Will Talking Trash Really Address the Root Waste Issues?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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People don’t really think that when they toss an empty cup–or an old ink cartridge, or whatever–into a trash can, that the item just, poof, disappears. Right? I mean, no one really thinks that. Regardless of whether they do, many people act as if that’s the case. Out of site, out of mind.
And so in an effort to give a face and a story to some of the trash that’s tossed in test sites in London, New York City and Seattle, a group of MIT researchers plan on using crews of volunteers to help them toss a few thousand wireless tracking devices out along with the trash. Then, they’ll use cellular networks and a cool GUI to track the whereabouts of the garbage for the next few months, giving an end-of-life story to the discarded goods and – hopefully – telling the tale of what happens to stuff after it’s thrown away. They say doing so will make everyone think twice before they eighty-six stuff rather than recycling it or disposing of it in a proper manner.

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Screw the Environment, Get Sued?

Nick Hodge | Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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This is probably way off, and may not even happen, but it certainly paints a nice picture of growing positive sentiment for cleantech.
According to a Reuters write-up of a United Nations report released this week, “Investment advisors and asset managers could be sued for negligence if they do not consider the environment and other social issues when making investment decisions.”
Now, I’m not much on religion, but that would certainly be an Hallelujah moment.

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Don’t Just Save a Tree, Replant a Whole Forest

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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REFOREST CALIFORNIA

A “plant-a-tree” campaign doesn’t necessarily leap to mind as the pinnacle in innovative cause marketing. In fact, when I first heard about Government Solutions Group, a company that facilitates cause-related marketing between brands and state parks, it conjured images of elementary school students filing into fields with their seedlings tucked inside paper cups for a group planting. I had no idea of the magnitude of GSG’s work and how strategically sound their programs are in authentically uniting brands with a cause that literally touches every community, every generation and just about every environmental issue you can think of from water to wildlife. Shari Boyer, CEO, took some time to expand my view on state park programs, and share her unique insights on how to effectively align your brand with a cause that’s as close as your own backyard.

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AIG Closed Climate Change Program Last Month

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 3 Comments

AIG wordmarkLast month American Insurance Group (AIG) closed its climate change program, which included keeping an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. The only thing left is the Global Marine and Energy division, but nothing that directly tackles climate change. The Global Marine and Energy division contains some of the “company’s most robust portfolio of renewable energy providers,” as a New York Times article put it.
AIG has not released an official statement about closing the climate change program, so the reasons why it closed it are only speculation. However, according to Treehugger, “It’s assumed that it was a budgetary decision–clean energy is deemed too risky, too low on reward right now.”

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Esurance: Creating Innovation with a Paper-Less Model and a Cartoon Character

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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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.

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Close but no Cigar – Companies Report Sustainability Performance in Record Numbers but Remain a Minority

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

sky-and-grass.jpgMore companies now than ever – a record 1,000 organizations – are reporting their sustainability performance to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the GRI reported Tuesday. But while this 46 percent increase from the previous year is good news, it is not, GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen emphasized, adequate for addressing the global environmental crisis.

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Chido’s Blend: Fair Trade meets Ecological Efficiency

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Chido.jpgChido Govero, a young woman from Zimbabwe, just won the Sustainability Award at the 2009 Specialty Coffee Association of America conference. The association celebrated her contributions to sustainability and innovation within the coffee industry. The award is not only a critical success for Chido and her partners at the ZERI Foundation, it is also a triumph for sustainable development.

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IBM and Cisco Help Amsterdam Reduce Energy Use

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 0 Comments

amsterdam.jpg IBM and Cisco (CSCO) (a supplier of Internet networking equipment and management systems) are partnering in a pilot designed to help residents of the City of Amsterdam make more informed decisions about their energy consumption. By doing so, the pilot will help the City as a whole (as well as Dutch utility Nuon) make smarter use of energy. The pilot is part of the City’s Smart City initiative, which fosters collaboration between individuals, government, and companies in the creation of a sustainable Amsterdam.

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Wal-Mart Live Webcast: Sustainability Milestone Meeting

| Thursday July 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Wal-Mart will host a Sustainability Milestone Meeting this morning (July 16th) 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (CDT) in Bentonville, Ark. Follow the conversation on how Wal-Mart is working to launch a new project that will develop a sustainability index for their products. The meeting will be webcast live, and available for streaming following the meeting. You can also follow the meeting on Twitter via @Walmartmeeting.
As reported yesterday by Sarah Harper, the proposed index is controversial. There are many unanswered questions. Who will define what green is? How will the information gathered be shared?

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Wal-Mart – the Leader of Sustainability Indexing?

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

wal-mart-logo.jpgWal-Mart is planning quite a “first”: it will implement a new “sustainability index,” by which it will report the environmental impact of each and every piece of merchandise available for sale. Many of the corporation’s 60,000 suppliers are up in arms, as compliance will likely require them to dig deep into their supply chains. But many proponents of sustainability are also skeptical. Will the index be yet another incomplete measurement of so-called sustainability that ultimately leads consumers astray, or worse?

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Renewables Climb, Slowly but Surely, As Coal Retreats

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Renewable Energy StatisticsNon-hydroelectric renewable energy from wind, solar and biomass provided 3.7% of America’s energy needs this year through April, up from 3.1% for the same period last year, according to the Electric Power Monthly, a newsletter released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
That figure surpasses a goal of generating 3% of the nation’s energy from renewables by 2013 in a version of the Waxman-Markey climate bill now in the Senate. The House passed a version of the bill on June 26 that calls for a 6% minimum by 2012, although there are loopholes in the legislation.

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Does Everybody Have a Waste Problem?

Tom Szaky | Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Subaru, a company that you may assume creates significant waste, recycles 97% of its manufacturing waste and reuses the rest to generate electricity. (Photo: Eric Castro on Flickr)
I make products out of what would otherwise be garbage. That’s all we at TerraCycle do. So of course garbage is an issue that’s front of mind for us. But what about your company? What about any company? Does every company have a waste problem? Or turned around, a waste opportunity? Is there any company that doesn’t have a waste problem?

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Exxon to Invest in Algae-Based Fuel

| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Maybe fuel giants aren’t exempt from global sustainability efforts after all: Exxon Mobil Corp, the largest Western oil major, has agreed to invest $600 million or more in biofuel made from algae. The corporation confirmed Tuesday that it will invest in research and development of the fuel through an alliance with a private gene-based research company, Synthetic Genomics Inc.

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What Is an Anti-Fashion Clothing Line?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Philippe Starck, the French designer best known for his interior and product designs, will launch a cashmere line called S+arck With Ballantyne. It is ironic that Starck is launching a clothing line because in January he told British newspaper, The Guardian, “Let’s hope fashion in design will disappear. There is a lack of respect when the media says, ‘You must be dressed in pink,’ and some poor girl dresses in pink, and six months later, when it says, ‘You must dress in green,’ she’s a monster in her pink dress. We can’t accept this kind of manipulation.”
Starck told French newspaper Le Figaro before the line debuted in Florence, “Although the work of [its] creators is fantastic, I will never be idiotic enough to do fashion. The public will take maybe three years to understand the concept. It’s not fashion. We won’t be very big in the newspapers. The clothes are non-photogenic. But intelligent people will know to discover us.”

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T. Boone Pickens to Sell Off 667 Wind Turbines

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday July 15th, 2009 | 11 Comments

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As part of the first phase to build a 4,000 MW wind farm in the Texas panhandle, Pickens ordered 667 turbines from GE. These turbines are to be ready in 2010 and 2011, but the wind farm was called off due to funding and transmission problems. Now that’s a boondoggle.
The economy and the wind energy market were very different just over a year ago when this order was placed. The wind industry was booming and a massive 8,900 MW of wind energy capacity was installed in 2008 in North America – this represents 40% of all total new capacity. Steel prices were sky high and demand greatly exceeded turbine supply. Prices soared and it was difficult to buy small quantities of turbines.

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