Wal-Mart Goes Green

walmart store front

Guest Post By Jim Fitzgerald

Watching baseball’s first quadruple-play was strange. Seeing Wal-Mart go green
is stranger still.

First the baseball: The scene was a game of T-Ball, where everyone bats every
inning, regardless of the number of outs.

The bases were loaded when a line drive ended up in the glove of the pitcher.
While he wondered how it got there, all the runners took off without tagging
up. The pitcher ran to third, then second, then first.

We kept counting the number of outs and they did not add up. First in our heads:
That doesn’t make sense. Then on our hand: That’s crazy. Then our other hand:
It kept adding up to four outs.

It took us a while to believe what we saw right in front of us.

And now Wal-Mart, the original Black Hat, is going green. Or better said, sustainable.
Let that sink in because it is true. Big time.

So much so that Treehugger.com says It “could end up being one of the biggest
motivators to make truly ‘green’ products ever.”

As in the history of the world.

Wal-Mart has made believers out of not just the biggest environmental organizations
in the world — like the Environmental Defense Fund and the World Wildlife Federation
– but also Wal-Mart’s suppliers.

It started five years ago when Wal-Mart announced three goals: 1) 100 percent
renewable energy; 2) Zero waste; 3) Sustainable products.

Wal-Mart stores have already gone sustainable on dozens of fronts from shipping
to selling to storing to recycling. Last year, Wal-Mart saved 4.8 billion plastic
shopping bags.

That’s how they roll in Bentonville: Big.

Even the combined efforts of 8400 stores with two million associates doing $400
billion in sales every year was not enough: Wal-Mart figured out 90 percent of
the carbon was coming from its supply chain. So it reached down to all its 100,000
vendors — and their vendors and their vendors — and told them that reducing
carbon footprints — reducing energy — will save money.

Everyone knows that is what Wal-Mart is all about.

“And vendors are listening,” said Tom Rooney, CEO of SPG Solar in Novato, California,
one of the largest solar installers in the country. “We are seeing renewed and
intense interest in industrial- and commercial-scale solar because of Wal-Mart
and Proctor and Gamble and other companies are showing their suppliers how to
change their shipping, packaging, storing, selling, heating, cooling, disposing of,
recycling and other practices to squeeze energy out of the supply chain and save
money. And solar is a big part of that.”

Not that many need much coaxing: Financial incentives for solar today are so
strong that many companies are essentially getting free energy — and more –
by buying a new solar array from the money they will save from lower energy bills.
And having a big chunk left over.

Now on top of that, the largest companies in the world are saying solar and other
renewables have to be a part of their supply chain. By some estimates, 1 in 3
dollars worldwide is associated with a company that does business with Walmart.
So, if you shift Walmart and its suppliers, the global economy shifts with it,
says R. Paul Herman at hipinvestor.com. Or as the New York Times puts it: “because
of its size and power, Wal-Mart usually gets what it wants.”

And Wal-Mart wants renewable energy.

Earlier this year, Wal-Mart sent its vendors a 15 part questionnaire to determine
what their companies were doing to become more sustainable. Also leading the
effort is Wal-Mart’s “Sustainability Index.”

Scholars from around the world are gathering at the Universities of Arizona and
Arkansas to create this new measure of the energy created — and wasted — during
the life cycle of a product found at Wal-Mart.

It won’t be ready for at least another year.

“But that doesn’t matter,” says Rooney. “No one is fighting Wal-Mart or complaining
about the reporting that this new index requires. Just the opposite: They are
racing to outdo each other, and surpass Wal-Mart’s expectations. Right now.
Not next year. “

And why not:

In May, the world’s largest consumer product company, Proctor and Gamble, announced
its own, similar, sustainability program for its vendors. Joining IBM, GE, and
other corporate giants on the sustainability train.

The results are already showing up on the bottom line:

“Perhaps more than any other company, Wal-Mart has pursued this approach,” said
the Harvard Business Review of Wal-Mart’s new vision of sustainability. “The
payoffs are already showing up: One of the Sustainable Value Networks, tasked
with fleet logistics, came up with a transportation strategy that improved efficiency
by 38%, saving Wal-Mart more than $200 million annually and cutting its greenhouse
gas emissions by 200,000 tons per year.”

Wal-Mart: Not just for beating up anymore. Or maybe we are just seeing the world’s
first quintuple play.

Keep America Beautiful Month

Great American Cleanup logo

In 1953 a group of individuals formed an organization called “Keep America Beautiful” aimed at reducing the amount of littering on public lands, highways, and waterways encouraging Americans to take pride in America. It is the nations largest volunteer-based community action and education, group. Since it’s conception it really has grown in leaps and bounds with campaigns and promotions such as

  • Canine TV star Lassie appears as a mascot for an anti-litter campaign.
  • “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, the iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.
  • President Reagan endorses the Clean Community System.
  • Take Pride in America program, created to promote the wise use of public lands, begins with federal agencies.
  • “Close the Loop, Buy Recycled” U.S. EPA partnership
  • Web-based educational tools, including Clean Sweep U.S.A “Back By Popular Neglect” PSA campaign

Each April is Keep America Beautiful month drawing attention to the campaigns and research done by Keep America Beautiful and their three primary areas of focus: litter reduction, waste minimization, and beautification.

The only way to make a difference is to get involved. Keep America Beautiful invites you to join the millions of volunteers who participate in Keep America Beautiful programs nationwide. Get active with your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Connect with local businesses and government. However you take part, you will help transform your local environment into a cleaner, safer and healthier community.

  • There are 565 Keep America Beautiful affiliates throughout the country. If you want to help keep your community clean and beautiful please volunteer!
  • Join the Keep America Beautiful mailing list for emails on national programs, events, and good news network.
  • Donate to Keep America Beautiful to provide much-needed support for Keep America Beautiful educational and community programs.
  • Become a sponsoring business by supporting local community initiatives or nation programs
  • Volunteer for the Great American Cleanup

Great America Cleanup Campaign
Throughout the months of March, April and May, an anticipated 1,200 KAB affiliates and participating organizations nationwide will rally an estimated 3 million volunteers to hold litter and debris cleanups on public lands and waterways, host recycling drives, spruce up community amenities like parks and playgrounds, remove graffiti, plant trees, and community gardens, and host many more activities designed to improve the living environments that we all call “home.” The 2010 theme, “Green Starts Here,” is a rallying call that encourages volunteer groups, community leaders, and people of all ages and walks of life to begin creating more sustainable communities through their efforts as volunteers, and through their daily choices and actions. It also reflects Keep America Beautiful’s long legacy of community improvement activities. You can find volunteer locations at the Keep America Beautiful website

Source: www.kab.org

Eco friendly Eggs

three eggs of different colors

Around Easter, many eggs are consumed without a thought as to their origin, how the chickens are treated and how healthy the eggs from these farms are for us. Thankfully more people are becoming aware of the plight of caged chickens and the cruelty that lies behind the commercial factory farming egg production.

Battery Farmed Eggs
Eggs from conventional battery farms are produced from hens raised in small crowded cages, usually with multiple hens per cage. These cramped conditions prevent the chickens from engaging in natural behaviors such as wing-flapping, dust-bathing,
scratching, pecking, perching, and nest-building. Due to the cramped conditions and scarce food, fights are inevitable and so the birds are de-beaked to prevent the birds from harming each other during fights. This is a cruel barbaric practice that causes great stress to the birds and in some cases interferes with their ability to eat. There are also many other complications of keeping so many birds in confined conditions such as diseases (antibiotic use), mass culling of male chicks as they can’t lay eggs, laying hens may be forced to molt to increase egg quality (molting can be induced by extended feed withdrawal, water withdrawal or controlled lighting programs). The European Union will introduce an EU-wide ban on the use of conventional battery cages for egg-laying hens. This ban is expected to come into effect from 1 January 2012, hopefully, the US won’t be too far behind!

Free-Range
An alternative to battery farmed eggs is free-range eggs which are given outdoor access instead of being contained in
crowded cages. There have however been questions concerning the actual living conditions of free-range hens have been raised, as there is no legal definition or regulations for eggs labeled as free-range in the US. Many of the free-range hens are simply kept in barns, they are allowed limited outdoor access and there are still health concerns. Some free-range hens are given lots of outside access though so you just can’t be sure what you’re paying for.

Cage-Free, natural, organic and humane
Other standards of egg production include “Cage Free”, “Natural”, “Certified Humane”, and “Certified Organic.” Of these standards, “Certified Humane”, which carries requirements for stocking density and cage-free keeping, among others, and “Certified Organic”, which requires hens have outdoor access and are fed only organic, vegetarian feed, among other requirements, are the most stringent so look for these on your next trip to the grocery store. Be aware though that these eggs do cost more, personally for our household it’s worth it for peace of mind on how the hens were raised and treated to produce the eggs.

Alternatives

Instead of looking at commercially farmed eggs why not look for a local farm in your area that sells eggs? Even some suburban households have small backyard henhouses these days and have an egg surplus. Check out your local resources like Craigslist and farmers markets for locally produced and humanely produced eggs.

Packaging
One other thing to remember when looking for eggs in your supermarket is packaging. Instead of opting for the eggs wrapped in Styrofoam cartons look for ones in cardboard. Some manufacturers even use recycled products to produce their packaging to be sure to look for eco-friendly alternatives. If you buy your eggs at a farm or farmers market remember to save the cartons to return them the following week!

Sources: Image by pieceoflace at Flickr

Shopping for Eco-Friendly Clothing and Accessories

rack of clothing
Here are some tips for shopping green, eco-friendly, and responsible for clothing and accessories:
Select basic clothing and accessories made from organic cotton and wool. Look for fabrics like hemp and linen which come from naturally pest-resistant plants. Check with the manufacturer or retailer to determine how mush post-treatment was done to the fabrics. Bamboo has been grouped into the natural textile category with hemp, organic cotton and linen however a recent Wall Street Journal article indicates that bamboo is actually less “eco” and “sustainable” than it seems. The bamboo used in textiles has been heavy manipulated — they actually use the same process that recycles wood scraps into viscose or rayon (the journalist hints that bamboo fabric is actually rayon). Actually, the FTC sued some of the bamboo-clothing manufacturers in 2009 for false labeling.
Seek out wildcrafted silk. Naturally harvested silk is much more humane than the standard process. Poor silkworms…
Avoid synthetics all together like polyester and nylon. They don’t breathe and are made from non-renewable sources.
When possible, select unbleached clothing with low-impact dyes. Many clothing and accessory companies are starting to introduce more natural processing. Some companies to check out our Live Life Organics, Recycleatee, Kasper Organics, 3 Clothing Company.
Avoid fabrics treated with stain guards, water repellents, and anti-wrinkle agents.
Take your clothing to a greener cleaner for wet cleaning or CO2 cleaning.
Select vintage leather, recycled materials, faux leather, and cloth handbags.
Choose high-quality, long-lasting leather items if you wanted to choose leather. Avoid leather made from skins of endangered species (or all species if you’re dressing vegan). Try to avoid PVC accessories although the faux leather products available are often made from this material.
Do your research to find out which retailers use sweatshop labor and stop shopping there. Maybe even let them know why. Companies try to keep this information private so it is difficult to find out if they use sweatshop labor or not. Do keep in mind that even clothing “Made in the U.S.A” may not guarantee that workers were paid at least minimum wage in decent conditions. The U.S. Department of Labor found that 67% of garment factories in Los Angeles and 63% in New York violate wage and overtime laws. 98% of garment factories in Los Angeles have workplace health and safety problems serious enough to lead to severe injuries or death.
Select jewelry made from conflict-free, recycled, and sustainable materials.
And…  always bring your cotton tote to carry your purchases.
(Sources: Green Guide, Wall Street Journal, Vegan Peace)
N.Parkington

Going green with USPS

Living in the United States and recently visiting my local post office I noticed an inconspicuous box on the far left of the counter. I’m not quite sure what drew me to looking at it more closely, because it really wasn’t anything special to look at, no large slogans or fancy advertising just a rather ordinary looking box with colorful images on it. On closer inspection whilst waiting for the USPS clerk to finish my transaction I noticed the words recycling and that the box contained a large supply of what looked like small plastic bags.

Looking closer still at exactly what the USPS was offering, I was stunned! Free mail in recycling for small electronics! The envelope is USPS approved for the transport of cell phones, PDSAs, smart phones, MP3 players, digital camera or up to four ink-jet printer cartridges. Well the last part really drew my attention! I had used printer cartridges at home awaiting recycling, but the nearest collection point is the far side of town and I don’t go that way often, if I used this bag all I had to do was walk to the mailbox! The best part is that this service is FREE. No cost to the consumer! Awesome news indeed. The USPS website stats that these envelopes are available in select locations. Regarding this recycling scheme, state that they are:

Making recycling easy by mail. The mail is an easy and efficient way to recycle items so they don’t cause environmental harm.

We’re piloting a mail-it-back program consumers can use to mail their used electronic items such as PDA’s, cell phones and ink cartridges.

We are working with OSRAM SYLVANIA and Veolia Environmental Services to help consumers properly recycle used compact fluorescent lamps.

And Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Sprint are helping customers return empty ink cartridges, cell phones and other wireless devices, old computers and computer equipment through the mail.

This scheme follows closely with their green initiative. The USPS was the first mailing or shipping company to achieve Cradle to CradleSM certification for their packaging. Many of the containers in the USPS system are made from recycled
materials, and so are the stamped envelopes, post cards, stamp booklet
covers, and packaging materials they provide. Also their online click’n’ship service eliminates the need for customers to travel to the post office to mail letters and parcels. And as their website states “When you order a product on online, choose the Postal Service to
deliver it. We are already coming to your house 6 days a week so it’s
not an extra trip for us. Make the switch-have your packages delivered
by the Postal Service.”

It all makes perfect sense really! After visiting their website and seeing everything they are doing to help lower their global footprint and help me lower mine. I really wish that they’d make more of a big deal out of this service though as the in store promotion really isn’t that enticing, and if I hadn’t been right next to the envelope box I really wouldn’t have given it a second glance. So get the word out there, get to your post office and get recycling!

 

 

 

 

Natural Air Fresheners

image of pink flowers

Whether you’re trying to freshen up your house for guests or if you’d like to cancel out strong food odors from that delicious meal you just made, there are quite a few natural air fresheners you can use instead of chemical-laden commercial air fresheners.

FRESH PLANTS / FLOWERS
Live or cut, a bunch of flowers can add beauty to your space as well as purifying the air. They have been known to neutralize the air by removing the formaldehyde given off by furniture or kitchen cabinets made with fiberboard. Live rubber plants, azaleas, and bamboo palms are also thought to be able to do this. Some flowers are so fragrant that their scent will fill the air while they are in bloom. Gardenias, lilacs, lilies, and some organic roses smell lovely and linger.
LEMON
If you’re cooking vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage or fish, all which give off sulfur orders, use lemon to reduce the smell. Slice about six lemons and simmer them in a handful of cloves in a pan of water for ten minutes. Much better!
ROSEWATER
You can make your own sweet-smelling rose water by placing a few drops of rose oil in a small bowl of water and add a solubilizer (available in the cosmetics section of health food stores) one drop at a time. Float fresh rose waters on top and replace them as they brown.
POMANDERS
To add a natural fragrance to your closets and drawers stud oranges with whole cloves, spaced evenly and as close together as possible. Don’t forget about it once you put it in there and when you’re through with it, compost it.
SOAP
Aside from using natural chemical-free soaps for washing, they make excellent drawer fresheners too. Place them in with your socks, undergarments, pajamas for a clean fresh smell.
EUCALYPTUS
Eucalyptus appears in many products, from deodorants to shower gels to cold remedies. It is known for its sinus-clearing power. Simmer eucalyptus leaves on the stove in water to freshen the air and clear the sinuses. Put a sprig of eucalyptus in a room to freshen it for a couple of weeks.
VINEGAR
Vinegar can neutralize stinky smells, such as cigarette, strong cooking odors, and musty smells. Fill a glass dish with 1/2 inch of white vinegar and place in musty drawers or cabinets until the smell goes away. Make ice cubes out of vinegar and run them through your garbage disposer to eliminate odors.
ZEOLITE
This non-toxic, odorless volcanic rock is known to remove pet odors, cooking, and smoke smells, You can buy it at hardware stores in pouches or shakers. Hang the pouches in closets or basements or use the powder on spot odors.
(Ref: Martha Stewart, Home Keeping Handbook)
N.Parkington

Biodegradable Golf Balls

golf ball

Albus Golf, a company located in the Spanish city of Barcelona, had a mission: to design innovative and unique products with ecological and biodegradable features that improve the sustainability and biodiversity of marine life, in order to satisfy the sporting and leisure requirements of our customers and improve their environmental awareness. I’d say they achieved that mission with the invention of the biodegradable golf ball! Anyone who plays golf will know that hitting golf balls into the sea, rivers, reservoirs, and lakes is prohibited. This is because regular balls are manufactured using plastic materials which are highly polluting, they can cause the death of fish and other marine animals if ingested. What is more, because golf balls do not biodegrade, they will inevitably accumulate on the sea bed. Not any more thanks to the biodegradable eco-friendly golf ball!

According to the Albus Golf website:

“ECOBIOBALL is a single-use ball with a unique and exclusive design for practicing golf close to marine environments (sea, ocean, rivers, lakes and ponds).ECOBIOBALL is the first and only golf ball in the world which, after being used and subsequently biodegrading releases fish food.This is why we have defined it as ecological and biodegradable. Thanks to its innovative formulation, it starts to biodegrade immediately on being submerged in water. In less than 24 hours, its external coating starts to open, and in 36 to 48 hours the internal core, comprised of 100% fish food, is
released into the water, where it can be eaten by fish.”

The following photo from the Albus Golf features the Ecobioball 48 hours after submersion in water, as you can see the external layer has begun to be broken down releasing the fish food core into the surrounding water.

As I understand it these balls aren’t meant to be used on driving ranges, or golf courses where regular balls can be retrieved but to have the opportunity to practice close to marine environments without polluting them, and to bring an added value to such environments. Whilst I don’t play golf myself, I do know some golfers and they’ll be very pleased to know that now they can practice close to the water and be eco-friendly at the same time!

Check Out These Natural Dog Foods

bowl of dog food

Duck & Potato Dry Formula
Stay-Fresh Packaging. Limited Ingredient Duck & Potato Formula. Select Carbohydrates Include Potatoes, Oatmeal & Toasted Oats / Organically Grown Quinoa from South America. It sounds like an entrée at a fine restaurant, duck and delicious potatoes. But these are also a fine and delicious source of nutrition and make Pinnacle an excellent choice for active adult dogs. Good nutrition is about variety, and the variety of protein sources in Pinnacle – the duck, the potatoes, plus oatmeal, toasted oats, and the grain quinoa – means all essential amino acids are here. It also means that complex carbohydrates, essential for energy, come from a variety of sources as well.

Chicken Formula Dry Dog Food
Holistic chicken and oats formula. Stay fresh packaging. Include grapeseed oil, with no added allergens. Contains organically grown quinoa with mixed dehydrated vegetables. Formulated for both adults and puppies alike.

Trout and Sweet Potato Dog Food
Holistic trout and sweet potato formula. Stay fresh packaging. Include grapeseed oil, with no added allergens. Contains organically grown quinoa with mixed dehydrated vegetables. Formulated for adult dogs

Fromm Pork and Applesauce
A savory blend of hand-selected pork with fresh Wisconsin apples complimented with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans.

Small Breed Adult
Made by Artemis, Fresh Mix Small Breed is a scientifically formulated holistic puppy food made to meet the nutritional requirements of small breed puppies, taking into account their particular breed characteristics. All proteins are selected from USDA-inspected plants, and the inclusion of fresh meat in the formula enhances the nutrient profile and palatability. Artemis includes balanced levels of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids and herbs, which are vital for healthy skin, lustrous coat and maintaining and promoting natural wellness. Contains Yucca Schidigera extract, also, which reduces both body and waste odor. Fresh Mix is free of chemicals, preservatives, artificial additives and by-products.

Probiotics/Prebiotics are crucial for young puppies since they are preparing to transition from mother’s milk to dog food. Fresh Mix Small Breed PuppyFood contains Probiotics (digestive enzyme) and Prebiotics (friendly bacteria) so that the puppy’s digestive system will accept the new food and be able to digest all the vital nutrients.

Help Your Feline Friends Play Eco-Friendly Too

image of a cat

The majority of pets owners have either a cat or a dog or used to at some point in their lives. Cats are typically easier to go eco-friendly with because of the types of toys that they play with. Today I have some products to show you that will not only help entertain your feline friend but also help the environment out as well. Catnip toys can be quite a catch with cats :). A friend of mine who used to have five cats at one time used catnip toys for them all of the time. Take a look…

Yellow Fish Catnip Toy
Fish-shaped cat toy filled with only organic catnip. Cat gone fishin? At over 7″ long and completely filled with potent Yeowww! organic catnip, these fish are keepers! Filled with 100% organic catnip.

Apple Catnip Toy
Round apple-shaped cat toy filled to the seams with 100% Yeowww! organic catnip. An apple a day keeps the vet away! Be the apple of your cat’s eye. Filled with 100% organic catnip.

Barn Mouse Catnip Toy
Bringing the mouse to the house! West Paw Design’s newest mouse toy is made from durable faux suede and silky soft material with long curled ears, wispy whiskers, button nose, and a dangling leather tail. So soft and cute your cat may want to cuddle instead of pounce! Filled with certified USDA organic catnip. Comes in two different colors.

Kickin’ Chicken Catnip Toy
Old McDonald never had a chicken that looked this good! With long spindly legs made of cotton cord and a tuft of white faux fur hair, this chicken will hold a cat’s attention all day. West Paw Design’s durable corduroy material is generously stuffed with organically grown catnip and finished with a tinkling bell. Filled with certified USDA organic catnip.

Stinkies Catnip Sardine
Yeowww! Stinkies catnip sardine is a colorful eye-catching fish – a keeper, naturally – filled to the gills with 100 percent Yeowww! organically grown catnip. The catnip sardine is over 3″ long and jammed full of intensely powerful Yeowww! organic catnip. This little fish will reel in the big cat.

Slide Your Computer Mouse Onto Something Earth Friendly

image of a mouse on eco-friendly-pad

In the market for a new mouse pad? Mousepads these days are reasonably priced for the most part. Want to bring eco-friendliness to your mouse habits? Try using an eco-friendly mouse pad instead. They are still reasonably priced just as the not so eco-friendly mousepads are. Check them out, and help support the cause for a brighter, cleaner, healthier environmental future. Also, if you know of a local store that carries eco-friendly mousepads please share it in the comments section. It could help out the other readers. Thanks! We should try to help each other as much as possible, especially during these tough economic times. Every little bit counts every step of the way. Have a good day, everyone!

Tetra Pak Mouse Pad
Made entirely of recycled Juice Boxes. The plastic coating bonds the sheets together and viola! no glue needed. Random colorfulness makes these wonderfully unique and one-of-a-kind.

Fellowes Recycled Mouse Pad – Leaves
Earth-friendly mouse pad is made from 95% recycled tires, optical-friendly for superior tracking, non-skid rubber base protects desktop from scratches, durable and easy to clean. USA orders only.

Recycled Mouse Pad – Blue Ocean
Earth-friendly mouse pad is made from 95% recycled tires, optical-friendly for superior tracking, non-skid rubber base protects desktop from scratches, durable and easy to clean.

Scenic Foam Mouse Pad, Nonskid Back, 9 x 8, Sunrise Design
Colorful mouse pad works great with both optical and ball mice. Striking photo design will enliven your workspace. Non-skid backing keeps mouse pad still while you move.

Recycled Plastic Mouse Pad
Mousepads are made of recycled polythene bags and measure 7.5″ x 9.5″ (19 x 24.1 cm). Handmade in and fairly traded from India.

Not interested in earth-friendly mouse pads but want to encourage a healthy environment? Try one of these two mouse pads:

Blue Recycled Mouse Pad

Non-slip backing keeps the mouse moving while the mouse pad stays in place. Dimensions: 9.25″ x 7.75″. No minim order.

Handle With Care Mouse Pad
Non-slip backing keeps the mouse moving while the mouse pad stays in place. Dimensions: 9.25″ x 7.75″. No minim order.