I have a confession: when it comes to cooking with all-natural foods, I’m not terribly picky. As long as I don’t perceive a food to have pesticides sprayed all over it, I’m pretty content to eat it. And, without much rhyme or reason, if a product comes in a can or a box, I usually feel no need to buy its (usually more expensive) all-natural alternative. However, I recently came across a product line that could change my mind: Naturally Nora® desserts, a line of all-natural boxed cake mixes. Naturally Nora® products have so many standout features I almost couldn’t not make the switch. However, a few issues could hold me back (and other consumers, I imagine): hype, price, and taste. What is the cost-benefit analysis here, and what is its relevance to the larger all-natural food market?Click to continue reading »
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And coming soon to a theater near you, there is No Impact Man the documentary, the chronicles of an “extreme” one-year experiment to answer the question, “Is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?”
The clip drew me in—Colin Beavan, a writer for Business Week, decides to completely eliminate his personal impact on the environment for the next year.
The No Impact Project means eating vegetarian, buying only local food and turning off the refrigerator. It also means no elevators, no television, no cars, buses, or airplanes, no toxic cleaning products, no electricity, no material consumption and no garbage.
Hard enough for one single person, but complicated by the fact that he and his family live in Manhattan.
Click to continue reading »
Many people have all but written off the once booming “Motor City.” With a poverty rate of 32 percent and a population that has shrunk from 2 million to under 900,000, the auto capital of the world has become our nation’s most depressed metropolis. Today, as more and more people flee the city, it becomes harder to imagine what the future holds. Now having reached a bottom, Detroit has the opportunity to experience the same kind of revitalization that is slowly taking hold in New Orleans, which aims to be a clean, green model for the nation. Both cities experienced life-altering disasters. Hurricane Katrina, which killed thousands, decimated New Orleans in 2005 and the death of the auto industry, ruined the lives of many and left Detroit unrecognizable. The unlikely sister cities became ghost towns as long time residents fled homes and businesses in search of higher ground and greener pastures.
But before we entirely write off Detroit as an environmental wasteland, let’s look again, and try to imagine the possibilities.Click to continue reading »
Windspire wind turbines were present at President Obama’s inauguration festivities. The 30 foot tall and four foot wide wind turbines generate power when the wind blows against vertical airfoils, which is then converted to AC electricity. Each wind turbine produces about 2,000 kilowatt (KW) hours per year in 12 mph average winds, and includes wireless monitoring software so power production can be checked. The turbines are different than most as they are not a propeller based system, but feature “a uniquely narrow sleek design that harnesses power from the wind by spinning smoothly on its own center pole.”
Founded in 2005 in Reno, Nevada, Mariah Power launched its Windspire wind turbines last year. A Michigan plant began producing the wind turbines in April. The Windspire wind turbines were labeled the “Best of What’s New in 08” by Popular Science Magazine, and featured on the television show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and 20/20.Click to continue reading »
More evidence that Europe is advancing more rapidly than other regions on the environmental front: It is the largest waste-to-energy plants market in the world, with well-developed infrastructure and more than 429 such incinerator facilities, according the London research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
A new analysis from Frost, trenchantly titled European Waste to Energy Plants Market, also finds that this market earned revenue of 3.1 billion euros ($4.4 billion) last year.
The European Union’s push to shift away from landfills through its Landfill Directive “has indirectly helped the waste-to-energy business,” the report says. It has resulted in the planning and commissioning of many waste-to-energy plants over the last five years.Click to continue reading »
The US government is in the process of forming a new program designed to boost struggling home appliance manufacturers and retailers (and the environment) by spurring cautious consumers to buy energy efficient models. The program will reward consumers who buy qualifying Energy Star models of appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, etc…), hopefully increasing sales while reducing harm to the environment.
According to a report by the Baltimore Sun , the federal government has set aside $300 million in stimulus money, which it will give to states. Each state will develop its own reward program. Maryland, for example, which will receive $5.4 million dollars, is working with its utility companies already running appliance rebate programs to develop the new program. The government is encouraging states to include heating and cooling appliances and water heaters in the rebate system. All states must submit their plans to federal officials by October 15, and rebate money could be available by the end of this year or early next year.Click to continue reading »
Apparently, the carbon trading market – which has grown to more than $100 billion, the Washington Post reports – is attracting more than just businesses seeking viable ways to manage their CO2 emissions. Crooks, too, are drawn to carbon permit trading, as evidenced by last Wednesday’s arrest by British customs agents of nine people in the London area suspected of a £38 million ($63 million) “carousel” carbon permit fraud. (This was the first carbon scam British Customs has uncovered.) What are the implications of this development on sustainability and business?Click to continue reading »
U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill replaced its clear plastic wrap, or shrink wrap, with rubber bands in all its food product deliveries. The company has reduced its use of shrink wrap in its Fort Mill operations by 11 percent and saved almost $8,000. U.S. Food Service is one of the largest food delivery companies with over 43,000 national, private label and signature brands and over 250,000 customers.
The rubber bands used are not the average type, according to Dan Harris, President of U.S. Foodservice-Fort Mill. “They are about 1/16 inch thick and can stretch to fit around a pallet up to 4 feet by 4 feet. While we can’t replace shrink wrap in every situation, the decrease in plastic wrap use has been significant, amounting to reductions of more than 100,000 pounds of wrap per year.”
(image from Aero Rubber company)
By Shripal Shah
Last week I had some fascinating conversations with folks at the Green Software Unconference held at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. This event, which brought various folks from both inside and outside the software industry, showcased a growing interest in creating new software solutions that have an ecologically minded purpose.
Right now, Green Software is loosely defined as any sort of software application that can help lessen our impact on the environment. These include monitoring systems that achieve operational efficiency within an organization, more complex information management, or data integration and business intelligence applications that assist businesses in becoming more sustainable.Click to continue reading »
When the notice landed in my inbox that the EPA would be holding regular green bloggers roundtables, I was stoked. A chance to engage with one of the world’s biggest government agencies dedicated to environmental protection? How cool!
The e-mail included a list of suggested topics they planned to cover: sustainable design, solar energy, indoor air quality,
testing your home for radon, sun protection, and alt fuels. It also called for requests for other topic ideas. I suggested: reducing water toxicity and air pollution in the manufacturing process, cradle to cradle production and implications of new carbon legislation for businesses.
So I was a bit bummed when the invitation to the kick-off event arrived. How to Lessen the Impact of Back to School Shopping. While this isn’t directly in the 3P sphere, I figured I would attend just to support their new efforts. I know it’s a bit scary for a big government organization to interact with bloggers and I know they have to start somewhere.
Sadly, the roundtable was just about as groundbreaking as it’s title suggests. It covered such topics as the importance of reusing last year’s school supplies and buying in bulk. Nevertheless I don’t want to be too critical here, because I sure am excited about the possibility that regular briefings such as these could become a frequent occurrence. I just hope they become a bit more relevant!
[UPDATE] Suzanne Ackerman from the EPA contacted me to let me know she was reading. She wanted me to let the readers know that the listing of future roundtables can be found here if any bloggers are interested in attending future events. She also welcomes your ideas and requests for inclusion via twitter @suzack777. Yay Suzanne!
So I turn to you, readers, if you could talk to an EPA expert, what would you want to talk about?
UPDATE: Unilever has denied the claim that it’s developing a room temperature ice cream. Given all the buzz this story has created, it seems like a good idea for the next R&D cycle!
Chances are you’re an ice cream fan. Maybe you even consider yourself the real emperor of ice cream or at least an expert on its tasty and sensual proclivities. Maybe you love your mate more than chocolate ice cream itself, or maybe it’s a close call but you’ll never admit it either way.
Perhaps you don’t know that one multinational company, Unilever, makes most of the world’s favorite ice cream brands. Brands like Klondike, Good Humor, Breyers and Popsicle. Even Ben & Jerry’s resides in the Unilever stable. The company is the world’s largest ice cream producer.
So when its scientists pursue warm ice cream as a way to address global warming, we should take notice: dessert could become more guilt-free for everyone. They are developing a low-carbon product that would be sold at room temperature and then frozen at home.
It seems like an excellent idea, one that would take the added cost of storing, handling and shipping ice cream in its traditional frozen state out of the equation at the manufacturer’s end of the supply chain. If it’s produced, sold and shipped at room temperature then some of those costly and energy-intensive factors have melted away.Click to continue reading »
If you’re like me, the title of this post alone got your blood at least a degree closer to the boiling point. Unfortunately, the story only gets worse. The ambiguously titled “American Energy Alliance,” one of numerous anti-energy reform groups cropping up lately, is the brainchild of ex-Enron speechwriter Robert Bradley. I guess there is life after Enron…. Yet I hope, for the well-being of the sustainable business movement, that Bradley’s newfound hobby is short-lived, or at least unsuccessful.Click to continue reading »
A recent Los Angeles Times headline could easily appear in the News of the Weird: “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Seeks Trial on Global Warming.” Absurd? Yes. A business-environment intersection we’d rather not see? Yes. True? Yes: in hopes of preventing potentially sweeping limits on emissions, the Chamber is pushing the EPA to try the scientific evidence for man-made climate change.Click to continue reading »