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May 19, 2008

Six Reasons Women will Love the SMaRT Sustainability Standard

Smart_logo_2 Let's get SMaRT(er), shall we? (Sustainable Materials Rating Technology)

If women have to buy the right stuff for their homes and specify the right stuff for their companies and clients, then it's time we all knew about how to go about that process.

I've been told that the subject of Sustainability is just too hard for we mere consumers and citizens of the planet to understand. Oh paLEEEZE. How about we give it a shot. Women are not only the dominate consumer, but the dominate gender in marketing. If we're greenwashing products it's out of ignorance, not stupidity.

Stuff_toxinFirst a quickie class in the issues. Have you seen Story of Stuff yet? (kudos to Annie Leonard). It now has over 2 millions views. It's a great example of what is part of a product's Life Cycle Assessment. LCA's pull the documentation of the carbon emissions, energy and waste pollution generated in the production process of goods together. It tallies the "stuff" that goes into other "stuff". When you know the bottom line of where the energy and pollution is being saved/used/abused that's when you can start to improve it.

SMaRT is a standard that quantifies and puts the info into a balanced rule per se. You can't be certified as sustainable if the you're saving energy, but polluting the water, or using safe processes, but destroying forests. It also factors in social equity like child labor, a company must be transparent with its working conditions worldwide. SMaRT is like playing baseball, once you have the rules, you can play on a T-ball level or major league, but the rules and tools are the same.

To keep everyone above board, SMaRT has third party global certification & auditing through Ernst & Young. It's a label you can trust.

The SMaRT scorecard/matrix categories:

1. Safe for Public Health & Environment (pollution footprints)

  • SMaRT requires documentation of Feedstock Inventory.
  • SMaRT requires input and output of Stockholm Protocol Chemicals. These are the pervasive baddies which greatly affect our food chain: Aldrin, Chlordane, DDT, Diedrin, Dioxins, Endrin, Furans, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) Mirex, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Toxaphene. You may know them as insecticides, fire retardants or the plastic in product packaging or the backing of carpet. Input covers chemicals going into the product and output is what happens during the making of the product. SMaRT documents over 1200 Stockholm Protocol chemicals across air, water and earth impacting 3600 touch points. (can you imagine how long it would Congress to pass a bill covering that subject?)
  • SMaRT gives points for  minimizing air carcinogens and VOCs, green cleaning using clean greening procedures,   
  • SMaRT gives points for minimizing indoor formaldehyde emissions.

Still with me? Moms Rising wants fire retardants out of fabric, form and carpet because of what it's doing to kids, pets and breast milk. In Story of Stuff, Annie notes that breast milk is the #1 Toxic food source, "toxins in - toxins out."  The Center for Environmental Health and Justice wants PVCs out of the system and NOT recycled. They don't want a second chance of putting them into our air, soil or water.

The only way to get these things out of the system is not put them into the system by A) following a standard or B) creating a law to ban it after the fact.

2. Renewable Energy & Energy Reduction (carbon footprint issues)

  • An energy inventory is required of current usage and renewable usage.
  • Points are awarded on an increasing scale for Cleaner and Greener Certification, Certifications for Climate Change Emission reductions.
  • More points are given if the supply chain's energy is also renewable. This covers those who provide materials for the manufacturing of the products even if they are located in China.

3. Biobased or Recycled Materials (more carbon footprint and pollution footprints)

  • Once again, an inventory of all materials is required. If a company is using PVCs(plastic) to back a carpet, then this is where it shows up.
  • SMaRT gives the most credit to organic bio-based meeting EPA best management practices because these products have no toxic constituents including endocrine disruptors.
  • The highest points go to products made with NEW bio-based material vs. recycled material. Why would SMaRT do that? Because it's trying to encourage new products that start green to stay green vs. recycling what got us into this mess and a lot of that came from plastics and that comes from oil - that we're running out of and is getting more expensive.

4. Facility or Company Based Manufacturing (more footprints)

  • This is where SMaRT looks at the operational side of manufacturing, is the company walking the walk? Required is an EMS Environmental Policy & Targets, Social Indicator Reporting and that LCA Process
  • Social Indicator Reporting for Suppliers. It covers the working conditions for the supply chain that may not be in the US. The SMaRT audit happens globally and sweat shop conditions aren't rewarded. 
  • Transparent Primary and Secondary Materials Reclamation System (no dumping)
  • Environmental Management System Certification
  • Sustainable/EPP Product Transaction Disclosures

5. Reclamation, Sustainable Reuse & End of Life Management (keeping the footprint light)

  • Points are given for durability. How long will the product last before it needs to be recycled?
  • Once that product is ready for recycling, what programs are in place to take it back?
  • How much can be reused?

6. Innovation in Manufacturing (preventing footprints from the get-go)

  • Cool new products get extra credit for paving the way for others to follow.
  • Are they doing more with less material? The get credit for that as well.

Who decided all of the above - a balanced board of of people and interests from trade associations, financial institutes, government, Non-governmental groups, environmental groups, citizens-at-large over eight years of discussions.

Before you say, "Wait a minute, that's not democracy. I didn't vote for any of that," look around you. Everything you sit on, live in, work in, eat or drive were made via standards that you never voted on. Standards help trade groups work together. They are the "laws"of the free market. The SMaRT Standard simply pulled all the multitudes of standards for sustainability together, eliminated the redundancy and provided one, balanced standard that rewards entry level or superior performance.

What SMaRT doesn't reward is greenwash. In fact, it eliminates it. SMaRT is fully transparent and in that transparency peer pressure happens and competition begins. If corporations do one thing really well, it's knowing how to compete. SMaRT just gives them the rules to play by that we all can live with and cheer.    


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Hey Mary Clare,
Great post! We're with ya,

I echo Ross at alternative consumer. This is a wonderful post that everyone should read. Following SMART is just being a whole lot smarter in your spending choices. (I could not resist the pun...)

Anna www.green-talk.com

Thanks for the voice votes, guys. Today, Mom's Rising came out against toxic car seats.

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