Jubbling Our Way Through Greenfest Seattle

Something that you should know about Jubbling is that we try to avoid events with “green” in the name. Unlike Jubbling, green is such an overused term and often repels as many people as it attracts. But we’re always in need of new ideas so we headed over to Seattle to see what was going on. Thankfully, Green Festival Seattle was not an overly hyped marketing event and instead focused on local vendors and offered solutions in a more Jubbling vein. You still had companies like Nature’s Path, Tesla, and Verizon but they were easily outnumbered by small local companies like ecohaus, SolTerra and ReUsie.

For my trip to Green Fest, I brought with me a couple of experts in the area of Jubbling – my daughter Amanda and her friend Maggie. Mandy and Maggie - Gray-Water Toilet ExpertsThe main reason they came along is that they’re pretty savvy kids who are not afraid to ask the tough questions. The other reason was that I knew they would willingly snoop around the PETA booth and see if the woman in the “One pound of meat equals six months of showers” display was naked. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get positive confirmation.)

Interesting Products
ecohaus’s Gray-Water Toilet – An older idea but still awesome. A sink mounted in the lid over the tank lets the water that normally goes down the drain fill the tank for the next flush. ecohaus is a reseller of innovative building products that are sustainably produced, designed to reduce and built to last. The gray-water toilet is one of many thoughtful products you can purchase from ecohaus. And yes, you can brush your teeth in the built-in sink while you’re taking care of business in the morning. True multitasking!

SolTerra Systems EcoRoofSolTerra Systems EcoRoofs – SolTerra is a local company retrofitting and/or building new living roofs onto homes and businesses. SolTerra’s “EcoRoofs” can support a garden, will insulate your home from extreme hot and cold weather and are expected to last up to 50+ years. They also mitigate the effects of runoff by filtering and retaining up to 69% of the rainfall.

SodaStreamSodaStream – A showstopper for the kids. SodaStream is a simple product that uses a compressed CO2 canister to carbonate normal tap water into sparkling water. Add a small shot of flavor and you’ve got your favorite soda. Flavors are all natural and include root beer, cola, diet cola and every other color of soda you can think of. SodaStream’s goal is to move the anti-bottled water debate to the possibly-recycled containers delivering soda that is loaded with preservatives. And the CO2 canisters can be exchanged and recharged and will supply enough carbonation to produce from 60 – 110 liters of flavored or straight soda water.

McShit From Green Festival SeattleGreen Fest was loaded with other great booths but I’ve got to reach out to the Vegans – pitching your cause and ideals is great but staring down the attendees is probably not the best way to attract a following. I guess the saying “Love animals. Hate humans” applies here because there was a lot of carnivore-profiling going on at that booth. Fortunately for them, they’re booth ended up being the most memorable for the kids. I’m not sure why but I think it had to do with one of their t-shirts.

Anyways, if a Green Fest comes to your town I would recommend attending. You’ll find a lot of good people and discover Jubbling ideas that are not all extreme and are usually local. Definitely bring your kids too. They’ll ask questions that you wouldn’t think of and in a pinch, they’ll nose around the PETA booth and let you know if the shower-taker is naked or not.


US Agencies Toughen Up Energy Star Standards After Embarrassing Lapses

This article originally appeared at BusinessGreen.com, and is reprinted with permission.

From April 16, 2010 – James Murray, BusinessGreen.com – Undercover investigators gain Energy Star accreditation for phony gas-powered alarm clock.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy this week announced emergency measures to tighten the procedures governing the award of Energy Star certification after undercover investigators revealed the current system was so flawed that made up products were able to attain accreditation.

Energy StarAccording to a report released late last month, investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) were able to obtain Energy Star accreditation for 15 out of 20 fake products that they submitted under the energy efficiency labeling scheme.

The phony products included a gas-powered alarm clock and a “room air cleaner “, which was displayed in mocked up photos showing an electric space heater with a feather duster attached to it.

The GAO report, which was commissioned by Republican Senator Susan Collins, said the practice of approving products based on energy savings data presented by manufacturers themselves left the scheme “vulnerable to fraud and abuse”.

The agencies responsible for the scheme moved this week to address the issue, announcing that effective immediately all manufacturers applying for Energy Star certification would have to submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval by EPA prior to labeling.

The tightened procedure replaces the previous automated approval process that would dish out certification to any product that appeared to meet the necessary criteria.

Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, said the new rules would help to restore confidence in the scheme. “The safeguards we’re putting into effect are essential for the millions of consumers who rely on Energy Star products to help save energy, money and the environment,” she said.

The EPA added that the approval process would be further tightened at the end of the year when new rules will be introduced requiring all manufacturers to submit test results from an approved, accredited lab for any product seeking the Energy Star label.

However, it remains to be seen if the crack down will help restore the scheme’s badly bruised credibility.

The Energy Star scheme covers a huge range of products, including white goods, computers and building materials, and is meant to promote products that are between 10 and 25 per cent more efficient than minimum federal standards.

But it has been widely criticized over the years for failing to adequately police the scheme and update standards as technologies improve – a scenario that in some cases has seen Energy Star labels carried by virtually every product in a market.

The EPA launched a crack down on products that should not be carrying the label at the start of the year, claiming its first victim when LG was ordered to stop using the label on a number of fridges that failed to meet required energy efficiency standards in independent tests.

But the reforms did not come quick enough to halt the latest embarrassing revelations and the EPA is likely to require much more widespread testing if it wants to restore confidence in the scheme.


What The Heck Is “Slack Fill”?

Ginger Snaps CSPIEvery consumer has experienced “slack fill” but might not have known the name for it. It’s the process by which food manufacturers excessively package products to give consumers the feeling they are receiving more product. It is commonplace in snack foods, cereals etc and the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) is taking up the fight against it. They are urging the FDA and states attorneys general to enforce their own rules against deceptive and excessive packaging. CSPI’s Executive Director, Michael F. Jacobson, stated that

“…as consumers we’ve almost come to expect that our food packages will be half full of food and half full of air. Slack fill is just one trick that food marketers employ to make us think we’re getting more for our money than we are.” [FPD]

Mr. Jacobson went further and used a box of Nabisco Ginger Snaps to make the point that since the box is half full, the shipping container used to get it to consumers would be half full too. Now it’s an efficiency issue.

But the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) believes current packaging and slack fill is necessary in order to adhere to the FDA’s policies and to protect their member’s product in transit. They responded by saying:

“The realities are that there are a multitude of reasons why certain packages are certain sizes, including FDA food safety requirements as well as size, shape and rigidity requirements that enable products to withstand the demands of the supply chain (i.e., shipping, storing, etc.). [MediaPost.com]

The whole “slack fill” debate reminds me of the cold war where each side waited for the other side to blink. Hopefully one food manufacturer will step up and blink first so the others will follow. I understand part of the reason why food companies over package and slack fill their products; it’s all about being eye level and most importantly, it’s about occupying as much shelf space as possible. But maybe the benefits of reduced packaging & freight costs and some good marketing could change that thinking. Then it will be up to consumers to support this move.

Hunger has led me to focus on groceries but excessive packaging is found in kids toys, electronics, storage media etc. It’s everywhere. If want to see change, look on the back of the products you buy and call or email the company and ask them to reduce their packaging. Companies do listen and “reasonable” negative comments carry more weight than positive ones.


Lee Scott, Former CEO Of Wal-Mart: You Have A Job Waiting For You At Jubbling (Please Bring Your Wallet)

Green Wal-Mart LogoAfter reading through 4 billion articles, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reports, press releases and blogs, I finally found the person who can lead Jubbling into the future and I only had to look to Wal-Mart. Yep, Wal-Mart. The name alone strikes fear in most consumers and it has been and easy target for anyone who doesn’t work or shop in their stores. Wal-Mart’s former CEO, Harold “Lee” Scott Jr., featured speaker at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2010 business conference, fired up the Jubbling when he stated:

“What Wal-Mart has done is approach this from a business stand point and not from a point of altruism. If we as a company focus on waste, we can make Wal-Mart a better company and at the same time, become a better citizen,”

Basically, being green or Jubbling is a byproduct of running an efficient business. No, Leo Dicaprio won’t appear in their commercials or tout shopping in their stores and no, Wal-Mart will probably never be compared to Nordstroms. Heck, they may never be a Target for that matter but it is sure refreshing to hear a business cut through the crap of the sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon credits etc. and tell us what their true motivation for Jubbling is.

Now don’t get me wrong; Wal-Mart still has a way to go before they’ll get a Jubbie. But we do like their directness and have no problem with the fact that increased business efficiency is their motivation for minimizing their environmental impact. Jubbling is Jubbling and doesn’t always have to conform to the dictates established by a vocal majority or appeal to the earthy groupies. [Cnet GreenTech]

Related article:

  • Greening the Mainstream, One Big Box at a Time from Treehugger.
  • Eco-Sex And Why Jubbling Is Not Ready For It

    “Jubbling? Sounds like something that happens when two women jump on a trampoline!” – Anonymous Fan

    Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life SustainableAt some point, every website out there figures out that sex sells and green/eco websites are no different. That’s probably why last week, there was a glut of stories about a new book from Stephanie Iris Weiss titled “Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable“. The book offers tips and suggestions on how to “green up” every aspect of dating, romance and of course sex. But unlike Marv Albert, Jubbling won’t bite on this. No, we’ll try hard to avoid the topic of “green-sex” until somebody develops a way to harness that action to charge a cellphone or in my case, a watch battery.

    The book is out there if you’re ready for it or you can just assume you are doing everything wrong and focus on an area you can make an immediate difference — like carpooling to work or hanging your clothes on a clothesline. Eco-sex can wait.


    Another Reason To Shop At Target – Target Adds Recycling

    Target RecylingTarget is to buying stuff what Federal Express is to shipping. Despite their size, Target always seems to be one step ahead of their competition and their move to provide in-store recycling is just one more example. I’m not sure how many people will take advantage of their recycling bins but having them available is pretty original for a major retailer. Not only can you bring in your cans and bottles but you can also deposit small electronics (cell phones, mp3 players etc.) in the bins for safe disposal.

    In September 2009 we posted an article about Target’s partnership with Nextworth. Nextworth is an e-cycling company that determines the value of old electronic devices including cellphones, gaming equipment etc. They’ll issue you a shipping label to send the equipment to them and then follow up with you via a gift card to partner retailers like Target.