XSProject Creates Jobs for Indonesia, Cuts Waste Stream

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Ann Wizer

Ann Wizer, XSProject

More than 500,000 people in Indonesia attempt to make a living collecting and reselling garbage.  Artist Ann Wizer lived above a colony of these trashpickers and inquired about what waste they could not sell: plastic drink pouches and other non-biodegradable plastics.   Wizer began purchasing these scraps from the trashpickers and using them to create bags, book covers, and other products. Not only does she produce a useful, well-designed and beautiful product (everyone who sees the bags loves them), she supports trashpickers, creates jobs for the Indonesia’s poor, utilizes landfill-bound trash and educates all who come into contact with her products and operations about consumption and waste.

“Why are people still accepting products that end up in a landfill? ” Wizer asked, “We shouldn’t have them.  Our task at hand is to find ways to keep these materials out of landfills by reusing them. I am not interested only in upcycling or making “sympathy” products – I want these goods to be fabulous, they need to be able to compete  in markets.”

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How to Promote Your Business with a Glass of Water

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 5 Comments

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Tapit water network

Now that carrying a water bottle has long passed being the domain of the crunchy crowd, there’s another hurdle to address: Where to get good water once you’re done with that first filling you did in the morning, when you’re out there in the world. What do you do? Get it from potentially dodgy tap water? Buy another, bigger bottle of water to fill it with, defeating the original purpose?

Tapit has come up with a solution that is both supportive to those that carry bottles, and businesses we may never have found were it not for Tapit.

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Green Project’s David-and-Goliath Fight Against Epson

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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green-project-tonersAlthough Green Project Inc. is still a start-up, it is already playing with the big dogs – in the legal arena. The Los Angeles-based “eco-friendly” ink and cartridge toner recycler is engaged in a legal battle against Epson, one of the largest inkjet manufacturers in the world. Judging from the circumstances of the lawsuit, I’ll be pulling for the underdog. I’m also hoping the case will set a standard against corporations’ bullying of smaller businesses.

Green Project sells remanufactured ink cartridges, including Epson cartridges. (Customers send empty cartridges to Green Project, which refills and resells them, thereby preventing landfill waste.) Although Epson promotes its own recycling programs, it sometimes incinerates cartridges instead of recycling them. By offering customers a guaranteed recycling process, Green Project closes the cartridge manufacturing loop. (Incidentally, because of Green Project’s recycling efforts, the value of Epson cartridges is reportedly rising.)

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MoveGreen, A Green Moving Startup, Provides Alternative to Cardboard Boxes

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 21 Comments

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cardboard-boxesIf you’ve ever attempted to further complicate the moving process by being “green” about it, you’ve probably at least considered the problem of cardboard boxes. You, and the founders of MoveGreen, a Florida-based startup that provides SmartPacks, a re-usable, recyclable, and recycled alternative to cardboard boxes. An important endeavor, given the fact that, according to a 2007 report by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in Palm Beach alone (Florida’s largest county), only 37 percent of the 65,268 tons of corrugated paper collected for disposal (the type used to manufacture moving boxes) were recycled. My investigation into MoveGreen’s products – and its approach – revealed its grasp on this small but important corner of the green moving market.

MoveGreen’s process is simple: It delivers SmartPacks to clients’ homes or offices prior to their move and picks the packs up after the clients unpack. MoveGreen says its services prevent waste and are convenient and cost efficient (SmartPacks cost no more than cardboard boxes). I hypothesize that, while some people probably prefer to cut costs by using (free) recycled cardboard boxes, others, who would’ve paid for new boxes, would benefit from the program. If my hypothesis is true, I expect MoveGreen has found something of a niche in the green-packing market in Florida.

MoveGreen’s marketing techniques are also intriguing. A quick peek at the the company’s Facebook page is revealing: MoveGreen is launching a new (green web hosted) site, organizes SmartPack “prize drops” (in which it scatters prize-filled SmartPacks for participants to find, scavenger-hunt style), and supports numerous eco-friendly organizations. While the demand for MoveGreen’s SmartPacks may be limited to certain consumers, I believe MoveGreen’s marketing techniques – promoting its product in innovative, locally-relevant ways – could expand that clientele. Moreover, by supporting other sustainability organizations, it seems MoveGreen will eventually build the larger green moving market.

That said, I don’t have answers to a few questions: where MoveGreen gets is SmartPacks, how it transports them, or how long the SmartPacks last. The answers to these questions would, potentially, fill in important gaps in the overall sustainability of MoveGreen’s operations.

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, I believe MoveGreen’s efforts may be part of a bigger picture. If MoveGreen’s efforts are successful, a domino effect could ensue among consumers and other businesses, encouraging innovation among other green businesses and, perhaps, inspiring change in the non-green moving industry.

These are my thoughts on the matter. What are yours?

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“Clean Coal” Advertising? Dirty Energy Lobbyists Resort to the Bizarre

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

happy-coalBelieve it or not, there are groups attempting to promote “clean coal” – an attempt worth parodying. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity recently joined the ranks of such groups; it is preparing a series of ads designed to convince the Senate to vote against passing the climate energy bill. Does it really think the Senate will fall for it?

The ad series will target industrial and farm state Democratic senators. It will include online, billboard, radio and possibly television advertising, pushing a clear message: coal plants can be clean, and they are necessary for the production of low-cost energy. Some of the ads play into the nation’s rising unemployment rates; one says “A climate bill needs to protect Ohio jobs.” Additionally, teams of clean coal proponents will push the message at summer events lawmakers may attend (i.e. town hall meetings and state fairs).

The coal debate will put Democratic Senators in a pickle, since they need the support of environmental groups and Midwestern moderates (whose states’ economies depend on coal power). The ads will be released during the Senate’s August recess, giving them time to mull over the “facts” before their climate bill vote in September.

The Coalition seems to ride a convoluted wave of logic, vocalized by its Vice President of Communications, Joe Lucas, in a recent Politico.com article: “As you see the climate debate unfold, there are people that are interested in only achieving emissions reduction, but if we don’t do that in a way that promotes continued economic prosperity, we will have not succeeded in developing the right policy.” Further complicating matters is the fact that part of the climate bill would fund the capture and sequestration of carbon – creating what the Coalition calls “clean coal,” thereby strengthening their stance. Meanwhile, environmentalists doubt the environmental and sustainability-promoting value of such a capture.

See Related: “Forged Letters Sent to Congressman to Undermine Climate Legislation”

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FishChoice.com: Doing your part to protect fisheries just got a whole lot easier

| Friday August 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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FishChoice logo By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

As just reported in Gourmet.com, Barry Estabrook comments, “…doing your part to protect fisheries just became a whole lot easier. A new website, FishChoice lists 130 suppliers selling 300 sustainable seafood products, including Americans’ five most popular species: shrimp, tuna, salmon, pollock, and tilapia.”

Fishchoice.com was launched this week, only a few weeks after sustainable seafood was made a hot topic due to the Traitor Joe’s campaign, chiding Trader Joe’s for their lack of a sustainable seafood policy.

After going through a relatively simple registration process, buyers and suppliers gain access to a database of sustainable seafood products that includes origins, catch or farming method and sustainability rankings. Supplier names, location and contact information is provided along with minimum order requirements.

A simple solution for the commercial buyer

In an interview on SeafoodSource.com,  founder Richard Boot shared some insights into FishChoice.

“There are great resources out there for consumers, like the wallet cards, etc. FishChoice differs because we actually find the products that meet those rankings. It’s a simple solution for the commercial buyer,” explained Boot.

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Kimberly-Clark and Greenpeace: A Corporate Campaign Success Story

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 3 Comments

kleercut-case-closed-430px-300x181By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

After years of being worn down by Greenpeace’s arsenal of corporate campaign tools,  Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex, Scott and Cottonelle brands,  announced yesterday stronger fiber sourcing standards that will increase conservation of forests globally and will make the company a leader for sustainably produced tissue products.

Greenpeace, which worked with Kimberly-Clark on its revised standards, announced that it will end its “Kleercut” campaign, which focused on the company and its brands.

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Tom Szaky: Thinking In and Outside the Wrapper

Tom Szaky | Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

When you think of socially responsible companies, Mars, the candy-focused food company is not likely to be the first one that comes to mind. And yet, perhaps it will, as they have recently made two monumental commitments, with action and money to back it up. They encompass both what’s in and outside the wrapper.

100 million tons of sustainably certified cocoa bean purchases by 2020 sounds impressive, but especially so when it’s with $10+ million a year being spent to enable the right conditions for there to be enough supply for such a goal. And this is not just for some niche candy lines, but all chocolate used in Mars products.

UTZ Certified is who they’re working with on this initiative. While not as well known by you and I as, say, TransfairUSA, their work is of no less substance. Along with source sustainability certification and verification of supportive workplace practices, they actively reach out to farmers and those in the surrounding communities the viability of and market for sustainably grown cocoa.

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Cleantech Investment Is Up. So Why Isn’t the Sun Shining on Solar?

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Solar_Farm_NellisWide_Treehugger_CompressedPhoto Source: treehugger.com

Cleantech investments have (mostly) rebounded according to a new joint study by Cleantech Group and Deloitte.

After two quarters of decline, 2Q09 cleantech VC investment hit $1.2 billion.  The transportation sector was the clear winner—funding for biofuels, advanced batteries, and electric vehicles reached a new quarterly record of $607 million.

Meanwhile, investors cast a shadow over solar.  It’s paltry $114 million is an order of magnitude less than the $1.2 billion it received at this point last year.  What happened?  An answer after the jump….

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Facebook Useful? Who Knew?

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Intel and Facebook Team to Tap Unused PC Processor Power

IntelHaving just finished the “Who Has the Biggest Brain” Facebook app (and scoring just ahead of a sixth grader), I found myself wondering if all this social networking really served any useful purpose.  Just then I came across an Intel Corporation press release describing Progress Thru Processors, a volunteer application Intel has built on the Facebook platform that allows people to donate their PCs’ unused processor power to non-profit research projects.

Faceboookers can contribute their excess computational resources to Rosetta@home, Climateprediction.net or Africa@home. Rosetta@home uses the additional computing power to help find cures for cancer, HIV and Alzheimer’s. Climateprediction.net focuses on increasing our understanding of global climate change by predicting the Earth’s climate and testing the accuracy of climate models. Africa@home looks for optimal strategies to combat malaria by studying simulation models of disease transmission and the potential impact of new anti-malarial drugs and vaccines.

Nice to see the Intel Corporation is continuing to find innovative ways to tap the power of microprocessors for good causes. It’s proof once again that providing a means to collect together lots of individual contributions can have a far-reaching impact. And partnering with Facebook allows them to reach a huge swath of individuals, who like me, may have been looking for something useful to do there.

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Obama Releases $2.4B for EVs, GM Is Big Winner

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

EV-battery

Today, The Wall Street Journal reports, General Motors was the biggest winner (of 48 winners) of the Obama administration’s electric vehicle (EV) “battery sweepstakes” – a $2.4 billion plan to jump-start U.S. EV battery production. Government-controlled GM, creator of the Chevy Volt, won $240 million in direct grants. These funds will cover GM’s manufacture of battery packs; production of electric drive-trains for new vehicles; and the purchase of 625 Chevy Volts, which will be used to test the newly manufactured batteries. LG Chem was awarded $151 million to make the batteries for the Chevy Volts.

The $2.4 billion – a belated part of the stimulus package – includes the following grants to U.S. manufacturers: $1.5 billion to produce EV batteries; $500 million to make electric drive components; and $400 million to purchase and test plug-in hybrids and all-EV’s. The winning companies must match these grants, thereby doubling the nation’s investment in new batteries. The $2.4 billion plan is also expected to create tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs while maintaining America’s competitive edge in the electric vehicle sector.

Other winning companies included A123 Systems (which won $249 million), Johnson Controls (which won $299 million), and several smaller state companies (which won awards ranging from $500,000 to $160 million).

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Electric Vehicle Service Provider Seeks to Make Australia a “Better Place”

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

australia-map

Project Better Place, the self-described world leader in providing electric vehicle (EV) services, has taken on a huge project – one of the biggest islands in the world, to be exact. Project Better Place has announced that that it will deploy an EV network in Canberra, Australia – the first Australian city the company has tackled.

The goal of the project, which is aptly named Better Place Australia, will be to challenge the nation to embrace EV transportation. Better Place Australia is a cooperative endeavor between Project Better Place, AGL Energy (which will provide renewable energy to the network), and Macquarie Group (which will arrange financing). The project will require around $1A billion for a 2012 launch.

Why did Project Better Place want to convert Australia to using electric vehicle networks? In part, because its successful conversion of the nation – the largest country Project Better Place has targeted thus far – would underscore the company’s savvy. It is widely assumed that Project Better Place is seeking to involve local (Australian) auto manufacturers (including GM unit Ford and Holden) in the project. In an interview with BusinessGreen.com, Project Better Place founder and chief executive Shai Agassi revealed that he believes the next several years will witness a revolution of the auto industry; Project Better Place seeks to be at the forefront of that revolution. Agassi also described Australia as an ideal location for the development of EV transportation, given its abundant lithium, iron, and phosphate supplies (the fuels of the future, he said).

If Agassi is correct, Project Better Place’s EV endeavors worldwide will be unstoppable. He believes oil is on a terminal downward spiral, and sooner or later EV technology will emerge as the most viable option.

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Environmentaland – Hollywood’s Newest Quirky Theme Park

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Hollywood is world famous for many things – celebrities, sunshine, and shopping among them. But a new Hollywood attraction is the first of its kind: Environmentaland, an eco-themed park that opened this month at Hollywood Boulevard and North Highland Avenue.

The park is expected to entertain adults and kids alike, with attractions including an energy-generating see-saw, alternative energy-fueled golf carts, recycled paper plane takeoff, mini-bin exhibit and designing station, desert mini golf, planetarium, organic pet treats, and “Portal Potties” – mini entertainment history museums encased in redesigned porta potties. As an added perk – and a strong hint toward sustainable travel – visitors who travel to the park via public transport pay no admission. (Students also get in free.) In addition to these year-round attractions, the park will host special events including art shows, film screenings, recycling drives, and design contests.

Global Inheritance is the organization responsible for creating Environmentaland. The non-profit aims to bring about social, environmental, and community change by engaging young people. Global Inheritance runs a number of ongoing programs, inclujding TRASHed – Art of Recycling (a recycling awareness campaign), Tour Rider (a traffic reduction initiative), The Bigger Picture film nights (which expose global warming and other issues), and Alternative Fuel RC Racing (which allows participants to race miniature-sized alt-fueled cars). Its past projects include the organizing of a free shuttle to Coachella Music Festival to minimize the event’s carbon footprint.

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Greenwashing Is So 2008; Spencer Pratt Ushers in the Age of Greencarpeting

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

LA_UrsittiEntinSpencerIs greenwashing no longer doing the trick? Consider greencarpeting instead! No, I’m not talking about installing wall-to-wall Interface rugs. I’m talking about staging press events with the likes of “green celebrities” Spencer Pratt and Corey Feldman walking the red—I mean, green!, sorry–carpet. No, I’m serious. That really happened.

Here’s the nutty part: the event wasn’t promoting some kind of ridiculous new “green” luxury handbag line or eco-friendly bottled water with special chakra-aligning energy boosters. It was the launch of an at-home ethanol fueling system called the Microfueler, which uses household food waste as feedstock. Sure, the merits of this fueling system are yet to be widely tested, but it’s a step in the right direction (and hey, hybrid-Hummer driver Governor Schwarzenegger recently endorsed the system and Sierra Nevada brewing company plans to feed beer waste into the system and use it to fuel its vehicle fleet).

LA-based GreenHouse, a “purveyor of green building services and products, including the revolutionary at-home Efuel 100 Microfueler,” according to its website, threw the event at the home of its CEO (who formerly worked in the entertainment industry).

GreenHouse doesn’t make the fueling system; it was developed by Los Gatos, Calif. startup E-Fuel. But GreenHouse seems to think that media-hording, reality-show vets couple Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag—whose CVs include gigs promoting Taco Bell and the McCain/Palin ticket—will be helpful in promoting the fuel-at-home systems. (Rather ironically, Heidi Montag recently posted this tweet, presumably from a gas station: “pumping gas i almost ran out! opps praise God i didnt!”.)

But shouldn’t aligning ones product with celebrities be handled with the utmost care? Sure, Corey Feldman released a song about saving the earth, called Green is the Colour, but he’s no Ed Begley, Jr.

Certainly, actors and musicians can bring tons of attention and cache to environmental issues (Daryl Hannah and Brad Pitt come to mind) but, wow, maybe GreenHouse should vet the invite list a little better next time. In this case, at least, celebrity endorsements might do more harm than good.

But then again, I guess it worked. I’m writing about, it after all. What do you think? Is greencarpeting the new greenwashing?

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Going, Going, Green: New Film Festival Spotlights the Environment

| Thursday August 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

hollywood & green

GGFFSomewhat serendipitously, only a week after I launched my new ‘Hollywood & Green’ series focusing on socially responsible cinema and TV, film and documentaries that help connect consumers with important causes and environmental issues, the Going Green Film Festival opened its doors to eco-conscious filmmakers everywhere. The first of its kind, the Going Green Film Festival has set out to reward and recognize green filmmakers who fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Green Production - Where environmentally responsible filmmaking practices were employed to lessen the carbon footprint left on the planet (with sufficient documentation of the process)
  • Our Planet - Where the film’s topic covers third world issues, ecology, nature or the environment
  • Hybrid/Alternative Transporation - Where the film features a hybrid vehicle,
    bicycle, electric scooter or public transportation.

The Going Green Film Festival aims to spotlight those who are working to preserve our planet through entertainment and help inspire other filmmakers to adopt green practices, build greater awareness of social and environmental issues, and raise money for the Minorities in Broadcast Training Program (MIBTP),
a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed in 1992 to provide training opportunities to college graduates in
TV/radio news reporting, news management and film/TV production. I had an opportunity to chat with Festival Founder, Patrice Williams, to learn more about their efforts, and her thoughts on the importance of green filmmaking.

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