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Sears and KMart will phase out PVC, Wal-Mart accused of eco-naughtiness

Big-box behemoths Sears and Kmart have agreed to phase out nasty plastic PVC from all products in their 3,800 stores. While admirable, the announcement merely makes those stores the lemmings of PVC abandonment; IKEA, Wal-Mart, and Target have all previously agreed to go PVC-free. In other big-box news, the nonprofit Environmental Investigation Agency has accused Wal-Mart of sourcing wood for its products from Chinese manufacturers who use Russian timber that was likely logged illegally. Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. importer of wood products, has publicly announced a goal to use only sustainably harvested wood by 2010. Meanwhile, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) …

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Big ideas come out of Hollywood Goes Green summit

"Hollywood has gone from the capital of conspicuous consumption to the cutting edge of conspicuous conservation," Arianna Huffington declared recently. Case in point: A two-day Hollywood Goes Green summit that wraps up today. At the summit, tech giant IBM announced a plan to design new technologies that will increase computing capacity by a factor of 10 while using 50 percent less power by the end of 2010. (Which seems somewhat irrelevant to a Hollywood shindig, but a lot of computing goes into special effects, animation, and other movie-making needs.) And at a panel on marketing green messages, Paula Silver, founder …

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New Green Exchange to be launched

In a huge boost for carbon trading, Nymex Holdings Inc. and a group of Wall Street trading houses are planning to launch a Green Exchange for trading environmental products, including carbon credits. Trading is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2008.

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Why the Happy Meals-for-good-grades scheme deserves an ‘F’

McDonald's apparently isn't content with strategically locating its franchises near schools across America, operating food outlets within pediatric hospitals, and hosting "McTeacher Night" fundraisers at which teachers work shifts at the counters to raise money for their classrooms. No, that's not enough for the giant multinational "food" service company. Now McDonald's has purchased the right to put a Happy Meal coupon on each of the student's report cards in a Seminole, Fla., school district for less than the price of a small bag of fries. This is depraved. Why is it acceptable to reward our children for successful academic performance …

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Exxon plans liquefied-natural-gas terminal 20 miles off New Jersey coast

ExxonMobil has announced it intends to build a $1 billion floating liquefied-natural-gas terminal 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The offshore location is intended to make the venture less objectionable to opponents who worry about pollution, leaks, catastrophic explosions, and other environmental impacts from the facility that aims to produce 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. Since 2002, 18 LNG terminals have been approved in the U.S., while still others have been halted by local opposition. An Exxon vice president said that the offshore location of the proposed terminal, "gives it a minimal footprint in …

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Another reason to procrastinate about my Christmas shopping

From the producers of "The Meatrix" and "Grocery Store Wars" comes "The Story of Stuff," a short video about production and consumption, just in time for the holiday shopping binge. Click here for the full movie (sample clip embedded below).

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A titillating* new column on corporate carbon reporting

Imagine that you are upper management at a large corporation, and you're told that you need to start comprehensively disclosing your outfit's CO2 emissions in your financial reports. Sounds like an unbelievable hassle, no? Especially since there's no legal mandate to do so. And yet hundreds of companies are doing just that. Why? I offer an answer in my latest column at Fast Company: "Carbon Copy." In related news that has emerged since I wrote the column, Senate Banking Committee chair Chris Dodd recently wrote the SEC requesting that it "issue guidance on climate disclosure requirements." Also, last Tuesday, a …

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Canadian outdoor-goods retailer won’t sell plastic water bottles

Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada's largest outdoor-goods retailer, has yanked Nalgene bottles and other polycarbonate plastic containers from its shelves, concerned about toxic bisphenol A leaching from the plastic. MEC -- the Canadian equivalent of U.S.-based retailer REI -- has been one of Canada's largest sellers of the bottles. Canada's health agency is currently studying the risk posed by bisphenol A, and will comment on its research in May 2008; dependent on the outcome of that review, MEC may reinstate polycarbonate plastic Nalgenes to its stores.

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Gas prices impact car-purchasing decisions in the U.S.

Hybrid sales are taking off again as gasoline prices soar: Reported sales of hybrids in the US in November rose 82% year-on-year to reach 33,233 total units, representing 2.8% of all light-duty vehicles sold during the month. GM does not break out its hybrid sales separately, and so is not reflected in the hybrid number -- thus, the actual hybrid total and new market share will [be] slightly higher. Toyota posted a strong month, with Prius sales hitting 16,737 units, up 109% from the year before. Still a small fraction of U.S. vehicles sold, but gas prices clearly do have …

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Thumbs down for Toyota, GM, Ford, Washington Post

The Washington Post had an article yesterday on the House fuel economy deal that is quite good in doling out cheers and jeers -- good except for two sentences. Let's start with the cheers. The article quotes NRDC rightly praising Pelosi for being steadfast with the Senate's 35 mpg target and Dingell, too, for: ... telling the automakers a year ago that they were going to have to accept a mileage improvement. He bargained hard for trying to make it less, but he deserves credit for coming around and agreeing. The article also has fascinating back story on how Japanese …