On April 8, The Timberland Company announced it had reduced its greenhouse (GHG) gas emissions by 36% in 2009 over its 2006 baseline figures. Claiming it is not content with this decrease, Timberland, led by its CEO Jeff Swartz, stated that the outdoor footwear and apparel company will reach a 50% reduction by the end of this year.
Most of Timberland’s decrease in total GHG emissions comes from improving the operations of its facilities and stores, with a reduction of employee business travel contributing, as well. Timberland is arguably the first retail chain to achieve LEED Retail certification for its new mall-based stores, and has installed LED lights at most of its retail outlets in North America. The company’s Ontario, Calif., distribution center uses mostly solar power, while its European regional headquarters in the Netherlands derives 100% of its energy needs from wind.
Meanwhile, Timberland encourages its employees to use Web and video conferencing whenever possible. The documentation Timberland offers on its site and third-party web sites is impressive; but like many companies with a complex supply chain, the company has a long road to ameliorating the carbon footprint of its suppliers–a tall task because Timberland has little control over its suppliers’ operations.
Your company’s values count with customers. Ask yourself what your company stands for, in addition to making a profit. Unless you can answer this question quickly and clearly, your company is unlikely to win the hearts of your customers. And those companies who can connect with their customers’ emotionally are likely to keep them for the long-term. Yet, most people say that they feel no emotional connection to the brands that they buy or to the companies which produce them.
In the wake of Wall Street malfeasance and increasing concern for climate change, many of us long to support companies that are actually committed to people, planet and profits–the triple bottom line. If your company offers us ‘green’ products, we can easily connect. Every time we drive our hybrid automobiles or purchase locally grown vegetables, we feel like we are making a small contribution to making our world a better place. And we associate that good feeling with your brand.
The World Bank voted on Thursday to extend a $3.75 billion loan to Eskom, the South African energy producer, to construct a new coal power plant. But the decision was not an easy one. A number of American and British politicians, as well as some environmental groups, objected to the deal, saying that it was inappropriate for the international body to fund a non-green project.
At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I find the objections absurd for two reasons. The first is that there is a double standard being applied to emerging economies. We have the luxury to live in countries with 100% reliable electricity–most of it produced from sources not entirely friendly to the environment. What bothers me is the arrogance that the West applies to the developing world when considering clean energy production. Let’s figure out a way to make wind and solar viable in our countries first before dictating unreasonable standards to others.
Lady luck has smiled on this blogger. Nick Aster threw our business cards into a drawing for a sweet Dahon Mu Uno at a Bikehugger party at SXSW, and can you believe it, mine came out. I swore on Facebook that I’d never won anything before, but my friend-from-high-school Marianna kindly reminded me that in 1997 I won free coffee at the local coffee shop for a week. And everyone was very jealous.
The party was in the parking lot of Lance Armstrong’s bike shop Mellow Johnny’s, and it was already pretty awesome because of the free beer and swag provided by Google to promote the launch of their biking feature for Google Maps. But, the free bike definitely puts it over the top.
This thing is really sweet. It weighs only 22 pounds, and it folds up in 10 seconds, or it would, if I were better with order of operations. I still need the video below to guide me. Most importantly, and it looks pretty bad ass for a folding bike. It’s a wee bit slower than my trusty beater road bike, but I love it for going on public transit in between all my green business and blogger meetings. It’s also a great guest bike- I’m going to get my mom on it the next time she’s in town for a visit.
All in all, it kind of makes me feel like Batman, all matte and black. Thanks Dahon! Thanks Bikehugger!
There’s a trickle of news coming out of yesterday’s opening meetings in the Bonn Climate Change Talks, the first since world leaders gathered in Copenhagen last December. I’m here tracking the US Delegation as part of the Adopt a Negotiator project, so I thought I’d add my reflections to the trickle.
Friday started with delegates being greeted by a giant mountain of glass – 4 tons of recycled broken glass – serving as a poignant reminder of where we left things in Copenhagen. Activists from German Watch, Oxfam, and other groups that fought hard for a fair, ambitious and binding deal last year, held a sign saying “Time to put the pieces back together”.
The World Cup is the planet’s largest sporting event, more popular than the Olympics and the Superbowl…. combined. It’s a celebration of the world’s favorite game and an opportunity for people to express their national pride. But as we lurch towards a more globalized sense of community, expressing the collective direction of our species is becoming as important as celebrating nationalism. Or at least should be.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup will have the greatest carbon footprint of any sporting event “committed” to climate neutrality. “Committed” would be in quotations because the organizers don’t really say what they are actually doing, nor do they even identify who is really responsible for implementing sustainability measures.
To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is — not the quick little excitement , but the real deep, life-filling bliss – Joseph Campbell
My name is Lauren Van Ham. I’ve been on staff at Saatchi & Saatchi S since 2007, facilitating personal sustainability workshops and developing employee engagement strategies for our clients across the United States. I’m also a minister, and before coming to work at Saatchi S, I was serving a local hospital as a chaplain, providing pastoral support and spiritual direction to patients, their families and hospital staff. I knew I didn’t want to work in Corporate America if it meant compartmentalizing myself. In fact, I would say the first year I spent in the business world showed me even more clearly the importance of bringing one’s FULLEST self to the workplace. So, I offered to host Sit in Bliss for my peers. Sit in Bliss, yes, you read that right. Did it raise an eyebrow? Good! Sit in Bliss is a tradition that began at the Saatchi S office in May, 2008. It’s 15 minutes of silence and stillness in the middle of the day. Some who attend Sit in Bliss meditate; others pray, contemplate, or simply chill out. In American culture – particularly in an office environment – honoring stillness and designating time to be quiet, is a radical act. It’s also great medicine as it spurs fresh thinking, reduces anxiety, generates community and brings pause to an otherwise hectically driven day.
Sit in Bliss is “hosted” by a volunteer. Often the host will share an inspiring quote, short story and reflection. Or maybe a participant will begin by leading the group in a yoga pose. The goal is to gift your staff with 15 minutes to experience themselves and one another as humans being, not just humans doing. At our office, staff is invited with a weekly calendar reminder and I ring a small chime beforehand, calling together all who wish to attend. All are welcome…tap into the Bliss…you won’t be disappointed.
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around and shouting that he has been robbed. Life is like an old-time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. – Jenkins Lloyd Jones
Yesterday, Jen Boynton published a review of Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen’s new book, The Responsibility Revolution. Be sure to check out the review and grab a copy when you can–it really is as good as Jen says.
The only thing more captivating than reading Hollender’s latest writing is talking to him personally, which I had the chance to do a couple weeks ago. So, without further ado, that brings us to the second part of this week’s leadership series: An interview with Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation’s Founder and Chief Inspired Protagonist, about The Responsibility Revolution and the future of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Nick Aster: Thanks for your time, Jeffrey, we’ve been passing your book around the 3p offices and everyone’s been pretty excited about it. Let’s kick off with a little more about it. We’re thinking about this book as not just a blueprint for business, but almost a manifesto for the 21st century. Do you think that’s accurate? Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the book and where you want to take it. Jeffrey Hollender: I certainly hope that it’s both a manifesto and a blueprint–that’s our highest aspiration for the reasons we wrote it. But the sad part is we felt compelled to write it because CSR has been failing and dying in the face of the social and environmental challenges we face and the willingness for business to only make very marginal, compartmentalized initiatives that at the end of the day won’t amount to anything nearly sufficient. That doesn’t mean they’ll amount to nothing, but it’s not much relative to what’s needed.
Aster: You talk about this idea of “CSR 2.0.” What does that mean and how would it address the problem you just described?
The last year has seen a couple of high-profile disappointments for climate change action. First there was “climategate,” the theft of emails from UK scientists purporting to show distortion of data in defense of global warming predictions. That controversy seriously discredited the tactic of talking about global warming as looming Armageddon, and is still brought up by public figures looking to discredit renewable energy and the like.
Then there was Copenhagen, which failed to produce a binding document on carbon mitigation. All of this as polls show fewer and fewer Americans believe global warming is a threat.
The bad PR has many climateers reconsidering their approach to convincing the general population of the urgency of change.
Nowhere is this new zeitgeist more apparent than in the first post of Andrew Revkin’s new opinion blog for the New York Times. Revkin is one of the most well-respected journalists writing on climate change; he covered the issue for the Times from 1995 to 2009, and is now a Senior Fellow at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.
Quirky, a company that collaboratively designs consumer products, sells them, and then shares the revenues with its online community, raised US$6 million in Series A capital this week from RRE Ventures.
The Internet certainly has revolutionized commerce: people can open a business with little start-up capital, individuals can sell their wares using a third party platform like eBay, and customers can evaluate a potential product or service by reading reviews on a multitude of Web sites. But while there has been much talk about the Internet allowing customers to design products they can actually purchase and use (my personal favorite is a t-shirt site), Quirky aims to be a site where anything imagined can be devised, discussed, and distributed.
Target, the store with the red and white bulls-eye logo, has taken another step towards green this month, announcing a new recycling initiative that will place permanent community recycling stations in all of its 1,740 stores, kicking off a month-long celebration of Earth Day.
The recycling stations, which will be located at the front of each store, offer guests a convenient way to recycle aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers, plastic bags, MP3 players, cell phones and ink cartridges.
According to Shawn Gensch, VP of Brand Marketing, “Target is committed to the preservation of the environment and to giving our guests eco-friendly options that will help them live more sustainably.”
The company website offers the message, “If you’re looking for simple and affordable ways to respect the planet, turn to Target which offers a wide array of natural, organic and eco-friendly products in-store and on Target.com. From fashion and beauty to household cleaners and groceries, nearly every department of the store offers ways for guests to make smart, environmentally considerate choices.”
When paper is recycled, its ink, coating and unusable fibers are left as waste products. But FutureMark has developed a way of changing that.
These “waste” materials are high in calcium and, according to FutureMark, “…have nutritive properties similar to agricultural lime, which is a common fertilizer supplement.” So now, FutureMark connects 30,000 tons of this material to a farm supply group each year. Instead of being hauled to a landfill, it is used in landscaping applications. This also decreases the need for mining liming agents, and this alternative soil nutrient is just being PR happy talk, it is currently distributed through Prairie Lime of DeMotte.
FutureMark is also the one US company that can produce 100 percent recycled coated mechanical printing paper (think glossy magazines and catalogs). By comparison, most coated mechanical paper has only around 15 percent recycled content.
I asked FutureMark CEO Steve Silver why more companies aren’t using more recycled content.
It is important not to anger postal employees, as we all know. However, given the risks involved, I still feel it necessary to voice my support for cutting Saturday delivery of the mail. One reason: it would cut as much as 503,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
That’s according to the United States Postal Service, which provided the data as part of its pitch to switch to five day delivery. All told, cutting Saturdays could reduce USPS’s emissions up to 5 percent, by 2007 figures, according to the Environmental Leader.
The main impetus for the proposed cut is cost, however: the USPS is facing cumulative losses of $238 billion by 2020 due to a steady drop in the amount of snail mail sent. Mail volume fell from 213 billion pieces sent in 2007 to 177 billion in 2009 and is projected to fall to 150 billion by the end of the decade.
Global warming may be measured in degrees, but climate change is measured in water. All living things depend on it, and the weather, from hurricanes to droughts, is formed by it. So it should come as no surprise that a leading compiler of corporate carbon emissions data is now asking companies for information on their total “water footprint.”
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has launched a new program, CDP Water Disclosure, aimed at compiling data from companies and organizations on their total water usage globally. The data will be provided to investors for use in understanding organizations’ exposure to water-related risks and opportunities.
But as the head of the Water Disclosure program admits, determining water footprint presents challenges above and beyond measuring emissions of CO2. “For carbon and greenhouse gases we have the [greenhouse gas] Protocol,” said Marcus Norton, head of CDP Water Disclosure. “There isn’t an equivalent standard for water.”
The partnership between Germany’s Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance to share small car, electric vehicle and hybrid technology and development costs is a landmark deal on several levels, including the fact that they even agreed to do something like this.
Imagine Ford, Chrysler and General Motors forging a similar agreement. You really can’t can you? It would be about as unbelievable as someone throwing their shoe at the president of the United States, for example … oh wait.
Anyway, their “broad strategic cooperation” pact also underscores the urgency and pressure from an economic and regulatory perspective that carmakers are feeling – at least in a big chunk of the rest of the world – about moving quickly to fuel efficient smart, hybrid and electric vehicle production.
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