Southern California environment news and trends

Whole Foods’ eco-rated cleaning aisle goes green

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AP Photo/Harry Cabluck

The Whole Foods main store in Austin, Texas.

Think you know what lurks inside your basic household cleaning products? There’s a good chance you really don’t. According to a 2011 Harris Interactive poll taken exclusively for Whole Foods, 73 percent of consumers believe the U.S. government requires cleaning suppliers to list all ingredients on packaging. And they’re wrong.

The reason Whole Foods was compelled to take such a survey was to herald the success of the chain’s Eco-Scale rating system for cleaning products, which does require a full disclosure of all ingredients. A year after launching, the program has resulted in more than 90 percent of the cleaning products sold in their stores passing the company's "green cleaning test."

"We launched Eco-Scale to help shoppers make smarter, greener choices for their families and the planet and provide a way to know exactly what ingredients are in their household cleaning products," said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market in a press release.


Whole Foods, Safeway earn top seafood marks from Greenpeace

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Getty Images

Earlier this month, Greenpeace released their 2012 Carting Away the Oceans report (AKA CATO). It found that grocery chains Safeway and Whole Foods are the first retailers to earn a “green” rating for the sustainability of the seafood sold in their stores.

“Safeway and Whole Foods have transformed themselves into true industry leaders,” said Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner Casson Trenor in a press release. “There is certainly still more work to be done, but we celebrate the achievements of these companies and eagerly await similar actions from other retailers posed to embrace sustainability to a greater degree.”

Both stores earned a rating of 7.1 out of 10, with 7 being the lowest score that qualifies as “green” in the annual report, launched in 2008. Greenpeace was especially enamored with Whole Foods’ recent Earth Day-related pledge to stop selling “red-listed” seafood species, a move we reported on last month. To be red-listed, a species is determined to be from depleted waters or collected through destructive means.


Recycle old Facebook posts for greener living

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As the world becomes a sustainable place, beverage maker Honest Tea has created a cheeky new app that promotes greener living through recycling old Facebook posts. 

Created in conjunction with ad agency Amalgamated, the application allows users to scroll through past Facebook status updates for ones that garnered the most likes and commentary. As reported by Triple Pundit, whenever an approved post is “recycled,” it will re-post with a message promoting sustainability. Recyclebank users can also collect points redeemable for rewards.

It’s part of Honest Tea’s Great Recycle campaign, which has the goal of the company recycling every bottle they produce by the year 2020. The campaign was launched on Earth Day in New York City with a 30-foot bin in Times Square with the goal of collecting over 45,000 bottles.


Ford Motor Co. works on recycling cash into car parts

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Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Due in large part to skyrocketing petroleum prices, Ford Motor Co. has made finding sustainable materials to replace plastic a priority. As we reported earlier this year, Ford (in partnership with REPREVE) collected bottles at both the 2012 North American Auto Show in Detroit and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to convert them into car interiors for the new Focus Electric vehicles.

This year also saw Ford turn up their sustainable and recycling efforts with other unorthodox materials, such as denim and soy-based products, being reconstituted into various car parts. Now, according to Inhabitat, Ford is looking to convert piles of old, shredded cash money bills into components for new cars.

“Ford has a long history of developing green technologies because it’s the right thing to do from an environmental perspective,” said John Viera, Ford’s global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters to inhabitat. “The potential to reuse some of the country’s paper currency once it has been taken out of circulation is a great example of the kind of research we are doing,”


Sustainable buzz: Reusing coffee grounds and tea leaves

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Freshly-roasted espresso coffee beans cool in a refurbished 1918 Probat coffee bean roaster.

For many of us, caffeine is a managed addiction. It could be that routine trip to a local teahouse for a particular blend, or a certain bean that makes the perfect cup every time. Regardless of your degree of coffee/tea snobbery (or lack thereof), the countless masses sifting though the stuff on a daily basis adds up to a lot of used grinds and leaves. For the more sustainability-conscious consumer, the inevitable question arises: What can I do with it? According to Treehugger, the answer is quite a lot.

The piece goes on to detail no less than 20 uses for both used coffee grounds and tea leaves, many of which of are unexpected, to say the least. While things like adding coffee grounds to soil for plants that crave acids (like roses and evergreens) might be common knowledge among gardeners, coffee grounds can also be used to deter ants and when mixed with orange peel, have the same effect on cats. They’re also good for cleaning fireplaces, as the damp grounds weigh down the ash and helps reduce dust.