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December 01, 2008

Diane's Pollution Prevention Challenge

Green glove Diane has thrown the green gauntlet to us at the Green Moms Carnival which will post on Dec. 7 on her blog Diane's Big Green Purse. Instead of focusing on how to FIX pollution that is broken, she is asking us for ideas on how can we PREVENT it from happening to begin with. She's established a Prevention Agenda forum for discussions and also asked that we add our own letters to send to President-Elect Obama. 

Diane's Big Green Purse has been a big proponent of buying green vs. brown products in hopes of pushing the market in the right direction. Now she's asking for larger ideas and bigger steps that she can gift wrap and send to the new administration.


Dear President-Elect Obama,

Please put Accountability and Transparency into the green market by invoking sustainable product standards - consumers demand it, investors need it and manufacturers will take the easy way out if you leave it up to them (which is what they are doing right now).

The Credit Crisis has destroyed our faith in the markets and each other. The Green/Sustainable product movement is awash in greenwash.The ONLY thing that corporations (the financial machine) understand are numbers and competition. The good hearted people working in the corporations are beholding to those numbers, they can't fight the machine from inside as peer pressure and the need to keep a job is restrictive to progessive change. The only thing that keeps those numbers accountable is transparency of operations.

How do we know if a product is toxin free and pushes the economy to renewable resources at the same time? Do we, as the consumer, have to choose between clean water or clean air? How can the commercial market that creates tipping points of commerce with it's massive buys align with the green consumer objectives? Will the new products created for green buildings hit a wall of consumer resistance when they cross the line into our homes? How can we transform the ENTIRE market if commercial products aren't working in conjunction with what the consumer market wants?

Laws and bills won't do the job. They take too long and lobbyists will hold up progress forever. California managed to get through a no-PVC in packaging law. How long would that take to get passed through the Federal government - maybe never. Meanwhile, PVC's are allowed in the products themselves, such as carpeting. On top of toxic carpets you have killer couches with fire retardants in the foam and fabric that becomes part of our home and questionable food additives.  The most toxic food that can't be regulated, only "prevented" is breast milk. 

The solution to safe furnishings, food, toys, etc. lies is the same thing that's makes baseball a game that can be played in any country - rules - not big, complicated rules, but simple requirements that anyone can interpret. And like baseball the sustainability game needs referees to call the ins and the outs, third party auditors who can look over all the evidence of sustainable product claims and make a ruling using ISO Life Cycle Assessment practices that will fly on a global scale.

We don't need more laws which are usually levied after the fact and effective only inside the country they are created, we need standards and systems that follow a product's entire supply chain and disposal. Even Barbie, the goddess of perpetual consumption has parts and accessories made in multiple countries.

While this is a consumer driven, the solution must start in industry. Our consumering piece-meal buying habits is greater than industries at over 70% of the gross domestic product, but without huge blocks of procurement setting the manufacturing direction, change will be slow especially now that our consumer cash is evaporating.

We've been waiting for the building industry to take a stand, but they have elected not to. That leaves the decision on which sustainable standards we can support in the average citizen's hands and yours.

With the failing of global markets, there is no doubt that all nations meet at the bank and that we all must work together to co-create a sustainable economy and world. Transformational products formed under sustainable product standard guidelines will not only eliminate market greenwashing, but create safe products, support renewable energy and put a new level of trust back into the market.




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Brilliant suggestions, Mary. I especially like the baseball analogy! But you're absolutely right - we can't play the eco-game without "rules." The public wants 'em, and industry will just make them up unless the federal government steps in to create order out of chaos. Federal standards by and large have been a boon to organic agriculture. Let's see similar developments in other manufacturing sectors.

I am always left with a bigger picture of a situation after reading your posts. You bring such logic to a very complicated array of issues. I agree emphatically that it begins with the rules, simple ones.

I am always left with a bigger picture of a situation after reading your posts. You bring such logic to a very complicated array of issues. I agree emphatically that it begins with the rules, simple ones.

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