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Plastic bags account for 50 percent of the plastic trash in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River. In order to decrease the amount of plastic bags in the Anacostia, the D.C. Council proposed legislation that would put a five cents tax on disposable shopping bags. Eleven council members co-introduced it, and according to a Washington Post article, that almost guarantees it will become law.
Social service groups and plastic bag manufacturers have joined forces in opposing the legislation, arguing that the tax will be a hardship for poor people.
Photo Source: Dwell
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Flowers show people that you care about them, but in doing so we show neglect for wider environmental and social issues related to the cut flower industry. Giving Plants, an online plant delivery service, offers customers the chance to give a long-lasting gift to loved ones in a more sustainable and socially responsible way.
The idea is to completely change how we gift give. Conveniently, the company organizes plant deliveries with online and phone orders, and organizes plants by occasion, price, holiday, and of course by the plant species itself. For example, if one wanted to mimic giving flowers, the “Flowering Plants” selection provides the option to deliver plants “in bud, ready to open, offering a colorful display that will brighten any home or office.” But giving plants goes beyond providing a convenient delivery service; it allows us to invest in a local business with high green credentials, a business that grows plants responding to the seasons in the United States, for distribution in the United States.
It’s is an economical and more ecological option for gift delivery, but best of all it allows us to move away from the cut-flower choice, where gifts may come loaded with uncertain impacts.
Nick Aster, founder of 3P, has been awarded the distinction Best Green Media Architect by Treehugger in their inaugural “Best of Green” awards for his work on Triple Pundit and Mother Jones magazine.
It’s a testament to his modesty that he doesn’t want me to post this — but I just thought you all would like to know!
What fuels a successful philanthropic program is not merely the alignment of a cause to core company values, but partnerships with organizations who help to deliver that giving experience for customers. By working with partners who can solidify the purpose behind the program, companies can benefit from increased brand loyalty, customer retention and sales, all centered upon making a tangible difference.
San Francisco-based JustGive.org, founded in 2000 by Harvard graduate Kendall Webb, was among the first nonprofit organizations to harness the power of the Web for online giving, and has developed a turnkey solution for companies to expand — and manage — their corporate giving efforts. JustGive is guided by its mission to connect people with the causes they care about most and driven by the desire to make charitable giving safe and easy for donors. In the past decade, JustGive has generated $80 million for tens of thousands of charities, and is recognized by Forbes as one of the Best of the Web for charitable giving.
Using their proprietary technology platform, JustGive can develop philanthropic programs that bring consumers and brands together toward a common goal through the following channels:
- Charity Giving Portals
: JustGive can develop a customized giving program that complements a company’s brand and is seamlessly integrated with their website.
- Charity Gift Cards
: JustGive charity gift cards are a meaningful and eco-friendly way to show a company’s commitment to social responsibility. This alternative to tangible trinkets never expires and are redeemable for any charity accessible through JustGive.org.
- Credit Card Reward Programs
: Within many reward redemption programs, JustGive enables users to give their rewards as direct cash to their favorite charity, and the selected charity receives 100% of the donation.
Together, JustGive and companies can create meaningful encounters for consumers designed to make social action simple, memorable and measurable. It also allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility, and a vested interest in their cause, through ongoing efforts where they can ensure the greatest impact. In turn, consumers remain connected to brand and cause where all they have to do is just give.Click to continue reading »
This is the first in a series of posts about incorporating sustainability into your business model by sustainability expert Heather Gadonniex. Stay tuned for weekly, step-by-step tips on how you can Modernize Business Through Sustainable Strategy™.
What Is Sustainability?
What is all this buzz around green anyway? Some choose to think of “green” only in terms of the environment. However, I encourage you to think beyond green and incorporate a social dimension into your green initiatives. This merging of environment, society, and economy brings us to the idea of sustainability. According to Webster’s Dictionary, sustainable means “capable of being sustained.” When we take this definition and apply it to the environment and society, sustainability can mean a multitude of things. We can use it to describe resources used in a way that does not take more from the earth than can be replenished or to describe a company that empowers workers to be innovative and balanced. Sustainability can also describe a society or business that energizes people to be productive contributors to their communities. In short, sustainability is about balancing the intricate cyclic systems of ecology, economy, and society.
By applying the same cyclical approach to our business systems, we can help ensure that we will have a continuous supply of resources, rather than depleting them and leaving nothing but waste. Instead of devouring resources and leaving nothing useful afterward, we want to return those resources to the cycle so they can continue to be productive. For example, when we use water, instead of polluting it with waste products so that it is no longer usable, we want to be aware of what we mix into our water supply and clean it before we put it back into the system. This protects our neighbors as well as our planet. We can replicate this idea with any resource we use, including human capital.
Each Tuesday night, my family’s recycling bin sits at the curb, brimming with paper, plastic and metallic packaging. Some of these materials ensure the freshness of the foods we buy – not to mention the ability to transport easily them home, but a good chunk of the stuff we recycle has no utility and seems designed only to market the product.
Fortunately, retailers and manufacturers are starting to realize that consumers want products, not unneeded packaging. The UK grocery startup Unpackaged is even capitalizing on this sentiment. And now Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer, is taking an innovative step to reduce packaging, as well.
The company is conducting a six-week pilot test at two of its stores in Guildford and Illminister. During the trials, customers will be able to remove and leave behind any of the packaging they’d rather not take home. Tesco will then study what is left behind and make efforts to eliminate the most commonly off-cast elements.
There are thousands of nonprofits in this country: organizations as big as the NRDC and Greenpeace and as small and locally focused as Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Committee or the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. How do you know which ones are making a difference? Which ones have strong reputations in their community? And which ones provide a worthwhile experience for their corporate volunteers?
While Charity Navigator has the market cornered on independent reviews, a new player on the scene aims to let individuals share their experiences a la yelp. Founded by nonprofit expert Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits is a site where everyday people can share their opinions and experiences with nonprofit organizations.
SF Mayor Gavin Newsom made the point a few weeks ago that upgrading older buildings to green standards was more important than building new green buildings. That cue has been taken in New York today as the Empire State Building announced a $20 million project to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions – a contract won by 3P favorite Johnson Controls with the help of the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Clinton Global Initiative.
The building will be fitted top to bottom with a variety of improvements. Everything from low tech radiator covers to internet-based ‘tenant energy management’ is being pulled into the equation. But what’s most impressive about the project is the estimated savings – over $4.4 Million a year – a 38% reduction in energy use. Regardless of one’s environmental mission, that’s barely a 5 year payback, then a lot of money in the building owners’ pockets. But there’s lots more:
The New Google Ventures Fund Is Good News for Clean Tech Startups
Google is once again leading the pack, now trying its hand at VC-style investing. The search engine giant has announced it will apply its considerable resources to build innovative new business ideas through its new technology investment fund, Google Ventures. The fund is looking for entrepreneurs who are tackling problems in “creative and innovative” ways, and will target early-stage firms in the clean technology, consumer internet services, biotechnology, and healthcare sectors.
The new Venture arm expands Google’s commitment to clean tech, and follows a series of investments in various low-carbon projects by its philanthropic arm Google.org. Google.org’s clean energy investments have been primarily in the area of renewable energy and technologies that will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in electric vehicles. The new Google Venture fund will take a broader approach with the initial mission of “building great companies and generating long term financial return.” Also unlike Google.org’s philanthropic investing, the new venture fund will look for significant financial returns from its portfolio companies. Click to continue reading »
Last month at a peace rally, I saw a woman with a sign that read “where is my social progress?” and she got me thinking…. Where is social progress if not in socially active individuals? I thought of Margret Mead’s famous quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens could change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Inspired, I decided to take a plunge into social entrepreneurship and incorporate a new kind of socially beneficial company called an “L3C.” An “L3C” is an acronym for Low-profit, Limited Liability Company. An L3C is run like a regular business and is profitable, yet unlike a standard LLC, the L3C has primary charitable goals. To date, only Vermont and Michigan have ratified the legality of the L3C business model.
My L3C formation process was very simple. I chose a name “The Regenerative Group, L3C.” I filed the Vermont Secretary of State papers stating that my company’s charter is “to develop family education and outreach programs supporting the mission, vision and values of the sustainability movement”, and I paid the $75 processing fee with a check in the mail. I thought: “that was easy,” but I was warned: before I raise start-up capital and kick up my socially beneficial operations I should wait to hear what the IRS will say about the tax implications of the new legal entity: L3C.
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By Rebecca Greenberg
It has happened to all of us: during college, your cousin gave you his second-hand armoire, which you gratefully accepted because you were broke and didn’t care about how your place looked. But now you’ve grown up, you’re making a little money and you want to put a stylish spin on your apartment. So, what to do with the armoire? You could put it out on the corner with a sign that says “Free! Gratis!” Or you could haul it to the dump. Neither option is great, but a new alternative is becoming increasingly popular: retail salvage yards. In an effort to recycle items headed to landfills, to turn a profit and to create green-collar jobs, more and more facilities are popping up that offer an array of “salvaged design components” otherwise known as Lifestyle trash. Lifestyle trash is the cool, rusted wheel that is now the base of your coffee table. It’s the wine barrel that is serving as a planter in your backyard. It’s your deckchair that lived in a middle school classroom in its previous life. Lifestyle trash is chic and attractive for several reasons: it costs next to nothing, it saves things from being thrown away and, with a little elbow grease and some spray paint, it looks really cool.
Companies that sell lifestyle trash and other sorts of salvaged materials are appearing all over the nation. Perhaps the most notable example is Urban Ore, in Berkeley, California. Urban Ore has three acres of indoor and outdoor space that is chock-full of everything from antique toilets to computers to vintage bikes. Another fine example is Ohmega Salvage, an upscale purveyor of architectural salvage items: Victorian doors, art deco chandeliers and apothecary bottles.
From a business point of view, these lifestyle trash companies are a true example of a triple bottom line business model.
With the increasing likelihood of a federally mandated system for regulating carbon emissions (aka “cap and trade”), it is becoming apparent that businesses will soon be required to implement accounting measures to report on their emissions of greenhouse gases. A cornerstone measurement to be required in this process will be the consumption of services and products that require the use of fossil fuels.
This type of consumption tracking is entirely new to many businesses and consumers. Steps taken now to develop in-house capabilities or forming outside partnerships to account for carbon emissions will ensure the long-term success of your organization assuming the new laws come into place.
Executives Lay out the Ten Challenges to Green Corporate Travel The first-ever Green Travel Summit ended this week with a group of executives identifying the biggest obstacles to traveling greener. It’s great that they met, and kind of a bummer than they ended on such a down note. Rest assured, Jet Blue has the solution!
Green Biz has the Scoop on the Most Wasteful Cities in America. The report was sponsored by Nalgene, who just *might* be hoping to get some of these cities to break their Aqua Fina addiction.
Brussels Says “Turn Out the Lights, You Think I’m Made of Money?” Frustrated by waste from lights turned on nation-wide, Brussels considers a ban on incandescent lightbulbs. My father would be so proud of their thrift.
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How do you tell the difference between truly eco-conscious brands and those that just fake it? It’s a hard thing to do without extensive research. According to a newly released study from branding and marketing firm BBMG, nearly one in four U.S. consumers say they have no way of knowing if a product is green or actually does what it claims–in other words, there’s a serious green trust gap between companies and consumers.
It’s not that people aren’t interested in environmentally sound products. BBMG’s study, entitled Conscious Consumer Report: Redefining Value in a New Economy, shows that 77% of Americans think they “can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies.” But most people don’t trust product packaging and company advertising to guide them in the right direction. Instead, consumers look to certification seals and labels as well as ingredient lists to determine whether products are actually green.
Last week, Brazilian President Luiz In√°cio Lula da Silva, or Lula as he is affectionately referred to, announced a plan to build 1,000,000 homes in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Favelas, as they are called in Portuguese, are large slums that dominate the cityscapes of Rio de Janeiro, S√£o Paulo, and other major Brazilian cities. Rio’s favelas are located in some of the most picturesque parts of the city, creating a tragic juxtaposition between the rampant crime, drug trafficking, and violence that plague the slums.
Lula’s new plan is an attempt to return a bit of order to areas that have been living in chaos for generations. Most inhabitants of favelas live in makeshifts homes that would be condemned in any other part of the world, ripping off electricity and other utilities from neighbors or neighboring municipalities. The streets of the slums resultantly end up looking like tangled spider webs of multi-colored extension cords, ropes, and cables from above.
What is different about this particular project, however, is not the scope – though 1,000,000 homes may seem like a lot, it barely starts to address the needs of a country that is quickly catapulting to the top of the world’s stat sheets for both poverty and population – but the material with which the homes will be erected.
Working with British green technology incubator, Ultra Green Group, the homes will be constructed from an eco-friendly concrete that is comprised of used bullet casings. Click to continue reading »