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COP 15, Dr. Suess Style

23 Dec

A very interesting reflection on what happened in Copenhagen. Check it out! You will laugh and cry…

Dr. Seuss\’s Copenhagen by Marcus Brigstocke

7 Sins of Greenwashing

15 Dec

With the rise of the global environmental movement, citizens (=consumers) need to be responsible consumers. The seven sins of greenwashing, developed by TerraChoice has the purpose of “maintaining the pressure for truth and clarity in environmental marketing”.

Green-wash (verb): the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Risks of greenwashing (by TerraChoice):

If more greenwashing means that marketers are increasingly responding to the demand for sustainable products, this could be a positive trend. If left unchecked, greenwashing creates significant risks:

  • Well-intentioned consumers will be misled into purchases that do not deliver on their environmental promise. When this happens, the consumer’s trust is misplaced and the potential environmental benefit of his or her purchase is wasted
  • Competitive pressure from illegitimate environmental claims will take market share away from products that offer legitimate benefits, thereby slowing the spread of real environmental innovation in the marketplace
  • Greenwashing will lead to cynicism and doubt about all environmental claims. Consumers will give up on marketers and manufacturers, and give up on the hope that their spending might be put to good use
  • The sustainability movement will lose the power of the market to accelerate progress towards

Resources on green purchasing:

Responsible Puchasing Network:
My Big Green Purse:
Green Your:
The Daily Green:
Sustainability Purchasing Network:

Interface Leading the Way in Sustainable Manufacturing Practices

30 Nov

From: Interface

Interface is a global modular carpet manufacturer gaining attention for its move towards sustainability. The company has made it its mission (Mission Zero) to eliminate any negative impact Interface has on the environment by 2020. On its journey, Interface has picked up on cradle to cradle practices. To close the loop on manufacturing, ReEntry 2.0 was created. Under this program, InterfaceFLOR became the first commercial carpet manufacturer to recover nylon 6,6 for recycling into new nylon 6,6 for the manufacturing of new carpets. Their clean separation process, removes carpet fibers from backing to be reused in new carpets. In order to fully implement this process, Interface recovers carpets from customers who no longer want their carpets. By adopting this practice of recovery, recycle and reuse, Interface is moving closer to its zero waste mission while embracing its extended producer responsibility. In the words of Ray C. Anderson, founder of Interface, it’s about…

“closing the loop on material flows so that you have not only the basic organic cycle we’re all familiar with—the dust to dust cycle—but in an analogous way, a technical cycle that takes used-up products and gives them life after- life through the recycling process, so that no molecules are lost; everything stays in the flow, the material loop. All of that is basically emulating nature in an industrial system, and that remains our goal.”

What is Sustainability Anyway?

24 Nov

Sustainability. The notion of sustainability has quickly become integrated into the vocabulary of corporations, world leaders, environmentalists, and society as a whole – but what does sustainability truly mean? With no concrete definition of what sustainability is, and an established standard of how to measure progress towards environmental sustainability, this concept seems to lack the teeth required to really make a real impact on the world.

Perhaps one of the main reasons why sustainability has not become a driving force in today’s world is because there too many definitions out there with different visions and agendas. The lack of agreed definition, objectives, and path to achieving sustainable development has meant that the term “sustainability” can, and has been, stretched to mean almost anything. Sustainable development can mean all things to all people, which is probably why it has found such widespread support. Environmentalists, international government organizations, corporations, business associations and governments all endorse this concept. But what definition does each group subscribe to? Consider the following examples of different definitions various groups feel what sustainable development:

World Bank:

[M]eeting the needs of the future depends on how well we balance social, economic, and environmental objectives–or needs–when making decisions today.

Shell Canada:

Integrate economic, environmental and social considerations in our decision-making across all of our business activities. It means addressing both short-term and long-term needs.

Federal Government of Canada

To satisfy human needs and improve the quality of human life. At the same time, development must be based on the efficient and environmentally responsible use of all of society’s scarce resources – natural, human, and economic.

As can be seen, the above commitments to “sustainable development” not only have different focuses, but they fall short of concrete commitment and action required to meet the demands needed to preserve a healthy environment for future generations. Before society continues to use the term “sustainability”, it is crucial that an official definition for “sustainability”, and a standard to measure progress in sustainability be established. Sustainability must not only be incorporated into all aspects of life, but these actions must be aligned towards a common vision for it to be most effective.


24 Nov

Elephants eat a lot, and thus, poo a lot. Besides the lovely dung beetles and other pooper-scoopers, here’s how to close the loop for elephant poo:

  • ”Elephants and their dung can play a facilitative role for other organisms.” Three different species of frogs have been discovered living in the dung of the Asian elephant in southeastern Sri Lanka. For more information:
  • Elephant manure is highly prized by gardeners! Furthermore, according to Blake et al. (2009). Forest elephants: Tree planters of the Congo. Biotropica, 41(4):
    “Analysis of 855 elephant dung piles suggested that forest elephants disperse more intact seeds than any other species or genus of large vertebrate in African forests, while GPS telemetry data showed that forest elephants regularly disperse seeds over unprecedented distances compared to other dispersers. Our results suggest that the loss of forest elephants (and other large-bodied dispersers) may lead to a wave of recruitment failure among animal-dispersed tree species, and favour regeneration of the species-poor abiotically dispersed guild of trees.”

Protect elephants, and their poo.

Climate Change the Catalyst for War?

24 Nov

US researchers have found that in countries like Darfur, conflict is 50% more likely. With the strife from food shortage as result of the warming weather, the National Academy of Sciences have connected climate factors to conflict.

With the climate change talks coming around the corner in Copenhagen, issues like population increase and promoting economic development have to be addressed by all to mitigate the deadly effects of climate change. Since small shift in temperatures have monumental impacts on crop yield, time and resources must be put into initiatives to help developing countries adapt to rising temperatures.

Research leader Marshall Burke, from the University of California at Berkeley states that “investments in African adaptation to climate change by such steps as developing crop varieties less sensitive to extreme heat and promoting insurance plans to help protect farmers from adverse effects of the hotter climate”.

Silent Auction Fundraiser a Success!

21 Nov

Last night, the UWSP COP15 delegation held a silent auction at the STEP green fashion show ( in Toronto. While emerging fashion designers showed off their eco-fashions, UWSP members worked away at raising funds for COP15. All proceeds of the silent auction went directly to supporting the delegation. I’d like to thank Alice, Tyler and J of the UWSP delegation for all their effort and everyone else who helped support us last night. This fundraiser would not have been possible without your help!

A special thank you goes out to the following companies who provided us with donations for the silent auction. We greatly appreciate your support for our delegation and the environment.

Golden Hearth Baking Co.

 Exhibit Cafe

 Ten Thousand Villages

Mandarin Restaurant

 Kynk Naturals

 UW Retail Services

 Inti Crafts at 444 Bloor ST W, Toronto