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Honda fights to regain green car company mantle

Honda entered the hybrid market before Toyota, but over time it made a fateful mistake: it failed to visually distinguish its line of hybrids. The Prius' distinct shape is like peacock feathers -- it signals your identity to the world. Who wants to be virtuous if nobody knows about it? Now Honda's gotten the message and it's returning to the fight: [Honda is] working on a new high-profile hybrid -- a Prius fighter that analysts expect will have the highest mileage on the road when it arrives in 2009. Code-named the "Global Small Hybrid," Honda's new gas-electric model won't be …

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How to stick it to the ice-cream Man

I've written a lot about the consolidation of U.S. food markets, and have become jaded to facts such as: just four firms slaughter 83.5 percent of cows, and so on. But I actually gagged on my ice cream when I read this bit in BusinessWeek: The days of mom-and-pop parlors and local brands are fading fast. Today, the $59 billion ice cream industry is dominated by two global giants: Switzerland's Nestlé (NESN.DE) and Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever (UN). Together, they control more than one-third of the worldwide market -- and half of ice cream sales in the U.S. -- and they're …

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Classy Consciousness

Honda to release unique-looking hybrid for conspicuous greens Honda plans to make its hybrid cars more visible by 2009 by redesigning their exterior to stand out from the rest of its models. One of the reasons Honda has been trailing hybrid-market leader Toyota by such a large margin, according to industry analysts, is the Toyota Prius' unique shape that helps the public identify it as different from Toyota's other offerings. And, consumers hope, the people inside the Prius also stand out as unique and eco-friendlier. "Owning a hybrid is all about saying 'Look at what I'm doing for the world,'" …

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Starbucks vows to make 100 percent of its milk rBGH-free

If you haven't been ordering that double whipped Frappuccino at your local Starbucks with soy milk, you've likely been gulping down Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). It makes cows produce more milk, but it's thought to increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in humans (if only they could come up with something to make cows squirt machiatto directly from their udders). But now, after two years of pressure from the organization Food and Water Watch, Starbucks has announced that it's going to go rBGH free by December 31, 2007. Moo-chas gracias, Starbucks! (photo: Tami Witschger) Whew! Now …

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The Invisible Hand Drops Its Harpoon

Iceland halts whale hunt due to low demand After resuming commercial whaling just under a year ago, Iceland's fisheries minister said recently that his country will not issue new whale-hunting quotas until there's more demand for whale-derived products and until Iceland gets an export license to send whale meat to Japan. "There is no reason to continue commercial whaling if there is no demand for the product," fisheries minister Einar Guofinnsson said. "If there is no profitability there is no foundation for resuming with the killing of whales." This whaling season, Iceland's quota was 39 whales, but it harpooned just …

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Apparently no one is immune to greenwashing

The genius Lily Tomlin once noted how hard it is to be funny these days, when satire can't keep up with the number of people who miss it entirely and use it as a script rather than a warning. A few days back, Grey posted this great short video: Just one day later, a group that has done tremendous work in the past -- a group I give to monthly and normally love, Redefining Progress -- sent me the letter below (after the jump). It's grim. Despite the throwaway "we don't mean to encourage more shopping," the site sure looks …

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BP promises to stop dumping waste into the Great Lakes

On July 15, the Chicago Tribune reported that BP wanted to significantly increase the discharge of ammonia and toxic wastes into the Great Lakes. The outcry was enormous -- even Republican congressmen from the area joined in the criticism, and several powerful congressional members, including Rahm Emanuel in the House and Barack Obama in the Senate, threatened hearings. The city of Chicago was considering legal action, and a large petition drive began. Apparently the political efforts have paid off, because BP announced it will reverse its decision and not add more pollutants. The catch: it's not legally binding, because the …

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Lower the Pollution and Back Away Slowly

BP says it will back off from releasing more Lake Michigan pollution In what's being billed as a victory for environmentalists, oil company BP has said it will back off from dumping more pollution into Lake Michigan. The company had just weeks ago received permission from Indiana state authorities to increase the amount of sludge particles and ammonia it could release into the lake each day. But pressure campaigns from greens as well as from Great Lakes politicians and others prompted BP to rethink its plan, at least for now; the company's promises to pollute less are not legally binding. …

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Lovely Nissan, Meter Made

Nissan to install fuel-efficiency gauge in all its models Automaker Nissan announced plans yesterday to install a gauge in all its vehicles that estimates fuel-efficiency to let drivers know how their driving habits affect gas mileage. The gauge already appears in some of Nissan's newest luxury cars, but its plan to eventually showcase the efficiency meter in every model has drawn praise from greens. "It shouldn't be just wealthy people with luxury cars that have this information," says Tim Carmichael of the Coalition for Clean Air. "I hope the rest of the industry follows them." It's been estimated that the …

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And don’t piss off Pearl Jam

BP's sludge dumpage into Lake Michigan has a whole mess of people pissed off. Including green-leaning band Pearl Jam, who performed an angry li'l ditty at this year's Lollapalooza festival. The lyrics are pretty simple; sing it with me: "Don't go to BP Amoco!"