SunChips Pushes its Environmental Cred with Compostable Chip Bag

| Saturday April 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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The familiar sight of plastic chip bags littering the ground could soon be a thing of the past if companies follow multigrain chip brand SunChips’ lead. SunChips rolled out a serious Earth Day initiative earlier this month–compostable chip bags. No, really. The bag will crumble in the dirt after only 14 weeks.
The new SunChip bag’s outer layer will be made with polyactic acid (PLA), a compostable, plant based renewable material. By Earth Day 2010, all North American Sunchips bags will feature the new 100% compostable packaging. SunChips’ switch is expected to cut greenhouse emissions significantly and eliminate the use of petroleum in packaging

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Earth Aid: Selling Carbon Credits for Households

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday April 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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earthaid_jpg.jpgThere’s no shortage of free online services aimed at helping consumers do things like track their energy consumption, see how much they consume compared to their peers and lower energy consumption using various tools and incentives. You’ve got Wattzon, Ecomap, Wattbot and others. The carrots these consumers are chasing are lower utility bills and the satisfaction that comes from knowing they are lightening their footprint on the planet. But the startup Earth Aid is offering consumers a new kind of carrot: hard, cold, green cash.
That’s the idea, anyway. Participants won’t see any money for their efforts until they lower their power consumption for a full year, meanwhile giving Earth Aid a look-see at their utility bills so that the company can verify the numbers (the bills show Earth Aid how much energy the participating household used each month, and how much the utility company charged for each therm and kilowatt hour).

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The News You Might Have Missed

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

fail%202.jpg5 Earth Day Pitches that Failed For all the earth day haters out there, Green-Biz has a nice feature on the companies that tried to pimp their green cred on Earth Day but greenwashed themselves into a corner.
blog-landfill-new.jpgPlastic Bag Manufacturers Aim for 40% Recycled Content by 2025 That includes 25% post consumer plastic, my friends. In case you missed it, check out this great vid on the dangers of our plastic bag addiction.
walmart-logo.gifWal-Mart Doubles Solar Power Arrays Tricky math headline alert! Wal-Mart currently has panels on 18 stores and they are planning to add panels to another 10-20 stores over the next 18 months. Not super exciting, but with store energy consumption as high as it is, this represents a total solar energy capacity of 32 million kWh per year. Ahhh, economies of scale.

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Case Study in Sustainability: Symantec

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The sustainability guru, Bob Willard, developed the very useful Sustainability Continuum to describe the five stages companies go through as they evolve and integrate sustainability initiatives into their business operations. After speaking with Cecily Joseph, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Symantec, who provided the detail below, I would say Symantec is making all the right moves evolving beyond compliance (Stage Three) to a fully integrated strategy (Stage Four) to gain enhanced business value.
Symantec provides a range of security, storage, and systems management solutions that help businesses and consumers secure and manage their information. And they also offer an excellent template for other companies considering a move up the sustainability continuum.

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Green By Design: Enabling Sustainable Choices

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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As the “green” buzz continues to become more mainstream, there is a staggering number of products, websites and communities popping up in an attempt to capitalize on today’s eco-conscious consumer. But the onslaught of information may actually be a deterrant to embracing a green lifestyle for novice consumers who are forced weed through overwhelming amounts of data with little knowledge around how to distinguish hype from fact, or even where to begin. Enter Green By Design, a new blog-slash-product-review-slash-ecommerce portal focused on connecting users with journalistic-quality green content and products that elevate eco-awareness, and reduce the barriers to adoption. Funded by Noribachi, a venture accelerator out of New Mexico, Green By Design aims to fill a very targeted segment of the green market. One that is dedicated to debunking green myths, providing top quality products that meet rigorous standards and deliver on their environmental claims, and guides and reference materials for successfully integrating sustainable practices into your daily life. Somewhat of a personal green advisor, Green By Design scours the eco-web and handpicks the stories, products and resources that make living sustainably simple. You might say it’s by design.

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Live Webcast: Joel Makower on Selling Green in the Age of More More More!

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Hot Trends in Social Venture Finance

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The world of social capital is small, but it’s hot. With rising uncertainty about both the moral and economic underpinnings of the traditional financial sector, finance for socially conscious enterprises has become a destination for those looking to put their morals behind their money and those who see good social and environmental stewardship as hallmarks of success in tomorrow’s economy.
At the Presidio School of Management we were lucky to sit down and talk with three leaders in this space: Joe Glorfield of TBL Capital, Esther Park of RSF Social Finance and Deb Parsons of Investors’ Circle. Here are some trends they identified in social venture finance:

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Corporations Are Integral Components to a Sustainable Future

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The goal of this post is to make the point that corporations are one of our greatest assets in moving towards a sustainable future. There are two points that I propose to support this point:
1. Corporations represent a remarkable platform for the industrial capacity that is required to create the materials necessary for renewable energy systems.
2. Corporations represent a remarkable asset in terms of human knowledge and skills.

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Will the US Be the Leading Market for Electric Vehicles?

| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 6 Comments

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As industry leaders watch closely the consumer response to new electric vehicles, ideas are quickly taking shape in regards to where manufacturers should target their sales and production. While North American, European and Chinese auto manufacturers race to bring a viable electric car to market, the question remains, who will arrive first and where will the manufacturing centers be located?
A recent announcement that Think, Norway’s pioneering electric carmaker, will open a manufacturing plant in the US is an indication that the US may be overtaking Europe as more lucrative marketplace for the production of electric vehicles.

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Better World Books Thrives Despite the Recession

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday April 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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We have already published two posts about Better World Books, one in February by Amie Vaccaro, and the other by me last June. Why should there be another post? During an economic recession when people are buying less of everything, Better World Books is thriving. Started in 2003 by college students, seven percent of its revenues go to non-profit organizations and libraries. It has raised over $5 million for those organizations and libraries. In other words, Better World Books is a triple bottom line company that is managing to make a profit.
On CNN’s website, an article pointed out that other online bookstores have more revenue. In 2008, Half Price Books had $186 million in revenues, and Amazon.com had $177 million during the first three months of this year alone. However, unlike Half Price Books and Amazon.com, Better World Books does not charge shipping and handling fees within the U.S., and only charges $3.97 worldwide. That coupled with the low cost of its books, gives it a tremendous opportunity for continued growth.

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Another Earth Day Rant

Jeff Siegel | Thursday April 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Watching all the Earth Day coverage yesterday was pretty exhausting. Let’s face it: Most of those talking heads on television are only repeating what one of their researchers likely found on the internet. They are not the experts, and they don’t often seek out the real experts when it comes to reporting on the environment or sustainable development. Generally speaking, of course.
How many times do we have to hear about changing light bulbs, carpooling, and turning down your thermostat? Don’t get me wrong. I certainly appreciate all the attention the cable news networks devote during Earth Day. But it’s really become a broken record falling on deaf ears.
Truth is, most people in this country only respond to two things: Fear and Greed. And if you don’t tap those buttons, you’re just spinning your wheels.

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Socolite: Where Social Consciousness is Always in Style

| Thursday April 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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One of the primary goals of the Philanthropy in Five series is to feature companies who are committed to giving back, and serve as a framework for making social consciousness the standard way of conducting business.
In similar fashion (bad pun intended), Nicole D’Alonzo is launching Socolite.com, an online destination for spotlighting the philanthropic efforts and social innovations of local businesses and entrepreneurs in a fun, contemporary way. Her vision is to transform the idea of a socialite into a “socolite,” where being socially conscious, embracing a green lifestyle and being eco-aware are the height of style.
She refers to her concept as the web equivalent of a lounge where people can congregate to share goodwill, collaborate and use their collective power to make a difference in ways that are compelling, memorable and fashionable. From charity fundraisers to black-tie benefits to casual networking events, Nicole is chronicling these experiences through video and compiling documentaries to help inspire ongoing change, and shape a culture rooted in consciousness. In a society built on the concept of it being chic to spend, Nicole is showing that it’s chic to give. And that’s a cause that’s more than just a passing fad.

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How Can We Make Impact Investing Mainstream?

| Thursday April 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Impact investing, or investing for social and/or environmental impact as well as financial return, has become more and more popular, and will hopefully become the norm rather than the exception. At the Investors’ Circle conference, a panel of experts discussed impact investing.
Amit Bouri, of the Monitor Institute, explained the findings of a recent report, “Investing for Social and Environmental Impact“.

  1. Market fragmentation is a challenge.
  2. The field needs better metrics and measurement standards, such that impact investments are transparent and comparable.
  3. Investors need to assess, understand and communicate the impact of their investments.

Binda Ganguly, Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation, manages Rockefeller’s $20M program related investment portfolio. She explained how Rockefeller is working on building the impact investing space.

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Delivering Value with Values: BBMG’s 2009 Conscious Consumer Report

| Thursday April 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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We have reached a “profound reset moment in our lives.” So says Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of BBMG, the branding and interactive marketing agency. BBMG recently released its second annual Conscious Consumer Report, a study of the intersection of purchasing behavior and social values in America today. According to the introduction to the report, “A new narrative is shaping our collective experience and changing out we think, how we work, and how we live.”
We previously covered BBMG’s first Conscious Consumer Report here last year, but as we limp through one of the most crippling economic crises since the Great Depression, this year’s report takes on a particularly relevant tenor.
“Consumers now more than ever expect more from brands and products,” Bemporad said in a recent interview. With consumer confidence at a new low, combined with increasing unemployment, and a populist backlash against Wall St. scandals, “[Consumers] are yearning for the combination for the combination of value and values in the relationships with the brands in their lives. They are hungry for that authenticity.”
Several questions were posed in the approach of this year’s report. Will consumers seek green benefits in a tough economy? Which product attributes matter most in a recession? How do consumers know if sustainability or socially conscious claims are true? How can socially responsible brands survive the economic crisis and thrive long-term? And the report’s results offers “new strategies for innovation by delivering on the multiple dimensions of value – price, performance, purpose and participation.” By doing so, BBMG claims brands will be able to survive the crisis, build deeper relationships with customers, and thrive in the sustainable economy of the future.

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What Is So Special About Microfinance?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday April 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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In 1983, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus visited a Bangladesh village where he loaned $27 to stool makers who paid him back with interest. After that he created the Grameen Rural Bank which has lent over $983 million to over seven million borrowers.
Kiva.org, a person-to-person microfinance website, defines microfinance as “the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor.” The 2005 Commission for Africa report pointed out that access to financial services, including credit, is very hard for poor people. Microfinance gives small entrepreneurs access to credit.

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