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October 24, 2007

Sustainable Standards at Work

Food_news In another 10 years, you're going to see Sustainable Standards everywhere. We'll be able to read them as easily as we read a nutrition label on food packaging. Hop on over to Sustainable Food News and read down their list of articles on the right. I don't think it'll matter what day you look. You'll see one story covering which store offers Certified USDA Organic food, another story on examples of what makes something organic or not and a third story on who got busted for not following the rules. What happens then? They get de-certified. What happens after that? Bad press and then their market falls off. Good Standards, work.

Standards are the laws of the free market - and more often than not, citizens are the neighborhood watchdogs. With cell phone cameras, videos, and instant messaging there is no place to hide a bad practice. Citizen journalists are also becoming citizen market police. That's what happened at the recent de-certification of one of California's biggest organic milk farms.

Bgp_small Over on Big Green Purse you can see a list of Standards that women need to know about. They cover food, furniture, textiles, apparel, cosmetics, lighting, energy... as well as what makes something fair trade or not so fair... Part of the continuing education here and over on Big Green Purse will be covering Sustainable Standards and the products that live up to the expectations. You heard about the lead in painted toys, right? How about lead in lipstick? It made me think twice and look at Diane's list to see if my brand was on it.

Diane is adamant about encouraging all of us to shift $1000 of our everyday buying habits over to $1000 of "green and people/planet safe" buying habits. But who can you trust? Which Standards? Diane has listed a few to start asking for.

Keep in mind that most standards are new to the world of retail. It took the USDA Organic about 10 years to become established. The LEED Standard, the defacto standard for commercial and residential green buildings, is also about 10 years old. Have you ever heard of it? From now on, if you are buying, selling or refabbing your home, you will.

Smart_certified USDA Organic is a government standard as is Energy Star. LEED, SMART, FSC and other are standards were created through years of consensus voting across a balance group of interests including trade associations, manufacturers, retailers, government, environmental groups... you can see why they take years to develop and get approved. Democracy takes time.

One last thing that will make this even more interesting? The world stage. Whatever we decide to buy in our stores will have a profound affect on the families of the world. Corporations have no boundaries.

Rewiring our habits won't be a no-brainer. With any luck, we'll be more engaged than ever, setting our own benchmarks for a sustainable world.

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