Green products

“Sustainability Leader” Badges On Walmart Products Don’t Mean Items Are Good For Environment

Read the full post at Consumerist.

If you see a product tagged with a “sustainability leaders” badge on the Walmart website, you might think this is an indication that this item is more environmentally friendly than others. And you might be correct; but you might also be mistaken. Because the truth is that this badge has virtually nothing to do with the product being advertised.

In a piece for, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Stacy Mitchell cites the example of this 150′ roll of bubble wrap that is tagged with the sustainability badge.

Given the availability of more sustainable and eco-friendly packaging options, it seems odd that this particular product, which doesn’t appear to be substantially different from other bubble wraps, would be singled out for this label.

But the key to that answer lies in the full wording of the badge: “made by Sustainability Leaders.” (That’s not a typo. The actual design of the badge has “made by” in lower case.) It’s not about the product, but about the company that makes the product.

Energizer Is Finally Making AA Batteries Using Recycled Materials

Read the full story in Gizmodo.

Once the use of toxic mercury in household batteries was eliminated a couple of decades ago, it finally became safe to just toss dead AAs in the trash. But if deep down you actually felt guilty about not being able to recycle them, Energizer’s here to help your conscious with its new EcoAdvanced AAs made with four percent recycled battery material.

New conversion process turns biomass ‘waste’ into lucrative chemical products

Read the full story from Purdue University.

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets.

A team of researchers from Purdue University’s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities. Lignin is a tough and highly complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure.

Mahdi Abu-Omar, the R.B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical Engineering and associate director of C3Bio, led the team.

EPA announces new ENERGY STAR tool and tips to save money and energy this winter

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching its ENERGY STAR Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

“As we enter the winter months, homeowners can use our new ENERGY STAR Home Advisor to increase energy efficiency and save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “When homeowners take advantage of this important tool and increase the energy efficiency of their homes, many families will notice savings on energy bills and improvements in the comfort of their homes.”

The updated ENERGY STAR Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an ENERGY STAR home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter. Over time, users can update their home profiles as they make improvements, see the positive environmental impacts of the changes they’ve made, get additional recommendations, and update their “to-do” lists for future projects. The home profiles can also be printed and used at the time of sale.

More on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Home Advisor:

Families can also use ENERGY STAR tips to save energy and money at home this winter:

Get a Home Energy Audit – Home energy auditors are trained and certified in how to find energy problems using specialized equipment to pinpoint key areas for improvement and provide customized recommended solutions. In select states, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR offers an energy assessment that focuses on a systematic approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort. More:

Seal and Insulate – The average home spends $2,000 on utility bills each year. Heating and cooling costs account for nearly half of that amount. ENERGY STAR estimates that homeowners can save up to 10 percent on heating and cooling costs by sealing air leaks and adding insulation. Learn more through ENERGY STAR’s “Rule Your Attic!” campaign, which encourages homeowners to measure their attic insulation levels as a first step toward making their homes more energy efficient and comfortable. More:

Heat Efficiently – ENERGY STAR recommends that homeowners check their HVAC system air filters every month. A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder — wasting energy and possibly shortening the life of the system. A good rule to follow is change the filter every three months. ENERGY STAR also recommends that homeowners have HVAC systems serviced annually by a licensed contractor to ensure they’re running at optimum efficiency. If the heating system is over 15 years old, consider planning for its replacement with a high efficiency unit. Today’s ENERGY STAR certified condensing furnaces operate at over 90 percent efficiency. Depending on where one lives, replacing old heating and cooling equipment with newly certified ENERGY STAR equipment can cut annual energy bills by more than $115. More:

Use a Programmable Thermostat — Avoid heating the house when not necessary, and save almost $200 a year. Programming the thermostat to turn the temperature down 8 degrees for 7 hours each night and an additional 7 hours each weekday could result in a seasonal heating savings of approximately 12 percent. More:

Make “Bright” Choices For Lighting — To get the energy efficiency and performance expected, look for the ENERGY STAR label. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color and shine light where it’s needed. More:

Decorate for the Holidays with ENERGY STAR Light Strings — ENERGY STAR certified light strings use 50 percent less electricity than incandescent light strings and are available in a variety of colors, shapes and lengths. They are more durable, shock-resistant and cooler to the touch. Some models deliver features such as dimming or color shifting. More:

Give ENERGY STAR Certified Electronics — A home equipped with TVs, set-top boxes, a Blu-Ray player, and a home theatre in a box that have all earned the ENERGY STAR can save more than $280 over the life of the products. If streaming movies or videos over the Internet, remember that laptops and tablets use less energy compared to streaming over desktop computers or game consoles. More:

TreeHouse is like Home Depot with a green conscience

Earlier this week, I posted a link to a Guardian story about Treehouse, an alternative to existing big box home improvement stores launched by the guy who brought us The Container Store. Using that profile as a jumping off point, Grist’s Sam Bliss offers the chain some suggestions as they grow.

EPA Increases Access to Chemical Information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted additional data and added new functions to ChemView, EPA’s publicly-accessible, one-stop online tool to find information for chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

“In the absence of TSCA reform, EPA is moving ahead to improve access to chemical health and safety information, and increase the dialogue to help the public choose safer ingredients used in everyday products,” said James Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The additional data along with a customer satisfaction survey will make chemical information more readily available for decision-makers and consumers.”

The enhanced data functions include: improving the display and content for the Chemical Data Reporting information, adding a new link that displays the pollution prevention information generated as part of the Toxics Release Inventory program, and launching an administrative tool that will save EPA resources by streamlining the loading of future information.

The updated database now includes the following new information: 244 consent orders, an additional 1,205 Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for new and existing chemicals, 16 additional chemicals with test rule data, and updates to the Safer Chemicals Ingredient List. This is the first time EPA has posted consent orders and new chemical SNURs to ChemView. With these additions, ChemView now contains information on almost 10,000 chemicals.

EPA is also encouraging people to complete a ten minute customer satisfaction survey to help guide future improvements to ChemView. This survey asks about how people use ChemView, the usefulness of the tool, how it can be optimized to help advance chemical safety, and suggestions for additional content and functionality. EPA will use the information from the survey to continuously improve ChemView.

ChemView was launched in 2013 to increase the availability of information on chemicals as part of a commitment to strengthen the existing chemicals program and improve access to and usefulness of chemical data and information. The tool displays key health and safety information and uses data in a format that allows quick understanding, with links to more detailed information. Searches can be conducted by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service number, use, hazard effect, or regulatory action and has the flexibility to create tailored views of the information on individual chemicals.

By increasing health and safety information and identifying safer chemical ingredients, manufacturers and retailers will have the information to better differentiate their products by using safer ingredients.

To complete the survey, or to view and search ChemView, visit:

Green Seal at 25: Still looking to make its mark

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Eco-labels remain a key resource for consumers, says Green Seal CEO Arthur Weissman. Sustainability is complex, and labels help consumers make informed decisions, Weissman says. “Asking a consumer to do it in the 20 seconds that they have to make a choice in the aisle with the limited information they have — it’s just totally absurd,” he adds.