23 posts categorized "Sustainable Standards"

November 09, 2010

Earthster makes being socially responsible and transparent, easier

This blog is about co-creation -- women are doing many things to change the world, but if the world of business doesn't change at the same time, we're in a world of hurt. The Earthster system is the beginning of providing accountability to business that women will love. 

At this morning's webinar, Wal Mart, Seventh Generation, and Earthster (sister site Social Hot Spots) announced that they have teamed up with governments and companies to create a new law of the law -- the law of sustainability -- in a play-nice/be-transparent sort of way. 

Earthster is the public, open source backbone and keeper of the data in the same way that Wikipedia anchors community input to it's site. In Earthster's case, it's gathering third party approved information that comes from millions of supply chain contributors. Think Story of Stuff can now point to everyone and everything in the supply chain.

Below is a screen shot of what this visually looks like as products are tracked from their source to the store shelf. The common software and methodology will be available in multiple languages to encourage global participation. When the webinar link is available, I'll post it here.

Wal Mart will be testing the system more completely in the first three quarters of 2010 using the supply chains from ten vendors and rolling it out to the rest of their 60,000+ vendors at the end of the year. What happens at Wal Mart, doesn't stay at Wal Mart -- other big box stores will be using the same system and that's a good for everyone. 

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Earthster is agnostic in its design and is more of a clearinghouse for all information, not a standard that determines which information gets more credit than another. It creates that layer of transparency that has been missing in green products.

Earthster also changes the green marketing attitudes from "OMG We better not say the wrong thing or we'll be accused of greenwashing", to "We're doing the best we can and here is exactly where we are doing it."  Even the EPA is getting behind Earthster during a time when there are 300+ sustainable standards vying for the top slot. Standards mean nothing if the information isn't verified as accurate. 

What women will want to cheer about is that this move will speed up accountability on toxic materials, social equity, energy globally and many more issues. We won't have to hold political rallies to get rid of brain altering chemicals in our carpets. Earthster and the market competition will take care of it.

This new transparency will not only foster safer products, but infuse trust back into an economic structure that has to operate with/outside of all political systems -- and do it at a price point that small business can handle. Sites such as Good Guide will have a common way to rate their products. 

This gives me great hope, for people, planet and profits!

October 14, 2010

Don't Cross this Green Advertising line with Mom's

It's the "guilt" line according to a focus group conducted by Shelton Group.

Concerned Moms are most motivated by their kids, but there’s a line that marketers should NOT cross. That would be the Line of Guilt. Positive messaging about future generations worked really well. Guilt messaging – such as “you’d better change your ways today or else your kids and grandkids will pay the price” — really fell flat. It insulted them. A representative comment to one such ad: “I’ve bent over for my kids… How dare they tell me I haven’t done enough?”

What else can you do to ring the green bell of action? Concerned Moms liked "facts delivered directly" -- regular people giving real tips are what registered the best. Protecting the jobs/family and future generations also resonated well as long as it didn't cross the guilt line. 

The best part, the green market rose 41% from 2004 to 2009. Does that mean that more people want to buy green products or that more green products are simply more available to buy. Go here for the full article.

This all is terrific news for Wal Mart who announced their push for buying local and organic food. That's something that everyone can live with. 

October 08, 2010

The FTC Wants Your Green Marketing Comments by December


Screen shot 2010-10-08 at 1.29.22 PM Ok green bloggers, here is your chance to influence governmental policy without going through that painful voting process -- the FTC wants to know what you think about the messaging on green products. In other words, how do you want them to put truth into green advertising via their Green Guidelines?  Go here to tell them, you have until December 10, 2010. 

Some example language...

• Marketers should not make unqualified general environmental benefit claims. They are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate. (The current Guides state that marketers can make unqualified claims if they can substantiate all express and implied claims. Otherwise, they should qualify the claim.)

• Qualifications should be clear and prominent, and should limit the claim to a specific benefit. Marketers should ensure the advertisement’s context does not imply deceptive environmental claims. (In the current Guides, this guidance appears only in examples.)

Certifications and Seals of Approval

• This new section emphasizes that certifications/ seals are endorsements covered by the Commission’s Endorsement Guides and provides new examples illustrating how those Guides apply to environmental claims (e.g., marketers should disclose material connections to the certifier). (The current Guides address certifications/seals in only one example in the general environmental benefit section. 16 CFR 260.7, Example 5.)

• Because an unqualified certification/seal (one that does not state the basis for certification) likely conveys a general environmental benefit claim, marketers should use clear and prominent language limiting the claim to particular attribute(s) for which they have substantiation. (This provision highlights guidance already provided in current Guides’ Example 5.)

• Third-party certification does not eliminate a marketer’s obligation to have substantiation for all conveyed claims.

For the full write up go to http://www.ftc.gov/green.

These guidelines are extremely important as they become the backbone for all marketing material being created. It's one thing to be green and another thing to convey the attributes correctly and not mislead the public. 

The guidelines also cover:

  • Degradable materials
  • Compostable materials
  • Ozone-Safe / Ozone-Friendly
  • Made with Recyclable Materials
  • Free of AND Non-toxic products
  • Made with Renewable Energy
  • Carbon Offsets

Green is no longer a nice thing to do to create a new marketing edge. It is THE thing to do and we need a common, public way to talk about the accomplishments. 

September 26, 2010

Co-created Ready-to-Wear that's Good-to-Wear


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This month's Green Mom Carnival topic is on sustainable clothing [defined by the Global Organic textile Standard]. It's held on Diane's Big Green Purse and is a painful subject for me--it's hard enough to find something that is professional and flattering; adding the organic requirement makes it almost impossible to locate anything other than T-shirts and hoodies. 

I love yoga-wear, clothes that work with your body and made from hemp or cotton, but I can't wear them to work. We have to get beyond hoodies, T's and pants. Sweetgrass is a step in the right direction, but still has nothing that I'd wear to a board room. Maybe, that's the problem, we need more boardrooms with looser dress codes...

Then I found Mountains of the Moon, which puts form into fashion and bridges the gap between comfort of the gym and the brashness of a boardroom in a fresh, transitional way which any age group could feel comfortable wearing. The prices were reasonable as well, and the products are said to be made in a sweatfree, USofA shop. Most are of a hemp and cotton mix. 

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Screen shot 2010-09-26 at 8.43.10 AM Screen shot 2010-09-26 at 8.42.38 AM

Screen shot 2010-09-26 at 8.44.38 AM This is exactly what I have been coveting, a dress that fits in a carry-on suit case, can be personalized with necklaces or scarves and I didn't have to stop eating for a month to afford or fit into them. I hope the fashion industry takes note. For the record, I'm the demographic that has money to spend. 

Still, as excited as I am for ready-to- wear that is also good-to-wear, I'm not seeing proof on their site that they are truly eco-friendly. 

Coral Rose posted an excellent introduction paper following the path of how a T-Shirt is made and all the impacts that simple garment has on the environment. GOTS mention above is the law of the free-market land for organic textiles, even Wal Mart pays attention to it. [See Coral at the Lenzing booth at LA's Textile show.] 

As a member of the business community, the decisions we make in our personal lives are just as important as the ones we make in our professional lives. China sends us billions of dollars of cotton clothing, 45% of the cotton it uses comes from the US, unfortunately it isn't green cotton. Who knew that the US and China were so woven together. Both sides are sinners in this exchange--the US for using so many pesticides on their fields and China for allowing their dyes to go directly into the watershed. Both sides can also be saviors, as decisions by individuals make the difference in co-creating a new, global market. 

Case in point, Coral was a change agent for green cotton while she was a Sr. Buyer for Wal Mart, her organic decisions were part of the reason that Wal Mart started down their path to sustainability. But her decision to put organic cotton yoga-wear in the stores would not have created such a stir in Wal Mart's boardroom if the other "buyers", women consumers, didn't purchase them.

We are all co-creators in this green market movement--we are the designers, the Sr. Buyers, the sellers, the consumer buyers, and the writers of sustainable textiles; a multi-billion dollar industry with global impact. What we do at each stage makes a huge difference in changing the world's economy into one that is good for us all.

Go girls. Walk the talk and wear it well. 

April 18, 2010

Green Women Celebrate Earth Day's 40th Birthday

Screen shot 2010-04-03 at 7.01.35 AMWhoo Hoo! Light 'em if you got 'em, Earth Day's 40th birthday is here on April 22. It's time to pause and praise the thousands, maybe millions of Green Women making every day Earth Day by greening their homes and encouraging others through their blogs and community action projects. 

From mommy bloggers like Heather Hawkins and Renee Limon from EnviroMoms to members of the Green Mom Carnival to the team behind the Eco Mom Alliance and their 25,000 green gal pals - women everywhere are joining to support each other's work. 

All the awareness and buzz that they generate is fabulous. In tandem and equally important (but not as visual) are the women working in the B2B zone helping to bring the building, products and investment side of things into the main stream. Together the two groups are co-creating the next eco-culture. 

Coming up on April 28th, The Green Standard Organization, lead by Deborah Dunning, will be hosting a thought leader forum on sustainable standards in DC. They'll be covering the processes, education, financial backing, buildings, products... everything a business needs to make it on a global scale. Deborah's known for her ability to translate sustainable product performance information into a user-friendly format. Between her and another visionary, Marilyn Farmer of Green Building Pages, no one has an excuse that they can't learn what it takes to be sustainable. 

Also at the forum are Leanne Tobias, LEED AP and expert in sustainable commercial real estate projects and portfolios. Working with Leanne, is Martha Paschal. Martha also works with commercial real estate and watches for ways to match Federal stimulus funds to energy-efficient, multi-family projects. 

Another partner in sustainability is Debra Italiano who is so incognito that she doesn't even have a Linked in page, yet if you dusted a sustainable business deal for fingerprints you'd find hers all over it. Without women like these locating opportunities and turning owners into partners, many enterprises wouldn't see the light of an investment day. 

It all comes down to cold, hard, GREEN cash. Without the business of business buying into and enabling change, the green momentum we see now would never make it into mainstream culture. That's where Mindy Lubber, the President of Ceres comes in. (watch her below) Ceres is the leading coalition of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups. The group touches trillions of dollars and helps guide mega companies into being more environmentally and socially responsible or face the consequences in their stock value. 

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Coral Rose who was at the inception of WalMart first sustainable product experience. Look at what Wal Mart's sustainable direction has done for their profit margin and influence since then. 

These women represent the millions of other women who are holding their ideals high and keeping the green torch burning in the most carbon-free way. At some point soon, perhaps this year, the B2C and B2B worlds will meet. At that moment we'll have the rebirth of a sustainable economy and one heck of a party. 

Happy 40th Earth Day!


December 06, 2009

Business Climate Change - Move one woman and you'll move many

Picture 72 It's Sunday night and the votes and endorsements have yet to tallied for who won the Hopenhagen contest for sending a citizen to Copenhagen Climate Conference

As the counting continues, we have much to be proud of. While others spent weeks building up their headcount of voters, Diane (here) made it to the top of the charts in three days. Imagine what we could have done if we knew about the contest sooner. Diane is also hosting our Green Mom Carnival this month.

Helping Diane up in the ranks took many, MANY women (and men). The list is a cross section of the change agents from those helping companies watch their carbon footprints to women who are relentlessly educating others. The Eco Mom Alliance, who threw in their support is a terrific example of women not only changing their carbon footprint, but getting companies to change theirs via their momfluence. 

We work to inspire and empower women to reduce global warming and propel an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable future. To do this, we utilize the historically proven power of education, mothers and community action, and in this way create a global network of change leaders - an EcoMom Alliance.

I met Eco Mom founder Kimberly when we shared a panel at an LA conference. She spoke about the hands on changes her group of 7,000 moms were making and I spoke about the standards that needed to be endorsed to put everyone on the same playing field. Today her group is 12,000 strong. 

I have to ask, are there any men-only-groups doing the same thing? I'm not asking to point fingers as much as to make a point - after the speeches and promises at Copenhagen, the women who have been working hard on Climate Change issues before the conference will be the ones still working after the conference closes. 

August 07, 2009

LACCD Green Schools, Green Day Care, what's not to love?

It's back to school time and also the topic for the Green Mom's Carnival this month hosted by: Lynn on Organic Mania.

My closest connection to school is my consulting job with the Los Angeles Community College District where they are greening the entire nice campuses. Part of that action includes building several Child Development Centers  which will also include day care for the children of students. It will set the bar for other facilities and it couldn't happen too soon. 

This month one of the moms reported receiving this email from her day care center.

“In a construction project elsewhere in the building, a contractor applied a concrete floor sealant that produced and odor and fumes that were so strong we had to evacuate the children from the building.”
 

Rightly so, she was concerned. She kept her child home an extra day and wrote the group wanting to know how to "detox kids". She was only half kidding, but a high-level discussion followed; how to monitor the air, what levels of VOCs are ok, which paints are better...  this isn't a green lite crowd, we are serious about the conditions that kids live in.

Picture 35 All of the above discussions won't happen among the parents with kids at the LACCD facilities, however, because the buildings are being constructed or rehabbed with sustainable and safe products within the building guidelines. As such, the LACCD is setting a new standard for other schools to follow. If they can do it in LA, it can be done anywhere. 

In the LACCD's Guidelines and Standard (page 95)for new buildings, the LACCD states upfront what items get red-lined and not allowed in new construction.

  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethylene
  • Cholorofourocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene) with the exception of MEP Equipment
  • Formaldehyde (added)
  • Halogenated Flame Retardents
  • Hydrocholorfluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) with the exception of roofing and piping
  • Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol
  • Endangered Wood Species

If you've been following the Green Mom conversations, you'll know that Phthalates, PVCs, Flame Retardants, Formaldehyde - well - the whole list gets us going. How nice that someone is finally taking action.

The LACCD also requires that adhesives and sealants meet GreenSeal and government standards. That covers the VOC fume problem mentioned above. No VOC's no fumes. The best part of these buildings is that they become experiential learning labs for how to make a home or an office sustainable and toxic-free from the start. 

The Project Track program "provides free services to students enrolled in child development programs, employees working as child-care providers, and parents with children younger than five years of age."

The LACCD is developing a sustainable benchmark for all campuses to follow - build green, teach green, learn green, live green and bring the next generation along in your footsteps. 


 

July 29, 2009

To Review or Not to Review...

Could you do it? Could you turn down a FREE NEW REFRIGERATOR in exchange for three months of (hopefully) positive reviews? How honest could you be at that high of a freebie price tag? Below is how Diane handled it.

Moral Marketing (to each other) is the new concern of social media marketing. When Neilsen tracks 10,000 women bloggers for their mass media appeal just like they do magazines and newspapers, you know the tide has turned. Because the influence of the blogging woman is so high, because high product praise from a friend carries so much influence, companies are doing whatever they can to get women to endorse their products in writing. 

By the time I was done writing "In Women We Trust" it was apparent that in Women we better trust as we find our voices and do online what they've been doing off line for generations - sharing experiences about food, products and life.  

Many in our green women group have set policies for reviews. My policy is that I'll only review products or books that serve the triple bottom line of people, planet and then profits. The products must be certified as sustainable like Forbo's Marmoleum (SMaRT certified) and books must offer insights into how to turn the world greener and safer. 

What's your moral marketing policy? Will you blog about anything, or does the product/service need to hold itself to higher standards first?What is your standard for changing the world? Are you a change agent or an enabler?

July 07, 2009

Judith Helfand takes on Vinyl.

Picture 4 My thanks Mario for flagging this older but very poignant film called Blue Vinyl by Judith Helfand and Daniel B. Gold  on the same day that the Plastics Industry announces a $10 million campaign to tell us how safe plastics are. 

I haven't seen the campaign and can't comment on the types of plastics it covers, but after watching this film, I'll be watching the campaign with a new level of questions.

 
Below is a snippet of the whole documentary. (thanks again Mario)

Watch it for the subject matter.
Watch it for how to create award winning documentaries.
Watch it for how the spin factor happens when direct questions are asked.

Then keep that in mind when watching the $10 million worth of commercials.

BTW, SMaRT is only one sustainable standard that I know of that will not certify products as "sustainable" if they have any PVC's in their supply chain.

Blue Vinyl - Documentary Highlights of the Toxic Plastic from Mario Vellandi on Vimeo.

April 06, 2009

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble as mom's create their own tipping point for change

Ducks When you start asking moms to promote products that other moms and organizations find troubling and maybe even toxic, you can expect a backlash of conversation.

That's what happened in April, 2009 when Johnson and Johnson launched a contest Big Bubbin Stars, with the best video of kids having fun in a bubble bath. The winner gets $10,000.  You didn't have to buy the J&J products and yet, wouldn't you? It's $10,000 afterall, and it seems fun and safe enough.

The troubling part for many moms was that it promoted the use of products that contained dubious chemistry that over time can build up in little bodies soaking in it. The launch of Bubblin Stars also coincided with a report from the Safe Cosmetics organization titled "No More Toxic Tub". In the bubble bath case, the moms were specifically questioning the use of products containing 1,4-dioxain and formaldehyde.

What's the big deal? It's not just in J&J products according to a report on a site focused on reducing breast cancer.

Laboratory tests released today revealed the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in products such as Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, Huggies Baby Wash, Johnson’s Baby Wash, Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. The tests also found the carcinogen in Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo, Olay Complete Body Wash and many other personal care products.

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum-derived contaminant considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a clear-cut animal carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. It is also on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known or suspected by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. Because it is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require it to be listed as an ingredient on product labels.

So what did these concerned moms do?

Green mom carnival Within 2 days, they mobilized, conducted research, wrote blogs and posted their own spoof of a contest. Sommer Poquette also hosted and posted a mini carnival of concerns on her Clean and Green Mom blog.

Then See Jane Do, an online radio program got wind of it and asked Lynn Miller, Lisa Frack and Jennifer Taggert to join a discussion along with another prominent mom activist Joan Blades of Mom's Rising. Lynn Miller is a marketer and founder of the blog Organic Mania and the Green Moms Carnival. Lisa Frack is the online parent coordinator for the Environmental Working Group and Jennifer Taggert, is a lawyer, engineer and author of The Smart Mama, a blog promoting a toxic-free life for our kids. She also wrote the Smart Mama's Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child's Toxic Chemical Exposure.  

The Green Mom Carnival crowd isn't the only concerned group, in a newsletter the same week the Eco Mom Alliance announced their partnership with the Seventh Generation and EWG to provide product samples and education on how to reduce your exposure to bad chemistry.

 Remember, the issue is long term build up, not one-off exposure. Jennifer Taggert recapped it well on a follow up post here. She was justifiably irked that moms are looked upon as crazy for caring. She also noted in background research report she prepared for the green carnival group that the EU has already not allowing dioxane.

If the EU has disallowed it, what is happening in the US? We asked the two popular potions standards to comment. Eco Logo and Green Seal which are both coming out with new personal care standards this spring. Cheryl Baldwin, PhD and VP of Science and Standards at Green Seal said, "We have a new standard that will be released soon (any day now) that covers soaps, cleansers, shampoos, and other rinse-off products (GS-44).  It prohibits the use of the components that are the sources of the chemicals found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (.e.g 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde).The SMaRT Standard also won't certify any product that has the Stockholm "Dirty Dozen"chemicals which include dioxanes.

After first being ignored or sent to underlings with no knowledge of the subject, Johnson and Johnson provided a statement to Jenn Savedge of the Green Parent.

"The trace levels of certain compounds found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics can result from processes that make our products gentle for babies and safe from bacteria growth. The FDA and other government agencies around the world consider these trace levels safe, and all our products meet or exceed the regulatory requirements in every country where they are sold. Experts such as MDs, toxicologists and clinical scientists regularly review the safety data for all ingredients used in our products. In addition, we test our final baby product formulations for safety. Once our products are in the marketplace, we continually monitor consumer experiences and review evolving scientific data.

The mom's aren't buying it - literally. If they have a choice (and they do) they're going to buy products that are erring on the side of NO 1,4-dioxane no matter how "trace" it is and they are encouraging others to do the same.

From Sommer Poquette's Carnival of Concerned Moms:

1. Sign the Declarationand tell your friends to sign the deleration to get the Kids Safe Chemical Act passed.

2. Write your legislator, as the Mindful Momma suggests.

3. Use safer products by using the Skin Deep Data Baseand tell companies, such as Johnson and Johnsonand the others listed on the reportwhat you want as consumers.  Check out the Safe Mamaand her hundreds of reviews and cheat sheets for safe baby care products and Healthy Child Healthy Worldfor suggestions and tips. For reviews of products I have tried view my green cleaning category.

4. Promote this post anyway you can to get the word out there. #NoToxins to follow the Green Mom’s Carnival on Twitter!

5. Send any bottles back to the manufacture that aren’t used or half used but stop using them and demand for safer ingredients and full disclosure!

Lessons learned for companies selling personal care products:

1. Don't ignor women bloggers who are concerned enough to call. Bad idea.It really ticks them off.

2. The standards for what is safe or not have changed, update your product line to get in line with world expectations. (If Detroit can drop Hummers, you can drop dioxanes.)

3. Mommy blogger's all know one another. If you don't think they are comparing notes with each other - think again!

photo credit: Krikit