4 product assessment measures

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

What is the value of trying to reduce emissions if the impact cannot be measured? How are sustainability actions measured? How indicative of what is actually happening are the metrics being used? Who is doing the measuring?

These questions are a long way from being answered definitively but one thing we know for sure is that corporations and entities are working towards figuring out ways to ensure that more information is made available to companies and individuals alike to help make decisions/frame our thinking of how sustainable our current consumption patterns are.

Image courtesy of inhabitat

Below is a list, in no particular order or ranking, of some companies and metrics for product assessments

1. GoodGuide uses publicly available data to rate over 100,000 products purchased by the average consumer. The company also has an app that allows you to scan a products barcode to get its ratings.
2. Wal-Mart’s Sustainability Index: Started by Wal-Mart to measure the environmental impact of products sold on shelves and enforced with the clout of the 200 million Wal-Mart customers across the world this initiative has been met with some skepticism by other retailers. Might still pick up yet considering the sheer size of the company championing this cause.

3. The Eco Index helps apparel and footwear makers select green materials for their manufacturing requirements. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition of which Yves Chouinard of Patagonia fame is involved is adopting this index. Yves Chouinard is also one of the founders of ‘1% For The Planet’, a group Power2Switch is proud to be a part of.
4. Climate Counts scores companies on the transparency of efforts aimed at sustainability and efforts to fight global warming.

These measures are far from perfect in how data is collected, assessed and graded to come up with values for how badly or how well products or companies are doing. What counts right now is that there is an acknowledgment of a need to keep track and pay attention to a serious issue of our time.

Any other ratings/rankings out of note out there?

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Power costs and other expenses, how can you reduce them?

July 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

The pesky thing about home expenses is that they are always there. When you reduce one expense (fewer bottles of soda) another expense very quickly pops up to replace it (that funny noise from the hood of your car turns into a full blown racket now you have to put the AC on). So what to do? Here are 10 tips that will enable you to have just one more thing you can do to keep a little more change in your pocket.

  1. Food waste: A trip to Costco might not be the smartest way to stock up on strawberries or croissants. Especially if you’re not having a party anytime soon. Volume discounts on perishable foods only make sense when there is an event (party, BBQ etc) and not for family consumption.  But if your family consists of more than 10 people then it might make sense…
  2. Power Costs: Get an HVAC inspection done in your home. You can find energy auditors or HVAC inspectors who can help assess how much energy your equipment might be consuming due to inefficient operation. Or you can just save by comparing electricity prices in the states where the option exists. Our website www.Power2Switch.com is your go to location for this in Illinois.
  3. Magazine Subscriptions: Most magazines are moving to online subscriptions now. A good idea might be to cancel the print subscription on most of the magazines you are subscribed to. There is a two-fold benefit to this: Less paper (and less trees being cut down) and reduced expenses for you ($14/year on 6 subscriptions is $84)
  4. Equipment sharing: Community based sharing is becoming a huge trend. This Fast Company article explores the move away from hyperconsumption as evidenced by the growth of several companies that enable shared usage of baby clothes (ThredUp) and car sharing (City Carshare). Amongst other things. A local company, OhSoWe (www.ohsowe.com) is at the forefront of bringing community sharing to all things sharable around the home (lawn mowers, drills etc). Sign on and start to build a village/sharing with your neighbors again.
  5. Restaurant trips: if you go out for dinner at least once a week and spend $12 for the meal (even with a discount coupon you’d still spend this much if you include tips) then you would have spent a whopping $624 on meals. And that’s even if you’re into Extreme Couponing.

So that’s five quick ways to reduce your home expenses (waste less food, reduce your power costs, cut magazine subscriptions, share equipment with neighbors and take fewer restaurant trips) and have money to spend for those things you actually want.

Any other suggestions?

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