March, 2009

March 24th, 2009

Corporate America: the road to sustainability

Check out this article from the Organic Processing Magazine, titled Getting to Work on Supply-Chain Sustainability. (Use the arrow keys on the top navigation to scroll through the story)!

Mark Vasu reports on the steps, motivations, and benefits of tackling your company’s supply chain and implementing sustainable measures. In his discussion of the increasing rate of corporate climate responsibility across industry sectors, Vasu spotlights Climate Counts supporter Stonyfield Farm’s 25-year history and work to reduce its climate impact, as well as the story behind Climate Counts.

March 23rd, 2009

Be the change

This coming Saturday, the third annual “Earth Hour” will take place. Homes around the world will shut off their power for one hour, in the name of raising awareness about climate change. Helping people become more cognizant of climate change is a crucial part of tackling the climate crisis — “part” being the key word here.  Increased knowledge about our human impact on global warming alone won’t solve the climate crisis. Awareness efforts like this one can stimulate the conversation, but they must be coupled with real ways for people to act and reduce our collective climate footprint. Greener World Media’s Joel Makower (also a Climate Counts board member) captures this idea in a GreenBiz.com post today: “Taking Care of Business.”
And here’s a few ideas to help you put your knowledge into action:

- Shop consciously. Vote with your dollars. Use your purchasing power to demand corporate climate responsibility.
- Look at ways you can permanently reduce you footprint in your home, office, and throughout your community. (Our friends at Together.com and No Impact Man can give you a few ideas to get started.)
- Raise your voice. Start petitions; email company executives; contact your elected officials and local utilities; and tap expanding social networks like Twitter to demand industry action and government policy on climate. Make sure meaningful climate action doesn’t get overlooked amidst the current economic crisis.
- And finally, make what you’re doing known. By talking, blogging, and communicating about your actions to fight climate change, you can set a real example for your fellow citizens to make changes in their lives.

March 18th, 2009

EPA: out with the old, in with the new

After the EPA’s proposal last week for increased greenhouse gas reporting, the agency plans to dismantle a current green business program, deemed ineffective. The “Green Club” — a coalition, launched in 2000 under the Bush administration, includes hundreds of companies, which pledged to reduce their energy use and pollution.  According to this article in the Huffington Post, a recent EPA assessment found the program to be lacking in clear goals met with inconsistent progress. Specifically, the prevalence of under-performing facilities in the Performance Track prompted the EPA to close the program down. In March 10th blog we commented on the EPA’s new proposal to generate sound emissions reporting as a crucial first step. The next step for companies on their way to becoming leaders on climate is substantial action and concrete reduction goals.  With the Green Club on its way out, the door is wide open. What steps do you think companies should take? info@climatecounts.org

March 13th, 2009

Harness your tweet-power

Twitter and Facebook — they’ve been around for a while now.  But with the recent buzz around legislators, and political figures creating profiles and tweeting during congressional sessions, social networks have exploded.  These nets are no longer just a way to keep tabs on old college buddies or share ideas with your colleague two cubes down. They’ve become powerful tools of communication.  They help consumers and stakeholders across the board to stay informed of what’s going on in the country and around the world.  And, best of all, it gives you an outlet to speak — or rather, tweet — back.

However, a post from Forbes this week said company executives have yet to take full advantage of Twitter and Facebook.  Still, the tides are turning and the demand for corporate transparency is growing.  Whether it’s coming straight from the mouths of CEOs or other company reps, there are a number of large corporations popping up in the social networking world.  Check out this site as a good starting point to find and follow twittering companies.

As the Climate Counts team works to track the climate actions of these companies, we want to hear from you too! So follow us! Tell us about the climate news you see, company interactions you have and issues you care about.

March 10th, 2009

EPA bid boasts promise for GHG reporting

When it comes to tackling climate change, measuring your footprint is the first step. According to this Yahoo! Finance article, an EPA proposal released today would require US companies to start reporting their greenhouse gases in 2011! The proposal targets facilities housing refineries, automakers, power plants, and coal mines — which are responsible for 85-90% of the nation’s climate impact.

For more info, click this link to the EPA page.

March 9th, 2009

Green purchasing: the buck doesn’t stop at products

With tightening belts and economic anxiety, this Environmental Leader article reports on a recent decline of consumers buying green products. The article cites the bigger price tags on green goods compared to other brands as the reason for this downward trend. But when it comes to making green consumer choices, there’s more that consumers can do than to just buy products or goods labeled organic or a eco-friendly, and it doesn’t always mean buying over-priced products marketed as “green.”

At Climate Counts, we score the world’s largest and most well-known companies on their climate impact. We think even products not marketed as green can be considered “green” purchases when they come from companies that are serious about addressing climate changes. And in so many cases, these can be basic household items at the kinds of discount prices that cost-conscious consumers are looking for more than ever these days. Our scores are designed to help make your bargain shopping a vote for more than your pocketbook.

March 6th, 2009

Apple’s Green Awakening

If there’s one thing that’s clear from this moment in our political, economic, and cultural history, it’s that transparency matters.

Throughout the 2007 and 2008 Climate Counts scoring process, we found very limited evidence that Apple had made efforts to measure its companywide greenhouse gas emissions; implemented any meaningful plans to reduce its climate impact; shown support for climate-related public policy; or made any real efforts to engage with consumer and the broader marketplace on the need for corporate action on climate change (Click to read more).  Last October, we finally started to see some seeds of communication from Apple about their environmental impact and aspirations.  Since then, Apple has debuted an number of green products, included the much hyped “greenest laptop ever.” And this week, the company debuted its overhauled desktop line which now includes new hardware for Mac Pro, Mac mini, and iMac that exceeds Energy Star standard requirements. As this March 5 article from MacWorld reports, Tuesday’s product announcements were coupled with statements from Apple about their environmental agenda: where they’ve come, what they’re doing now, and some blueprints for future carbon reduction efforts. These are important steps for taking responsibility of their climate impact and setting a strong example for consumers and the broader marketplace that’s consistent with the company’s innovation in other areas that resonate with consumers.

Still, compared with other electronic companies, there are a few areas where Apple has been and continues to be absent. The company has not participated in climate policy or industry-wide climate pacts, like the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which most of its competitors signed onto. And Apple has still shied away from other partnership opportunities, like the recent deal announced by several large electronics companies to create a universal cell phone charger which will save energy and raw material waste.

Nonetheless, Climate Counts applaud Apple’s recent moves, communication and commitment to tackling climate change. …And of course, we look forward to what the future holds.

March 5th, 2009

Flushing out the climate truth

While people might be wary to air their dirty laundry in public, when it comes to bathroom products, the rules don’t apply.

Several recent news outlets, like this Feb. 25 New York Times article, have been discussing the environmental degradation caused by the production of toilet paper made from virgin materials, as opposed to post-consumer recycled fibers.

The report states, “Although brands differ, 25 percent to 50 percent of the pulp used to make toilet paper in this country comes from tree farms in South America and the United States. The rest, environmental groups say, comes mostly from old, second-growth forests that serve as important absorbers of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. In addition, some of the pulp comes from the last virgin North American forests, which are an irreplaceable habitat for a variety of endangered species, environmental groups say.”

According to the article, most companies believe the feel of toilet paper made from recycled paper would not make the consumer cut.  But, in a blindfolded test, discussed in today’s No Impact Man blog post, Fox news host Bill Hemmer opted for the recycled TP over a roll of Charmin. The blog post also pointed out that the cost for producing eco-friendly vs. virgin fiber toilet paper is comparable.

While it’s not good news that these companies are still making products in ways that cause significant environmental harm, these reports do show that consumers have an incredible power and influence over business.  When consumers communicate a demand, companies listen and work to supply that demand.

At Climate Counts we aim to give consumers the low-down on companies’ climate impact to help consumers raise their voice and tell companies that climate change is important to them. Check out the Climate Counts scores for household product companies Kimberly-Clark (makers of Cottonelle, Kleenex, Scott and Viva) and Procter & Gamble (which owns Charmin). Use our email petitions to let those companies know that you think Climate Counts.

March 2nd, 2009

In a recession, tech gadgets become luxury

This CNN article reports that when it comes to electronic goods, consumers are becoming more and more thrifty of where and how they spend their cash.

Greenest thing you can do as a consumer of electronics? First, make sure you’re buying it from a company that takes climate change seriously. Next, keep your gadget in use as long as you can. A great example of how an unintended effect of the down economy is that people will make choices that are better for the planet.

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