Monday, November 2, 2009

Has all of this access led to apathy?

It is easier to throw something away rather then recycle it. It’s easier to keep our heat @ 75 in the winter rather than put on a sweater or a robe. It’s easier to watch TV rather than read a good book. It’s easier to drive 5 miles to work rather than ride our bike. It’s easier to stay out of shape rather than become physically fit. I'll be honest, in my kitchen right now there is a stack of steel cans and several bottles waiting to be brought to the recycling center – on bad days when a big meal has been cooked, and my counter is overflowing with dishes, there are times I want to throw all of those recyclables in the trash because that is the easy thing to do.

A recent article says, “Consumers have good intentions - but not very good follow-through. Surveys over the past five years, including this year, show consistently large
discrepancies between intentions and actions. Every year, for example, around 20
percent or more consumers say they`re planning to get an energy audit, yet the
percentage of U.S. homeowners who've actually gotten one has languished in the
10-15 percent range.”

In our world many tasks have become simple, easy, and instant – the internet can answer almost any question we have, cell phones allow us to talk to anyone at anytime we choose, Facebook keeps us connected to everyone we have ever known, 24hr fast food feeds our late night cravings, Wal-Mart is open 24 hrs a day every day, twitter keeps us closely connected with our favorite celebrities, etc… we are becoming more and more demanding of our products and now more than ever we expect what we want when we want it. The mere fact that we live in a society that can provide us with our demands is an astounding accomplishment – and something to be very proud of. We live in the most advanced civilization to walk the earth with amenities unfathomable a mere 50 years ago! The question is, has all this access made us apathetic? Do we have the patience not to opt for the easy out?

Living an environmentally responsible life is not easy, but if we are to curb climate change and conquer the environmental issues facing us today we must turn our intentions into consistent actions, we must make better choices in our daily lives, and we must demand a better future for ourselves, our kids, and our planet. Here’s to action!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ditching organic for natural - at what cost?

You're standing in front of your favorite type of food deciding on which brand to purchase... you have two choices, one is Organic and the other one is Natural, which one do you choose? Some reports show that a majority of consumers opt for Natural over Organic citing the word "Organic" as a buzz word interchangeable with "Natural" allowing Companies to sell products at a higher price. So, which would you choose?

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune described the differences as follows:


Meat: Comes from animals whose bodies and food are never treated with pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics or hormones. Animals must have access to exercise and sunlight, and time to graze in pastures rather than feedlots. Feed must be certified organic with no genetic modifications or animal byproducts.

Milk: Same rules as for meat.

Other foods: Produce must be grown on a farm that for at least three years has used no synthetic herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers and has not planted any genetically modified seeds, used fertilizers derived from sewage sludge or treated seeds with irradiation.

Personal care products: "100 percent organic" means a product contains only organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). "Organic" means 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Only those categories can bear the USDA's organic seal. Products with 70 percent organically produced ingredients can be labeled "made with organic ingredients" but may not use the seal. All products must display the certifier's name and address.


Meat: Must contain no artificial ingredient or added color and be only minimally processed (no fundamental alterations of the raw product). Label must explain use of the term natural; for example: "no added colorings or artificial ingredients; minimally processed." Some farms hire their own inspectors.

Milk: No regulatory definition.

Other foods: No regulatory definition. A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration says "the agency does not object to using the term on food labels 'in a manner that is truthful and not misleading' and if the product has no added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances."

Personal care products: No regulatory definition. An industry group, the Natural Products Association, says products carrying its natural seal derive 95 percent of the ingredients from natural sources. Other rules include: no ingredients with suspected human health risks, no processes that significantly alter the purity/effect of natural ingredients, ingredients from a renewable or plentiful natural source, minimal manufacturing processes."

Whitewave foods, makers of Silk brand Soymilk and Horizon brand Organic milk, was recently faced with this very decision and opted for natural over organic soybeans in all but three of its Silk Soymilk products. The company states their current business structure - impacted by the recession and the skyrocketing price of Organic soybeans - required a change to continue being a sustainable business model. But isn't this the reason some of us choose Natural over Organic? It comes down to price/cost... The definitions of Organic and Natural are not clear in the forefront of our minds and somehow the word Organic has developed a reputation for being unregulated and abused - we feel we are getting a better product for a better price when we buy "Natural", however this is a misconception. A standard regulatory system does not exist for "Natural" products and, in fact, the word "Natural" is the term that is being used as a buzz word to get us to make a purchase.

The difference between the two terms comes down to the use of chemicals and pesticides at the botanical stage. Unless you see the words "certified organic", or some type of official certification, labeled on the product you are purchasing, the botanical product was not grown in a chemical-free environment. Natural only means the final product was made solely from botanical resources without additives or preservatives.

For more information on why choosing Organic is "worth it", visit the Organic Agriculture and Products Education Institute's "Organic is worth it" page.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Pledge Eco In Nashville, TN

Hey everyone,
Well Nashville Pride was a huge success. We had the chance to meet so many new people and spread the word about living a more eco friendly lifestyle. Everyone seemed to really like the designs and we definitely consider it a huge success. We took a bunch of pictures of the event so come by our facebook page and check them out!

Also, don't forget our website is now live, so please stop by and check out our shirts!

Nourish your outside,


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ice free Arctic Sea?

Unfortunately, it looks like it may not be too far off... A recent article from the Washington Post referencing new data from the National Snow and Ice data center is frightening.

"MAKE NO mistake, Arctic Sea ice is melting. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the maximum extent of the winter sea ice cover for 2008-09 was the fifth-lowest on record. Underscoring their point, the agencies added, "The six lowest maximum events since satellite monitoring began in 1979 have all occurred in the past six years (2004-09)."

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Pledge Eco - Green Fest Highlights

Here is a video with some highlights from our booth at the Chicago green festival:

Monday, May 11, 2009

The benefits of organic cotton

Here is a great article from the organic trade association on the benefits of organic cotton.

The original article can be found here:

Cotton and the Environment

Benefit of Organic
Organic agriculture protects the health of people and the planet by reducing the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences, from asthma to cancer. Because organic agriculture doesn't use toxic and persistent pesticides, choosing organic products is an easy way to help protect yourself.
Acreage estimates for the 2006 U.S. cotton crop show approximately 5,971 acres of certified organic cotton were planted in the United States and in 2007, farmers planed 7,473 acres. Internationally, Turkey and the United States are the largest organic cotton producers.

Demand is being driven by apparel and textile companies that are expanding their 100% organic cotton program and developing programs that blend small percentages of organic cotton with their conventional cotton products.
Here are some reasons why organic cotton production is important to the long-term health of the planet.
   €    Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.). (Allan Woodburn)
    €    Approximately 10% of all pesticides sold for use in U. S. agriculture were applied to cotton in 1997, the most recent year for which such data is publicly available. (ACPA)
    €    Fifty-five million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on the 12.8 million acres of conventional cotton grown in the U.S. in 2003 (4.3 pounds/ acre), ranking cotton third behind corn and soybeans in total amount of pesticides sprayed. (USDA)
    €    Over 2.03 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers were applied to conventional cotton in 2000 (142 pounds/acre), making cotton the fourth most heavily fertilized crop behind corn, winter wheat, and soybeans. (USDA)
    €    The Environmental Protection Agency considers seven of the top 15 pesticides used on cotton in 2000 in the United States as "possible," "likely," "probable," or "known" human carcinogens (acephate, dichloropropene, diuron, fluometuron, pendimethalin, tribufos, and trifluralin). (EPA)
    €    In 1999, a work crew re-entered a cotton field about five hours after it was treated with tribufos and sodium chlorate (re-entry should have been prohibited for 24 hours). Seven workers subsequently sought medical treatment and five have had ongoing health problems. (California DPR)


OTA's "2006 U.S. Organic Production & Marketing Trends" report.

Allen Woodburn Associates Ltd./Managing Resources Ltd., "Cotton: The Crop and its Agrochemicals Market," 1995.
American Crop Protection Association, "1997 Total U. S. Sales by Crop Protection Product Type and Market," 1998 ACPA Industry Profile.
California Department of Pesticide Regulation, "DPR Releases Data on 1999 Pesticide Injuries," 2001.
U. S. Department of Agriculture, "Agricultural Chemical Usage: 2003 Field Crop Summary."
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, "List of Chemicals Evaluated for Carcinogenic Potential," 2001.
©2008, Organic Trade Association