Seattle To Vote On Plastic Bag Tax

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday August 12th, 2009 | 7 Comments

ist1_6328088-blue-plastic-bag

Seattle residents will vote on a 20 cent plastic bag tax on August 18. The tax would affect grocery, drug, and convenience stores. Small businesses, those with revenue under $1 million, would keep the entire 20 cent fee. Bigger businesses would keep five cents, with 15 cents going to Seattle Public Utilities to pay for implementing and overseeing the program, plus provide free reusable bags to low income families, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

Last summer the Seattle City Council voted for the 20 cent tax, but the Coalition to Stop Seattle Bag Tax collected enough signatures to put the measure on the August 2009 ballot. The Coalition received the majority of its funding ($1.4 million) from the Progressive Bag Affiliates (PBA) of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). ACC members include Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and plastic-bag manufacturers.

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Companies Vie for Control of .Eco Web Domain – Good Idea or Can of Worms?

| Tuesday August 11th, 2009 | 2 Comments

green-questionmark-manThe emergence of several “green” top level domains (TLDs), including DotGreen (.green) and Dot Eco (.eco), have created quite a stir among many sustainability proponents. (Check out the comments on a previous .eco Triple Pundit article , a Living Green article, and another Triple Pundit piece to see some of their opinions.) It doesn’t appear, though, that this skepticism is shared by several groups that matter most. The BBC reports that at least two environmental groups – including the original .eco creators (backed, incidentally, by former U.S. vice president Al Gore) and a Canadian group called Big Room, are vying for control of the .eco domain. Are these companies on the cutting edge, or are they toying with a can of worms?

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Taking Cues from Birds to Green the Airline Industry

| Tuesday August 11th, 2009 | 23 Comments
Three airlines fly in formation to increase fuel efficiency

Three airliners fly in formation to increase fuel efficiency

Stanford University research group takes biomimicry to whole new heights

At this summer’s Airbus “Fly Your Ideas” competition, an international call for sustainability innovation in the airline industry, one Australian team of graduate students walked away with the first place cash prize of 30,000 euros for a green passenger cabin concept. Derived from castor oil, their bio-composite cabin is an attempt to reduce dependency on non-renewable resources in the construction of airplane interiors.

While the majority of the finalists at the competition—including the winner—focused on materials and biofuels to offer eco-friendly alternatives to flight travel, one team garnered a significant amount of head-turning by looking at how planes fly. A team of doctoral students from the Aeronautics and Astronautics program at Stanford University conceptualized a way for commercial planes to save fuel by flying in formation. “In principle, the idea of flying aircraft in formation is the same as for migrating birds,” said Tristan Flanzer, one of the team members. “While in formation, birds experience lower drag and therefore can fly further. Aircrafts can take advantage of the same principles to reduce their drag.”

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Chinese and North Carolinian Energy Companies to Pick Each Others’ Brains

| Tuesday August 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

china-us-globe

North Carolina is on the move, from a renewable energy perspective. In the past several days, it has worked toward signing a technology-exchange agreement with China (and toward limiting the construction of industrial-sized windmills – a renewable energy quagmire, it seems). The Duke-China pact has gained significant international attention, as it is the first such agreement between the two countries and, hopefully, a step in the right direction for a successful UN climate change agreement (set for 2012). (The U.S. and China are the world’s leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions.)

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Making Dirty Ports Cleaner: Flywheels Store Electricity from Freight

| Tuesday August 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments
(courtesy Greentech Media)

(courtesy Greentech Media)

Greentech Media has an interesting article about Vycon Energy, which has cut diesel consumption at ports by 30% on average by installing power-capturing flywheels on the heavy cranes used to lift shipping containers.

It takes up to 300 kilowatts of electricity (about sixty times the demand of a typical household) to lift a container off a container ship. Due to their extreme power usage, ports typically have their own highly polluting diesel-powered generators. All that dirty electricity is expended to lift cargo, but when it is lowered, the motors simply run backwards, generating heat, but not much else – until Vycon’s systems came along.

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Is Universal Health Care Good for the Environment But Bad for Business? Part II

Andy Greene | Tuesday August 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

health-care-universalIn Part I, we explored the benefits of universal health care for the environment. In Part II, we look at the negative impact universal health care could have on businesses. The language of the final bill has not been finalized yet, so some of these conditions could change. If you want to make greener products and have a  greener business culture,  the health care debate is well worth your attention.

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Big Room’s Vision for Dot Eco: Let the Consumer Decide Who Is Green

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 8 Comments

dotecologoNext year, ICANN, the group that coordinates the Internet’s system of unique identifiers, will expand the list of top level domain (TLD) names. Anyone can apply, but only one deserving applicant will be awarded the registry rights for the .eco domain. Triple Pundit has provided much coverage lately (here and here) on the efforts of Dot Eco LLC, an LA-based group, endorsed by eco-luminaries like Al Gore, to win the registry rights. But Dot Eco LLC is not the only game in town.

Enter Big Room, a Canadian company, with a different vision on how to make the .eco domain relevant. They have already created the largest, global database of eco labeling information available on the web, and they plan to expand this capability through their Dot Eco initiative if they are awarded the registry rights. In their approach, companies that apply for the .eco domain name will be required to provide comprehensive eco-information about their operations. Big Room will build a system to make this information available to anyone who wants it. Their emphasis is on transparency and disclosure, not deciding who is green and who isn’t.

I recently spoke with Trevor Bowden, a Big Room co-founder, about their Dot Eco initiative, who explained, “We are not going to take the position that we can judge who is green, especially as standards are constantly changing.  We will let the consumer decide.”

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IndieGoGo: Cause Awareness Through Entertainment

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

hollywood & green

Documentary-Filmmaker The social web has opened the floodgates of communication, allowing users from all over the world to share knowledge, meet new people and connect with a multitude of content from breaking news to causes to movies and everything in between. Nonprofits, in particular, have met with much success harnessing the power of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to generate awareness — and donations — for their causes, and digital entertainment, such as web series, are beginning to tap into this movement, giving fans the ability to help fund their shows. But thanks to Slava Rubin, and his service, IndieGoGo, independent filmmakers have an established turnkey solution for getting their films and documentaries increased exposure, funding and promotion.

IndieGoGo is a socially-driven platform built on the concept of crowdfunding, creating a central location where independent filmmakers can showcase their work, and fans can show their support through microdonations right on the site. And thanks to a new partnership with Snag Films, filmmakers also have a vehicle to connect viewers directly with the causes they support, giving them the ability to make their films — and a difference. In addition, IndieGoGo’s integration with social networks allows the impact of those contributions to be captured and spread virally within viewers’ various communities to spark increased awareness and donations, helping the documentaries and issues gain greater market traction to build fan bases and cause champions. Not to mention the added benefit of delivering important social and environmental topics in an emotionally resonant and compelling way through entertainment experiences that forge deep, lasting connections well after the film ends.

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Big Money + Dirty Coal = Big Dirty Coal Money

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday August 10th, 2009 | 1 Comment

The Sierra Club has had it right for years: There’s no such thing as “clean coal” and all of the blather and money spent on this nebulous and mostly illusory technology is time and well, energy, that’s wasted to appease and enrich powerful coal interests.

A recent blog post from Mark Kresowik, Corporate Responsibility Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, calls out JP Morgan Chase, and particularly the investment bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon. Apparently Dimon talks a good game, expressing support for strong action on global warming and JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to clean-energy investments. “We try hard to be great corporate citizens,” Dimon says. “We need good policy on energy and the environment.”

But Sierra Club research has “pulled back the curtain and uncovered that his rhetoric doesn’t match his company’s action,” Kresowik says. JPMorgan Chase “is pouring billions of dollars into dirty coal plant projects – projects that would dramatically increase global warming pollution and ensure runaway global warming.”

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Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity Partner on Sustainable Housing

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

home-depot-logo-150 This morning, I enjoyed a breath of fresh air from an unlikely source: a Home Depot press release. The Home Depot Foundation revealed last week that it is adding $30 million to its Partners in Sustainable Building (PSB) program to fund the construction of green Habitat for Humanity homes. PSB will provide funding and green building resources and training for the construction of an anticipated 5,000 EPA-certified sustainable Habit homes (1,500 homes in 2009 and 2010 alone). To me, this is the ultimate picture of businesses, economics, and sustainability coming together – to the benefit of lower income Americans. I also believe the long-term effect will be to dispel many myths about the feasibility and financial benefit of green building.

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A Las Vegas Experiment: Can Sustainable Development Save the Economy?

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

las-vegas-sign

Las Vegas’ Strip, already world famous for its gambling, boozing, and entertainment opportunities, will soon become a leader in sustainability as well, according to a recent press release. A new luxury eco-resort called CityCenter – one of the world’s largest sustainable developments, the press release says – is in the works. Some analysts say CityCenter will not only allow the Strip to develop responsibly without sacrificing quality, it will also pave the way for sustainable growth throughout Las Vegas. Still, I wonder: Is it possible for one resort to have such a strong impact an entire city?

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Vermont Small Businesses Stay Sustainable Amid Crisis

3p Contributor | Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

vermont_roadsignBy Makenna Goodman, Chelsea Green Publishing

Vermont has a long history of birthing sustainable businesses. Perhaps it’s because of values seeping in from rural farms who still operate outside of the corporate world, or perhaps it’s because of local laws like the one forbidding billboards on highways (which undoubtedly stimulates smaller-scale marketing.) Whatever it may be, there are some notable companies born in Vermont that create a sustainable product, and maintain those values in their workplace to boot. What keeps them in business? What makes them successful, while still maintaining a sustainable value system? Nothing’s perfect, of course, but these guys set the bar pretty darn high.

In Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city, the local government is taking action in terms of supporting local businesses. The Montpelier Downtown Community Association started a “late summer hours” program, along with local storekeepers, as a way to stimulate not just the local economy, but ensure local business owners maximize their opportunity to get customers (especially tourists, and those in 9 to 5 crowd who may only have time to shop at night). It’s an example of the local economy working alongside local business to keep them afloat, not a Darwinian ideal of survival of the fittest—it’s based in ideas of community building. Both the local economy and the local businesses will benefit, one as a result of the other.

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Pew Charitable Trust Sees Growth in Green Jobs

Wes Muir | Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green-jobs-in-demandBy Wes Muir, Director, Communications, Waste Management

When it comes to U.S. employment, these are unprecedented times for today’s working generation.  With the economy in its current state of slump, finding jobs has become an ever-challenging endeavor. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate across the nation just reached a staggering 9.4 percent in July 2009, making the job environment the bleakest since 1983.

But amid all of the downturn, there is one sector that continues to witness job growth: clean energy.

The global environment industry has been described by the Environmental Business Journal as growing steadily since 1970 when it was valued at approximately US$40 billion per year.  The U.S. is considered the world’s largest market for environmental technologies, estimated at about US$300 billion per year.  Recent growth projections in the U.S. markets has been greater then 5% annually, outpacing overall economic growth.

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Slow Food USA Organizes Eat-Ins For Nutritious School Lunches

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

180px-Calhan_Colorado_High_School_Cafeteria_by_David_Shankbone

You have heard of a sit-in. On Labor Day, September 7, there will be 100 Eat-Ins in communities across the U.S. Organized by Slow Food USA’s Time For Lunch program, the Eat-Ins are designed to bring together people in a community who want more nutritious food in schools. The Child Nutrition Act, first enacted in 1966, governs the National School Lunch Program which provides free lunches to over 30 million children at school every day. Every four of five years the Act must be reauthorized, and the deadline for reauthorizing it is in September, hence the reason for holding Eat-Ins on Labor Day.

Slow Food USA created the Time For Lunch program to bring attention to the need for healthy food for the over 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program. The Time For Lunch program asks concerned people to contact their legislators and ask them to allocate $1 more per child per day for lunch. The program also wants strong standards for food sold in vending machines, and wants the government to provide mandatory funding to teach children healthy eating habits through farm-to-school programs and school gardens.

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Pee in the Shower: Save the Rainforest.

| Monday August 10th, 2009 | 6 Comments

pee in the showerSOS Mata Atlantica Foundation, a Brazilian non-profit organization, is currently running a TV campaign encouraging viewers to save the Atlantic rainforest by peeing in the shower. Their kid-oriented commercial shows recognizable silhouettes, from King Kong to what appears to be Gandhi (really?), reducing their water usage by, uh, making some “rain” of their own in unusual places.

What does urination location have to with saving rainforests? The group says that by avoiding one toilet flush each day, an average household can save up to 4,380 liters (1,157 gallons) of water annually. They don’t even mention the amount of toilet paper saved, or maybe they do, I don’t speak Portuguese.

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