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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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What Wisdom & Leadership Look Like

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Author: the Inkslinger

Just in case you’ve forgotten during the last seven years of intellectual, moral, and spriritual darkness…

Watch it and hope. Share it and rally.

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Does Local Equal Greener?

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Truth is, I’ve always accepted the logic that local is best when it comes to produce. And local, organic is always even better. Andrew Martin, one of the New York Times best writers, takes a thoughtful step back
to examine those assumptions.

Do the strawberries that are transported in the back of a pick-up truck from three hours outside of San Francisco to a downtown farmers market have a smaller carbon footprint than strawberries that travel by tractor-trailer to a Chicago supermarket? Not necessarily. As with most things in life, the simple rules we crave do not necessarily hold up to scrutiny.

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Obama-rama

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This month’s cover story in the Atlantic explores why Barack Obama is the presidential candidate who may be uniquely able to move America beyond decades of divisiveness and internal conflict and into a future in which our country begins to fulfill it’s potential as a world leader, a future that both earns the U.S. international respect and heals decades of politics that have polarized the country.

I am not endorsing Obama. At least not yet. But this article offers a brilliant perspective on our country and the opportunities and challenges it faces in a future that will only get more challenging and complex. I guarantee you it’s worth the read.

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Keeping Abreast of Cancer News

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As the father of two young girls and the son of a mother who had breast cancer along with her aunt, back in the days when a radical mastectomy was the only option, breast cancer is a topic of great interest to me. This thoughtful article from New Jersey's Bergen County Record combines new information with practical steps we can take to minimize risk. Information we all need to put into action.

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Just Say Know to Energy

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Author: the Inkslinger

A new survey
out from an environmental marketing firm called EcoAlign has found that a large percentage of Americans lack a basic understanding of the fundamental energy efficiency terms we’ll need to know in order to get smart about energy use.

The survey of 1,000 people asked them to match a handful of key energy terms (Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, Smart Energy, Clean Energy) to provided definitions. Then interviewers asked the same respondents to simply define these terms themselves without any help. The results could be seen as slightly alarming. For example, according to EcoAlign’s analysts:

  • Only 13% of respondents think energy efficiency has to do with saving money or cutting down on fuel costs.
  • Just a third of respondents could correctly define “energy conservation” and energy efficiency.”
  • Only about one third, 30%, of Americans understand the term “smart energy” and about the same amount, 32%, say they are not doing enough in terms of “smart energy.”
  • 14% couldn’t match clean energy with its definition.

It’s tempting to look at numbers like these and be slightly if not completely dismayed. But should we be? I don’t think so.

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Daron Byerly on our (7th Generation's) Manufacturing Partners

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Two years ago a host of people at SVG from Quality Assurance to HR to CC got together

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Tangled Up In Toys

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here in my sphere, we’re trying to wrap up the Christmas shopping. It’s always a challenge to do that sanely and sustainably. This crazy world of ours, with its vast overabundance of fairly disposable made-in-Asia plastic yuck, does not make it easy to engineer that kind of holiday celebration. I find it takes a fair amount of extra effort, but I also find that it’s well worth it in the end.

I attempt to stay away from stuff from malls and factories as a general rule. I figure if I don’t do the mass-produced thing, I’m less likely to encounter hazardous toys and other unfortunate items, and more likely to give gifts that mean something special, which is the point, right? So I do a lot of shopping on e-Bay for collectibles and other one-of-kind items that are handmade or antique-oriented (and so haven’t consumed any new resources to make). There’s always some stuff from local artists under our tree. Books are a big favorite. And this year I’ll probably give a few of those funky gift bag household kits from our new online store to friends and family that aren’t quite clued into the importance of keeping it green when you clean.

But things get tricky when it’s time to shop for my nine tear-old daughter. It’s tough to find decent toys that aren’t completely cheesy and cheap and, frankly, more than a little suspect safety-wise. There’s no TV watching in the house where she’s concerned so we’ve isolated her from all the screaming toy marketing. That helps a lot. And there are a couple of quality mail-order catalogs we like. (Magic Cabin is a real favorite that seems to have a lot of stuff from Europe, where the toy-making foxes have been locked out of the regulatory henhouse). Between that and a handful of local toy shops, we piece it together.

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Taking the Temperature

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Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of climate crisis-related signals flooding the inputs lately. The level of chatter is definitely on the rise and increased activity in is popping up on radar.

What’s most interesting is the way the usual battle lines of left and right that have traditionally defined the debate are being being thoroughly trashed. As increasing numbers of companies and policymakers confront certain irrefutable, if inconvenient, truths, cross-over to the side of intelligent thinking is growing, making the idea that urgent action is needed now more of a concensus view and progressively isolating those who still insist that we just don’t have enough evidence to validate the “risk” of taking action (!). It’s not so much a liberal-activist/conservative-business stratification at this point as it us an act/don’t act split. And the “acts” are solidly ahead.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the momentum is on our side and much-needed change is coming. If this were the late 70s, when scientists rang the first alarm bells, I’d be quite confident we’d get the job done. But, as is so often the case with us wacky humans, humanity was waited until just about the last possible minute to deal with this and now we’ve got mere years rather than decades to avoid the tipping point. Still, there’s much hope for optimism. Here’s a look at the portents heating up the wires…

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Diaper Daze

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a question few of us ever have to face: what do you do with a quarter million diapers that work fine but can’t be sold? Give yourself a gold star if you answered “give ‘em away to people who can use them.” That’s what we did yesterday. We had all these second-quality diapers that were perfectly usable but had essentially meaningless manufacturing flaws that meant we couldn’t ship them to our retailers. So we partnered with a local non-profit to hold a great diaper giveaway for needy families in central Vermont. Voila! A perfect solution that solves a bunch of problems at once. The diapers don’t get dumped in the trash (a thought that made us all break out into a near permanent cringe) and some folks who could really use them get to now.

It was a great day with smiles all around. Though it was cold and snowy, nobody minded the wait. And we had so many cases of diapers we were able to give a big bunch away to day care centers and some local non-profit organizations that work with families. It’s enough to make you wish the diaper-making machine would screw up more often…

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Winning One for the World

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’ve known it was coming for awhile but today it’s official so we can finally share the good news: Seventh Generation has won a 2008 Fast Company Social Capitalist Award. Sponsored by Fast Company Magazine and the Monitor Group, the awards honor those leading businesses and non-profit organizations who are harnessing the tools of the marketplace for the greater good and helping solve some of today’s most urgent challenges in the process.

We’re pretty psyched to have been recognized by the business community this way. As Jeffrey says in our press release, we’re living proof that a company can be a powerful force for positive in the change in the world and still make a profit. The two aren’t mutually exclusive propositions and receiving an award like this is one of the best ways to broadcast that vital message to the rest of the world.

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