Go Mexico! Grist announced this very exciting news about the fate of monarch butterflies today:
Winging It Mexico boosts funding for butterfly protection
Millions of butterflies clapped their tiny wings as Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced a plan Sunday to curb logging and protect habitat for migrating monarchs. Mexico has already boosted anti-logging efforts, resulting in a 48 percent drop in illegal tree-chopping in the last year. Calderon hopes that additional funding to be put toward the existing Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve will boost tourism. "It is possible to take care of the environment and at the same time promote development," he said. Ooh, we're all a-flutter.
And just because it's perfect weather for listening to the Shins (cold and wet November dawns with no barking sparrows), here is a video that features those cuties with lots of monarch butterflies in Mexico:
Yes. I'm as bad as your neighborhood drug store--there are still Thanksgiving leftovers in your refrigerator and there's still quite a bit left of your long weekend, and here I am pushing you to go out and spend moola to revive our sputtering economy. Cue song.
I just ordered some decorations (I did my part for our GDP), and got to thinking about what I would hang the little lovelies on this year. Is the more sustainable choice a real tree or an artificial one? The image and lovely aroma of a fresh tree is definitely a warm fuzzy, however the good feelings exit quickly when these images flash through my mind.
I was pleased to read that there are many benefits to natural trees over artificial ones. Artificial trees are produced with petroleum-based products and require quite a bit of energy to manufacture. They also are often manufactured in China which means transportation from the factory to you produces a considerable amount of emissions versus your locally grown tree.
In contrast, real trees come from Christmas tree farms which means a lumberjack doesn't go into an old growth forest and chop one down. Christmas tree farms are usually cited in areas where not much else grows, so their time is put to use well lowering emissions before they come to be decorated in homes for the holidays.
While artificial trees can be used year after year, real trees can be used but once...or can they? For those in temperate climates with outdoor space, an option might be to go with a potted tree instead of a cut one.
For city dwellers who have but a square of fire escape at their disposal, most metropolitan areas have great recycling programs for trees---complete with mulching services that help nourish city parks. Earth 911 has compiled a great resource for this here. My personal favorite is Mulchfest in NYC. Can someone please turn this into a concert? Please?! How great would it be if your ticket was your sad old holiday tree? Mulchfest could give Coachella a run for its money, for sure!
Well, that explains the slew of green announcements! In all seriousness, that figure really surprised me as I reside in San Francisco and have to check myself from time to time when I think that the whole country is as green-minded as my neighbors and I. I guess I don't have to check myself as much as I thought.
In an article from Brandweek.com, Aveda's VP of Global Marketing " cited research showing eight of 10 Americans now believe that it is important to buy products from green companies. 'We’ve always talked about our environmental work to the trade, but now it’s time to start shouting it to a larger audience.'"
Aveda announced today a new initiative to green their already pretty green product lines. They will embark on a new campaign "Beauty is as Beauty Does" that will promote a different kind of greening practice the company has employed on a six week rotation.
The first order of greening is promoting Aveda's use of windpower-- a practice that has elevated then to become one of EPA's Green Power Partner Partnership Leadership Circle members (a mouthful--but an honor). Next up is packaging. Stay tuned--you'll see evidence of these initiatives through print media and in-store displays.
Those clever folks at Natural Resources Defense Council quietly launched a social networking sight called "It's Your Nature.org" a few months ago. The site offers a smattering of concert information and ways to email and text message your friends and is geared toward a Gen-Y audience. I don't see the services offered to be enough of a draw for me to sign up for another social-networking site, but it does have some good basic information on the front pages that I will probably check out from time to time. In general, NRDC is a good source of information on environmental issues.
To encourage more participation, NRDC is stepping it up a notch and offering a drawing for a guitar signed by Tunstall to any fan who installs the It's Your Nature widget by November 26.
On a separate social networking tip, a new Facebook application called Greenbook allows users to offset the time they spend on the site with carbon offsets. They source their offsets from a company called 3Degrees Inc.--a company that without hesitation, I completely endorse to bring forth good quality offsets. Greenbook also provides confirmation documentation of each one of their purchases. Here is some information on Greenbook's process. It was enough for me to click "install"!
I'm reminded of the following scene (sadly unavailable on YouTube) in There's Something About Mary (courtesy of IMDB):
Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs? Ted: Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the excercise video. Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7... Minute... Abs. Ted: Right. Yes. OK, all right. I see where you're going. Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store, you see 8-Minute Abs sittin' there, there's 7-Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you gonna pick, man? Ted: I would go for the 7. Hitchhiker: Bingo, man, bingo. 7-Minute Abs. And we guarantee just as good a workout as the 8-minute folk. Ted: You guarantee it? That's - how do you do that? Hitchhiker: If you're not happy with the first 7 minutes, we're gonna send you the extra minute free. You see? That's it. That's our motto. That's where we're comin' from. That's from "A" to "B". Ted: That's right. That's - that's good. That's good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with 6-Minute Abs. Then you're in trouble, huh? [Hitchhiker convulses] Hitchhiker: No! No, no, not 6! I said 7. Nobody's comin' up with 6. Who works out in 6 minutes? You won't even get your heart goin, not even a mouse on a wheel. Ted: That - good point. Hitchhiker: 7's the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that's the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch. You know that old children's tale from the sea. It's like you're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office. Ted: Why? Hitchhiker: 'Cause you're f***in' fired!
Carbon Harmony and Fiji water are making some big claims, but at the end of the day we need to keep a couple of things in mind. First, there are different levels of offsets, and Carbon Harmony is merely buying RECs from the CCX (explained in my interview with Native Energy), not creating new alternative energy projects or going out and planting trees. In other words, the company acts as a financial middleman, helping clients assuage their guilt.
Second, to borrow from Cradle to Cradle, doing less bad is not the same as doing good. That's one of several reasons why I don't like offsets. It's hard for me to get excited about a company like Carbon Harmony that's out there one-upping the competition when they're not really getting to the root of the problem, which is that events like Sasquatch and companies like Fiji, no matter how well-meaning the people behind them are, are still running on fossil fuels in an unsustainable way. Going to "carbon negativity" doesn't change that. For-profit companies will respond best to market forces, which is why we need to get past voluntary--and expensive--offsetting and start making it more costly to burn fossil fuels for energy than it is to run on renewable resources. Everything else is just a shell game.
He just stepped out of his first Tesla test drive. Per Ecorazzi, the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist's impressions upon stepping out of the vehicle were:
“I get into it and pull away from the curb……dead silence wow!!!!…. man it was unbelievable. it drove like nothing i have ever been in before, made my Porsche feel like a golf cart! It took off like a rocket ship, handled so sensitively, it was just amazing and fun and thrilling. I am so happy i went with my gut and bought that car. Yeah it is a long wait, but man, the thing is awesome. The silence makes ya feel like you are floating, and it just rocks, it was the funnest car, i have ever been in, with the possible exception of Hillel Slovak’s Datsun B210 in 1979, he was the only guy i knew who had a car, and we listened to lot of zeppelin in there….To enjoy driving as much as is possible in that Tesla, and to pollute nothing, no emissions, into the air, is a great great feeling.”
It looks like a beautiful union of beauty, brawn, and brains. Check out pictures and more info at: Ecorazzi .
Incubus just scored the EMA's Missions In Music award. In his acceptance speech, Brandon Boyd thanked his father for making him take five minute showers as a kid, his grandfather for making him and his brother turn out the lights when they left rooms, and Al Gore for making a film that "scared the poop out of him." We reported on Incubus' green tour back in August, check it out here. Nice job, gentlemen!
A few weeks ago we reported on the public debate that's ensued concerning carbon mitigation claims that go beyond neutrality (i.e. double neutrality)--in this case, it's carbon negativity.
Hmmmmm...Fiji Water announced it's goal to become carbon negative--a reactive move based on negative press about the transportation emissions associated with transporting their product from Fiji. I've noticed that Fiji water is quite often the water brand of choice for many large touring acts (yes, I'm a nerd and I notice things like that), so hopefully this will help the touring bands' environmental footprints (albeit, in a very small way)--although what they really should do is request filtered tap water--eliminating the plastic bottle needed to hold the water. I go that route with my beloved CamelBak water bottle. Additionally, Brita and Nalgene have partnered to bring forth the "Filter for Good" project.
Here is Fiji's announcement as reported from Environmental Leader:
Fiji Water, which has received a slew of unfavorable green press after being featured in a Fast Company article, is going carbon negative - not just neutral - beginning in 2008. Fiji says it will account for the carbon footprint throughout the entire lifecycle of its products and then, through a combination of reductions, “carbon-reducing land use” and renewable energy projects, will make the production and sale of each bottle of Fiji Water result in a net reduction of carbon in the atmosphere. Conservation International is counseling Fiji on its sustainability initiative, which includes reducing CO2 emissions associated with operations, purchasing carbon offsets to cover 120 percent of the emissions that cannot be reduced directly, and preserving the largest remaining area of pristine rainforest in Fiji. The plan will account for all product lifecycle carbon emissions from raw materials production through post-consumer handling of its products. By 2010 the company’s products, across their entire lifecycle, will deliver the following sustainability benefits (compared to a July 2006 - June 2007 baseline): 25% reduction in CO2 emissions 50% of energy used in the production process to come from renewable sources 20% reduction in product packaging 33% reduction in waste from the production facility in Fiji Fiji will work with ICF International to publicly report its progress against the above targets on an annual basis. Remaining carbon emissions will be mitigated through a portfolio of forest carbon and renewable energy offset projects developed with Conservation International. The carbon offsets will exceed total company CO2 emissions by 20 percent.
Well, here comes some more negative press....I have a huge problem with this. I think what Fiji has outlined is closer to a "carbon neutrality" claim than a "carbon negativity" claim. I had the esteemed pleasure of listening to Patagonia's founder speak at the Net Impact conference last week. He talked about the fact that they consider the entire life-cycle of the product during the design and manufacturing phases. As I've stated before, I'm still on the fence about what carbon neutrality actually means, but Patagonia's process is the first example that seems like a benchmark with some real integrity. So, while Fiji is doing a good thing and taking action, they might do better to further assess the claims they make publicly.
NBC is weaving the theme of green living through many of its prime time programs this week. Tips will be woven into dialog on sitcoms, the Deal or No Deal girls will be wearing dresses made from recycled fabric, and several stars will ride bikes to work. PSAs between programs will also advise viewers on tips in a more straightforward fashion.
Rebecca Carter over at the excellent Ecorazzi.com blog called out Linkin Park for saying the band was green but not providing any visible evidence at a recent show. Curiously enough, Mike Shinoda not only read the piece, but he wrote back with a polite response explaining his point of view. Civility on the internets! Involving a rock star and the press! And it's not even April 1! Read all the details here.