It must have been 10 years ago when Prince Charles began urging British companies to put carbon labeling on all of their products. Many scoffed. Few complied. He then proceeded to “walk the walk” and monitor his own carbon footprint, even recently converting his 38-year-old classic Aston Martin – a 21st birthday present from the Queen – to run on 100 percent bioethanol fuel distilled from surplus British wine. (Who knew the British had surplus wine?)
The idea has been slowly catching on around the world, and with Walmart’s Sustainability Index (an initiative that will eventually rank every product on the retail giants' shelves so every customer will know exactly how sustainably it was produced), companies are going to have to play or pay. After all, when Walmart says jump, the world says, “How high?”
This is going to be a great day for the “paper vs. pixels” argument currently raging. International Paper recently brought the argument to light with their Down to Earth piece entitled “Are Pixels Greener than Paper?” (PDF 872kb) and they drew both praise and criticism for their efforts. The long and short of it is – if your digital gizmos and your ream of paper had carbon labels, the argument wouldn’t be quite as controversial.
Paper has got a lot better track record than plastic electronics – from the cradle to the grave. As much as we may want to think that our emails and iPhones are better for the planet, they are not made from renewable resources, can’t be economically recycled, don’t use as much as 50 percent biofuels to be manufactured, can’t biodegrade and don’t create an incentive for anybody to keep growing trees on Planet Earth.
We applaud International Paper for sticking their necks out and putting down some hard facts that not only help people think more clearly, but also may force the digital revolution to do a better job of owning up to its environmental impact. And we’re proud to be a part of the Down to Earth project with them.
So people – get out your Aston Martin, some unused wine and a jaunty driving cap and get ready for the labeling revolution. When you start tallying up your daily carbon footprint, you’re going to have to green up or go home.
Tue, November 10, 2009
by Suzanna Phelps-Fredette filed under