Posts Tagged ‘ecology’


Staples Inc., the world’s largest office-supplies retailer, ended its contracts with Asia Pulp & Paper Co. because of its environmental practices. As reported by Heather Burke for Bloomberg.com,

“The retailer stopped its 11-year relationship with Asia Pulp in late January, spokesman Owen Davis wrote in an e-mail today. Staples got about 5 percent of its paper from Asia Pulp, which it used in some Staples-brand products. Davis declined to disclose the value of the contracts….Asia Pulp’s partners have cleared about 50,000 acres of natural forest in the Bukit Tigapuluh national park, in many instances violating Indonesian law, the WWF said. Asia Pulp has denied any violations, saying it received proper licenses.” This was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

It is great to see a positive influence on business practices from the WWF’s efforts to publicize environmental problems around the world. For more information, see the World Wildlife Fund links two posts ago on this site.

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As reported by Robert Booth of The Guardian:

“Groups who attempt to raise money for charity by climbing the highest mountains in England, Wales, and Scotland in one day are blamed for causing environmental havoc … on the three peaks.”

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Two wrongs don’t make “a right”, and neither do 200. This is an unfortunate story, but it helps illustrate that it is not enough to care about the environment- one must be able to make informed and sensible choices in order to help solve environmental problems. Becoming informed is no easy task, however, given the misinformation and confusing messages that are often provided, especially by Federal, State and corporate sources in the US and elsewhere (on, for example, the subject of biofuels such as ethanol from corn). In striking contrast to the more typical messages we hear, the city of Portland, Oregon has developed a rational sustainability plan that includes a critical assessment (and sometimes rejection) of different sources of biofuels. Similar ideas are expressed in the recent draft legislation proposed by the European Union for governing the source of biofuels.

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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Please read the story that my previous post links to on cities that are taking various approaches to sustainability. I applaud these cities on their effort, risk, expenditure and cooperation…

but I’d like to hear what people think about the cities’ actual solutions!

Since I can barely find people who agree on anything regarding alternative fuel, or at best we seem to have warring camps, did these cities choose plans that will help or hurt the environment? How did they know what to do when so few others agree? The best presentation at a City Council meeting may reflect marketing skills rather than content.

So, let’s bring it on in a discussion, pro or con, but civil please. Thanks!

What do you think?

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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Peaks Island in Casco Bay, off Portland, Maine. Photo by S. R. Shray, used with permission, some rights reserved, 2007

Please check out Treehugger.com for a huge collection of articles, discussion forums, practical tips and wildly utopian but stimulating ideas for helping the environment.

The site also has treehuggertv for video reports (haven’t watched any yet).

As usual, I don’t endorse all the views expressed on the site (though I do endorse my own comments found there!), but I fully support engaging in the discussion and debate on treehugger as well as on my own blog.

We simply will not make progress talking only to people who agree with us or by dogmatically refusing to listen to dissenting opinions. Of that, I am sure. So, again, I invite comments, criticism, debate and discussion. Praise is nice, but not as important as these other responses.

Sample stories from treehugger.com:

IBM Chips In a Wafer

by Tim McGee, Helena, MT, USA

“Although silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth, single crystal silicon wafers don’t grow on trees- yet. It is actually quite an extensive and expensive process to produce silicon wafers, which are used to create everything from computer chips to solar cells. As announced via the IBM video above, IBM’ers in Vermont have devised a process that allows their rejected wafers to be repurposed for solar cells.”

Garbage-Burning Oven Helps Clean Up and Power Kenyan Slum

by Eliza Barclay, Nomad

“The Christian Science Monitor has a piece out of Nairobi on a garbage-burning oven in the notorious slum of Kibera that aims to preserve the country’s forests, which are swiftly being cleared to provide wood and charcoal for cooking, while finding a way to utilize trash for energy. If successful, Monitor says, the pilot project could be a model for megacities and the waste they create.”

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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