Here’s a little bit of a brow raiser: Forbes is reporting that car maker Ford is using recycled jeans in every 2012 Ford Focus’ it makes. The cotton is made from two pairs of blue jeans, and will be fitted into the interior of the Focus. Now that’s a sharp idea.
Melissa Hincha-Ownby notes in the story that in “addition to recycled products, Ford also uses other eco-friendly materials including soy foam seat cushions and natural-fiber plastic in center interior components. Companies like Ford are realizing that there is more to an eco-friendlier vehicle than simply fuel efficiency.”
From a corporate social responsibility and sustainability perspective, the lesson here is bold and one that other industries can learn from — especially manufacturers of consumer goods and retailers: from a consumer’s perspective, companies can’t go wrong by using recycled and/or eco-friendly materials.
It’s noteworthy that over the past three years companies have made strides in offering green products. From increasing the use of recycled materials in basic products to bolstering the energy efficiency of appliances, companies have done well on this front. But more can be done, and is, in some cases.
This past summer, for instance, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers inked a joint stakeholder agreement to increase the efficiency of appliances in the market. “The agreement, which covers refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners, calls for new national minimum efficiency standards, production tax credits for super-efficient appliances and inclusion of “smart grid” readiness as a feature of future Energy Star qualified appliances,” the agreement states. Tax credits and energy savings? Sign me up!
What makes this agreement historic and unique is that it included stakeholders such as GE, Whirlpool, Sharp, Viking, Samsung, and a host of other suppliers as well as environmental non-profits such as Earthjustice and Alliance to Save Energy. Moreover, the agreement retains manufacturing jobs — about 50,000 — here in the U.S. while also drastically cutting energy consumption. The water savings alone, for example, is expected to result in “5 trillion less gallons of water used over 30 years.” Yes, that’s trillion not billion.
So, what’s next? Well, based on evolving trends in the market, it seems the next big leap is in the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) area. Here, product makers are looking at the entire life cycle of a product from an eco-friendly point of view. The result includes innovations in textiles, health and beauty products and home improvement products that are non-toxic and eco-friendly. Leading the charge here is the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, which has C2C certified product program.
I’m not sure how fast C2C is moving in the market, and how responsive consumers are to it, but the effort is valiant and well worth considering. We’ll have to see how this shapes up, and how well the industry supports the initiative. In the meantime, you may want to peruse this page of furniture made from undesirable materials.
I love the chair, but wonder if the wood splinters. That might hurt. Still, I would take a splinter in an uncomfortable place knowing that it was good for the Earth. Would you?