Re-Source Attempts Recycling 2.0. But Will it Work?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday May 26th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Rapioli.jpgIf you’ve ever been to a trade show in Vegas, you probably have seen a “booth babe.” This cringe-inducing term is meant to describe the attractive female representatives that many companies hire to hawk their products at trade shows. Well, I saw a couple booth babes, so to speak, at a green business conference last week. I did a double-take.
It was all in good fun. The women were dressed in mini-dresses made of superfluous packaging materials and they were successful in their efforts to attract people to a booth about a new project launched by the green-minded website Greenopolis (a subsidiary of Waste Management) in partnership with Whole Foods. The pilot project is called Re-Source and it’s designed to improve recycling rates of PET plastic bottles by offering incentives to consumers.
Here’s the idea: Re-Source creates PET beverage containers made with 25 percent recycled PET. These bottles are used for sales of Re-Source-branded bottled water and sold at Whole Foods. Consumers then bring the empty bottles back to Whole Foods and deposit them in a collection box provided by GreenOps. The consumer earns store credit for each empty bottle returned (a bar code scanner built into the collection box is used to count the returns). The more Re-Source bottles the Re-Source people can collect, the higher percentage of recycled content they can use in making new bottles.

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Newly Discovered Decaf Charrier Coffee Plant Might Replace Chemical Extraction of Caffeine

Scott Cooney | Tuesday May 26th, 2009 | 13 Comments

Charrier coffee
Coffea charrieriana, one of 2008′s “most interesting new species discovered by scientists”, is the first known coffee plant that contains no caffeine. It was discovered in Cameroon, where an extremely wide variety of coffee plants exist.

Under the common name Charrier coffee, the plant was named after a scientist who managed coffee breeding research in central Africa’s diverse jungles for 30 years. Scientists posit that the new species could be used for breeding naturally caffeine-free coffees.

There is potential for this plant to replace the methylene chloride chemical extraction process used in most coffee production to remove caffeine (methylene chloride is a potential carcinogen and pollutant). How big is the market for decaf coffee?

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Geoff Livingston: the Social Muscle Behind the Philanthropy

| Tuesday May 26th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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If you’ve spent any time on the social web, you’ve probably come across Geoff Livingston, marketing strategist, communicator and PR pro with a no nonsense approach to business. He’s best known for his decisive commentary on the social media space at The Buzz Bin, recognized by the Washington Post as one of the top ranked marketing blogs in the region, and co-author of the book, “Now is Gone,” a primer on new media for executives and entrepreneurs. Signature photos of him atop his trusty motorcycle are likely a close second! But above all, Geoff is known for getting things done, and is using his power for good in igniting social change for clients and advising nonprofits on harnessing technology to advance their causes. He has also been working with Qui Diaz and Beth Kanter on the concept of Philanthropy 2.0, and recently published the results of their Social Media for Social Causes Study.
For all these reasons, I thought Geoff would be the perfect person to comment on the recent market shift toward a more philanthropic enterprise model as part of this series, but the following quote cinched the deal for me:

“Corporate America has come under the spotlight for immoral behavior. Americans are tired of profiteering and empty promises to our communities. In the 21st century, companies have to do more. Philanthropic intent must be backed with action.”

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Are Women the “Greener Gender”?

| Tuesday May 26th, 2009 | 0 Comments

WNSF West Coast Summit Explores the Convergence of Businesswomen, Technology and Sustainability
WNSF%20logo.gifSilicon Valley’s businesswomen gathered on Thursday, May 21, at the Intel Headquarters in Santa Clara to discuss the topic of “Clean Tech’s Advantage for Growth.” The gathering was the first West Coast Summit held by the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF). Attendees explored how clean tech can help organizations achieve their sustainability goals and discussed the unique contribution businesswomen can make to this effort.
WNSF is “committed to three things: women, business and sustainability,” said Ann Goodman, the WNSF Executive Director, in her opening remarks. The New York-based non-profit provides opportunities, like the West Coast Summit, for business and professional women to meet, reflect and act on the issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.

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Some Laughs for Memorial Day

| Monday May 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

We all celebrate and honor Memorial Day and our veterans in different ways. Be it rolling thunderously on your motorcycle into the nation’s capitol, barbecuing in your backyard, or finding an excuse to sleep in, here’s a little bit of silliness that has been floating around the interweb for the past couple of weeks to help you start your Memorial Day off with a smile on your face.
Here’s a clip of author and perennial food advocate, Michael Pollan’s recent appearance on The Colbert Report:


The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Michael Pollan
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage


And from the Onion…
Germans Making “Green” Bombs
Scientists in Germany are experimenting with new environmentally friendly explosives to use in combat. What do you think?
Read the rest here at the Onion’s American Voices.

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American Clean Energy & Security Act: Sending the Wrong Signals

| Monday May 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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The latest, most vigorous federal government effort to date to foster clean energy, energy security and address climate change is being emasculated as key members of Congress do their unrestrained utmost to ensure that America’s reliance on “King Coal” and “Big Oil” are not in any way threatened by a national emissions cap-and-trade system or cleaner renewable alternatives.
On the contrary, having recently passed review by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Reps. Waxman and Markey’s “American Clean Energy and Security Act” is already shot through with enough in the way of subsidies, giveaways and allowances to coal and oil interests to make the bill as much a “Subsidize Coal and Oil” bill as it is a “Clean Energy & Climate Change” bill.
Despite the best efforts of the bill’s sponsors, if the practical economic outcome of the clean energy and security legislation is to produce price signals across the power sector and broader economy that will result in significant reductions in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like it’s going to be woefully, if not fatally, flawed.

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E*Trade Advocates Paperless Proxy Statements

| Monday May 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

e-trade-logo.jpgAlthough my meager investments have taken a nose dive lately (whose haven’t?), there’s one extra detail that still consistently bugs me – huge 100-page proxy statements sent to shareholders which are invariably tossed in the trash (yeah, maybe a few people recycle them). Even if I thought my voice amounted to much, the last thing I need is another tome in the mail – recycled or not. The idea of being able to vote for something meaningful with my shares matters – a lot. So why is it difficult to vote for an elimination of paper documents to make this happen?
Well, today I got an impressive piece of mail from E*Trade, my primary broker, remarkably smaller than usual in weight, urging me to “make a positive impact on my investment … while reducing the negative impact on the environment.” I took the time to open it and read the fine print, offering me an online way to vote for the board of directors of one of my many poor-performing holdings while sparing me the need to fly to god-knows-where to cast my vote in person. Most interestingly, however, once I logged in, I was quickly offered a chance to decline all paper statements from the company, be they resolutions, proxy statements, or anything else.
Now, that’s not only great news for the planet, it’s great news for the company bottom line, and it actually makes me think my vote might matter – if for no other reason than it makes it that much more visible to me. Haven’t we crossed the threshold wherein paperless communication should be the default, rather than the opt-in? My wounded investments say yes, and I say thanks E*Trade for helping me get there.

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A Tool for BALLE and Locals First Chapters

Scott Cooney | Saturday May 23rd, 2009 | 6 Comments

BALLELOGO.jpgScott Cooney here in Denver reporting live on day 3 of the 2009 BALLE conference. I have continued to be incredibly impressed by the level of commitment to green and sustainable communities by this network of locally owned businesses. From the outside looking in, BALLE and other groups of independent, locally-owned businesses are not green by definition. However, in reality, there are few more powerful forces for positive change than these associations.
Think about it. Buying locally sends less money out of the area. Of course, it also means more jobs for the local area. These are well-known and documented facts. It also just makes sense that shortening the supply chain of the products you buy lowers its carbon footprint. In addition, locally owned businesses are much more likely to donate to local environmental and other non-profits, by some estimates 350% more.
And what other organization is going to represent the real economy in Washington? The big business community that is represented by the US Chamber of Commerce, which most media looks to for the business community’s position on issues like labor and climate change, cloud the issues around economic development and don’t have us and our communities in their best interest. We at Triple Pundit have news for you, people: that ain’t the real business community. What I’m witnessing here at BALLE is the real business community…entrepreneurs, Americans with a dream, people with values that include improving their local community. Yes, BALLE represents that hope, that someday the business community that is quoted in the media will be speaking from main street, USA, not from some faraway place. And it may be our best hope of ending taxpayer subsidies for big box development and other forms of corporate welfare.
Phew.

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The News You Might Have Missed

| Saturday May 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

I’m back in the saddle after two weeks of MBA finals. Thanks so much to Scott Cooney for filling in for me on my weekly duties. Onward!
First and foremost, to all our readers in the Bay Area, the 3p team is honoring four local business authors and kicking off the summer with a happy hour at Temple Nightclub on Tuesday night, May 26th. See details and RSVP via facebook here, or let us know you’re coming via Twitter – #3p. 6-9pm.
green-island-wallpapers_196_1024.jpg Real Climate Bill Passes House Committee! Waxman Markey will move to the floor for a vote in August. This bill will be criticized by some for not being more stringent, but the fact that an actual, binding emissions bill passed out of committee in the US congress would have been all but unimaginable last year. Waxman Markey sets national emissions reductions of 20 percent by 2020, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050, using 2005 as a baseline. More importantly, the fact that the bill passed out of committee and will go to the floor for debate sets the stage for a national conversation about our collective responsibility to mitigate climate change.
Greener%20by%20design.bmp Green Designers and Green Design Enthusiasts Flood San Francisco 3P friends from Greener World Media threw a smash bang conference on the future off innovative design for the environment. William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame was the keynote, and designers from Method and Walmart, among others, were in attendance. Click the link above for a round up of Green Biz’s comprehensive coverage. Here is 3Ps ( start-ups, Method, HP)

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Five Startups Vied for Spotlight at Greener by Design Event

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Rapioli isn’t a new-fangled pasta, and Trula is not a women’s clothing line. But they are both innovative products that were among five entrants in the Innovator’s Showcase segment of this week’s Greener by Design conference in San Francisco.
Rapioli is made by a startup called Innovation 2 Industry and it provides a reusable packaging solution for closed-loop shipping applications (meaning items are shipped repeatedly between point a and b). The packaging is made of recycled PET (RPET) plastic and designed so that it can be shipped without any additional, external packaging. The system is available in four different sizes (ranging from 9 by 12 inches to 12 by 18 inches) and is comprised of a tray, that holds the goods being shipped, and two “pillow” enclosures, which wrap the goods in sturdy plastic and also provide cushioning. (More details here.)

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Reporting Live From the BALLE Conference in Denver, CO!

Scott Cooney | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

BALLELOGO.jpgTriplePundit is a proud sponsor of this year’s BALLE conference in Denver, CO, which is happening yesterday, today, and tomorrow. BALLE is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. And while membership in BALLE is not restricted to green businesses, green has certainly become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, driver for social innovation at this year’s conference.
Supporting and growing local economies and locally owned businesses, and creating communities has long been BALLE’s mantra. The statistics are well known: buying local creates good jobs; supports local entrepreneurs; increases the community tax base; and fights the causes of poverty, disease, and hunger. This community creates a ripe and fertile ground for seeds of the green economy to prosper, and BALLE’s 2009 conference has been inspiring for its focus on sustainability.
The conference opened with two keynote speakers last night that focused on rural economic development, with one story leading to the end of this joke: Did you know the toothbrush was invented in Hardwick, Vermont? Yeah, sure. Because if it was invented anywhere else, it would have been called the teethbrush. So why is no one laughing at this joke anymore in Vermont?

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Yahoo’s Make It Green: Inspiring Everyday Innovations

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

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I’m typically skeptical when big corporations launch “green” initiatives, automatically assuming that their newfound eco-consciousness stance is an attempt to grab today’s earth-minded consumer, and elevate their brand in the process. And more often than not, that’s unfortunately the case, using causes and environmental issues to create the perception of social responsibility, while their commitment only goes as deep as their marketing budget. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I connected with Erin Carlson at Yahoo about the launch of their new Green Innovations initiative.

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A Method to Design Madness

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

method_home.jpgIt’s no surprise that Adam Lowry, Co-Founder & Chief Greenskeeper at Method was at hit at Greener by Design in San Francisco. Method products have shown mainstream consumers that sustainable products can be beautiful, cost competitive, and effective. What was most interesting was Lowry’s coverage of Method’s own design process, and the challenges they face in product development.
On Staying Ahead of the Curve
Method has had tremendous success in a highly competitive market. The company thrives with its robust, innovative product pipeline, which allows it to stay one step ahead of its behemoth competitors, innovating as they go. Method’s first invention was concentrated liquid soap– packing a big amount of cleaning power into a little bottle. Now that every laundry soapmaker has moved into the space with their own concentrated offering, Method is on to its next big innovation…

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Want To Make An Impact?

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Ever thought of starting your own business? I’m sure many of you have, but did you consider, in your business plan, to have no ownership and give away all of your profits? Yeah, I said it: a for-profit company that gives away all of its profits. Sound crazy? Sound good? Well it does to Michael Pirron, CEO of Impact Makers, and their business model just may create a major shift in the way people attack some of today’s most pressing social issues facing our communities.

You may think this sounds like a bad deal, giving away all of your profits, but upon further reflection, with few business categories thriving/growing/building in the current economic climate, perhaps a little shaking up is just what is needed. Impact Makers looks to do just that – turn the consulting industry on its head – and gain some serious attention in the process.

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Impact Makers offers traditional business consulting services at market rates, pays competitive salaries, and gives all the profits to nonprofit partners that are chosen by a non-partisan, volunteer Board of Directors (Impact Makers’ current partner is Rx Partnership, a nonprofit that has provided thousands of low income and uninsured Virginians with free medication, by creating a streamlined process that connects pharmaceutical companies to free clinics and community health centers).

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How Do We Put a Price on News?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

reports_notebook.jpg Would you rather be fired or told that your work has no value?
I’d prefer being fired, since I enjoy the work I do and shudder to think that it has no value. But here’s the rub: it has no value. Or, at the very least, its value is rapidly dwindling.
That is obvious to me based solely on the amount of money I earn as a freelance journalist today, as compared to the amount I earned a year ago. Earnings are down, as they say in the financial section. Way down.
But in this recent essay in the Christian Science Monitor, Robert Picard, who writes about the media industry and is professor of media economics at Sweden’s Jonkoping University, argues that journalists are getting just what they deserve these days. And that’s not much.

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