Ethics of the fragrance, perfume, and beauty industry

It has long been believed that these industries were some of the most cruel of all, using animals as test subjects and putting in sneaky chemicals which can have carcinogenic effects, as well as cause hormonal problems for the user and for women, pregnancy complications.

But how far does the rabbit hole go? What exactly goes into your daily dose of perfume or cologne (and other fragrances within body creams, cleansing products, and so forth)? And what are the implications on your health?

We investigated, and incidentally ran into fragrance that contain pheromones (androgenic compounds) to which were potentially even more harmful than “regular” fragrances by big brands. To test this, we analyzed samples of pheromone products for men, based on the recommendations by an industry leader, PheromonePro.com. While the thought of having androgenic chemicals on your skin may sound disturbing, on further thought, we found they were actually purer than regular fragrances. They lacked many of the hidden chemicals contained within larger brands, as they were created in small labs with minute amounts of ingredients (such as androstenol and androstadienone).

 

Currently it’s extremely difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are spraying onto their skin. 

What makes it complicated to really understand, is that they are private formulas, and companies are not legally obliged to disclose how they create their products (whether its a cologne, perfume, shampoo, or any other beauty or personal care product).

While it’s possible that some companies do disclose some or all of their ingredients, many do not.

Here is a statement by safecosmetics.org:

The average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals not listed on the label. Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products.  Also in the ranks of undisclosed ingredients are chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues. These include diethyl phthalate, a chemical found in 97 percent of Americans and linked to sperm damage in human epidemiological studies, and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.


So how exactly do perfumes and fragrances affect us?

When colognes, perfumes or other personal care products are sprayed or rubbed onto our bodies, minute particles are inhaled into the lungs. When you make physical contact with the substances, they are absorbed transdermally, and into the bloodstream (similar to how nicotine and birth control patches work).

Studies confirm that these chemicals are getting into our bloodstream. A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found synthetic musk chemicals — galaxolide and tonalide, which were found in all but one of the 17 fragrances analyzed in the 2010 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tests — in the umbilical cord blood of newborn infants.It was found that fragrances from the bloodstream of their mothers we’re responsible for the toxins.

What’s shocking is the lack of public knowledge regarding the subject. While there is lots you can do to educate yourself,it’s difficult to get others to understand your concern. Until this issue picks up steam by major media, it will remain a hidden problem in today’s society.

In the mean time, it’s best avoid synthetic frangrances and opt for natural or organic essential oils which are much better for your skin and overall health. Remember, it’s not just once or twice, but years of build up which can affect you significantly later on in life.…

Farm Shop Shows The Potential For Urban Growing

The population of the world is on a constant upward tangent, and with living and growing space very far from following pace, we are facing a food shortage in the future. However, the amount of concern in the media about climate change over the past decade or so has gradually begun to sink in to the general population, and the increase in sustainable living has been notable. This has begun to happen right from people adding solar panels and insulating their houses to large industry using computer controlled irrigation and solar energy as well.

Following in the steps of the innovative ‘Gotham Greens’ in Brooklyn, NY, London now has it’s very first produce shop where everything sold is grown either in or on the roof of the shop itself. These days, you might well associate Dalston with the latest in the series of reality programs, but the north east London borough is the first in the capital city to have a shop like this.

Housed in an old shelter for domestic abuse victims, it is still staffed by vulnerable people, and makes a really worthy combination of help project and sustainable produce shop. Inside the shop they produce salads on the first floor by a novel ‘aeroponic’ method, whereby seedlings are surrounded with nutrient rich air whilst in rockwool. When sufficiently strong they are moved downstairs to the hydroponic section, where the water is enriched by the waste products of a neighbouring tank of decorative fish. The final products are plucked fresh and sold on the spot, along with eggs from chickens that are housed in a coop on the roof.

Farm:Shop seek to widen their appeal by making the space part of the community; holding bands, poets and talks by night, kids clubs for after school and coffee and cakes in the cafe by day. It’s a sterling example of the ‘big society’ talked about the current government, as local people from hugely diverse backgrounds including an aquaponics company and painters and decorators, have lent their skills to make the project work. It has also opened the eyes of the founders to how much small scale production goes on behind closed doors around London, from hydroponic tomatoes on a window sills to carp for the Jewish market in a back garden pond. Staffed mainly by volunteers, it’s a great example of how non-green fingered people can get involved and create a successful, responsible and carbon neutral business….and in the middle of a huge city.…

The Power of Ethics in Branding

When it comes to branding your business, you are likely aware of some of the legal concerns that come with the territory, such as the possibility of trademark or copyright infringement, the onus of honesty in advertising, and the responsibility that comes with operating overseas, where laws and restrictions may allow you to get away with things that are not legal in your country of origin, but which you should nonetheless avoid (like child labor, forced labor, pollution, and so on).  But when it comes to the topic of ethical considerations in branding, you might be scratching your head.  How is it different from the legalities involved? The difference between the two is that one deals with the consequences of violating standards set in place to protect the public at large while the other centers on how your business is perceived by the public.  And if you think that you can get away with ethical violations simply because there are no laws to address them, then you haven’t fully considered the ramifications of what a negative brand image can mean for your company.  The consumer public may not have the authority to stop ethical violations, but they can certainly cut off their consumer dollars in retaliation if they don’t like what you stand for.  And that can be far more detrimental to you than getting slapped with legal fines.

Of course, ethical violations can sometimes lead to legal problems.  Just take Pfizer, for example.  Whistleblower John Kopchinski was fired in 2003 after reporting that “aggressive” marketing tactics for the drug Bextra (which has since been discontinued) started out as legal, but because the company wanted to show a better return on its marketing efforts, eventually crossed the ethical line of suggestive language to the point that the company was actually making fraudulent claims about the drug.  And the fact that they had doctors pushing Bextra for payouts (basically, bribery) didn’t help their case either.  As for Kopchinski, he was awarded more than $50 million in damages after Pfizer fired him and slapped him with a fraud suit for his claims.  While Pfizer is still in business, the financial setback for their ethical misstep was the largest whistleblower settlement in U.S. history.

Now, losing money is bad.  After all, why are you in business if not to make money?  But aside from payouts like the one listed above, there is a more pressing concern for companies whose brand becomes associated with ethical violations.  For one thing, they could face a boycott by consumers that have decided to use their voice (through their consumer dollars) to let a company know that what they are doing is unacceptable.  In fact, there is an ongoing boycott against the Nestlé Corporation.  Although the boycott peaked during the late 1970s and early 80s (after it was discovered that they were unethically promoting infant formula in underdeveloped nations), the boycott movement still exists to this day, and it gained attention in May of this year thanks to unethical marketing in Asia-Pacific.

The point is that it pays to behave ethically in business.  Not only could it stop your company from crossing that very thin line into legal violations, but you can use it in your marketing and branding efforts as a way to attract customers that are otherwise disenchanted with the corporate world.  And a failure to utilize ethical practices in your operation only stands to hurt you in the long run.

Fair Trade Chocolate Trumps Hershey’s this Halloween

The largest candy company in the United States has recently come under fire not for the sugar-laden, teeth-rotting treats they sling at children, but rather for the children they employ to do the slinging.  The Hershey Food Corporation may have a corporate headquarters located in aptly named Hershey, Pennsylvania, but the cocoa beans that are harvested to make the chocolate for which they are internationally famous can be found in Ghana and Ivory Coast in Africa, along with underage and exploited workers.  A recent report released by Tulane University’s Payson Center for International Development cited Hershey as one of the companies responsible for the endurance of child labor in these countries, and called for them to embrace fair trade practices that would help to bring about the end of child labor in the cocoa industry.  But until they take up the call, there are several other organizations willing to adopt fair trade practices when it comes to making chocolate.  And you may want to use your consumer dollars to send a message to Hershey this Halloween: that the exploitation of children is too frightening for even this spooky holiday. In fact, it really couldn’t be easier.  Hershey is literally the only U.S. manufacturer of chocolate that has refused to adopt any type of labor certification (meaning their practices have been approved by an organization that screens for abuses of labor rights).  Even competitors like Nestle, Mars, and Kraft have made a token effort to control the chain of supply of cocoa to their manufacturing plants (with certifications provided by either Rainforest Alliance, which requires that at least 30% of primary ingredients be produced without the use of child labor, or UTZ Certified, which doesn’t allow child labor, but also doesn’t necessarily guarantee farmers a fair wage).

A much better choice would be to purchase chocolate from companies like Alter Eco, Cocoa-Zen, and Divine Chocolate (just to name a few), all of which are certified at the highest level by an organization called Fair Trade Certified.  This collective upholds the highest standards when it comes to labor rights, prohibiting child labor (along with forced labor and discrimination) and rallying for collective bargaining rights.  In addition, farmers who receive certification are given a guaranteed price for their produce.  This ensures that no exploitation is needed to harvest the cocoa beans that go into the chocolates Americans love to buy.

But how do you find these sweet (and labor friendly) treats?  While Hershey’s candy can be found on every grocery-store shelf in the country, some of the alternative brands listed above can be a lot more difficult to secure.  Alter Eco products can be purchased online and in natural food stores (such as Whole Foods Market).  Unfortunately, their chocolates only come in bar form, not bite size, making them better for everyday than for Halloween.  Offerings from Cocoa-Zen can also be purchased online and they do have an assortment of individually wrapped items.  Divine Chocolate is unfortunately unavailable for purchase via their website, but they do produce bite size candy and you can use their handy store locator to find their wares locally.  Alter Eco and Divine can also be purchased via Amazon.

While it may take a little more time to secure Halloween candy that eschews the use of child labor in its production, it can be done.  Not only that: it should be done.  Mega corporations like Hershey will continue to exploit child labor (or carry on other unethical business practices across the globe) as long as they can make money doing it.  As soon as public disapproval begins to cut into their bottom line, they will do whatever is necessary to regain income, even if it means paying a little more for their beans in order to become fair trade certified.  So use your purchasing power this Halloween to ensure that no child will benefit at the expense of another.  Embrace fair trade by boycotting Hershey and buying just about any other brand.

Does Fair Trade Always Equal Green?

A question that many people might not ask themselves – are fair -trade items always necessarily eco-friendly? The two concepts seem to be inextricably linked, especially in the consumer mind, but perhaps they are not always one.

The surge in popularity of ethical consumerism has certainly created a market for greener products, but it has also created a market for specific branding to demonstrate that these products have been scrutinized, and are assuredly your best conscious purchase. There are so many up-and-coming products, the average person can become confused rather quickly. It’s easy to make the assumption that any chocolate bar bearing a sticker that announces “fair trade” must also be good for the environment and good for those who pick the cacao, but, indeed that is not always the case.

Focusing on items that are “fair-trade certified” and for now ignoring the niche certifications such as bird-friendly, Rainforest Alliance-approved, UTZ certified and so on – we learn that traditionally, the fair-trade designation has been associated with labor standards rather than environmental concerns. This suggests that workers in distant places are earning better and more consistent wages, and laboring under better conditions than they would with products brought to market under conventional labels. But, any product that’s certified as fair trade, must also meet a set of environmental standards as determined by the Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International.

These restrictions are in some respects, very straightforward. For example, the certification process specifically bans a long list of dangerous pesticides, but, in other respects, the standards are more general. Things such as requiring buffer zones to be in place around conservation areas, minimize water use for irrigation, and ensure that organic waste is disposed of in a sustainable manner – but fair-trade advocates hold that the ecological rewards extend beyond simple rules. Through helping to empower and promote smaller producers, the label helps those who more likely to use traditional (and sustainable) growing methods that are better for the environment.

Remember though, that fair-trade doesn’t equal organic. Even while the international labeling group encourages producers to adopt organic practices whenever feasible, it does not require it. The group that maintains these standards within the United States is Transfair USA. According to them, more than 60% of fairly traded coffee also happens to be organic. There also exists a large area of overlap between fair-trade coffee and “bird friendly”, shade-grown varieties, but one doesn’t always equal the other. It seems however, that if one assumes the certifications are legitimate, fair-trade is likely to be more eco-friendly than most of the recognized brands in the supermarket.

Still, concerns are raised regarding this issue, one being that the promise of higher wages gained in fair-trade agreements could possibly create an incentive for farmers to over produce their goods. There is also the question of whether the farmers really enjoy many benefits directly provided from the higher price consumers pay for fair-trade items. Over production of goods keeps the rest of the world’s farmers poor, and results in more land being cleared for farming. Of course these concerns might be over emphasized, because fair-trade certifications more often than not place bans on the use of untouched forests, and there is very little evidence that small-scale production has led to over production.

Something else to consider, is the fact that fair-trade items are produced at far distances, and therefore must travel to reach local markets. If the products are shipped by sea, the impact might not be so bad, as it is believed that long-distance hauling, over ocean, has less detrimental effect than the same product being trucked from points within the U.S., but, certain perishable fruits and vegetables must always be transported by air which does indeed raise serious concerns.

The bottom line is this: If you’re concerned about issues of global poverty, and also passionate about climate change, you probably won’t be able to have it both ways at all times. Try keeping things in strict perspective. Rejecting bananas grown far away may reduce your carbon footprint in small measure, but you can make a much larger impact by refusing to support factory farming, and putting the pack of ground beef you picked up for …

FHA Helps People Buy Homes, Avoid Foreclosures

The Federal Housing Administration has been around since the 1930s, when it was formed in order to stop the tide of foreclosures brought on by the Great Depression and to help low-income Americans realize the dream of owning their own homes.  But they offer a lot more than just low interest rates for homebuyers and the government backing that encourages banks to approve loans for otherwise risky homeowners.  In fact, they do a lot to help economically depressed Americans pull themselves up, get into suitable homes, and find ways to stay there.  In short, they are a godsend in our current economy.  Here’s how they help people and why other countries should take a page from their playbook.

First and foremost, they help people to get home mortgage loans.  Although they are not a lending institution, they do provide government-backed mortgage insurance for home buyers that have income or credit issues that would otherwise bar them from buying a house (or qualifying for private mortgage insurance).  Although applicants will still have to meet eligibility requirements in order to get approval for this type of mortgage insurance, the guidelines are there to protect both the banks and the homebuyers in order to ensure that no family is saddled with a mortgage payment they can’t afford and no bank is left holding a property in default.

And the requirements are fairly straightforward.  The monthly costs associated with home ownership (mortgage, interest, insurance, etc.) cannot exceed 31% of the buyers gross income, and the buyer must have steady employment (minimum two years) with the same employer at the same (or higher) salary.  The buyer must also have a clean credit history for at least two years following bankruptcy or three years following foreclosure.  And the property must be inspected and approved by an FHA representative before a sale can go through.  There are more rules particular to specific cases, but the basic idea behind all of them is protection for homeowners and banks against the type of irresponsible lending (and borrowing) that crashed the housing market and sent the global economy into a downward spiral in recent years.

Of course, the FHA doesn’t just hand over the cash and then leave people to their own devices; instead they provide for further protections with programs that help homeowners to avoid defaulting on their loan and facing foreclosure even if they get into financial hot water.  For example, they offer the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that helps homeowners to reduce monthly payments by deferring debt (to be paid at a later date) in order to reduce monthly payments to a sum that the owners can currently afford.  They also have a program called HOPE for Homeowners (H4H) that will help struggling homeowners to refinance with an FHA-insured loan (likely lowering their payments by a significant margin).

Although FHA loan limits definitely exist, the truth is that the organization provides an option for responsible adults to get into affordable housing, despite past problems with credit history or a current income that is low.  This in turn has the potential to stimulate economic growth, help low-income families to pull themselves out of devastating conditions, and ultimately, create a brighter future for the people of one nation and the world as a whole.…

A Language Lesson for Big Business

The truly wonderful thing about a global economy is that companies can expand into other countries in order to increase their consumer base, improve local job markets, and bring together peoples, cultures, and communities through the expansion of business.  Although the legalities and costs of such moves may be prohibitive in some cases, the potential for gains on both sides often makes it well worth the trouble.  However, there is one other obstacle that must be overcome in order for businesses to succeed in the international market: the language barrier.  And companies that refuse to address this fundamental communication issue may feel the sting of failure before long.

In fact, communication is essential to conducting business.  Without the ability to talk to and understand consumers, employees, suppliers, business partners, and authorities, companies can quickly find themselves hampered in their ability to operate effectively.  They will almost certainly lose money due to such a massive oversight.  But there are many ways that multinational businesses can implement strategies for success on the language front, and the results will almost certainly be positive, resulting in happier employees and a boost in sales.

For starters, companies that wish to operate on an international level need to think about all of the many ways that communications affect their day-to-day management and their long-term goals so that they can lay out a comprehensive plan for improved communications.  And it really starts with employees.  Many companies make the wise choice of integrating employment, which is to say they send already-trained professionals from their home office to “start up” their international offices, but they also hire from the local work force.  There are many benefits to this strategy, such as gaining insight into the buying habits, cultural mores, and overall psychology of the local populace, diversifying the workforce for increased creativity and skillsets, and garnering goodwill with the communities in which the business operates.  But the tactic does little good if basic communication issues are not addressed.

For this reason, it pays to hire locals that speak both their own language and are fluent in the language of a company’s nation of origin.  Further, employees being sent to the new office should be encouraged to learn the language of the country they will be living in.  Having multiple forms of communication available only increases the likelihood that important information will not end up lost in translation.  If all else fails, skilled translators should be hired to ensure productive communication is taking place.  While it can be difficult to hire qualified professionals that have the added benefit of speaking multiple languages (and the right languages, at that), it is not an impossible task, and there are other options that can help to improve the way your business is run, regardless of where the office resides.

And really, there’s no downside.  Although companies that choose to operate in a multinational arena will certainly face language barriers (and potentially additional costs associated with hiring multi-lingual employees or translation staff), the benefits of expansion stand to far outweigh any upfront costs.  But a failure to adequately compensate for communications issues that arise will almost certainly result in setbacks to employee morale, local relations, and ultimately revenue.…

Ethical Issues in Dental Care

As health care providers, dentists shoulder a heavy burden of responsibility to act in an ethical manner at all times.  And like any other health care professionals, they are often faced with ethical dilemmas.  They may have to deal with such issues as rapidly changing technology (and decisions about whether the associated costs, training, and risks are worth the advanced care that can be offered via such equipment, software, and materials) and the difficulties that can result from third-party payment (as with health insurance).  But perhaps that biggest source of ethical issues comes in the form of interactions with patients, and if you opt to practice dentistry of any stripe you will undoubtedly encounter ethical concerns when it comes to keeping patients safe and informed, and helping them to make educated decisions concerning their oral health.

It is the duty of health care providers to first do no harm, and there are many ways that this can be viewed.  For starters, you need to do everything possible to protect the confidentiality of your patients.  In this day and age it is all too easy for skilled hackers to break into files that are inadequately protected.  And while you might not think that the information you keep in your records could be as harmful as, say, medical records, think again.  In most cases cyber-criminals are after identities (name, address, credit card number, etc.), not medical histories.  And if there is a break-in and subsequent theft of such information you could be facing some very unhappy customers (and a class-action lawsuit).  So make sure that your online storage is secure.

Another major concern is informed consent.  Part of your job is to make sure that patients understand all of their options when it comes to dental care, including the right to refuse treatment or seek a second opinion if they don’t like your assessment and recommendations.  Of course, they also need to know the ramifications of failing to treat serious conditions.  On the whole, most dentists strive to nurture a trusting relationship with patients so that these extreme measures are never necessary, but the truth is that nearly all patients are going to get news they don’t want to hear at some point (root canal, tooth extraction, etc.) and the onus is on you to be sure they understand all possible options before they make a decision.

Of course, you also have the right to refuse service to patients for a variety of reasons, and often there will be ethical issues on this front as well.  For one thing, you are medical professional.  This can make it very difficult to refuse treatment to anyone in need.  But you are also running a business, so you can’t really afford to treat patients that won’t or can’t pay (no insurance or a spotty history of payments, for example).  And if you suspect that a patient abuses drugs, has mental health issues, or even has communicable diseases, you may wish to abort treatment for your own safety as well as that of the staff, your business, and of course, the patient.  But still, it can be a very difficult decision to make.

Health care providers of all types face these and other ethical issues constantly and they can easily derail the dentist that is unprepared.  So it behooves you to continue your education, including discourses on ethics in your industry.  And always do your best to consider what you might want if you were sitting in that chair.  This will help to ensure that you land on the right side of any ethical consideration.…

The Hidden Costs of Hiring Consultants

For many companies, hiring consultants is a standard part of operations.  In most cases, corporations (or even small businesses) can benefit from bringing in industry professionals that specialize in certain areas for short-term contract work.  It saves them on the cost of hiring a highly-paid expert to a staff position, allows time to determine whether or not a full-time position within the company is warranted, and helps the business to meet targeted needs within a set period of time (often in the way of a business plan that the company can move forward on after the contract is complete) without the overhead of an additional ongoing salary to pay.  So there are plenty of reasons why a business might want to hire a consultant here and there.  Unfortunately, there can be hidden costs associated with bringing in outsiders to consult. The most obvious costs are monetary.  Contracting with consultants often comes with a wide array of expenses.  First there is base salary, and self-employed contractors in the corporate world often charge 2-3 times what you might expect to pay a regular employee.  The reason for this is simple; they have to cover a lot of their own expenses (at the very least, they are responsible for taxes, a portion of which is generally paid by the employer, and they have to pay the entire cost of health insurance rather than profiting from a plan that would normally be offered for a lot less through a corporate benefits package).  So higher costs for services help to offset these disparities.  However, they may also make certain extra demands.

Most require that any additional expenses incurred as a result of taking a contract be covered, and this could include travel arrangements (flights, lodgings, transportation, and even meals).  So the bill could quickly become astronomical.  And while a company can dispel the impact of these expenses on their books through various means (say by posting payments for a 6-month contract over a 2-year period), most of these practices are pretty shady.  And if a corporation gets caught committing any type of fraud it could result in serious penalties (charges, fines, and even jail time).

However, there is an even bigger cost to consider, and that is the damage caused to employee morale.  In these trying economic times, many companies are conducting massive layoffs and then hiring contractors to pick up the slack, simply because there are ways to make it look like the company is spending less (or earning more) so that their stockholders remain happy.  But it certainly does a number on employees working their butts off to keep their jobs.  All they see is that they are replaceable and that they could lose their jobs at any moment, only to be replaced by someone who works a lot less and earns a lot more.  The situation doesn’t inspire much confidence.  And if companies continue to renew contracts rather than hiring on for full-time staff positions (which they obviously need), then it’s pretty clear to employees (and everyone else) that they’re probably engaging in unethical activities (at the very least).

There are certainly times when hiring a consultant is a wise move for a business and it can come with some definite benefits.  But when a company begins to favor contractor services or consultants over dedicated workforce it can quickly lead to loss of money and even employees over time.  And the cost of losing skilled, long-term personnel is incalculable (but definitely detrimental).  So companies that wish to hire consultants need to think long and hard about the impact it could have on their bottom line, now and in the future.

Bio-Rentals Make a Difference

Eco-friendly cars are slowly making inroads (no pun intended) into the hearts of modern drivers thanks to advances in technology, government incentives, and the widespread popularity of breathable air.  But there are still an awful lot of cars on the road that rely solely on petroleum products for locomotion, which means every year our atmosphere becomes more polluted with the tons of carbon emissions that these vehicles produce.  And while individuals are slowly changing their minds about the type of cars that appeal to them and the future they want to create for their kids, the process is bound to be slow going unless larger organizations jump on board.  Luckily, broader efforts seem to be underway in cities around the world, with trials involving biodiesel buses and green alternatives for trucking popping up here and there.  And car rental companies that are adding eco-friendly vehicles to their fleets are another good step.

Most rental organizations, including big names like Hertz and Avis, now offer green rental options for customers looking for alternatives to the gas-guzzling polluters of yesteryear.  However, you’ll be hard pressed to find any of the big boys offering an electric car.  Of course, the problem here is that customers unfamiliar with the area they are visiting (probably the majority of people renting cars) may have a tough time finding charging stations.  So it’s not surprising that hybrids (both compacts and SUVs) are the best you can get from the big-name rental companies.  It’s rather surprising that they’ve offered even that much, but apparently there is enough demand to motivate them to expand their lines, which is rather heartening in and of itself.

There are also some rental companies that have made efforts to be even greener.  Bio-Beetle Eco Rental Cars in Maui, HI, for example, has made it their mission to be the greenest rental car company in the world.  They aim to help travelers make better choices for themselves and the planet with every car they offer, and to that end, all of their cars get 35-50 miles per gallon thanks to alternative fuel (biodiesel) and hybrid engines.  And they even go so far as to offer zero-emission electric cars, with the addition of the Nissan Leaf to their fleet (proving that it can be done)!  Granted, they operate their business on an island, so even if there are only limited public charging stations available it is unlikely that the renter who plans ahead will run out of charge.  But with more and more automakers competing in this arena, it won’t be long before charging stations become more widely available and electric vehicles can go greater distances (the Leaf, for example, now has a range of about 100 miles on a full charge).

The point is that there are rental car companies out there doing their part for a cleaner environment; and as more people support them, chances increase that the message will spread and larger companies will take the hint.  Rental cars are only a small part of a much bigger problem plaguing our planet, but considering that the eco-friendly movement is beginning to take root in automobile adjacent industries, it may not be long before others (like the pollution-heavy shipping industry) follow suit.…