Is Earthkeepers Hero “Mission Possible” Mission Sustainable?

| Wednesday June 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Last week, in partnership with changents.com, Timberland released “Earthkeepers Hero ‘Mission Possible,'” furthering the company’s vision to develop Facebook applications that blur the line between virtual and real-world eco-action in order to catalyze an environmental movement of “do-ers” under the banner of Timberland Earthkeepers. Many brands, non-profits and social activism campaigns have begun to harness the power of the web in creating experiences designed to drive real life behavior, consciousness and goodwill. And the “game” element helps create memorable engagements that promote adoption of causes and lifestyle integration.
Akoha is another good example of this, giving players points for a variety of social change-related activities that they complete in the real world.
But the question becomes are games like these fads, fueled by initial hype, or do they have the potential to create sustainable change and elevate consumer consciousness of important social and environmental issues?

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Xerox : How Green is Your Print Job?

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday June 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

copier.JPG “Waste-free products from waste-free facilities”
The zero waste vision has been gaining steam lately. One of the most important strategies for this involves designing products and factories that don’t have large amounts of waste created in the manufacturing, use, and disposal of the product. Since 1991, Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX) has made significant progress in this area, often reducing waste by 90%.

Design for Reuse

The invention of interchangeable parts helped fuel the industrial revolution. The same concept can also greatly expands the end-of-use possibilities for products.
Instead of recycling parts, the many parts are cleaned, inspected, and put back to use. Products are designed with fewer parts and can be easily dissembled. According to Xerox, “A returned machine can be rebuilt as the same model through remanufacture, converted to a new model within the same product family, or used as a source of parts for next-generation models.”
Each part is built to last for numerous product life cycles and 70%-90% (of the products weight) is reused to make new products. This innovation requires forethought. Product families are designed with a core set of components that are used throughout.
The program has saved over 2 million pounds of waste from landfills. Remanufacturing is even better than recycling, because waste such as water and energy is also eliminated by not processing the materials.

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E3 Bank Intends to Invest in Green Businesses

Scott Cooney | Wednesday June 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

e3%20logo.gifPreviously on Triple Pundit, John Gartner covered the launch of a green bank that will provide loans with a Triple Bottom Line purpose and focus to green businesses and projects. Today at 3:30 EST, the bank is holding one of its investor webinars for those interested in owning E3 Bank stock and investing in changing the financial industry for the greener.

Sandy Wiggins, former chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, and Frank Baldassarre, Jr., a bank industry veteran, teamed up to launch E3 Bank, a bank that will give preferential loans to green projects, especially green building projects. The premise is that traditional lenders don’t understand the potential for Return on Investment in many green projects, and conform to strict lending principles which can sometimes penalize sustainability initiatives simply because they are new or different or both. Wiggins and Baldassarre, Jr. thought this was counter-intuitive: sustainability initiatives help improve the financial return of most long-term investments, which bank loans usually are. Traditional lenders just might not have figured that out yet.

There is sound logic. To put it in layman’s terms, if a green, LEED certified building has lower maintenance and utility costs (which it should), the monthly payment on the loan is easier to make because the owner has more money left over after other bills are paid. If the monthly payment is easier to make, the risk of default is reduced. If the risk of default is reduced, the bank is happy. If the bank is happy, loans can be offered at a lower rate. Which is exactly how E3 Bank plans to operate.

E3 offers a simple way to invest by letting people buy stock in E3 Bank. E3 has opened this opportunity to investors other than traditional Blueblood capitalists by setting the minimum investment at $5,000. This approach may help democratize E3 Bank in a way that beholdens them to more owners and more diverse owners, much in the same way small, internet based donations changed the face of the political landscape and allowed Barack Obama to raise tremendous amounts of money without having to raise it only from large donors with agendas that might not be in the best interest of the country.

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Microfinance: The Business Case for Poverty Alleviation

3p Contributor | Wednesday June 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Rebecca Busse
Doing well by doing good” is a commonly heard phrase in sustainability circles, and the Microfinance California Conference was no exception. Microfinance CA was held at Stanford University on May 28, 2009, and was remarkably well organized for a first effort. “Doing well by doing good” was spoken or alluded to by several of the conference sponsors, including Wells Fargo and Chevron, and the phrase could almost be the tagline for “Sustainability Marketing 101″. Julia Brown, the Community Reinvestment Act Officer for Charles Schwab, said this was her reason for attending the event. According to Brown, not only does microfinance encourage a strong community, it creates a strong future customer base. A common theme among conference presenters, microfinance is growing out of its nascent stage as a tool for poverty alleviation and into its adolescence as a financial investment tool that makes good business sense.

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Eco-stats On Travel, David Suzuki Style

Scott Cooney | Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Continuing a line of previous posts about terrific eco-stats coming from David Suzuki’s Green Guide (on energy and food), here is a summary of travel-related stats for the eco-conscious that can be used in marketing for any green entrepreneurs in the travel industry.
More Americans have died in car crashes than in all the wars fought in US history combined, including the bloodiest: Civil War, WW2, and Vietnam.
Children living near freeways suffer noticeable lung function decreases and 89% higher risk of asthma.
Cost of economic externalities (social and environmental) of our car-dependent culture are estimated at between $400 billion and $2 trillion annually. This does not include military protection of oil security.
The average Canadian spends 34 equivalents of 8 hour work days commuting each year.
Continued…

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Tetra Pak Promotes Packaged Sustainability, Part I

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 | 8 Comments

Tetra_Pak.jpgTetra Pak is a nearly 60-year-old packaging and food processing company. It’s likely that Tetra Pak wrapped up many of the products sitting in your kitchen cupboards right now. One of its flagship packaging products is the rugged, paper-based cartons that are widely used for selling soy milk, soups and other liquid food and beverages. Last week I participated in a twitter conference that Tetra Pak hosted in order to spread a message of sustainability around this packaging type, also called aseptic paper packaging.
I should add that after I signed up to participate in the twittercon, TetraPak sent me two sample products packaged in the aseptic Tetra Pak: a bottle (or rather, carton) of wine and a carton of chicken broth. (I’m a vegetarian, so I’m looking for a home for the chicken broth. I also think they could have sent a product that is less energy-intensive than chicken broth. But I digress.)

Along with this product, the company sent along some printed information about these Tetra Pak cartons. They are made of 74 percent paper. They are lightweight and make up a smaller packaging-to-product ratio than other packaging forms. In other words, glass and plastic weigh more, which means they require more energy to transport. The square dimension of the cartons make them efficient in terms of load space – you can often load more cartons on a pallet than cans and bottles, for example.

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Genomatica Announces Breakthroughs in Bio-Manufacturing

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Does “1,4 butanediol” ring any bells for you? Unless you’re a chemist, it probably doesn’t. But this compound is used in making many of the plastics and fibers that we use every day. This important building block of modern-day materials is created from petroleum-derived material. Aside from making it a non-renewable resource, this also makes the cost of 1,4 butanediol highly volatile, since it fluctuates with the cost of oil. But San Diego startup Genomatica aims to change all that; it has developed a means of using sugars and bacteria to create this common industrial chemical.
The company, which announced its discovery last fall, says it has now refined its processing system and is ready to begin producing commercial grade BDO. It also announced that it plans on taking its process out of the lab and into a demonstration facility that will begin churning out the chemical next year. The company has also shown that it can increase the concentrations of bacteria needed to ferment and purify 1,4 butanediol in large quantities, which will allow it to compete with makers of petroleum-based 1,4 butanediol in terms of scale.

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Can Complimentary Currencies Stimulate the Economy at Large?

3p Contributor | Tuesday June 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

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By Lisa Bingham
Economics is all about connecting our needs or wants with resources. Most of us associate that exchange as happening with the exchange of dollars for goods, but there are alternatives. I attended a fascinating session at the BALLE conference last week called “Bartering and Complimentary Currencies.” This was a new concept for me, but I discovered that it is an idea that we are all more familiar than we might suspect. Think of movie tickets, stocks, and stamps, which are all alternate forms of currency that we use on a regular basis to obtain goods and services that we want or need.
Annette Riggs, founder and Managing Director of Community Connect Trade Association (CCTA), spoke about b-to-b trade credits. CCTA facilitates the exchange of goods and services between businesses, from which companies can earn trade credits, and provides a central marketplace through their website. There are some caveats to the program, however. Not all businesses are a good fit, as they need to provide some good or service that is needed by other participating programs, and there are some tax issues that participants should be aware of. Still, these b-to-b exchanges allow participating businesses to reserve their capital for other expenses, which is especially helpful for small businesses that may be suffering from a paucity of cash.

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Stakeholder Engagement: Six Tips for Effective Dialogue

| Monday June 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer
Stakeholder engagement is a process of reaching out to a range of constituents who are interested in, or impacted by, your business, including employees, investors, suppliers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), consumers, governmental agencies and thought-leaders.
It means opening up your company to feedback, and potentially criticism, from a diverse range of perspectives. So, why would you want to take this risk?
Business case for stakeholder engagement
Before I launch into the key tips for engaging stakeholders, I want to touch on why stakeholder engagement is a solid business practice.
Alex McIntosh, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Nestle Waters, believes that lacking a stakeholder engagement strategy “…is like launching a new product without doing any market research….You are taking a big risk without doing it. Stakeholder engagement is an important, essential element in good citizenship and good business strategy. You need to know what issues are most important to the people that are most relevant to your business.”

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Ehlers Estate: In Philanthropy We Trust

| Monday June 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

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ehlers%20estate.jpgThis series focuses on all of the companies who have adopted philanthropy as part of their business model, and spotlights their efforts as a way to help shift the paradigm toward adopting a socially responsible mission. One common element I’ve observed is that many companies dilute their giving by opting to support a multitude of charities rather than focusing on one, where they can concentrate their efforts — and profiits — toward tangible change. While the intent to help as many charities as possible is a noble one, it is not the most sustainable option if the end goal is to make a significant impact. It’s for this same reason that I recommend to companies that their cause marketing be tightly aligned with their business instead of randomly selecting flavor-of-the-month charities.
Ehlers Estate is emblematic of this concept, representing the fusion of a for-profit winegrowing estate, environmental consciousness and international philanthropy. The winery’s diverse Napa Valley vineyard is cultivated using organic and biodynamic farming techniques to produce exceptional Bordeaux-varietal wines, and all proceeds from the sale of these wines fund international cardiovascular research through the Leducq Foundation. While they are unique in that 100% of the profits are used toward philanthropy, the manner in which they’ve wholly integrated the cause with their business practices, from operations through marketing, can be effectively reproduced in profit-based companies.
The “secret sauce” in all of these types initiatives is to stand for something and support it fully in all you do — from internal communications with employees and stakeholders to external engagements with customers. You don’t have to donate all of your revenue to charity as Ehlers Estate does, but you do have to select and nurture a mission that is the embodiment of an authentic commitment to social responsibility, and is exemplified in all you do. At the end of the day, it’s all about walking the walk. Talk is not only cheap; it’s sour grapes.

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Small Wind Beginning to Make a Big Difference

| Monday June 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment


The U.S. market for small wind turbines grew 78% last year, highlighting heightened interest in, demand for, and use of distributed alternative and renewable power systems. A total 17.3 megawatts worth of new small wind turbines–defined as wind turbines with generation capacities of 100 kilowatts and less–was installed in 2009, according to a report by the American Wind Energy Association released May 28.
“Consumers are looking for affordable ways to improve their energy security and reduce their personal carbon footprint,” said Ron Stimmel, AWEA’s Small Wind Advocate. “Small wind technology can be an answer to that search. As government policies have caught up with consumer interest, we’re seeing people all across the U.S. take advantage of this abundant, domestic natural resource and U.S. manufacturers have been able to meet this increasing demand.”
What’s even more encouraging is that U.S. manufacturers–such as Mariah Wind profiled here on 3P–accounted for about half of total worldwide small wind turbine sales. U.S. market share made up $77 million of the $156 million global total (38.7 MW), according to the AWEA.

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What Is the True Cost of Chevron?

| Monday June 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

Coalition of Environmental Groups Publishes Alternative Annual Report Describing Widespread Abuses by Chevron
Chevwrong%20logo.jpgWe’ve all seen the Chevron “Human Energy” advertisements with the concerned scientist and soothing music reassuring us that the big oil giant is on the case. Judging from the frequency of the ads, you’d expect Chevron is devoting huge amounts of time and money working on alternative energy solutions, while at the same time operating responsibly in regards to the environment and human rights. But a coalition of 11 watchdog groups, called The True Cost of Chevron, suggest the truth of Chevron’s business operations is far different.
The group developed and released an “Alternative Annual Report” last week, just ahead of Chevron’s shareholder meeting and the company’s announcement that 2008 was the most profitable year in their history. The alternative report tells shareholders more about the hidden and under-reported costs of these profits. It brings together stories from communities across the world that are all directly affected by and in struggle against Chevron’s operations. The group also organized protests in front of Chevron’s San Ramon, California headquarters on the day of the shareholder’s meeting last week.

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Green Jobs By the Numbers

Frank Marquardt | Monday June 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

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A steady drumbeat of reports forecast significant growth in all areas of the clean tech economy over the next two years. Obviously, that hasn’t translated to significant hiring.
“Two thousand nine will be a tough year,” Jigar Shah, founder of Sun Edison, wrote me in an email. “It will take the entire year for the solar industry to reorient itself to the new rules of the game. In the meantime, the third and fourth quarter will help us make up for a weak first quarter, but not enough to produce overall growth in 2009.” Shah doesn’t expect hiring in the solar industry to pick up until 2010.
Still, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 targets $11 billion for a smart grid, $2.3 billion for advanced battery technology, $6.3 billion to states and local governments for greater energy efficiency, guarantees $60 billion in loans for renewable energy power generation and electric transmission projects, and $2.5 billion for energy research. As that money gets spent, it should boost hiring and the economy with it.

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Hara: Resource Management for a Post-Carbon Economy

| Monday June 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Today, Hara launched Environmental and Energy Management, an enterprise-class software system that helps companies measure and manage their total environmental impact. A Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers funded venture, it has been incubating in a stealth mode for 18 months, and has been serving clients by subscription such as Coca-Cola and the city of Palo Alto, already providing the latter with an expected $2 million in savings and 15% reduction in GHGs over three years.
In an interview before its launch, Hara’s CEO and founder, Amit Chatterjee, spoke about the software’s function and utility, its origin, and its potential impact on the business world.
Chatterjee, who just returned the from addressing House Democrats about energy and resource management, recognized the implicit and necessary importance of sustainability in the business world after working in foreign direct investment. And for Chatterjee, sustainability is much more than just going green.
According to Chatterjee, in the Summer of 2007, the era of globalization ended. That is, the World Is Flat mentality ceased being a competitive advantage in the business world due to the energy, debt, and commodity crises. The end of globalization marked the beginning of the post-carbon economy, where carbon is valued in the marketplace.

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What Is the Business Case for Doing Good? A Conversation with Timberland’s CEO, Jeffrey Swartz

| Friday May 29th, 2009 | 4 Comments

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of TimberlandTimberland 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?

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