Archive for February, 2009

“Clean” Coal?

Check out the latest ad for the Reality Coaltion below — “Air Freshener” — directed by Academy Award-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen.  The ad calls out, in humorous Coen brothers’ style, the coal industry’s claims that coal is clean.

The Reality Coalition is a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the National Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, aimed at challenging the coal industry to come clean in its advertising and its operations.

You can learn more about the reality of “clean” coal here and sign up to join the Reality Coalition here

And stay tuned to the Earthkeeper blog for updates on Timberland’s own campaign to find an alternative energy solution for our Kentucky distribution center … right in the heart of coal country.

Environmental Leader Features Timberland Commentary on Sustainable Consumption

A new column featuring Timberland’s CSR Strategy & Reporting Manager, Beth Holzman, was posted on Environmental Leader this month.  Read the commentary on sustainable consumption - a hot button topic in today’s financial climate.  Or should it have been a philosophy we subscribe to regardless of economic shifts?  Corporations have key responsibilities to help create sustainable consumption patterns within our society.

See the story at Environmental Leader now:

Everyone’s Granny Should Be This Green

Barbara Warmsley is Oxfam‘s “Green Granny” – the delightful star of a series of tips and ideas for saving money and living better.  You can always count on grandmothers for their simple, sound, practical advice — and Granny Barbara doesn’t disappoint.


More good ideas from the Green Granny can be found on Oxfam’s website.


Recycling is Smashing Success at Sundance

Earthkeeper-on-the-street reporter, Annabelle Gurwitch, caught up with some of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival crew at the Park City recycling center. Annabelle caught the crew in the act of recycling the beer bottles from the Festival’s opening gala, which was held the previous evening. Check it out – the recycling was a “smashing” success (sorry … we just couldn’t resist):



Candy and flowers are so passé.  Thanks to our friends at Treehugger for uncovering an environmentally-affectionate alternative for showing your love this Valentine’s Day:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is giving new meaning to loving trees in their Trees4Love campaign in Kenya. Over 5,000 trees are planned to take root in the Karura Forest in Kenya to fight climate change, promote carbon sequestration and help clean up the Karura River. The official loving ceremony will take place, fittingly, on February 14, 2009. This is part of the larger Plant for the Planet: Billion Trees Campaign.

Several thousand people are expected to attend the event and plant trees in memory of loved ones and out of their love for the planet. The Billion Trees Campaign has thus far planted 2.6 billion trees out of their goal of 7 billion by 2009 (one tree for every inhabitant on the planet). Thus far, Ethiopia has planted the most trees of any country for this campaign – over 700 million trees total.

The ceremony is open for anyone to attend and will take place in the Karura Forest from 1pm to 5:30pm.: UNEP Trees4Love.

Virginia Kills Plastic Bag Ban

Earthkeepers, sound off: what do you believe to be the best solution to the plastic bag problem?

a) instituting a ban
b) taxing people to use them
c) passing a recycling law

From yesterday’s Environmental Leader:

A ban on disposable plastic bags in Virginia has been pulled at the request of plastics industry representatives, reports

The proposed bag ban came after Virginia legislators saw the success of such programs in Ireland and other countries. Support for a ban also originated with Virginia’s cotton farmers who find the bags blowing into their fields and clogging bales of cotton.

But the Virginia Plastic Bag Coalition, which includes industry representatives who have lobbied nationally against plastic bag bans, said they favored a recycling program instead. A similar measure requiring stores to charge customers 5 cents a bag was also withdrawn.

Over 100 plastic-bag bans or taxes were brought up by cities and states in 2008, but many failed. Like Virginia, New York state last year passed a plastic-bag recycling law instead of an outright ban.

Barren and Carcass Islands, The Falklands

Jon Bowermaster is a writer, filmmaker, adventurer and fellow Earthkeeper who has spent the last 20 years exploring remote corners of the globe and documenting his experiences for a variety of national and international magazines, as well as in his own books and documentary films.  We feature periodic updates and observations from Jon here on the Earthkeeper blog … and you may follow his travels anytime on his own blog, Dispatches.

As I’ve figured out during the past ten days, when it comes to islands few can compete with South Georgia for its fantastic wildlife, landscape and sense of mystery. So when Barren Island – one of the Falklands 740 smallish isles – appeared out of the fog this morning it both lived up to its name and reminded me we were no longer in magic land.

Flat and not surprisingly devoid of any foliage taller than my boots, Barren Island is nonetheless distinct for its burrowing penguins, a solitary snipe, a beach covered with bleached-out whale bones and something I hadn’t seen for awhile: Beach trash.

That there was a smattering of plastic and detritus washed (tossed?) off commercial fishing boats on the far side of Banner is not the fault of the island, or of the Falklands. Most of what I saw on this beach, as I’ve seen on virtually every coastline I’ve visited during the past decade, comes from boats of all kinds, many of which still treat the ocean like a limitless dump.

A sheep farmer named Mike, who happens by in his Zodiac just as I land ashore, leases Banner Island. I ask about prevailing currents and where the washed-up stuff most likely comes from. “Boats,” is his simple answer. Mainland Argentina is several hundred miles away.

Photo copyright Fiona Stewart

Along with its brother island George, which I can make out in the near distance, Barren are the southernmost working farms in the Falklands. They are successful at sheep and cows and re-growing tussock grasses in part because they are rat-free, a problem impacting many of the near islands. Seals, giant petrels and gentoo and Magellanic penguins share the beaches happily, but the islands are best known for the amazing bird life … everywhere.

We spend the morning walking the length of Banner and then sail to the somewhat unfortunately named Carcass Island (named after a sailing ship, not a cadaver). Just a trio of families has lived on Carcass over the past century and the island itself is well looked after and boasts another thing I haven’t seen for many weeks: A bed and breakfast.

But the plastic and trash on the beach here is even worse than on Banner; in fact, it may be among the worst example of man’s mistreatment of the ocean I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot, since I’ve spent the past decade studying beaches and coastlines around the globe. During the last ten years we identified a trio of environmental issues impacting everyone who lives on or near a beach: Climate change, over fishing and plastic pollution. Sadly, Carcass Island could become the poster boy for the latter. A few of its beaches are so thick in man’s plastic waste that its rocks and sand and shoreline disappear beneath my feet.

- Jon Bowermaster

One Thing You Do

What’s the one thing you do to minimize your environmental footprint? Earthkeeper-on-the-street reporter, Annabelle Gurwitch asked folks attending the 2009 Sundance Film Festival that question and she got some great responses. Tim Daly takes the prize for the best Earthkeeping tip.