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Sending a message in a bottle might conjure up all kinds of romantic notions about chance and opportunity, but it’s not a very effective way to communicate with another party. Much more effective is to print a message right smack on a bottle and send it through the US Mail. This greatly improves your chances of being heard.
That’s just what Swobo, a Sausalito, Calif.-based seller of bikes and bike accessories, is hoping you’ll do. Check out this water-bottle-slash-tool-for-social-change. For six bucks, you buy a water bottle for your bike (or for whatever). You probably buy a new bottle every once in a while, any way–after your current vessel springs a leak or looses its top or just gets too gross to drink out of anymore, right?
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Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement, particularly as it relates to sustainability: unless you have a good idea of what a sustainable version of your organization might look like, you may have some trouble getting there. But the problem cuts both ways. What if you don’t know how you stack up regarding your sustainability efforts? So a variant on that statement could be, “If you don’t know where you’re starting from, you might not find the right path on the road to sustainability.”
In 20+ years of working with customers, I have noticed that my clients frequently want to jump straight to the “solution” or “execution” phase. It’s not hard to understand why: these are the parts that get featured in media and case studies as the stroke of genius that solved an intractable problem. Why waste time in doing the strategy, planning and consensus-building exercises, when jumping to the end is so much more fun?
It’s amazing how cheap. diposable products and waste have crept into even our oldest traditions. It’s insidious. I’m talking about the commencement ceremonies that are happening at every high school, college and university at this time of year. Even my own graduation, a ceremony meant to celebrate the achievement of people dedicated to sustainability and building a world that works for future generations, was rife with single-use items that were never intended to be that way.
I don’t blame the institutions, which, by necessity, are obligated to provide their students and their loved ones with a ceremony befitting of their hard work and investments in time and money. I don’t blame the students, faculty, family and staff who have these expectations either. We certainly should not be in the business of sacrificing the things that mean the most to us in the process of achieving a sustainable world.
It all comes down to a matter of perceived cost. Most of the items currently used are very cheaply made because graduation is seen as a very rare occurrence: why spend a lot of money on something that will only happen once a year for the institution, and only a handful of times for the graduate?
Not to mention the fact that the regalia is not exactly everyday wear. Even a bridesmaid’s dress might be remade into a cocktail dress that might get worn after the big day, but graduation gowns are never seen outside of a graduation ceremony.
So…how do we make graduation more sustainable?
Former Quaker Oats Boss Joins Seventh Generation as New CEO Maniscalco comes from PepsiCo where he was CEO of Quaker, Tropicana, and Gatorade (go fitness water!) Co-Founder Jeffrey Hollender will stay on board as Executive Chairperson and keep his title of “Chief Inspired Protagonist.” One to keep indeed.
Shareholders Nip Energy Efficiency in the Bud at Home Depot The $20 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds had filed a shareholder resolution asking Home Depot to assess its company wide energy use in its buildings, transportation, and supply chain and set energy use reduction targets. Home Depot shareholders were having none of it and voted that resolution down right quick. So much for energy efficiency being an obvious cost savings.
The Green Future of the New GM With the carmaker in shambles, Joel Makower of Greenbiz fame pontificates on the possibility of an environmentally responsible future for GM. Is such a thing too much to wish for?
Green Hotel Challenges: From Odd Soap to Wasteful Guests Hoteliers face all sorts of challenges in the green space from providing as-good services at the same costs with fewer bad side effects. This article is a great summary of stumbling blocks and successes for a hotelier trying to go green.
China has Big Plans to Double Wind Capacity by 2010 China will spend about $15bn to more than double its wind power capacity from 12,000MW to 30,000MW by the end of next year. China badly needs clean power after it’s reputed 2 coal fired power plants built each week. This is a great start! In less exciting news, the Hummer leaves GM and moves to China.
Finally, at 3P, we’ve been extremely busy this week with lots of fantastic coverage:
Newly Discovered Decaf Coffee Plant Might Replace Chemical Extraction of Caffeine
Starbucks Uses Systems Thinking to Develop a Recyclable Cup
Tesla Recall: Setback for the EV Revolution?
Can Complimentary Currencies Stimulate the Economy at Large?
Coming out publicly just this month, Santa Monica-based Coda Automotive joins the budding ranks of hybrid and all-electric vehicle makers looking to crack the US market. The company plans to introduce an affordable, full performance all-electric sedan in California in 2010.
With first delivery expected in the fall of 2010, the four-door, five-passenger, fully-equipped Coda sedan is to be powered by 33.8 kilowatt-hour, 333-volt lithium ion battery with a range of 90 to 120 miles on a single charge, sufficient to cover the daily transportation needs of 94% of US drivers. An on-board charger plugs into any standard 110 or 220-volt outlet and completes a full charge in less than six hours at 220V. Charging for a 40-mile commute will take two hours, according to the company.
Expected selling price: $45,000–mid-$30,000s after including a $7,500 Federal tax credit and state incentives.
“The Coda sedan is an all-electric vehicle for everyone,” said Coda president and CEO Kevin Czinger. “It’s a practical revolution for real drivers who need reliable transportation.” Click to continue reading »
There is a mounting consensus that while business has created serious environmental problems, developing sustainable practices to address these issues can result in bottom line benefits. So why hasn’t sustainable business taken off like those metal Klean Kanteen water bottles?
The reason may surprise you: although most businesses acknowledge the efficiency benefits that sustainability can create, few companies are treating sustainability as a strategic opportunity. The majority of existing sustainability efforts are still ad hoc (often a reaction to external compliance pressures), poorly funded, and tactical in scope – so they rarely impact the core strategy and positioning of the business. In order to really create a sustainable future – and to reap the benefits of sustainable competitive advantage – companies must move beyond efficiencies to a more transformative implementation of sustainability. This is a challenging task, so it’s not surprising that few companies have gotten it right. The upside is that doing it well can lead to a real opportunity for competitive differentiation – one that may define winners and losers for decades to come. Click to continue reading »
The Xerox Corporation is a $16 billion enterprise that is beginning to integrate sustainability into their product offerings and operations. It strives to operate as a sustainability leader who delivers “waste-free” products that offer quantifiable benefits to the environment.
Worldwide, consumers and investors ask how a company that is invested in toxic ink toners can deliver environmental benefits to company stakeholders. In response, Xerox outlines four goals within their corporate sustainability framework: Climate protection, biodiversity and forest preservation, preserving clean air and water, and waste management. The Xerox Sustainability Growth Plan provides details on how exactly the company works towards affecting environmental change.
A major source of air pollution in port areas comes from the giant vessels that tie up at their docks to load and unload cargo. That’s because the powerful diesel engines have to run continuously to keep the ships’ equipment and support systems operating. That also means continuous spewing of GHG and diesel particulate emissions into the local air.
A solution to this massive emissions problem has long existed but is not widely implemented because it involves expensive modifications both on-ship and to offshore facilities. It’s called shore power, which allows ships to shut down their diesel engines at berth and literally plug into the landside electricity grid, thus improving air quality.
But slow change is better than no change: BP America and the Port of Long Beach Wednesday opened the world’s first oil tanker terminal equipped with shore power plugs. Click to continue reading »
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For years, Patagonia has established itself as one of the strongest leaders of sustainability within the business community. Although it’s a well-deserved reputation, there are a number of innovative strategies behind why Patagonia’s industry leading reputation is so widespread. From their product catalogs, which serve as environmental education materials to their product labeling strategy that touts organic and reused materials, Patagonia clearly knows the value in communicating their message through innovative and effective channels.
The Tin Shed, Patagonia’s latest sustainability communication tool is no exception. The Tin Shed is an interactive web application that combines the stories and dispatches of Patagonia’s sustainability ambassadors from around the world. The “tin shed” is a reference to Patagonia’s origins which was an old shed that Yvon Chouinard began forging his pitons in. Today, Patagonia’s virtual tin shed serves as the platform from which the company integrates the breadth and depth of their environmental and human sustainability initiatives.
If you’ve ever been to Israel, you might notice that it looks eerily like Central California. Back roads wind through dry golden hills, dotted with olive trees and oleander bushes. The countryside, however, has a major blight: a huge wall topped with barbed wire that delineates the Israel/Palestine border. Armed guards patrol the wall, ensuring that neither Arabs nor Israelis have the ability to antagonize each other. Conflict, hatred and violence have plagued this part of the world for a very long time. European and American interventions have not solved the conflict. Even so, President Obama is hoping to promote “democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion ” in the region with his current trip to the Middle East.
So what to do when politics, military strength and carefully-planned summits have all failed? Try creating peace and cooperation through business and profit-sharing. Or so says PeaceWorks, a “not-only-for-profit” company. You could say that PeaceWorks has a double-bottom-line business model; they pursue profit and peace in equal measure. They profit by selling healthy, natural food products that are produced by groups on traditionally opposing sides of a conflict. They pursue peace by “empowering the moderates” in the Middle East that hope for resolution to the ongoing conflict. The fundamental idea is simple: by working together to grow, harvest, produce and export a value-added food product, Arab and Israeli communities and business people can find common ground while earning a living wage.
When it comes to buildings, it can be hard to be big and green. This is especially true of large warehouses or other industrial spaces that have massive ceilings and a lack of natural circulation. But that’s where Big Ass Fans come in handy.
No, I’m not being funny. Big Ass Fans is an actual business name. And it’s a good one, considering that the firm manufactures ceiling fans that reach up to 24 feet in diameter.
Fans may be old-school, but their use in managing an indoor climate can be cutting edge. Big Ass Fans has been designing fans for the past ten years with a strong focus on efficiency. By moving air, they lower temperatures in large spaces during the summer and boost them during the winter.
Earlier this week, Volvo introduced a new model that integrates a plug-in lithium battery and a diesel engine, which Volvo plans to make available by 2012. When compared to Volvo’s earlier plan to have a hybrid vehicle available in 2012, the new plug-in model represents a more aggressive move on Volvo’s behalf.
Notably, this move could position Volvo as the world’s first provider of a plug-in diesel model. Although the technical specifications are a work in progress, the company says that the new plug-in will emit less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. When compared to the average emissions rate of roughly 90 g/km found among most European subcompacts, Volvo’s 2012 plug-in is a big leap in automotive efficiency.
At Schott Corporation, it’s all about the glass: the idea is glass and the powerful ideas that can shine through glass.
The $3 billion company, with corporate offices in Germany and North America, employs about 17,000 people. It has virtually cornered the market on a multitude of glass uses from pharmaceutical packaging to fiber optics to microlithography to glass tubing. But the 125-year-old company’s big push for decades and especially lately is in concentrated solar energy for power plants and photovoltaic technology applications.
The group’s Schott Solar unit has more than 50 years of experience in solar technology. And it sees a major opportunity for solar in Africa. Lars Waldmann, the company’s public relations manager, notes that given Africa’s abundant solar resources and it underdeveloped electric power sector, solar technologies are a big part of the continent’s energy answer.
It may not be as shiny as solar or as obvious as wind, but no matter how you slice it – geothermal energy is a powerhouse when it comes to renewable energy generation.
As I highlighted in my book, Investing in Renewable Energy: Making Money on Green Chip Stocks…geothermal actually holds significant advantages over other forms of renewable and fossil fuel-based energy.
During the week of April 13, the Vanguard Group’s mutual funds shareholders received their first proxies since 2002. The proxies contain a proposal which asks shareholders to “institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the Board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egregious violations of human rights.”
The proposal was coordinated by the non-profit group, Investors Against Genocide. Voting was open until the shareholder meeting on July 2. Eric Cohen, chairperson of Investors Against Genocide, characterizes the proposal as “particularly unusual, because Vanguard customers have not had an opportunity to vote in nearly seven years, and also because the genocide-free investing proposal is the first shareholder proposal to make it onto the proxy ballot at Vanguard.”Click to continue reading »