Archive for July, 2009

Walmart Changes the Game … Again

July 21, 2009

Last week Walmart raised some heart rates among manufacturers of consumer goods when they announced their plans for environmental labeling of all the products they sell. Walmart will give products a sort of “green rating” based on their environmental impact from cradle to grave, with suppliers having to calculate this impact for their own goods.  

Walmart is not the first retailer to dream big. In 2007, UK-based grocery chain Tesco unveiled its plan to include carbon labeling on each of the 70,000 products it carries. Working with the Carbon Trust, Tesco is developing these labels to let consumers know how many grams of carbon are emitted as a result of growing, manufacturing, transporting, storing, using and disposing of each product.  Two and half years later, the British supermarket giant has labeled only 100 products in four categories:  light bulbs, orange juice, potatoes and laundry detergent, with products in two more categories expected to soon join the ranks – toilet paper and paper towels. Tesco quickly learned that determining the environmental impact of a product over its lifecycle is no simple feat.

Walmart’s ambition is admirable, and as a consumer who cares about this stuff, I’d love to see such a labeling system – as long as the ratings are developed using a consistent, data-driven approach. The retailer has enlisted the help of universities, NGO’s and government to create a database of lifecycle information, but this project alone could take years. Walmart’s green rating system could prove game-changing for retail in the U.S., but it isn’t going to happen overnight.

And by the way … each sheet of Tesco’s regular toilet paper is accountable for 1.8g of CO2 emissions while their recycled-content toilet paper has a carbon footprint of only 1.1g!

Keep it clean AND green!

July 1, 2009

HPIM4972_tratada[1]With the recent H1N1 pandemic, significant attention has been paid to the importance of maintaining clean home and work spaces. However, did you know that many traditional cleaning products can actually have an adverse effect on health and productivity?

The toxic chemicals and volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) present in many cleaning products contribute to indoor air pollution, which the EPA ranks among one of the most serious environmental hazards to human health.

There are a few easy ways to protect your health and the environment by simply altering a few products and practices in your cleaning routine. First, switch to green cleaning products, such as those certified by Green Seal, and avoid the use of paper products, ozone-depleting substances, VOCs, and added dyes or fragrances whenever possible. You can also follow a few simple green cleaning practices to minimize pollutants in your indoor environment:

  • Focus on entryways inside and out, as most pollutants enter on people’s feet
  • Minimize particles and chemicals in the air by capturing pollutants with a wet mop or microfiber dust cloth
  • Focus on preventative measures and quick clean up of spills, so fewer and milder chemicals can be used
  • If harsher chemicals must be used, increase natural ventilation by opening windows and doors
  • Regularly vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture

For more green cleaning resources, visit www.greenseal.org.