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green consumerism

Imagine a day when expectant parents can paint their nurseries, stock them with playthings and baby supplies, and do it all with the security of knowing that each and every chemical in those products has been tested for health effects and found safe for their newborn.

Last night, the Obama administration got us one step closer to that shimmery non-toxic future.

The San Joaquin Valley is facing hard times.

A new economic report by the University of the Pacific found that the ongoing drought caused 6,000 fewer agricultural jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, representing $170 million in employee compensation. But that number was far overshadowed by the housing downturn, which caused 47,000 lost construction and real-estate-related jobs, or $1.8 billion in employee compensation.

When it comes to the environment and sustainability, Wal-Mart has a lot to answer for. The chain sells a lot of plastic and stuff that comes in too much packaging. The stores are full of items that carry a large carbon footprint from being shipped halfway around the world. In many small towns, its big-box stores have forced local shops out of business.

As an information technology director whose livelihood depends pretty heavily on the use of electricity, I'm constantly looking for meaningful ways that the technology I'm immersed in can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The saying "If you aren't part of the solution you're part of the problem" doesn't even suffice -- technology is part of the problem, period, and it behooves people like me, who trade in it, to use it in ways that offset its debilitating effects on our environment.

One of President Obama's first acts was to call for a revolution in energy efficiency. Simply by making our appliances and electronics use less energy, Americans can save money, create jobs and fight global warming. Efficiency is the fastest, cleanest and cheapest energy source.

It's not just about changing light bulbs. It's about setting benchmarks to make all the products we use more efficient. Adopting strong national energy efficiency standards could save consumers $16 billion a year in utility bills by 2030.

Question: When is dry cleaning actually dry?
Answer: Never. 

When you send your dry-clean-only clothes to the local dry cleaner (and believe me, I'm the first to admit I'm a stickler for nicely pressed shirts and pants) they use special machines and a toxic solvent called perchloroethylene to get your clothes clean.

Lots of eyes rolled two years ago when San Francisco banned plastic grocery bags, but milllions of saved bags later, the experiment has swept across America, into many foreign countries and may soon take root in the nation's capital.

A Washington, D.C. councilmember has proposed legislation aimed at reducing the amount of trash that falls into the city’s Anacostia River, where an estimated 40 percent of trash pulled out of the river is plastic bags. The San Francisco bag-ban has translated to 5 million fewer bags a month. The bags are now outlawed in South Africa and Bangladesh. Ireland imposed a tax on plastic bags in 2003, leading the public to almost entirely use cloth totes.

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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. Learn more about Earthjustice.