Timberland is a pioneer in corporate sustainability, corporate social responsibility or however you describe a business that cares about people and planet as well as profits. I spoke with Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland, to find out what he’s learned from his experience. You can hear the full interview at Green Business Innovators. But I ended our conversation with more questions than answers. Swartz is not convinced that doing good translates directly into doing well…yet. I discussed with him how he is trying to change that by connecting with consumers.
Swartz has been with Timberland for over 20 years and has served as President and CEO since 1998. Timberland has grown from a $156 million company in 1989 to a $1.4 billion company in 2007. At the same time, Swartz has built some of the most impressive and inspiring programs I’ve seen at a public company. Timberland employees put in 40 hours of public service hours each year through Timberland’s Path of Service program and annual Servapalooza. Timberland is committed to going carbon neutral by 2010. Timberland’s shoe boxes display nutrition information, which includes information about the manufacturing plant and the impact on the climate and community. And Timberland is starting a green index for all of its products. Just to name a few initiatives. (For more, see http://earthkeeper.com/blog)
But what is the business strategy behind all of these initiatives?
In 2008, tight credit and reigned-in consumer spending slowed the march of solar in the residential and commercial markets. But the just-released, second-annual Solar Electric Power Association report, 2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings, shows the steady growth of solar at utilities nationwide. Installed Capacity Up 25 Percent The report looks at how much solar was interconnected in calendar year 2008 and cumulative solar installations through the end of 2008, and includes both photovoltaics and concentrating solar power. Ninety-two utilities participated (out of some 3,000 nationwide), representing an 80 percent participation rate increase over the 2007 study – though it’s worth noting that participating utilities generally self-select into the survey as a result of having active solar programs. Results show an average increase of 2 megawatts among participating utilities over the year, enough to offset the use of over 300 homes on an annual basis. Overall installed capacity of the utilities that participated in the study rose 25 percent, from 711 megawatts to 882.
Among notable names such as JJ Adams, Brian Eno, and Dan Barber, green innovators Shai Agassi and Zaha Hadid were named to Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business list. Released last week, it is a list of “dazzling new thinkers, rising stars, and boldface names” whose creativity is being directed to address larger issues, from “the future of our energy infrastructure to the evolution of philanthropy to next-generation media.” Earning the #3 nod, Agassi, the CEO of Better Place, finds himself among an impressive short list next to Jonathan Ive (#1), SVP of Industrial Design at Apple, and Melinda Gates (#2), who, alongside her husband, chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ive is the brainchild behind the revolutionary iMac 10 years ago, and Gates leads one of the largest philanthropic organizations in terms of dollars donated, focusing on poverty, education, and health issues around the globe. Check out the entire list here. Photo Source: Fast Company
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
I’ve used this quote in my email signature for years, but being at the BALLE conference in Denver last week was the first time I think I’ve fully appreciated the impact of that statement. The people I met there are passionate about creating change from the bottom up, and there were some truly inspiring stories that demonstrated the success this approach can have. Friday night’s keynote speakers are great examples of this. The first speaker of the evening was Lisa Daniels of Windustry, a non-profit organization in Minnesota that promotes local ownership of commercial-scale wind energy projects. This is not a new concept – Denmark has been doing this for years. In the U.S., however, most wind projects are developed by large companies or utilities, which means that most of the profits leave the communities in which they are build to line the pockets of big business. Windustry is working to reverse the ownership model and make locally-owned projects more prominent.
By Lisa Bingham Over the three days of the recent BALLE conference, I was exposed to many inspiring people and a lot of new ideas. One of my favorite ideas comes from June Holley, former president and CEO of the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and now a Network Weaver. Ms. Holley was one of the keynote speakers on Thursday evening, and told a wonderfully inspiring story about the kitchen incubator she helped get started. As interesting as it was to hear about the success stories that spun out of that incubator, two ideas that really caught my attention were of being rhizomatic and a network weaver. For those of you who aren’t gardeners or who don’t remember your middle school biology class, a rhizome is a type of root that sends out shoots and roots from a central nub. Think of ginger – it starts out small with a stocky core and then develops buds and branches. In relation to microbusinesses and entrepreneurship, it comes down to the same thing. Someone or some group starts with a core business idea, such as the kitchen incubator that Ms. Holley spoke about. This endeavor then branches out to include other enterprises that may be peripheral to the core idea but help to support the core idea. An example of this is a business that distributes the products made in the kitchen, or a promotional services that assists with branding and marketing. This is what is meant by being rhizomatic. Add the networks each individual brings, and these business can be expanded even further.
Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), announced a recall of Tesla Roadsters, citing defects in the body design. Apparently, bolts on the rear hub have the potential to be under-torqued and can come loose, which could possibly cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Tesla is recalling 345 of its roadsters that were manufactured between March 2008 and April 22, 2009. According to a Tesla press release, this is a significant number of the roadsters sold to date. As Tesla vies to redefine the auto industry with its breakthrough roadsters (and now sedans) that look a whole lot more like Porsches than something out of The Jetsons, how will this news affect the car company? More importantly, will this prove to be a larger setback for electric and other alternative energy-driven cars?
Symantec Study Shows Green IT is Now Considered an Essential Practice Green IT budgets are rising and most IT executives say they willing to pay more up-front for energy efficient solutions, according to a research study sponsored by Symantec Corporation. The 2009 Worldwide Green IT Report was released yesterday as a follow up to the Green Data Center report released in late 2007. According to survey data, senior-level IT executives report significant interest in green IT strategies and solutions, attributed to both cost reduction and environmental responsibility. According to Symantec, the data points to an important shift from implementing green technologies primarily for cost reduction purposes, to a more balanced awareness of also improving the organization’s environmental standing.
Starbucks has taken a lot of flack in the past few years for its non-recyclable cups, lack of recycling bins, and shoddy water use policies. In the past, Starbucks has covered up environmental embarrassments with vague promises to build more energy-efficient stores and cut carbon emissions. Now the coffee company is making a legitimate attempt to do right by the environment with a plan to make sure that all single-use cups are recyclable by 2012. But Starbucks isn’t stopping there; the company is using systems thinking to ensure that the entire life cycle of the cup –from factory to recycling bin–is sustainable.
As most readers know, Sustainable Brands 2009 is just around the corner and if you haven’t registered yet, now is the time to do so with a generous 20% discount by using the code “trprsp09″ right here. If you’re not able to make it to the entire conference, an excellent one day alternative on Monday, June 1st. Admission to the unconference, which also includes access to the ongoing trade expo for all three days, is only $99. However, Sustainable Life Media has generously given us a handful of free unconference passes for people who can commit to leading an interesting conversation during the day. An unconference is a set of casual (powerpoint-free) conversations which are moderated by anyone with a good idea. That’s where you come in. Here’s how it works. Sign on to our unconference wiki here. (the sign-up instructions are in the right-hand sidebar). Have a look at the proposals which people have submitted. Then, simply edit the wiki page to add your proposal. Be careful not to over-write someone else’s proposal. Once you’re done, send us a message via Twitter with #3p #sb09 in it mentioning your unconference topic. We’ll follow up with you and get a free unconference pass to you while they last. If you’re feeling shy, then you can still qualify for a pass, just let us know via Twitter that you’re interested and we’ll put you in the running.
If deliveries completely replaced shopping in “distant stores” there might be a 80 to 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions, according to George Monbiot in his 2007 book, Heat. Monbiot acknowledged that will not happen. However, delivery only grocery stores have a lower overhead because you do not need displays, cash registers, and “fancy packaging.” Monbiot calls delivery only stores the “warehouse model,” and believes that it “allows far more companies to play.” Online grocery store, SPUD (Small Potatoes Urban Delivery) would agree. SPUD describes itself as “an organic grocery delivery company.” It delivers 100 percent organic fruits and vegetables. Fifty percent of its grocery products are organic, and do not contain additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. Any animal products come from suppliers who do not use hormones or antibiotics. The delivery is free for most orders, and the company claims its prices are “competitive.” Most of their produce is brought in and delivered within 24 hours.
By Lisa Bingham When I first found out about BALLE’s conference in Denver, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. A conference on sustainability in Denver, my home town? Sure! Sign me up! Then I started wondering, just what is BALLE? And what are these living economies they are supporting? BALLE, I soon found out, is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a national networking organization that provides opportunities for people involved in the business community to connect at a local level. It brings together small business owners, economic developers, government officials, and other interested members of an area, providing an opportunity to share ideas, give support, and work together to make their community a better place. There are chapters all across the United States and Canada, and they are all working to support their local economies in a more sustainable way.
A while ago I posted about Tony Hsieh’s inspiring keynote address at last March’s South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, TX. I had hoped to have the video up then, but it wasn’t available until more recently. If there’s one thing worth spending 15 minutes on today, it’s watching Tony’s talk – whether you’re a manager, an entrepreneur or just someone who thinks companies can be run better. Here it is in two parts, the second after the jump. Enjoy and let us know what you think!
Though the economic news continues to be shaky, innovation hasn’t disappeared. In fact, at events like the New Venture Exchange, it’s being celebrated. As we reported earlier, this is a chance for consumer oriented green start ups to get seen by some of the most influential people in the green business realm, at the Sustainable Brands conference. Among other things, one will get an iPhone application created for them by green mobile app developer, 3rdWhale Media, complete with a strategic analysis on how to extend their brand on a mobile platform, together a value of $30,000. 3rdWhale, creator of the first location based green business finder, and Greenpeace’s first mobile app, has decided to open up the decision making process to the public, creating a Facebook forum for you to learn about the contenders and vote for which one you think deserves the app, all votes to be submitted by June 1st.
As we here at Triple Pundit are all about exposing new start ups to the world, here’s a quick summary of all 9 contenders:
When Obama first came out in support of electric cars, the opposition quickly attacked these vehicles as nothing more than “glorified golf carts.” They loved it. They used it as an opportunity to scare the public into believing that the only electric cars available were Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). These electric vehicles, also known as “Low Speed Vehicles” are basically 4-wheeled vehicles with a top speed of more than 20 mph, but not more than 25 mph. Now we know the truth. We know that at this very moment, there are electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles in development and on the road that are not glorified golf carts, but rather highly efficient vehicles that really represent the future of personal transportation.
There’s a lot going on with David de Rothschild, and not all of it is TV glitz, eco-PR and his highly-publicized bid to become the world’s leading “adventure ecologist.” Yes, he is one of those Rothschilds–a handsome, 30-year-old heir to the famed European banking fortune. He’s the guiding light behind the Adventure Ecology eco-community and also the star/host of the Sundance Channel’s aptly named Eco-Trip show, which features a mostly bemused, angry or surprised de Rothschild confronting various ecological topics and absurdities on a weekly basis. One of his recent shows spotlighted the obscene amount of land devastation that goes into the mining and making of a simple gold ring. But the thing that is getting him the most publicity is his Plastiki Expedition. Click to continue reading »
San Francisco: Sep 2 – Sep 5 SOCAP 2014 Dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good. Our unique approach emphasizes cross-sector convening and gathers voices across a broad spectrum to catalyze unexpected connections. Register here.
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