Friday, June 1, 2007

Green or just green washing?

These days, it seems like every product (and company) out there is jumping on the eco-bandwagon. With all the feel-good ads and new "green" products out there, it can be hard to tell what's green-washing and what's really a sustainable choice.

The bad news: There are very few 100% green products. Many products are sustainable in some ways, and not so green in others. Chances are, you'll need to decide what green qualities are most important to you. Indoor air quality? Recycled content? Durability?

The good news: There are basic criteria you can use to evaluate the sustainability of a product, and decide if it's green to you. offers a great free online article
that outlines how to evaluate the greenness of a product. It's meant specifically for building products, but is applicable to pretty much any product you'd bring into your home. (There's one category that I'd add to their list - and that would be the way the company treats its employees. Are they paid a living wage? Exposed to dangerous working conditions? If so, their product isn't green to me.)

Not into researching every can of paint, lamp or tile you bring into your abode? These resources will help you find green products fast.

-'s GreenSpec Directory is a comprehensive directory of environmentally preferable building products (available online or as an annual publication).
- Domino Magazine and's 2007 Green List includes listings for sustainable furniture, food, clothing, travel and more.
- The Green Home Guide has helpful room-by-room information about making green buying choices.
- National Geographic's The Green Guide offers green home advice and news.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Socialites Clean Green

Green cleaning products are gaining popularity with the wealthy and well connected. Interested in using green cleaning products in your home? Check out Seventh Generation or Green Clean (a local company) or consider mixing up some green cleaners yourself from ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New York City Plan for Sustainability

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg proposed a series of projects and regulations to turn New York into “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city.” Most contentious is the proposed $8 a day charge for anyone driving into lower Manhattan, but the proposal included improved public transit for neighborhoods without access to subways (that would be completed before congestion charges are instituted). The proposal also calls for the creation of a New York City Energy Planning Board and an Energy Efficiency Authority to oversee conservation efforts.

Friday, April 20, 2007

An Educated Consumer is the Best Customer...

... we've heard that phrase thrown around at lots of green building events in town lately (with credit to Sy Syms, of course). The idea is that if consumers understood the impact of their choices on their wallets, their health and the environment, they might make different choices. The New York Times yesterday looked at the way Sharp is selling their solar panels in California, and it's an interesting strategy of education first, sales second.

iTunes Podcasts for Earth Day

Something to listen to while you bike or ride to EarthFest at the Zoo this Sunday - iTunes' Earth Day podcasts. Download podcasts from, the Sierra Club, NPR, and more! Free, entertaining and educational.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

EPA Moves Tentatively Towards Green

As of May 1st, the EPA will be asking hotels and convention centers bidding for their business about the sustainability of their operations. According to the NY Times, the "questions range from sweeping queries about recycling programs and energy efficiency to specific ones about paperless billing and reused towels". Unfortunately, the questions will only be "considered" when selecting a meeting space, and the EPA won't verify the honesty of hotels answers.

The EPA is also (finally) considering a proposal that would cut emissions from lawnmowers about 35 percent, and put reduce powerboat and outboard engine emissions by 70 percent. The proposal would regulate about 25 percent of all mobile-source hydrocarbon emissions.

Baby steps, but maybe they're starting to take the Supreme Court ruling earlier this month to heart?

Home Depot to Label Green Products

Unless you want drag your copy of the GreenSpec directory with you every time you head out to the home improvement store, it can be difficult to identify environmentally preferable products. Until now. Today Home Depot (the world's largest buyer of construction material, and the country's second biggest retailer) will introduce a "Eco Options" label that identifies products as environmentally friendly. The initiative is expected to include 6000 products by 2009 - or 12 percent of the chain's sales. Read more in the NY Times or check out the official Home Depot site for more information.