Day: July 11, 2011

Et tu, Brute: renewable energy?

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Researchers in Bath, England are extracting algae from the city’s renowned Roman Baths for clues on how to develop eco-friendly biofuel for cars.

The Bath algae grow in water as hot as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It could therefore help researchers crack one of the major challenges of algae-based biofuel development: finding a strain of algae that can withstand that sort of heat.

Then, biofuel producers could grow algae in deserts, where land use would not pre-empt crops for food, according to the researchers from the University of Bath.

Sustainability and bottled water: can they coexist?

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Nestle Waters, the bottled water arm of the global food and beverage giant, has been making strides to make an inherently water- and energy-intensive process — moving bottles of liquid around the world — less wasteful.

It’s a major undertaking, as the company counts brands Deer Park, Poland Spring, Perrier and San Pellegrino in its North American distribution portfolio.

I spoke with Kevin Mathews, director of health and environmental affairs for North America, and Michael Washburn, director of sustainability for North America, about the company’s recent efforts to craft water use ratio targets and develop more comprehensive water “footprinting.”

Hey sustainability exec, are you sure you meant to say that?

Read the full post at SmartPlanet.

With every month, more big businesses are making the decision to create corporate social responsibility (CSR) or corporate sustainability reports. No matter which reporting guidelines they are using, a new report from independent market research firm suggests that more of them are seeking an outside affirmation or blessing that the information they are publishing is accurate.

Aside from the financial and risk management implications of sustainability reporting, companies are also seeking to avoid operating afoul of increasingly stringent rules regarding green marketing. Sustainability assurance can offer another safety check here, as well.

The Verdantix report, “Green Quadrant Sustainability Assurance (Global),” suggests that there are two really good reasons to “buy” assurance of sustainability reporting, which is akin to a financial audit.

Video: Going green on the small screen | Eco Heroes

Watch the video at Smart Planet.

“Unbelievable.” That’s how actress Julianna Margulies describes the amount of waste on a regular set. From electronic scripts to water bottles and solar panels, learn how the set of “The Good Wife” significantly reduces its waste in this EcoMedia video.

Editor’s Note: EcoMedia, “The Good Wife” and SmartPlanet are all part of CBS Corporation.

Project: Inspire People to Recycle More

Via Good.

We all know we should do it. But sometimes the convenience of tossing a bottle into a nearby trash can beats out that little voice in our head asking us to “recycle, reduce, reuse.” As we begin our July Challenge to waste less, we’re looking for ways to make the three R’s easier to follow.

Reducing the waste we create often falls to the bottom of our list of priorities, and that’s understandable. Let’s find a way to remind our community why it matters and what they can do to be part of the solution.

Tell us how you think we can encourage those around us to adopt better recycling habits. Will you post a list of recyclables next to the blue bin so people know what they can put in it? Hum the Recycle Rex song until it gets stuck in your friends’ heads? Plaster Chris Jordan’s photography from the Pacific Garbage Patch all over your office? Create a data visualization or video that blows up online? Get creative and the GOOD community just might adopt your plan.

Send us your plan as a photo, a video, an audio file, or a pdf by Tuesday, July 19 by submitting here. The winning entrant will be announced on, receive a GOOD T-shirt, and get a year’s subscription to GOOD Magazine to keep or send to a friend.

The GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Waste Less

Read the full post at Good.

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn’t agree more. That’s why we do The GOOD 30-Day Challenge (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for July? Waste less.

Climate Change Reducing Ocean’s Carbon Dioxide Uptake

Read the full story from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How deep is the ocean’s capacity to buffer against climate change?

As one of the planet’s largest single carbon absorbers, the ocean takes up roughly one-third of all human carbon emissions, reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its associated global changes.

But whether the ocean can continue mopping up human-produced carbon at the same rate is still up in the air. Previous studies on the topic have yielded conflicting results, says University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor Galen McKinley.

In a new analysis published online July 10 in Nature Geoscience, McKinley and her colleagues identify a likely source of many of those inconsistencies and provide some of the first observational evidence that climate change is negatively impacting the ocean carbon sink.

Full citation for the article:

Galen A. McKinley,Amanda R. Fay,Taro Takahashi & Nicolas Metzl (2011) “Convergence of atmospheric and North Atlantic carbon dioxide trends on multidecadal timescales,” Nature Geoscience, Published online 10 July 2011. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1193

Abstract: Oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide substantially reduces the rate at which anthropogenic carbon accumulates in the atmosphere1, slowing global climate change. Some studies suggest that the rate at which the oceans take up carbon has significantly decreased in recent years. Others suggest that decadal variability confounds the detection of long-term trends. Here, we examine trends in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the surface waters of three large biogeographic regions in the North Atlantic, using observational data collected between 1981 and 2009. We compare these oceanic observations with trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, taken from a global observational network. We show that trends in oceanic carbon dioxide concentrations are variable on a decadal timescale, often diverging from trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, when the entire 29-year period is considered, oceanic trends converge with atmospheric trends in all three regions; it takes 25 years for this long-term trend to emerge and overcome the influence of decadal-scale variability. Furthermore, in the southernmost biome, the data suggest that warming — driven by a multidecadal climate oscillation and anthropogenic forcing — has started to reduce oceanic uptake of carbon in recent years.


SC Johnson Settles Lawsuits Over Greenlist Logo

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

SC Johnson has settled two class action lawsuits that challenged its Greenlist logo — an image the company put on products that met its internal standards for less-harmful products — by agreeing to stop putting the label on Windex bottles.

How Shareholder Activism Moved the Needle on Sustainability in 2011

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

From fracking by companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Ultra Petroleum to greater use of recyclable cups by McDonald’s and Starbucks, a host of CSR issues captured shareholders’ attention and support this year, according to reports on the 2011 proxy season from As You Sow and Ceres.

A record number of shareholder resolutions calling for companies to be more responsible in handling corporate sustainability challenges were filed, according to Ceres’ report.

Sprint Earns Top Grade for Cutting Junk Mail, Using Greener Paper

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

When junk mail goes straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin, it’s easy to think of all the senders as simply wasting paper, but advocacy group ForestEthics says in a new report that the nuances of company paper policies set some on a higher environmental bar from others.

The group’s “Green Grades” report ranks 12 credit card, insurance and telecom companies that heavily use paper for billing, mailing and internal communications.

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