Demand is likely to be reduced by 2%, back to 2006 levels, according to a recent report by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. “The economic recession has contributed to an overall reduction in the (forecast) demand for electricity this summer, leading to higher reserve margins across North America for the season,” said Mark Lauby, NERC’s director of reliability assessments. Click to continue reading »
The international ocean environmental group, Oceana, reports that pollution from cruise ships is a growing problem. That’s an understatement.
One example: Except for California and Alaska, “lax state and federal anti-pollution laws allow cruise ships to dump untreated sewage from sinks and showers and inadequately treated sewage from toilets into state waters,” the organization says.
Once ships are three miles from shore, they can dump untreated sewage from toilets. “This puts our coastal environment at risk from the threats of bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals generated in these waste streams.” Click to continue reading »
At a time when consumer trust is very low, companies will need to earn trust to thrive. An extensive study by Havas Media, the Sustainability Framework 09, examines which sectors are perceived to have the lowest environmental and social performance.
This study of 20,000 consumers was completed early this year in 10 markets and spanned more than 50 brands in 8 sectors. This thorough study has provided numerous insights that provide extremely valuable to businesses across the globe. One such nugget is how different sectors are viewed regarding overall corporate social responsibility.
The Four Sectors with the Lowest Perceived Environmental and Social Performance Are:
US cap-and-trade legislation will have widespread ramifications, not only for Americans, but for America’s largest trading partner, too.* Canada’s Conservative government has placed all its financial eggs in one basket in making the Alberta tar sands the center of the country’s economic policy.** As a result, the recession in Canada is deepening, and with depressed prices for oil, tar sands companies are facing a bleak and uncertain future.
And so is Canada.
The unconventional heavy oil from Alberta is difficult to access and expensive to produce, and cheap oil prices make the industry unprofitable. In fact, some analysts have suggested that oil needs to head north of $60 US ($71 Cdn) a barrel before Alberta’s oil industry starts humming. Click to continue reading »
Jeremy Rifkin, author and president of the think tank Foundation on Economic Trends, gave a rousing talk at the Research Connection conference in Prague last week, held by the research arm of the European Union. His thesis, according to this BBC article is that the EU will need to change its approach to generating, using and monetizing energy in order to emerge from its energy and economic crises.
One of the ways it should do this is by looking to the revolution of communication technology and the growth of the Internet. Also vital will be spreading power generation across a region and encouraging small – even home-based – renewable energy stations, he said.
Rifkin says Europe lacks the capacity needed to meet its eminent energy needs using the established, centralized power generation model and therefore must turn to microgeneration, wherein buildings are transformed into their own power plants. The power source would be whatever is most appropriate to the location: turbines in windy areas, solar in the sun, tidal power on the coasts and methane power in agricultural settings.
“Your building becomes your power plant, just like your computer becomes your information vehicle to the world,” Rifkin told the crowd.
Launching for Mother’s Day 2009, GreenMoms.com aims to help Moms bring healthier and more environmentally-friendly living to their families, their communities, and their world.
GreenMoms started as a San Francisco Bay-Area group of women who met regularly to discuss their childrens’ health, eat eco-friendly vegetarian food, go berry-picking, and generally get active in their community. Melinda McNaughton, the group’s founder, said that, “Once the group got going, it felt so good to have a network of people to share successes and challenges that it made it much easier to stay motivated to make green changes. We’re constantly inspiring each other with new ideas.”
McNaughton and business partner Janice Solimeno thought the idea of “Meeting Locally, Supporting Globally” was such a good one, they decided to take the group and turn it into an online community.
Community is the key word, as the site encourages groups to form in their own area, and to use the resources on the website, including the innovative GreenMometer, to share ideas and live healthier and more sustainable lives. The site is growing rapidly, and groups are forming in such far flung places as Israel, Alabama, and Idaho.
Bringing sustainability to Moms may be one of the most crucial bridges the green movement must make. Moms, especially new Moms, tend to be very interested in many aspects of green business as a result of widespread acknowledgment of the effects of harmful chemicals (agrochemicals in food, lead paint in Chinese toys, BPA in baby bottles, etc.). If the green movement is to move beyond the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast (and into red states), reaching Moms is very important. One of the best ways to reach them is through peer-to-peer interactions, exactly the kind that GreenMoms tries to facilitate on a local level.
The top green business stories for the week:
SAP Moves Further Into Sustainability Arena, Acquires Green IT Leader Clear Standards. Triple Pundit’s own Andrew Burger reported that the software giant had announced a deal to acquire Clear Standards in a move that brings serious financial muscle into the emissions reporting IT industry. Of its announced intention to acquire Clear Standards, SAP Co-CEO Leo Apotheker said, “It is essential that organizations gain actionable insight into their carbon emissions, water consumption, energy use and other environmental factors so they can lower their environmental impact.”
Chicago First to Ban Baby Bottles with Suspected Toxin BPA Plastics. Bisphenol-A, or BPA, is a suspected culprit in heart disease and diabetes in adults, as well as cancer and accelerated puberty and other developmental risks for children. The chemical is used, among other things, to harden plastics, and is a common ingredient in baby bottles and sippy cups (as well as the popular Nalgene bottles, so switch to more eco-friendly Sigg or Klean Kanteen). Chicago passed the measure unanimously, citing the Federal government’s inaction on the chemical. During the Bush Administration, the FDA had ruled that BPA was safe at the levels in which it was found to leech into food and beverages, but a recent scientific panel condemned that research for flawed methods and ignoring important independent findings elsewhere. Chicago’s decision may force bottle makers and plastics manufacturers to decide whether to continue to use the product, as other cities and states are likely to follow suit. (From our Friends at the Environmental News Network).
General Electric to Open Battery Plant in NY. The announcement came Tuesday as GE continues to leverage itself to become a leader in the power storage sector. The plant should create 350 new manufacturing jobs, and will produce 10 million cells each year if the plant runs at full capacity. The company is seeking funding from the Federal government’s stimulus funds for clean energy, and may promise a brighter future for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. (From our friends at GreenBiz.com)
Many believe that business will be the primary driver of change as our society moves toward more sustainable practices and lifestyles. A recent Havas Media survey confirms this assertion: 70% of consumers surveyed say they look to business rather than government to lead the way on issues related to the environment and social justice.
The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future (WNSF) believes women in business will play a significant and unique role in this transformation. The New York-based non profit provides a forum for business and professional women to meet, reflect and act on the convergent issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. WNSF will hold its first West Coast Summit on Thursday, May 21, 2009 at Intel Headquarters in Santa Clara, CA. Triple Pundit recently had a chance to speak with their Executive Director, Ann Goodman.
As someone who spends a good amount of time on Twitter, I’ve had the great fortune of connecting with some truly amazing people, many of whom continue to educate me on cause marketing — sometimes without even realizing it. One such person is Cyan Banister, founder of Zivity, an online portfolio site for models, artists and musicians to share their body of work with fans, who basically backed into cause marketing at the request of her users, a few of whom wanted to donate the proceeds of their collections to various causes.
A socially minded entrepreneur, though she wouldn’t necessarily call herself a philanthropist, Cyan was already a champion for social change with a few causes that she supported personally. But she hadn’t considered building a cause platform into Zivity until she realized that her customers wanted it, and that the focus of the site in generating exposure for her models, artists and musicians could also serve as a prime vehicle for creating awareness around important causes and social issues that her users support.
Unlike most brands that arbitrarily select a high profile charity on which they hinge transactions, Zivity and its sister site, TopFans, hinge causes to real people (their users), creating a meaningful connection where sales is the byproduct, not the driver. The result is an authentic cause relationship between the company, its users and fans, all of whom become mutually invested in making a difference through various spotlighted charities. And through this organically generated effort, Zivity has achieved the critical balancing act between marketing the brand and the cause simultaneously while the charities take center stage. Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
Ten years ago, Alter Eco Fair Trade opened a small store in Paris that sold fair trade furniture, handcrafts, and some food products. Three years later, the company launched fair trade food products in mass retail, including the French store chain, Monoprix, which has 267 stores. By 2003, Alter Eco Fair Trade was France’s number one fair trade brand. In 2004, the company opened an office in San Francisco to prepare for a product launch in North America. A year later, Alter Eco launched products in North America.
Alter Eco Americas is the first company to “offer a complete range of fair trade food products through mass retail in the U.S.” The company’s products are now in specialty food stores, grocery stores, and Whole Foods. The products sold in the U.S. are coffee, tea, rice, quinoa, and sugar.
Net Impact’s new report Making Your Impact at Work: A Practical Guide to Changing the World From Inside Any Company offers fresh ideas for greening your job without finding a new one.
And it reinforces a commonplace among career counselors: Volunteering and taking the initiative to do what you’re passionate about is one of the smartest ways to gain new skills and advance your career.
The free report – and accompanying case studies and discussion, available to Net Impact members – shows how intrapreneurs in different functions and divergent industries have created positive change and, sometimes, new jobs as sustainability leaders.
The guide’s advice, which draws on the experience of change agents at companies that include eBay, McDonald’s, Accenture, Timberland, Ingersoll Rand, and Google, is straightforward and, once you read it, relatively intuitive. If you’re angling to get involved in the green economy and on automatic at work, consider taking the suggestions to heart to reenergize yourself by aligning your values with your work and creating a project to green your office or organization.
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) will launch their annual conference a week from today in Denver, CO – (May 21). Now in its 7th year, the BALLE conference is considered one of the most valuable, most respected conferences on sustainable business around. If you’re a regular reader of Triple Pundit, you’re probably already well aware of what a great opportunity it is and may be more interested in hearing about how you can get one of two free tickets that 3p is giving away. Here’s how to do it:
FIRST: Follow us on twitter – @triplepundit
SECOND: Tweet a one liner describing what interests you most about BALLE including #3P #BALLE in the tweet between now and Monday the 18th.
That’s all! On Monday, the 18th we’ll randomly pick two winners and let you know how to register. If you are unable to make it to Denver, you can give your prize to someone local. Don’t forget to include #3P and #BALLE or we might not notice your submission.
When Disney announced the release of Mickey Mouse-branded eggs a couple months back, Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter wrote:
“Sometimes I think that the world is becoming more sane, that people are beginning to understand where food comes from, and that marketing to children is becoming a little less respectable. Then I see Disney branded eggs and wonder what is going on here.”
Though he likely meant more than less respectable, the idea of Disney-branded eggs seemed utterly preposterous to Alter.
Unfortunately, it looks like the idea wasn’t so preposterous to others. When Popeye emerged in the 1920s, Big Money reported a couple weeks back, sales of spinach rose by over 30%. These days, Disney is hoping that Mickey Mouse can do that for eggs. And Zac Efron for avocados.
This isn’t the first attempt by Disney, who is the world’s largest licensor, to brand produce. They first announced the Disney Garden, a partnerhsip between Imagination Farms and the Kroger Grocery Chain. With an initial offering of 100 products that included Disney branded fruits, veggies, yogurt, and milk among other things, sales of the Disney Garden product line grew 70% in 2008.
Part one in a series of reports looking at Germany’s energy and climate policies, and how they might serve as a model for the U.S. and internationally
I spent last week in Germany as a guest of the German Foreign Ministry. Part of an international group of 12 other writers, television broadcasters, journalists, and bloggers, invited to participate in a “thematic trip” entitled Climate Protection – International Cooperation on Climate and Energy.
In subsequent posts, I will review what I saw and learned as we explored the public policy and industrial innovation that puts Germany at the head of international efforts to adapt to a low carbon society based on efficiency and renewable energy.
Organized and implemented by the Ecologic Institute, a not-for-profit environmental research think tank, our agenda was “dense” (as the Germans characterized it) providing for us a thorough overview of the agencies, policies, and industries working to achieve the ambitious goals of the country. Here’s a brief look:
- Foreign Ministry – Discussion of energy diplomacy and international climate policy
- Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety – A look at international engagement in a post-Kyoto climate agreement beyond 2012; creating a global carbon market
- German Emissions Trading Authority – an overview of German emissions trading
- Clearing Agency for the Renewable Energy Sources Act – how feed-in tariffs are administered and disputes resolved
- A breakfast meeting with Hans Josef Fell, member of the German Parliament (The Greens)
- Federal Environment Agency – ecological design and efficiency in the built environment
- Q. Cells (the largest global manufacturer of mono and multi-crystalline solar cells) – an overview of the business and tour of the production line
- Schwarze Pumpe – the first coal (lignate) fired plant capturing its own carbon using the Oxyfuel process
- The Secretariat for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – A look at the challenges and issues for the upcoming talks in Copenhagen this December
- Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – the relationship between the developed and developing world in addressing energy and climate issues