Green-washing

Green-washing (or "green-whitewashing") means deliberately representing a product or service as more environmentally friendly than it is. Green-washing creates a false impression of sustainability.

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Like false advertising, it can be easier to spot green-washing than to control it. Green-washing claims may be partial, unsubstantiated or implied. Companies often exaggerate product benefits, but green-washing is different.

Green-washing is confusing at best, destructive at worst.

  • It creates skepticism about the seller, the product and how to evaluate claims
  • It affects people and ecosystems far beyond the actual buyers of the product
  • Green-washing is betrayal to socially responsible purchasers who seek out sustainable or eco-friendly products
  • Green-washing can ruin a company's reputation, since green buyers are educated and motivated consumers who retaliate with their spending.

Companies can avoid green-washing through diligence and honesty.

  • Take steps to practice what you preach. Incremental improvement is better than none
  • Include opportunity costs into your operations like reputation, customer loyalty, quality of employees, reduced waste and pollution
  • Enlist your customers, clients and employees to help. They appreciate honesty and may offer constructive remedies
  • Sustainability, like diet and exercise, is a holistic approach. Your supply chains, operations, marketing materials and products must also be sustainable
  • Hold yourself accountable and ask experts to help with product life cycle analysis, carbon foot printing, recycling or sustainability awareness.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts are fully sustainable in every stage of their life cycle
  • e360t shirts recycled plastic bottles, save water and save land
  • e360t shirts put your green beliefs and words into action in a fashionable and comfortable manner
  • e360t shirts are a small but meaningful way to show the difference between green-washing and real sustainability. You will lead by example!

Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are when the full cost of ownership is not included in the purchase price, because of additional expenses, opportunity costs, unseen problems or unintended consequences.

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Hidden costs can make products appear lower priced, easy to obtain or a good value. However, the long term cost to the individual or society from buying them can be  expensive or quite harmful.

Here are some examples of hidden costs:

  • Introductory “teaser” rates for loans and mortgages
  • Government subsidies to produce foods that lead to obesity or illness
  • Insufficient quality control from auto makers that result in recalls
  • Inferior products that need expensive repairs or maintenance
  • Weak enforcement of environmental laws which create pollution or health hazards
  • Cheap labor that exploits children, the poor and harms Third World societies.

Everyone wears a T-shirt. But… cotton T-shirt production has many hidden costs including:

  • Enormous amounts of fresh water to grow the cotton
  • Draining of lakes, rivers and other fresh water sources
  • Textile industry waste which pollutes water, land and air
  • Substandard wages for workers in developing countries
  • Rampant child labor, which harms families, prevents education and reinforces the poverty cycle
  • Hazardous working conditions for laborers in the fields and fatories
  • Poor quality or planned obsolescence so shirts are continually bought and discarded.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts are socially responsible apparel with obvious and straightforward benefits
  • e360t shirts have no hidden costs to consumers, manufacturers, workers or suppliers
  • e360t shirts have no hidden costs to the environment
  • e360t shirts have no hidden costs to human rights

Education Barriers

Obtaining a college degree has become universal among students. The percentage of high school students making the transition to college continues rise among all racial and ethnic groups.

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Even though the US has the world's largest and broadest post-secondary school system, significant barriers to higher education pervade our society. These barriers vary by income and family background. Middle class students are 50% less likely to complete college as wealthier students. Lower income youth face much greater difficulties enrolling, affording and graduating from college. Increased income inequality, stagnant incomes, and rising tuition have increased the cost burden of college on middle and low-income families.

A recent White House task force found that:

  • Family income is a major influence on college enrollment and graduation. While 78% of high school graduates from high-income families enrolled in college, middle and low-income families were 63% and 55%
  • About 30% of high-ability eighth-graders from low-income families later completed college, which is about the same as the share of low-scoring children from high-income  families
  • Information barriers also exist. Less affluent students often lack the networks to provide them with information about good, affordable schools along with the financial aid for which they are eligible. Low and middle-income students routinely eliminate colleges from consideration based on cost, before applying or even researching possible aid packages
  • Even after typical aid packages, lower and middle-income families pay a significant portion of their income for college, including room and board.  As a result, about 60% of college   students borrow for college, and the real median debt level has increased over the past four years by 11%.

Since the US population is rapidly becoming more diverse, the ethnic and racial  components of college enrollment and graduation cannot be ignored. Many of our students at the Institute for Sustainable Communication are first generation Americans, and most are the first people in their families to attend college. It is critical to give these low income youth as the opportunity to prepare for college, enroll and graduate. Expanding grants and loan programs is one way to maintain the vibrancy and inclusiveness of American education. Offering opportunities for these students to get internships, mentoring and real world experience is another.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts fund micro scholarships for college tuition for talented low income students
  • The students we support have talent, ambition and commitment, but no money to pay for college.

Cheap Labor

A sweatshop is a workplace characterized by substandard wages, few or no benefits, hazardous working conditions, hostile or arbitrary discipline, long hours and little if any government protection.

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Sweatshops are associated with developing nations but they also exist in modern societies. Sweatshop workers are often trapped in a cycle of poverty and exploitation, since they cannot improve their lives without significant savings, and most do not have education or other resources for social mobility.

Sweatshop workers include men, women and often children with little education, and  some of them actually work in conditions of modern slavery. Sweatshop labor sometimes comes from human trafficking or deception. Workers are lured to sweatshops under the pretense of higher pay and a better life, and they are kept at work by force, debt or other pressure. These are more likely in cases where the workforce is drawn from children or the uneducated rural poor.

Some Facts About Sweatshops

  • The International Labor Organization (ILO) has estimated that 250 million children between the ages of five and fourteen work in sweatshops in developing countries.  Of this population 61% are in Asia, 32% are in Africa and 7% are in Latin America
  • The wages that sweatshop workers receive rarely improve their economic  situation, since the wages are usually substandard and barely cover the cost of basic necessities
  • Sweatshop workers often do not earn enough money to buy the products that they make, even if they are making basic commodities
  • Almost 75% of the retail price of a garment is pure profit for the manufacturer and retailer
  • While many Americans believe the clothing they purchase is manufactured  domestically, the majority of private label clothing is manufactured outside the US in over 45 countries.

Fierce competition for cheaper labor costs, as well as the liberalization of trade barriers, have brought apparel production to countries where workers have little bargaining power and where authoritarian governments often suppress worker organizing.

During the past decade retailing has experienced a series of major mergers, which has led to a considerable consolidation of their buying power, especially among  discounters. The purchasing power of the largest retailers vastly increases their ability to put pressure on their suppliers to lower costs and increase delivery speed.

Wages do not Equal Productivity

Wages for sweatshop workers in developing countries often do not correlate to their productivity. According to surveys by Kurt Salmon Associates, Inc. “in Mexico apparel workers are 70% as productive as their U.S. counterparts, yet they earn just 10% as much per hour,” In countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam apparel exporters take advantage of extremely low labor costs at 33 cents, 37 cents and 38 cents per hour, respectively. The monthly minimum wage at apparel plants (which, like many Cambodian businesses, typically pay workers in U.S. dollars) was $45 in 2000, and nine years later it was $56. During that same period, inflation reduced  the buying power of a dollar by 37 percent.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts are sewn in small American factories that pay fair wages to their employees
  • e360t shirts are manufactured and sewn in factories that respect labor law and human rights
  • e360t shirts create jobs in the United States that are sources for upward mobility
  • e360t shirts are a small but meaningful way to show you are serious about fair trade, worker rights and sustainability.

Plastic Garbage

Plastic garbage is a widely recognized source of pollution. Finished products made of plastic are often non-biodegradable, so their disposal creates irreversible environmental damage in land and water.

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Plastic manufacturing involves using hazardous chemicals like benzene and vinyl  chloride, which can threaten health, safety and the environment. However, the disposal of plastic products, especially bottles, has created a global environmental crisis, which requires immediate preventive action.

Plastic bottles and other waste are dumped in landfills, rivers and oceans, which contaminate soil, water, marine life and the air. Plastic waste also clogs drainage systems and urban sewers.

Pollution from plastic waste is visible and deadly, but it is also preventable. We cannot prevent manufacturers from using plastic, but we can help reduce disposal waste with sensible reuse and recycling.

Facts about Plastic

  • Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today
  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose
  • A plastic cup can take 50-80 years to decompose
  • Plastic garbage in the ocean kills as many as 1 million sea creatures every year
  • The global fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines and buoys
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR
  • Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1   to 2% of it
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic, is dumped in the world's oceans every year
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make trash cans, park benches, playground equipment and kayaks
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make fleece-like fabrics used in clothes and blankets
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator
  • Recycled plastic bottles can be made into clothing, carpeting, detergent bottles and lumber for outdoor decking.

The North Pacific Gyre (The Great Pacific Garbage Patch)

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a ring of marine litter in the central North  Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N. Many scientists suggest that the patch extends over a very wide area, with estimates ranging from an area the size of Texas to one larger than the continental United States. Recent data collected from Pacific albatross populations suggest there may be two distinct zones of concentrated debris in the Pacific.

The North Pacific Gyre has exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North   Pacific Ocean. The Gyre is composed of billions of small trash islands, many of which are underwater and spread out over many miles, which makes it difficult to study.

Ninety percent of all garbage floating in the world’s oceans is plastic. In 2006, UN environment programs estimated that every square mile of ocean contained at least  46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Floating in the surface layer are plastic products, drift nets, tires, plastic bags, packing straps, and common household items like deodorant bottles. One suspected spill of plastic bags was measured to have covered ten miles of ocean.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts are made from 100% recycled PET, the same plastic as soda and water bottles
  • Each e360t shirts uses 3 plastic bottles that would have ended up in a landfill or in the ocean
  • e360t shirts prevent waste and send the message you care about recycling and the environment
  • e360t shirts are a small but meaningful way to show you are serious about recycling   plastic, preventing waste, saving water and land and encouraging sustainability.

Water Pollution

The textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. The World Bank estimates that almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.

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Some 72 toxic chemicals reach our water supply from textile dyeing. Many of these chemicals cannot be filtered or removed. The textile industry is second only to agriculture as the biggest polluter of clean water globally. Dyeing, rinsing, and treatment of  textiles all use large amounts of fresh water.

Cotton production accounts for 2.6% of annual global water usage. A single T-shirt made from conventional cotton requires 2700 liters of water, and a third of a pound of chemicals to produce.

Millions of gallons of wastewater discharged by mills each year contain chemicals such as   formaldehyde (HCHO), chlorine and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. These chemicals cause both environmental damage and human disease. Effluents released from mills are often at high temperatures and pH, which exacerbate the problem.

Conventional cotton is highly dependent on pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers to grow. In many regions, insects limit cotton production and some of these pests become resistant to pesticides. Not surprisingly, cotton pesticides and herbicides account for 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of all pesticides used worldwide each year.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods are used in cotton growing regions to limit contamination of drinking water, but IPM is not enough. While many components of IPM have been implemented, the main insect control continues to be insecticides.   Relying on pesticides has significant environmental liabilities of off-target drift, chemical residues and resistance.

Adding to the problem, recently the cotton seed bug, a pest that has not been found in the United States, was found for the first time in Florida. The USDA is concerned that severe infestations will decrease germination and threaten the ecosystem.

Textile manufacturing dyes release:

  • aromatic amines (benzidine and toluidine)
  • heavy metals
  • ammonia
  • alkalai salts
  • toxic solids and large amounts of pigments
  • chlorine, a known carcinogen

Untreated dyes cause chemical and biological changes in our aquatic system, which threaten species of fish and aquatic plants. The presence of these compounds also make   practical water use unhealthy or dangerous.

The   enormous amount of water required by textile production competes with the growing daily water requirements of the half billion people that live in drought-prone regions of the world. By 2025, the number of inhabitants of drought-prone areas is projected to increase to almost one-third of the world's population. If global consumption of fresh water continues to double every 20 years, the polluted waters resulting from textile production will pose a greater threat to human lives.

Benefits Demonstrated by e360t shirts!

  • e360t shirts use no cotton
  • e360t shirts use recycled resources, not new crops
  • e360t shirts save 8 gallons of fresh water per shirt from being polluted with dyes,   pesticides and herbicides
  • e360t shirts are a small but meaningful way to show you are serious about sustainability.