27 Jul 2011

Greenpeace with Puma, Sierra Club and Bloomberg, making deep inroads for sustainability while governments languish

Written by Jim Pierobon

Within the span of one week, Greenpeace and its new corporate partner Puma, the athletic wear maker, and the Sierra Club with the philanthropy of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have unleashed an impressive one-two punch on two undeniable threats to human health and the environment: coal-fired power plants and dangerous toxic chemicals. What state and local governments are not doing to make economies and environments more sustainable, philanthropists and corporations are.

Is this a new paradigm?  I think so. It’s already happening to try to preserve certain brands of journalism. Why not the air we all breathe, the water we drink and the electricity we all need?

Who’s next in this evolution that looks also to yield significant public benefits, in additional to the leaders’ egos? While Adidas and Nike, which are not new to sustainability, respond to Puma? Will other corporations similarly leverage non-profit campaigns?

Watch and listen how Greenpeace is ‘poking’ Nike and its “Just Do It” tagline with appeals to rid toxics from athletic makers’ supply chains starting here.

Two weeks into its Detox / Dirty Laundry campaign, this image alerted Greenpeace followers to its announcement with Puma this week. Credit: Greenpeace

Says Greenpeace in an update: “Both Nike and Adidas have responded to our “Dirty Laundry” campaign report, though they risk falling behind in the race to create a toxic-free future if they can’t convert their bold claims of leadership into concrete commitments and credible actions. Puma meanwhile has leaped ahead by publicly committing to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from its entire product life cycle and across its whole supply chain by 2020.”

When you think about it and the declared importance of sustainability at least to Nike, a credible response shouldn’t be overly difficult for Nike to execute. We’ll see.

The move by Mayor Bloomberg Philanthropies to donate $50 million over the next four years to Sierra Club’s impressive “Beyond Coal” campaign raises the bar while providing a huge cash infusion for what is already a successful campaign to shut down traditional, coal-fired power plants.

In the U.S., coal’s pollution contributes to four out of the five leading causes of mortality — heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illness. Carbon emissions aside, it  emits almost half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which causes developmental problems in babies and young children, as well as being a major contributor to asthma attacks. At least one credible estimate puts coal’s pollution costs to human health at about $100 billion annually.

Michael Bloomberg announcing his non-profit's $50 million donation to Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign along the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA July 21. Credit: Sierra Club

Said Bloomberg: “If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because, while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant. “Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption.”

“The Beyond Coal Campaign,” he added, “has had great success in stopping more than 150 new coal-fired power plants over the past few years and is empowering local communities to lead from the front while Congress continues to watch from the back. That is why I’m pleased to support the Sierra Club and its allies, and I encourage others to do the same.”

Catch more details about the donation here.

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