What’s in a label? ISEAL Alliance aims for a gold medal with standard setting code.

Who’s certifying the certifiers?

Credible standards that define sustainable products is critical to ongoing work in sustainable supply chains.  Here’s an interesting presentation from a group that’s trying to bring more consistency to the standard setting process.  ISEAL is an organisation that is comprised of groups like FSC, Marine Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance and more.

Reeve is keen to see more developments like these.

Check out this quick and informative presentation on ISEAL Alliances Standard-Setting Code: Introduction to the ISEAL Standard-Setting Code

View more presentations from ISEAL Alliance.

Buy Smart Program Designed by Reeve Consulting Receives 2010 Games “Sustainability Star”

Vancouver 2010’s Buy Smart program of ethical and sustainable purchasing has been awarded one of the pretigious Sustainabilty Star designations for the 2010 Winter Games.

The Buy Smart program was originally envisioned by Tim Reeve, Terry Wright, John McLaughlin and other members of the 2010 Bid Corporation as part of Vancouver’s original bid submission to host the 2010 games.

Buy Smart is recognized as an Olympic first and complimented the Reeve designed ethical sourcing program for the 2010 Olympic Merchandising program.

With an Olympic sized shopping list and a spending budget of over $1 billion the 2010 games have the power to make a big impact in the marketplace.  Designed to leverage this spending power, Buy Smart has created opportunities for green business and technologies, social enterprises and Aboriginal entrepreneurs.  Buy Smart has played a key role in directing spending into communities that might not have otherwise benefited from the games, such as Aboriginal communities and Vancouver’s inner-city.

Buy Smart has been promoted widely within the International Olympic Committee and to future games Organizing Committee’s.  Delegations from both the London 2012 Games and the Sochi 2014 Games have been briefed about the Buy Smart program and how it can be used to leverage sustainability programming associated with the games and other major events

Reeve Consulting is proud to have worked so closely with VANOC, the 2010 Commerce Centre and other 2010 Games partners in the creation of Buy Smart and is thrilled to see it recognized as one of the key sustainability features of the 2010 games.

Sustainable Fashion?

As Vancouver Fashion Week winds down today, one might ask oneself what impact fashion might have on the environment and working conditions around the world? What, if any, positive impact would sustainable choices in fashion make to the environment? For the fashionably conscious switching from haute couture to baggy hemp garments doesn’t really seem like a choice. Is baggy hemp the only choice?

Vancouver Fashion Week brought some answers to these question last Friday at their Eco Fashion Show in the Colin Campbell building. Thanks to Paige Donner from Greening Hollywood Reeve Consutling’s Amanda Mungal had the opportunity to attend the show and was quite impressed with the work of our local designers. Not only were the clothes completely wearable and fashionable, each designer considered the environment and working conditions in their choice of textiles.

After the show Amanda met up with Paige to discuss what makes fashion eco-friendly? The most immediate answer was textiles; what is the environmental impact of their processing, what if any employment standards are adhered to in the manufacturing plants, is the resource being used sustainable? But like most things the answer is a bit more complicated.

Bamboo has of late been the hot new trend in sustainable textiles but questions have been raised in regards to its carbon footprint as well as the amount of water and chemicals used during the processing. The proponents of bamboo have argued that at least they are taking steps in the right direction, which is true. All change and innovation has a growth period during which shortfalls will need to be addressed.

Another option is 100% organic cotton. Organic cotton is currently produced in 24 countries around the globe its production is growing at a rate of 50% a year. The switch to organic cotton is important not just for the sake of feeling earth friendly but consider this: regular cotton takes up 2.4% of the worlds cultivated land mass but makes up for 16% of the use of insecticides. Imagine the impact that a large-scale move to organic cotton would have on the planet. Cotton can be grown all over the world, reducing its carbon footprint and with Fair Trade practices in place it would be a financially viable crop that supported local economies. Organic cotton is still significantly more expensive than regular cotton, but as more people get on board production will rise to meet demand and prices will come down.

Possibly the most environmentally friendly ‘R’ and the most overlooked is Re-use. Our consumer society has not embraced this notion to its fullest as we are encouraged to regularly buy the newest item that is better for the environment. Some designers have embraced the concept of Re-using by creating new items out of previously used fabrics. Planet Claire is an example of a local designer who manages to employ the concept of Re-use by selling and/or incorporating vintage clothing, using earth friendly fabrics, including seaweed and employing socially responsible labour practices.

So to answer the question can fashion be sustainable, does it matter and could making sustainable choices have an impact? Most definitely! Furthermore, as discovered at Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Show it can be cutting edge and stylish as well.

Reeve Consulting ‘Green Links’

Here are a couple of interesting links we’ve come accross in the past few weeks:

Motorola Releases Eco- Cell: A cell phone made of 100% post consumer water bottles has been certified the first carbon free phone. Motorola will also offset the amount of energy required to manufacture, ship and operate the phone. A postage paid envelope will also be included for return/recycling of the phone. It will sell for about $60 US. Check out their link for more infromation:  http://www.motorola.com/consumers/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=3bd6df420e68e110VgnVCM1000008406b00aRCRD

An interview with Chris Geiger, Manager of Green Purchasing and Integrated Pest Management from the City of San Francisco. See this website for the podcast: http://audio.aworldofpossibilities.com/audio/cohen_edwards64kb20081021.mp3

New York’s Green Purchasing Policy

http://www.greenerdesign.com/news/2008/12/15/new-york-green-purchasing

12 Step program for greening your supply chain.

http://www.2sustain.com/2008/12/20-steps-towards-sustainability.html

2012 Olympics publish sustainable procurement code.

http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2231451/london-2012-pub

Reeve ‘Out and About’: The Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit Workshop

Reeve participated this past Sunday, March 29th, in the Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET) Workshop organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) as a pre-conference activity to the 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver.

As a legacy of the 2010 Games, VANOC has been working with AISTS, the International Olympic Committee and other global sport organizations to create an easy-to-use web-based toolkit designed to help sport event organizers manage their footprint. This workshop was organized to provide understanding of the toolkit’s resources and website, and listen to first-hand stories from athletes and sport organizations currently involved in testing the toolkit.

The toolkit has eight chapters that will guide the user in creating sustainable sport and event strategies.  Chapter 5 focuses on how to involve the community and engage in Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing to support sustainable sport event commitments.  An innovative feature of the toolkit is the web-based SSET Wiki, which is an interactive platform that allows users of the toolkit to login and share best practices, ideas, statistics, stories and general comments and feedback.  The SSET Wiki also provides resources and tools that are linked directly to goals and objectives in the toolkit.

The workshop presented a wealth of information on how Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing can be leveraged by sports organizations to meet their overall sustainability commitments.  For example, VANOC shared some success stories of their Buy Smart Program, which was designed, with support from Reeve Consulting, to ensure that sustainability, ethical choices and Aboriginal participation are taken into account within procurement and licensing activities.  London 2012, Speed Skating Canada, and the International Cycling Union also recognized the role of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in achieving sustainability objectives of sporting events.

Reeve sees the SSET as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of future large-scale games and is excited to support the enhancement of this tool through the interactive wiki web platform.  The SSET will help to embed Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in future games and Reeve Consulting looks forward to participating in the application of this innovative toolkit.

Do You Really Know What You Are Buying? The Perils of GreenWashing…

Although many organisations recognize ethical and sustainable purchasing as a key strategic issue, barriers to action still exist.  One example is a lack of awareness or understanding what constitutes an ethically or environmentally preferable product or ‘green’ product.  Many products can claim to be “all natural”, “environmentally friendly” or even “fair trade”, but without certification to back these claims, it is difficult to know what, exactly, you are buying.  A recent report from Terra Choice Marketing, “The Six Sins of Greenwashing” highlight six specific, and not so uncommon practices, of companies providing misleading product information: 

1)       The Sin of the Hidden Trade-off

This sin is characterised by using one environmental attribute to suggest that a product is “green”.  The report cites that often claims are made based on a narrow set of green criteria and do not necessarily take into account a complete environmental analysis that looks at a product’s full lifecycle.   A case in point is a recent article (see below) from Queens Journal on a “carbon-positive” wine company.  Plantatree wine promises to plant a conifer sapling for every bottle sold in an attempt to offset the CO2 emitted from an average Canadian.  While a laudable initiative, the article points out that it may be more beneficial to offset the emissions caused from the production process for making the wine itself.   

2)       The Sin of No Proof

Pretty self-explanatory, ‘the sin of no proof’ occurs when product make unsubstantiated claims about their green attributes.  Products sometimes make claims to be energy-efficient or not tested on animals, to name a few examples, but provide no backup information or certification as proof. 

3)       Sin of Irrelevance

Products will sometimes promote themselves as being distinctively green when in reality, they are acting in compliance with local laws and regulations.  Terra Choice uses “CFCs” as an example.  These substances have been legally banned for 30 years, therefore all products are CFC-free.  Those touting themselves as such are misleading the public into believing they are in some way more progressive than they really are. 

4)       Sin of Vagueness

The sin of vagueness is characterized by claims that are ambiguous or meaningless.  One common example is products that print the Mobius loop (recycling symbol) without a qualifying statement that tells consumer exactly what, and how much, of the product is made from recycled content. 

5)       Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

Organic cigarettes or environmentally preferable herbicides are examples of products guilty of ‘the sin of lesser of two evils’.  Although such products may indeed offer favourable environmental attributes, the products, themselves, pose greater negative impact to the environment and human health. 

6)       Sin of Fibbing

Again, this is pretty self-explanatory.  Simply put, some products will lie outright about their environmental qualifications.  Although this is least common among the sins, it can occur. How do you avoid these sinful products?  The recommended approach is to first look for eco certifications standardized by bodies that issue guidelines for making environmental claims.  As an example, ISO 14024 sets guidelines or standards for third party Eco-labelling organizations to follow and ensures that environmental information is presented accurately.  Furthermore, the report suggests that consumers remain aware of the six sins and attempt to evaluate products accordingly. 

Although this report focused on greenwashing, the same may occur with ethical claims as well.  Therefore, look for fair trade certifications for added assurance these products meet the standards you expect.

Look for the Logo.  (Examples of product certifications)

Ecologo   Fair Trade Certified

More information on product certifications bodies:

www.ecologo.org

www.transfair.ca

For a copy of the TerraChoice report, please go to: http://www.terrachoice.com/Home/Greenwashing/The%20Six%20Sins 

Queen’s journal article on Green Wine: http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2008-01-15/news/tapping-sustainable-wine/ 

For more information on ISO 14024, please go to: http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=23145