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Eco-Friendly Riding Lawnmower

The Toro® Z Master® zero turn mower is a so called eco-friendly riding lawnmower. These are some of the marketing tactics they use to sell their lawnmower.
“Eco-friendly mowers can be powerful too! Inside the engine of a Toro® Z Master® zero turn mower is a Kohler closed loop electronic fuel injection or EFI that adapts to save fuel. By sensing mowing conditions and regulating fuel to the lawn mower as needed, the fuel-efficient EFI system provides up to 25% better fuel economy. Every yard work project can be different and the Toro® Z Master® with EFI engines calculate the optimal amount gas needed and delivers fuel to the engine when you need it. Environmentally friendly mowers have lower emissions and can save you money by reducing unnecessary fuel consumption. Other features on Toro® Master Series Zero Turn Mowers include an easy start lawn mower technology that turns on like a car, with no choke and low hassle.”
The marketing tactics are green washing the bad aspects about the lawnmower. A typical lawnmower has a single piece carburetor rather than this fancy multi-component EFI (electronic fuel injection) system. They claim the system is saving fuel and cutting down on emissions, however the amount of pollution created to make the fuel efficient system requires more parts and more labor than does a regular carburetor. The marketing has made it seem as though this system is better by glossy over the fact that the cost to produce this system is higher in not only “carbon dollars” but also in the physical pollution. This Lawnmower suggests that it is eco-friendly because it uses less fuel by using a system that is more costly to produce. The company that makes the lawnmower is ignoring the issue that the fuel used is the main reason why their lawnmower is not eco-friendly. Here is more information between a carburetor and EFI. http://www.gmtuners.com/history/vs.htm
In order to solve this problem, there will need to be a complete reform of how we cut our grass. The issue with modern day lawnmowers is that there is need of a secondary input of fuel and a tertiary input of maintaining the machine. There once was a lawnmower that require no fuels and only needed to be sharpened occasionally: the originally push mower. This mower operated under the power of a human-being. The mowers only cost is the original production. The issue with this solution is that there would need to be a large amount of people to cut grass. There just so happens to be 2.2 million people who sit around in prisons doing nothing all day. Instead of wasting money locking them up, we could use them to do physical labor cutting grass and even other jobs to reduce the amount of fuel used were physical labor could replace fuels. The issue with our pollution is due to the mass growth in population and the shift from physical labor to fuel driven devices. Grab an old push mower and get mow(v)ing!

Daniel S Heath

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Tiny Houses: A Cover Up for Continued Suburban Sprawl

KB Home (Homebuilding Company based in the US) has introduced a new 881 square foot eco-home in the Houston area. These homes are energy star certified and have features such as “eco-friendly carpet”, “energy-efficient appliances”, and “low-e windows”. While all these features are nice and are much more sustainable than most of the wasteful behemoths being built today, these tiny houses are still not addressing the real problem at hand. That problem is the continued trend of suburban sprawl. Suburban sprawl as defined on Wikipedia is “the expansion of human populations away from central urban areas into previously remote and rural areas, often resulting in communities reliant upon heavy automobile usage.” This type of growth is not sustainable at all no matter how green a house you build. These houses will certainly take up much less space than the common small family houses (especially in Houston), but they still allow for people to continue their wasteful and unsustainable lifestyles. They still have two-bay tandem garages which in the article say can be used to park your hybrid or electric car, which is another form of greenwashing. Life in a car-reliant suburbia is a place nobody should have to live. They lead to insanely long commutes, one of the biggest reasons we are so reliant on fossil fuels, and are also a huge reason why Americans are in the top three fattest countries in the world.

In order to halt the sprawl of suburbia and our dependency on fossil fuels, we need to look at new housing developments in a completely different way. First, we need to set a growth cap on the metropolitan areas to limit where developers could place new housing communities. If you want to build a home outside of this cap it will have to for farming purposes only. Land near the furthest extent of the cap should also be made more expensive so developers will have incentive to stay closer to the urban center. Developers that want to make communities that adhere to “New Urbanism” (High density, public transit, walkable) principles will be given subsidies so that smart, sustainable growth will more profitable. The only way this could become a reality is public awareness. In the US especially, people are fairly uniformed about urban planning and how our communities could be improved. Now if this all came together most people would not have to own a car, people would become more familiar with their neighbors and build a friendly community, and we also would be on a great track to eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels.

By: Sam Fitzner

http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/houston-gets-greener-with-itsy-bitsy-energy-efficient-homes.html

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The “Green” Diaper

http://www.blisstree.com/2009/08/24/sex-relationships/huggies-goes-green-well-at-least-goes-greenwashing/
In their press release, Kimberly-Clark Corporation says that Huggies Pure & Natural diapers are “A super premium diaper that includes natural, organic materials and ingredients to provide gentle protection for new babies, as well as initial steps toward environmental improvements, without sacrificing performance.”
While yes it is stated that these diapers are Hypoallergenic, latex and fragrance free, that does not necessarily mean that they are the best environmentally friendly diaper on the market. They feature a breathable cover that includes organic cotton why is all the “organic” material located on the part of the diaper that does not actually come into contact with the baby’s skin. Whereas the liner includes natural aloe & vitamin E materials from renewable source as well as containing SAP (Sodium Poluacrylate) which has been banned from tampons since 1985 dues to its involvement in toxic shock syndrome in women, as well as being lethal to cats when it is inhaled. If that still sounds safe to put on your babies bottom be warned that it also can cause severe diaper rash and bleeding.
Greenwashing: Huggies Pure & Natural
The products outer packaging is sourced from 20% post-consumer recycled materials. So the plastic that isn’t even in the diaper itself just the outer packaging is recycled, and not even a large amount of it only 20%. What does that have to do with the eco-friendliness for the diapers themselves? Nothing, the outer packaging isn’t going to come into contact with the child therefore it has no actual involvement in making the diapers themselves any better for the environment.
http://wellnessmama.com/3692/why-cloth-diaper/
While cloth diapers can be seen as the messier choice they also have many draws that make them a better choice when someone is looking for a ”greener” version of a diaper. With the cloth diapers you know exactly what you are putting on your child and there are no added chemicals which disposable diapers contain. Another plus of cloth diapers is that they are also a cheaper alternative to disposable, so not only will you be avoiding all those unwanted additives, but also be saving money in the long run, and reducing the amount of waste that is caused from throwing away all those disposable diapers.
-Holly Davis

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“Natural Shampoos,” but how natural are they?

Today in America many Americans are being “greenwashed” by companies and organizations who produce products that are aimed to be environmental friendly. Companies and organizations spend more time and money declaring that their products are eco-friendly though advertising and marketing rather than actually changing the context of the product which is very misleading for the consumer. Over time, companies feel that engaging in greenwashing benefits their company by expanding market share at the expense of those opponents that are not involved in greenwashing, reducing the staff turnover, and also making the company seem more attractive for potential investors. It has become very common, and over the years more and more companies have engaged in greenwashing to promote environmental friendly goods for consumers. But are the products really eco-friendly? Many products have been created to be displayed as “eco-friendly” but come to find out they contain very harmful chemicals. A product that I use everyday which is displayed to be “eco-friendly”/organic is shampoo. There are many benefits of organic shampoos in which companies promote that they contain only natural, non-synthetic ingredients. While I was doing some research online, I came across a very popular shampoo that we see in stores all the time – Clairol’s Herbal Essences. I have been using this product for years, and little did I know the harmful toxins that it contained. The product contains lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol and D&C red no. 33 that are not organic products, which is false advertisement especially when most labels say “100% organic.” Companies should change the display/quality of the products and be true to their promotions.
With this being said, I feel that companies should stay true to their product. If the product is “all-natural”, then the product needs to contain all natural ingredients. There are some people out here who are completely eco-friendly freaks and once they research the actual ingredients it can then become a controversy and loose many consumers. Many implication of making a product completely all-natural would be the prices of using those types of products without using “toxins,” could cost the company more than their willing to spend on their products, but after that being done it will drive sales because they have been true to their eco-friendly promotion.

-Sophie Moyer

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The Green Bulb?

Environmentalism is the new fad, with more and more products claiming to be “green”. Green is the new black. Companies are even making public campaigns for their switch to a more “eco-friendly” drive. According to a Terrachoice 2010 report “since 2009 the number of “greener” products increased by 73%.” But are these claims true? Most likely not, this phenomenon is called green washing. Green washing is false and misleading environmental claims made by companies that are labeled on products. These claims are thus used to conceal corporate behavior that is environmentally harmful. Moreover, it can be considered a PR aim that a company claims to the government, public, and press, that it is “green” when it is in fact the opposite.
These endorsed CFL bulbs are actually quite harmful to the environment contrary to the information that is on the package and what our own government is telling us. Let me tell you why: first off, the lighting of these CFL bulbs is poor, they are not proven to technically last longer, the carbon footprint of the product is not considered, and they contain MERCURY. Yes, MERCURY!! How can an item that contains mercury be “green”, “eco-friendly”, or “smart”? It cannot be, it is almost a contradiction. That’s like saying that the new Carl’s Jr. hamburger that has eight strips of bacon, four slices of cheese, onion rings, two meat patties, and fried pickles is a healthy because it is made with a gluten-free bun and organic veggies. You are ignoring all of the bad ingredients and only focusing on the few good ingredients to make your decision.
The bulbs have even been shown to emit toxic substances, and through electromagnetic exposure can be deemed harmful. The effects of mercury are and have been proven extremely harmful in the past, even so that the use of it has been banned in thermometers. So how is it that they are legally used in these CFL bulbs? I think it is because they are more profitable, but then I would be considered a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Even so, mercury is a dangerous nerve poison which can effect almost every organ in the body, and can even lower ones IQ. The mining of mercury and the toxic substance itself is harmful to the environment! These bulbs also carry a pretty extensive carbon footprint. They are produced in hazardous settings in oversees where the workers to do wear protective gear. The disposing of the bulb is often times not done properly which adds to the environmental hazard that the CFL bulb produces.
I think a green solution to this problem is simple, stop pushing and marketing the CFL’s over the conventional incandescent bulb. They are not eco-friendly or even smart. The incandescent bulbs have better lighting and fewer harmful substances. The bulbs are even safer and relatively simple to manufacture. The government in the US and in Europe should reverse their decision to ban the use of the conventional halogen bulb, it is wrong, is can more harmful implications than beneficial.

Alexandra Adesalu

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Green Cleaning

Many products have become increasingly labeled green when this is either not the whole truth or a flat out lie. Companies doing this to make consumers buy their product because they are fooled into thinking it is helping the environment is a way to describe greenwashing. Greenwashing is a more recent phenomenon where large companies distract consumers from the very negative effects of our industrial and disposible society by making consumers feel they are changing this by buying “green” products. One product that this has been apparent in is cleaning products. Cleaning products have increasingly been labeled green. This can be somewhat truthful or a lie. Unfortunately either way it doesn’t make it any better for the environment. This is the case because green materials aren’t as efficient at cleaning as tradition cleaning ingredients that are more harmful to the environment. However, sense they are less efficient that means that they require more packaging, more waste, more plastic which means more oil, more fuel, and more problems for the environment. This defeats all purpose of them being “green” and may even be less green than the generic counterpart. This example of greenwashing suggest we may need to changes things. It could suggest we change simple things like the restrictions to label your products as green is a small change but doesn’t change much. A larger change would be to eliminate small bottles of cleaner and find a new way to deliver cleaner to people who need it.

A way to greatly eliminate this greenwashing due to cleaning supplies would be to change the entire system of selling them. Instead of the current system where you can go to the store and but 100 different bottles of cleaning solution with a fifth or a quarter labeled green there would be one main supply system for a multi purpose cleaner. The government could start to implement a large tax on all individually bottled cleaners. While also contracting the largest supplier to create the greenest most effective multi-purpose cleaner. Then the government could then start to create infrastructure around the U.S. for this public mutli-purpose cleaner. It would eliminate the waste from all the bottle used and then thrown away and would make people have their own bottle or bucket that they would keep. This infrastructure could be delivered directly to everyone’s home like water or have public access point where people could pay near nothing comparatively to individually bottled. This would be a realistic effective way to eliminate a lot of trash, oil, fuel, and could show people that they do not need to be part of the giant societal fall of consumerism and waste with disposable goods. This would be a solution to help stop multi-purpose cleaners from greenwashing Americans and create a functional system to get the public a product they need.

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False eco-claims in the hospitality industry

There is an increasing trend in going green and claiming eco-friendly services. Many companies including hotels are marketing more eco-friendly alternatives, but are consumers aware of the legitimacy of these “greener” options. Many hotels spend more time and money claiming to be green rather than actually applying these practices to reduce their environmental impact. They slap a green label on anything possible to attract visitors. Of course the savvy eco-friendly traveler will pay a little more to help the environment, but are they really getting what they paid for. Lets take towel usage as an example, it is common to see a place holder to give visitors the option of reusing their towel by hanging them up, thus reducing water usage. Think about it, housekeepers replace towels on a daily basis, does one towel really make that much of a difference. A great amount of water is still being used, making the reuse of a towel insignificant. The same situation goes for sheets, but in reality, not getting your sheets washed everyday during your stay does not save the planet, and often, sheets and towels end up getting washed anyway. Another green alternative in some hotels are the use of recycling bins, but unfortunately housekeepers are still seen throwing recycled items into their trashcans when cleaning rooms. At the end of the day, these placeholders are suggesting that we recycle in anyway possible and to always choose an environmentally friendly alternative. This should remain unchanged although the effect of reusing towels and sheets seems to be insignificant compared to all other energy used in a hotel building.
For hotels to be less green washed there should be only one organization to oversee the legitimacy of a green hotel. Because of independent organizations, standards are obviously going to be different. So some hotel may have certifications that would not pass another organizations requirements. But this would be difficult for one place to oversee all hotels worldwide, which choose to take a more eco-friendly route. Or better yet, one towel per person, no sheets washed until check out, reduce prices for customers because they wont have a fresh pillow case or towel every morning.

Twambo Moyo

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Open ( Percieved ) Happiness

The idea of a environmentally friendly product that reduces the harmful emissions and carbon traces it leaves sounds like a wonderful idea. On paper. In reality, it’s often too good to be true, and is unfortunately the point of this assignment. Coca Cola intentionally stated in their ad that this new plant bottle was more environmentally sustainable and did more to reduce its effects rather then just ignore them. Not everyone was sold, and did a little digging. As it turns out, not only did the material used for the bottle not align with what the corporation stated, it was actually illegal. They offered no documented proof whatsoever that the plant bottle did these things, and just assumed the consumer would believe them. Another thing Coca Cola left out was the whole recyclable plant material bit. It actually depends on where the bottle is made. In Denmark, only 10 – 12% of the bottle was recyclable. Coca Cola responded that it still used less plastic then before, even if it wasn’t by much. It wasn’t in the pubic attention until an environmental organization called Forests Of The World stepped in and filed a complaint against Coca Cola, stating that they violated the Danish and European Marketing Practices Act. Coca Cola couldn’t demonstrate or prove that the new plant bottle had a positive effect regarding the CO2 emissions. It doesn’t help that Coca Cola also promised that this new plant bottle initiative would cut 20 million metric tons of CO2 with the entire manufacturing and distribution process. There are simply too many variables in play to accurately account for the CO2 reductions.

It’s great that more and more corporations and businesses are trying to be more green in this very crucial part in time. What’s more important though is that they are honest and effective in how they go about doing it. Just saying that a product lessens its effect on the world isn’t good enough. Say it’s going to do something and do it, simple as that. If Coca Cola really wanted to pursue this green initiative, that great. Some better ways it could accomplish that is if they set realistic goals and kept the public informed in how they’re going to accomplish said goal. If they still want the plant bottle that’s great. How about make the bottle mostly if not entirely out of recyclable material, that way more plastic is reused instead of filling up landfills because there’s too much. The whole point is to make a positive impact, so even if the packing isn’t possible; perhaps an incentive can be given to refill old coke bottles instead of manufacturing new ones. Use less energy and emit less C02, and reward the loyal consumers for making a difference. It might not be the most profitable choice for corporations, but if they’re serious about going green, these are some of the things they can do, even if just for the publicity.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/09/11/coke-defends-plantbottle-green-claims/ (Coca Cola Claims)
https://www.verdensskove.org/en/node/35317 ( Forests Of The World Case)
http://youtu.be/MDBrO82CErk ( Plant Bottle Ad)

Michael Dizon

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Saving Our Poopy Planet, Honestly!

Victoria Cox

The Honest Company is a new line of eco-friendly baby products. This company is a huge example of green washing because people always feel better when using environmentally friendly products with their children (this helps them feel as if they are helping the planet a little more by going ‘green’). This is a company that qualifies as green washing because they are putting a whole new out look on baby products, and not just eco- healthy diapers and wipes. The Honest Company has taken their eco-friendliness to a different height by creating waste –reducing soaps, shampoos, healing balms, detergents, detangling spray, cleaning products, etc. The products they create that are plant based products as well as packaging that is renewable. I would say that The Honest company would suggest that we change almost everything that pertains to baby products, I think that they are trying to become the new and improved and eco-friendly baby product company. They are expecting people follow in their footsteps and redesign their whole dynamic.

A less green washed version of the company would have to be cloth diapers. This is a better solution than plant based product (such as The Honest Company) because this idea expands reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cloth diapers reduce the amount of waste being sent out because they are machine washable. A major obstacle in changing to cloth diapers would have to be keeping the stench of messy butts out of the diaper (even after a cycle in the washing machine). To make this product into a reality, we would have to come up with a eco-friendly and baby-friendly non harmful chemical to revamp (refresh) the diaper to make sure it is sanitary (especially after a poopy diaper,yuck!) Another obstacle to overcome in creating a cloth diaper would have to be the storage…think about it for a second, if you send you baby to their childcare center and they poop, what to do with the stinky diaper until you get home to put it in the washer? Putting the diaper in a bag would be the most logical answer, but wouldn’t the bag have a stench? Yes, but if we could create a bag with a baking soda insole so it was soak up the stinky diaper smell (the baking soda insole would be re-changeable). This could be a HUGE economic transformation because it, first and foremost, will create a whole new job market including; scientist, factory workers, etc. The downfall to this product would be that instead of throwing the dirty diaper in the can, washing the diaper daily would be a mandatory duty…this would cut back on the whole reduce notion. Honestly (ha, no pun intended), this cloth diaper movement could create a whole new social transformation as well. This could be a new social norm which could change the way we look at diapering our babies forever, breaking societal norms in terms of baby care.

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FOREVER Solar?

“Forever 21 is in a unique position to encourage innovation and accelerate the adoption of clean energy, including solar power,” said Don Chang, founder and CEO of Forever 21. “We are honored to be part of this program and to be contributing to L.A.’s goal of generating 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020.”

Working with LADWP’s (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power) Feed-In Tariff (FiT) program, FOREVER XXI will be able to use customer-focused, local solar programs to generate solar power for their own use, as well as to benefit the entire city with clean renewable energy.

However, at the same time that they are announcing this new solar project, they are opening an 18,000-square-foot concept store that promises the cheapest of the cheap. Yes. Solar panels are an excellent source of energy, in this case it will avoid the annual production of almost 13 million pounds of carbon dioxide – equal to the emissions created by burning 6 million pounds of coal, or the equivalent of taking 1,200 passenger cars off the roads.

When you fall under a category of “fast fashion” and promise the “cheapest of the cheap,” one wonders. When consumers purchase items that they can only wear once or twice before it starts to fall about, and wish to immediately replace it, it begins a repetitive cycle of purchase and dispose. Not only the cost for material for the clothing, but the expenses and resources used to ship out the products. The vast paychecks of the companies CEO’s. They constantly have new styles, shipped in almost daily. Since stuff isn’t being made in large quantities, there is more material waste. Now there are extra costs related to shipping the products so far, so quickly.

FOREVER XXI’s 5.1 megawatt high efficiency solar panel system is great, but it’s only a drop in a vast bucket of water. There are a lot more things they need to change, such as transportation methods, material efficiency, etc., before they can be seen as truly eco-friendly.
-Beth Hosick