the environment

The Fight for a Clean Environment: The New Sacrifice Zones

Maya K. van Rossum

Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities already suffer disproportionate environmental pollution and degradation—too often imposed by the intentional acts of government officials, or as the result of the knowing design and/or implementation of our system of laws and government. So at the same time that mounting environmental degradation and a spiraling climate crisis are expanding the scope of environmental harm, this damage also perpetuates, and grows, the footprint of environmental racism.              

Are Airlines or Hotels Greenwashing?

Christopher Elliott

Airlines that offer transparent carbon offset programs are making a legitimate effort to be sustainable. It’s also a positive sign when airlines are experimenting with sustainable fuels. Don’t trust the stickers on the door that say the hotel or tour operator is environmentally certified. “Look at their corporate disclosure documents on their websites,” says Nneoma Njoku, general manager of Labrador U.S., a global corporate disclosure communications firm.

The Rise of Greenwashing

Angelo Franco

Meanwhile, “green” lines of entire industries have popped up everywhere to try to meet consumer demand, with one of the clearest examples of this being the beauty industry. Proclaiming to be “all natural” and “non-toxic” or free of “harsh chemicals” is a pervasive type of branding for beauty products, from moisturizers to sunscreens. But because there is no standard definition for “clean” or even for what constitutes a “harsh chemical,” these sustainability claims can vary wildly.

It’s Time to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Dan Reider

What we have now in the U.S. and most parts of the world is a lot of interest and ideas on how to address our carbon footprint to reduce global warming. While we cannot dictate to the rest of the world what we think needs to be done, we can certainly lead by example if we want to take those necessary steps. It seems to me that if we look where we should be in the future, we need to start coming together now and discuss the best ways to move forward. These are difficult issues potentially impacting all of our lives.

The Problem With Science’s Plastics Addiction

Alice Bell

Scientific research is one of the more hidden users of disposable plastics, with the biomedical sciences a particularly high-volume offender. Plastic petri dishes, bottles of various shapes and sizes, several types of glove, a dizzying array of pipettes and pipette tips, a hoard of sample tubes and vials. They have all become an everyday part of scientific research. Most of us will never even see such equipment, but we all still rely on it. Without it, we wouldn’t have the knowledge, technologies, products and medicines we all use. It is vital to 21st-century lives, but it is also extremely polluting.

The Rise of Environmental Consciousness in Businesses and Brands

Shahla Hebets

While the world watched a tough, passionate 16-year-old from Sweden take on the very real and pressing issue of climate change, I kept thinking about the eventual impact on brands. After all, an estimated 7.5 million people across the world participated in the climate strike, and many others supported virtually. The end result is that whether brands like it or not, eco-consciousness is now firmly on consumers’ minds and their awareness is sure to increase as the effects of climate change continue to escalate.

The Fight Against Food Waste

Brandpoint

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has some best practices for families to save money, help those who don’t have enough to eat, and conserve resources for future generations. By making a list of weekly meals and necessary ingredients, shoppers will buy less than they would otherwise and keep things fresh, with less waste. Also, checking the pantry and refrigerator before a grocery shopping trip can prevent buying duplicates of things you already have.

Why We Need Thoreau Now More Than Ever

Hasan Zillur Rahim

Thoreau is relevant today because we continue to confirm his observations. He taught us that treating the environment with respect not only made economic sense, it made even more sense as a moral imperative. “We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander,” he wrote. “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.”

Where Is the Black Political Conversation About Climate Change?

Charles D. Ellison

Even within the context of climate change’s devastating and disproportionate impact on communities of color, black politicos won’t follow the president’s lead on the issue. The Congressional Black Caucus didn’t say if it would, at the very least, take a look at the rules—nor does it list climate change as an issue of focus (leaving it to the multicultural Congressional Progressive Caucus). 

Once Upon a Climate Change

Marty Kaplan

Unfortunately, the Kyoto emission cuts didn’t go into force until 2008; Canada, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, wouldn’t sign it; the U.S. didn’t ratify it, nor did Australia, one of the world’s top coal producers; China, India and the rest of the developing world weren’t covered by it; and its limits lasted only until 2012.  The result of the treaty was that 20 percent of the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide since people lived in caves occurred between 2000 and 2011.

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