Your Pure Honey – Startup Uses Shares in Beehives to Protect Native Tree Populations

| Saturday October 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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New Zealand-based startup Your Pure Honey is putting the connection between consumer investment and resource preservation to the test. The organization allows consumers to purchase a share (or more) of a beehive in exchange for the Manuka honey the hive produces. The exchange also helps protect Manuka forests in the region while providing income for local farmers. Touted a “crowdfunded sustainable forest,” the project is, in many ways, a glimpse into the multiple options for creating a greater degree of sustainability in agriculture and trade in the global marketplace.

According to a report by springwise.com, the Your Pure Honey process is simple. Hive purchasers may choose from two options: a basic share (which costs about 285 USD per season and provides 2kg of raw honey) or an entire colony (which costs about $2,500 and provides 20 kg of honey). Delivery is included in the costs. Meanwhile, Your Pure Honey protects New Zealand’s Manuka forests by renting farmland (at one hectare [2.5 acres] per hive), thereby providing work for farmers while keeping the forests intact. (Manuka trees are often cut down to provide extra farming land.) Each beehive provides enough funds to sustain five forest acres.

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California Environment Initiatives Garner International Interest

| Saturday October 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Several dozen local officials and environmental groups from forest-rich nations (including Brazil and Mexico) gathered this week at Schwarzenegger’s Global Climate Summit, which was sponsored for the first time by the U.N. These leaders sought, in part, to determine ways to provide carbon credits to (California) companies willing to pay for industrial emissions offsets. By doing so, the leaders would cash in on California’s expertise, technology, and carbon trading market (to be launched in 2012).

The Los Angeles Times reports that, according to California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Linda Adams, California – the most energy-efficient state in the nation – wants to sell its technology to the nations attending the Summit. While California has yet to officially confirm a cap-and-trade system, such a system could provide millions of dollars for several natural-resource-rich communities, including those in Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, and Tanzania.

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Business Not As Usual: Sorghum Burning At Coal Plants, And More

John Laumer | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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  1. It’s not unusual to encounter wood-fired biomass power plants. Utilities in Europe and the USA currently  add wood to the coal boilers.  Here’s a new tactic for  biomass burning. A large Louisiana coal-fired generator is planting a food crop as well as switch grass to do some trial burns.  There are permitting and Cap & Trade issues worth contemplating.  See Coal-Fired Power Generator To Supplement Boiler Feed With Switchgrass And Sorghum for details.  Business significance rating: Urgency 2, and Criticality 4. (U2/C4).
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Road to Copenhagen: Bali to Bangkok

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

The Road to CopenhagenThe “Road to Copenhagen” began on the Indonesian island of Bali at the COP13 climate conference in December of 2007. COP13 charted the intended course toward  Copenhagen, producing the Bali Roadmap (pdf) and the Bali Action Plan, setting forth the negotiating process designed to take the international community “beyond Kyoto” and produce an effective global response to the reality of climate change.

The Bali Roadmap set a path with numerous waypoints leading toward COP15, where the treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, expiring in 2012, will hopefully be signed. These waypoints have included numerous sessions of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), and the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex/Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and COP14 in Poznań, Poland in December of last year.

This week marks the final push to Copenhagen, with the start of sessions of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP in Bangkok, Thailand.

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PACT Packs a Clean Pair of Undies

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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pact_imageGoogle the words “sustainable+underwear” and you’ll find a surprisingly large number of hits–566,000 as of today. That’s probably a good omen for Jason Kibbey and Jeff Denby, who recently launched PACT, an underwear company that is designing and manufacturing drawers with a conscious.

PACT is a story of three’s: three styles (thong, bikini, boy short for girls; trunk, boxer brief and boxer for boys), three prints and three causes. The startup is working with three different non-profit organizations, after which it has named three fabric prints.

Purchase a pair of unmentionables in the 826 National print and PACT gives 10 percent of the sale to 826 National, the nationwide literacy advocacy group spun out of 826 Valencia’s Dave Egger’s education joint in San Francisco. Same goes for the Oceana print. It benefits Oceana, which is working to clean the world’s oceans and protect their inhabitants. The Forest Ethics print…well, you guessed it. Forest Ethics is a land conservation group focused on the boreal forests and rainforests from Canada to California.

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Ponoko: Carving a Truly Sustainable Business Niche for Themselves

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Ponoko logoBack when I was a student at the sustainable MBA centered Presidio Graduate School, one of the more oddball students was Edward West. A mad scientist in the making, complete with wild hair, a secondary concern for such an idea driven man, he now leads the charge at electric motorcycle startup Mission Motors.

Edward told me about how he knew of people that could take most any idea you had for an object, and using lasers, carve it for you. Print on demand products. Another wild eyed green MBA dream, perhaps?

No. Now it’s really happening, and happening successfully.

As reported in Inc recently, New Zealand based Ponoko was first a one machine shop, cranking out the products that their sellers sent them the designs for, helping leap the big hurdle from concept to business, the typically large quantities fabricators require.

Having now adjusted their pricing model to make it more affordable for designers to use their services, it’s gotten busier, itself going from gee whiz idea to viable business. But there’s more.

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Could a Nobel Peace Prize Speed Up Climate Talks?

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

nobel-peace-prizeGuardians of the Nobel Peace Prize are getting creative in their attempt to speed up sluggish talks about climate. According to a Reuters report, the guardians are considering awarding an environmental Prize this year in order to prep world leaders for December’s UN Climate Conference and influence politicians dragging their feet on climate change. The thing is, the award would come just two years after the one awarded in 2007 (another was awarded in 2004). Would awarding another environmental Prize so soon have the desired effect?

Granting topical awards (e.g. environment, disarmament, human rights) to influence world events is an established tactic of the five-member Nobel Peace Prize panel. While some wonder whether handing out three environment awards in four years is excessive, others say the timing couldn’t be better. The prize would be announced on December 9th and handed over on the 10th – the anniversary of founder Alfred Nobel’s death – all amidst the Copenhagen Conference occurring between December 7th and 18th.

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Mercedes-Benz, Greenwashing, and the Boy that Cried Wolf

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Mercedes-Benz was recently busted for greenwashing of sorts: advertising the carbon emissions data of its new E-class saloon series in misleading terms. As punishment, Mercedes is not allowed to show the misleading advertisement in its current form. The incident is more than unfortunate, I believe, since its implications for green business could be manifold – ranging from delays in the greening of the auto industry to a sort of “boy that cried wolf” effect among consumers. The episode also has me wondering: do we take greenwashing seriously enough?

According to a report by businessgreen.com, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a UK-based advertising watchdog, busted Mercedes for advertising the E-class series’ CO2 emissions as being 139 g/km. In reality, the series’ emissions depend on a number of factors, including whether the car has a manual or automatic gearbox, and whether it runs on diesel fuel. Even when a consumer chooses the most fuel-efficient of these options, only two of the 24 available specifications boast 139 g/km.

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Spin Cycle: Whirlpool to Build 1m Smart-Energy Dryers

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

whirlpoolwasher-dryerWhich comes first, the smart grid or smart-energy appliances, or does it matter? Whirlpool Corporation says it will produce 1 million smart-energy-grid compatible dryers by the end of 2011, continuing the company’s “legacy of innovation and leadership.”

One niggling wrinkle about the announcement is whether the Benton Harbor, MI company would take this step on this scale without incentives provided under the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant program. Maybe so; the company says the stimulus funds being made available by DOE “will complement and accelerate the work that Whirlpool is already doing in this area.” In 2006 Whirlpool was the first appliance company to conduct a smart-grid pilot using 150 Smart Energy dryers in the Pacific Northwest.

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Seafood Just Got Better Thanks to CleanFish

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 4 Comments

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005_cleanfishGrocery shopping for the health conscious is increasingly off-putting, as decisions are no longer just generic versus brand name. Harmful pesticides are found in everyday food products and government promises to rid the nation’s food supply of these chemicals remain unfulfilled. Once considered a luxury item, fish is now eaten everyday by consumers. To meet the explosion of the seafood commodity market, the United States relies on imports. Though not all imported seafood is bad, the contradicting information can be confusing. Having to rely on “pocket guides” to tell us which seafood is safe is helpful, but none-the-less unnerving. It is hard not to think, there has got to be a better way?

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Newest Employee Perk: A Shiny New Bicycle

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 6 Comments

092109StandingStoneIncreasingly, private companies are looking for ways to reduce their parking expenses and mitigate clean-air compliance problems by offering employees cheap or even free bikes. Now, once committed motorists are riding their bikes to work at an increasing rate.

On September 30, the US Census Bureau released the latest figures on who is biking to work. The survey results show that within most of the bicycle friendly cities, the bicycling mode share increased significantly since 2000. In Portland, Oregon, bike commuters total around 6 percent of the commuting population, making it number one amongst the 30 largest cities in the country. Minneapolis came in number two with 4.3 percent of its commuters using bikes and Seattle and San Francisco were at 2.9 and 2.7 percent respectively.

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Coke’s UK Recycling Bins Will Offset the Company’s Carbon

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Coca Cola RecyclesCoca Cola is rolling out a new consumer focused recycling program in the UK in an attempt to address the company’s carbon emissions.  Along with the Southampton city council, the company will jointly fund a citywide recycling program that entails placing branded recycling bins in areas of heavy pedestrian traffic.  This will be the country’s first city center Recycle Zone, a part of a larger initiative that coincides with a national ad campaign geared toward boosting consumer awareness and recycling.

Over the past year, the partnership between Coca Cola and the Waste and Resources Action Programme has been responsible for recycling 20 tons of material. “We are looking to work with companies that are our customers to jointly develop zones that make it easier for people to recycle,” a company spokeswoman said. “We have 21 zones currently and another 59 planned by the end of 2011.”

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Philanthropy Is a Four-Letter Word: Suggestions for Real CSR

| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

CSR-tigerBy Julie Lloyd

Bo Ekman, founder and chairman of the Tallberg Foundation, made a rather jarring statement at this afternoon’s Global Corporate Citizenship Conference sponsored by the US Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center:

Much of what we consider CSR today is a toothless tiger.

He was referring, of course, to the one-off engagements or donations often made by corporations in the name of social responsibility.  But this type of corporate philanthropy falls short–both in impact, and in benefits to the company–when stacked up against deeper, more meaningful partnerships that are embedded into its core values.

In this day and age, it’s no longer necessary to persuade corporations to undertake CSR–it’s simply a matter of identifying the most appropriate opportunities.  That being said, here are some suggestions echoed often throughout today’s sessions:

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Red Bird System Filters Water With the Help of the Sun

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Water is a precious resource. Consider a few facts about clean drinking water. Twenty percent of the world’s population lacks access to clean drinking water. By 2050 over two billion people will not have access to clean drinking water. Less than one percent of the earth’s water supply can be used for drinking water. An estimated 1.6 million lives could be saved by providing access to clean drinking water. The earth has the same amount of water as over a million years ago, but six billion people now live on the planet.

Enter a company called Cardinal Resources which specializes in high capacity water filtration. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company formed in 2004. Last year’s revenue totaled $4.4 million from the company’s environmental engineering and remediation work, with $25.6 million in revenue projected for 2011.

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Corporate Response to Climate Change Consistent Despite Economy

Sarah Lozanova | Friday October 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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As the Copenhagen climate talks approach, the opportunities and liabilities around climate change are evident

Despite the economic climate, corporate response to climate change has grown slightly from 2008 to 2009.  Numerous organizations are using emission reduction goals as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition, lower costs, and lure investors.

“There’s an increase in companies that are seeing opportunities instead of risk around climate change,” says Sonal Mahida, Vice President of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).  “We are seeing this trend globally.”  Excelling in the area of climate change mitigation can offer a strategic edge.

“The global recession has provided good opportunities for companies to recover consumer trust and investors’ confidence by reducing their climate change impact,” says Mark Robertson, Communications and Development Manager, Experts in Responsible Investment Solutions (EIRIS). “The economic downturn brings a number of risks and opportunities. There are risks associated with near-frozen capital markets as well as uncertainty and opportunities linked to government stimulus packages focused on energy efficiency, cleaner technologies, renewable energies, taxation, and forest protection.”

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