The Problem with Loop

A cartoon showing the process of ordering items from Loop online, receiving them in a reusable tote package, then returning the package to Loop for cleaning and refilling to be shipped to another customer.

Tom Szaky, founder of Terracycle, is about to launch a new enterprise called Loop that aims to tackle the problem of packaging waste by delivering products in reusable containers. How important is packaging in ethics? Packaging is usually one of the factors to consider when deciding on an ethical (Green Stars) rating for a product. … Continue reading The Problem with Loop

Competition: write an ethical review online

On the left, heading text of "write a review" over images of 1 to 5 green stars. On the right, heading text of "Win a WWF gift / donation" over an image of assorted World Wildlife Fund gifts.

The primary mission of the Green Stars Project is to encourage you, dear reader, to consider the ethical impact of your purchases. The best way to do this, and to have an impact on others at the same time, is to rate the product or business with a score for social and environmental impact. Reviews … Continue reading Competition: write an ethical review online

Ethical Consumerism, Part 10 – Green Stars rating criteria

Ethical consumerism Green Stars ratings for peanut butter cups, cheese puffs, and laundry detergent

Greetings! In the next post, I’ll run another competition to encourage you, dear readers, to write a Green Stars review, so please stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I want to take another look at the ethical consumerism criteria that can go into a Green Stars rating. Evaluating the ethics of a product or … Continue reading Ethical Consumerism, Part 10 – Green Stars rating criteria

A New Beginning

The Marin headlands and coast, seen from the side of Mount Tamalpais

The world has changed. I see it in the water. I feel it in the Earth. I smell it in the air. J. R. R. Tolkien’s words could well describe our current situation. A darkness grows, the divide between light and dark is more apparent than ever, and there is a call to action for … Continue reading A New Beginning

Ethical Consumerism, Part 9 – How to reduce your carbon footprint

The top 7 actions to mitigate climate change from Project Drawdown. #1 Refrigerant Management; #2 Wind Turbines; #3 Reduce Food Waste; #4 Plant-Rich Diet; #5 Tropical Forests; #6 Educating Girls; #7 Family Planning

I had always intended to write a post on the top things you can do to reduce your footprint. But I procrastinated, partly because I never felt that I’d done enough research and partly because the topic has been covered pretty widely. However, many of the lists that you’ll find online don’t really hit on … Continue reading Ethical Consumerism, Part 9 – How to reduce your carbon footprint

Renewable Energy comes to the East Bay

A graphic showing the three options provided by East Bay Community Energy: Bright Choice (38% renewable, 47% hydroelectric, and 15% conventional), Brilliant 100 (40% renewable and 60% hydroelectric), and Renewable 100 (100% renewable, from mainly wind and solar).

One of the top things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to a renewable electricity provider. In the East Bay (the cities across the bay from San Francisco, including Berkeley and Oakland) this has now become a lot easier! In fact, by default, electricity is now being provided by … Continue reading Renewable Energy comes to the East Bay

Daily Footprint, #30 – Sustainable and Ethical Cat Litter

Walnut shells are shown next to Naturally Fresh brand of cat litter while a bentonite clay strip mine is shown next to Ever Clean litter.

Hi folks! I’m going to take a look at the social and environmental impact of cat litter, which provides a good example of why we need user-generated reviews. I think that most people want to make ethical choices, but researching the sustainability of something like kitty litter never quite becomes a priority. Green stars reviews … Continue reading Daily Footprint, #30 – Sustainable and Ethical Cat Litter

Ethical Consumerism Part 8 – Slavery in the Chocolate Industry

Even though we might be vaguely aware that slavery still exists, many of us think of it as a thing of the past, or a thing that is separate from us. When we pick up a mainstream chocolate bar, it may not occur to us that the cacao was harvested by children who were sold … Continue reading Ethical Consumerism Part 8 – Slavery in the Chocolate Industry

Daily Footprint, #29 – Refrigeration

Four -80 degree freezers that use sustainable refrigerants

Project Drawdown brought together experts in several fields to come up with a ranked list of solutions to climate change and, somewhat surprisingly, refrigerant management was #1 on that list. This applies mostly to air conditioning (AC) units and any form of freezer/refrigerator. Starting in 1989, under the Montreal Protocol to reverse damage to the … Continue reading Daily Footprint, #29 – Refrigeration

Are Kind bars socially responsible?

A Kind bar: dark chocolate, nuts and sea salt variety.

Back in 2014, Fortune magazine wrote an article, Why Kind bars are suddenly everywhere, which opened with this paragraph: Kind Healthy Snacks’ founder Daniel Lubetzky had a modest ambition when he started the company in 2004. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetzky says he wanted to bring more kindness to the world in the … Continue reading Are Kind bars socially responsible?