New Website Tracks Chamber of Commerce Climate Follies As Schism Grows

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

NRDCcampaignA new website created by the National Resources Defense Council urges companies to take a stand on the growing debate within the US Chamber of Commerce over the chamber’s stance on legislation addressing climate change.

The website is an extension of the work being done by Peter Altman, the environmental watchdog’s Climate Campaign director, whose has been following the story doggedly on his blog.

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You Want Electricity With That? The Electric Car Charging Problem

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 3 Comments

As electric and plug-in hybrid cars enter mass production in the next few years, the question of where and how these cars will recharge is on the minds of many an EV entrepreneur. The EV service start-up Better Place is just one of several seeking to roll out electric charging station networks across the country that would charge to charge, so to speak.

But given the low cost of electricity, a primary reason many are predicting a surge in popularity for EVs, business models predicated on selling electron fuel for the vehicles may fall prey to a scourge of contemporary capitalism — the spectre of free.

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UPS Offers Carbon Offset Program for Shippers

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

UPS continues as innovators in the small package delivery sector, announcing this week a new program offering its customers the option of offsetting the emissions generated by transporting their packages within the United States.

U.S. customers simply opt to pay a flat rate, covering the cost of calculation, program administration, and the cost of the actual offset. UPS will match offset purchases in 2009-2010, up to $1 million, thus doubling the effectiveness of the program.

The per-package cost for the carbon offset program is five cents for UPS Ground, and twenty cents for UPS Next Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air, and UPS 3 Day Select services. The service is initially available to the approximately 1 million U.S. customers using UPS Internet Shipping with their UPS account number, with plans to roll the service out to other UPS customers next year.

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New FTC Guidelines Require Bloggers to Disclose Conflicts of Interest

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Full disclosure: I am a blogger, blogging about new rules requiring full disclosure from bloggers.

The FTC published final guidelines Monday that dictate, among other things, that “bloggers or other word-of-mouth marketers” must state when payments, free products or “other material connections” have been exchanged between them and the companies whose products they review or otherwise promote on their sites.

The FTC announcement states that “while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement.”

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What’s Wrong With the Dairy Industry?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 0 Comments

250px-Jersey_cow

While dairy farmers faced the worst crisis since the Great Depression, Dean Foods Co. reported a 31 percent profit increase for the quarter that ended June 30, and earned $64.1 million on sales of $2.7 billion that quarter. Dean Foods is the largest milk processor and distributor in the U.S., which a 2001 merger with Suiza Foods helped it become. Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy cooperative, controls about 30 percent of milk supply and sells milk to Dean Foods.

Farmers receive about $1 from every gallon of milk sold, and the rest covers processing and handling costs and profits to the processors and store owners profits. “No matter what you do, even if you give 110% every day on your farm from sun up to sun down, at the end of that day you will not have earned enough to pay your bills. It doesn’t get any more demoralizing than that,” said Joel Greeno, a Wisconsin farmer.

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Hope Floats in New Orleans with the FLOAT House

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

6a00d8341c67ce53ef0120a61f574c970c-500wiIn honor of World Habitat Day, designated as October 5, 2009, we wanted to help remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. World Habitat Day this year is celebrated under the theme Planning Our Urban Future to raise awareness of the need to improve urban settlements to deal with new major challenges of the 21st century. One of the most powerful forces is climate change. Warming events are triggering harsh natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, which rendered large sections of New Orleans unrecognizable and claimed almost 2,000 lives. With nearly 200 million people worldwide living in high-risk coastal flooding zones and over 36 million people facing the threat of flooding in the U.S. alone, the future of coastal habitats needs to be revisited.

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Does Nuclear Energy Have the Power to Save the Climate Bill?

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 3 Comments

nuclear-plants-happyIs nuclear energy the solution to our environmental woes – and can it save the climate bill? Apparently, the answer depends on who you ask. Some promote the benefits of nuclear power (for example, its lack of carbon emissions), while others argue its drawbacks (for example, the issue of storage, and whether nuclear is the most efficient use of clean energy funds). Meanwhile, some believe nuclear power could salvage the energy bill; the Senate is already considering including nuclear in new climate legislation. A peek into the blogosphere reveals the multifaceted nature of the nuclear power issue.

A treehugger.com article discusses the (perceived) benefits and downsides of investing in nuclear power versus investing in energy efficiency, in the opinions of RMI chairman Amory Lovins, University of Chicago’s Robert Rosner, and PG&E’s Peter Darbee. The benefits? Nuclear is a relatively cheap electricity source, and, Rosner emphasizes, it already accounts for 50 percent the U.S.’s energy sourcing (versus less than 2 percent for wind and solar combined). The drawbacks? There are more efficient ways to conserve power (for example, wind energy or co-generation), Lovins says, and buying new nuclear power results in more carbon release than implementing efficiency measures. Moreover, nuclear power will likely develop too slowly to have a timely impact.

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John Mackey, “Whole Foolishness”, and a Microcosm of the Green Movement

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

whole-foods-boycott

When it comes to healthcare, the adage “opinions are like behinds: everyone has one” is an understatement. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is no exception. His two cents on the matter have garnered a lot of attention recently: first, through his op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and, second, through a subsequent damage-control-type interview (also with the WSJ). What can we glean from the situation as it pertains to sustainable business?

Mackey’s op-ed, entitled “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”, delineates smaller-government, decreased-national-deficit solutions to the nation’s healthcare woes. It lists eight reforms that would, it says, lower everyone’s healthcare costs. These solutions include equalizing tax laws for employer-provided and individually-owned insurance, allowing intra-state competition among insurance companies, mandating cost transparency to consumers, reforming Medicare, and promoting charitable donations for lower-income individuals.

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Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Uphill Battle for Green Jobs

| Thursday October 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

jennifer-GranholmMichigan, one of the nation’s manufacturing and auto industry hubs, was among the states hardest hit by carmakers’ decline. Its governor, Jennifer M. Granholm, now faces the daunting task of rebuilding the state’s job market. The Washington Post reports on Granholm’s approach to the task, which includes turning to green industries to provide jobs. Apparently, the battle has been an uphill one.

Since Granholm took office in 2003, she has taken a number of measures to remake Michigan – diversifying the state’s economy, creating jobs, and building the green job market among them. She has offered tax credits, loans, and other incentives to auto, wind, solar, and other industries, in order to convince them to bring jobs to Michigan. She is also building electric vehicle and car battery programs that could generate as many as 40,000 more jobs by 2020. So far, Granholm has created 163,000 positions, approximately 10,800 of which came from overseas companies.

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Lovemarks: Real Human Connection or Latest Play in the Arms Race of Trickery?

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

love-respect-axisYesterday afternoon at the World Business Forum, Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi brought the story of Lovemarks to the crowd.

“Lovemarks are brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason. People love them because of what they are, not because of what they do. Their appeal is emotional. Companies may own brands. But Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.” And Saatchi is in the business of showing companies how to change their products from simple brands into these glorious, sought after, Lovemarks.

As the graph at left (which Roberts admitted to coming up with at two in the morning when he was well into his second bottle of Bordeaux) shows, Lovemarks score high on both love and respect, while brands simply score well on the “respect” factor: you trust them, but you don’t form an emotional attachment to them.

Roberts showed some compelling examples of this lovemark concept in action:

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World Business Forum Kickoff Thoughts

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

wbf09-logoThe 2009 World Business Forum kicked off yesterday with a dramatic flair at Radio City Music Hall. 3p was invited to cover the forum in a special “blogger’s balcony” of sorts. The sight below was a non stop parade of top notch speakers on a variety of subjects, but mostly a montage of personal experience and advice – well received by the audience and the press in attendance.

Jen Boynton posted earlier on the remarks of Bill George, former chief executive of Medtronic. George spoke about using the financial crisis as an opportunity, stating “never waste a good crisis”. He was referring to business trouble in general and mentioned many examples of companies who’ve dealt with crises openly and swiftly as a contrast to companies that ignored them or tried to cover them up. That quote got me thinking about environmental and social challenges we face and the the adage that climate change actually represents a huge business opportunity for those willing to take it on.

Most interesting and inspiring - George insisted that people follow their values and stick to them. Quitting a job that had made him miserable was one of the best decisions he ever made and should serve as an example.

Incidentally, I don’t think Bill George was the first to use that quote, it’s been used by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well, specifically in reference to climate. But I digress…

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The New Generation of Philanthropy: Enlightened Self-Interest

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

When 3p covered BBMG earlier this year, the interactive marketing agency had just released their 2009 Conscious Consumer Report, an exploration of consumer attitudes, behaviors, and priorities at a time of perceived great social reset. This morning, in what seems to be a natural extension, BBMG released a white paper on the evolution of philanthropy, building off of much of the logic of their Conscious Consumer Report.

In it, the paper’s author writes, “The new economy has created a reset moment that’s changing how we live and work. And it has profound consequences for philanthropy.”

Trust in our institutions has changed. Entrepreneurship is rising, and from that, a new class of social entrepreneurs, those who break classical boundaries and blur the lines between the traditional roles of for- and non-profits, combining what BBMG calls, “social purpose with financial promise.”

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MIT Sloan Review Releases Comprehensive Survey on “The Business of Sustainability”

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

mitsloan2The MIT Sloan Management Review has released a comprehensive survey of sustainability practices and trends in business, including interviews, case studies, and insights into how businesses world-wide view the growing field. Michael Hopkins, editor in chief of the Review, will be a speaker at this year’s Opportunity Green conference in Los Angeles, a partner of Triple Pundit. Hopkins spoke with us about the survey, the differences between “novices” and “thought leaders,” and why sustainability is really about collaboration and transparency.

One of the most baffling results from your survey is that while 92% of respondents said their company was “addressing sustainability in some way,” 70% said they still had not developed a clear business case for it.

That is the contradiction that gets to the heart of the issue, and as we continue with the second round of the survey that is probably where we’re going to do the most digging. It’s one thing for an executive to understand that sustainability is going to have a major impact. It doesn’t mean they understand how to make a case for investing in products that will capitalize on it.

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Tax on Soft Drinks Could Relieve States’ Budget Woes

| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 12 Comments

Rubens_Bacchussoda2A new report by a health advocacy group calculates a tax on soda and other sugary drinks could raise $10 billion a year, tapping into current fiscal anxiety in state and local governments.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest argues a tax of 7 cents per 12 ounces of soda (a typical can) would fill government coffers in the long-term as well, by lowering health care costs. Several studies have shown a correlation between drinking soda and obesity, a costly health epidemic.

In September, the influential New England Journal of Medicine published a report suggesting a national 1 cent per ounce tax, or 12 cents per can.

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What Killed Saturn?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday October 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Saturn_logoWhen GM launched Saturn in 1985 as its first new brand in 70 years, it seemed to have much promise. Marketed as a “different kind of car company,” Saturn would produce small cars that could compete with imports as a stand-alone company with its own network. Salespeople were paid a salary instead of a commission, so customers were not hounded as they looked at cars. Saturn dealerships were also haggle-free as customers paid the sticker price. Anytime a customer brought their car in for service, they received a free wash.

GM Chairman Roger B. Smith said Saturn would “affirm that American ingenuity, American technology, and American productivity can once again be the model and the inspiration for the rest of the world.” Months after Smith uttered those stirring words, a Memorandum of Understanding between GM and the UAW stated, “We believe that all people want to be involved in decisions that affect them, care about their jobs . . . and want to share in the success of their efforts.”

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