Tips to Avoid CE Greenwashing

CE Pro magazine, a publication specializing in (you guessed it) consumer electronics and the custom installation professionals that sell, install and service them, recently published the “7 Deadly Sins of Greenwashing”. As “green” has become THE buzz word in recent years, more and more companies are (knowingly or innocently) participating in greenwashing practices: “making false of dubious claims about whether a product of service is green, or how green it is.”

CE journalism vet Steve Castle provides some great “Don’t!” tips for companies looking to manufacture or tout their environmentally-friendly (or not) products and services.

  • Hidden trade-offs: Don’t focus on one thing, like energy efficiency, and disregard another, like a product’s toxicity.
    Every little bit helps, but to claim true “green”, we are talking more than just the color!
  • No proof: You should have a third-party review of your claims.
    You’ve watched Law & Order, right? No proof = no case.
  • False claims: Don’t lie.
    Remember, everything we (should) know, we learned in kindergarten.
  • Vagueness: Don’t stretch the truth with claims like “all natural” that includes naturally occurring mercury, for example.
    PR professionals, take heed. Oh wait, that’s us! Note taken.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Don’t say, “Sure it’s toxic, but it’s also energy efficient!”
    HA! Yes, that is a joke and dangerous for company.
  • Irrelevance: Don’t take something good, like LED lighting, and make its ecological virtues irrelevant by overusing.
  • Label Worship: Anschel cites the NAHB’s “Green Approved” product label as one that is available to many products and does not indicate a green certification.
    There are a number of resources and certification programs… The bottom line is be smart and stay true to the underlying goal – to create products and services that are more environmentally friendly to protect the Earth’s resources and natural state.

Great tips to follow to ensure you and your company are not inappropriately capitalizing on this tempting trend. The penance for these sins could be severe.

Posted by: Katie | follow @katieshort on Twitter

Back to College: Campus and Academic Guides for Sustainability

I can’t believe it is August. Summer has flown by and “Back to School” readiness and promotions are well underway. While some college students prepare to report to class and campus, high school-ers are looking look to narrow their scope of institutions to apply to. Over the past few years, more and more students are looking at higher-learning institutions that breed environmental awareness, and offer curriculums and policies that parallel their green ideals. The Princeton Review and Kaplan College Guide, two well-respected and long-time resources for college-goers everywhere have releases their annual lists of ranked colleges and professions, now specifically dedicating ratings for environmentally responsible colleges and careers.

Kaplan, know for its preparatory testing and comprehensive guide books, now offers a list of the top 25 “green schools and professions” based on a range of criteria including: environmentally responsible campus projects; initiatives and courses offered; organizations and student groups on campus; and achievements noted in the Sustainable Endowments Institute’s College Sustainability Report Card 2008. Kaplan’s list highlights schools whose “efforts reflect a commitment to long-term sustainability and to encouraging students to make better choices”. Kaplan also offers a listing of the 10 hottest green careers that compares undergraduate students’ selections with growth of global industry.

The Princeton Review takes its research a step further, by assigning actual rating scores (60-99) to surveyed institutions based on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, transportation, and academic offerings, among other categories. The Princeton Review JUST released its second annual 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll that was developed in cooperating with ecoAmerica, the Reviews rating project examined three main criteria:

  1. healthy and sustainable quality of life on campus;
  2. school’s aptitude of preparing students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges;
  3. and, overall commitment to environmental issues.

If you, or a student you know, are looking for resources to begin researching sustainable careers and institutions, take a look. Also, two thumbs up to neighboring Massachusetts who had 3 colleges/universities achieve top rankings on each of the lists. Keep up the good work and share your secrets with Rhody!

Posted by: Katie

Simple, White, or Ornate… The wedding can still be green.

Nothing says excess like a wedding. Amongst my group of 30-somethings there are a slew of brides-to-be planning away and most have opted for the path more extravagant and less eco-friendly. From the always-a-bridesmaid, never-a-bride blogger who cannot imagine the to-do-lists of a bride, the excess does become a bit overwhelming. But, it is refreshing to find that brides who are looking for more simple or simply more environmentally conscious options, have an equally long list of solutions from which to choose. Every last detail, from ceremony to the dress (did you know Project Runway winner Christian Siriano does indeed design ‘green’ wedding gowns, without the Kelly hue?), to the favors and invites, is offered in a number of classic, environmentally-friendly options when planning your nuptials.

Even if a wooden ring and all-natural celebration is not quite what you are looking for, there are some eco-tips that can also serve as common sense reminders that will save guests and vendors from unnecessary hassle.

  • Website: Keep paper usage (and printing costs) down by aggregating all event information on one wedding site. It is a great reference for guests for all-things-wedding and offers great personalization options, including “story about us”.
  • Recycled Paper: Assuming digital invites is not an option, recycled printing materials (and ink) offer a great option. It’s a no-brainer for the environment and some materials offer their own stylized enhancement.
  • Confetti: What was once rice, became confetti and bubbles. If you do not want to break ritual but are concerned for the environment, look for water-soluble, biodegradable confetti. No harm done and no cleaning.
  • Transportation: Minimize the amount of driving guests do by planning mass transit between the ceremony and reception. In the city, you will save them $$ on parking, and create great group photo opps.
  • Registry: In addition to selecting items that complement your lifestyle, do not register for unnecessary items. Guests may be better served giving donations in your name.
  • Flowers: Locally grown flowers and bridal bouquets can still be gorgeous.

I thought I’d share my favorite web find – Great Green Wedding ideas and directory

Posted by: Katie

Celeb Jet-Setters, Not Exactly Walking the Eco-Walk

To preface, I do not believe in “all or nothing”. I understand that there is a balance somewhere in between dedicated environmentalists and blatant eco-ignorance. Every little bit helps, right?! So, while I normally think “hypocrite” is too strong of a descriptor for most people, I have to nod to Private Jets Magazine’s recent article noting “9 hypocrite environmentalist celebrities”. Wow.

Interesting that a publication whose jet-setting readership and advertising patrons likely includes some of the celeb clients the article calls out, but hey! Take a look at the environmental negligence allegations against some of the most “dedicated” and out-spoken eco-friendly (or so we thought) celebs:

  • The Truth is Very Inconvenient for Al: Al Gore was the poster child for global warming, right?! Wrong. “Gore’s 20 room, 8 bathroom mansion consumes more electricity in a month than the average American household consumes in an entire year.  His natural gas bill averages over $1,000 a month for his mansion and guest house.  Add in the private jet charters to accept various awards and attend debuts of his documentaries and Mr. Gore may have to denounce himself soon for his impact on the environment – right after he gets that patent for the little thing he invented called ‘the internet’.”
  • Madonna: In addition to the gas-guzzling automobiles in her garage(s), the carbon dioxide produced from the travel of her private flights on her latest “Confessions” tour exceeded 440 tons (compared with the average CO2 emitted by an individual of 10 tons per year).
  • Travolta’s Jet Obsession: The licensed pilot owns five private planes.  During one of his intercontinental trips, Mr. Travolta landed his plane to refuel in Ireland and it was revealed that he was the only person onboard the 150 person capacity jet. 
  • David and Victoria Beckham: With over fifteen cars between them, their international jet-setting tallies over 18 tons of CO2 per year. 
  • Tom Cruise: Private jets = family taxis

I understand that there are places to go and people to see, but there must be a way to off-set some of these excessive behaviors and means of travelling. Maybe John should become a commercial pilot in his down-time, or Al reevaluate his home to employ an energy-efficient automation system and products? These allegations and emissions calculations are staggering

Here at GLSL, we do not believe in sacrificing your entire lifestyle, but slight behavior modifications (in these cases) might not be too much to ask. There is a vast land of happy medium that these “environmentally-friendly” celebs need to explore.

Posted by: Katie