Some hope for the planet... I was in Bentonville, Arkansas all this week, where WalMart announced that it will be creating a system to put a sustainability index on every product it sells, and that it will work with other retailers and manufacturers to make it a single standard (webcast can be seen here).
The sustainability index will communicate the environmental and social impact of the product from a life cycle perspective.
WalMart and other corporations have funded the Sustainability Consortium, led by Arizona State University and University of Arkansas, to help provide the research needed to support the effort. I am excited to be part of the team that will develop an "open" life cycle inventory system. Such a system will enable companies to estimate the environmental and social impact of their product through raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal/recycling.
The world places a lot of emphasis on tracking carbon dioxide and other green house gases because of their effect on global climate change, but water--both its availability and its health--is a huge sustainability issue also.
From a production standpoint, most agricultural products require a lot of water--Did you know that it takes 300 gallons of water to make a 12 ounce can of Coke? Most of it is because of the water needed to grow the sugar cane. On the consumption side, drying of Himalayan glaciers could put one-sixth of the world's population at risk for fresh water.
Let's hope we can move as fast as we need to. (Explore Front Page)