Friday, July 25, 2008

Really Green? Consider Triple Footprint

The low spots are filled with marshmallow fog with the peaks clear in the distance.

Triple Footprint - You heard it here first.

The production of "things" in our daily lives have a "cost". You've heard of carbon footprint, and maybe heard of chemical footprint but social footprint might be new to you. These are basically the amount of baggage a product carries with it or makes with regard to carbon required start to finish, chemicals used and contained during production and the human touch required. Considering the Triple Footprint will give you a better understanding of the what's behind the green choices you make.

Products can have a very varied history in terms of how much energy was used in its production and transportation. If something is complicated with lots of parts and metals, then you can see that considering even the energy in mining the materials adds up. A small carbon footprint would be made out of something sustainable and local. You can measure your own carbon impact by one of the many sites available.

Chemical footprint considers two things - the chemicals that are used for the entire production of a product and the final list of ingredients. Chemical footprint also includes the chemicals left behind. Most folks don't realize that paper and fabric production require huge amounts of chemicals. Reading the list of ingredients also gives you an idea of the product's chemical footprint. Remember less is more. Look for simple vegetable based ingredients in products when considering chemical footprint in personal care products.

Social footprint is getting more attention through organizations such as fair trade, but is only a small fraction of consumer products. Social footprint should be considered since the human touch is responsible for everything brought to market. So many faces and stories go behind the making of what we buy and use. It's easy to see the social footprint of some things, but other items, like a light bulb, get complicated. I think everyone would agree that all people deserve fair living wages and healthy, safe working conditions. In this global economy, equalizing working conditions and wages will bring about peaceful exchanges between people and countries for a more secure future.

The green industry has embraced the idea of the triple footprint and uses this to separate itself from green washing or businesses trying half heartedly to jump on the band wagon. Stonyfield Yogurt gets the gold star for working the Triple Footprint to the max. Considering the Triple Footprint is what will bring us towards a sustainable future. Considering the Triple Footprint will help you decide green from really green.

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