Tuesday, 28 September 2010

No matter how good your detergent, green washing just will not wash!

When is ‘green’ too far?

At first glance, there appears to be little need for persuasion and debate about environmental issues. Ok, so you get a few skeptics who have their head buried in the sand (or oil if you’re in the Gulf). But pretty clearly scientific evidence of climate change and global warming has been accepted as fact by the government, the media and many consumers…you headless chickens in denial will one day catch up I’m sure.

We can pretty much assume that one key motivator is consumer concerns, which leads to the knock on effect where retailers and manufacturers are encouraged to introduce green products and even put their entire operations on a greener footing. Basically, in our capitalist world, companies have sought to take advantage of this eagerness for “green products” and many companies have prospered by seizing the opportunities offered by the growing green market. Pretty sweet for business…and it definitely helps the planet. But wait…what is ‘green’?

Unfortunately, the term ‘green’ is as nebulous as the term ‘low fat’; it can be interpreted and used in many different ways. For example a ‘low fat’ McDonalds might seem like a miracle to a fat fast food junkie…but to a fitness freak a ‘low fat’ McDonalds would most likely still mean certain death!

The term ‘green’ is no different, it can be applied to numerous product’s and manufacturing processes such as the protection of natural resources, minimisation of energy and water used in manufacturing, restrictions on chemicals, and reduction of resource consumption.

So what is a green business? A green business is any organisation that participates in environmentally-friendly or green activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit (Cooney, 2008). To put it simply so we can all understand it, it is a business that “meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs” (Anderson, 2006; United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 1987).

And even more simply…using resources at the same rate as the planet can break down and reproduce them. Aka Sustainable!! Sounds simple hey. But because of capitalism…it’s been complicated…

This is where green washing comes into play…and no it has nothing to do with cleaning green things.

Green washing is an environmental term used to describe a company that makes false claims about the environmental benefits of their products or services. In other words, it is the phenomena of socially and environmentally destructive corporations, attempting to preserve and expand their markets or power by posing as friends of the environment. Sound green?  



The tragic thing is the fact that green washing has been used by thousands of companies to gain more business and to present their company as environmentally friendly, and all because consumers want green...but sometimes consumers don’t actually know what it is they are buying. Why shouldn’t they trust them?

But the sad truth is that some companies lie and mislead their customers about their consideration to the environment, often through incomplete, distorted, or half-true information.  

Environmental products and services are increasingly being offered in the marketplace, and often we consumers cannot perceive the differences between green washing and true green credentials, meaning green washing is confusing our trust in green businesses and our buying decisions. So which product should we buy?

Honestly, if I had the answer to that do you think I would be writing it here?! No I would be communicating it to consumers across the globe. But unfortunately for us all, I do not have the answers…

I guess I could share one of my environmental frustrations though. Now before I continue I must say that I understand that the idea is going in the right direction…it is trying to help cut back on the dirty waste our society creates on a daily basis. Being biodegradable is fantastic revolution for this product. The problem is that I just can’t bring myself to see this as a solution.

So what am I talking about. Have you heard about all the ‘new’ cardboard boxes that are being made? Yes, the ones with seeds in them. The Life Box…you plant the cardboard box in the backyard and out sprouts some CO2 sucking greenery? How awesome is that?

Or not. I have a few issues with this…

1. One, think about how many boxes get used and chucked every day…where on earth (literally) would be plant all those individual boxes…that’s got to be worse than land fill. They even do some funk figures to convince us - 1-2% share of the cardboard box market in the United States could cover up to 25,000 acres of land per week…can you really picture people in the heart of London getting on a bus to the country ever week to plant their little box…I can’t.

2. Secondly, so say you buy a product boxed from Thailand, or Australia, or Brazil…your box gets shipped internationally and wait where is that seed form? Thailand? Australia? Brazil? ...should it even be shipped? Is this not the ultimate way to legalize plant trafficking of potentially invasive and devastating plants?

3. Thirdly, if you are anything like my parents then you would want to know exactly what is going to sprout out of that box, what if you don’t want a random invasive shrub or tree? Is the average garden even big enough for one Life Box tree or a load of Life Box trees?

4. Fourthly, what has happened to recycling?! Cardboard is easily recycled, saving the need for new resources, cutting energy costs and reducing waste…surely this genius plan will destroy recycling?

5. Fifth, these seed boxes are even available in disposable plates…if it were truly ‘green’ it would be encouraging people to use reusable plates…no disposable ones, even if a plant comes with it.

Ok, so I am having a little vent about Life Boxes, I will stop now.

But in my eyes this just seems like another very clever way to get people spending and buying more things that really they do not need. And also get people feeling less guilt about spending and buying things they do not need. It is also a clever ‘green’ way to get people thinking they are being green….aka green washing.

But no matter how good your detergent is, green washing just will not wash!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Breaking away from the serious stuff!

So I have come to realise that there is a lot of very serious talk about the environment, and I know even I can get a little over heated when I get going....environmental talk can also be downright depressing. So I thought it was about time I broke away from the serious stuff and brought in some humour - in the form of jokes and pictures. 



Do not panic...I did not write any of these jokes so there is a chance you may actually find them remotely entertaining. I've selected them form random online sources.


So Enjoy!

If you have any jokes you want to share post them below or find Eco-Strip Down on Facebook!


1.

Recycling!


A woman returned home after a shopping trip, and was horrified to find her husband in bed with another, younger woman. Just as she was about to rip her husband a new one, he quickly explained the situation:

“You have to hear about how this happened. While driving home, I saw this young girl looking poor and tired, so I offered her a ride. Since she was hungry, I brought her home and fed her some of the leftovers in the refrigerator that you had forgotten about. Her shoes were worn out, so I gave her a pair of your shoes that you don’t wear because they went out of style. She got cold, so I gave her that sweater I got you for your birthday that you never wear because you don’t like the color. Her jeans were worn and full of holes, so I gave her a pair of yours that you don't fit into anymore. Then, as she was about to leave the house, she asked, ‘Is there anything else that your wife doesn't use anymore?’"

The man still can’t sit comfortably.


2.

"According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet." --Jay Leno


3. 



4.


A woman called her husband during the day and asked him to pick up some organic vegetables for that night’s dinner on his way home.

The husband arrived at the store and began to search all over for organic vegetables before finally asking the produce guy where they were. The produce guy didn’t know what he was talking about, so the husband said: “These vegetables are for my wife. Have they been sprayed with poisonous chemicals?”

To which the produce guy replied, “No, sir, you will have to do that yourself.”


5.


6.
Princess and the Frog

”Once upon a time in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, sustainability-minded princess happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a protected meadow near her castle. The frog hopped into the princess’ lap and said: “Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am and then, my sweet, we can marry and set up housekeeping in your castle with my mother. There you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so.

That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on lightly sauteed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and organic onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself: “Yeah, right!"

7.




8.


“Al Gore said over the weekend that global warming is more serious than terrorism. Unless the terrorist is on your plane, then that extra half a degree doesn’t bother you so much.” –Jay Leno


9.

10.
For all you dirty minded people - this next image represents global warming from the 1800s to 2000 – all in PANTIES





11.


Finale 




How many people does it take to make a positive difference in the health of our planet? 


Only one – You. And that’s no joke.


Share your jokes with us on our Eco-Strip Down Facebook fan page!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

One Small Tree at a Time!


Take all look at the page...notice anything different? No? How about if I tell you to look at the top of the right hand column? See anything new?

Ok, I’ll tell you – see the new green logo? This blog is now carbon neutral…woooo! So what on earth does carbon neutral actually mean?

Our planet is facing a serious problem, pretty much primarily caused by the carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels - oil, coal, and gas.

But guess what!? There is good news - we can do something about it — like going carbon neutral. Going carbon neutral is an easy way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions we are creating every time we cruise in the car, jump on a plane, or switch on our laptop.

What do I suggest? Purchase carbon offsets to account for your daily emissions. A carbon offset is pretty much what it says on the tin – you pay someone else to make a positive CO2 contribution, which you can then offset against your own negative impacts.

 
More simply

if you add polluting emissions to the atmosphere,
-
you can effectively subtract them
=
by purchasing carbon offsets



You might be wondering why I am suggesting making an emission reduction else where…let me explain, carbon offsetting is based on the principle that, since this is a global problem, an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally. So at the end of the day carbon offsets do the job.

So what is a carbon neutral blog? It basically means some random person in thePlumas National Forest, US, has gone out and planted a tree for me. Awesome, Eco-Strip Down now has its own tree.


Ok, so we now know what carbon neutral means….so why do I care?

Apparently the average website causes about 0.02g of CO2 per visitor – so a blog attracting 15,000 visits per month contributes around 3.5kgs of CO2 to the atmosphere per year. The random study that calculated this took into account the power consumed by computer usage, electricity hours and server cooler systems. I know the figure of a mere 3.5kg’s a year doesn’t sound like a lot, but when we put this into a global perspective… there were  over 185million websites in January 2009 – you can do the CO2 math…but trust me it all adds up!
So why a tree? Basically, the UNFCC have calculated that each tree helps to remove around 10kg of carbon from the atmosphere every year. By using Ixpo (the people who planted a random tree for me…) I am offsetting my blogs CO2 impact.
I guess offsetting my blog is a tiny tiny pin prick in the grand scheme of things…but honestly every little helps…remember the saying – count your pennies and the pounds will look after themselves…it really works, everything adds up! When I was a kid I collected my pennies and then eventually I was able to get a pound that I always spent on a big bag of sweets! (I was a kid – sweets made me happy) At the end of the day the penny counting was totally worth it!

Why am I going on about sweets and pennies…because that is exactly how we can help protect the gorgeous planet we live on, every little thing adds up. Lots of little small steps has the same result as one big step!

Some methods to cut your CO2...are a waste of time - 

What little steps can we all make? Simple, easy and effect ways? Oh and save money too?

1. Transportation
Boy do we get around, we have cars, trucks, motor bikes, buses, boats, planes! Try getting of your butt and biking, walking, or if you are too lazy how about car sharing.

2. Energy
Wasting energy hurts nature and our wallets – being energy efficiency will give you lower bills as well as less pollution. Try two steps wear a jumper to cut your heating and choose energy-efficient appliances.

3. Food
There are so many people on the planet, simply feeding ourselves has led to all kinds of havoc. Try eating local food and only buy what you know you will eat before it rots – you’ll even save money!

It all sounds simple right?

One final questions…Why bother going carbon neutral?
Because we are facing a global problem, and we can help, it’s in our interest to help…we need a home too!  I am not on a cloud cuckoo land…well not totally! I understand that it is impossible to reduce our carbon emissions to zero, no matter how hard we try. But by trying to offset our impact by purchasing carbon offsets is a practical and affordable thing we can all do that will add up!

Monday, 10 May 2010

25% of our planet is a toilet that never flushes!



Before I start I feel the need to apologise in advance to anyone upset by this blog…however I am a heart less person and I am not going to apologise. But my heart does go out to nature and the animals you will see shortly. And quite honestly…I hope this does upset you, and I hope it upsets you enough to make you think and possible even help spread the word about the detrimental effects of plastic.

So what have I got against plastic? They say a picture paints a thousand words so I’ll say no more - see below –


Shocking isn’t it? This poor creature has spent its life trapped and confined within a human made plastic ring. Its internal organs are compacted and deformed as its poor little body has tired to grow around the constricting plastic. Can you imagine the pain? This little turtle and many other animals spend their whole lives like this…

I honestly had tears in my eyes when I saw this. Who do we think we are and what kind of sick species are we to inflict this sort of life on helpless animals? Can you imagine the up roar that would happen if a mother put her kid in a tiny plastic ring and forced it to go through life with the terrific pain of growing around a ring? 

Ok, so you think I am crazy making the comparison of child and a turtle…I will accept that it is a little wacky, but its made you think right?!

I was walking along a gorgeous creek in Wales recently and noticed a plastic bottle precariously perched on the edge of the running water. (I will bypass my frustration about the fact that some good for nothing tramp dropped it somewhere upstream and get to the point). If I hadn’t picked it up, it would have eventually been washed out to sea…that is pretty much a standard destination for our litter!

Once our trash gets there, it has plenty of places to go – there are five high-pressure gyre zones in the oceans: the North and South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. As plastic gathers in the currents each of these gyres have their own version of the Garbage Patch. Did you know that when put together, these areas cover 40% of the sea?!? Sickening isn’t it! Some random guy called Captain Charles Moore who has dedicated his life to help stop this says that these areas “Correspond to a 1/4 of the earth’s surface, which means 25% of our planet is a toilet that never flushes.” 

It gets worse…this giant toilet is a feeding ground to many animals…you only have to look in their belly’s to prove it!


So why do we so called ‘intelligent humans’ find it acceptable that products like children’s teething rings, cosmetics, food wrappers, cars, and textiles are made from toxic plastic materials? Why? Scientists even say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility . . . and worse…yet we still use them and let them get into the circle of life!?! What is wrong with us? Do we need more images like this to get us to change out ways? Why do we need to let things get so bad before we change them?

It does not take a genius to understand that none of our plastic problems can be fixed overnight, but the more we learn, the more likely that, eventually, wisdom will trump convenience and cheap disposability! How about we all try and learn from William McDonough who promotes the “cradle to cradle” way to life, in which all manufactured things must be reusable, poison-free, and beneficial over the long haul!

People, we have the power to make changes through our consumption, changes that will force companies to change their product offerings.

I have one last thing to make you think…the Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an expert on marine debris, has a staggering concept, one that really grasp our plastic problem –

 “If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig…you’d find a little line of plastic,” Is that really how we want our legacy to be remembered in history?

I do not think I need to say much more, other than -

Don’t be a lazy sheep just following the crowd dumping in the worlds largest never flushing toilet…CUT the Plastic!!



Wednesday, 28 April 2010

He who dies with the most toys....is just as dead!

I just had an epic adventure, with a car rammed full of rubbish I went on a trip to the local dump. You might be wondering how a dump could ever be epic…well, I am fortunate that my local dump has a kind of shop there, this is where the epic part came in. The way this dump works is along the lines of “One Man's Rubbish Is Another Man's Gold.” Basically they pull out the good stuff that people dump and sell it to other people, like me! You would be amazed by some of the stuff people chuck out. I managed to find a nearly new travelling rucksack in fantastic condition, it was in tacked with mosquito net, compact travel towel and waterproof case, and all in fantastic condition…and I paid a mere £2.50 for it! I am guessing that is a saving of about £100, pretty sweet.

This adventure led me to think about our society and our attitude to consumption and waste. It sickens me to think that someone took a rucksack that is in perfect condition to landfill. What were they thinking? Why didn’t they sell if or at least take it to a charity shop? Are people in our society really that lazy, and ignorant towards their consumption? I am personally a huge fan of charity shops –

1.     they stop waste going to landfill,
2.     they have golden treasures for sale
3.     at really cheap prices,
4.     AND they support charities!!
Win win win situation if you ask me!

But back to the point of consumerism. I think consumerism causes the disgusting wasteful use of energy and material far above and beyond our need for everyday living at a comfortable level. I really do wonder why we buy just for the sake of buying…you know what I mean…’retail therapy’… when you ask someone what they do in their spare time…and you get the response of ‘shopping and drinking.’ Oh dear, what is happening to our society, how can we have allowed shopping to become a hobby? It sickens me!

Looking around consumerism is economically evident in societies chronic purchasing of new goods and services, and most of the time we seem to pay little attention to the true need, durability, product origin or environmental consequences of the items creation, life span and disposal.


So what is it that drives consumerism? My guess is the huge sums that companies throw into marketing. It is designed to infuse society with a desire to follow trends, and give a personal self-reward system based on acquisition. This means materialism…buy buy buy…work work work…to just buy buy buy…oh and throw away is intertwined in this spiraling process.

If we think about it; without short life cycles and disposable products…we wouldn’t keep buying at such a staggering rate… So it is in the interest of the companies to encourage society to discard the old. As a society, we consume so many resources and products that go far far beyond our basic needs.

Think about how many ‘things’ you have….having fewer things will mean you can actually enjoy what you do have more, and actually have time to use it, which thereby raises its intrinsic value. In the words of Karen S.Magee –


“The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything they have.”



By cutting out the clutter in our surroundings, we have fewer distractions from the essentials such as family, friends, food, nature and study. Less clutter also means we need a smaller space in which to live comfortably. This has an awesome knock on effect; less required space means we need to work less to pay rent to store things…which means more time for the essentials and more time to enjoy what we have. 

I have a question for you - If you haven't used something in the last year, what is the likelihood that you will ever use it?

One way I look at consumption is that money is not the only way to measure the cost of an item. If we add up all the raw materials and energy that go into the goods and services we consume over our lifetime, the impact on the environment is staggering.
So what can we do about our impact? Buying quality products with full warrantees against failure or wearing out, learning about the materials that things are made of, their national origin and the conditions of the workers that make them, are some ways to help resist consumerism and waste.


What is it that I would like you to think about? When you’re shopping, just take a minute to think about what it is you are buying, do you actually need it, or do you just want it? And if you do just want it, why do you want it, who made you want it, what does it actually mean to have it, in reality will your life improve with it? If these questions still result in you wanting to purchase it, then think about the products impact on our environment, our resources – think beyond how and where it was manufactured, think about its lifespan, its impact, and ultimately think about its disposal. Finally, think about the alternative, is there a less damaging alternative product that will fill the same consumption need but have less impact?

Just THINK! Think about your consumption, your needs and you might even save money!