After getting hit by the tsunami last December, Sri Lanka needed a way to both provide relief and rebuild their economy. World Bicycle Relief, a non-profit that provides access to independence and livelihood through the power of bicycles, is working with World Vision Sri-Lanka and the Lumala Bicycle Company (based in Sri Lanka) to provide over 24,000 bicycles to tsunami survivors.
Known as Project Tsunami, the program is unique in its commitment to source bikes locally, which will “ensure correct specification and that recipients are familiar with bikes. It also provides access to spare parts, eliminates supply chain, shipping costs, duties, logistics, and assists the local economy.” There will be bikes for both adults and children, plus bike maintenance training for forty people. (Via BikeBiz.com)
Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! Fireworks are an integral part of Independence Day celebrations in the US, plus both Victoria Day and Canada Day celebrations north of the 49th parallel. For the Walt Disney Company, fireworks are an almost-daily occurrence, so it’s not surprising that we might see pyrotechnical innovations from them.
Just over a year ago, Disney announced the development of compressed air technology to launch fireworks. This solution is both quieter and more environmentally-friendly than the smoke-producing black powder traditionally used. In an admirable departure from the company’s license-like-mad strategy, Disney planned to donate the patents for the air launch technology to a non-profit organization in an attempt to encourage other fireworks producers to follow suit. (See press release here.)
At Vermont’s Middlebury College, there are courses and projects that address solutions to global warming. There are annual campus greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and there’s a working group appointed to reducing said emissions. Rather than stop at its own campus, the college collaborates with organizations in the region (including other businesses, communities, and other colleges) to “develop cost-effective solutions to fight climate change and promote environmental protection.”
If this sounds impressive, you’re not the only one who thinks so; Clean Air — Cool Climate, a non-profit dedicated to finding and implementing solutions to global warming in the Northeast US, just recognized Middlebury’s efforts with the 2005 Climate Champion Award. (Read the press release, via the Education for Sustainability Western Network news.)
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano announced yesterday a proposed ordinance that would prevent the city from buying products created using child labor or slave labor. Applying to domestic or foreign-made goods, and only to clothing the first year, the measure would also ban the purchase of products made in ways that violate local or international labor laws.
Though San Francisco would by no means be a first mover in this regard–several other states, cities, counties and school districts have passed similar measures–not everyone sees the ban as a good move. If passed (it is expected to), how will the ordinance be enforced? Is the apparel industry being treated fairly? Surprise: they don’t think so. Read more at SFGate.com.
Over the past three years, the US Small Business Administration has spent $37 million to fund Women’s Business Centers, resulting in $500 million of associated economic activity. Many of the centers’ clients are women of color, or women with low household incomes; though many of the women who come to the centers for entrepreneurship training and business consulting services have little education, 60% of them are now managing businesses.
These facts come from studies conducted by the Center for Women’s Leadership at Babson College; learn more at their website or check out the article at bizjournals.com.
The Canadian cities of Toronto and Ontario, both in the province of Ontario, will receive federal gas tax monies to fund environmentally sustainable projects such as public transit. This is the first time that federal funds, to be doled out over the next five years, will be used for such municipal projects.
The actual amounts for public transit flowing to each city are based on ridership, which is a good thing for Toronto; over half of Ontario’s transit trips occur there. (Via the Globe and Mail, thanks to .)
UPDATE: Oops, I meant the city of Ottawa; as Anonymous pointed out, there is no City of Ontario.
Why pay to dump nutrient-rich wastewater when you can use it to boost the bottom line? By converting the methane in their wastewater to energy, the New Belgium Brewery in Colorado produces up to 60% of the electricity it needs to brew such beers as the popular Fat Tire Ale.
Not only does this technique reduce energy costs, the brewery avoids the steep water treatment fees that would otherwise be assessed by the city of Fort Collins. Shall we drink to that? Via the The Register Guard.
The UK airline industry expects that the number of air flights will increase enough in the next 25 years that greenhouse gas emissions will double… and that’s accounting for aircraft that will emit half of what they do today. This is rather significant, given that high elevation emissions may contribute up to three times as much to global warming as ground level emissions.
Want to fly without greenhouse guilt? Many individuals (and their employers) support this idea, and savvy entrepreneurs are happy to help. For a fee, groups such as Future Forests and AtmosFair will plant trees to offset your carbon emissions. (Via the TimesOnline)
Kaiser Permanente has teamed up with a natural-foods grocer to open the Food Farm’acy in Oakland, CA. Designed to promote healthier shopping habits, the food market is open to the public. It only stocks products that meet physician-in-chief Tom McDonald’s strict criteria for the “best and healthiest” food, including whole grain pasta, organic canned beans, and frozen buffalo.
The HMO also promotes healthy eating amongst its clients and employees by hosting farmers markets at fifteen of its facilities in California and Oregon, with plans for more. Hm… an apple a day keeps the health insurance companies in the black? (Via SFGate.com)
No matter how sustainable a company’s goals, it takes an aware and empowered workforce to achieve them. A good manager finds ways to effectively communicate the company’s strategy to all employees, and gives them the tools they need to make decisions accordingly.
In a recent study, McKinsey consultants rank hundreds of manufacturing companies’ management styles. In the examples mentioned in last week’s Economist, the more effective the communication between management and employees, the higher the company’s management score.
The article explores the longevity of some badly-run companies; read it here.
If you only think of coffee when you think of Fair Trade, you’re missing out! American businesses are taking advantage of the growth of the fair trade industry by sourcing tea, cocoa, tropical fruit, rice, and now sugar from farmers that get paid fair prices, live and work in decent conditions, have access to capital, and who use sustainable agricultural practices.
Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s offers three ice creams flavored with Fair Trade Certified coffee extract. Yum!
Their stock was recently dumped by Pax World Funds, and there’s no denying the impact that Starbucks’ 6,000+ stores have on the viability of locally-owned coffee shops. Finishing School empowers coffee addicts to avoid Starbucks with the Delocator, a searchable database of independent cafés. Enter a zip code to find local coffee houses; Starbucks stores in the region are displayed alongside.
Your favorite java joint isn’t listed? Go ahead and add it! The participatory site encourages users to contribute to the growing database of Starbucks alternatives. (Via Ethical Marketplace anchor Simran Sethi)
Suppose you start a sustainable company, grow it into a great success, and then decide to move on to the next venture, retire, or pay back your investors. If you leave, take the company public, or sell it, will your carefully-instilled values survive the transition?
Joel Makower reports on two early-stage funds that would make the transition a little easier to stomach. One is an offshoot of Porfolio 21, a sustainable business mutual fund out of Oregon. The other, dubbed Circle B by fund incubator Investors’ Circle Foundation, will support B corporations, a proposed class of business entity which would exist for the benefit of ALL stakeholders. Read Joel Makower’s full report at WorldChanging.
The Google Foundation is considering backing for-profit ventures that have a positive social impact, adding to the list of those who believe that doing good is a good investment. Ben Cohen, formerly of Ben & Jerry’s, does the same thing with his Barred Rock venture capital fund, as does the conspicuously reticent Omidyar Network; read the USA Today article here. (via Google alerts, go figure.)
Like the sound of of Google’s latest contribution to Not Being Evil? Apply to be the foundation’s Executive Director.
Sometimes it takes a little civil disobedience to convince companies do the right thing. Through a series of protests and demonstrations, the Rainforest Action Network has convinced J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.—the third largest bank in the U.S.—to develop a new policy limiting lending and underwriting for environmentally-damaging industrial projects. I reckon other banks should follow suit before the activists choose their next target…
Read the Wall Street Journal article or check out the the new policy (via Rainforest Action Network).