Sustainability Reads: January 5- January 11

 With the new TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program hotels self-report their sustainability efforts. The information is then validated by random or investigative audits, as well as by TripAdvisor’s network of reviewers who are asked to point out any discrepancies noticed during their stay. 8,000 hotels are already participating in the new program. However, being ‘green’ is not that straightforward. This article does a nice job at explaining the weak points of the program and where the industry is currently at in regards to sustainability. The program doesn’t make it clear which claims have been confirmed by external audits or certification and TripAdvisor reviewers do not have the expertise or access to review vital factors such as boilers, waste processes, etc. Opinions in the industry include that because the TripAdvisor scheme does not include 100% third-party auditing or accreditation, it is “muddying the already muddy waters” of sustainable tourism (there are already other 150 certification systems in the industry). It is also cited as a ‘game changer’ due to strong peer influence on consumer choice. By Kathryn M. Werntz at The Guardian.
  • Global climate deal: December 2015 is target date for international agreement
  • Sustainable development goals: September 2015 leaders will gather at the UN in NYC, replacing the Millennium Development goals that expire this year
  • New coalitions for action: Public-private partnerships such as Tropical Forest Alliance, Compact of Mayors, and NY Declaration of Forests have potential for progress on climate
  • Water risk: It is a rising global stressor including for countries such as US, China, and Brazil.
  • India in the spotlight:  Newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the difficult task of ensuring that the country expands economically while also addressing major sustainability and human rights challenges.
  • New leadership: Along with India’s Modi, Brazil’s Dilma Roussef, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo together represent 1.8 billion people, one-quarter of the world’s population. Will these leaders embrace sustainable, low-carbon growth?
 Studies have shown that BPA, a plastic-stiffening chemical and synthetic female hormone, can be a contributing factor to asthma, sexual dysfunction, breast cancer, obesity and other health issues, but the US Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe in low levels. They do continue to study the issue. BPA is so widely used in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins that it’s difficult to avoid. The resin is commonly used as a lining in many canned foods, even though BPA can seep out if it comes in contact with heat or acid. These are the companies that don’t use it:
Amy’s, Bionaturae, Crown Prince Seafood, Eden Foods, Farmer’s Market, Trader Joe’s, Muir Glen, Westbrae Natural, and Wild Planet Foods. If you’re concerned about BPA in beverage cans, drink your beverages out of glass bottles, plastic bottles with the recycling symbols #1, #2, #4 or #5 on the bottom, or from tetra packs. By Robin Shreeves on Mother Nature Network.

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