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June 04, 2008

Yes, we can (and must) Save the World through Mindful Shopping

FbofwOver on La M, the debate continues in the comment section on whether we can buy our way out of this global warming problem. The answer is not only "Yes," but "Yes, we have to."

[My thanks to Lynn Johnston for capturing in one cartoon why many give up before trying. On some level we all know our good work can be undone in a manufacturing minute.]

The "Smokestacks" are causing the problem and the ONLY thing that will keep the smokestacks happy is profit. Consumer action is half of the solution, the SMaRT Sustainable Standard is the other half. With both not only have we solved the emission problem, but transformed the market safely and kept our retirement portfolios intact. Yes, as Tom Friedman points out, we'll lose MANY products and companies along the way. Detroit's feeling that pain now, but we also will replace them with mindful companies and products we can all live with.

If you want to see how serious business is about change, take a quick read down today's blog at Sustainable Life Media. The stacks want to do it, they just don't know how to do it and they don't know how to talk about it in terms that breadwinners and buyers can understand. Oh, and by the way, it's also required by the EPA.

Green_brands_2Not only do we/consumers have to do it, we have to write about our intent before or after we do it. Every time we write about Sustainable products we like, those products stay in the marketing mix and the other ones die.

GM has FINALLY decided that going small and green will bring bigger profits. Why? Because Toyota and Honda made the top ten brands and ate their lunch. You can't go 10 feet in California without running into either car.

Those top ten brands were made inside of buildings which a consumer can also affect - by DEMANDING that the brands are made using Sustainable Standards that certify when a product is in compliance. INSIDE the SMaRT Sustainable Standard are requirements for conserving energy and lowering emissions, VOCs and PVCs (plus over 1200 other chemicals). Not only do the standards cover their buildings, but also the operations and processes for the entire supply chain as well - even if those smokestacks are in China.   

Smart_certifiedThe SMaRT Standard (Sustainable Materials Rating Technology) covers six areas of product development:

  • Safe for public health & environment
  • Renewable energy & energy efficiency
  • Biobased or recycled materials
  • Facility or company requirements
  • Reclamation, sustainable reuse
    & end of life management
  • Product Innovation

Under these areas, products are required to:

  • Provide Feedstock Inventory Documentation
  • Document No Input and Output Stockholm Chemicals
  • Maintain a Manufacturing Facility Energy Inventory
  • Inventory of all bio-based and Recycled Content Materials
  • Have EMS Environmental Policies and Targets.
  • Have Social Equity Indicator Reporting for Manufacturers
  • Compete an ISO Compliant Life Cycle Assessment
  • Have Operational Reclamation and/or Sustainable Reuse Program
  • Meet Product Performance Durability Standards (long lasting products)

And encouraged to keep going until they have achieved:

100% Reduction of Over 1300 Pollutants covering 12 Environmental Impacts
100% Use of Green-e Renewable Power
100% Post Consumer Recycled or Organic/BMP Biobased Materials
100% Reuse/Product Reclamation
Social Equity for Manufacturer & Suppliers (worker's rights)

That's a pretty big stick, but sticks are also fun to chase - especially if you're one of the Big Dogs attending the Sustainable Brands conference.

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After the requirements are met, the Big Dogs can get competitive and earn higher and higher ratings of silver, gold and platinum. Its not impossible, Forbo/Marmoleum and Knoll Life Chair have already have done it. Milliken carpet is on its way.

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But they can't do it alone.

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They and all the other companies trying to go green need buyers for their Sustainable Certified products, people who appreciate the work that has been done on a very high level.  Which brings us back to the first side of the buyer/seller equation - consumers.

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Take a gander at that top ten list again. If you were hired to change the world, which "demographic" would you focus on to make it happen faster? On that list you have, groceries, cleaning supplies, lotion and potions, cars and home appliances. Without doing a massive research project, take a wild guess on which gender has the greater influence either directly or indirectly buying these products?

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In the end, after all the discussions and  the chatter it's going to come down to tightly linking these three tipping points together - women+companies+sustainable standards.

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That's the new balance of power in this global economy. What happens among them happens about the world and it all starts with the heart of a women making the right choices while her purse is open and being willing to talk about them.

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Men can expedite the process by educating the women in their life on the SMaRT Sustainable Standard or other Standards that use a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) across the entire supply chain. While women are the buyers, you are the "sellers." Let's get to work, shall we?

Your continuing ed starts here:

SMaRT Standard Market Overview - for High C's (9 pages)- Download">http://www.sustainableproductsblog.com/mts/files/mts_smart_sustainable_standard_overview_2.1.08.pdf">Download mts_smart_sustainable_standard_overview_2.1.08.pdf

SMaRT Standard Overview - Supplier Education - (slide show) Download">http://www.sustainableproductsblog.com/mts/files/act_smart_presentation.pdf">Download act_smart_presentation.pdf


SMaRT Standard for Consumer Orientation - (slide show)Download">http://www.sustainableproductsblog.com/mts/files/smart_sustainable_standards_102_consumer_orientation_51008.pdf">Download smart_sustainable_standards_102_consumer_orientation_51008.pdf


Forbo Sustainability Report - for High C's, Supply Chain, Distributors, Investors, Consumers (20 pages) Download">http://www.sustainableproductsblog.com/mts/files/forbo_sustainable_manufacturing_and_marketing.pdf">Download forbo_sustainable_manufacturing_and_marketing.pdf


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Comments

Another great post, Mary! You're totally on target: consumers are jumping into this revolution with both feet - and with their green purses and pocketbooks flying high! The companies that emerge as the eco-leaders of this century will be the ones that resond quickest to consumer demand for certified sustainable products - by not only making the right products but by qualifying them as SMaRT!

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