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6 posts from November 2010

November 24, 2010

SC Johnson is Going Transparent

SC Johnson has listened to the good women who want to know what is in products before buying them -- "By 2012, the company will voluntarily disclose the ingredients it uses in the fragrances and dyes and provide expanded information on preservatives in its products."
They also now have a site Whats Inside SC Johnson for more details. 
Thanks to consumers co-creating a new market by demanding better, SC Johnson is responding. They have a history of doing better, now it's up to the consumer to reinforce that effort as buyers. Next I'd like to see them tackle the packaging problem using less plastic. 
For more info go here. 
  • 2008 – SC Johnson awarded the U.S. EPA Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative Award for the elimination of all nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactant from its products.
  • 2006 – In recognition of its patented, award-winning Greenlist™ process, an environmental classification system to help green its chemistry, SC Johnson is awarded the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award and Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership.
  • 2003 – SC Johnson received the first-ever Lifetime Atmospheric Achievement Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • 1975 – SC Johnson voluntarily and unilaterally eliminates Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from its aerosol products, three years before the U.S. mandate.



November 10, 2010

Congratulations to Margaret Gordon, Purpose Prize Winner.

Margaret Gordon is proof that you don't need money, education, or position to get things done -- what you need is passion and commitment to a purpose. Margaret is a housekeeper who learned about the high amounts of cancer and asthma in her bay area from her work with an environmental family. Up until then she hadn't made the connection that greener cities mean healthier kids. 

She then connected the dots between the cause -- transportation gases; and the effect -- high asthma rates in children and worked to correct the problem. 

Thank you Margaret, for making the connection and then doing something about it and thank you to the Purpose Prize organizers for drawing attention to many puposeFULL people.

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. 

Screen shot 2010-11-09 at 12.31.18 PM

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!

November 07, 2010

Ladies, the World Needs You To Be Less Plastic...

Is this India? Mexico? No, it's Long Beach, California after a rain. It's what happens when the 51 miles of LA river channel washes whatever is in it into the Queensway Bay in Long Beach.

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 11.03.28 AM

 We don't have to travel to one of the five ocean gyres where plastic swirls and chokes the life out of our marine animals, we can walk on water right here and spend millions cleaning it up. It gives new meaning to, "What a waste..."

The screen shot came via yesterday's all-day TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference held in Long Beach, CA organized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The actual event had limited seating but anyone could attend virtually via house parties. Hopefully they'll post the presentations for later replay. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is but one of 5 Gryes of patches (maybe more) that have formed.

As shocking as the above is to look at, the statistics on what we are doing to our oceans and LAND by using single use plastics and then throwing it away are scary. You don't have to believe in climate change to see that we drastically need to change the way we relate to this pervasive pollutant.

A few of the not-so-fun facts from yesterday:

  • Over 2.4 million pounds of plastic are being dumped into our oceans EVERY HOUR.  
  • We're losing 1 million apex animals every year because of them eating plastic and dying horrible deaths.
  • Less than 5% of plastic is recycled.
  • 40 governments and/or major municipalities representing 25% of the world's population have BANNED the plastic bag. (California recently caved to the corporate money and kept plastic bags alive, but banning the bag will be put up for election again.)

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 10.08.29 AM Pretty grim, eh? And the pictures were worse, such as the picture of the sun bleached bones of a former camel lying in the sand -- that was the only thing left, bones and the bushel basket size ball of plastic that the poor camel ingested earlier while raiding a garbage dump near Dubai. 

The morning sessions left me pretty disgusted with myself and my species for mucking things up so badly for all living things.

"Hope" came in the afternoon sessions, when more than one presenter named 'women' as part of the solution:

  1. Women buy 85% consumer (weekly) items that are wrapped in single use plastic packaging. 
  2. As such we have the responsibility to educate each other on the issue and then...
  3. Stop it. Just stop it. Quit buying anything with single-use plastic on it.

That's what Beth Terry is doing (seen below). Because of Beth's dedication to dropping her own consumption from the national average of about 100 pounds of consumer plastics per person per year to 3.7 pounds for her, she was asked to be part of this impressive line up that included Fabien Cousteau, Van Jones, Stacy Malkan,  Ed Begley, Arlene Blum, Suja Lowenthal,  H.E. John Dramani Mahama...  go Beth!

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 2.22.10 PM

As Beth pointed out, many plastic products don't have to list what is in them, it's up to the consumer to ask. If the companies don't supply the answer don't but the product. It's better to be safe than sorry, the toxin BPA is now in 9 out of 10 newborns according to another speaker, Ken Cook

Stacy Malkan, Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called for a "Girlcott" -- buying only what is good for you instead of boycotting what is bad. She went on to say that the government did get a Safe Cosmetics Act in place this year, but that isn't enough. If we want change WE have to make the first move, "Show your passion and your outrage." 

There were so many excellent speakers. I wish I could quote them all. 

Women have 54% of the electoral vote and 85% of the consumer 'vote'. If the first vote doesn't get action, use your second "voting" power and don't buy what they are selling. If you really want to make a point, blog about it.  

As for cutting back, each year an average family uses 500 plastic grocery bags. If you need a place to start, start by carrying your own bags when you shop. 

November 05, 2010

"The Ocean is Downhill from Everything"

Imagine being in Naples and taking the boat to isle of Capri. Beautiful, no? NO! As my husband reported when he returned from such a trip, "All you heard was the clunking of floating stuff on the bow of the boat."

For years, friend Beth Terry has been ringing the alarm on what plastic is doing to us and every life form that intersects with it. This Saturday, the TED talks will be live streaming discussions on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Watch it here, or go straight to TED. 

tedxgp2 on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free

November 02, 2010

In Women We Trust to VOTE

I never considered myself a feminist, I always saw the world as a 50/50 proposition. That said, the majority of the things I take for granted today happened because women could vote.

The following email is making the rounds again. Each year I'm struck by how long and what physical pain it took to take half the American population seriously.

Have you voted yet? 

  Screen shot 2010-11-02 at 7.50.36 AM

Iron Jawed Angels

This  is the story of our Mothers and Grandmothers who lived only 90  years ago.  Remember,  it was not until 1920  that  women were granted the right to go to the polls and  vote.

The  women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed  nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs  asking for the vote. 

And  by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison  guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a  rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing  sidewalk traffic.'

They  beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her  head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping  for air.

They  hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against  an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice  Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.  Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,  beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the  women.

 Thus unfolded  the  'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,  when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered  his  guards  to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because  they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the  right to vote.  For  weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their  food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.  

When  one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike,  they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and  poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured  like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.  

So,  refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year  because  -  why,  exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our  vote doesn't matter? It's raining?  ...."