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Evan Almightly Eco Friendly DVD Packaging

By Richard Bicknell, Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada
eco stickerEarlier this year, we started a “Green Committee” at Universal Studios Video. This group has absolutely attacked the issues and opportunities inherent with all things ‘green’ with an energy that quite frankly took my by surprise. I always knew that we had a passionate team but from a personal level it was wonderful to know that I spend my days with so many people who share in my concerns and beliefs about this critical issue.
evan almighty dvdOne of the first things the team thought of was DVD packaging. Traditionally in a polypropylene-based case, the idea was to develop a plastic-free alternative. Working with a Canadian supplier several prototypes were created until we had landed on one that we felt would satisfy our environmental standards. All we needed was a title to launch it with – then along came EVAN ALMIGHTY, with its themes of eco-responsibility and production effort to zero out its environmental impact, EVAN ALMIGHTY was the perfect and natural choice.
Our package uses paper endorsed by the Forest Stewardship Council, soy-based inks and a waterless printing process that eliminates ink getting into ground water and producing VOCs – volatile organic compounds – which have been linked to global warming. Our slim eco-pack also fits 100 to a box – thus requiring less impact on the environment from a shipping perspective. This Canadian-initiative was launched on DVD on October the 9th. Early sales support what consumers told us during our package testing in the summer – that a vast majority would continue to buy the same amount of DVDs even if all of them came in this package. Music to our ears but more importantly great news for our planet!
Richard Bicknell, VP Marketing
Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada


The Grass Is Always Greener


BMW unveils electric car, shall call him Mini E


“Breathtaking,” says BMW. “I shall call him… Mini-E.” With that, BMW jumps into the electric car derby, unveiling its electric version of the Mini Cooper. The high-profile test program/publicity stunt will involve a limited run of 500 of the electric cars, to hit the streets of southern California and New York in January.

This one’s tech is a lot like the Tesla, with 5,088 lithium ion batteries stuffed inside, powering a 150kW electric motor. That results in acceleration that’s enthusiastic but not jaw-dropping, going from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. The rest of the car looks a lot like the stock Mini Cooper, except for those blaring electric car graphics that let all onlookers know how this go-kart gets its kick.

The 500 cars will be leased to glamorous customers in hopes of attracting attention to the fact that BMW is, you know, doing something about electric cars. After this year-long Mini E test is done, BMW says it’ll build an electric car from the ground up, but didn’t say what would happen to these cute little electro-buggies.

Read the rest of Charlie’s blog on


Garden Art

y Rachel Gray,
Are you starting to get creative with the peppers, tomatoes and zucchini that are still hanging around from your fall harvest?

Check out what artist Ellen Hoverkamp is doing with the exquisite colors, shapes and textures of vegetables, fruits and flowers. She uses a process called “scanner photography” to create life-like images that are so crisp and deep, they seem almost three dimensional.
Learn more about her work and how to order her incredible prints that any garden lover will adore.
Rachel Gray, Associate Producer



Greenwashed trends: Eco-tech takes center stage at CES 2009

Greenwashing-CES-2009.jpg“Greening” the company line is standard practice in the electronics
industry, and we’ve been getting plenty of it here at CES 2009. After
all, if washing machine A uses half as much energy as machine B, it
must be better for the environment.


If only power consumption was the sole culprit, then corporations
really would be as green as they claim to be. The industry has plenty
of massive hurdles to clear in non-recyclable components,
phantom/standby energy, harmful byproducts caused by manufacturing
processes and — the worst — electronic waste.

So what makes a company come off as having nothing more than a green tongue, and who’s actually walking the walk?

Read the rest of Trevor’s blog at


US Ready To Accept Binding Emissions Obligations

From Environmental Leader
smoke2_sm.jpgThe U.S. is ready to accept “binding international obligations” on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to James Connaughton and Daniel Price, environmental and economics advisers to President Bush, BBC reports. The Bush administration wants some kind of binding commitment from major developing countries such as China, India and Brazil.
“The U.S. is prepared to enter into binding international obligations to reduce greenhouse gases as part of a global agreement in which all major economies similarly undertake binding international obligations,” said Price, the president’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.
On the heels of this announcement, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas has traveled to the U.S. for talks on a possible binding international agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, The Australian reports.
An agreement could be announced “in conjunction” with the G8 summit of the world’s must industrialized nations in Japan in July.
At the Bali conference in December, the EU wanted an agreement to require developed countries to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 to be included in the Bali Plan. The U.S., Japan and Canada opposed those targets. When these specific guidelines were removed from wording about future emission cuts, a compromise was reached which sets the stage for global warming negotiations that will end in 2009.
In addition to today’s news concerning the U.S., major emissions news has been reported from Japan and Canada recently.
Japan is considering compulsory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and a domestic emissions trading scheme for its reluctant companies as it is expected to make tougher commitments in the post-Kyoto Protocol phase, Reuters reported last week.
British Columbia delivered a budget last week that included a carbon tax, CTV reports. On July 1, 2008, the province will begin phasing in the carbon tax, which will hit gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane, and home heating fuel. The starting rate will be based on $10 per tonne of carbon emissions, and rise $5 a year to $30 per tonne by 2012.
Environmental Leader


How I Keep My 100 Year Old House “Green”

By Diana Olick,
window repairIf you think your car is an environmental monster, then be afraid, very afraid, of your house. I was covering a major home building conference last February when I heard an incredible factoid: your house leaves a bigger carbon footprint than your car. Why? Because, unlike your car, it is ALWAYS running.
So I went home to my hundred-year-old wood and stucco house in DC and started to re-evaluate. Green building is one thing, but the bulk of houses in America are old, so the best we can do is what those in the enviro-industry call “retro-fit” our homes.
Now I’ll admit, I’m not a rabid recycler. I’ve got the bin, but let’s face it, with everything else I’ve got to sort out in my life (husband, two kids, full-time job), sorting the trash just isn’t always in the program. But suddenly I’m juiced; I’ve spent two days at a conference hearing about how I can make my home more environmentally friendly, and I even visited a model “retro-fit” home. This can’t be that hard.
I’m good on the leaky windows. We had them all replaced with Andersen Renewal windows, not because of the heat that we were losing but because of the wind that was coming in. So much for the motivation there. But I have to say, it was pricey! Close to $10,000 for the whole house!!! Now I’m looking at my appliances. I’m cooking with gas, which I think is good, but I’ve got two dishwashers that run for two hours each.
Thank goodness one of them recently broke, so I went online to look at the energy saver models. Unfortunately, the better the energy savings, the less the cost savings. I’m waiting for a sale at Sears, but I guess I’m saving energy because the dishwasher sits there, broken, and so I’m not using it, right?
There’s a lot of talk about water, saving it, cleaning it, recycling it. I recently finished an addition to my home, adding a master bathroom…with a dousing rain-head shower head. I’m sorry, I love it. Sue me. I do use Brita water filters, so as to save on buying bottled water, and all the plastic involved in that. Ok, lighting. I went to the hardware store and bought compact fluorescent bulbs, but I’ve yet to actually put one in because I don’t want to waste the mega-box of regular bulbs I had already bought at Costco. Waste not!
acHeating and air. We have a two-zone heating and air-conditioning system, which is a check in the plus column, right? And I’ve programmed both zones so that they don’t run during the day when nobody’s at home, and the downstairs is off while we’re all sleeping upstairs.
Of course, this can be a problem when you forget, like when my daughter was home sick from school last week. She didn’t have a fever, but was sweating profusely. As a matter of fact, so was I. Did I catch her bug?? I started to panic, until I finally realized that it was 90 degrees outside, and the AC wasn’t on, thanks to all my enviro-friendly programming.
Now I should be thinking about insulation, solar, low-flow toilets and composting in the back yard. But DC doesn’t get that cold, solar panels cost a fortune, low-flow toilets sound somehow unsanitary to me (I have absolutely no basis for that comment other than emotional) and I can’t even get my husband to cut the grass himself, so composting is about as likely as world peace. The best I can do right now is yell at my kids to shut off the lights.
Diana Olick


The Seas Are Growing

By Jimmy Wong,
polarbear_sm.jpgIn recent news, the Nordic nations (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) via a joint statement have raised the alarm over the melting Arctic. They are worried that this phenomenon will have irreversible consequences, threatening livelihood and doubling the rate of ice melt.
United Nations (UN) has put the blame on burning fossil fuel for this melt. While the nations and head of states work on their protocols and what needs to be done, I have already start practicing “environmental-friendly” life whenever and wherever possible. How? Read on for some of my many ways.
Many of us own a car; the more fortunate ones own more than one. A huge majority of our cars run on fossil fuel; the remaining minority operates on biofuel, natural gas, liquid petroleum gas, hydrogen and electricity. My car runs on fossil fuel because I cannot afford Honda’s new hydrogen car. I drive my car everyday and each minute I burn fossil fuel and contribute to the overall rise in global temperature, although in a minute way.
What I practice are ways to reduce the burning of fossil fuel and at the same time, saving me money against the rising global fossil fuel price. As you may know, Malaysia is right smack in the tropical region and hence is a very hot place. Using the car’s air conditioning consumes about 20% extra fuel. For me, whenever my car is cooled down, I turn off the air conditioning. Call me crazy, call me a fool, but switching off air-conditioning whenever you don’t need it saves fuel, saves money and saves the environment. Fixing heat reflecting films helps a great deal.
I have already changed the way I drive, from being heavy footed to very light. I seldom accelerate more than what is required, using momentum to help push the car, thereby reducing fuel consumption. I also reduce the need to hard brake by looking further ahead, decelerate much earlier on whenever I see traffic ahead.
These simple methods have helped me reduce my fuel consumption by some 15%; at the same time, reducing the emission by the same margin. Can you imagine if 20 million Malaysians reduce 15% emission? Malaysia will have a very blue sky.
Jimmy Wong


Calling the Green Watch Dog

By Mary Beth Gonzalez,
disappointed-christmas.jpgCall me ungrateful but I’m a bit disappointed at some of the “Green” Christmas gifts I received this year. My feelings aren’t aimed at the gift givers – in fact – I’m deeply touched that so many people who bought me a gift this year recognized that I would prefer an eco-friendly product. I am upset however how easily well-intentioned “very light Greeners” can unknowingly buy something much less Green then they had expected.
- Harry and David’s online catalog seductively describes the Triple Treat Collection as “Super-premium fruit – selected by America’s fruit authorities. You won’t find fruit this wholesome and extraordinary at the supermarket.” The box included fresh oranges, fresh pears and fresh apples but then printed in small letters on the packing box: “coated with a food grade vegetable, petroleum, beeswax, and/or shellac based wax or resin to maintain freshness.” I kid you not. I could see my pupils in the shellac on the apples. I called Harry and David to inquire as to what exactly was in the shellac and neither Terry, the customer service rep, nor her manager knew but said that it was “simply there to make the fruit shiny and pretty and can easily be washed off”. She then kindly offered to research it and get back to me within a few days (by which time the fruit will likely have spoiled). Now Harry and David make no claims that their fruit is organic, and I realize they must be using approved shellacs, but I’m confident that my brother-in-law had no idea that his gift of fresh fruit would be covered in shiny chemicals.
- promotes their eco-website with this tagline “Uncommon Gifts for the Common Good“. Admittedly, some of their gift basket items are organic and some support rain forest conservation. But many of their products are simply fancy Gourmet goodies such as sun-dried tomatoes, Italian breadsticks, stuffed olives and dried portabella mushrooms. An avid label reader, I searched for what made these products eco-friendly or perhaps organic but to no avail. Yet I’m sure that my well-meaning brother thought that he was sending us a Green gift from this self-labeled “eco-minded” website.
- Barielle’s 10 piece natural nail care system: Knowing that I blog about natural beauty products, a close friend sent me this “natural” nail care system. Surprise! Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep score is a high 7 (on a 1-10 scale) with 92% of other nail care systems having lower environmental toxicity concerns. Nothing very eco or natural about that and then I realized that their “natural” means as opposed to “artificial” nails. How confusing…
As pleased as I am that companies are now making an eco-friendly lifestyle more accessible to mainstream consumers, I’m concerned about how easily people with the best Green motivations can purchase gifts not knowing the full picture. Caveat emptor (which we all learned from The Brady Bunch is Latin for “let the buyer beware”) is more necessary than ever in a market where products labeled “natural” may not be and “wholesome” might mean covered with chemicals. And don’t even get me started on how many genuinely Green presents arrived packed in Styrofoam peanuts…
What were your Green gifts experiences this season? Did they thrill or disappoint? Please share your own stories as we walk this perilous Green path together.
Mary Beth Gonzalez
Please join my Going Green group and read my Green Blog


Earth Hour

By Nicole Walters,

earth hour.jpgOn March 31 2007, the worlds first Earth Hour took place in the city of Sydney, Australia. Over 2.2 million residents and over 2,100 businesses turned off their lights for one hour in an effort to generate awareness about the greatest contributor to global warming – coal-fired electricity. This resulted in reduced energy consumption by 10.2% that day. The equivalent to taking 48,000 cars off the road.

Here at Green Is Universal, we believe that little things add up to make big change. And last year’s Earth Hour is just the proof we like to see. What began as one city’s symbolic event started a movement and this year, Earth Hour is going global! 24 cities around the world will “turn off” at 8pm on March 29.

Chicago will be the U.S. flagship city, with Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco acting as leading partner cities. Everyone throughout the U.S. and around the world is invited and encouraged to participate – whether at home or at work, with friends or family, in a big city or a small town. Find out how your city is participating at

What you do when the lights are off is your own business, but Earth Hour US has got lots of suggestions for you, including changing out your old energy-wasting light bulbs to new, inexpensive and efficient compact fluorescents. Let us know what you are planning to do for Earth Hour.

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