Greenwashing: New Report Offers Tips for Staying Out of Trouble

| Wednesday August 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

BSR greenwashBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Greenwashing is telling “little green lies.” Or, according to the Seven Sins of Greenwashing, it is “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

A new report Understanding and Preventing Greenwash: A Business Guide from Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Futerra Sustainability Communications outlines key environmental marketing mistakes and strategies to avoid greenwashing. The report can be downloaded from the BSR or Futerra web sites.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

podium[Your News Here]

Tappening: Bottled Water Made from Melted Ice Caps and Polar Bear Tears

| Tuesday August 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

More articles on the controversy surrounding bottled water can be found here!

Tappening_small Founded in 2007, Tappening is an educational campaign designed to encourage the public to drink tap water whenever possible, and to send a message to the bottled water industry about its unnecessary and extreme waste of fossil fuels and resultant pollution of the Earth. Recently, they’ve taken aim at how bottled water is marketed.

Veterans of the advertising and branding industry, the folks behind Tappening launched an advertising campaign late last month to challenge what they call “the notion of Truth in Advertising while embracing an opposing concept. Lying.” Undoubtedly inspired by the Truth anti-smoking campaign, they are claiming that filtered tap water marketed with luxurious cascades flowing from snow-covered mountain-top springs is as much malarkey as the idea of smoking a Marlboro is a) cool and b) will equate you to a rugged, all-American cowboy impervious to all danger.

“Puffery is one thing, but some advertising is simply lies. I’ve observed that there are two types who perpetrate this: Those who admit it and those who don’t,” noted Tappening co-founder, Mark DiMassimo in a press release. DiMassimo’s partner added: “We’re not just admitting it up front, we’re bragging about it. We want people to know we’re blatantly lying in our new campaign…and, most importantly, that everyone should pay close attention to what’s factual in marketing and what’s – not so much.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Small Auto Makers to Compete with Large Firms in EV Race

| Tuesday August 18th, 2009 | 0 Comments

cartoon-car

Big auto companies aren’t the only ones competing in the electric vehicle (EV) market. Coda Automotive, a 41-employee company without its own factory, designers, or dealer network, claims it will beat General Motors and other large firms in the EV market. Coda’s affordable, all-electric automobile (built for the “average American,” the Washington Post reports) is the product of inspiration – at the possibilities in the growing EV market.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Marcal Speaks Out: The Bottom Line on TP

| Tuesday August 18th, 2009 | 8 Comments

baby bottomBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Earlier this month I wrote on the Kimberly-Clark Greenpeace agreement, calling it a success. However, a few days later I was contacted by Marcal, a tree-friendly paper goods company that sells only 100% recycled paper products, calling it greenwashing.

Yesterday I had the chance to speak directly with Marcal’s CEO Tim Spring, as well as with Greenpeace, NRDC and Kimberly-Clark. Needless to say, the devil is in the details when it comes to this agreement.

Isn’t it ironic?

Greenpeace’s Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide penalizes Marcal because their  post-consumer content is not high enough (see Green Flushes).

“The celebration of the agreement with Kimberly-Clark is so much lower in altitude, it is an obscene double standard.”

While the agreement is a success for getting Kimberly-Clark out of old growth forests, there is more to the story.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

E-waste Offsets: A Good Idea but How Effective?

| Monday August 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments

ewaste-neurtral In response to the ever-expanding challenge of electronic waste (e-waste), most developed countries have enacted legislation that mandates the responsible disposal and safe handling of discarded electronics within their own borders. (Thankfully, the US is catching up with the rest of the developed world, state by state.) But what happens to your old TV, computer or cell phone after you drop it off at your local “green” recycler?

Sadly, and according to the latest estimates from the EPA, much of the e-waste handled by “responsible” recyclers will eventually make its way to the third world, where anything of value is extracted in ways hazardous to humans and the planet.  The reverse supply chain, as the recycling waste stream is known, is long and opaque with materials moving from handler to handler with little oversight.

The recently launched Ewaste Foundation thinks they have a better approach, by offering E-waste Certificates, which are essentially offsets to pay for responsible handling of e-waste material that ends up in developing countries. When you purchase a certificate through their website, they will move a corresponding amount of e-waste from a developing country and send it back to the EU or move it to one of their certified recyclers in country.

Sounds like a good idea, but for me it raises many of the same issues inherent in other forms of offsets, namely: verification (how to verify that the downstream recycling partner meets standards), additionality (some e-waste is recycled responsibly and doesn’t need to be “offset”), and incentives (we should be working instead on reducing the amount of electronics that enter the waste stream).

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

LEED: Follow or Blaze Your Own Green Trail

| Monday August 17th, 2009 | 0 Comments

blueprintBefore delving into the issues associated with USBGC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building system, a disclaimer might be warranted. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who opposes the idea that buildings should be more efficient, have less environmental impact and be better for society. Though LEED has the potential to achieve these goals, there are still issues that prevent the system from being more than a de facto standard. Users of the LEED program have complained about confusing documentation requirements, underestimated costs and a lack of hard science backing the consensus driven process. It is important to note, however, that the LEED system is evolving and updates in LEED version 3.0 reflect some of concerns expressed by critics, like a greater emphasis on energy and water, as well as ongoing reporting requirements, but problems still persist.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

USGBC: True Green LEEDership.

| Monday August 17th, 2009 | 3 Comments

USGBC-Lobby-Waterfall

Photo Credit: Metropolis Magazine and Envision

LEED-Certified “green buildings” consume less energy, require fewer resources to build, and generate less waste than conventional buildings.  Oh, and they have higher market value.  And did I mention their occupants are happier, healthier, and sometimes even smarter?

That’s not some hippie propaganda.  Those are all findings from well-documented studies including a (lengthy) one from the GSA—the “landlord” of most non-DoD government property.

According to Ashley Katz, Manager of Communications for the USGBC, “green buildings save 30-50% of energy, 35% of CO2 emissions, 40% of water and 70% of solid waste.”

So where is the controversy?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Biochar – Clean Energy, Soil Restoration, and Economic Viability

| Saturday August 15th, 2009 | 5 Comments

biocharWhen I first heard the word “biochar,” it didn’t exactly conjure notions of sustainability, clean energy, or economic viability. The word’s syllables, strung together, sounded more like a reference to some sort of eco-firewood. Close, but no cigar: turns out biochar is a relatively carbon neutral technology that could hold its own in the biofuel market. Is this a concept too good to be true?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Congress Seems to Prefer Close-to-Home Energy Research Centers

| Saturday August 15th, 2009 | 0 Comments

congress-cartoonApparently, home really is where the heart is – even when it comes to Congress’ distribution of energy research funds. When Energy Secretary Steven Chu proposed a plan for creating eight “innovation hubs” (i.e. clean technology research centers), Congressmen overwhelmingly favored earmarking funds for research schools in their home regions. The earmarking has many critics up in arms: should the allocation of big-time government funding for big-time energy research be based (as they perceive) on allocators’ favorite schools or locations?

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Does Drinking FIJI Water Prop Up a Dictatorship?

| Friday August 14th, 2009 | 3 Comments

fiji-motherjonesPoor FIJI water. Ever since Pablo’s infamous “true cost” article almost three years ago, the company has scrambled to re-invent its image in the eyes of the environmentally conscious. Although many of their efforts have been PR plays, they’ve made some praiseworthy changes. Now, in classic style, Mother Jones Magazine has leveled the accusation that not only is drinking FIJI still an environmental absurdity, it’s also helping to prop up a nasty military dictatorship. Yikes.

It takes a little while to get your head around the whole thing so give Mother Jones’ main article a look. Then read FIJI’s response here. Then pop back to Mojo for a follow-up.

The week of August 17th, I’ll be participating with others in a discussion about this issue on Mother Jones’ website – Here’s the link to the discussion. Also, here are some thoughts…

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

New Orleans, Back on its Feet, Finds a New Entrepreneurial Spirit

| Friday August 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

ban-startup-fridayneworleanstrolley2Before Katrina, New Orleans was known more for the free-wheeling atmosphere of its streets than the free-thinking of its business leaders. The economy was largely controlled by manufacturers and the oil and gas industries, with a business culture that valued seniority and lineage over raw talent. In stark contrast to that commercial stodginess was the city’s intrinsic creative energy — something any visitor can feel the moment they set foot there.

It took the tragedy of the hurricane, which killed hundreds, and caused billions in damage, to loosen the grip of the old way of doing business. Now, entrepreneurs, including clean technology companies, are sprouting up like mushrooms after the rain, supported by a new host of organizations designed to reinvent the way business is done in New Orleans, and in the process help the Big Easy become a world class city again.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

GIIRS: A Bridge at the Intersection of Meaning and Money

| Friday August 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

socap-big-banner

Last Day for 30% Discount for Triple Pundit Readers

“A bridge is about to open up in the market at the intersection of money and meaning that will make things easier and safer for people who want to make their investments consistent with their values,” according to Kevin Jones, lead convener of the upcoming Social Capital Markets (SOCAP09) conference in San Francisco.

The bridge he’s referring to is GIIRS (for Global Impact Investing Rating System), a new investor system built through the collaboration of leading foundations, social investment funds, rating agencies and consultants. The demand for solid social investment opportunities is growing rapidly among high net worth investors, family offices and institutional wealth managers. GIIRS is expected to address this pent-up demand by letting these new style investors compare and measure the kind of social and environmental impact they can expect from their investments and donations.

The GIIRS rating system will be explained in more detail on September 2 at the SOCAP09 conference. The system is ready and has been in trials for a while. In fact, some of these large institutional investments could be announced at SOCAP09.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

Masuelli Bikes: Framing Sustainable Bikes with Bamboo

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday August 14th, 2009 | 9 Comments

ban-startup-friday

The Masuelli brothers and there wares, in the park.

The Masuelli brothers and there wares, in the park.

If you happen to find yourself in San Francisco this weekend, and furthermore, if you find yourself in Dolores Park, you are likely to see Nicolas and Danilo Masuelli. And you are likely to notice their bikes. The pair are a couple months into a new venture: designing, building and selling bike frames made of bamboo.

San Francisco hipster street cred: Check. Sustainable building materials: Check. Smart, cheap marketing (sitting around in the park all day with their bikes): Check. These two are onto something.

Nicolas Masuelli, an industrial engineer by trade, learned about working with bamboo during a government internship in Argentina before moving to California. He taught his brother Danilo the bike-building process, they hung out a Masuelli Bikes shingle and the pair started fabbing the bikes about two months ago. They source the bamboo and nearly all of the bike parts, including hemp roping to connect the bamboo sections, locally.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

An Innovative Social Business Model Based on…T-Shirts?

| Friday August 14th, 2009 | 3 Comments

ban-startup-friday

OneTribe social enterprise TShirt

OneTribe social enterprise TShirt

T-shirts have long been used as a mechanism of expression. Your favorite band. Your life stance. An obscure quote. That you’re a brand whore. But beyond that, what good are they?

Sure, you can buy an organic cotton one, or perhaps bamboo, soy, or any of the other options. Great, but still a small and perhaps abstract feeling gesture, when you’re just one person. Made by fair trade labor? A step forward, but it’s still this nebulous idea, a benefit that sounds good but doesn’t have a personally identifiable aspect to it.

OneTribe has arrived on the scene, with quite a different offer.

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »

EcoBlue Cubes Make Nearly Waterless Urinals Possible

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday August 14th, 2009 | 1 Comment

ban-startup-friday
ojgphsThe bathroom consumes a lot of water. The average public urinal washes a gallon of water down with each flush, and on average, uses over 10,000 gallons of water a year. A small invention called the EcoBlue Cube is said to eliminate 99% of the need to flush a urinal. A two inch square, the cube is made up of “beneficial bacteria” that digest waste and eliminate odor. One cube lasts for about 1,400 uses or one to three weeks. Two flushes at the end of the day are all that is needed to replace the urinal with fresh water.

Founder and CEO of EcoBlue, Damian Cox said, “Rather than create expensive technologies to generate new water, the best approach is to conserve the assets we already have. That way the money is better spent and it creates incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs and inventors.”

Click to continue reading »

Permalink CONTINUES » discuss Discuss This »