I am extremely interested in socially responsible investing (SRI), however knew very little about what that actually means. Which is why I was excited to pick up a copy of Ann Logue‘s new book, Socially Responsible Investing for Dummies. Logue is author of several other Dummies series books – she specializes in making complex topics accessible for everyone. She recently wrote for 3p about CSR and the bear market.
In my day job with SVT Group I work with organizations that are trying to grow their revenue and impact to enhance their effectiveness (and fundraising efforts) by measuring, managing and communicating their positive impact. As such I get a lot of people asking for advice in SRI and impact investing. Logue’s book helped me make sense of this arena.
Logue advises each investor to conduct their own due diligence, and create their own idea of what SRI means for them based on their individual issue areas and passions. The truth is that SRI is a tricky topic to advise on because it means something different for everyone, as it should. But for each of us, it’s not all that complicated. For some it’s about not investing in tobacco, alcohol or firearms – the sin filter. For others it may be about investing in companies with strong CSR. And others may select companies based on the positive impact of their products and services.
I recently sussed out the socially-just banking landscape (and wrote about it). Based on what I found I opened a Shorebank high yield savings account (which offers 2.45% interest rate) as well as a CD with Microplace (which offers 5% over 2 years). I believe that you don’t have to sacrifice returns to make an impact in all cases (my research in banking showed a lower return on most social/environmental banking products, hence my choice of Shorebank, which is highly competitive with other savings accounts, and Microplace). I closed my ING and Vanguard money market accounts in turn. I was raised with the philosophy of investing for returns and donating the surplus to charity, but the more I learn the more I realize how harmful that viewpoint can be, and I am trying to embody that belief. And a recent AT Kearny study found that companies committed to sustainability outperform their peers on the market.
- Live Twitter Chat: Kimberly-Clark Marks Fifth Anniversary Of Forest Conservation Engagement With Greenpeace
- Survey Results Show Millenniala Driving Corporate Social Responsibility
- WhiteWave Foods Celebrates First Year as an Independent Company by Issuing Inaugural CSR Report at the GRI G4 Core Level
Contrary to analysts’ forecasts, the global trade in “green” products continues to grow strongly, according to Alibaba.com. Predictions that collapsing banks and financial markets, along with widespread recession would prompt consumers to cut back spending on green products are proving to be way off-base, at least when it comes to traffic running through their Internet platform, according to the Hong Kong-based B2B e-commerce provider.
Searches for alternative fuel and power–such as solar and wind power systems, electric cars and bio-diesel–as well as organic products of all types continued to increase steadily during the latter part of 2008 and through the first quarter of 2009, according to Alibaba.com data.
Oil prices spiking as high as $147 a barrel in Q3 2008 led to a surge in searches for renewable energy products, which rose 67% on a year-to-year basis. Even more encouraging, interest in green products has continued into 2009. Solar power energy and organic products were the fastest growing segments on Alibaba.com in this year’s first quarter, increasing 71% and 68%, respectively.
There are good signs that that corporate sustainability is moving beyond mere PR and blue-sky vibes. It might even be true, descending at last from somewhere past Mars to an Earth-based reality.
Speaking of Mars, the candy company of the same name claims it is the “first global chocolate company to commit to fundamentally changing the way sustainable cocoa farming practices are advanced by aiming to certify” that its entire cocoa supply is produced in a sustainable manner by 2020.
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Thank you, Richard Nixon.
I’d like to begin this post by thanking Richard Nixon for creating the historic opportunity for the US to work with China on the two most critical global issues challenging our world today: Economy and the Environment. Although current US – China relations have opportunities for improvement, Nixon laid the groundwork for political collaboration with China through his 1972 visit to Beijing.
The opportunity that the US now has to work collaboratively with China to solve the economic and environmental crises may well be our greatest hope for change. The goal of this post is to highlight where we are today with regards to high level political cooperation between China and the US on the issue of a global climate change treaty. I will also add a few comments on the role of US consumers in Chinese GHG emissions.
I’m pleased to tell you that I’ll be representing 3P at this year’s Greener by Design conference, May 19th-20th in San Francisco. The conference is being put together by our friends at Greener World Media.
Greening the design process is an important challenge for the sustainability movement – and a critical piece of any business that makes anything material. Designers need to worry about dematerialization, the source of raw materials, incorporation of recycled and recyclable materials (at costs that will appeal to the big box crowd), where products will be manufactured, durability, and end of use deconstruction. Plus they have to design things that are needed and desirable, so customers will buy them. I don’t have the slightest idea how they do that, but I’m excited to find out.
To top it off, William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame, is the keynote. This conference is not to be missed!
Ready to register? 3P readers can get a generous $550 discount by registering here and using discount code triplepundit.
Leave a note in the comments if you’re planning to attend! I love the chance to connect with 3P readers in person.
As I was exploring possible summer internship positions, a professional colleague suggested that I meet with Mark Reiner, President of Birambye International (BI). I found Mark’s work to be so impressive that I wanted to share it with a wider audience. Mark is an extraordinary person who commits his time, energy and money in alignment with his values (truly a triple bottom line individual). Mark founded BI, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), to help communities in need reach economic self-sufficiency without sacrificing culture or the environment. Mark’s vision is to create sustainable projects that can be maintained by locals after volunteers have left.
BI is currently planning the “Birambye Lodge” (“Birambye” is Kinyarwandan for “Sustainability”), to be built in the Western Province of Rwanda. Conceptual plans have been developed for the Lodge to be constructed on the shore of Lake Kivu, adjacent to the Children’s Village Kigarama (CVK) orphanage, one of BI’s partners. Revenue from the lodge’s business will support its operation and maintenance, with a portion also committed to funding education and sanitation for the orphans at CVK. Having this additional support will provide CVK important funding to supplement the donations on which it currently relies, while also offering vocational training for orphans – something that has not been done in the past. Furthermore, the lodge will be constructed using an approach that is expected to make it the first US Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum structure in Africa.
Is sustainability becoming a serious concept in corporate boardrooms?
Some evidence that the answer might be yes came recently from the non-profit Center for Sustainable Innovation, which released a new model for measuring corporate sustainability performance.
It’s called the True Sustainability Index. CSI’s model comprises 15 indicators that sustainability managers can use to assess the full triple bottom line performance of their organizations. TSI says the model will be useful in their attempts to understand, rate and rank the sustainability performance of organizations as a basis for making investment decisions.
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Assessing your current operations is critical to understand how to move forward with incorporating sustainability into your business. If you do not know where you are in terms of material use, energy use, water use, waste consumption, the receptivity of personnel in your organization to change and the receptivity of your customers to your products and services, it is difficult to set realistic sustainability goals and create metrics to track those goals.
Most importantly, setting your benchmarks early allows you to measure and track sustainability ROI. This weekend, I sat on a marketing panel at The Presidio School of Management with Dan Geiger, Jay Tompt and Jill Albeson. We were addressing the topic of certifications and marketing. As always, Dan raised a great point – the easiest way to convince people that sustainability is feasible is to show them financials. In order to create the strongest financial case for sustainability you must benchmark your organization’s performance before you implement your program.
Happy Earth Week. BrightTalk, the webcast providers, have lined up a great week of business webcasts for what’s being called a “greenweek summit.” From their site:
Leaders from all sectors of the business world will converge this week to discuss the best ways to capitalize on the movement toward green and sustainable business practices. Find out how going green can increase profitability and make your business operations more efficient while hearing about the latest and greatest trends from some of the world’s most innovative thought leaders.
More than a dozen webcasts are scheduled, and we’re going to feature four of them right here on 3p starting tomorrow. Our selections:
- Peter Williams, IBM Big Green Innovations on Water – 9AM PST April 21
- Mitchell Joachim, of Columbia University on “The Carborexic City” – 10am PST April 22
- Pat Tiernan, Climate Savers Computing on “The IT Power Problem”
- Joel Makower, of Greener World Media in “Save the Buyosphere! Selling Green in the Age of More, More, MORE” – 11AM PST April 24
Come back to 3p each day this week to access the webcasts in new posts for each of the four webcasts above.
Last week, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, hosted the last of 4 public forums around the country to gather input on offshore drilling and offshore renewable energy development. Choosing to end in San Francisco means he is going back to Washington with a resounding “No” in his ears. “No” to offshore drilling and “Yes” to investing in renewable energy, and any other new green technology San Francisco start-ups can figure out.
All the California elected officials on the dais (Boxer, Lee, Speire, Napolitano, Woolsey, Lt Governor Garamendi) and Oregon governor Kulongoski made very clear, and sometimes even passionate, that CA needs and values its coastline the way it is, and the potential output of oil (estimated 1% of US daily consumption by 2030) comes no where near to justifying the risk posed to its economy and ecosystem.
With a compelling back-story and big name players, Adina is a perfect test case for sustainable entrepreneurship 2.0. Co-founded by Greg Steltenpohl, founder of Odwalla, and Senegalese businesswoman Magatte Wade-Marchan in 2006, this young beverage company garners a lot of attention. It was surprising then, when it was hard to make heads or tails of the company.
Adina for Life. Are they a natural juice company promoting international recipes or focused on fair trade coffee? Or is it herbal elixirs? Adina is in the midst of redefining itself.
Wade-Marchan approached Steltenpohl with a pitch to market drinks based on international, indigenous recipes. She landed a dinner meeting with a man who took a company from his backyard to a $181 million dollar sale to Coca Cola, and his wife, Dominique Leveuf, who would become Director of Creative Services and a willing investor. With Wade-Marchan’s expertise in sourcing from Africa, Steltenphol’s commitment to sustainability, and Leveuf’s business background, many believed Adina was poised to upset the natural beverage industry.
Today, Wade-Marchan is no longer involved in the company. Steltenphol remains Chairman, and Leveuf a key investor. Steltenphol now works alongside several industry veterans, including Interim CEO John Bello, formerly of SoBe beverages (who also received a lofty price for the company he built, selling SoBe for $370 million to PepsiCo).
To understand Adina in its current state we spoke to Chief Marketing Officer Bruce Burke.
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A new report from TerraChoice Environmental Marketing finds that only 2 percent of products that profess some eco-cred on their labels are, in fact, green. This goes to prove something that most consumers already suspected: that just because a company calls itself green and clean, it’s not necessarily green and clean. The same is true, in a much broader sense, about all kinds of companies. What makes a company “good?” How can we define and designate a social enterprise – a triple bottom line company – such that it achieves legitimacy and legal protections as such an entity? Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy co-founded B Lab, say they’ve developed a way: The B Corporation certification.
This is the pledge that all B Corporations take:
“We envision a new sector of the economy which harnesses the power of private enterprise to create public benefit.
This sector is comprised of a new type of corporation the B Corporation
which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
As members of this emerging sector and as entrepreneurs and investors in B Corporations,
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another
and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”
Water problems are mounting. You see the evidence everyday.
Droughts in California. Disappearing aquifers in the Southeast. Tightened water restrictions in Perth.
The problem is elementary, yet most are too stubborn to comprehend it, or to deal with it.
We only have a certain amount of water but we constantly require more of it. Increasing population and the industrialization of the second and third world are the main culprits, but pollution and misuse of done their share of damage.
It’s all very Malthusian.
And the recession is making it worse. Delayed investment in water infrastructure due to tightened credit and lending means sever water problems could surface sooner than once thought.Click to continue reading »
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In an effort to relieve traffic congestion, save energy, and clean up the air, President Obama has called for the swift development of a high-speed passenger rail system.
The President said that this was not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future, and that the country could not afford not to invest in a major upgrade to rail travel. Certainly we couldn’t agree more. But thanks to decades of complacency, this, like many other desperately needed projects, will not be easy.