Posts filed under ‘Green Health’

Vatican: Failing To Recycle Is A Mortal Sin From Now On

As if we didn’t know it already, the Vatican says that not recycling lands us in hell. But yesterday, a close aide to the Pope officially singled out placky bags as items of the Almighty’s discontent if failure to dispose of them ethically has been diagnosed.

This is no joke. The Vatican has officially updated its Seven Deadly Sins to make them compliant with our times, and the list now includes ‘polluting the environment’ as the number three mortal sin. The author of the ranking, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti, is a close ally of the Pope and he also happens to be the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary. That is a main court in Italy, not a prison. But it has an effective eery tone to it nevertheless.

rometrash.jpg
Girotti was quoted by the Vatican’s official newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, as saying that the new seven deadly sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others. That means; you’re no longer on the ride all by yourself, a message that resonated from the previous list of seven deadly sins.

These are the new seven deadly, therefore mortal, sins

genetic modification
carrying out experiments on humans
polluting the environment
causing social injustice
causing poverty
becoming obscenely wealthy
taking drugs

The Church suggests you go to confession if you have sinned. But you can of course also put in a ‘good work’ to offset your lethal lifestyle. A word of advice; the more literal you take this message, the better. Look at this trash art of 1,000 statues of human bodies, exhibited until 29 March in the Piazza Del Popolo in Rome (photo). They’re made by a German artist called H.A. Schult of his personal household waste. The idea is ‘we produce trash and we become trash‘. Let’s say it’s the new take on dust.

If you saw the movie Seven you already will be familiar with the sins of yesteryear. (My favorite was the spaghetti inducing idea of gluttony);

sloth
envy
gluttony
greed
lust
wrath
pride

March 12, 2008 at 9:32 am Leave a comment

Complaints Based Environmentalism Is Dead, Long Live The Complaints!

So you fell for it; a green, eco product was sold you and it’s a total scam. What are your options? You can yell, kick and scream in your kitchen, but it won’t help you. Go online, and yell, kick and scream!

Even though Complaints Environmentalism has convincingly been declared dead by the writers of the controversial book The Breakthrough, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, greenwashing is taking off big time. Marketing studies underscore that in some cases 99% of all products sold as green are essentially harmful to the environment. So who are we kidding here? It’s high time to gang up on the naivety!

This is a first assessment of what your legal rights are as a green consumer. Greenwashing, which has been defined as “the practice of co-opting the trappings of the green movement without the business practices to back it up” is illegal. But thus far there have been few high profile court cases.

Craig Bachman, an attorney at Lane Powell PC and intellectual property specialist, believes greenwashing is a spill over effect from the regular ad industry. He’s quoted on Bullivant.com outlining one case which set a precedent in legal history was the LePage’s ‘biodegradable’ cellophane tape. The catch was that the tape itself was biodegradable, the product’s packaging wasn’t. The Federal Trade Commission clamped down on the Pittsburg based company and an out of court settlement swept the news under the carpet.

The fact that greenwashing is mostly a marketing issue means that you won’t often get real, tangible damage cases. In the future, we will likely see battles over semantics. There’s notoriously little clarity in Green marketing so hold your breath. Companies will increasingly be held accountable for implicit claims made in their advertising. If you thought the world had moved online, think again; we’re fast dematerializing in more than one way! The lingo guidelines in the US vary from state to state AND at federal level at the moment, says Bulivant.com.

At the moment, the Federal Trade Commission is trying to clear out the wildgrowth of rules and regulations as it copes with unfair trade practices. It is redrafting its environmental guide, known as the Green Guide which helps businesses navigate the terminology of environmental marketing of offering guidelines of what might constitute “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” prohibited by Section 5 of the FTC Act.

So what are the recourse options for green consumers?

Check out the Organic Consumer Association to complain and for clear rules about what makes a product ‘organic’.

If you feel green ads are misleading you can contact the the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau. These guys refer cases to the FTC and other agencies with oversight of particular product categories, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Go to Cornucopia. The agricultural products complaints specialists.

Write a story on your blog and submit it on MindBodyGreen. It’s a kind of digg archive for front page green stories and has a wide readership.

Check out RipOffReport. A true sour face platform (old style)! This 10 year old website is jam packed with advice for legal action. Companies accused of wrongdoings have the chance to repair their reputations and many cases get picked up by newspapers. You’ll probably need some time to go through all the options you have as a wronged consumer. But if your complaint is serious, it’s a decent option.

Go to the Yell-O-Pages and complain using a fast and easy to use form. It’s a shoutbox more than anything else. Service is new and when checked earlier today, there were no green or eco complaints.

There’s Ventbox. This site is very similar to Yell-O-Pages.com. Till now there’s a total absence of any Green, Bio, Ethical, Eco complaints.

Last but not least, check out WhoIsWrong. It’s where people go to condemn a public issue. Most of the topics are lighthearted though. No ‘Green’ or ‘Eco’ cases yet! Unless you want to know what people think of wearing a bluetooth headset as a fashion accessory is a green issue.

You can also alert us here by going to the Info/Contact page and writing a quick line.

March 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm 1 comment

Write A Letter To Your Great Great Grand Children

desmogblogEver thought it would be a cool idea to write a letter to your great great great grand children? Do it! If you want to have it published online, go to the 100 Year Letter Project at DeSmogBlog and you can rest assured of its delivery.

This is what one environmental scientist, Dr Simon Donner, wrote; “I thought of you, the future Donners. Are you still shoveling snow off the lake and playing hockey at the cottage? Do you have to wait an extra month for the lake to freeze? Or does the lake not freeze at all?”

John Cooksey, a Filmmaker, wrote “It was a tough haul. There were many times when I despaired. Many times we hoped for a savior to come and take away our personal responsibility to act, but we got despots just as often as we got heroes. Maybe it was a challenge we needed, to show us that we had to take care of ourselves, and each other.”

Read this and other (rather interesting) letters in their entirety on DeSmogBlog or go and write your own!

February 29, 2008 at 10:09 am Leave a comment

Green Wedding? Don’t Forget The Rings!

blooddiamondGreen weddings are all the rage. But have you ever considered how ‘green’ your wedding rings might be? If they’re red they ain’t green, that’s for sure. So what to look out for if you are planning to go and buy a ring?

One company called greenKarat, says it’s simple. Just don’t buy a Canadian diamond ever! It cites two reasons;
1. They are not environmentally clean
2. They are not conflict free

If you don’t believe this, the company says, you likely have fallen victim to a marketing campaign in which tremendous amounts of money and effort have been pumped. And if you’ve seen the film Blood Diamond, you’ll already be slightly alarmed. Canadian diamonds, even though dug up in better humanitarian circumstances, are not beyond reproach either. “Just because there isn’t blood, doesn’t mean there aren’t tears”, say greenKarat. It reprints a recent news article in which experts are outlining the Canada specific downside especially for the Boreal region. “Hundreds of thousands of hectares of mineral claims are being “staked” without consultation – let alone approved by affected communities, many of whom are in land claims negotiations and land use-planning exercises”, according to the Toronto Star.

Aside from that, the drilling, road building and, eventually, mining with its legacy of open pits, tailings ponds and the web of industrial infrastructure that comes with these billion-dollar enterprises is also a severe ecological threat.

polarbearFor the best information to find out what’s ecologically and blood diamond free and what not, visit MiningWatch Canada and Boreal Canada.

February 27, 2008 at 4:40 pm Leave a comment

US Wants To Conclude Climate Deal Before G8

g8 tokyoIn a bid to conclude talks before the G8 summit in Japan, the US has said that it is accepting binding international obligations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions so long as other nations do the same.

It’s a continuation of the line President Bush set out around a year ago and which hasn’t inspired much confidence. The fact that this news has reached the press is hopeful. Two environmental advisors to President Bush, James Connaughton and Daniel Price told a press conference in Paris that the US is hoping that the biggest developing countries China, India and Brazil are committing to reducing greenhouse gases.

“The US is prepared to enter into binding international obligations to reduce greenhouse gases as part of a global agreement in which all major economies similarly undertake binding international obligations,” the BBC quoted Price as saying.

Price is the President’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. The White House plans aim to eliminate world tarriffs with the aim of increasing global trade in clean energy technologies and services. Price said that a jump of 14% per year is a measure that will yield results soon.

“Europe and the US could turn out the lights today, and come 2030 or 2050 we would not have addressed the problem of climate change,” he added. This line of thinking was initiated by President Bush who envisages negotiations between 17 countries to reduce greenhouse gas output. These countries account for about 80% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The suggestion seems to be that some countries commit to firm emissions targets while others will display energy efficiency gains. Experts think this is not an option because it’s a slap dash solution for results in a 40 years time frame.

“The White House knows that taking a binding target of comparable size [to that taken by the US or EU] is neither a negotiating option nor a physical possibility for the Chinese government,” a Pew environmentalist told BBC News. Recently, a study presented at the summit of world leaders at Davos showed that the US ranks below India and just above China, measured in terms of environmental and social factors.

It’s studies like these that are causing an outcry internationally. The US has hitherto focused its environmental effort on clean air mostly and is an immense underperformer at greenhouse gas combating. The US policy makers weren’t really impervious to the international criticism, it seems. Price lashed out at the EU, saying it should stop “berating the US to do more”. Instead, people should work with developing countries to get their act together, Price said. OK then, let’s take a deep breath together then, shall we?

February 26, 2008 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

Meet Up With Green Drinking Buddies

Green drinking buddies? They exist! Every month, green group drinks take place in over 320 bars around the world. Green Drinks meetings are attended by people working in NGOs, academia, government and business. Just say ‘are you green?’, and then whoosh, networking!

The group´s organisers say Green Drinks is an organic, self organising network. Contact your local branche and see if you can join. If there´s no Green Drinks in your home town, email the organisers for tips on how you can set it up in your town; edwin [at] greendrinks [dot] org.

greendrinksThe network already is in these countries;
UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Afghanistan, Argentina, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.

February 22, 2008 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Why Universities Soon Will Be Teaching Eco Economics

Did you know that Green economics is hardly an established concept academically? That is because economists have difficulties believing that anything other than the input in their models reflects reality. But the numbers they so diligently belabor are only valid because everyone else in the game plays by the same rules.

Standard economist models account for the earth’s resources as if they were free and infinite, but the realisation is growing that this is an untenable position. Economics is traditionally highly empirical and the uptake of a new logic will take time. It took us until the 1700s to produce an Adam Smith who had the presence of mind to adopt a systemic approach to the mishmash of Mercantile partying. It’s ironic that now that business practices are once again beginning to resemble Mercantile characteristics, it is taking us time again to reconcile it into the Capitalist system, even though the case for it is strong.

eco eco´s offer of eco professorsMercantilism is a great concept, even though the term might not be fashionable right now because it has such a bitter taste to it in a macro economic context. But then again, consumer driven pressures for sustainable production might just outpace the initial distaste. What’s more, the mixture of demand for green, ecological production processes and mercantilist trading is bound to result in new textbook material in a few years. Professors who train young economists might soon see that it’s time to talk a different game.

Watch this video of an alternative proposition on accounting for the earth’s natural resources. A reaction to the movie reads: “You obviously do not understand free markets. Who is making green technology buddy? Its not the government. Its businesses in the ECONOMY that are creating green technology because it is PROFITABLE to do so.” But it seems to me that the tipping point for has moved forward. Various trends show that profitability as a focal point is being replaced by probability.

The mercantilist based economy is already soaring, even if we don’t recognise it as such. Take any crowdsource platform and what you witness happening is essentially mercantilist trading. We simply don’t use the word but, in true mercantilist fashion we’ve come up with individual labels as the replacement generic term.

Recently, Business Week dedicated an article to the virtual untraceability of millions and millions of small businesses. This is evidence that language wise there’s a gap. But it doesn’t mean that organizations of small traders don’t exist. In a subsequent article, they featured MerchantCircle.com which is an example of a company that fills the niche of grouping the individual businesses together. MerchantCircle is a kind of interactive Yellow Pages that exploits local to the max.

Small business owners (from around the globe) can register, claim SEO optimized listings for their business and what’s the best part; have their customers write referral reviews of their services. The company is very young, under one year, but already it’s thriving. Part of its success is due to MerchantCircle’s own brilliant use of word of mouth.

cream aidFor instance, it is getting bloggers like myself to write about them via the equally ingenious platform creamaid.com. This is another example of a mercantile miracle. Via CreamAid, you can kickstart writing for dollars without being mediated by a reviews brokerage. You pick a topic you were already thinking to blog about and join a conversation by submitting your blog post. The party you review pays you plus you receive traffic from a widget that publicises the conversation in which you’ve participated. One of my next posts will deal with paid blogging in the green sector.

February 21, 2008 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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