E*Trade Advocates Paperless Proxy Statements

| Monday May 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

e-trade-logo.jpgAlthough my meager investments have taken a nose dive lately (whose haven’t?), there’s one extra detail that still consistently bugs me – huge 100-page proxy statements sent to shareholders which are invariably tossed in the trash (yeah, maybe a few people recycle them). Even if I thought my voice amounted to much, the last thing I need is another tome in the mail – recycled or not. The idea of being able to vote for something meaningful with my shares matters – a lot. So why is it difficult to vote for an elimination of paper documents to make this happen?
Well, today I got an impressive piece of mail from E*Trade, my primary broker, remarkably smaller than usual in weight, urging me to “make a positive impact on my investment … while reducing the negative impact on the environment.” I took the time to open it and read the fine print, offering me an online way to vote for the board of directors of one of my many poor-performing holdings while sparing me the need to fly to god-knows-where to cast my vote in person. Most interestingly, however, once I logged in, I was quickly offered a chance to decline all paper statements from the company, be they resolutions, proxy statements, or anything else.
Now, that’s not only great news for the planet, it’s great news for the company bottom line, and it actually makes me think my vote might matter – if for no other reason than it makes it that much more visible to me. Haven’t we crossed the threshold wherein paperless communication should be the default, rather than the opt-in? My wounded investments say yes, and I say thanks E*Trade for helping me get there.

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A Tool for BALLE and Locals First Chapters

Scott Cooney | Saturday May 23rd, 2009 | 6 Comments

BALLELOGO.jpgScott Cooney here in Denver reporting live on day 3 of the 2009 BALLE conference. I have continued to be incredibly impressed by the level of commitment to green and sustainable communities by this network of locally owned businesses. From the outside looking in, BALLE and other groups of independent, locally-owned businesses are not green by definition. However, in reality, there are few more powerful forces for positive change than these associations.
Think about it. Buying locally sends less money out of the area. Of course, it also means more jobs for the local area. These are well-known and documented facts. It also just makes sense that shortening the supply chain of the products you buy lowers its carbon footprint. In addition, locally owned businesses are much more likely to donate to local environmental and other non-profits, by some estimates 350% more.
And what other organization is going to represent the real economy in Washington? The big business community that is represented by the US Chamber of Commerce, which most media looks to for the business community’s position on issues like labor and climate change, cloud the issues around economic development and don’t have us and our communities in their best interest. We at Triple Pundit have news for you, people: that ain’t the real business community. What I’m witnessing here at BALLE is the real business community…entrepreneurs, Americans with a dream, people with values that include improving their local community. Yes, BALLE represents that hope, that someday the business community that is quoted in the media will be speaking from main street, USA, not from some faraway place. And it may be our best hope of ending taxpayer subsidies for big box development and other forms of corporate welfare.
Phew.

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The News You Might Have Missed

| Saturday May 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

I’m back in the saddle after two weeks of MBA finals. Thanks so much to Scott Cooney for filling in for me on my weekly duties. Onward!
First and foremost, to all our readers in the Bay Area, the 3p team is honoring four local business authors and kicking off the summer with a happy hour at Temple Nightclub on Tuesday night, May 26th. See details and RSVP via facebook here, or let us know you’re coming via Twitter – #3p. 6-9pm.
green-island-wallpapers_196_1024.jpg Real Climate Bill Passes House Committee! Waxman Markey will move to the floor for a vote in August. This bill will be criticized by some for not being more stringent, but the fact that an actual, binding emissions bill passed out of committee in the US congress would have been all but unimaginable last year. Waxman Markey sets national emissions reductions of 20 percent by 2020, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050, using 2005 as a baseline. More importantly, the fact that the bill passed out of committee and will go to the floor for debate sets the stage for a national conversation about our collective responsibility to mitigate climate change.
Greener%20by%20design.bmp Green Designers and Green Design Enthusiasts Flood San Francisco 3P friends from Greener World Media threw a smash bang conference on the future off innovative design for the environment. William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame was the keynote, and designers from Method and Walmart, among others, were in attendance. Click the link above for a round up of Green Biz’s comprehensive coverage. Here is 3Ps ( start-ups, Method, HP)

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Five Startups Vied for Spotlight at Greener by Design Event

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Rapioli isn’t a new-fangled pasta, and Trula is not a women’s clothing line. But they are both innovative products that were among five entrants in the Innovator’s Showcase segment of this week’s Greener by Design conference in San Francisco.
Rapioli is made by a startup called Innovation 2 Industry and it provides a reusable packaging solution for closed-loop shipping applications (meaning items are shipped repeatedly between point a and b). The packaging is made of recycled PET (RPET) plastic and designed so that it can be shipped without any additional, external packaging. The system is available in four different sizes (ranging from 9 by 12 inches to 12 by 18 inches) and is comprised of a tray, that holds the goods being shipped, and two “pillow” enclosures, which wrap the goods in sturdy plastic and also provide cushioning. (More details here.)

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Reporting Live From the BALLE Conference in Denver, CO!

Scott Cooney | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

BALLELOGO.jpgTriplePundit is a proud sponsor of this year’s BALLE conference in Denver, CO, which is happening yesterday, today, and tomorrow. BALLE is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. And while membership in BALLE is not restricted to green businesses, green has certainly become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, driver for social innovation at this year’s conference.
Supporting and growing local economies and locally owned businesses, and creating communities has long been BALLE’s mantra. The statistics are well known: buying local creates good jobs; supports local entrepreneurs; increases the community tax base; and fights the causes of poverty, disease, and hunger. This community creates a ripe and fertile ground for seeds of the green economy to prosper, and BALLE’s 2009 conference has been inspiring for its focus on sustainability.
The conference opened with two keynote speakers last night that focused on rural economic development, with one story leading to the end of this joke: Did you know the toothbrush was invented in Hardwick, Vermont? Yeah, sure. Because if it was invented anywhere else, it would have been called the teethbrush. So why is no one laughing at this joke anymore in Vermont?

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Yahoo’s Make It Green: Inspiring Everyday Innovations

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments

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I’m typically skeptical when big corporations launch “green” initiatives, automatically assuming that their newfound eco-consciousness stance is an attempt to grab today’s earth-minded consumer, and elevate their brand in the process. And more often than not, that’s unfortunately the case, using causes and environmental issues to create the perception of social responsibility, while their commitment only goes as deep as their marketing budget. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I connected with Erin Carlson at Yahoo about the launch of their new Green Innovations initiative.

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A Method to Design Madness

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

method_home.jpgIt’s no surprise that Adam Lowry, Co-Founder & Chief Greenskeeper at Method was at hit at Greener by Design in San Francisco. Method products have shown mainstream consumers that sustainable products can be beautiful, cost competitive, and effective. What was most interesting was Lowry’s coverage of Method’s own design process, and the challenges they face in product development.
On Staying Ahead of the Curve
Method has had tremendous success in a highly competitive market. The company thrives with its robust, innovative product pipeline, which allows it to stay one step ahead of its behemoth competitors, innovating as they go. Method’s first invention was concentrated liquid soap– packing a big amount of cleaning power into a little bottle. Now that every laundry soapmaker has moved into the space with their own concentrated offering, Method is on to its next big innovation…

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Want To Make An Impact?

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Ever thought of starting your own business? I’m sure many of you have, but did you consider, in your business plan, to have no ownership and give away all of your profits? Yeah, I said it: a for-profit company that gives away all of its profits. Sound crazy? Sound good? Well it does to Michael Pirron, CEO of Impact Makers, and their business model just may create a major shift in the way people attack some of today’s most pressing social issues facing our communities.

You may think this sounds like a bad deal, giving away all of your profits, but upon further reflection, with few business categories thriving/growing/building in the current economic climate, perhaps a little shaking up is just what is needed. Impact Makers looks to do just that – turn the consulting industry on its head – and gain some serious attention in the process.

Based in Richmond, Virginia, Impact Makers offers traditional business consulting services at market rates, pays competitive salaries, and gives all the profits to nonprofit partners that are chosen by a non-partisan, volunteer Board of Directors (Impact Makers’ current partner is Rx Partnership, a nonprofit that has provided thousands of low income and uninsured Virginians with free medication, by creating a streamlined process that connects pharmaceutical companies to free clinics and community health centers).

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How Do We Put a Price on News?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

reports_notebook.jpg Would you rather be fired or told that your work has no value?
I’d prefer being fired, since I enjoy the work I do and shudder to think that it has no value. But here’s the rub: it has no value. Or, at the very least, its value is rapidly dwindling.
That is obvious to me based solely on the amount of money I earn as a freelance journalist today, as compared to the amount I earned a year ago. Earnings are down, as they say in the financial section. Way down.
But in this recent essay in the Christian Science Monitor, Robert Picard, who writes about the media industry and is professor of media economics at Sweden’s Jonkoping University, argues that journalists are getting just what they deserve these days. And that’s not much.

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Sustainability 101: Creating Your Strategic Plan

| Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Yesterday I read an article that called out corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the new “Brand Content.” We are all aware of the increased marketing push around CSR activities. But, how do you make sure those marketing claims are legit and reflect what your organization is actually achieving? And, more importantly, how do you keep your organization on track when implementing sustainability?
Creating a Strategic Plan
Creating and following a strategic sustainability action plan provides your organization with a road map.
Your vision, assessment, and goals are the backbone for developing a plan to move you forward and keep you on track (For more detailed information on how to accomplish these three key steps refer back to my previous posts!). A strategic plan helps you document, track, and monitor the different sustainability initiatives rolled out in a fiscal year and assists you in communicating to and getting buy-in from your staff. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, metrics and verification not only allow you to track your sustainability progress, they also support your marketing claims.

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How to Work with a Clean Tech Recruiter

Frank Marquardt | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

Say you gave notice, the economy be damned. Or you took the corporate buy-out offer and want to take your considerable skill set and apply it to world-changing (and potentially lucrative) work at a renewable energy startup. Or you just finished a workshop with Solar Energy International and are looking to implement phase-two of your job-change program (i.e., the find-a-job part).
And you’re trying to get a clean tech recruiter to take notice.
What do you need to know?

Start with the Facts

“Our business, we don’t have a magic bullet to create jobs,” says Dawn Dzurilla, President and Founder at Gaia Human Capital Consultants, a retainer-based executive search firm. “We work with those who we think we can earn a living working with, even in the green economy.”
That’s right – clean tech recruiters are businesspeople, too.
Fortunately, a number of firms offer services that go beyond retained or contingent search. (Retained search means a company is paying the search firm to fill its vacancies. Contingent search means the search firm is paid only when it places a candidate; contingent firms typically work with dozens of companies.)

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Hewlett Packard’s “VooDoo” Reducing Waste by Turning Packaging into Products

Steve Puma | Friday May 22nd, 2009 | 8 Comments

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One of the more interesting themes at the Greener by Design 2009 Conference is how some companies are reducing waste by turning their product packaging into reusable products. From the manufacturer end, Hewlett-Packard is leading the charge, with unique packaging solutions for its Voodoo line of high-performance laptops and for a line of products being sold at Wal-Mart.

Voodoo, recently acquired by HP, delivers ultra-high-performance gaming machines with a slick, minimalist aesthetic reminiscent of Apple products. Hewlett-Packard Creative Director Mark Solomon explained that the company wanted to design a unique packaging solution that would reduce waste while also increasing the value of the open-box experience for their customers. They wanted a solution that was as unique as the laptops themselves.

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Google Power Partners Announced

| Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 3 Comments

smartmeter.jpgEarlier this year, Google announced the development of a gadget called Google PowerMeter which delivers personal electricity usage data to consumers on their individual computers. This effort took a big step forward on Wednesday of this week when Google announced a list of eight initial electric utilities that will serve as partners.
United by a common interest in connecting their customers with personal consumption data, the diverse list of partners includes utilities from India, Canada and the United States. The partnering utilities range in size from small providers to ones with millions of customers.

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Jennifer Rice: Proving Values-Based Business Is the Most Fruitful

| Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 2 Comments

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In my cause marketing series, I rant communicate often about the critical need for businesses to ensure their philanthropic efforts are strategically aligned with core values over using it as a sleazy marketing tactic to fake consciousness. And I am continually searching for clever analogies to drive this point home as I believe it is the foremost tenet that must be upheld in implementing successful – and sustainable – cause initiatives: Authenticity. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw the below tweet by Jennifer Rice the other day.

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Bingo! The perfect analogy. It reminded me of my childhood when my mother would snicker at those she called “once a week Catholics” as they filed into church like the picture of piety when “doing good” for them was making a pitstop at mass on the way to the IHOP. But it’s the same principle as touting social responsibility while you engage in unfair labor practices (rhymes with Schmalmart) or claiming to be an eco-friendly corporation while you destroy the earth one overpriced, unrecyclable coffee cup at a time (ok, that one’s blatantly obvious).
Needless to say, I sought Jennifer out to spotlight, and get her insights on philanthropy as part of her values-based business model at Fruitful Strategy, a consulting firm that creates corporate social opportunity by aligning business strategy with social impact. Through her responses, she articulates the importance of ensuring that CSR is part of the fabric of your company and outlines the brand, stakeholder and customer benefits achieved with a well integrated campaign that’s built on a mission, not a marketing ploy.

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Richmond, CA, Living a Green Economic Revolution

Scott Cooney | Thursday May 21st, 2009 | 5 Comments

greencollarjobs.jpgCalifornia has had 4 “rushes”. First was the Pioneer land grab, followed by the gold rush, then the information rush of the dot-com era, and now, finally, the green rush. I’m thrilled to say it’s not confined to Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley.
Last week, I wrote about the city of Richmond, California, and its exciting efforts to join the green corridor that includes Silicon Valley, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. Richmond held its first green business tour last week, modeling itself after the East Bay Green Tours that have been heralding Berkeley and Oakland area businesses and non-profits that are leading the way to a sustainable future. The tour included the deep green as well as the light green, and businesses more in tune with Richmond’s gritty industrial environment.
While square footage is too expensive in Berkeley and San Francisco and other dense population centers for manufacturing, recycling yards, and other land-intensive businesses, this is exactly the kind of green economic development that places like Richmond are ripe (and hungry) for. And this is precisely the reason why green is so ubiquitous and holds so much hope for an economic turnaround in this country and around the world.

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