Hitachi’s Young Entrepreneur Award Targets Poor in America

RP Siegel | Friday February 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

ban-startup-friday

The Hitachi Foundation recently announced that it is accepting applications for the Yoshiyama Award, which seeks young entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 29 that are “focusing on for-profit businesses that are intentional about making a difference in American society in addressing poverty.”

Applicants must be “operating viable businesses that create jobs, supply goods or services, or use internal management practices that offer low-wealth individuals in America a leg up.”

“We are a foundation focused on America,” says Foundation CEO Barbara Dyer.  “While there are critical challenges around the globe, we have our share right in our own back yard.  The fast-growing field of social entrepreneurship has shown us the power of innovation in addressing global poverty and environmental degradation.  We believe that there are compelling problems here and hope to shine a spotlight on the young entrepreneurs that are combining social innovation and sound business practices to address them.”

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Olympic Medals Reuse E-Waste: Green is the new Gold for 2010

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday February 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have added another color to its coveted gold, silver and bronze medal lineup – green!  For the first time in Olympic history, the 2010 athlete medals contain metals from end-of-life electronic waste, commonly referred to as e-waste.

Teck Resources, Ltd., a diversified mining company based in Vancouver, is the exclusive supplier of the metals used in the Olympic medals.  Components from circuit boards originally destined to landfills, have been added to all of the athletes’ medals.  In fact, 6.8 metric tonnes of circuit board from end-of-life electronics were diverted from landfills for the making of the 1,014 medals.   The company is also an Official Supporter of the Games.

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What The U.S. Can Learn From Denmark About Health Care

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 12th, 2010 | 1 Comment

President Obama touted the merits of computerizing health records last year. “This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests,” said Obama. “It won’t just save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs — it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health care system,” he added. Obama pledged $19.5 billion from the stimulus to begin to computerize medical records by 2014. The funds will be used to provide incentives to doctors and hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. Ninety percent of physicians and hospitals do accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, calls the plans to move to electronic record-keeping “one of the linchpins” of changing the country’s health care system.

The U.S. can learn much from Denmark which began to computerize its health records a decade ago. Currently, almost all Danish primary care physicians and almost half of Danish hospitals use electronic records. A Commonwealth Fund study published last month said the Danish information system is the world’s most efficient. It saves doctors an average of 50 minutes a day in administrative work. A 2008 report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society estimated that electronic records saved Denmark’s health system up to $120 million a year.

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Swedish Clothing Company Klattermussen’s ECO-index Rates Products

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday February 12th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Klättermusen, the Swedish company that sells outdoor clothes, sleeping bags and packs, launched an ECO-index last year. The ECO-index lists the impact a product has on the environment, and includes whether the product can be recycled. The idea behind ECO-index is to make it easier for consumers to compare products.

The ECO-index uses ten environmental criteria to assess a product, and then calculates a percentage which will state how much more needs to be done until the product is completely environmentally-friendly. The product receives one point for each criteria it meets, then the points are added and assessed against the potential maximum points to determine the percentage. The criteria include the life of the product, biodegradability, whether it is manufactured from natural non-fossil materials,  and whether it can be recycled.

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Four Green Trends in Business in 2009

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Greener World Media recently published its third annual State of Green Business Report. The document examines numerous indicators and data to determine trends in the green business arena.

Four of these green trends are:

Radical transparency goes mainstream:

The information age and the environmental movement have actually collided. Tons of information is available about products, including the materials and ingredients used. Websites like GoodGuide.com have a mobile application for shoppers on the move. More non-profits than ever, such as Climate Counts are ranking companies on their environmental performance, helping to make informed purchases. Many organizations are demanding more from their supply chain, knowing that this is the new frontier of the environmental movement.

“There are many companies that have done a lot on climate change internally with their own operations and what they are now doing is starting to look at the companies in their supply chain,” says Sonal Mahida, vice president of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in the United States. “We’re working with a number of companies on those issues, such as PepsiCo, IBM, and Walmart.” This often begins by asking tough questions of suppliers.

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Is the Tea Party the Alternative Energy Party?

Jeff Siegel | Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 10 Comments

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party- Alice in Wonderland

I have to be honest. I don’t know much about the Tea Party movement. But as someone who sees our two party system as offering little more than the illusion of a real and effective democracy, I applaud any group that stands up and forces the status quo to take notice.

In fact, after doing a little research, it seems to me that the Tea Party – based on their core beliefs – should actually be a very pro-alternative energy party.

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Commerce Secretary Organizes Climate Change Office

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 2 Comments

A little-known agency within the Commerce Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will become the Obama Administration’s focal point for climate change information and services.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke says NOAA is launching a separate unit, NOAA Climate Service, to address the nation’s “fast-accelerating climate information needs.” The agency is also creating a web portal for climate science and services. It will serve as a single entry point for the agency’s data on climate information, products and services.

The agency noted that individuals and decision-makers increasingly are asking for information about climate change so that they can make the best decisions for their businesses, communities and families.

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Buy Local, Grow A Sustainable Economy

Bill Roth | Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Can you name the college whose President was the first to sign the Presidents Climate Change commitment? The commitment includes this language: “We recognize the scientific consensus that global warming is real and is largely being caused by humans. We further recognize the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80% by mid-century…” At the time, this “John Hancock” signatory action was an act of leadership courage.

How about the location of the utility with one of the most aggressive feed-in solar power tariffs in the world that buys electricity from their residential and commercial customers’ roof top solar power systems?

Before providing the answers let be me explain why I am asking such questions. Many in my national business network, outside of my Left Coast friends, often view “going green” as a “Berkeley-thing,” meaning not “mainstream.” (Berkeley is home to the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory , and Energy Secretary Chu.) Wrong. Evidence is growing that “going green” is a community-centric economic mega trend that is creating revenue growth for businesses and meaningful local economic development.

So far this week I have reviewed the market research supporting the concept of the Awareness Customer with a $10 trillion annual powering power. Then my last two articles profiled actual small entrepreneurs connecting with these Awareness Customers to achieve year over year annual revenue growth even in this “soft recovery” economy. This article is the first of a two-part series profiling two “mainstream” communities that are restoring jobs, their economy and the environment through their embrace of sustainability.

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10 Trends in Sustainability Reporting: Great Minds Think Alike

| Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Don’t you love it when you are thinking about your best friend, and when the phone rings, she’s on the other line?

That’s what happened to me this morning with our friends over at Environmental Leader. Just as I was sitting down to write about the program we’ve been putting together for a free and very exciting virtual conference on sustainability reporting, (GRI calling in all the way from Amsterdam and Seventh Generation will be there) I checked my reader, and what do I see, but a post from EL about the top 10 Trends in Sustainability Reporting. Environmental Leader, you are so on top of it. Which I guess makes sense, what with the name and all.

Here are the top 10 issues of the day with sustainability reporting, according to Environmental Leader:

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Reflections on Copenhagen: The Economics of Green

3p Contributor | Thursday February 11th, 2010 | 4 Comments

By Dennis Salazar

Copenhagen – A Microcosm of the Green Movement

Last year’s disappointing climate summit in Copenhagen demonstrated if not proved two important things about “saving the earth”:

1. Sustainability is a very emotional topic for some
2. Sustainability is a financial topic for most

Unfortunately, what transpired in Copenhagen is probably the rule, rather than the exception. It was disheartening to realize the events probably represent and reflect the domestic and world population’s perspective on saving the environment.

Public Demonstrations versus Back Room Deals

Perhaps due to decades of protesting, a wide array of real or perceived injustices, unruly public demonstrations have for the most part become unproductive. Even the nightly news has lost interest in well meaning protesters being hauled away by force. I recall the first time I saw an eco activist chained to a tree in the seventies, and thinking “how cool is that.” It did not matter what the cause was, I really admired the commitment.

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People, Planet, Growth and Prosperity

Bill Roth | Wednesday February 10th, 2010 | 2 Comments

I have fallen in love, again! Yesterday I wrote about Amanda West, an entrepreneur that has created the first healthy fast food restaurant. My heart belongs to the entrepreneurs and businesses across America figuring out how to grow revenues by selling products that are good for our people and our planet. My newest love interest is a company called INDIGOGreen created by Liberty Phoenix Lord and Mike Amish. It’s a hardware store. In practice, it is an educational/engagement center helping the people of Gainesville, Florida, figure out how to live a healthier life.

As a business person let me cut to the numbers: “INDIGOGreen has been extremely well received by our community. Our revenues have doubled even in this depressed economy,” Liberty proudly notes.

The company’s business success is representative of two best practices I call “Know it, Embrace it” and “Prove it, Conclusively” identified in my book, The Secret Green Sauce that profiles companies like INDIGOGreen that are growing green revenues. Here’s what their website says to its customers about figuring out what to buy: “Green is very difficult to define.” That very honest admission is supported by the market research I’ve seen documenting:

  1. Most consumers are trying to figure out for themselves what green means to them and what products/services they should be buying
  2. For most consumers this is NOT about “being green” but rather it is a search for improvements in their health, wellness and future and that of their loved ones
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Too Small to Fail: The Role of Micro-lending in Economic Recovery

3p Contributor | Wednesday February 10th, 2010 | 13 Comments

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest op-ed by Eric Weaver, Opportunity Fund, and Matt Lonner, Chevron. Periodically we are approached by companies wishing to publish op-ed material and other content, sometimes we accept it, sometimes not. We were recently approached by Chevron to do this. While the oil industry is a controversial one on many levels, the willingness of Chevron to enter into dialogue with 3p’s readership impressed us and we accepted their request. When commenting, please use this as an opportunity to remember the fact that all companies are made of potential change agents and that Chevron is no different

As the President calls for a renewed focus on supporting small businesses as a crucial building block for America’s economic recovery, micro-lenders across the country are already hard at work.  Micro-loans have become a vital resource channel, giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to get their ideas off the ground, and contribute to the prosperity of their communities.

The practice of micro-finance in the U.S. is still evolving.  In fact, Aspen Institute research shows that only 2 percent of U.S. micro-finance candidates are being served.  Organizations like Opportunity Fund are quickly working to improve that ratio, investing the small amounts necessary for hard-working people with good ideas to be successful.

In today’s turbulent times, the impact of micro-loans is magnified.  For people like William Ortiz Cartagena and his 12 employees, micro-finance is a lifeline for survival – and growth. Cartagena started Gentle Parking, a San Francisco-based eco-friendly business, to support his family of five. When he needed a loan to expand last winter, Cartagena was turned down by several banks. He then came to Opportunity Fund and received a $10,000 loan, along with personalized business coaching and finance training. Since then, Cartagena has hired six more employees and is paying back his loan—all in all, a pretty good ROI for $10K.

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State of Green Business: “Best of Times and Worst of Times”

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday February 9th, 2010 | 0 Comments

I attended the State of Green Business Forum today in Chicago,  hosted by the Greener World Media.  It was an opportunity for industry experts and leaders to share insights and observations on this dynamic topic.  Here are some of the ideas and themes that were raised at this event, although it is certainly not an exhaustive list:

Resources are numerous, but difficult to access

Between local, state, and federal programs, there are numerous grants, low interest loans, job training programs, and tax credits available both in Chicago and nationally.  It can, however, be difficult to identify the resources and know how to utilize programs.  Suzanne Malec-McKenna, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Environment said today, “The resources are there.  We just haven’t aligned them for when a business comes to town.”  She would like the city to be able to say, “We are open for businesses and here are the resources we have…”

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Can Green Plants Green Coal Plants?

RP Siegel | Tuesday February 9th, 2010 | 4 Comments

If you take a bunch of dead trees and grasses and shrubs and bury them underground and wait a couple of hundred million years, you get coal: a highly concentrated energy source which has the unfortunate side effect of releasing a very large proportion of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But what if you simply took those same trees and shrubs and burned them directly without waiting all that time? You would get biomass, a much less concentrated, but also less harmful source of fuel.

Biomass is less harmful because the carbon it releases into the air had only just been pulled out of the atmosphere during the life of the plants that are burned. This carbon would be released (along with some additional methane) anyway, were the plants left to decompose naturally. Biomass is bulky, but if you have a plentiful source of it and a means to transport it, it can be a very practical alternative to fossil fuels.

The University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus, home to roughly 42,000 students, has made the decision to convert its coal-powered Charter Street Heating and Cooling Steam Plant to run on biomass.

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Tesco Opens World’s First Zero Carbon Supermarket, Pledges $156 M to UK Green Economy

Kathryn Siranosian | Tuesday February 9th, 2010 | 0 Comments


Last week, Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, opened the world’s first zero carbon supermarket.

The store has no net carbon footprint and exports any extra electricity generated back to the national grid.

Located in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, this new supermarket boasts several eco-friendly features, including:

  • A combined heat and power plant which runs on bio fuels from renewable sources
  • Timber framing derived from sustainable sources rather than steel (which significantly reduced the carbon footprint of construction)
  • Interior lighting that dims as the natural daylight increases, and skylights that allow daylight on to the sales floor
  • LED lights in the parking lot and gas station (This is the UK’s first LED-lit parking lot.)
  • Rainwater collection facilities on the roof which provide water for use in the car wash and to flush store toilets
  • Refrigerant gases in the fridges, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that have virtually no environmental impact
  • Solar-powered street lights and crossing signals
  • Additional energy-efficient equipment, such as low energy bakery ovens
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