Sustainable Seafood: Which Retailers Topped The List? (INFOGRAPHIC)

 

Finding sustainable seafood has long been a challenge for environmentalists and foodies alike. Recently, however, supermarkets and food stores have stepped up their efforts to reconcile that dilemma.

Greenpeace has released the results of its annual Carting Away the Oceans report, which evaluates retailers on the sustainability of their seafood.

Greenpeace has conducted the study in each of the last five years, and no retailer had ever achieved a “green” rating. Until now.

This year, Whole Foods and Safeway topped the list, with a “green” score of 7.1 and 7.0 out of 10, respectively, followed by Wegmans, Harris Teeter, and Target.

The stores were graded on a number of factors, including the sale of overfished species such as Chilean sea bass, hoki, orange roughy, and shark. The retailers were also scored based on the degree to which their fishing methods were destructive to habitat and the environment, as well as on their conservation initiatives, transparency and internal policies.

Although some supermarkets received the incriminating “fail” rating, the good news is that the overall performance of the industry has improved significantly, the report shows.

Despite this progress, problems persist. For instance, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trace fish back to their origin, making it hard to say for sure whether or not it is sustainable. According to the report, fraud and other illegal activity are also prevalent in the global seafood market – even in the U.S. According to Greenpeace, pirate vessels capture as much as 20% of the seafood caught globally.

To make matters worse, a dismal 2% of imported seafood is inspected for safety at international borders, posing concerns not only for sustainability, but also human health.

Is your seafood sustainable? Check out this infographic for a snapshot of retailers’ seafood practices:

Image credit: Greenpeace

Advertisements

Holiday Gifts For The Green Movement

There’s no better time than the holiday season to reflect on the events of the past year – and there has been no shortage of environmental news stories that have both inspired us and made our blood boil. As Christmas approaches, let’s consider some appropriate gifts for those who have left their mark on green news in 2011:

President Obama: A microphone and some earplugs. Since the beginning of his term, the president has become notably less enthusiastic about clean energy and environmental issues, perhaps succumbing to Republican pressure and inevitably “compromising” with natural gas, as well as totally giving in by opening up areas off the U.S. to offshore oil drilling. In fact, the positive steps his administration has taken to support renewable energy and clean technology have flown somewhat beneath the radar, for fear of appearing “too partisan.” Advice to the president: Speak up about the benefits green technologies can bring the nation, and block out the noise from the Republicans in Congress and fossil-fuel lobbyists.

Newt Gingrich, and the other GOP candidates: A science textbook. Ten years ago, climate change was fact to everyone – not a partisan issue. It’s time for GOP leaders to stop denying science and accept that the planet’s future is resting on our action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and combat climate change.

TransCanada executives: Some red tape. The best we can hope for, at the moment, is for the Keystone XL pipeline to face more regulatory delays and to ultimately fail in the face of a decision by the Department of State.

Former Solyndra employees: A new job in the growing solar sector. Solyndra grabbed all of the negative headlines with its failure, but that does not mean that the U.S.’ entire renewable energy future is doomed. The solar industry represents a flourishing employment sector that has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years.

The mainstream media: Some White-Out. It would be nice if the mainstream media could undo the mistakes it made in chastising solar company Solyndra for its DOE loan-guarantee debacle. In reporting so excessively and sensationally on an exception, rather than a rule, mainstream media outlets – including The New York Times and The Washington Post – cast the entire renewable energy industry in a poor light and questioned the justification for government aid of a growing, environmentally responsible industry.

BP: Some oil-covered shrimp cocktail. This year, we did not forget BP’s massive negligence and sin against the environment, as the Gulf still struggles to emerge from the disaster’s aftermath. BP needs a taste of its own medicine – or, perhaps of some oily shrimp for a nice holiday hor d’oeuvre.

Monsanto: A gift card to Whole Foods. Maybe, if Big Ag saw how much better organic food really is, it would stop attempting to overhaul the world’s food supply with a Soylent Green approach to genetically engineering food. Unlikely, but it’s worth a shot.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity: A reality check and an inhaler. In addition to coal in its stocking (naturally), the ACCCE needs to admit that coal will never be “clean,” and the nation’s reliance on the filthy substance is endangering our children and grandchildren, not to mention future generations.

Alec Baldwin: A train ticket. Traveling by rail should help lower the outspoken actor’s carbon footprint, as well as allow him to avoid future airline conflicts. Besides, you can use your iPhone – and Words with Friends – on trains.

Sustainable nonprofit organizations: Your donations. There are plenty of responsible organizations doing their part to care for the planet and its future. This holiday season, replace a couple of peppermint-mocha lattes (or more) with a donation to your favorite conservation groups – they need your help.

Special thanks to my colleague, Phil Hall, for inspiring this post.

Another Fast-Food Greenwash: KFC Opens ‘Eco-Friendly’ Restaurant

Whether it’s due to a nagging sense of guilt or the pure delusion of PR staffs, greenwashing among fast-food chains appears to be a growing trend. Wendy’s and McDonald’s are just two of the companies to launch “green” campaigns in recent months, and Taco Bell spent a hefty sum defending the quality and sustainability of its “beef.”

The latest offender is KFC, which issued a press release Tuesday touting a new “eco-friendly” restaurant that it claims is helping the city of Indianapolis meet its sustainability goals.

For your amusement, I’ll provide the opening of the company statement:

“While the newest KFC in Indianapolis features the brand’s familiar red and white design scheme, it’s the color ‘green’ that is really going to have people talking.” 

Granted, the building is LEED-certified, according to the release. But we all know that combining the words “sustainable” and “KFC” in one sentence is an oxymoron of the first degree.

Perhaps notably, KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, also counts Taco Bell among its brands. I can’t blame the corporation for attaining LEED certification, of course, even if the fast-food chain represents the antithesis of sustainability. Nonetheless, corporate efforts to scheme investors into thinking the company and its products are actually “sustainable” are not only questionable, but outright laughable.

But hey, at least it got me a good chuckle.

Make No Mistake: Obama’s ‘Great Outdoors Initiative’ Is Anything But Green

By now, most of you have probably heard about President Obama’s “Great Outdoors Initiative.” On the surface, the program seems to be a positive investment in park revitalization, habitat conservation and historical-site preservation — you know, “green” stuff. But, of course, things aren’t always what they seem.

In fact, Sarah Palin and her Tea Party minions would probably squealing with excitement at the president’s new initiative — that is, if it weren’t proposed by the Obama administration and it did not contain the word “conservation” within its description.

“Sarah Palin herself could have conceivably proposed this same plan.”

According to a statement from the Department of the Interior, the principal goal of the new initiative is to “reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the lands and waters that are used for farming and ranching, hunting and fishing, and for families to spend quality time together.”

Last I checked, hunting and fishing were not top pastimes of environmentalists and conservationists. In fact, Sarah Palin herself could have conceivably proposed this same plan.

This initiative is yet another well-intentioned but essentially meaningless goal put forth by the Obama administration seemingly attempting to save the world — literally. To the president’s credit, at least he is making an attempt to be green. But if his goal is to actually conserve the planet and not to initiate a snazzy PR campaign, he’s got a lot of work to do.

Green Destination: Madrid, Spain

La Estación de Atocha; Madrid, Spain

It’s one of the last places you’d expect to find spectacular botanical gardens. But inside one of the busiest hubs in Europe lies one of the continent’s greenest destinations: the international terminal in Madrid’s Atocha train station.

As travelers from around the world scurry about to their local and international destinations — a familiar sight in cities from New York to Tokyo to London — many can’t help but halt their flurry to pose for a photo against this leafy backdrop.

The gardens seem to symbolize an important value of Spanish culture: No matter how hectic life gets, there’s always time to stop and appreciate its beauty.

El Parque Del Retiro; Madrid, Spain

The gardens seem to symbolize an important value of Spanish culture: No matter how hectic life gets, there’s always time to stop and appreciate its beauty.


Another one of the city’s green destinations — el Parque del Retiro — conveys the same message. Literally translated as “The Park of Retreat,” madrileños come here to escape, stroll and relax. The park is home to La Rosaleda (rose garden) — just one of the many spots the park offers for nature lovers.

Unlike New York’s Central Park, El Retiro never feels crowded. It is, indeed, a retreat — a place where madrileños might find themselves ensimismados, lost in thought among the vegetation and beauty that surround them. If you find yourself in Madrid, make sure you take a moment, amid all of the barhopping and tapas crawls — or la marcha, as madrileños call it — to appreciate some of the greener parts of the city.