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By Kevin Whilden
Imagine Surfboards has developed new surfboard manufacturing techniques to build more “ecologically friendly” surfboards at reasonable cost and with superior performance on the waves. The boards are made from recycled polystyrene cores (e.g. used coffee cups), “glassed” with bamboo cloth, and have bamboo fins. Imagine has started winning major awards for its innovative designs and sales are skyrocketing. It appears that ecological surfboards have that “cool factor” which can wield significant influence on the market place, and the surfboard company’s suppliers are improving their environmental performance as a direct result of Imagine’s green approach.
Surfing is one sport that desperately needs to make being “green” more “cool.” It is immensely popular, with USA sales alone estimated at $7.5B in 2006. However, sustainable branding and ecologically friendly products are notably absent from the surfing industry, which is surprising considering that pollution and sea level rise directly harm the very waves upon which the industry thrives. It seems like a no-brainer for the industry to rapidly move to a more pro-actively environmental stance, but risk-averse major surfboard manufacturers are still promoting 1960′s board construction technology that is highly toxic to workers and the environment — because that is what sells best. It seems that the bigger the profits, the bigger the resistance to change. We have heard that one before.
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The start of Sustainability 2.0 picks up where Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth leaves off: Climate change and sustainability are realities, not just the obsessions or paranoia of a few scientists or activitsts. Sustainability is, rather, the urging to live within our means, to take a much more common sensical approach to the way we live our lives and interact with the world around us. It is the common sense that “impels us to turn off the lights when we leave home and to not leave the tap running while we brush our teeth.”
Sustainability 2.0 is a 205-page compendium of the sustainability movement. It is the recent effort by Ernesto van Peborgh and El Viaje de Odiseo (Odyssey’s Journey), a sustainabilty and new media consultancy group based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
It starts with establishing the framework laid down at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, through the nascency of the current iteration of the sustainability movement in the 1990s, to the current trends and issues we face today, including the intersection of sustainability and “participative” media.
Sustainability 2.0 is a very linear, logical look at the trends of the past generation and how they affect the challenges we face as a society. It summarizes the theories of major green influencers, such as Malcolm Gladwell, John Elkington, Ray Anderson, Paul Hawken, Yvon Chouinard, Anita Roddick, and the minds behind the The Cluetrain Manifesto, as well as includes lesser-known anecdotes such as a case study of a mine in Argentine Patagonia.
The following is a short post from Opportunity Fund Founder and CEO, Eric Weaver. Opportunity Fund is producing the now sold out Microfinance California, on May 28th at Stanford. If you are finding out about it for the first time now, don’t kick yourself too hard, you can still catch the webcast tomorrow. -Ryan and rest of the 3p Team
As the federal government shells out hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up failing financial institution, with no end in sight, there’s one sector that is not only in the bloom of health, but is offering hope and help to many around the world.
Many people know of microfinance as a successful strategy for overseas development, but don’t realize that microfinance has been helping low income people in the US for the last ten years. Now, in the wreckage of the recession, the country is looking for fresh strategies for fighting poverty and patching income loss. Microfinance is about to become one of the significant solutions on the table.
This month my organization, Opportunity Fund, is co-sponsoring California’s first ever microfinance summit. The sold-out conference takes place on Thursday, May 28 at Stanford University. Participants — both those who want to lend a helping hand through investing in new entrepreneurs, and those who have their own great ideas for starting small businesses – - will learn about the power and potential of microfinance.
The conference webcast will be available live at 9:00 am PST, when Premal Shah, Founder of Kiva.org will join John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s CEO for the opening keynote: microfinancecalifornia.org/webcast/.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Speaks at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed a gathering of global business leaders last week in Copenhagen for the World Summit on Climate Change. As the international community prepares for the COP-15 talks this December, Ki-moon called on business leaders to “lead by example” with ingenuity and vision that others, “including governments,” lack.
Secretary General Ki-moon characterized climate change as a “grave global threat” putting humanity at one of its most critical moments in history. With this grave threat comes incredible opportunities that “we must seize.”
“We need your voice, your influence, and your example,” he said, to help “seal a deal in December.” To that end, the Secretary General asked business leaders to sign the Copenhagen Call, issued at the conclusion of the meeting, to help send a message to policy makers and the public.
Following is video highlight of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s address followed by the full text of his speech:
If you’ve ever been to a trade show in Vegas, you probably have seen a “booth babe.” This cringe-inducing term is meant to describe the attractive female representatives that many companies hire to hawk their products at trade shows. Well, I saw a couple booth babes, so to speak, at a green business conference last week. I did a double-take.
It was all in good fun. The women were dressed in mini-dresses made of superfluous packaging materials and they were successful in their efforts to attract people to a booth about a new project launched by the green-minded website Greenopolis (a subsidiary of Waste Management) in partnership with Whole Foods. The pilot project is called Re-Source and it’s designed to improve recycling rates of PET plastic bottles by offering incentives to consumers.
Here’s the idea: Re-Source creates PET beverage containers made with 25 percent recycled PET. These bottles are used for sales of Re-Source-branded bottled water and sold at Whole Foods. Consumers then bring the empty bottles back to Whole Foods and deposit them in a collection box provided by GreenOps. The consumer earns store credit for each empty bottle returned (a bar code scanner built into the collection box is used to count the returns). The more Re-Source bottles the Re-Source people can collect, the higher percentage of recycled content they can use in making new bottles.
Coffea charrieriana, one of 2008′s “most interesting new species discovered by scientists”, is the first known coffee plant that contains no caffeine. It was discovered in Cameroon, where an extremely wide variety of coffee plants exist.
Under the common name Charrier coffee, the plant was named after a scientist who managed coffee breeding research in central Africa’s diverse jungles for 30 years. Scientists posit that the new species could be used for breeding naturally caffeine-free coffees.
There is potential for this plant to replace the methylene chloride chemical extraction process used in most coffee production to remove caffeine (methylene chloride is a potential carcinogen and pollutant). How big is the market for decaf coffee?Click to continue reading »
If you’ve spent any time on the social web, you’ve probably come across Geoff Livingston, marketing strategist, communicator and PR pro with a no nonsense approach to business. He’s best known for his decisive commentary on the social media space at The Buzz Bin, recognized by the Washington Post as one of the top ranked marketing blogs in the region, and co-author of the book, “Now is Gone,” a primer on new media for executives and entrepreneurs. Signature photos of him atop his trusty motorcycle are likely a close second! But above all, Geoff is known for getting things done, and is using his power for good in igniting social change for clients and advising nonprofits on harnessing technology to advance their causes. He has also been working with Qui Diaz and Beth Kanter on the concept of Philanthropy 2.0, and recently published the results of their Social Media for Social Causes Study.
For all these reasons, I thought Geoff would be the perfect person to comment on the recent market shift toward a more philanthropic enterprise model as part of this series, but the following quote cinched the deal for me:
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“Corporate America has come under the spotlight for immoral behavior. Americans are tired of profiteering and empty promises to our communities. In the 21st century, companies have to do more. Philanthropic intent must be backed with action.”
WNSF West Coast Summit Explores the Convergence of Businesswomen, Technology and Sustainability
Silicon Valley’s businesswomen gathered on Thursday, May 21, at the Intel Headquarters in Santa Clara to discuss the topic of “Clean Tech’s Advantage for Growth.” The gathering was the first West Coast Summit held by the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF). Attendees explored how clean tech can help organizations achieve their sustainability goals and discussed the unique contribution businesswomen can make to this effort.
WNSF is “committed to three things: women, business and sustainability,” said Ann Goodman, the WNSF Executive Director, in her opening remarks. The New York-based non-profit provides opportunities, like the West Coast Summit, for business and professional women to meet, reflect and act on the issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.
We all celebrate and honor Memorial Day and our veterans in different ways. Be it rolling thunderously on your motorcycle into the nation’s capitol, barbecuing in your backyard, or finding an excuse to sleep in, here’s a little bit of silliness that has been floating around the interweb for the past couple of weeks to help you start your Memorial Day off with a smile on your face.
Here’s a clip of author and perennial food advocate, Michael Pollan’s recent appearance on The Colbert Report:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
And from the Onion…
Germans Making “Green” Bombs
Scientists in Germany are experimenting with new environmentally friendly explosives to use in combat. What do you think?
Read the rest here at the Onion’s American Voices.
On the contrary, having recently passed review by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Reps. Waxman and Markey’s “American Clean Energy and Security Act” is already shot through with enough in the way of subsidies, giveaways and allowances to coal and oil interests to make the bill as much a “Subsidize Coal and Oil” bill as it is a “Clean Energy & Climate Change” bill.
Despite the best efforts of the bill’s sponsors, if the practical economic outcome of the clean energy and security legislation is to produce price signals across the power sector and broader economy that will result in significant reductions in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like it’s going to be woefully, if not fatally, flawed. Click to continue reading »
Although my meager investments have taken a nose dive lately (whose haven’t?), there’s one extra detail that still consistently bugs me – huge 100-page proxy statements sent to shareholders which are invariably tossed in the trash (yeah, maybe a few people recycle them). Even if I thought my voice amounted to much, the last thing I need is another tome in the mail – recycled or not. The idea of being able to vote for something meaningful with my shares matters – a lot. So why is it difficult to vote for an elimination of paper documents to make this happen?
Well, today I got an impressive piece of mail from E*Trade, my primary broker, remarkably smaller than usual in weight, urging me to “make a positive impact on my investment … while reducing the negative impact on the environment.” I took the time to open it and read the fine print, offering me an online way to vote for the board of directors of one of my many poor-performing holdings while sparing me the need to fly to god-knows-where to cast my vote in person. Most interestingly, however, once I logged in, I was quickly offered a chance to decline all paper statements from the company, be they resolutions, proxy statements, or anything else.
Now, that’s not only great news for the planet, it’s great news for the company bottom line, and it actually makes me think my vote might matter – if for no other reason than it makes it that much more visible to me. Haven’t we crossed the threshold wherein paperless communication should be the default, rather than the opt-in? My wounded investments say yes, and I say thanks E*Trade for helping me get there.
Scott Cooney here in Denver reporting live on day 3 of the 2009 BALLE conference. I have continued to be incredibly impressed by the level of commitment to green and sustainable communities by this network of locally owned businesses. From the outside looking in, BALLE and other groups of independent, locally-owned businesses are not green by definition. However, in reality, there are few more powerful forces for positive change than these associations.
Think about it. Buying locally sends less money out of the area. Of course, it also means more jobs for the local area. These are well-known and documented facts. It also just makes sense that shortening the supply chain of the products you buy lowers its carbon footprint. In addition, locally owned businesses are much more likely to donate to local environmental and other non-profits, by some estimates 350% more.
And what other organization is going to represent the real economy in Washington? The big business community that is represented by the US Chamber of Commerce, which most media looks to for the business community’s position on issues like labor and climate change, cloud the issues around economic development and don’t have us and our communities in their best interest. We at Triple Pundit have news for you, people: that ain’t the real business community. What I’m witnessing here at BALLE is the real business community…entrepreneurs, Americans with a dream, people with values that include improving their local community. Yes, BALLE represents that hope, that someday the business community that is quoted in the media will be speaking from main street, USA, not from some faraway place. And it may be our best hope of ending taxpayer subsidies for big box development and other forms of corporate welfare.
I’m back in the saddle after two weeks of MBA finals. Thanks so much to Scott Cooney for filling in for me on my weekly duties. Onward!
First and foremost, to all our readers in the Bay Area, the 3p team is honoring four local business authors and kicking off the summer with a happy hour at Temple Nightclub on Tuesday night, May 26th. See details and RSVP via facebook here, or let us know you’re coming via Twitter – #3p. 6-9pm.
Real Climate Bill Passes House Committee! Waxman Markey will move to the floor for a vote in August. This bill will be criticized by some for not being more stringent, but the fact that an actual, binding emissions bill passed out of committee in the US congress would have been all but unimaginable last year. Waxman Markey sets national emissions reductions of 20 percent by 2020, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050, using 2005 as a baseline. More importantly, the fact that the bill passed out of committee and will go to the floor for debate sets the stage for a national conversation about our collective responsibility to mitigate climate change.
Green Designers and Green Design Enthusiasts Flood San Francisco 3P friends from Greener World Media threw a smash bang conference on the future off innovative design for the environment. William McDonough of Cradle to Cradle fame was the keynote, and designers from Method and Walmart, among others, were in attendance. Click the link above for a round up of Green Biz’s comprehensive coverage. Here is 3Ps ( start-ups, Method, HP)
Rapioli isn’t a new-fangled pasta, and Trula is not a women’s clothing line. But they are both innovative products that were among five entrants in the Innovator’s Showcase segment of this week’s Greener by Design conference in San Francisco.
Rapioli is made by a startup called Innovation 2 Industry and it provides a reusable packaging solution for closed-loop shipping applications (meaning items are shipped repeatedly between point a and b). The packaging is made of recycled PET (RPET) plastic and designed so that it can be shipped without any additional, external packaging. The system is available in four different sizes (ranging from 9 by 12 inches to 12 by 18 inches) and is comprised of a tray, that holds the goods being shipped, and two “pillow” enclosures, which wrap the goods in sturdy plastic and also provide cushioning. (More details here.) Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit is a proud sponsor of this year’s BALLE conference in Denver, CO, which is happening yesterday, today, and tomorrow. BALLE is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. And while membership in BALLE is not restricted to green businesses, green has certainly become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, driver for social innovation at this year’s conference.
Supporting and growing local economies and locally owned businesses, and creating communities has long been BALLE’s mantra. The statistics are well known: buying local creates good jobs; supports local entrepreneurs; increases the community tax base; and fights the causes of poverty, disease, and hunger. This community creates a ripe and fertile ground for seeds of the green economy to prosper, and BALLE’s 2009 conference has been inspiring for its focus on sustainability.
The conference opened with two keynote speakers last night that focused on rural economic development, with one story leading to the end of this joke: Did you know the toothbrush was invented in Hardwick, Vermont? Yeah, sure. Because if it was invented anywhere else, it would have been called the teethbrush. So why is no one laughing at this joke anymore in Vermont?