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6 posts from October 2010

October 28, 2010

Study Quantifies The Sins of Greenwashing

Posters Terrachoice.org 10.26.10

A report released by marketing company TerraChoice is claiming that at least 95% of products marketing themselves as environmentally-friendly or "green" are guilty of some kind of greenwashing.

The sweeping study analyzed the claims of 2,583 Canadian products, 1,960 American products, and 753 products found in both markets for a grand total of 5,296. It focuses on "environmental claims made by the North American consumer market" and has broken down greenwashing into seven common marketing patterns which they have dubbed "The 7 Sins of Greenwashing.

Some of these include "Sin of Irrelevence," "Sin of No Proof" and "Sin of Fibbing."

One of their more shocking findings is a condemnation of green claims from the toy and baby product industry. They found some form of greenwashing in 99.2 to 100% of such labels.

Read the complete study at the Sins of Greenwashing Website.

October 19, 2010

Washington DC Bag Fee Update

CNNmoney.com 10.5.10

Ten months after it was imposed, the fee on disposable bags in Washington, DC still makes sense, although it's not bringing quite the revenue boost that the district was hoping for.


Before the tax went into effect, the district's Chief Financial Officer was projecting income of $3.6 million dollars. But so far income has only amounted to $1.3 million.


This is reason to celebrate; it means the fee works. Because people are required to pay for bags upfront, people are using half as many plastic bags as before.


Under the tax, district residents are charged 5 cents for each disposable bag they got at the store. One penny goes to the shop while the other four cents go to the city. The four cents going to the city go toward cleaning up polluted rivers. Those in charge of cleaning up those rivers claim that they have already noticed a reduction in bag pollution.


Read the complete article at CNN Money.

Canada First to Proclaim BPA a Toxic Compound

Reuters 10.14.10

With little fanfare, Canada added BPA to a list of potentially harmful compounds.

They banned the endocrine-disrupting chemical from plastic baby bottles in March, with this announcement being just the latest anti-BPA measure for the progressive country. 

Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defense, believes it is only a matter of time before more is done; "The risk assessment of BPA put together by our federal government is very strong in terms of its conclusions, so I think it's a foregone conclusion that it will drive further action rather quickly," Smith said.

Read more about it on Reuters.




New Exhibit Turns Polluted Beaches Into Art

IMG_3392-2 Treehugger 10.18.10

From fish to birds and beyond, countless animals die each day from ingesting beach and ocean-bound plastic.

In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, volunteers from the Artula Institute are collecting beach trash, and fashioning it into giant sculptures of birds, fish, and whale bones.


Read the whole Treehugger Article, check out the Washed Ashore project website, and take a look at Chris Jordan's photography, which one of the project's organizers cited as an inspiration.

October 14, 2010

The Great Atlantic Garbage Patch

WHOI 8.20.2010

Scientists with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Sea Education Association have been collecting data concerning the presence of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean for several decades. They've recently published a pair of studies analyzing the data. Here are a few highlights from the writeup in Oceanus:

Assessing 22 years of data collected by SEA ships ... researchers found that more than 60 percent of the tows contained detectable plastic debris. Average densities rivaled those reported from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” ranging from 1,400 pieces per square kilometer in the Caribbean to more than 20,000 pieces per square kilometer in the Sargasso Sea.

Yes, you read that right. Average density of plastic debris in large areas of the Atlantic "rivaled" the Pacific Garbage Patch. If that's not scary enough, it shattered the Pacific Patch's record in other areas.

...the highest value recorded during the 22-year period was 580,000 pieces per square kilometer at 24.6°N east of the Bahamas. The region, where 83 percent of all the plastic debris was collected, is known as the North Atlantic subtropical gyre, a part of the ocean bounded by a series of wind-driven currents, such as the Gulf Stream, that collectively flow clockwise around the subtropical North Atlantic.

In areas of the North Atlantic, we've recorded plastic present at 30 times the amount of the now-legendary Pacific Patch.

Additionally the research has lead SEA and WHOI to a few answers and a number of intriguing new questions; If PET plastic bottles litter our beaches and continue to make their way into the ocean, why have we found almost no trace of them in the oceanic samples?

Learn more by reading the complete Oceanus article here.

FTC Combats Greenwashing

Ftc-issues-new-labelling-guidelines-for-ecofriendly-products-bkt_5488 Inc. 10.7.2010

The Federal Trade Commission recently revised guidelines for products being labelled as "degradable," "eco-friendly," or "recyclable."

This is part of an effort to put an end to the disparity between what companies and consumers consider an environmentally-friendly product. Any label making such claims will have to be able to back up such declaration with "competant and reliable scientific evidence."

The FTC will be able to take action if it considers a company's marketing to be deceptive or flat-out untrue. This would initially come in the form of a cease-and-desist order, which becomes a fine with further violations.

Check out the whole article on Inc.com.