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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Renewable Energy Can’t Be an Afterthought in the Quest to Meet Climate Goals

Jeff Siegel | Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

transmissionA new report from the Electric Power Research Institute noted that in order to meet climate goals, the U.S. power industry must implement a full portfolio of technologies.

While we agree that we’ll have to pull out all the stops in the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must not trade one problem for another.

In the EPRI report, an awful lot of attention was focused on cleaner coal technology and more nuclear development. Certainly this is one way to decrease CO2 emissions – but it’s also a way to further liquidate our natural capital. Things like healthy soil, clean water, minerals, clean air, and living systems.

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Thank You Readers, Environmental Defense Fund, and Greener World Media

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 1 Comment

As you likely noticed, the 3p team has been hard at work to provide the people who have made what started as a little side project the conversation-starting site that it is today. We’d like to thank you, our readers for being part of the movement in support of integrating people, planet, and profit in business. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, your time, and all of the nice things you say about us (at least when we are within earshot).

As an independent business media company, we depend on the support of like-minded companies and organizations. You’ll notice in the recent redesign of this site that we have begun featuring the logos of sponsors, as part of our vision for deeper, long-term partnerships that will create value for our prized readers. Please join us in thanking our friends at the EDF Innovation Exchange and Greener World Media this month for their support.

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Europe’s Impending Biodiesel Trade War?

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

EUEurope’s “Renewable Energy Directive,” which the European Commission adopted in June, appears to be creating waves. The Directive is intended to encourage increased production of renewable energy, including biodiesel fuels, by the European Union, thereby improving Europe’s economy while protecting the environment. However, while these goals are not mutually exclusive in theory, analysts believe the European biofuel producers’ response to the Directive may trigger a “global trade war,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Protectionist attitudes seem to be at the core of the issue. Some European biofuel producers, fearing competition from abroad, are seeking restrictions on foreign biofuels. Already, they successfully pressured Brussels into restricting foreign imports of biodiesel. The Commission also seeks to impose hefty production standards on Asian and Western Hemisphere (but not European) fuels, while one coalition seeks to punish American biofuel producers specifically for their impact on the developing world and “dumping” of subsidized biofuels onto the international market. European biodiesel producers have also targeted Asian imports, which they claim aren’t environmentally friendly enough.

Given the potential disaster these measures could have on international trade and relations, it’s no wonder trade analysts are buzzing. While Europe’s need to create a viable domestic biofuel market is real and pressing, so are its consumers’ needs for cheaper, cleaner energy in a struggling economy. Some analysts believe Europe should rely on solar and wind power, while others believe these wouldn’t produce enough viable energy. Analysts also emphasize that Europe’s biofuel producers aren’t exactly struggling: 78 percent of biofuels used in the EU are from the EU’s own biofuel producers, while Europe produces 65 percent of the world’s biodiesel fuels.

The Wall Street Journal writer concludes his report by calling on the EU to defend free-trade of biodiesel fuels. Would this approach work?

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Fewer Children Better for the Environment?

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 5 Comments

angrybabyAre there too many obvious environmental impact reports being written?

The question arises after reading a study out of Oregon State University, which points out that — get ready — having children increases your carbon footprint.

The study, led by Paul Murtaugh, an OSU professor of statistics, shows that an additional child has an environmental impact more than 20 times greater than any other environmentally friendly behavior an individual might do over a lifetime. From the OSU press release:

“When an individual produces a child – and that child potentially produces more descendants in the future – the effect on the environment can be many times the impact produced by a person during their lifetime.”

In other words: people have an effect on the environment, and more people have more of an effect. Not exactly an earth-shattering discovery.

The study is not only a recitation of the obvious, however.

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Cash for Clunkers: If You Want to Be Green, Consider Keeping Your “Clunker”

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 6 Comments

Honda dealer-page-frog1By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

The Federal “cash for clunkers” program has been front-page news this week.  Car dealers are elated, as sales are clearly up as a result of the program. The program is so popular it quickly spent the initial $1 billion that was allotted for rebates.  And by Friday, the Senate might approve an additional $2 billion to keep it going.

The program is being touted as having both economic and environmental benefits.  While it is clear that the program has spurred car sales, it falls short on its green credentials.

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Register Now for the Green Software Unconference Silicon Valley August 19.

| Wednesday August 5th, 2009 | 0 Comments

green-software-unconference

For those of you in the SF Bay Area interested in software and technology another great “un-conference” is coming up on the 19th:

Check out the Green Software Unconference Silicon Valley August 19 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California to collaborate and innovate for the environment.

Register now with a 10% Discount Code for the Green Software Unconference and Forward to Your Friends. Register here.

Discount Code: triplep

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Join 3P at the GRI Reporting Seminar in San Diego!

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments
Even Al Gore gets a little overwhelmed by carbon accounting

Even Al Gore gets a little overwhelmed by carbon accounting

Documenting the environmental impact of your organization in a rigorous way can be pretty daunting. If you’re like me, you sat down to do it for the first time with a full cup of coffee and the best of intentions and and you quickly got discouraged. What should the scope of my emissions boundary be? Wait, what is a scope? Which emissions factor will I use? What’s an emissions factor again? Will we include employee commuting or just business travel? You’re telling me I have to weigh my paper now? I think it’s time for lunch…

Now you don’t have to go it alone! There are people to teach the guidelines to you!

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Safety-Kleen Auto Parts: “Save the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.”

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 3 Comments

EcoPower Recycled Motor Oil In 2008, according to its website, Safety-Kleen collected more than 225 million gallons of used oil. In the same year, Safety-Kleen recycled approximately 145 million of it into base oil products for re-use in the marketplace.

This morning, Safety-Kleen announced a partnership with a Massachusetts-based service center to exclusively feature their “green” oil in all its oil changes. “By choosing EcoPower for their next oil change, South Shore residents are helping to reduce greenhouse gases that affect global warming,” said Chris Lucchetti, owner of Lucchetti’s, said in a press release. “We like to say, ‘Change the Planet. Just Change Your Oil.'”

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What’s the Biggest Threat to Bike-Sharing: Vandals or Plummeting Ad Sales?

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 3 Comments

Decades of attempts at making bikes free and easy to share in urban settings—such as in The Netherlands; Portland, Oregon; Madison, Wisconsin—indicated that there’s no such thing as a free bike. Most of the steeds were eventually stolen or strewn into canals or otherwise rendered useless.  But forcing riders to pony up a deposit and/or pay a fee for using a bike beyond a set amount of time (say, a half hour) has led to some success in places such as Lyon, France, where the Velo’v system introduced a means for using smart cards and specialized bikes and locking racks to combine convenience with security.

In Paris, the two-year-old Velib system boasts an astounding 20,600 bicycles, which are stored at more than 1,450 stations and checked in and out using a payment and smart card system similar to the one designed by Velo’v.

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NASCAR Track Puts Solar Power in the Pole Position

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

nascarI’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the overlap between NASCAR fans and environmentalists is not large. But now they’ve got at least one shared topic of conversation:

Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway, which hosts two NASCAR events each year, plans to build a three megawatt solar power plant to provide the track with electricity.

At three megawatts, it would be the world’s biggest solar energy project at a sports facility, and Pennsylvania’s largest to date (at least two other 3 mW farms in PA are in earlier stages of development).

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How Far Would You Go to Decrease Junk Mail?

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 4 Comments

junk-mailWhen I read the account of Alan During’s struggle to curb junk mail delivery to his residence, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud; is there anyone who can’t relate? For a solid year, Alan not only kept all the junk mail he received; he also chronicled the amount and type of mail delivered (i.e. 15 pounds worth of phone books!) before attempting to get off the mailers’ lists. His experiment has me wondering: how will sustainability influence marketing in the quickly evolving green business world?

All told, Alan amassed a whopping 50 pound, two-feet-tall stack of mail: the phonebooks, plus neighborhood advertisers (5 pounds), Eddie Bauer, Bike Nashbar, Performance Bicycle, Road Runner Sports catalogues (10 pounds), info-tech advertising (2 pounds), political mail (1 pound), tabloids (1 pound), and other various and sundry randomness (16 pounds). Talk about unwanted weight gain!

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The Green Workplace: A Holistic Guide to a Healthier Working Life

| Tuesday August 4th, 2009 | 0 Comments

HC FrontLeigh Stringer is a converted “greeniac” who not that long ago didn’t think much about the idea of “being green.” It’s not that she necessarily had anything against it, she literally didn’t think that much about it.

“My husband drug me to see Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth,” says Stringer, and the rest, as they say, is history. She’s now an avowed greeniac (Stringer has formulated four levels of one’s, for lack of a better term, “greenness” 1) Greeniac 2) “Bottom line” environmentalism 3) Couch potato greenies, and 4) well, if you’re at this level, you’re not really so green, now are you?).

A trained architect with an MBA, Stringer is now a VP for Advanced Strategies, with HOK, a global architectural and sustainable design firm HOK, itself recently voted the “greenest design firm in the world.”

Stringer’s work at HOK’s Advanced Strategies involves consulting with clients in the initial stages of workplace and building design and help them make the best decisions for designing a workplace that best supports their mission and employees. More often than not clients want to incorporate sustainability and “green” in their plan, but are also just as often unsure of how best to go about it. Stringer found that often good intentions, while a good start, didn’t always lead to a sustained, comprehensive, and workable plan.

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Ricoh Tree-Planting Program Offers CSR Cautions

| Monday August 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

ricohBy so many measures, Ricoh, the Japanese office equipment-maker, is a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). You can spend several hours on the Ricoh website reading about their numerous CSR initiatives, their environmentally friendly products and processes, as well as the many awards they have won over the past 20 years. The company places corporate citizenship at the core of their mission and makes the effort to integrate these core values through every part of their business. Well done.

But good intentions don’t always make for good results. The UK website BusinessGreen.com is reporting on one Ricoh CSR program that has seemed to miss its mark, raising the questions:  how do you decide which CSR initiatives are most appropriate for your business, how do you monitor the programs, how do you measure their effectiveness, and are good intentions enough?

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