Posts tagged: green consumerism

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

ABOUT EARTHJUSTICE'S BLOG

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
18 September 2013, 11:29 AM
Cleaner air starts with a button and ends with stronger pollution laws
Photo courtesy of epSos.de (Flickr)

Tired of breathing dirty air during your daily commute? Just turn on your car vent’s recirculation button, advises researchers from the University of Southern California. Their study found that pushing this little-used button—which typically shows an arrow with a car around it—can cut pollution levels by 80 percent as compared to pollution levels found out on the road.
 

View Ted Zukoski's blog posts
27 August 2013, 10:07 AM
Industry, Colorado Gov. agree: drilling opponents are probably hypocrites
A refinery in Denver, CO. (NREL)

The oil and gas industry in Colorado has a new script to disparage efforts to move towards a clean energy future. And one of their friends—Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper—appears to have gotten the memo about how to belittle those trying to limit the damaging impacts of dirty energy.

Take statements made two days apart by the president of the Colorado Petroleum Association and Gov. Hickenlooper. Both men responded to efforts to limit the damage caused by fossil fuels.

In an Aug. 22 article on National Geographic’s website, Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, derides those seeking a fracking ban in their community as hypocrites who are still using fossil fuels while trying to limit drilling. He also attacks the idea of a fracking ban as a hollow gesture that is merely “symbolic.”

So, industry’s response to the need to transition from fuel that’s poisoning the air, threatening our water and heating the planet is to attack opponents as ineffective hypocrites. Nice.

View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
20 April 2013, 12:59 PM
Investment in biodiversity yields tourism riches
A three-toed sloth in Costa Rica's Cahuita National Park. (Nathan Dappen)

This month, I had the very good fortune to visit Costa Rica, home to some of greatest biodiversity in the world. In this tiny nation, plants and animals from temperate North America and from tropical South America mingle in habitats at different altitudes (including active volcanoes and rain forests at the beach)! I marveled at hundreds of leaping dolphins, huge rain forest trees with rich canopy life, miraculous birds, sloths and anteaters.

Not surprisingly, Costa Rica is an increasingly popular travel destination, especially for nature-oriented visitors. Of course, rampant tourism can ruin natural landscapes and in so doing, wreak havoc with local communities that depend on those landscapes, which is why early on many Costa Ricans made sustainability a primary focus. The country has been preparing itself for two generations, establishing and protecting national parks and other preserves, training young people as scientists and guides, and developing a sustainable travel ethic. It's a model that Mexico could follow, instead of proceeding on a path of destroying some of its most remarkable ecological treasures for short-term gain.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
04 April 2013, 4:30 PM
Plus: Climate changes coffee and oil industry handouts
Studies have shown that airline cabins contain high levels of flame retardants. Photo courtesy of chinaoffseason (Flickr)

Airplanes may contain high flame retardants levels
New research has found that commercial airliners contain high levels of flame retardants, a suite of chemicals that have been under fire lately due to concerns over health hazards, reports Environmental Health News.

Because having a plane catch fire mid-air could be disastrous, federal regulators require that all airlines pass strict fire-safety tests, hence the intense usage of flame retardants onboard the aircraft. But though chemical companies have long maintained that flame retardants are safe, several recent studies have linked them to detrimental health effects like reduced IQs and attention problems in children. Flame retardants, which are found in common household items like furniture, electronics and even baby clothes, have also been shown to build up in the body over time. And even worse, some studies suggest that flame retardants may not be all that great in slowing fires and may actually increase deadly emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

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View Nadine de Coteau's blog posts
22 March 2013, 10:49 AM
Grammy Award-winning singer shares proceeds for endangered species
The Grammy-winning Radio Music Society is Esperanza's latest album.
(Courtesy of Esperanza Spalding)

When the President of the United States invites you to perform at his Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, there’s only one answer: yes. When that same performer offered to partner with Earthjustice to help raise awareness and support, there also was only one answer: Absolutely, yes!

Esperanza Spalding is a three-time Grammy Award winning musician whom we are lucky enough to count among Earthjustice’s most loyal and committed supporters. Her most recent album, Radio Music Society, was awarded two of the music industry’s most coveted awards: one for Best Vocal Jazz Album and one for Best Instrumental Arrangement (Accompanying Vocals) for the track, "City of Roses."

For more than six years, Esperanza has personally supported Earthjustice in our work to protect endangered species and to preserve wild lands as well as our campaigns against coal and Arctic drilling. This year, Esperanza has generously offered to support Earthjustice through her music—and her artistry.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
10 January 2013, 12:02 PM
Plus: New FDA food rules and record-breaking heat waves
A collection of plastic washed up along a beach San Francisco, Calif. (Kevin Krejci / Flickr)

Tiny plastics clog the world’s oceans
By now we all know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a giant mess of trash in the ocean—but in turns out that the world’s oceans are also full of tiny plastics, reports CNN. These so-called microplastics are used in everyday products like exfoliating face soaps and hand cleansers to give you that just-scrubbed feeling without taking a Brillo Pad™ to your face. But despite their tiny nature, microplastics may be wreaking havoc on marine life that unsuspectingly swallow these plastic bits floating in the ocean. One 2008 study even found that these tiny particles can hang out in the bodies of mussels for almost two months, though scientists don’t know yet if they cause any harm (mostly because of a lack of research on the issue). And, because they stick around the environment for a long time and can’t easily be dredged out, the plastic pollution problem is only going to get worse. According to one researcher, there has been a 100-fold increase in plastic garbage over the last 40 years. Personal product companies like Unilever are responding to the problem by phasing out the use of microplastics as a scrub material in its products. So, you may soon have to find another way to get your scrub on.

FDA takes bite out of food illnesses with proposed rules
After years of deadly outbreaks from contaminated spinach, peanut butter and other foods, the Food and Drug Administration recently proposed sweeping food safety rules to prevent contamination of the nation’s food, reports the LA Times. Each year, a shockingly high number of people fall ill from a food-borne illness—about one in six Americans—and of the people who get sick, 3,000 die. Historically, the FDA’s approach to food safety has been to wait until there’s a problem and then scramble to fix it. Now, in order to stem the tide of foodborne illnesses before they occur, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act will take a more preventative approach by stepping up federal audits of food facilities and establishing science-based, minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. Though the Act is the most sweeping reform of FDA’s food safety authority in more than 70 years, the rules, unfortunately, won’t come any time soon since large farms have more than two years to comply with the final rules once they’re published and small farms have even longer. Bon appétit!

View Jonathan Wiener's blog posts
04 January 2013, 10:53 AM
Online shoppers should more easily find energy efficiency information

If you are one of the millions of American consumers who shop or browse online for major appliances and would like to know the environmental impact your new purchase will have, we’ve got some good news. The Federal Trade Commission has finally updated its newly named Energy Labeling Rule to make it easier for you to compare models and to know the energy consumption (and operating cost) of new products.

Under the old rule, consumers had to fish around in unlikely places and hope to get lucky looking for this information. Now retailers will display it right next to the product photo and purchase price (like in the example at left), and manufacturers will also make it available on their own websites.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
07 December 2012, 5:11 PM
Your dog’s favorite chew toy may be loaded with more than just slobber
Credit: TheGiantVermin (flickr)

Your favorite four-legged companion may get a dose of toxic chemicals the next time you throw him/her a chew toy.

That’s the conclusion of an as-yet unpublished study, which found that dogs that chew on plastic toys may be exposed to hormone-altering chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. The new study, conducted at Texas Tech University, is one of the first to examine dog products as carriers of toxic chemicals. It’s not the first study, however, to look at the health effects of BPA and phthalates, which are widespread in the U.S. population and have been linked to everything from reproductive toxicity to obesity.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
21 June 2012, 2:54 PM
Plus: Body snatching weeds, clean air apps, cold chemicals, pineapple pesticides

Mexican government saves miracle reef
Cabo Pulmo, an ecological treasure and the jewel of California, recently received a stay of execution after the Mexican government announced its decision to cancel a mega-resort development project near the reef in Baja California Sur, reports the LA Times. The cancelled Cabo Cortes resort development was by far the largest of three proposed development projects near the area (two still remain). The government’s decision comes after the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (which partners closely with Earthjustice) challenged a conditionally approved environmental impact assessment, arguing that the new developments would harm the rich biodiversity of the nearby Cabo Pulmo National Park. Though threats to the reef from other projects and intensive marine resource use remain, the Mexican government’s decision is a big win for defenders of the 20,000 year-old reef, which  has experienced an unprecedented 463-percent increase in biodiversity just 10 years after Mexico established the surrounding the reef as a Marine Protected Area. 

Higher CO2 levels breathe life into body-snatching weeds

Weeds, those pesky invaders that break through sidewalk cracks and blemish perfectly good vegetable beds, are getting a leg up over agriculture crops thanks to increased CO2 emissions, reports ScienceNews. According to recent research, because weeds can adapt more quickly to a changing climate than food crops, they’ve already figured out how to use increased carbon dioxide to their advantage. Food crops, on the other hand, are slow learners by design so that their tastes are not constantly changing, which keeps consumers happy. Though faster growing weeds are a headache in their own right, the more troubling finding of the research is that carbon dioxide makes the weed-like quality in weeds more contagious. As CO2 emissions increase, researchers found that the weedy natural form of rice “increasingly hybridized with the crop plants,” with the result being a diminished value and quality of the cultivated rice. In other words, the crops that breeders have spent decades cultivating into perfect specimens could eventually be transformed into weeds. It seems that when it comes to climate change, you really do reap what you sow.
 

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
15 June 2012, 3:41 AM
Plus: Testy turtles, gas pump fallacies and Alberta oil spills
Seaside in Victoria, Australia (Shutterstock)

Australia announces world’s largest marine reserve
Just in time for this week’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, Australia has announced its plans to create the world’s largest marine reserve, reports the BBC. The protected zone will cover more than a third of Australia’s waters (about 3 million square kilometers) and will include restrictions on fishing as well as oil and gas exploration. The announcement comes on the heels of another big environmental win, courtesy of the Australian government, which last week announced that it is putting a stop to a billion-dollar coal project that could negatively impact the Great Barrier Reef. Though this latest move to create a marine reserve didn’t quite go as far as some environmentalists groups would have liked, it’s a great first step in building resilient oceans, which are already being battered by overfishing, pollution, habitat loss, and now ocean acidification. Find out more about Earthjustice’s work to push for building resilient ocean ecosystems.

Turtle couple that’s been dating for decades calls it quits
After more than 100 years of companionship, a pair of Giant Turtles at an Austrian zoo have decided to call it quits, reports the Austrian Times. According to the zoo staff, the century-long love fest came to a seemingly sudden end after the female turtle, Bibi, attacked her partner by biting off a chunk of his shell. Afterwards, Bibi continued attacking the male turtle until he was moved to a different cage. Since there have been no apparent changes in the turtles’ routine, the zoo suspects that Bibi may simply want to be single and nothing—including “romantic good mood food” and couples —will change her mind.