Are You Unintentionally Supporting False Organic Brands?

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Fake organic labelling undermines the companies who really care, dilutes the growth of the organic sector and compromises the health of people and planet. As consumers we need to do our best to boycott companies guilty of greenwash.

A recent report published by The Soil Association reveals that Organic is steadily working its way into the mainstream. With the growth of global organic sales up 25% in the past three years and sales of certified organic health and beauty products increasing in 2013 by 5.6% to £31.8 million in the UK, the importance of organic products in the mind of the average consumer is demonstrably on the rise….

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Why Cloud Computing Is Good for Green Businesses

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Much has been written about the cloud computing revolution, particularly about the many ways it may be an inherently sustainable move for humanity at large. And yet data centers require massive amounts of energy to run, enough to account for 1.5 percent of US electricity needs by 2020, according to the EPA. And, even as it is now, a Greenpeace study shows that much of that energy is gleaned from fossil fuels, with huge data centers run by Amazon, Apple and Microsoft sourcing only about 15% of the energy they need from renewables.

Still, there’s much about cloud computing that is green, and, with basic reforms, it has the potential to be far more sustainable than our current working model, fitting in entirely with the green business mentality….

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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion—A Guide to Staying Stylish While Keeping the Environment in Mind

March 3, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Clothing, Fashion, Front Page, Slideshow

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Before last month, the last time I read an entire book was December 1999, after I got the third Harry Potter book for Christmas.

However, I completely absorbed myself in “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline on a Saturday afternoon as a result of her easy-to-read writing style and well-researched chapters. Cline sets out to investigate the impact of “fast fashion” retailers like Forever 21 and H&M—stores that have prices so low that clothing becomes practically disposable—on the environment, the economy, and the typical American consumer’s lifestyle. But it starts out as a personal story beginning when Cline finds herself at Kmart. Standing in front of an expansive rack, she recklessly purchases seven pairs of $7 canvas flip flops that had been marked down from $15 and is inspired to look into today’s fashion consumer lifestyle.

The result? A book covers so many topics that it’s impossible to touch on everything in a review. Cline discusses how clothing has become a trillion-dollar global industry, the plummeting price of apparel, the move to overseas production, the separation between cost and quality, the effect of our increased consumption on the environment, and so much more. After reading this book, I was inspired to reflect upon my own fashion choices. I’ve made some changes as a result….

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5 Things Every Consumer Should Know about Walmart’s Sustainability Index

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When Walmart initially announced its effort to infuse sustainable principles into every aspect of its business, some observers didn’t buy it. After all, its stated goals were a bit ambitious.

With their soon-to-be-implemented Sustainability Index, Walmart hopes to improve product quality, reduce energy consumption and waste, and educate consumers about sustainability. It plans to do all of this with the full cooperation of its network of thousands upon thousands of suppliers located around the world.

The information below highlights some of the components of the Sustainability Index and their likely impact. Suffice it to say, Walmart’s newest initiative has fewer skeptics today than it did when the program was first announced. Time will determine its effectiveness, as the market pressure created by a “green” rating system trickles down to both manufacturers and retail suppliers at every level….

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The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

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When Joe and I began writing this blog late in 2008, we were soon introduced to Patagonia as a leader in sustainable business practices — or, as founder Yvon Chouinard prefers to call them—responsible business practices. We found Patagonia.com’s Footprint Chronicles to be an especially intriguing—and daring—step toward a company’s taking responsibility for its impact on the environment. So, when I was offered an opportunity to review The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, I eagerly agreed.

If you’re familiar with Patagonia, you’ll understand how Chouinard and Stanley are qualified to write such a book. Patagonia is known for its commitment to the environment, for its celebration of the natural world, and for providing its employees with a rewarding and well-balanced work life (see Chouinard’s 2002 book, Let My People Go Surfing)….

There’s no self-congratulatory back-slapping in this book. The authors tell the story of their painful realization of the harm their businesses (Patagonia is “an offshoot of the Chouinard Equipment Company, which made excellent mountain-climbing gear”) were doing to the environment and the financial risks they took when they committed to improvement….

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Top 5 Green Flooring Options for Your Home

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If you’re an environment-conscious homeowner, consider using one of the following green flooring options for your next remodeling project. Eco-friendly floors are aesthetically appealing as well as environmentally responsible. Green flooring adds character to your home and, in many cases, can even help save you money over the alternatives.

The top 5 options for green flooring include:
• Cork
• Laminate
• Reclaimed Wood
• Bamboo
• Wool Carpet …

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GIVEAWAY! Balinese Earrings from Sandpiper Imports

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Looking for the perfect gift for a woman with discerning taste and an interest in the exotic? Courtesy of the good folks at Sandpiper Imports, Blue Planet Green Living is delighted to offer you the chance to win these beautiful brass earrings from Bali.

Sandpiper Imports sells gorgeous jewelry and accessories hand-crafted by Balinese artisans. We haven’t tried any of these products, but they certainly look beautiful on the website. Even better, the products are Fair Trade, meaning that the artists are not being ripped off by the retailers. And, one more good thing— the founders, Sara and Erika, donate a portion of profits to two charitable organizations in the artisans’ communities: Bali Animal Welfare Association and Bali Adoption and Rehabilitation Center.

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VW Feels the Force of Greenpeace — Time and Again

December 1, 2012 by  
Filed under 2012, Blog, Car, Carbon, Europe, Front Page, Industries, Slideshow

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With Star Wars back in the news, thanks to the recent Disney purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd., it looks like the intergalactic legend will continue somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. Somewhat closer to home, the Star Wars iconography has been effectively used by environmental campaigners Greenpeace to launch their own assault on the lack of eco-credentials of many car manufacturers, with Volkswagen firmly in its sights.

What could be called the “Car Wars” saga began as a Superbowl ad in 2011. VW premiered a Star Wars themed commercial for the Passat packed with cute kids in the costumes of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, C3P0, et al. Greenpeace was, at the time, involved in campaigning against VW’s continued opposition to proposed changes to CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations in the States and to European laws seeking to impose stricter limits on the C02 emissions of new vehicles. Greenpeace claims that VW and other car manufacturers are lobbying against worldwide initiatives to reduce emissions and, whilst boasting of their latest eco concept cars, are failing to bring truly accessible greener cars to market….

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Save Energy – and Money – with a Cool Roof

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Whether you’re replacing an old roof or choosing roofing for a new house, make energy efficiency a priority.

Discussions about improving home energy efficiency usually revolve around topics like insulation, air sealing, replacement windows and high-efficiency HVAC equipment. But roof shingles and other roofing materials also deserve attention in the energy-saving plan for a house or other building.

On a bright summer day, the temperature of a dark asphalt shingle roof can easily reach 150 degrees. This heat moves into the attic and into a home’s living space, making rooms uncomfortably hot while also placing extreme demands on the air conditioning system….

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Groovy Globe: Chic and Conscious Clothing

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As a consumer who tries to purchase organic and ethical products, I’ve discovered how difficult it is to find clothing that matches my values.

When I look through my pantry, I see fair-trade coffee, hormone-free poultry, organic fruits and vegetables, and Rainforest Alliance Certified tea bags. All of these products were purchased from within minutes of home at my local supermarket. In the last few years, I’ve noticed how much easier it’s become to purchase environmentally conscious foods without having to go to a specialized store.

But when I look through my closet, I see an expanse of polyester, rayon, nylon, viscose, and, of course, cotton — which, according to groovyglobe.net, is the most toxic crop on the planet as it accounts for a quarter of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of worldwide pesticide sales.

An Easy Choice

Recently, I was introduced to Groovy Globe, which sells 100-percent organic apparel. T-shirts are made from 100 percent organic cotton and totes are made from 100 percent recycled cotton, as well as silicone wristbands. Never has it been so easy to make an eco-friendly fashion statement for less than $30–$40….

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6 Eco-friendly Decorating Ideas to Modernize Your Work Space

May 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Business, Eco-Friendly, Front Page, Slideshow, Tips

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A clean, organized office can not only change the way people see you, it can also help the environment. These tips will cut your stress, reduce your ecological footprint, and make your office a better place to work.
1. Use a laptop, not a desktop

Size and battery constraints have forced designers to make laptops much leaner and more efficient than traditional desktop computers. A desktop uses eight times the power of an equivalent laptop, and consumes more power when it’s idle than a laptop does when working at full capacity. A laptop saves space and makes your office easier to clean—we’ve all seen dinosaur desktops caked with dust because they never move—which means they’re probably guzzling power all night as well as during the workday. Laptops are easier to disconnect when they’re not in use….

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Home Builders and Remodelers Are Greener Than Ever

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According to a recent report released by McGraw-Hill, 33% of home builders are committed to going green by 2016. Similarly, 34% of home remodelers have claimed that they plan to implement eco-friendly practices by 2016. Just last year, only 17% of home builders and 15% of home remodelers expressed interest in developing strategies to increase the energy efficiency and decrease the carbon footprint of homes….

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Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort: Sustainability in an Island Paradise

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The inspiration for a successful, environmentally friendly luxury resort on Aruba’s Eagle Beach started from a love of nature and animals.

Ewald Biemans, originally from Austria, founded Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts 25 years ago on the island paradise. With only 104 rooms, the hotel is situated away from the loud hotspots and high rise buildings on Aruba, but restaurants and shopping areas are accessible in the nearby capital of Oranjestad.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts sits on 14 acres of white sand and has been called one of the few “Dream Beaches of the World.” This romantic, boutique-style hotel caters to adults only. It offers beach weddings, a professional wedding planner, and “green” weddings….

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Mississippi River Distilling Company’s “Grain to Glass” Philosophy Fills Niche in Iowa

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When the Burchett brothers first started talking about the idea of starting their own micro-distillery, they didn’t have much experience. Now, more than a year after its opening, the Mississippi River Distilling Company boasts locally made and award-winning spirits.

Located in LeClaire, Iowa, just above the banks of the Mississippi River, the micro-distillery has been in operation since December of 2010. Ryan and Garrett Burchett honed their skills for distilling by visiting and researching the craft in Germany, eventually bringing back what they learned to their home state of Iowa….

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Build or Remodel with Energy Savings in Mind

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Spring is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, and the home-building season is fast approaching. If you’re considering a major remodel or are building your dream home, there are some significant sustainable-building techniques that you can integrate into the structure to conserve energy and save long-term costs. The upfront cost of these improvements may be quite a sticker shock, as many are quite expensive to initiate; yet, the long-term savings can be substantial.

Each of these construction techniques requires substantial planning before incorporating into your overall plans. Be sure to check your library or work with a builder you trust to determine which works best for your existing home or building site, as well as your local climate.

Cool roofs use materials that reflect sunlight and absorb less heat as compared to standard roofing materials. While standard roofs can reach temperatures upwards of 150 degrees, a cool roof generally runs about 50 degrees less. This not only extends the life of the roof, but lessens the need for air conditioning, ultimately lowering energy costs. It is important to note, however, that cool roofs are not appropriate for all climates….

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Build or Remodel Your Home with Eco-Friendly Products

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If you’re lucky enough to have the time and money to build your own home (or more likely, have it built by others), then there’s absolutely no reason you can’t get the greenest house in existence, thanks to building companies that specialize in just this sort of construction.

But just because the rest of us are relegated to purchasing previously lived-in structures (or even new but already fully constructed homes) that doesn’t mean we can’t do our part for the environment when we do upgrades.

So whether you’re interested in building a green home from scratch, or you’re looking to renovate the home you already own in a way that is in keeping with your environmental sensibilities, there are a ton of ecofriendly products to help you meet your goals on the home front….

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Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast – A Slackjaw Film

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How many brand names are within your arms’ reach? How new is the computer on which you’re reading this? Are you wearing clothing that bears a popular name? Are you carrying a cell phone, iPod, or Blackberry? How much stuff surrounds you? And how much do you buy into the need to have even more?

I just finished watching Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast, a Slackjaw Film. It’s an extremely thoughtful video that put my own participation in consumerism into perspective — and into question….
Perhaps you’re caught in the consumerism web, too. If you’re in the U.S., it’s hard to avoid today: it’s the mother of all consumer days here: Black Friday….

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Sustainable Fabrics: Eco-Friendly Clothing

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If you’re interested in finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint with small, daily changes to your lifestyle, there are a lot of options to cut waste and reduce pollution on a personal level. You can recycle, use green cleaning solvents, switch to organic foods, and make many of your own products at home in bulk (5-gallon buckets of homemade laundry detergent, for example) in order to cut back on disposable packaging waste.

But did you know that you can also support sustainable farming by purchasing clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics? Not only are there a wide variety of clothing options out there (with even some big-name designers jumping on the bandwagon), but there are also plenty of reasons to make the change….

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VeeV Greens the Liquor Industry with Sustainable Spirits Made from Acai

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When brothers Courtney and Carter Reum decided to launch a spirits company, they were open to different possibilities—but one element of the concept was a certainty. “We knew it would include a sustainability component,” Courtney Reum says. “Nobody was doing anything sustainable in alcohol. There was a lack of innovation. So we realized we had a chance to do something really unique.”

The brothers resigned their positions as investment bankers with Goldman Sachs and set out to “green” the liquor industry.

That was four years and more than 500,000 bottles ago. Since the first 7,500-bottle batch of VeeV Acai Spirit™ came off the line at Rigby, Idaho-based Distilled Resources Inc., this duo has racked up some pretty compelling eco-cred….

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Graphic Designer Combines Art and Sustainability

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It takes courage to look at your profession and say, “We are part of the problem.” But Tania Kac, a freelance graphic designer who offers eco-friendly design solutions, does just that.

“We’re generating ideas that end up in the trash,” says Kac. “I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. We create billions and billions of pieces of trash every year.” …

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