Zipcar Launches First All-Electric Car-Sharing Pod

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

zipcar-electric.jpgZipcar, the innovative car-sharing service, today announced its first Electric Vehicle Pod, which will come equipped with an all-electric Citroen c1 (pictured above) and a plug-in Toyota Prius.

“Our proprietary car sharing technology platform allows us to manage a variety of cutting-edge vehicles, serving hundreds of thousands of Zipsters who benefit from convenience, cost savings, and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions.” said Scott Griffith, chairman and CEO of Zipcar, in a press release this morning.

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Killer Bubbles vs. Kinder, Gentler. Which Speaks To a Better Cleaning Brand?

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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I once had a conversation with a leading brand exec from a major cleaning-products company about “green” cleaning products and how they’re marketed. This person told me that the biggest problem wasn’t that the “green” products had any performance weaknesses at all. Rather, the problem was that the majority of their customers felt that if a product didn’t sound and smell like it was going to kill them, they didn’t believe it would get the job done. This person didn’t see this as a problem, just a demographic fact.
Hence, you get articles in Wired magazine like this one about Palmolive promising “Killer Bubbles” that shred every last life form from whatever they touch via an unpronounceable alphabet soup of nasty chemicals. It might not be ironic then, that most “greener” brands (Ecover, 7th Gen, Method, and even Clorox’s GreenWorks) work just as well as the more toxic variety but remain less than mainstream.
You also get hypocrisy in branding. Jeffrey Hollender brilliantly illustrated this problem a few months ago by catching Clorox in an ironic dichotomy – simultaneously touting the beneficial attributes of Green Works, while bragging about the heinous toxicity of Formula 409 at the same time.
So what is it people want? Do they really think that only nuclear-powered brands of death will clean their counter tops? Or is there a genuine change of heart going on that the larger brands are just slower to jump on?

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Seventh Generation: Packaged Idealism

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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seventh GenObviously, one of the benefits of being socially and environmentally responsible today is the investment it makes in sustaining people and planet in the long term. No one represents this concept better than Seventh Generation, a company built upon the principle of preservation by considering the impact our everyday decisions will have on the next seven generations. In this spirit, Seventh Generation is the gateway for responsibility by equipping consumers with the details they need to make informed choices and eco-friendly products that help save natural resources, reduce pollution and keep toxic chemicals out of the environment.
While they develop and market a profitable branded line of non-toxic household products, their core focus is on education and shifting consumer mindset to one of giving back and living responsibly toward creating a healthier world. It is this conscious mindset that sets the tone for the company and drives all facets of their business practices and culture. And through an unwavering commitment to positive change, they have assembled a team fueled by passion, ideals and hope and pacakaged it as their gift for the children of tomorrow.

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SOCAP09: Towards Triple Impact – Sustainable Ventures in Developing Countries

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The UNDP’s Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative Seeks to Build Viable Markets, Alleviate Poverty and Protect the Environment
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“About 2.6 billion people in the world living on less than $2 a day are trapped outside of the global economy, looking in with minimal access to formal markets,” according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Living on the margins deprives the poor of opportunities, while discouraging many companies from offering the basic goods and services – things like consumer products, banking and telecommunications – that would empower the poor and improve their lives.
Among the world’s poor, there is no lack of human resources – minds and muscles – to build successful markets, and certainly no shortage of demand for goods and services. What’s missing in many cases are basic market mechanisms. Market components like financial services, physical infrastructure, government policy and regulation, and market information are the basic building blocks that make markets work.
Building viable markets that include the poor as consumers, producers and employees is the focus of the UNDP’s Private Sector Division, and specifically their Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) initiative. GIM serves as a platform to engage all the actors in the process of building more inclusive business models. It gathers relevant information, highlights good examples through case study research, develops practical operational strategies and creates space for dialogue.
At the upcoming Social Capital Markets conference (SOCAP09), GIM Programme Manager, Sahba Sobhani, will lead a panel discussion to highlight successful triple bottom line entrepreneurs from developing markets. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sahba Sobhani at the UNDP offices in New York to discuss the GIM initiative and their involvement with SOCAP09.

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Less Plastic? Really, SanDisk?

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 11 Comments

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It’s time for SanDisk to rethink its packaging. Oh wait, it already has.
Really, SanDisk? Is that much really plastic really necessary? I don’t mean to pick on this company specifically. Many electronic companies need to come up with better solutions to packaging, and some are working on it. However, they need to come up with something just a little better than this sad display before boasting about it.
Thanks for the photos, Phil Villarreal.

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Summer Project: Funding a Solar Project at a School

| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Nationwide, K-12 schools spend over $6 billion per year on energythat’s more than textbooks and computers combined. While government-sponsored solar incentives hope to reduce that bill (and provide a fun educational opportunity for students), not all incentives are created equally.
When I asked Richard Raeke, Director of Project Finance at Borrego Solar Systems, to share his secret solar financing formula, he admitted his work is not easy: “I have a 17-page financial model to analyze the viability of any solar project.” He quipped he could work full-time just following all of the government incentive programs.
How can an average school district possibly keep up with changing trends? We offer a glimpse at incentive programs in two states and a few resources to get you started…

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Why Yahoo Won’t Buy Carbon Offsets Anymore

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday July 7th, 2009 | 1 Comment

Data-Rack 001During a press conference last week, Yahoo’s co-founder David Filo announced plans to build energy efficient data centers in New York. Standing by his side was New York Governor David Patterson and Senator Chuck Schumer. Filo also announced Yahoo would not be investing in carbon offsets anymore. According to a blog post by Filo, data centers represent the majority of Yahoo’s energy consumption.
Yahoo’s New York data centers will receive 90 percent of its power from hydroelectric power from Niagara Falls. The data center it plans to build “will have an annualized average power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 or better,” according to Filo. Yahoo plans to use only outside air to cool the servers.

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HOK Tops Annual Ranking as “Greenest Design Firm”

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

We first highlighted the global architectural and design firm HOK with our post last December covering the opening late last year of the new “sustainable” Indianapolis airport (pictured above), for which HOK was principal designer.

Earlier this year we talked with Mary Ann Lazarus, HOK’s Sustainable Design Director, about the growing buzz over building efficiency and the course of sustainable design in a struggling economy.

In its latest issue published just today, Engineering News-Record magazine released a survey ranking HOK, for the second consecutive year, as the greenest design firm in the world.

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TED Talks: Ray Anderson on the Business Logic of Sustainability

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

The founder of Interface, Ray Anderson has become an innovative ground-breaker of sustainable business thought. Below is a great talk Anderson gave for TED back in February:

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Green Flushes? Which brands are doing it right?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 1 Comment

toilet-paper-roll.jpgBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
A Delicate Undertaking

I picked up a copy of Time Magazine while visiting my parents and noticed A Delicate Undertaking, an article in their Going Green section comparing different brands of toilet paper with recycled content.

I have been using Seventh Generation 100% recycled toilet paper for years and just don’t get all the hype that “recycled material simply can’t match the comfort U.S. consumers have come to expect.”

My derriere has never felt deprived from its lack of virgin fibers. But I am obviously in the minority.

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Walden University: A Degree in Doing Good?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 2 Comments

Over the weekend, I caught a commercial for Walden University, one of the many online education institutions that’s popped over the past decade. But unlike the other universities that boast the benefits attending classes online and accelerated degree programs, Walden focuses on cultivating the social change leaders of tomorrow.
Their new positioning, “A higher degree. A higher purpose.” is designed to attract those who want to make a difference in the world, and the 60-second spot focuses on the traits of those whom embody this mindset and the changes students can make using their Walden degree.

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Traitor Joe–Will He Get Trader Joe’s to Change Direction?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact
A new report by GreenPeace, Carting Away the Oceans, scores major supermarkets sustainable seafood sales and sourcing policies.
While some companies were rewarded for their progress since the last report, others including Trader Joe’s, are called out for their lack of progress.
Trader Joe’s is now the target of a major Greenpeace campaign in part because they remain the largest U.S. grocer operating on a nation-wide scale that refuses to substantively respond to Greenpeace inquiries regarding its seafood sustainability policies and practices.

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Taking the Miner Out Of Coal Mining

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Proponents of the mountain top removal (MTR) method of coal mining argue that it is more cost efficient. In 1998, Arch Coal Inc. defended MTR in advertisements, calling it “good for West Virginia, and it’s the right thing to do.” However, opponents of MTR call it destructive.
MTR is a type of coal mining in the Southeast Appalachian Region that uses explosives to blast 800 to 1,000 feet off mountain tops. MTR can strip up to ten square miles, and then dump hundreds of millions of pounds of waste into valley fills. MTR results in tons of rock, dirt, and vegetation being dumped into the surrounding valleys. It also damages aquatic systems, destroys ancient forests, harms water quality, and releases greenhouse gases.

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How Might the National Debt Be Related to Sustainability?

| Monday July 6th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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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.

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Can Fireworks Be More Eco-Friendly?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Saturday July 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Eco-friendly-fireworksFireworks 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.”

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