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New MacBook Air has some green qualities

Photo: apple.com Apple Inc. head honcho Steve Jobs has introduced the new MacBook Air. Your nerdy cousin's new object of lust is LED backlit, comes with a recycle-friendly aluminum case, and gives purchasers the option of an efficient 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. It also boasts a mercury- and arsenic-free display, a circuit board without brominated flame retardants, and PVC-free internal cables. Consumers can tote it home in 56 percent less retail packaging than the MacBook -- and the Air is the thinnest laptop evah, so hey, less electronic waste! It can be yours for a mere $1799 -- and you'd …

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The latest green partnership

Dave posted earlier about the new green cleaning line from Clorox and his combined reaction of happy feelings and "how will greens spin this into suckage." But wait, it gets better: Wal-Mart is investing big time in the Clorox product line. Check this quote from a Wal-Mart press release: "Wal-Mart's support of Green Works has significantly influenced the scale of our launch," said Ed Huber, vice president of sales, Wal-Mart team at Clorox. "Along with their size and scale, their commitment to sustainability is enabling us to take natural cleaning to the mainstream at a global level." Is there anybody …

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Bleach company discovers its green gene

Joel Makower has a characteristically thorough and thoughtful look at Clorox's launch of their new "Green Works" line of cleaning products, in which he was peripherally involved (does the guy sleep?). I'll admit, when I read these things, I feel positive and hopeful, and then I think, hm, how will some enviro manage to spin this as a hopelessly cynical greenwashing ploy from The Man? Sometimes I can predict in advance, sometimes I can't, but it's inevitable. Sigh. Anyway, here's the uplifting conclusion: But there's a potentially bigger story here. Clorox -- a 95-year-old, relatively stodgy company -- seems to …

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Tech companies offer free rights to eco-friendly patents

Four tech companies have partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to introduce the Eco-Patent Commons, which will offer the rights to eco-friendly technologies for free. IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes have together donated 31 patents into the public domain, including one for a shock-absorbing cardboard tray that would replace the need for Styrofoam peanuts and another for a way to recycle cell phones into new devices. "Innovation to address environmental issues will require both the application of technology as well as new models for sharing intellectual property among companies in different industries," says IBM Senior Vice …

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Automakers unveil greener vehicles at Detroit auto show

At press previews of the 2008 North American International Auto Show that opens next weekend in Detroit, automakers announced plans to roll out greener vehicles as well as other greenish initiatives. On the hybrid front, market leader Toyota has said it will offer a plug-in hybrid to government and corporate customers by 2010; the plug-in will run on lithium-ion batteries instead of the nickel-metal hydride ones that help power its popular Prius model. Toyota hasn't yet announced when it expects the plug-ins to be available to the general public, but the news has plug-in enthusiasts salivating. Meanwhile, General Motors has …

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Wal-Mart pushes electronics suppliers to rate their products by eco-friendliness

Wal-Mart is giving its electronics suppliers a scorecard on which they can rate their products on green qualities like durability and ease of recycling. That's tricky, of course, given the lack of a national standards for such things -- so it's pushing for that, too. Given Wal-Mart's size, I won't be surprised if it single-handedly forces the issue. But still, um, evil bad awful satan!

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New certification in the works for green hotels

Saw a passing reference in a piece on travel trends about a new certification scheme for green hotels. Supposed to be developed in the next 90 days, says Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. AHLA's site, meanwhile, has a list of hot green hotel progress, ranging from Motel 6 using sensors to turn off heat and AC in unoccupied rooms to the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas pursuing LEED certification in part by building a monorail to the Bellagio. Oh, if only Joey Bishop had lived to see it.

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A livestock title for fair and competitive markets

This is the second in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Want more details on all of the sustainable agriculture provisions in the next Farm Bill? Go here (PDF) for a matrix that shows the status of provisions in the House and Senate versions. A shrinking number of companies dominate the nation's food supply, exerting market power over the entire supply chain from farm gate to dinner plate. In the livestock sector, the increasingly concentrated market has left farmers and ranchers in a position to negotiate with corporations that have far greater bargaining …

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Watch CBS this Saturday for breaking electric-car news

I was just interviewed by CBS for a possible story on plug-in hybrids on Monday. You should tune in to CBS evening news Saturday for the first coverage of what I believe is a major advance in plug-ins -- a car I test drove a few weeks back and will be free to write about here Monday. The New York Times will probably be doing a print story on the car Sunday, which I'll link to. Then CBS may do another story, which is where I would come in. This hybrid technology will be rolled out in a retrofitted car …

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World’s largest banks ranked on their climate commitment

The world's banks are starting to recognize the threat of climate change, but could certainly do more, says a new report from Ceres, a coalition of investors and green groups pushing corporate sustainability. The group ranked 40 of the world's largest publicly traded banks on their green (the climate kind, not the money kind). Some results were encouraging -- 28 banks have calculated their greenhouse-gas emissions, 24 have set goals to reduce said emissions, and 29 are supporting alternative energy projects. But there is, of course, room for improvement: The median score on Ceres' ranking out of 100 was 42, …