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We have already published two posts about Better World Books, one in February by Amie Vaccaro, and the other by me last June. Why should there be another post? During an economic recession when people are buying less of everything, Better World Books is thriving. Started in 2003 by college students, seven percent of its revenues go to non-profit organizations and libraries. It has raised over $5 million for those organizations and libraries. In other words, Better World Books is a triple bottom line company that is managing to make a profit.
On CNN’s website, an article pointed out that other online bookstores have more revenue. In 2008, Half Price Books had $186 million in revenues, and Amazon.com had $177 million during the first three months of this year alone. However, unlike Half Price Books and Amazon.com, Better World Books does not charge shipping and handling fees within the U.S., and only charges $3.97 worldwide. That coupled with the low cost of its books, gives it a tremendous opportunity for continued growth.
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Watching all the Earth Day coverage yesterday was pretty exhausting. Let’s face it: Most of those talking heads on television are only repeating what one of their researchers likely found on the internet. They are not the experts, and they don’t often seek out the real experts when it comes to reporting on the environment or sustainable development. Generally speaking, of course.
How many times do we have to hear about changing light bulbs, carpooling, and turning down your thermostat? Don’t get me wrong. I certainly appreciate all the attention the cable news networks devote during Earth Day. But it’s really become a broken record falling on deaf ears.
Truth is, most people in this country only respond to two things: Fear and Greed. And if you don’t tap those buttons, you’re just spinning your wheels.
One of the primary goals of the Philanthropy in Five series is to feature companies who are committed to giving back, and serve as a framework for making social consciousness the standard way of conducting business.
In similar fashion (bad pun intended), Nicole D’Alonzo is launching Socolite.com, an online destination for spotlighting the philanthropic efforts and social innovations of local businesses and entrepreneurs in a fun, contemporary way. Her vision is to transform the idea of a socialite into a “socolite,” where being socially conscious, embracing a green lifestyle and being eco-aware are the height of style.
She refers to her concept as the web equivalent of a lounge where people can congregate to share goodwill, collaborate and use their collective power to make a difference in ways that are compelling, memorable and fashionable. From charity fundraisers to black-tie benefits to casual networking events, Nicole is chronicling these experiences through video and compiling documentaries to help inspire ongoing change, and shape a culture rooted in consciousness. In a society built on the concept of it being chic to spend, Nicole is showing that it’s chic to give. And that’s a cause that’s more than just a passing fad. Click to continue reading »
We previously covered BBMG’s first Conscious Consumer Report here last year, but as we limp through one of the most crippling economic crises since the Great Depression, this year’s report takes on a particularly relevant tenor.
“Consumers now more than ever expect more from brands and products,” Bemporad said in a recent interview. With consumer confidence at a new low, combined with increasing unemployment, and a populist backlash against Wall St. scandals, “[Consumers] are yearning for the combination for the combination of value and values in the relationships with the brands in their lives. They are hungry for that authenticity.”
Several questions were posed in the approach of this year’s report. Will consumers seek green benefits in a tough economy? Which product attributes matter most in a recession? How do consumers know if sustainability or socially conscious claims are true? How can socially responsible brands survive the economic crisis and thrive long-term? And the report’s results offers “new strategies for innovation by delivering on the multiple dimensions of value – price, performance, purpose and participation.” By doing so, BBMG claims brands will be able to survive the crisis, build deeper relationships with customers, and thrive in the sustainable economy of the future. Click to continue reading »
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In 1983, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus visited a Bangladesh village where he loaned $27 to stool makers who paid him back with interest. After that he created the Grameen Rural Bank which has lent over $983 million to over seven million borrowers.
Kiva.org, a person-to-person microfinance website, defines microfinance as “the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor.” The 2005 Commission for Africa report pointed out that access to financial services, including credit, is very hard for poor people. Microfinance gives small entrepreneurs access to credit.
Philanthropy comes in many forms. It can manifest as corporate giving or cause-related transcations or volunteer programs. It can be donations of time, money or expertise. Or, in the case of Karmic Leads, it can be a database of job listings designed to help individuals and small business owners connect with relevant opportunities, at no cost. With the challenging economy and lay offs reaching record numbers, founder, Nipa Shah decided to utilize her resources to create a community of employers and job seekers that is highly targeted, accessible, and best of all, completely free. Her goal is two-fold — get people employed and form professional connections that will help them stay employed by tapping into a network of contacts all committed to an employ-it-forward approach to hiring. And that’s good karma you can take to the bank on pay day. Click to continue reading »
Next to the Dr. Bronner’s soap, it’s hard to think of a consumer packaged product that wears its makers’ political and social stance more on its sleeve (or rather, label) than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The delicious treat is an iconic sustainable product. So when Ben and Jerry sold their company to multinational consumer packaged goods producer Unilever in 2000, did they become iconic sell-outs?
That’s a good question, and one that was addressed during Tuesday’s Investors’ Circle Spring Conference in a session called “The Sell Out.”
When we ask “what is a sell-out?” we have to use a common standard for measurement, said the panel’s moderator Mark Albion, founder of Net Impact and best-selling author of True to Yourself and More Than Money. His suggestion for a metric was to ask whether the acquired company continues the founder’s efforts to create social good in its efforts to run the business. In other words: Is today’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream doing as much or more good work than the privately-held company run by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield achieved? Panelist Pierre Ferrari, chairman of the board of Ben & Jerry’s, responded that from a purely utilitarian point of view, when you consider profitability only, then the answer is a clear yes. But when viewed through the lens of social responsibility, the firm in some respects is “not as good as it was under [the original] Ben & Jerry’s management,” he admitted.
Water is fast becoming top of mind, joining oil as a precious resource, and carbon as something companies ought to pay attention to. A panel of water investors and experts discussed opportunities in water at the Investors’ Circle conference. My takeaway from the conversation is that water is a difficult (read: fragmented, inefficient, and complex) issue, but one that demands our attention and our intelligence. The panel featured David Zetland, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Natural Resource Economics and Political Economy at UC Berkeley, Brian Dunn, CEO of Growth Capital Services, and Dominic Kulik, founding Principal of Dakai Enterprises.
We just scratched the surface of the complexities of water. Panelists generally agreed the term “water market” is a misnomer, as we really don’t have any sort of market for water. Rather, monopolies rule, Zetland explained.
“Water is on a 10 year lag to alternative energy,” Kulik explained. Water is undervalued, and the system is inefficient. The field is begging for clear competitive mapping and analysis, but this does not exist as yet.
After 3 years of pitching networks, meeting with various producers, and all of the other Hollywood headaches we finally have our own TerraCycle Reality TV Show. Garbage Moguls, which debuts on the National Geographic Channel on Earth Day (4/22) at 9pm EST/PST, follows our team at TerraCycle as we take waste (in Episode 1, Oreo Wrappers and Coca-Cola Billboards) and figure out how to upcycle them into products (Oreo wrappers will become kites and billboards will be messenger bags) and then finally sell them to a major retailer (Oreo wrapper kites to Wal-Mart and Billboard messenger bags to Office Max). So tune in and also don’t forget to spread the word.Click to continue reading »
Contrary to analysts’ forecasts, the global trade in “green” products continues to grow strongly, according to Alibaba.com. Predictions that collapsing banks and financial markets, along with widespread recession would prompt consumers to cut back spending on green products are proving to be way off-base, at least when it comes to traffic running through their Internet platform, according to the Hong Kong-based B2B e-commerce provider.
Searches for alternative fuel and power–such as solar and wind power systems, electric cars and bio-diesel–as well as organic products of all types continued to increase steadily during the latter part of 2008 and through the first quarter of 2009, according to Alibaba.com data.
Oil prices spiking as high as $147 a barrel in Q3 2008 led to a surge in searches for renewable energy products, which rose 67% on a year-to-year basis. Even more encouraging, interest in green products has continued into 2009. Solar power energy and organic products were the fastest growing segments on Alibaba.com in this year’s first quarter, increasing 71% and 68%, respectively.