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By Basak Altan Financial, social as well as ecological sustainability are important macro economic goals. We have believed up until this point that as long as our GDP grows, our financial, social and sustainability problems will also be solved. Hopefully the world is eventually coming to a realization that this is really not the case. This continuous and endless growth is also contributing to the world’s growing sustainability problems.
The US’s national debt is composed of two main facets: First, debt accumulates as the US government spends more than it produces. Second, the US external debt is also identified as what the American people owe to other nations. While the US government’s debt rises as the government runs a deficit, it also falls when it runs a surplus.
Fireworks on the 4th of July are as all-American as baseball and apple pie. However, conventional fireworks are not friendly to the environment or our health. The burning of the metal salts in fireworks releases ultraviolet light which increases ozone pollution, according to a study by the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. The study monitored ozone levels during an annual festival in Delhi. During the festival ozone ozone pollution increased and did not decrease until 2:30 am the next morning. One of the main ingredients in fireworks is a perchlorate salt, and combined with the heavy metals that create the color, a toxic compound is formed. According to Dr. David Chavez, a chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “They can get aerosolized and breathed in, or they go into the soil and water.”
By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact Is Recycling Patriotic? Recycle Bank, a new rewards program that contracts directly with cities to develop an incentive program that actually pays consumers to recycle, is promoting recycling, saying it is “American as Apple Pie.” They argue that recycling is patriotic and shows “our love for our country.” Nationally, we currently only recycle 30% of our waste. When the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates up to 75% of our waste can be recycled, obviously recycling is not yet part of the American ethos.
It’s sometimes painful to watch the big automakers scrambling to right their collective ship, coming out with prototype vehicles like GM and Segway’s lovechild, the P.U.M.A. (granted, my colleague Steve Puma – no relation – noted that it is a step in the right direction). But on the flip side, it’s a joy to hear about cool startups like Zambikes and Bamboosero. Vaughn Spethmann founded Zambikes in an effort to develop both employment opportunities and appropriate transportation for Zambians. Not only did he and his Zambian bike-builders create standard steeds, they also created innovative designs including the “Zambulance,” designed to carry sick people to hospitals in places where other means of transportation aren’t adequate or always available. As described in this BBC piece, the companies are working with enterprising Africans to produce bikes – including mountain and cargo bikes with a bamboo frame – in Zambia and Ghana. They are sold in Africa and the US.
Early Registration (and 40% Discount) Ends July 8th
This year’s SOCAP09 conference will offer three days (September 1-3) of rich content, over 100 speakers, and a special “unconference” day. In its second year, the Social Capital Markets conference brings together the broad ecosystem of capital (funds, foundations and individual investors) with for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs using business to make a positive difference. And if you register before July 8th, you’ll receive a 40% discount from the full conference price. Use the code WEB40 to receive your special discount.
With some $4.5 billion in Federal grants spurring project development and investment, LED streetlights and smart grid technology are being combined and systems rolled out in a growing number of California cities. Creator of the LonWorks open platform standard for smart grid and building/facilities energy management systems and products, San Jose-based Echelon Corp. is at the forefront of this wave of infrastructural change. The emerging market leader is involved in smart grid LED street lighting projects in Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Jose, as well as others in the US and abroad. Click to continue reading »
I grew up in Southern California during the beginning of the worst multi-year drought in California’s history. We sang “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down” at summer camp. My mother timed my showers and started screaming at the four-minute mark. We cringed at the sight of our azure swimming pool. We thought it couldn’t get any worse. Click to continue reading »
The 4th of July celebrations are almost upon us. The 4th of July weekend is a good time to re-think what products we use. Before you break out the disposable plates and plastic flatware, consider a few facts about our country’s solid waste. The U.S. produces 70 percent of the world’s solid waste, and 80 percent of U.S. products are used once and then thrown away. Paper is 37 percent of all the waste in the U.S., and paper waste in landfills emits methane. Landfills are the largest source of methane emissions (32 percent), which has a warming effect 23 times greater than carbon dioxide. Compostable products are better alternatives to plastic disposables. Founded in 2004, World Centric sells compostable products made from renewable sources. The company’s website pointedly states that “every action has an impact on the well-being of our planet.” Compostables, according to World Centric, “provide eco-friendly alternatives to everyday consumption choices, which can help minimize social & economic inequalities, reduce the impact of our consumption on the environment and help create a better and sustainable world.”
Sometimes you can eat your words, and they taste good. LA’s Coolhaus has taken the staid category of the ice cream truck and brought it inventively into our time. Using local and organic ingredients whenever possible, these ice cream sandwiches, all centered around an architectural theme, come in both “prefab” (generally offered) flavors, like Mies Vanilla Rohe, Mintimalism, and Frank Behry, and can be custom designed on request, either on the spot or as an ongoing exclusive flavor, like Renzo Pie-Ano launching soon at Wurstkuche. Coolhaus is an example of what the founders call “Farchitecture” – the exploration of the intersection of food and architecture, using disciplines not typically associated with each other to enhance the execution. Click to continue reading »
While ocean ship operators were digesting news of a pending major rule from the Environmental Protection Agency on vessel air emissions, another vision of the future occurred at the Port of Long Beach, CA. A Toyota car carrier partially powered by solar energy docked at the port. The Auriga Leader is the first such green-technology-equipped car carrier to ply the high seas and it’s about time. The vessel is outfitted with 328 solar panels that can generate up to 40 kilowatts, decreasing demand on the ship’s diesel-powered auxiliary engines for electricity, thus cutting down pollution, the port says.
Photo Source: Fotosports / R. Parker As hoards of tennis fans queued in line for hours today, hoping to get a glimpse of Andy Roddick or Roger Federer on Centre Court, the organizers of the world’s premiere tennis event offered a concession to those unlucky enough not to get in this morning: Resales. While Wimbledon has been praised for not over-commercializing this year’s tournament, the reselling of tickets, at first mention, may seem like an attempt to institutionalize scalping. As original ticket holders exit the grounds, they have the option to make unwanted tickets available for other fans (either by depositing the actual tickets at select kiosks throughout the grounds, or if they want to keep them as a souvenir, having the barcodes scanned upon leaving so that new tickets may be generated). There is one big and important difference between this system, however, and the guys that stand outside stadium gates at baseball or football games. Beyond the fact that prices aren’t ridiculously inflated, all proceeds Wimbledon generates from ticket resales are donated to charity. Click to continue reading »
At last, an organic way to eliminate odors before taking a crap. I’m so sick of all those harsh chemicals I usually use to spray the toilet before going number two. Oh no, wait a minute, I never spray the toilet with anything, because, frankly, pooping is about as natural as you can get. But that doesn’t stop Poo-Pourri from coming out with a new all new organic bathroom spray, aptly named: “Nature’s Call.”
In today’s economy, energy efficiency is a top priority for both public and private institutions. It promises to reduce energy expenditures, lower GHG emissions, and – of course! – to save a pile of money. While there’s been talk of energy efficiency since the 1970s, excitement has grown recently due to oil price fluctuations and energy efficiency funding in the federal stimulus plan. So, does this mean that we can finally save money from energy efficiency – without having to spend more cash first? Click to continue reading »
“In itself, there is sustainability in good design,” said Thomas Perez in a recent interview, the accent of the Danish-born president of BODUM USA adding a poetic flare to the sentiment. And by the majority of international critics, the Swiss-based BODUM’s coffee presses are just that: products of good design.
For many of us, coffee is ritual. Whether it is to sit at a cafe with friends or simply jolt ourselves into consciousness in the morning, there is no doubt that in many of our lives, coffee plays an important if not frequent role. Launching its “Make Taste, Not Waste” campaign earlier this year, the BODUM French Press system has led the industry as one of the “greenest” methods for brewing coffee, according to the company. And while the company’s greenness may have been an afterthought as opposed to triple bottom line thinking, the BODUM presses follow the thinking that some of the most eco-friendly products aren’t necessarily those that are the latest technological advancements, but are simple, time-tested goods based on quality and value. Click to continue reading »
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