Esurance was founded in 1999 during the peak of the dot com boom. It was the first auto insurer to offer its services exclusively online, from quotes to purchasing to communications to policy documents. As the company capitalized on a technological revolution, it helped create an innovative new business model, one that is inherently greener than its rivals, in an industry that has been seemingly anchored in institutionality and tradition.
“Beginning with the online model, the environmental message was baked into the product,” said Joann Lee, Community Relations Manager for the insurer.
As I listened to the radio yesterday evening, enjoying the warm summer evening in my suburban Bay Area neighborhood, an interest commercial came on, nestled somewhere in between the ad for the cell phone carriers and the dating website. Lucky Supermarkets, a Northern California entity of the Save Mart chain, will now feature indoor farmers markets in select locations.
The commercial took the form of two country folk talking about what it was like to be indoors, following the assumption that neither had ever actually been indoors before. Aside from the questionable production value of the ad itself, it made me think about what the supermarket chain was really offering.
Fresh, local, and sometimes organic produce… great. It’s wonderful that a supermarket chain that caters to the bargain shopper would want to promote local farmers and fresh and organic produce. But–and this is a fairly large but–how will this be different from the normal produce section? More importantly, why don’t they just make the items offered at the farmers market the normal produce section itself? This, unfortunately, seems to be yet another moment of wanting to capitalize on the green, organic craze rather than a more sincere attempt to provide a better, more meaningful product to its consumers. Better luck next time Lucky…
According to organizers, the goal is to use the power of “Social Influence” via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Blogs and other online media to raise money for their fund that benefits The Humane Society, LIVESTRONG, Oxfam America, and WWF. The campaign started June 1st and goes until August 28th, 2009.
It is the first project of what is being dubbed, “Social Media for Social Good,” a so-called umbrella for organizations and charities to capitalize on social media.
This week, the folks over at 12seconds.tv joined forces with Mashable to announce a contest, offering a free Kodak Zi6 pocket video camera to the winner of users who upload their own 12 second video talking about what they are going to do for social good.
Zipcar, the innovative car-sharing service, today announced its first Electric Vehicle Pod, which will come equipped with an all-electric Citroen c1 (pictured above) and a plug-in Toyota Prius.
“Our proprietary car sharing technology platform allows us to manage a variety of cutting-edge vehicles, serving hundreds of thousands of Zipsters who benefit from convenience, cost savings, and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.” said Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO of Zipcar, in a press release this morning.
The founder of Interface, Ray Anderson has become an innovative ground-breaker of sustainable business thought. Below is a great talk Anderson gave for TED back in February:
Photo Source: Fotosports / R. Parker
As hoards of tennis fans queued in line for hours today, hoping to get a glimpse of Andy Roddick or Roger Federer on Centre Court, the organizers of the world’s premiere tennis event offered a concession to those unlucky enough not to get in this morning: Resales.
While Wimbledon has been praised for not over-commercializing this year’s tournament, the reselling of tickets, at first mention, may seem like an attempt to institutionalize scalping. As original ticket holders exit the grounds, they have the option to make unwanted tickets available for other fans (either by depositing the actual tickets at select kiosks throughout the grounds, or if they want to keep them as a souvenir, having the barcodes scanned upon leaving so that new tickets may be generated).
There is one big and important difference between this system, however, and the guys that stand outside stadium gates at baseball or football games. Beyond the fact that prices aren’t ridiculously inflated, all proceeds Wimbledon generates from ticket resales are donated to charity.
“In itself, there is sustainability in good design,” said Thomas Perez in a recent interview, the accent of the Danish-born president of BODUM USA adding a poetic flare to the sentiment. And by the majority of international critics, the Swiss-based BODUM’s coffee presses are just that: products of good design.
For many of us, coffee is ritual. Whether it is to sit at a cafe with friends or simply jolt ourselves into consciousness in the morning, there is no doubt that in many of our lives, coffee plays an important if not frequent role. Launching its “Make Taste, Not Waste” campaign earlier this year, the BODUM French Press system has led the industry as one of the “greenest” methods for brewing coffee, according to the company.
And while the company’s greenness may have been an afterthought as opposed to triple bottom line thinking, the BODUM presses follow the thinking that some of the most eco-friendly products aren’t necessarily those that are the latest technological advancements, but are simple, time-tested goods based on quality and value.
With this decision, the EPA is returning to its traditional legal interpretation of the Clean Air Act from nearly 40 years ago.
“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
By 2020, Americans will save over $17 billion by driving more efficient vehicles that will lower household transportation costs, according to the NRDC.
The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act allocates funding to produce the next generation of clean, fuel-efficient vehicles in the United States, and when combined with clean vehicle performance standards adopted by the Obama administration says the NRDC, American vehicles will become about 25% more fuel efficient over the next decade.
Above is a neat infographic showing the average monthly savings per household per month across each state as a result of the greater fuel efficiency.
To view a larger scale infographic and to find out more on the full methodology behind this, check out the NRDC’s Switchboard blog.
“Launching a real Green Revolution in America would be the best way to support the ‚ÄòGreen Revolution’ in Iran.”
Thomas Friedman had an interesting idea in his op-ed yesterday morning: The US should impose an immediate “Freedom Tax” of $1 per gallon on all gasoline. By putting economic pressure on oil producing regions, the US could potentially gain leverage on key Middle Eastern regions, in particular Iran, where both the current unrest as well as its nuclear program pose concern for the Obama administration.
According to him, the tax will result in three large and quantifiable results:
1) It would stimulate more investment in renewable energy now.
2) It would stimulate more consumer demand for the energy-efficient vehicles that the reborn General Motors and Chrysler are supposed to make.
3) It would reduce our oil imports in a way that would surely affect the global price and weaken every petro-dictator.
When Tod Arbogast, Dell’s Director of Sustainability, was interviewing for his current position, he posed a question to Michael Dell, the iconic namesake of the PC giant: “If I got this job, what would you expect of me first and foremost?” Dell replied, simply and profoundly: “Courage.”
Arbogast needed courage to carry forward issues that may be controversial, tough, and without the widest support both in the technology sector and within Dell itself. These days, Arbogast leads a small, yet surprisingly effective team. Last month, the technology research firm TBRI ranked Dell #1 in its inaugural Corporate Sustainability Index Benchmark Report, a study measuring the CSR initiatives of technology and computing companies.
Yesterday, Mayor Gavin Newsom signed one of the first legislations of its kind in the country: a mandatory law requiring residential and commercial building owners to recycle and compost. While several other cities require recycling service and participation, San Francisco is the first city to require the collection of food scraps and other compostables.
Based on a study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board, food discards comprise 10% of the total municipal waste stream, and the majority of that comes from the commercial sector. In the same study, the Waste Management Board found that over 40% of the waste produced by both the retail food store and restaurant sectors is compostable food and paper refuse.
If all of the recyclable and compostable materials currently going to landfills were captured by the city’s programs, according to the San Francisco Department of the Environment, San Francisco’s recycling rate would soar to 90%.
Dozens of auto companies, suppliers, and battery makers have sought a total of $38 billion from a federal loan program to develop fuel-efficient vehicles, an AP article reported this morning. Alongside Ford and Nissan, two automakers that have EVs in the pipeline that will also get government funding in this new proposal, Tesla will receive roughly $465 million to build electric drive trains and vehicles.
“By supporting key technologies and sound business plans, we can jumpstart the production of fuel-efficient vehicles in America,” US Energy Secretary, Steven Chu said. Though, as Chu later alludes to, this will definitely help create more jobs and hopefully reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, it also begs the question if this is the best use of the money.
There’s a show out there called, “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Some of you may have heard of it, many others perhaps not. It’s a reality TV show on NBC that features B-list celebrities, like Lou Diamond Phillips, two Baldwin brothers, and America’s favorite power couple from MTV’s The Hills.
It’s a spinoff of a British/Australian reality TV show that has a very similar tenor to Big Brother. Yet, this one has one very big difference. The celebrities are competing for charities.
Photo Source: NBC
Photo Source: Wired.com
Jim Fouts, the mayor of Warren, Michigan, a suburb just outside of Detroit, says that our aging water infrastructure is a “a ticking time bomb that’s ready to go off.” A report by the EPA cites that repairing and renovating public water systems will require $334.8 billion over two decades. And as lawmakers debate over banking reform or universal health care, it appears that our nation’s pressing water issues will not be addressed from a policy level.
Enter the Living Machine. Worrell Water Technologies’ Living Machine system works with existing building and municipal water infrastructures to clean wastewater for reuse. It utilizes planned wetlands, often times trees in the lobby of a building, using soil, bacteria, and “specially engineered films of beneficial microorganisms” to kill pathogens in the water.