Product ecolabels: To certify or not to certify?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

With 201 ecolabel certifications in the U.S. and 459 globally, it is no wonder that businesses are confused about their value. Putting aside the important question of choosing among the multiple overlapping eco-certifications, how should a business answer the threshold question of whether to seek eco-certification in the first place?

The answer depends on your business facts and point of view. Are you most interested in bolstering the credibility of your environmental claims? Or do you view eco-certification as a way to increase sales or enhance your business reputation?

Think about your primary motivation when you read the following list of key considerations:

EPA introduces new Safer Choice labels and recognizes five Chicago area partners

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman today highlighted the benefits of the Agency’s new Safer Choice label and congratulated five Chicago area Safer Choice award-winners at an event at the Loyola University Chicago Searle Biodiesel Lab.“EPA’s new Safer Choice label helps people choose products that are safer for safer for families, pets, communities and the environment,” Hedman said. “Our Safer Choice Partners of the Year are demonstrating that safer chemicals are also good for business.”

This summer, EPA’s new Safer Choice label began appearing on consumer products such as household soaps and cleaners. To qualify for the Safer Choice label, a product must meet stringent human and environmental health criteria.

In the first year of the Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards, the Chicago area has more winners than any other part of the country. The local award winners include:

  • AkzoNobel (Chicago)
  • ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (Northbrook)
  • Jelmar, LLC (Skokie)
  • Loyola University Chicago, Institute of Environmental Sustainability (Chicago)
  • Stepan Company (Northfield)

Nationwide, 21 entities won EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards. Currently, the Safer Choice program has nearly 500 formulator-manufacturer partners that make more than 2,000 products for retail and institutional customers.

For more information about the Safer Choice program:

Webinar: Protecting the Pollinators: Purchasing Strategies to Protect Bees and Other Pollinators

Wed, Jul 15, 2015 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at

State and local governments, school districts, colleges and universities, hospitals and businesses spend millions of dollars a year on landscaping and pest management products and services.

During the past decade, many of these organizations have saved money and reduced toxic chemical use through integrated pest management (IPM). In addition, some organizations have eliminated the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”) to protect bees and other pollinators.

On Wednesday, July 15th, Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) and Friends of the Earth (FOE) are co-hosting “Saving the Pollinators”, a webinar on purchasing strategies government agencies, educational institutions and businesses can take to protect bees and other pollinators.

During this webinar, you will learn about: (1) the latest scientific findings about neonics and their impact on pollinators; (2) what leading organizations are doing to make their landscape and pest management efforts pollinator friendly; (3) how your organization can use its purchasing policies and practices to protect pollinators; and (4) resources available to help organizations like yours take steps to adopt pollinator friendly purchasing policies and practices.


  • Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Food Futures Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
  • Chris Geiger, Ph.D., Toxics Use Reduction Program, San Francisco Department of the Environment
  • Rella Abernathy, Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, Boulder, Colorado
  • Ciannat Howett, Director of Sustainability Initiatives at Emory University
  • Scott Williams, Assistant VP of Quality Assurance and Environmental Stewardship for BJ’s Wholesale Club,
  • Susan Kegley, Ph.D, CEO, Pesticide Research Institute


  • Rebecca Calahan Klein, RPN

Webinar recording: Student Affairs Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing and Event Coordination

Need ideas about going green with purchasing? Planning large events and want to be as environmentally responsible as possible? Wondering if you really can go green? Get some tips in this archived networking and learning opportunity sponsored by the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC). The online gathering featured ideas and examples of how Student Affairs units have implemented green practices in purchasing and event coordination. Hear from experts from the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council and from colleagues who’ve made green a reality in their day-to-day operations.


Sprint to switch to wheat straw paper in two-month sustainability trial

Read the full story in The Guardian.

In August, millions of Sprint customers will receive letters from the telecom giant that will look like ordinary pieces of white paper, but will be made from fibers from wheat fields instead of forests.

Sprint is launching a two-month pilot project to test run printing papers made primarily of wheat straw, an agricultural waste that is typically burned. The project is part of the company’s search for an alternative to using paper made of wood, which is the main source of paper material today. Doing so reduces the need for cutting down trees, an important carbon emission absorber, while cutting pollution from burning wheat straw.

Learn About the Safer Choice Label

From the web site:

For the past 15 years EPA’s label for safer chemical products has been known as the Design for the Environment, or the “DfE,” label. We spent more than a year collecting ideas and discussing new label options with stakeholders, such as product manufacturers and environmental and health advocates. Then we took our ideas to consumers and asked what worked best for them. The result is the new Safer Choice label.

Green Good Housekeeping Seal: It’s all in the data

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

There’s so much talk about Big Data nowadays that the importance of “little” data gets lost in the conversation. Yes, Big Data — large scale aggregation of thousands and even millions of data points — is vital for making predictive analytics based on patterns of behavior or preferences.  In the environmental arena, Big Data is potentially useful for addressing issues ranging from climate change to loss of forest cover.

But when it comes to determining whether a single product is “green,” the small details can make the difference.

With many companies trying to gain an edge on becoming more environmentally responsible — whether for corporate social responsibility, cost saving or marketing purposes — we thought we’d share some recommendations and observations about the data tracking and internal collaboration companies need in order to make significant environmental advances. These reflections are based on our work with products that have been considered for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, a multi-criteria environmental evaluation that is an overlay to the 100-plus-year-old Good Housekeeping Seal.