Microlending: Panacea or Patchwork?

Chris Kaiser | Monday October 19th, 2009 | 5 Comments

 

Microlending has been hailed as the panacea of poverty.  They theory is simple:  lend the poor a small amount of money so they can start/grow their business, charge tiny interest rates (microcredit), then once business starts booming, the borrowers can easily pay the loan.  Woosh! Just like that, poverty disappears.  Or does it?

The Boston Globe recently had a story on microlending and two new research papers soon-to-be published by economists affiliated with MIT’s Jameel Poverty Action lab reveal that microcredit really doesn’t do all that much to provide a path out of poverty.  Is microlending a patchwork solution that just temporarily solves the ills of the poor?  Could it be that while microcredit can be an effective medicine against poverty, that it may just be treating the symptoms and not the disease?

Gasp!

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DHL GoGreen Debuts in North America

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday October 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

DHL-Go-Green-LDHL’s much-ballyhooed GoGreen climate change program has finally reached North America. A year after the launch of the huge German package express delivery and logistics company’s initiative, it’s now available in Canada.

DHL Express Canada launched the GoGreen service this week. It’s described by the company as a “carbon-neutral” shipping option that “enables Canadian businesses of all sizes to ship their goods internationally without leaving an environmental footprint.”

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Bioneers: Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media

| Monday October 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

morphBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

I have to say I’m chuckling at myself this morning. I was a bit of a Bioneers consumer yesterday. As I ponder what highlights from Bioneers would be of most interest to Triple Pundit readers, I am listening to the new world beat CD I purchased from Sound Spaces, after trying a few drop of  a healing plant-based tonic made by Al-kemi.

Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media

One of my favorite sessions, called “Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media,” was hosted by Mother Jones and its publisher Jay Harris. The panel included Annie Leonard, the creator of Story of Stuff, Ken Rother from TreeHugger and Josh Silver of Free Press, a media reform organization.

The gist of the session wasn’t new news–we are living through a fast moving transformation of  how we receive our news. But the session was lively and had a few interesting takeaways:

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Turning Waste into Renewable Energy Treasure

Wes Muir | Monday October 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments


By Wes Muir, director of communications, Waste Management

With Energy Awareness Month in full swing, it’s important to recognize all the ingredients of America’s renewable energy recipe. The potential for securing a more sustainable energy future in this country is boundless, and includes many moving pieces. This puzzle is heavily dependent on the available and developing energy technologies, such as wind and solar power that have dominated recent discussions about renewables. But one resource that is markedly missing from these conversations can be found right in your home – your trash.

Trash is an ever-present source, especially in the U.S. On average, Americans throw away 4.7 pounds of garbage each day – which equates to about 254 million tons of waste each year. While recycling and composting have proven to divert some of this waste, landfills and waste to energy remain necessary for housing the remaining waste that can’t be recycled – and using it to produce energy.

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Clean Careers: Clean Tech Job Trends 2009

Frank Marquardt | Monday October 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Finding a clean tech job just got a little easier.

CleanEdge’s excellent new report, Clean Tech Job Trends 2009, which is a sort of companion to its annual Clean Energy Trends report, offers those looking for a clean tech job—as well as those curious about the sector—an excellent introduction to the trends and opportunities ahead, as well as key resources for getting one’s search in motion.

Written by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder, authors of The Clean Tech Revolution, the report details an increasingly well-funded area of industrial activity that’s growing at above average rates. And with clean-tech job growth a focus of the Obama Administration as well as that of Chinese President Hu Jintao—and aggressive clean-tech job creation going on in the Brazil, the European Union, India, and Japan—this growth is certain to continue.

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Conscientious Capitalism: The B Corp Annual Report

Frank Marquardt | Monday October 19th, 2009 | 3 Comments

adimage-bcorp2Corporations solve problems. Their solutions address human needs: A better running shoe, a faster search engine, a renewable way to produce energy. Sales—ultimately, profits—provide the primary measure for determining the success of these solutions.

But a corporation’s solutions (whether a product or service) do much more than simply produce profits. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, the activities of a corporation also significantly affect the environment and the lives of the people in the communities where the corporation operates.

Still, the metrics for corporate success remain financial. Companies that make money: Good. Companies that lose money: Bad.

Laws back up the financial metric. In states that include California and Delaware, when companies go up for sale, board members are required by law to consider what will bring the highest financial return. Issues like social good or environmental stewardship are simply not part of the equation.

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Michael Pollan at Bioneers: How Much Oil Are We Eating?

| Saturday October 17th, 2009 | 3 Comments

burgeroilBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

The 20th Bioneers, a three day conference celebrating breakthrough sustainability solutions, kicked off on Friday in Marin. The agenda is chock full of speakers on a wide range of topics, from the arts, indigenous knowledge and restoring our ecosystems to youth and women’s leadership.

I was excited to hear Michael Pollan speak, a leading critic of our industrial food system and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire (you can listen to his talk here). For those of you who aren’t attending, you can catch some of the keynotes via live webcast.

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Cattle Company Forces Change in Michael Pollan University Lecture

| Friday October 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

cowWhere’s the beef? At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

After receiving pressure from the owner of an agribusiness — that just happens to be a major donor — the university decided to turn what was to be a guest lecture by noted sustainable agriculture guru Michael Pollan, into a “panel discussion” including a scientist favored by the beef industry, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Social Entrepreneurs: So Hot Right Now

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday October 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment

ban-startup-friday

apple_booksSocially-minded startup ventures are nothing new, but their numbers are growing–just look to our weekly Friday feature on startups. And it’s not just well-off do-gooders or disillusioned cube-dwellers who are deciding to start companies that adhere to the triple bottom line. MBA programs with an emphasis on social entrepreneurship are totally in right now. The Wall Street Journal even says so.

In highlighting the trend, WSJ interviewed Jeff Denby, who launched the sustainable underwear company PACT (a startup we featured earlier this month) after graduating from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2008. He told the paper that his interests in starting a socially-responsible enterprise was fostered by his Cal colleagues and faculty, and given a boost through guest lectures by like-minded entrepreneurs.

It’s no coincidence, since Triple Pundit’s founder and its managing editor both hold MBAs in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management, that recent grads and current students in that and similar program often grace the pages of this site–both as contributors and as entrepreneurs. Take Sandra Kwak. Armed with her MBA in sustainable management she started a energy management product for small businesses called Powerzoa.

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ZippGo Offers to Green Your Next Move

| Friday October 16th, 2009 | 2 Comments

startup-friday.jpg

moveThere are many ways to produce less waste. When it comes to pollution prevention, the best way to limit the amount of trash you throw away is to reduce it altogether. If you can’t reduce, then reuse containers and products you already have. If reusing still isn’t feasible, try to recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content. Our abundant use and waste of cardboard is a perfect example of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. The forests that make cardboard help protect our rivers and lakes from erosion and remove carbon dioxide from the air we breathe.

Cardboard boxes are everywhere. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in excess of 90 percent of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated cardboard boxes. Though cardboard is reusable, recyclable and relatively biodegradable, it still makes up nearly 14 percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste. Every year, Americans throw away enough wood and paper products to heat five million homes for 200 years.

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Green Tomato Cars: A Smart Use of Twitter

| Friday October 16th, 2009 | 6 Comments

startup-friday.jpg
Green Tomato eco cab service londonTwitter is being used for all sorts of interesting purposes these days, from collaborative book writing to street food vendors fighting for mind (and stomach) share.

Now it can be used to hail a taxi.

You send a direct tweet to greentomatocars, and they tweet you back with a confirmation. While it may sound gimmicky, in a world where many people use their mobile phone for everything but phone calls and practically live on Twitter, it’s a wise move. Businesses that make a point to go where their customers are most comfortable interacting stand to benefit greatly.

Green Tomato Cars doesn’t just use its Twitter account just for bookings; the company is active on the site, sharing articles of interest, company news, and tweeting green-minded people traveling in London. Doing so, it strikes a smart balance of promoting its services and adding value to the conversation.

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Friends Might Start Letting Friends Drink Starbucks

| Friday October 16th, 2009 | 8 Comments

Starbucks-logo

Coffee accounts for 80 percent of all Fair Trade certified products sold in the US, and with 40 million pounds of Fair Trade coffee purchases in 2009, Starbucks is by far the largest buyer of Fair Trade coffee on the planet. Starbucks’ commitment to Fair Trade is commendable, and in fact seems exceptional, in a world where the vast majority of companies engage in less-than-ethical business practices.  TransFair USA, the only third-party Fair Trade certifier in the US, calls the relationship between the non-profit and Starbucks “deeply transformational” to thousands of farmers and their communities.

In honor of Fair Trade Month, TransFair USA CEO, Paul Rice, and Starbucks senior vice president of Coffee & Tea, Dub Hay, met on Monday to discuss the virtues of Fair Trade and how the relationship between the non-profit and the world’s most well known coffee slinger has grown in recent years.  The discussion was broadcast live over the Internet,  with Rice and Hay fielding questions submitted via Twitter, Facebook, and live chat.

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Blog Action Day Today: Tackling Climate Change

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 18 Comments

Blog Action Day As BlogWorld kicks off in Las Vegas later today, the folks over at change.org, in partnership with several other prominent organizations such as Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF, launched Blog Action Day.

Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.

This year’s focus is on the growing concern over climate change. As of this morning, 8,922 blogs are participating—including 3p—representing 148 countries, and a combined readership of over 12.5 million people.

To find out more, go to Blogactionday.org.

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Climate Scientists: “Inaction Is Inexcusable”

Richard Levangie | Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Global warming deniers often suggest that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report is a political document, and they’re partially right — but not in the way that they might think. The report is conservative by nature, relying on studies that were largely published before 2005, and the picture it paints is far rosier than it should be.

Over the last five years, study after peer-reviewed study has suggested that the Fourth Assessment Report is already out-of-date, and global warming is barreling along.

So it’s worthwhile to reconsider the science on this, Blog Action Day. Luckily for me, I don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Leading experts have made good on a promise to update the climate change science in advance of Copenhagen, and they’re telling politicians that humanity is risking “abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts” from the accelerating pace of global warming. Rising global surface and ocean temperatures, surging sea levels, extreme weather events, and the retreat of Arctic sea ice* are all coming harder and faster than research suggested five or 10 years ago. The takeaway message is that politicians had better find a way to work together at the next international climate summit in December — or shortly after — or the results will be devastating.

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Maldives Underwater Meeting Catches Media Attention

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 4 Comments

road-to-copenhagen

Few people appear better positioned for Blog Action Day 2009 than Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed – and it’s been a busy year since he took office. Faced with growing threats of sea level rise, President Nasheed has made some bold claims since his election last November.

From his statement earlier this year that his government would set aside some of the $1 billion a year it earns from the travel and tourism industry to buy land to relocate his people, to his announcment last week that he will hold the first ever cabinet meeting underwater, President Nasheed is proving to be both bold and media savvy.

Obviously the Maldives and other small-island countries have a lot at stake in terms of climate change, and gimmick or not, the underwater meeting has garnered global media attention and it has put this country of less than 400,000 people front and center of the climate change conversation.

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