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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Kiwis Planting the Seeds for Curbing Agricultural Emissions

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

New Zealand may not jump to mind as a guiding force in mitigating climate change, but if it can lead the charge to boost agricultural efficiencies, this island nation may just emerge as an important player.

Tim Groser, New Zealand minister of trade and associate minister for climate-change issues, wrote for the Wall Street Journal last week that last month New Zealand Prime Minister John Key proposed that countries form an alliance to address the role of agriculture in climate change, in order coordinate efforts and commit more investment and political will toward research and new technologies and practices to boost agricultural efficiencies. Groser called the response to this proposal “overwhelmingly positive” and says the US, India, Australia and the Netherlands have expressed interest in joining such as effort.

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George Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Clean Tech and Fund Climate Policy Initiative

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 2 Comments

sorosI dreamt last night that Google had decided to pull out of its cleantech investments. Don’t ask.

Anyway, imagine my relief this morning when I woke up to discover that not only was Google still in the game (despite some frustrations), but George Soros, another liberal-minded fountain of money, plans to invest $1 billion in clean technology and related sectors. The Hungarian-born investor made the announcement during a speech in Copenhagen October 10th.

In honor of Blog Action Day’s climate change theme, we salute you, George Soros. And your money, too.

A Million, A Billion — Whatever.

Soros, who made his fortune manipulating currency markets, will also donate $10 million a year for a decade to fund the newly created Climate Policy Initiative, which will be officially launched in Berlin next month.

Whether the world needs another climate policy organization is debatable. But then you can’t call yourself hip these days in certain circles without a Tesla and an initiative of some sort. Soros said the Climate Policy Initiative, which will be based in San Francisco, will “protect the public interest against special interests.” 

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Suppressed Bush White House Climate Change Doc Finally Released

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment

paper-docsIn honor of this year’s Blog Action Day theme — climate change — Triple Pundit would like to offer the following pundification: “Presidents come and go, but the science remains the same.”

A 2007 EPA report on global warming, suppressed by the Bush administration, was finally released under the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday. The EPA “endangerment finding” (PDF), which warned the US must act to regulate greenhouse gases, or face catastrophic environmental damage, is in large part identical — in parts word-for-word — to the Obama administration’s own draft finding, made in April of this year.

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U.S. Energy Secretary Orders Burying of Coal-Produced CO2 – What Are the Implications?

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 5 Comments

carbon-recaptureU.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Monday that a technology for burying coal-produced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be ready for deployment by 2017, Reuters reports. This is good news for the environment (given the fact that coal accounts for 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions) and, hopefully, for the world’s climate change rate (given the fact that the U.S. is one of the world’s two biggest GHG emitters). Yet the news is somewhat perplexing: while Obama has stated a desire for taking proactive measures against climate change, his administration has yet to act definitively on the issue (i.e. by passing comprehensive climate legislation). What does Chu’s proclamation say about the administration’s environmental priorities?

One could argue that Chu’s proclamation is an attempt by the administration to appear proactive on solving environmental problems. (One could argue the same for Obama’s recent declaration that October is National Energy Awareness Month.) After all, as the Copenhagen Climate Conference quickly approaches – and legislators drag their feet on passing a climate bill – the world is watching America….

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100 Places to Remember

| Thursday October 15th, 2009 | 1 Comment


Okavango Delta, Botswana - 2004There are rising CO2 ppm numbers, warming and increasingly acidic oceans, shifting species populations, shrinking arctic sea-ice cover and volume… all manner of facts, figures, and data-crunching computer models to aid scientists in understanding the nature and consequences of climate disruption.

But there’s a more visceral aspect to global warming.

A feeling summoned even in the most cynical soul by a world still full of beauty and wonder, it is a strained thread that connects each human to the Earth and belies the competing economic models, political affiliations, and tribal xenophobias that have plagued humanity throughout time. But our time is different, and the consequences of our actions so enormous that we must be reminded what binds us together in a common global fate.

It is for that connection to the Earth we each share, for better or worse, that inspired Søren Rud to organize  100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear, a photo exhibition recently opened in Copenhagen. Meant as an inspiration for “the common person,” 100 Places is also a call to action for world leaders as they soon converge on the city to negotiate a climate treaty at the COP15 Climate Conference this December (and what inspires this post on Blog Action Day).

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