Jonah Sachs, and his long-time friend Louis Fox, started Free Range Studios 10 years ago as a creative agency with a conscience. Sachs, named one of the “The Thirty People Cleaning up the Earth” by Shift magazine in 2001, first realized the tranformative power of media as the editor of his college newspaper. He recalled, in a recent interview, releasing issues and seeing the entire student body reading the paper. He realized then that producing media at scale has the potential to amplify conversations about issues that press the world today.
Recently the agency, with offices both in Berkeley, CA and Washington, D.C., announced its Youtopia grant, a pledge of $15,000 worth of free design and strategy services to a non-profit and socially responsible business. The grant program, despite name changes, is in its 7th year of existence, and past winners include Green for All and the Global Resource Center for the Environment (GRACE), most recognizable for its viral flash video, The Meatrix (see video at Free Range’s site).
The National Clean Energy Summit 2.0, sponsored by Senate Major Leader Harry Reid, UNLV, and the Center for American Progress took place last month in Las Vegas, and boasted an impressive roster of participants like President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, General Wesley Clark, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and several others.
The event was an attempt to bring together some of the most respected leaders from industry, science, government, and advocacy organizations to discuss a policy agenda for creating good jobs in the new economy by accelerating the deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency, advancing energy independence, and ensuring long-term prosperity for Nevada, the nation, and the world.
Below are several videos of the event, including special remarks by Mr. Clinton, Mr. Gore, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and T. Boone Pickens.
How the Computer Networking Giant Encourages Non-Profit Service
A few years back, the Financial Times told the story of Peter Santis, a regional sales manager for computer networking giant, Cisco Systems. When he was let go, according to the article (links to articles dating before 2004 aren’t available on FT.com), Santis was presented with a unique proposition. Instead of walking away with a pink slip and a severance package, he was given the opportunity to remain a part of the Cisco family working for a non-profit.
Peter Tavernise, now a senior manager at Cisco’s Corporate Affairs Group, found himself in a similar position in 2001. When he was laid off, Tavernise was offered one-third of his former salary with full benefits to become a Cisco Fellow and spend the next year as planner and fundraiser for a North Carolina-based public affairs group. Since returning to the company, Tavernise has used what he did for that non-profit to help shape what he is doing now.
These days the program is called Cisco Leadership Fellows, and it is more focused on employees with potential as a way to, as the company asserts, bring people and technology together to make a difference and help a community prosper.
Anvil Knitwear Launches New T-Shirt Made From Recycled PET Bottles
Yesterday, Anvil Knitwear announced the launch of its newest line of eco-friendly apparel: A t-shirt made from plastic bottles. No, this is not some misguided homage to Zoolander’s Dereliqute campaign, but rather an interesting attempt to promote plastic recycling and the conversion to industrial organic cotton farming.
Called the AnvilSustainable, each tee uses approximately three 20-ounce recycled plastic bottles, and the cotton utlized comes from farms that are in the three-year process of transitioning to organic. According to the company, using recycled plastic is also cheaper than using new polyester, so Anvil can pass the savings onto consumers.
“Buying a shirt made with cotton in conversion is a great way to support farmers making the switch, and encourage more to do the same,” said Anthony Corsano, Anvil’s CEO.
A monumental ban on incandescent bulbs went into effect today throughout the European Union, marking a significant milestone in policy regarding consumer habits as a way to combat our collective impact on climate change.
It’s been long understood that compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are significantly more energy efficient, and while there will be a roughly three year grace period to completely phase out those non-CFL bulbs that have already been fabricated from the market, according to the UK’s Energy Saving Trust, this new ban could cut the average UK’s household by 37 Pounds (approximately $60) and save 135 kg (approximately 298 lbs.) of CO2 emissions each year.
What is notable, however, isn’t the potentially huge environmental impact this ban will have, but the large amount of resistance it is receiving.
Last week, a lede in the Guardian UK’s environment blog read: “Greenpeace’s sea ice ‘mistake’ delights climate change sceptics (sic).” Apparently, in a recent interview on BBC, a Greenpeace expert went on air and said that the Arctic is looking at ice free summers as early as 2030. He, in fact, meant to say sea ice-free summers, citing research inspired by NASA focused on Greenland.
Gerd Leipold, the executive director of the environmental organization, then went on to say, “As a pressure group, we have to emotionalise issues and we’re not ashamed of emotionalising issues.” Despite what is seemingly a small omission, the Guardian reported that Leipold’s slip-up gave ammo to the many climate change detractors out there. The environmental advocacy group was quick to issue a defense, claiming that the context in which Leipold was speaking was obvious that he was referring to sea ice and not the land-based ice sheet of the Arctic, and the phrasing he used was in line with terminology used in the initial NASA study.
It appears, however, that what most critics have latched onto is not the specific data regarding Arctic ice melts, but the underlying ethos by which Greenpeace operates. “Admitting you don’t mind emotionalising issues,” writes the Guardian blogger, “gives ammunition to critics that will then use to say you are prone to exaggerating the facts.” One blog claimed Leipold’s comment highlights the fact that Greenpeace is “doing more harm than good by overselling alarmism.”
More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!
Founded in 2007, Tappening is an educational campaign designed to encourage the public to drink tap water whenever possible, and to send a message to the bottled water industry about its unnecessary and extreme waste of fossil fuels and resultant pollution of the Earth. Recently, they’ve taken aim at how bottled water is marketed.
Veterans of the advertising and branding industry, the folks behind Tappening launched an advertising campaign late last month to challenge what they call “the notion of Truth in Advertising while embracing an opposing concept. Lying.” Undoubtedly inspired by the Truth anti-smoking campaign, they are claiming that filtered tap water marketed with luxurious cascades flowing from snow-covered mountain-top springs is as much malarkey as the idea of smoking a Marlboro is a) cool and b) will equate you to a rugged, all-American cowboy impervious to all danger.
“Puffery is one thing, but some advertising is simply lies. I’ve observed that there are two types who perpetrate this: Those who admit it and those who don’t,” noted Tappening co-founder, Mark DiMassimo in a press release. DiMassimo’s partner added: “We’re not just admitting it up front, we’re bragging about it. We want people to know we’re blatantly lying in our new campaign…and, most importantly, that everyone should pay close attention to what’s factual in marketing and what’s – not so much.”
Stanford University research group takes biomimicry to whole new heights
At this summer’s Airbus “Fly Your Ideas” competition, an international call for sustainability innovation in the airline industry, one Australian team of graduate students walked away with the first place cash prize of 30,000 euros for a green passenger cabin concept. Derived from castor oil, their bio-composite cabin is an attempt to reduce dependency on non-renewable resources in the construction of airplane interiors.
While the majority of the finalists at the competition—including the winner—focused on materials and biofuels to offer eco-friendly alternatives to flight travel, one team garnered a significant amount of head-turning by looking at how planes fly. A team of doctoral students from the Aeronautics and Astronautics program at Stanford University conceptualized a way for commercial planes to save fuel by flying in formation. “In principle, the idea of flying aircraft in formation is the same as for migrating birds,” said Tristan Flanzer, one of the team members. “While in formation, birds experience lower drag and therefore can fly further. Aircrafts can take advantage of the same principles to reduce their drag.”
In 2008, according to its website, Safety-Kleen collected more than 225 million gallons of used oil. In the same year, Safety-Kleen recycled approximately 145 million of it into base oil products for re-use in the marketplace.
This morning, Safety-Kleen announced a partnership with a Massachusetts-based service center to exclusively feature their “green” oil in all its oil changes. “By choosing EcoPower for their next oil change, South Shore residents are helping to reduce greenhouse gases that affect global warming,” said Chris Lucchetti, owner of Lucchetti’s, said in a press release. “We like to say, ‘Change the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.’”
When considering how he’d vote on the Waxman-Markety bill last month, Charlottesville, Virginia Representative, Tom Perriello, did what any legislator should. He listened to his constituents. Among the thousands of emails, letters, and faxes he received, a handful in particular stood out.
One was written by Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that works with Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. Five more from the Albemarle-Charlottesville branch of the NAACP. All urged the freshman congressman to vote against the important climate change bill. All, it turns out, were forgeries.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” Tim Freilich, an executive committee member of Creciendo Juntos, told the Charlottesville Daily Progress. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
AirTran is a budget airline that you’re most likely familiar with for popping up on all the flight promo aggregators online. Today, they made an interesting announcement. They will feature the world’s first Carbon Neutral water.
Carbon Neutral water you say? Yes, starting today, passengers on AirTran flights will get treated to bottles of Icelandic Glacial, water made with fully recyclable PET plastic from a Carbon Neutral certified bottler in Iceland.
Citing an AirTran press release, “Icelandic Glacial is a pioneer in water with environmentally responsible consumer products including industry leading Carbon Neutral certified bottled water, great taste, exceptional Icelandic purity, fully recyclable PET bottle sizes, and award winning bottle design.”
The challenges facing the wind industry and the opportunities they create.
Ever since T. Boone Pickens announced his plan to sell off 667 turbines, effectively decimating plans for the largest wind farm in the world, the wind industry has come under increased scrutiny and criticism.
Kate Galbraith, a blogger for NY Times’ Green Inc., has recently run an interesting series on the challenges facing this cleantech sector. As she chronicles, the biggest challenges facing the wind sector are not harvesting wind, but the expensive and potentially dangerous logistics associated with it, from transportation and erection of turbines—ironically, the wind itself is one of the largest inhibitors—to transmission of the power generated.
Seven years ago, long before NPR and Fast Company and the New York Times chronicled Homaro Cantu’s shocking reworkings of the dining experience at Moto Restaurant, in Chicago, he and his team began developing a project with what he calls game-changing technology in food delivery.
“First we have action, then we have reaction,” Cantu remarked in a recent conversation, the innovative chef appropriating centuries of metaphysical thought.
“Finally, we have a revolution followed by a new era in our society of capitalism,” he added, referring to his vision of the future of food, which, according to him, will follow triple bottom line thinking. “Welcome.”
Cantu, however, has been very tight-lipped about exactly what that project is. But as the chef that’s known for constructing elaborate sushi rolls purely on edible paper using organic, food-based inks or experimenting with liquid nitrogen and superconducters to make food levitate, it’s easy to let one’s mind wander in imagining what it could be.
In La Cocina’s large, commercial kitchen, three women joke with each other, their laughter amplified by the room’s high ceilings and brushed steel fixtures. They carefully dust powdered sugar on a fresh batch of alfajores, pastry-style cookies filled with dulce de leche, a caramel-like filling made from heated milk. Preparing for an upcoming local farmer’s market, these women are part of one of the 22 small food businesses that work with the self-proclaimed “incubator kitchen” located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District.
Spanish for “the kitchen,” the idea for La Cocina first originated in 1999 because of the lack of affordable kitchen space in the city. It drew its inspiration from the ethnically diverse and economically vulnerable neighborhood that, according to the people at La Cocina, thrives in part due to the many small informal businesses that serve the community.
Six years later—and thanks to organizations like Arriba Juntos, The Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment, and The Women’s Foundation of California—the incubator kitchen was born out of a belief that a community of natural entrepreneurs, given the right resources, can create self-sufficient businesses that benefit themselves, their families, and the communities and places around them.
Imagine your electric toothbrush, the one that’s supposed to come the closest to a dentist cleaning at home. According to an article in the Guardian this morning, the people at Nissan created an EV based on that technology.
No, the new Nissan Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) will not get those hard to reach places or remove pesky plaque. It will charge without the hassle of plugs. The charging is based on electro-magnetic field technology, using induction in the same way your Sonicare charges on its base stand.