2 posts categorized "greenwashing"

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!

December 13, 2007

Trust, but Verify - is Wal Mart, selling Illegally Harvested Wood?

Simplicity Mommas don't let your babies grow up to be greenwashers*...

The gloves are off on illegally harvested wood which was sold to Simplicity who then sold over 200,000 cribs to Wal Mart. The cribs are already being recalled due to safety and now this hits. It seems that the crib's wood came from connections in Russia who use less than great forest management practices. That's a big no-no if you want to have a Sustainable planet or keep your green integrity intact.

The bad news: Wal Mart was asleep at supply chain wheel.

The good news: Transparency and the Internet is waking them up.

Message received: 1. There is no where to hide for any company, not even Wal Mart, when it comes to Sustainable practices. The world is watching and taking names. 2. If you're a manufacturer, use FSC wood.

On a tip from a colleague, I sat in on Wednesday's conference call held by The Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit group based in Washington D.C. They found that the Chinese makers of Wal-Mart's wood products (the crib being one of them) are using timber from a Russian forests known for illegal logging.  The AP was on the call as well and within minutes had the full story posted.

I did a post on Wal Mart prior to my attending their CEO Sustainability Summit. In it I suggested that we put down the guns on the big box stores.I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Wal Mart is China's 8th largest buyer of goods (you read that right), as such they have a huge impact on how that supply chains are managed.

As the 8th wonder of the capitalistic world, per se, Wal Mart can singlehanded change the way the world does business. Sears and K-Mart announced that they were going to phase out toxic PVC plastic, major source of lead, phthalates, and dioxin exposure. As the public demands accountability, being able to point to sources and prove statements will become the next competitive edge.

At Wal Mart's CEO Sustainability Summit, they handed out CD's posting their committments. This is where the greenwash comes in. It leads you to believe that they are watching the supply chain.

Kristen Stevens, Buyer, Home Division
"First thing you need to know about wood is where does it come from and that's the hardest part. At this point as a buyer you don't know where it comes from, you buy it from a distributor who then buys it from a different manufacturer who buys it from a raw materials supplier who may or may not know which forest it came from… when it's known we can at least move buyers and suppliers on the pat of "good wood". When we talk about good wood, it's wood that #1, first and foremost, it's not illegally harvested . Second, is it grown in a sustainably grown forest? Do they replant the trees whether or not they are protecting the biodiversity in that area or not."

So what happened between "#1first and foremost, it's not illegally harvested" and today's "look-the-other way" report?  Business happens. Did Wal Mart mean to not ask? Probably not. With over 60,000 suppliers, it's going to take some time to get everyone on track and yet...

Today another site popped up on where people can go to report greenwashing. Not only are companies going to held accountable to sourcing, but also their messaging. Stay tuned, the fun's just starting.

*greenwashing: misleading the public into thinking a product or company is Sustainable, when they aren't.