Should In-N-Out Burger Dump Its Trash Cans?

| Thursday April 9th, 2009 | 6 Comments

I find absolutely no shame in admitting that I love In-N-Out Burger. And I should add that I’m on my second year as a vegetarian… I get the grilled cheese, one of many off menu options.
The 60 year old, privately owned In-N-Out has long celebrated its freezer-less approach to serving its food fresher than the competition. The company has also always paid its employees significantly more than state and federally-mandated minimum wage guidelines, and you can tell by the moods of their employees. In-N-Out has even quietly eliminated some of the trash it serves, with the replacement of those cardboard boxes served on plastic trays with reusable plastic trays, shaped like the old cardboard boxes.
But for a company that has believed in fresher food (and even received one of few accolades in the book, Fast Food Nation), positive work environments, and fairly compensated work, In-N-Out hasn’t yet taken what seems to be any easy opportunity to lead by eliminating trash entirely from its more than 140 locations. You don’t have to be the McDonald’s center of attention to lead.
My idea is this. Replace cups, lids, straws, burger wrappers, french fry trays and tray liners with compostable alternatives. The compact menu actually makes the transition straight forward. With one call to the owners of Mixt Greens, another great California business, I am sure they would be lead in the right direction and that the suppliers would be happy to put those secret bible verses on their wares, to get the business.
So I posted this idea on the quietly relaunched, all new dotherightthing.com, where you can show your support and help the idea grow into reality. With enough support, the business case will be clear and their marketing will have been done for In-N-Out Corporate. And of course, if you have ideas for In-N-Out or another company, you can post them to the site as well.

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Bottleless Water: How to Sustainably Quench our Thirst

| Thursday April 9th, 2009 | 0 Comments

glass%20of%20water.jpg We drink bottled water because we are made to believe it is better for us–the liquid is somehow purer, fresher, and/or safer than water that comes straight from the tap. This is simply not the reality, and Quench shows us how water can be purified simply, economically, and more sustainably than bottled water options.
By consuming bottled water we contribute to a host of environmentally damaging activities. For example, we use around 1.5 million barrels of oil per year to produce plastic bottles in the States (not including transport services), we rarely recycle the bottles after we use them (only 1 in 5 on average), and we contribute to the depletion of remote natural water sources if the company is true to it’s bottle labeling. Not to mention that often the product is no better than regular tap water. Eric Goldstein from the Natural Resources Defense Council explains, “No one should think that bottled water is better regulated, better protected, or safer than tap.”
Bottle water aside, demand nonetheless exists for purified water. Quench brings a solution to this; a UV filtration system that is efficient, relatively inexpensive and is simple to have installed and maintained.

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Should Free-Wheeling be Free? One Oregon Lawmaker Says No.

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday April 9th, 2009 | 9 Comments

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Oregonians love their bikes – and for good reason. Portland and Eugene are among the most progressive cities in the nation when it comes to biking infrastructure (bike lanes, bike racks, etc.). But Oregon representative Wayne Krieger has introduced a bill that would mean this infrastructure would no longer be freely available to two-wheeling citizens. They’d have to pay to ride.
Krieger’s bill, HB 3008, would require cyclists to register and license their bikes for about $27 a year. The bill doesn’t have much chance of advancing, since his fellow Congressmen haven’t granted it a committee work session. But the proposal raises some important questions. Should cyclists help pay for cycling infrastructure? Should cyclists be required to register and license their rides, just like motorists?
Krieger argues that if motorists and cyclists are to share the same roads, cyclists should pay licensing and registration fees, as motorists do. This way, he says, they’ll financially support the road systems and bike lanes from which they benefit. Plus, authorities will have a better way to nail fines on cyclist who disobey traffic laws.

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GM/Segway Joint Venture Is a Step in the Right Direction

Steve Puma | Thursday April 9th, 2009 | 5 Comments

General Motors and Segway have announced a joint venture to produce a small 2-passenger electric vehicle, based on Segway’s balancing technology. The prototype, named the P.U.M.A., (short for Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility), includes some notable concepts, including networked communications technologies which [could] allow the vehicles to avoid collisions and participate in an on-demand transit network. Jim Norrod, chief executive of Segway, had this to say, “We’re excited about doing more with less, less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space.” This appears to be a move by General Motors to focus on more environmentally-friendly vehicles and could potentially signal a greater change in GM’s strategy.

A few days ago, Joel Makower wrote about the American obsession with automobiles. This obsession has translated into the current rush to produce marketable electric cars. He laments that switching from gasoline to electricity merely clouds the fact that personally-owned vehicles are inherently wasteful and unsustainable. Makower suggests that what is needed is a shift to a greater focus on providing transportation solutions, not just building more cars. If the automakers could reinvent themselves as “transportation providers,” perhaps they could begin to focus on providing the most efficient solutions to transportation problems. This would most likely lead them to the realization that the solution involves doing more with less. The P.U.M.A. vehicle appears to be a step towards this type of better design and whole-systems thinking.

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The Other Side of Capital: A Look Inside Angel Investing

Steve Puma | Wednesday April 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

business-angel-2.jpgWhether it be the state of the economy, or the rise in interest in everything green, a lot of people are thinking about starting their own business with a focus on sustainability or social equity. Getting a new business off the ground requires tenacity, hard work, and cash. Lots of cash. One of the places to get that cash is through an angel investor, but, to many people, this type of investing is shrouded in mystery.
I had a chance to find out more about angel investing at the Green Financing for Green Businesses panel discussion, hosted by Urban Solutions, a San Francisco-based non-profit that promotes small and green business in disadvantaged communities. Speaking on the panel was Colin Wiel, an angel investor and founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Keiretsu Forum, the world’s largest angel investor network. Mr. Weil, whose accomplishments also include founding a 35-person software firm, gave an overview of who angel investors are, why they invest, and what types of businesses they invest in.
Angel investors generally invest in companies seeking $500,000 to $1 million. Due to the fact that the Keiretsu Forum invests as a group, investments of less than $500K would not allow enough members to participate. Investments of $2M or more are usually handled by VCs. Those seeking less than $500K should probably use their personal network, family, or friends.

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Rocks Storing GHG? Questioning Our Focus on Technology

| Wednesday April 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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I am worried that our reliance on finding large scale technological solutions can potentially stunt the growth of sustainable development. To me, Sustainable Development is the result of integrating Sustainability in our lives, while Sustainability is a set of actions which ensure that living and non-living systems can thrive in perpetuity.
Taking this article as an example, “Rocks Found That Could Store Greenhouse Gas“, the numbers are so abstract and large that they were mostly irrelevant. For example, the potential of rocks sequestering carbon equal to 500 years of US GHG emissions has no practical meaning. Even if the sequestration amounted to 1% of 1% of those 500 years of emissions, it is still less than the amount of annual reductions needed to get to 2050 goal.

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Progessive Aims to Drive Automotive Innovation with X PRIZE Competition

| Wednesday April 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The long-awaited beginnings of a major sea change in automobile design and manufacturing continues.
Progressive Insurance yesterday released the official list of teams that will compete for its Automotive X PRIZE. One hundred eleven registered teams from 25 U.S. states and 11 countries will field 136 vehicles using 14 different fuel sources and compete for a share of a $10 million prize purse.
Looking to inspire and foster development of a new generation of practically feasible “super fuel-efficient vehicles,” registered teams will now move through a design judging phase based on data submission packages they’ve submitted. In addition to fuel efficiency, entries will be judged on affordability, safety, and environmental impact.
*Image courtesy of Myers Motors, Ohio

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Who Is the Greenest Web Host?

| Wednesday April 8th, 2009 | 7 Comments

solar%20powered%20web%20hosting%20greenest%20web%20host.jpegIf you’re looking for a green web host, there’s a large and expanding number of companies out there offering it. Trouble is, for the most part they do nothing different than their conventional counterparts, save buying RECs to offset their energy use. Server farms are a major user of energy, and to eliminate that all together, safely, is a huge, tangible step your business can take.
Solar Host does this, and is a company unlike any other host I’ve seen out there.

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How Viable Is a Plastic Bag Tax?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday April 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Plastic bags account for 50 percent of the plastic trash in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River. In order to decrease the amount of plastic bags in the Anacostia, the D.C. Council proposed legislation that would put a five cents tax on disposable shopping bags. Eleven council members co-introduced it, and according to a Washington Post article, that almost guarantees it will become law.
Social service groups and plastic bag manufacturers have joined forces in opposing the legislation, arguing that the tax will be a hardship for poor people.
Photo Source: Dwell

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Giving Plants Instead of Flowers

| Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

giving%20plant.jpg Flowers show people that you care about them, but in doing so we show neglect for wider environmental and social issues related to the cut flower industry. Giving Plants, an online plant delivery service, offers customers the chance to give a long-lasting gift to loved ones in a more sustainable and socially responsible way.
The idea is to completely change how we gift give. Conveniently, the company organizes plant deliveries with online and phone orders, and organizes plants by occasion, price, holiday, and of course by the plant species itself. For example, if one wanted to mimic giving flowers, the “Flowering Plants” selection provides the option to deliver plants “in bud, ready to open, offering a colorful display that will brighten any home or office.” But giving plants goes beyond providing a convenient delivery service; it allows us to invest in a local business with high green credentials, a business that grows plants responding to the seasons in the United States, for distribution in the United States.
It’s is an economical and more ecological option for gift delivery, but best of all it allows us to move away from the cut-flower choice, where gifts may come loaded with uncertain impacts.

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3P Founder Wins Best Green Media Architect!

| Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments

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Nick Aster, founder of 3P, has been awarded the distinction Best Green Media Architect by Treehugger in their inaugural “Best of Green” awards for his work on Triple Pundit and Mother Jones magazine.
It’s a testament to his modesty that he doesn’t want me to post this — but I just thought you all would like to know!

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JustGive.org: Corporate Digital Responsibility

| Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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What fuels a successful philanthropic program is not merely the alignment of a cause to core company values, but partnerships with organizations who help to deliver that giving experience for customers. By working with partners who can solidify the purpose behind the program, companies can benefit from increased brand loyalty, customer retention and sales, all centered upon making a tangible difference.
San Francisco-based JustGive.org, founded in 2000 by Harvard graduate Kendall Webb, was among the first nonprofit organizations to harness the power of the Web for online giving, and has developed a turnkey solution for companies to expand — and manage — their corporate giving efforts. JustGive is guided by its mission to connect people with the causes they care about most and driven by the desire to make charitable giving safe and easy for donors. In the past decade, JustGive has generated $80 million for tens of thousands of charities, and is recognized by Forbes as one of the Best of the Web for charitable giving.
Using their proprietary technology platform, JustGive can develop philanthropic programs that bring consumers and brands together toward a common goal through the following channels:

    • Charity Giving Portals

    : JustGive can develop a customized giving program that complements a company’s brand and is seamlessly integrated with their website.

      • Charity Gift Cards

      : JustGive charity gift cards are a meaningful and eco-friendly way to show a company’s commitment to social responsibility. This alternative to tangible trinkets never expires and are redeemable for any charity accessible through JustGive.org.

      • Credit Card Reward Programs

       

       

      : Within many reward redemption programs, JustGive enables users to give their rewards as direct cash to their favorite charity, and the selected charity receives 100% of the donation.

      Together, JustGive and companies can create meaningful encounters for consumers designed to make social action simple, memorable and measurable. It also allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility, and a vested interest in their cause, through ongoing efforts where they can ensure the greatest impact. In turn, consumers remain connected to brand and cause where all they have to do is just give.

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      Sustainability 101: Preparing Your Business for the New Economy

      | Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

      preparedness.pngThis is the first in a series of posts about incorporating sustainability into your business model by sustainability expert Heather Gadonniex. Stay tuned for weekly, step-by-step tips on how you can Modernize Business Through Sustainable Strategy™.
      What Is Sustainability?
      What is all this buzz around green anyway? Some choose to think of “green” only in terms of the environment. However, I encourage you to think beyond green and incorporate a social dimension into your green initiatives. This merging of environment, society, and economy brings us to the idea of sustainability. According to Webster’s Dictionary, sustainable means “capable of being sustained.” When we take this definition and apply it to the environment and society, sustainability can mean a multitude of things. We can use it to describe resources used in a way that does not take more from the earth than can be replenished or to describe a company that empowers workers to be innovative and balanced. Sustainability can also describe a society or business that energizes people to be productive contributors to their communities. In short, sustainability is about balancing the intricate cyclic systems of ecology, economy, and society.
      By applying the same cyclical approach to our business systems, we can help ensure that we will have a continuous supply of resources, rather than depleting them and leaving nothing but waste. Instead of devouring resources and leaving nothing useful afterward, we want to return those resources to the cycle so they can continue to be productive. For example, when we use water, instead of polluting it with waste products so that it is no longer usable, we want to be aware of what we mix into our water supply and clean it before we put it back into the system. This protects our neighbors as well as our planet. We can replicate this idea with any resource we use, including human capital.

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      Tesco Seeks Customers’ Help in Identifying Excessive Packaging

      Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 3 Comments

      bin_overflow.jpgEach Tuesday night, my family’s recycling bin sits at the curb, brimming with paper, plastic and metallic packaging. Some of these materials ensure the freshness of the foods we buy – not to mention the ability to transport easily them home, but a good chunk of the stuff we recycle has no utility and seems designed only to market the product.
      Fortunately, retailers and manufacturers are starting to realize that consumers want products, not unneeded packaging. The UK grocery startup Unpackaged is even capitalizing on this sentiment. And now Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, is taking an innovative step to reduce packaging, as well.
      The company is conducting a six-week pilot test at two of its stores in Guildford and Illminister. During the trials, customers will be able to remove and leave behind any of the packaging they’d rather not take home. Tesco will then study what is left behind and make efforts to eliminate the most commonly off-cast elements.

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      Yelp for Non-Profits: Volunteered? Sound Off!

      3p Contributor | Tuesday April 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

      get%20off%20your%20soap%20box.jpgThere are thousands of nonprofits in this country: organizations as big as the NRDC and Greenpeace and as small and locally focused as Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Committee or the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. How do you know which ones are making a difference? Which ones have strong reputations in their community? And which ones provide a worthwhile experience for their corporate volunteers?
      While Charity Navigator has the market cornered on independent reviews, a new player on the scene aims to let individuals share their experiences a la yelp. Founded by nonprofit expert Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits is a site where everyday people can share their opinions and experiences with nonprofit organizations.

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