolled out several alternative, climate-friendly burger options, including vegetarian, falafel, and salmon burgers. Since putting carbon dioxide emission counts on the menuboard—an act that made it the first restaurant chain in the world to do so—sales of these types of menu items have gone up 20 percent.

In addition, Max Burger offsets its carbon emissions by planting trees in Africa, uses recycled packaging, and gets its electricity from wind and solar power.

Like it or not, climate change is definitely a big issue that needs to be dealt with.  I’m hoping that other countries follow Sweden’s lead.

Bra jobbat Sverige! (Good job Sweden! …thank you Google Translate).

Filed under: Business, Green, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whale poo, a study


A bunch of scientists at Flinders University in Southern Australia have led a study on how “Southern Ocean sperm whales offset their carbon footprint by defecating…”

Take a moment, if you must, to compose yourself.

The study is actually really interesting.  Apparently 1 whale releases about 50 tons of iron a year.  The iron released is their natural fertilization stimulating the process of photosynthesis.  While whales eat in the deep ocean, they use the “facilities” in the upper portion of the water.  It is there that phytoplankton grows, having access to sunlight, and absorbs the carbon dioxide.  When the phytoplankton dies, the trapped carbon sinks to the deep ocean.

So how does this offset work? There are approximately 12,000 sperm whales currently inhabiting the Southern Ocean, that absorb about 400,000 tons of carbon each year.  So the 12,000 whales release approximately 600,000 tons of iron which then offsets the 400,000 tons that they absorb per year.

Got it?

Filed under: Random, , , , , , , , , ,

BP Showdown on Tuesday


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are aware that oil has been gushing in the Gulf of Mexico since the rig explosion on April 20th.

Some important events happening today:

Various oil execs (Shell, ConocoPhillips, Exxon) are expected to turn against BP at a hearing on Capitol Hill.  What better way to differentiate yourself… than point fingers.

BP’s day of fun will not end there.

The POTUS (President of the US) is planning to visit the Gulf today (which will be his second visit since the day of the explosion) and upon returning to the WH, will hold his first Oval Office speech.  The location of choice from which the POTUS will be speaking (Oval Office), illustrates the importance the speech.

The Brits aren’t too thrilled with the way that the US is treating BP.  To be honest, I had no idea how large a company BP was, and how vital it is to the British economy.

“[BP] It employs over 10,000 people here, its overseas revenues support our balance of payments and it generates nearly £6billion a year in taxes. Its shares are owned – directly or through pension funds – by 18million Britons, and its dividends amount to £1 in every £7 paid by British firms.”

I’m not sure what the hearing or the POTUS speech will actually do to help solve the problem, on the grand scheme of things.  As we speak, BP is trying to stop the leak…obviously they don’t want to hurt the environment, or continue to lose millions of dollars a day.   They need a creative idea (technology solution).  If you have one, you can submit it here, and the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will review it and forward it on.

Now that would be a nice addition to your resume…

Filed under: Business, Tech, World, , , , , , , , , ,

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