Skip to content
July 13, 2015 / Elizabeth

Renewable Energy Certificates: What They Are and What They Can and Can’t Do

When it comes to clean, renewable energy, the language can get confusing. In the tradition of Salt-N-Pepa, here I will attempt to break things down. Without further ado, let’s talk about RECs, baby!

By Kegan Gerard

solar and windInvesting in renewables makes sense. From an economic standpoint, Bloomberg is now forecasting that wind energy will become the cheapest new energy globally by 2026, before passing that title to solar production in 2030. This is great news, considering that poor air quality associated with traditional energy sources like coal will lead to an estimated increase of 57,000 premature deaths annually by 2100, according to a new report from the Obama administration. Not to mention all the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere as a result of burning fossil fuels.

Businesses, then, have any number of incentives to fuel their operations with renewable energy, with companies like Tesla leading the way to net-zero energy consumption.

Not everyone, however, has the resources to complete a solar installation comparable to Tesla’s “Gigafactory.” Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) can offer these organizations a way to commit to a renewable energy future.

Whats a REC and what can it do?

A Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) is a tradable tool used by organizations to represent the environmental, non-power qualities of a unit of energy. Think of it as a permit to claim the “green-ness” of a given energy source, with each REC certifying the generation of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy.

This “greenness” claim can then be useful for a company, either to meet its own sustainability goals, or to meet the terms of federal Renewable Electricity Standards (RES).

Not All RECs are Created Equal

With a REC essentially representing the green aspect of renewable power, it can either be sold in a “bundle” with the power itself, or “unbundled” and sold independently. This, for many, is a hard distinction to understand, so I’ll break it down.

When 1 MWh of energy is created from a renewable source, like a solar array or wind turbine, there are two components to this: the actual electricity itself, and the claim of being produced in a “green” way. As the electricity generated from renewable sources is physically indistinguishable to electricity generated from dirtier coal and natural gas, the electrons themselves aren’t inherently green.

With “bundled” electricity, energy is sold to the customer along with the claim, the REC, that the energy was produced in a renewable fashion. In this setup, the power provider and buyer are located in the same power grid, so that produced green electricity can be delivered to the REC buyer.

Conversely, the REC and electricity generated can be sold separate from one another, with one business buying the use of that electricity and another buying the REC. To avoid “double-counting,” only the owner of the REC can claim the greenness of their energy.

Why does this matter?

Outside of reducing carbon emissions to curb climate change, one of the biggest advantages of renewable energy is its potential to grow local industries and improve regional air quality. This is key, because new investment in solar, wind, and other clean-energy technologies can both stimulate new jobs as well as decrease a region’s healthcare costs. Unbundled RECs, however, take away much of this opportunity. Here’s how:

As bundled green energy requires the power to be sourced within the same power grid, demand for the green alternatives increases. More businesses buying bundled green energy sends a message to local power providers that the community is invested in renewable energy. To meet this demand, local utilities increase the share of their energy sourced from renewables in order to supply more bundled RECs.

Conversely, unbundled RECs can often be purchased from states on the other side of the country. While this may still sound okay—”A REC is better than no REC, right?”—it fails to incentivize local power providers to provide green energy at a level comparable to bundled RECs. Think of it this way: if power providers can continue to generate high profits from coal or natural-gas sources, they may believe they have little economic incentive to spend additional funds to incorporate renewable technologies in their regions. High local demand for green, bundled RECs shifts this slope in favor of renewables.

Understanding Renewable Energy Claims

Many companies may claim to be “carbon-neutral,” or committed to investing in renewables. However, this may mean that they are simply buying unbundled RECs to meet arbitrary standards.

As consumers, it’s important that we stay informed and know how to read a company’s marketing claims about its renewable-energy commitments. Take Amazon for instance. It claims that its GovCloud web hosting service is carbon neutral, all the while sourcing much of the power for its data centers from dirtier coal-based utilities and buying unbundled RECs to make up its green “cred.” In doing so, it deprives the region’s communities many of the jobs and environmental benefits that new renewable investments have the potential to bring.

It’s important for consumers to continue to call for renewable-energy creation to replace dirty energies like coal, natural gas, and nuclear. At the same time, we need companies to demand renewable energy as well so that utilities will transition to cleaner sources of power like wind and solar. Bundled RECs, in the short term, can help quantify demand for renewable energy. In the long term, as more and more companies shift to sourcing 100% renewable energy directly, the RECs will no longer be needed.

July 13, 2015 / Elizabeth

Amazon Campaign Download (Version 1.0): AWS Announces Solar Farm in Virginia

By Kegan Gerard

Green Data centerSince we launched our Amazon: Build A Cleaner Cloud campaign on June 9th, the company has made some progress on the renewable energy front—announcing plans for an 80 MW solar farm in Virginia. This development proves that consumer pressure on Amazon works! And while Amazon’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services (AWS), still has a long way to go to become a truly green hosting option, Green America welcomes this step in the right direction.

Over 23,000 Green Americans have joined us in calling on AWS to keep pace with other industry leaders and power its operations with the renewable energy sources of the future, but, together, we still have a ways to go.

As it stands, AWS is one of the few Fortune 500 companies that has failed to publish a sustainability report, which would allow customers to track the company’s progress on climate change and other key metrics, as well as hold the company accountable to meeting its announced goal of using 100% renewable power. (The company has not yet set a date by which it intends to reach that goal.)

With clients ranging from Netflix to the CIA hosting their information on its servers, AWS’s reach extends deep into each of our lives. As the single largest provider of cloud-computing services, AWS is in a position to drive renewable development forward and reduce many of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with data center operation.

AWS’ east coast operation, US East, only acquires six percent of its energy from renewable sources—even accounting for its new Virginia solar plant—according to recent Greenpeace estimates. The rapid growth of cloud computing is only expected to continue, and companies like Amazon must switch to renewable energy sources to curb rising temperatures that threaten communities and ecosystems worldwide.

On June 25th, Green America teamed up with representatives from Greenpeace to speak directly with AWS customers at the company’s GovCloud conference in Washington, DC. GovCloud customers, including government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits, are in a perfect position to use their buying power to pressure on Amazon to make changes that influence us all. Green America will continue our work to educate and mobilize communities about AWS until it accomplishes these three, crucial steps:

  • Commit to increasing the share of renewable energy powering data centers to 100% by 2020, and cease the construction of new data centers that rely on coal-fired power.
  • Submit complete and accurate data to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
  • Issue an annual sustainability report following Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines.

Consumer pressure on Amazon works. In the last year, the company has committed to clean energy sources, including wind and now solar. To continue pushing Amazon to achieve the three recommended steps, Green America needs your support. If you haven’t yet, join us in calling on Amazon to build a cleaner cloud—one that is powered by renewable energy. We’ll keep you updated on our progress, so stay tuned for any new developments!

July 9, 2015 / Elizabeth

Notes from the Hill: The Impact of Pesticides on Pollinators

By Anna Meyer

Yesterday Center for Food Safety hosted a congressional briefing on the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators. Neonicotinoids (neonics for short) are a class of pesticide developed from nicotine that pose numerous risks to pollinators and our environment. It is pretty likely that you have heard of this pesticide before. In recent years this class of pesticides was linked to major declines in both bee and monarch populations.

Bumble beeWhy does this matter? Bees alone are responsible for pollinating one in three bites of our food and well biodiversity is important and keeping species alive is a key part to keeping our environment functioning. But it turns out that neonics have a much greater impact than just to the pollinator populations; in fact, they impact soil health, insect species, bird populations, and bodies of water. Neonics are unique in the sense that they are most used not as an aerial spray but rather as a pretreatment to seeds. Companies coat seeds in the pesticides so it can ultimately be taken up through the plant.

Just how pervasive are neonics in our agricultural system? Disappointingly, that is actually quite a bit challenging to answer because the government does not have any central information that tracks the use of neonics. Researchers out of Pennsylvania State University have delved into this issue and found that despite the fact that these pesticides were
introduced in 2004, recent data shows that between 79 and 100% of corn and 34-44% of soybeans are pre-treated with neonics. These two crops along with cotton and wheat make up cropland with pre-treated seeds the size of California.

What makes them so harmful? Neonics present a triple threat with characteristics as neurotoxic, systemic, and long-lasting chemicals. What this means is that neonics move through the plant system, while they are only applied to the seed the
pesticide is taken up through the roots into the entire plant. Due to the quality of being long-lasting they have the ability to accumulate in our soils and waters. Particularly at risk are habitats surrounding fields planted with neonic coated seeds multiple seasons in a row. Most disturbingly, neonics are a neurotoxin that can move up the food chain through bio-accumulation (sort of like mercury in fish). Smaller creatures such as slugs snack on the toxin coated seeds; and while they fair okay, their natural predators beetles suffer the effects. Doesn’t sound to good now does it? To make things even worse 94% of neonics applied to seeds seep into the environment.

So why use them? A very legitimate question and there really isn’t a logical answer. It turns out that prior to the introduction of neonics there was very little use of insecticides in corn and soy. In 1996, biotech companies introduced Bt self-produce an insecticide protein within the plant, theoretically removing the need for insecticides; but the use of neonics continues to rise. Yet, there is very little evidence that the neonic seed coatings provide any benefits to farmers. The problem is that farmers don’t have much choice in the matter as seed companies control the use of this pesticide as a seed treatment and offer farmers little in the way of neonic-free alternatives. More often than not neonics serve as a sort of insurance policy for farmers, a backup plan if you will, in case of the failure of Bt and other insecticides.

Well then how do we make it all better? Interestingly enough, pollinator health tends to be a subject matter that crosses party lines and one on which both sides can find common ground. Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced a bill to address pollinator health, H.R. 1284 Saving America’s Pollinators Act of 2015, calling on the EPA to take direct action to address the impact of pesticides on pollinator health. Other policy solutions involve greater support for integrated pest management (IPM), which encourages farmers to use a variety of methods to control pests better protecting human and environmental health. IPM can be promoted through government incentives and regulatory procedures through existing programs. It is key that the proper education and research is provided in order to encourage best practices and put an end to existing inefficient and destructive pesticide practices. As Rep. Coyners put it, we must act now to protect our flying friends who play an enormous role in our global food system, bees cannot wait.

June 30, 2015 / Elizabeth

The End of Chocolate?

Chocolate Too Cheap to Be Sustainable. Farmers Making as Little as 50 Cents Per Day. Inadequate Responses Mounted So Far to Address Very Serious Problems.These are the findings of our new report: The Cocoa Barometer

Cocoabarometer2015_2Our new report, available online at, is being released as cocoa industry representatives gather in Washington at the World Cocoa Foundation conference to discuss ongoing sustainability projects.  I will be in attendance as well, calling on companies to do more.

The Cocoa Barometer found that unsustainably low cocoa prices – made possible by extreme poverty among West African cocoa producers, with farmers in Ghana earning as little as 84 cents per day, and Ivorian farmers earning only 50 cents per day – could jeopardize the future of chocolate, since young farmers are not replacing the current aging generation. Together, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire produce more than 50% of the world’s cocoa supply.

Additional key findings in the 2015 U.S. edition of the report include:

  • Low incomes. West African cocoa farmers live well below globally defined poverty level of $2 per day. The lack of a decent livelihood for cocoa farmers leads to bad labor circumstances, human rights violations, and many other problems in the cocoa supply chain, including child labor.
  • Cocoa no longer offers an attractive future. Increasingly, younger generations of cocoa farmers are leaving cocoa, and older farmers are nearing the age of life expectancy.
  • High market concentration leads to greater farmer exploitation. Mergers and takeovers have resulted in just a few companies dominating up to 80 percent of the whole value chain, while farmers lack a sufficiently organized voice to be strong actors.
  • Certified chocolate production continues to increase globally, from just 2 percent reported in the first Barometer in 2009, to almost 16 percent of global chocolate sales in the 2015 “Cocoa Barometer.” The Barometer also indicates that there is far more certified cocoa available at the moment, than is being purchased on certified term. However, with the mainstreaming of certification, the challenges of certification are also increasing. Improvements in certification are needed, especially concerning impact on the ground, the quality of auditing, and unrest among farmers about low payments of premiums.
  • Current approaches won’t solve the problem. Most corporate sustainability efforts focus on increasing a farmer’s productivity. However, increasing yields must be coupled with an increased cocoa price for farmers. This means that chocolate needs to become more expensive. Crop diversification, tenure security, better infrastructure and access to information for farmers are also needed.

The report contains the following recommendations for action:

  1. Develop a living income model for smallholder cocoa farming.
  1. Address the price-setting mechanisms in order to increase prices at farm-gate level.
  1. Move from voluntary to mandatory sector-wide solutions.

Cocoabarometer2015_3Around the world, child labor is a symptom of extreme poverty and limited opportunity. In order to prevent children from working in dangerous settings, we must ensure that farmers, including women, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, are earning enough to harvest cocoa sustainably. All players in the cocoa value chain need to step up to the plate. Companies, governments, retailers, as well as consumers should take their shared responsibility, and truly start looking for new approaches to some of these longstanding problems.

Read the full report at

The Cocoa Barometer, produced by a network of European nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is a semi-annual report that reviews the state of sustainability in the cocoa sector. This latest edition was written in partnership with Green America, International Labor Rights Forum, and Oxfam America.

June 25, 2015 / Elizabeth

Dark Cloud Looms Over Amazon’s Innovation Challenge

Amazon’s web services hold the company back, despite its attempts to promote the innovations of others.


A row of servers in a data center.

By Kegan Gerard

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced its second City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge today, but key changes must be made within the company before it can truly lead the innovation charge.

The City on a Cloud program, designed to recognize local and regional governments for technological developments that greatly contributed to their communities, comes at a time when its influential business clients are pressuring the tech giant to be more transparent in its energy portfolio.

“The cloud can be a powerful force to help our companies and our customers reach their greatest potential,” noted AWS clients, including The Huffington Post and tumblr in a letter to Amazon’s Senior VP of Web Services, Andrew Jassy. “But given the threat of climate change and the significant amount of electricity needed to power the cloud, we are increasingly concerned about our responsibility as companies who value sustainability and share concerns about climate change.”

By powering its data centers with unsustainable fuel sources, Amazon is missing out on key innovations in the field of renewable energy–innovations that have the potential to create thousands of new jobs, reduce healthcare costs, and improve the health of our environment.

Kegan flyering at GovCloud event

Handing out information on AWS’ energy use at it’s GovCloud conference in Washington, DC.

As a part of Green America’s Amazon: Build a Cleaner Cloud campaign, we teamed up with representatives from Greenpeace to talk to attendees of AWS’ June 25th GovCloud conference in Washington, DC.

Representing governmental, educational, and nonprofit fields, these GovCloud clients have the perfect opportunity to demand greater transparency in Amazon’s renewable commitment. In refusing to be transparent about its energy usage and plans, AWS deprives these influential groups of the ability to make responsible, informed decisions about where to invest public money.

Merely committing to using 100% renewable energy, as AWS has done, is meaningless without a clear plan to achieve this goal. We’re calling on AWS customers to reach out to their AWS representatives to demand greater transparency in Amazon’s energy future and cease the construction of new data centers that rely on non-renewable energy.

Companies like Google and Apple, whose data centers are powered by renewables, have demonstrated that such a business model is profitable, and Amazon must keep up in order to remain competitive.

Help encourage AWS to deliver on its responsibility to build a cloud that works for both our communities and our environment. Take action with us by signing our petition at

June 10, 2015 / Elizabeth

Victory for Bangladesh Garment Workers

Rana PlazaWhile no court ruling or monetary sum could undo the hardships faced by thousands of garment workers and their families after the 2013 building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, two recent events help to bring some justice to victims.

First, on June 1, 2015, Police in Bangladesh charged 41 people with murder over the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory complex, including several owners of the factories inside. The trial is set to begin June 28.

Then, on June 10, the Rana Plaza Trust Fund reached its goal of $30 million to compensate injured workers and the children of workers who died in the garment factory collapse more than two years ago. In all, 1,138 people lost their lives, and more than 2,500 were injured.

The Rana Plaza Trust Fund was established by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to collect money to cover loss of income and medical expenses for Rana Plaza victims and their families, some 5,000 claimants.

Brands who manufactured in Rana Plaza, as well as brands who manufactured elsewhere in Bangladesh, were asked to contribute to the fund, based on their size, and involvement in Bangladesh. This was not the first building catastrophe in the Bangladeshi garment sector, and Rana Plaza was far from unique in the way that it was run.

As the two year anniversary of the collapse—and fund deadline—approached, consumer pressure on brands that were slow to contribute mounted.

Green America worked with allies like the International Labor Rights Forum and The Clean Clothes Campaign to pressure Walmart ($482 billion in annual sales), Inditex (owner of Zara) ($18.9 billion), JCPenney ($11.9 billion), Mango ($4.5 billion), The Children’s Place ($1.8 billion), and United Colors of Benetton ($1.6 billion) to contribute, or increase their contribution, to the fund.

In response to pressure, both The Children’s Place and Inditex increased their contributions to compensate victims. The Clean Clothes Campaign maintains a list of which brands contributed what.

After reaching this goal, Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, shared with The Guardian,  “In comparison to the loss of families and victims, compensation doesn’t really alter anything,” Akter says. “But it will still help at least to send these kids to school and to put food on the table for these families. I want to thank every single person who was involved in this campaign, everyone who sent even one sentence to a brand and asked for compensation for these families.”

Thank you to all Green Americans who joined us in putting pressure on clothing brands.

June 1, 2015 / Todd Larsen

National Geographic Builds on Its Recycled Fiber Commitment


Last year, National Geographic Society (NGS) made news when it started incorporating recycled fiber paper into its flagship publication, National Geographic Magazine.  The move was big news because National Geographic is a major publisher of high quality magazines.  National Geographic’s inclusion of recycled fiber proves that a premier publisher can use recycled fiber in its paper without compromising quality.

Since then, National Geographic has increased its use of recycled fiber, and there is now 10% post-consumer waste (PCW) content in National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, and National Geographic Traveler.  The increase in recycled fiber content sends a clear message to the magazine industry that other publishers can follow in the footsteps of National Geographic while pleasing their readers and advertisers.

Green America and Natural Resources Defense Council worked closely with National Geographic to assess the impacts of NGS’ paper use and identify opportunities to reduce its environmental footprint. In 2013, Green America and NRDC joined with NGS on the most rigorous study to date of the benefits of using recycled fiber versus virgin fiber in magazine publications. Conducted by an independent third-party for NGS, the study found that recycled fiber is superior to virgin fiber in 14 out of 14 environmental categories, such as energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

DSC_0280asThat’s why all publishers should adopt as high a percentage of recycled fiber as possible for their publications.  As Stephen Hughes, National Geographic’s Vice President for Global Sourcing states, “For National Geographic, our goal – and our challenge – is to balance our desires to utilize as high a percentage of recycled fiber as possible, maintain the highest quality and aesthetic standards, produce affordable products and minimize our impact on the environment.”

Green America congratulates National Geographic on its progress.  If you are a subscriber to NGS publications, please let them know that you support their environmental commitment.

May 21, 2015 / Elizabeth

Enough is Enough: It’s time we knew the True Cost of our clothes

Will 2015 be the year when we say enough is enough? The year we hit the tipping point and start to see change in the global garment industry?

The makers of the film The True Cost certainly hopes so. And so do I.

The film, screening in cities around the world starting May 29, exposes the problems that exist, and still too often remain hidden, in the world of fast fashion.

2014, the year after Rana Plaza collapsed taking the lives of 1,134 garment workers, was the most profitable year on record for the fashion industry, estimated at roughly $3 trillion USD.

And why is this so? Consumers around the world are fed messages that if only they purchase a certain garment to look a certain way, their lives will be better. And why not? It’s so cheap. If your life isn’t remarkably better after you buy said-garment, you can just buy another one. This trend is confirmed by the fact that we are consuming 500% more clothing than we were 2 decades ago. (Two decades ago was only 1995!) And we are throwing out more clothing too—on average 68 pounds of clothes per US consumer per year. This vicious cycle needs to stop, because it is workers and communities at the start of the supply chain that are paying the price for ever-more and ever-cheaper clothing.

The price on the hangtag of a Zara blazer or Gap dress is not at all indicative of the true cost of that garment. It does not reflect all the corners that are cut to get the garment on the shelf: the brand squeezing the factory to make the garment for less and less. The factory in turn squeezing workers, asking them to work long hours to meet quotas, for very little pay, often in unsafe conditions. Nor does it include the environmental costs—clothing factories require massive amounts of energy and water to operate and then discharge chemicals into the air and water surrounding the factory. These chemicals end up in the drinking water of the surrounding communities causing life-threatening diseases like cancer or serious mental and physical disabilities.

The True Cost is not just gloom and doom though. It follows fair trade companies like People Tree, which maintains direct and long-term relationships with producers all around the world.  People Tree is no small operation, it works with more than 4,000 artisans and produces garments as beautiful as anything you see in the windows of 5th avenue. People Tree is a model for other brands, proving a better way is possible.

The film is powerful and empowering. It asks us to question our consumption habits and to think about the people involved in making all the clothing we wear. It acknowledges that we live on a planet overwhelmed by problems that sometimes feel totally depressing and paralyzing.

But it also invites us to tackle these problems one at a time. What if we started with a problem we are all involved with—the clothes we choose to wear—and started to choose differently. These choices collectively will make a huge impact on the clothing sector. We can come together now and say enough is enough.

The True Cost will be screening in select cities starting May 29, and will also be available online and on DVD for $10-$15. 

May 14, 2015 / Green America

Want to feel inspired? Read what motivates Green America’s new member, Mr. Deepak Panjwani, to volunteer and contribute to our mission of a sustainable and just planet.

2014-09-06 11.35.45

Green America has a new member who has put forward a great deal of time and money to our mission. That person is Mr. Deepak Panjwani. We were fortunate enough to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his previous volunteer work and what he thinks about Green America.

Green America: Can you tell us about Bloomberg’s volunteer program? How does it work?

Deepak Panjwani: Bloomberg’s Volunteer program is where Bloomberg L.P. Employees working for the private company can engage with Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic initiatives in his own foundation known as Bloomberg Philanthropies {}. Throughout the year, employees are encouraged to volunteer at various events that Bloomberg Philanthropies (which is referred to in the company as BBOB which stands for Best of Bloomberg) promotes. BBOB actively gets involved in local communities where there are employee offices. They connect active employees with the charitable organizations that need volunteers to assist with various events. Bloomberg encourages its employees to volunteer a minimum of 25 hours in a year. Once an employee reaches that 25 hour milestone, BBOB will donate $2,500 to a nonprofit of their choice. This is capped at 50 hours, where Bloomberg will donate $5,000. We are given a vast extensive list of “approved” non-profit organizations located all over the world. Throughout the year, we can also submit suggestions to add new charitable organizations to this approved list. If and when an employee reaches 50 volunteer hours, options are given to split their donation into 2 organizations, both organizations receiving $2,500.

GA: Did you volunteer all of your 25 hours at one non-profit or various non-profits? Which non-profits did you volunteer at?

DP: I volunteered for 50 hours this year and was involved with several different charitable organizations, some that are recognized globally and some that are specifically serving the needs of individuals in my area. To name a few, I volunteered with the Make a Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Eden Autism, Children’s Home Society, National Junior Tennis and Learning, Boys and Girls Club of America, and various local soup kitchens and animal shelters.

GA: What was one of your favorite volunteer experiences?

DP: It is extremely difficult to pick just one. This past December, I had the pleasure of working with a local animal shelter that brought adorable puppies and kittens to Rutgers University. We set up a “De-Stressing” area in a multi-purpose room in one of the student centers where college students could come and play with these adorable creatures in fenced enclosures. This was done for the benefit of the college students in the hopes of being able to relax and ease the heavy stress that exists during final exams while also providing exposure and awareness to these shelters that are looking for new pet owners who would want adopt these amazing animals. Another great experience was through the Make-a-Wish Foundation where I volunteered at one of their headquarters. The organization was having their annual summer BBQ/Picnic where all the families that had had a wish granted in the past year brought their friends and families for a fun themed event. Most of the volunteer staff was Bloomberg employees and the food and gifts were all provided through Bloomberg.

This event was profoundly moving because I was able to see the direct impact Make-a-Wish has on these children and their entire family. The wishes they are able to provide, through a long process of getting to know the children and helping them find their wish, provides them with hope, excitement, and a much needed break from thinking about hospital visits and treatments.

GA: Can you tell us how you first heard about Green America?

DP: I discovered Green America and the work that you do while I was researching the extensive list of approved charitable organizations that Bloomberg provides us. Employees are able to filter the extensive list based on region, causes, and various other criteria. Once I found your organization, I was redirected to your website where I found out a lot more about your mission and what Green America is all about.

GA: When and how did you first become concerned about “green” issues?

DP: Since I was an adolescent, I have always been keen on and aware of the environment. However, until recent years, I was not fully aware or cognizant of how destructive we, the human race, are on such a large scale throughout the world. The way humans currently live is extremely unsustainable. There is far too much excess and waste and far too much inequality in terms of living essentials throughout the world. After watching several documentaries and looking into the issue further, it became abundantly clear that we are taking advantage of resources and biodiversity that is not renewable. If we as 2014-09-06 10.04.36individuals do not do something to change this, we will lose countless, amazing species, plants, and natural remedies that this world has to offer. We simply have to live in harmony with our environment. While this is easier said than done, I believe it is attainable. We are currently burning energy in a way that creates such destruction and harm to our environment. I know there are scientists and other innovative inventors out there that have come up with alternative ways of energy or “free energy.” Unfortunately, this information is being suppressed by those that benefit from nonrenewable energy sources (oil, coal, nuclear, etc.) that we currently depend on. This is unsustainable and counter intuitive when it comes down to the human race being able to Thrive for centuries to come.

April 29, 2015 / Green America

New report exposes how the cleaning industry fails to protect your health

Guest article from Women’s Voices for the Earth

When cleaning product manufacturers assure you that product safety is their highest priority, do you ever wonder if their definition of “safe” might differ from yours?

Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) has released a new report, entitled “Deep Clean: What the cleaning industry should be doing to protect your health,” which exposes how cleaning product companies keep secret how they screen out dangerous chemicals from the products we use in our homes.

When cleaning product manufacturers assure you that product safety is their highest priority – do you ever wonder if their definition of “safe” might differ from yours?

The report rates four leading cleaning product manufacturers:

  • The Clorox Company—makers of Clorox, Pine-Sol, S.O.S., Tilex, Liquid-Plumber, Green Works)
  • Procter & Gamble—makers of Tide, Cascade, Dawn, Mr. Clean, Dreft Laundry, Febreze, Gain, Cheer
  • RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser) —makers of Woolite, Lysol, Finish, AirWick, Old English
  • SC Johnson & Son, Inc. —makers of Pledge, Shout, Windex, Glade, Scrubbing Bubbles

According to the report, none of the four companies are fully transparent about the criteria included in their ingredient safety standards, making it impossible to compare the quality of any one company’s screening process to another. The report reveals that SC Johnson is one of the only major companies still using hormone disrupting synthetic musks, calling into question the integrity of their screening process. SC Johnson’s GreenlistTM process, which they hold up as evidence of its product safety, still allows synthetic musks! This begs the question: How exactly do hormone-disrupting chemicals like those even pass muster?

“Consumers are not content to take marketing rhetoric at face value. They want to know how a synthetic musk that’s linked to hormone disruption can pass SC Johnson’s GreenlistTM,” said Erin Switalski, Executive Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “We need clear insight into how a company determines whether or not a chemical is safe to use in their products.”

Little regulation exists in the U.S. to limit or control the use toxic chemicals in consumer products. Until federal and state regulations set safety and transparency standards, it’s up to companies to set their own safety standards for products. Since WVE launched its Safe Cleaning Products Initiative, they have taken aim at product safety, ingredient disclosure and eliminating toxic chemicals from cleaning products. As detailed in the Deep Clean report, manufacturers are responding to consumer demands and have made considerable strides towards removing certain toxic chemicals from their products and in publicly disclosing product ingredients for the first time on their websites.

“It’s a start,” said Switalski. “But transparency is still a huge issue. Assuring customers that products are ‘safe to use’ will ring hollow if companies don’t also explain what they mean by ‘safe’.”

In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in consumer demand for green cleaning products. Studies show that consumers, especially women, are spending their money on brands that reflect their concerns for safe products. Amid the increased demand for safe products, consumers are also suspicious of safety claims by major companies. Cleaning product companies must make their internal chemical screening processes much stronger and more transparent.

Deep Clean provides the clear framework of what we expect – of what consumers expect – an effective screening process to look like,” said Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s Director of Science and Research. “Critical to this framework is the simple task of publishing a company’s safety criteria in a transparent way.”

Download the “Deep Clean” report.

Then take action to tell SC Johnson it needs to improve its toxic chemical screening process if it wants to regain your trust.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 159 other followers

%d bloggers like this: