image: Wikimedia Commons
Many products these days make claims on their labels that place them somewhere on the nebulous spectrum of “green”. These endorsements range from “all natural”, to ”environmentally friendly”, “biodegradable”, or “eco” just to name a few.
But what do these labels really mean? “Environmentally friendly” compared to what? “Biodegradable” how, and under what conditions?
The fact is, many manufacturers in recent years have taken note of strong consumer appetite for safer products and have responded– but not always with meaningful changes. Products and services that gratuitously toss around vague environmental claims have come to be known as “greenwashing“.
For example, many product labels feature environmental seals – little pictoral “stamps” with a tagline; while there are some legitimate third party verification seals that attest to a products’ safety, environmental performance and/or the manufacturing process, some may be nothing more than ornament. Other examples of deceptive advertising practices may include misleading claims, or overstatement of environmental benefits of a product during its manufacture, use or disposal.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first adopted its “Green Guide” in 1998 to help provide a baseline of clarity for both consumers and the manufacturers making environmental claims about their products; the revisions that are in the works now will be the first since 1998.
The new revisions will be based on research done by the FTC to gauge consumer understanding of various “green” labeling terms and practices. However, the FTC stops short of providing legal definitions to terms and the guidelines will still be voluntary and self-implemented by manufacturers.
Listen to the KQED Forum “An End to Greenwashing” that provides a discussion of the new FTC guidelines, here
Visit the Good Guide, a group that helps you find “healthy, green, ethical products according to scientific ratings”
- – -
The San Francisco Chronicle website has a gallery of photos from when the BART system was originally under construction in the 1960s and 1970s. You can see the photos here.
There is a photo of people on a walking tour through the Transbay Tube.
Also, there is a photo of then-President Nixon riding BART in 1972.
- – -
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Dublin Pleasanton BART Station under construction, much later, in 2009.
- – -
- – -
AC Transit will hold a public hearing on May 25 at 5:00 pm at the offices at 1600 Franklin Street in Downtown Oakland to discuss declaring a fiscal emergency for the third consecutive year.
According to California Beat:
Calling a fiscal emergency would allow AC Transit to cut costs by eliminating service, implementing hiring freezes and reorganize administrative expenses without undergoing environmental reviews that would delay the process.
The agency is facing a $14.9 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year and warns it will face a steeper funding shortage by the end of 2012.
In October, the agency cut 13 percent of bus service to nearly all East Bay communities and hiked fares for riders. This month, the Board approved a ten-year fare increase plan that will increase the base fare incrementally to meet inflation rates.
You can read the entire story here.
- – -
The AC Transit Board voted last week to raise basic bus fares from $2.00 to $2.10, to take effect August 1.
According to Mercury News:
The increase, however, is a tiny fraction of what is needed, district officials said. It will raise just $2.4 million annually to reduce a projected deficit of $21 million in the next fiscal year, according to a district staff report.
As a result, another round of service cuts are likely to be needed within the next 12 to 18 months, King said. AC Transit cut service twice last year.
You can read the entire story here.
- – -
Our previous posts on tiny houses (here and here) are consistently among our most-viewed posts here at Zero Resource. As I find more interesting tiny dwellings, I will post them. Today, I am posting a video tour of a tiny apartment in Spain, converted from a rooftop pigeon coop. Enjoy!
If the embedded video above does not appear, you can also find the video on YouTube here.
There are a number of other video tours of tiny houses and apartments on YouTube. I’ll post some of them over the next couple weeks.
(Image credit: flickr user heidi.nutters, via SPUR)
A recent report by SPUR entitled “Climate change hits home” addresses how we should plan to adapt to climate change in the Bay Area. The report includes a number of strategies to help local communities to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Some of the key impacts discussed in the report include:
- Higher average temperatures,
- Increased number of heat waves,
- Water uncertainty: droughts, extreme storms, flooding,
- An increased risk of wildfire, and
- Sea level rise.
The SPUR task force responsible for the report then considered how these impacts would affect various areas of planning in the Bay Area and proposed strategies to adapt to them.
The goal of the report is to get local agencies to begin to talk to one another to coordinate responses to climate change. Many of the adaptation strategies proposed in the report will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a real “win-win” overall.
A copy of the report is available for download from the SPUR website.
- – -
I’m delighted to announce that our blog is adding contributing writers. We’ll have our first post by a contributing writer later today!
Early this month the U.S. EPA launched its 2011 National Building Competition, “Battle of the Buildings“. 245 buildings from across the country will be battling it out “head to head” to see how much each can reduce energy consumption by a given deadline.
The buildings represent a mix of buildings including 26 different commercial building types and a range of building ages up to 100+. The Competitors will be using EPA’s online tracking tool Energy Star Portfolio Manager to keep track of results.
With the building sector contributing near 20 percent of the country’s energy use and emissions according to the EPA, this competition will help raise awareness and provide practical case studies for a variety of real-world situations.
the competition site even features a tweet stream to follow along with participants’ progress.
The top scoring buildings move on to the finals in July, with an overall winner announced in November.
I am a contributing author to Energy, Sustainability and the Environment: Technology, Incentives, Behavior. The book was just released by Elsevier, and you can find it on Amazon here.
Many thanks to friends and mentors Nick Rajkovich and Bill Miller for all their work on the chapter we wrote together.
I got my copy from the publisher in the mail last night.