Mom-founded Startup Benefits Kids, Planet, and Wallets

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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plastic-water-bottles.jpgIt is said that “big things come in small packages.” Such is the case for an innovative startup launched by four suburban New Jersey Moms: the Back2Tap campaign. These moms-turned-green-activists began the program by educating school children on the benefits of using reusable water bottles. Since then, the campaign has grown; it now funds water-related initiatives in schools both locally and abroad and increases communities’ environmental awareness.

The Back2Tap campaign began in 2007 in Chatham, New Jersey, where the Back2Tap founders – mothers who are also professionals – noticed that plastic water bottle trash was becoming an eyesore at public parks and playgrounds. The moms took action: they established the Back2Tap program in order to educate their children, their kids’ classmates, and their communities about the wastefulness of using disposable water bottles. The moms also sold 1,500 reusable stainless steel water bottles to members of the school community. The campaign was successful: it raised $8,000 for local schools, and two of the schools used the funds to purchase point-of-use water coolers, thereby decreasing their plastic usage. Even in its beginning stages, the Back2Tap program helped to increase students’ and communities’ eco friendliness, encourage participants to use re-usable eating and drinking wear, and allow families to save money.
On the heels of the Back2Tap campaign’s success, the moms extended the campaign by launching a small business. The business coordinates numerous programs intended to spread the word and launch Back2Tap campaigns in schools and non-profits all over the nation. For example, Back2Tap organizes Green Fundraisers (which help schools, businesses, and other groups adopt point-of-use water supply methods), sells educational videos and resources through its website, sells custom-logoed water bottles, and helps businesses become more sustainable. This fall, Back2Tap will help kids enjoy a virtually waste-free lunch: the company will expand its product line to include reusable sandwich wraps and snack pouches. Back2Tap also donates a portion of its profits to provide clean drinking water for schools in Central Asia.
Back2Tap encourages those interested in increasing their communities’ environmentalism at a grass-roots level to participate in one of its programs.

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Bringing Personal Energy Savings to a Concrete, Financially Rewarding Leve

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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Picture%201-13.jpg In recent years, both business and individuals have gotten increasingly clear that it’s necessary to reduce our energy consumption, both for the emissions it produces and the increasingly limited sources of it. Or have they? For most people, aside from their monthly energy bill, there’s little connection to the rest of the world when it comes to energy use.
Carbon offsets, while potentially useful, remain for the most part an abstract thing, removed from people’s daily lives. My Emissions Exchange have come up with an idea that appeals both to people’s desire to do good with their need to get paid.

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The Tuk Tuk Hybrid Contest

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

tuk tukMany sustainable development projects have a fatal flaw: they are unrealistically expensive. Sure, a stationary bike that purifies water as it is pedaled is a great innovation, but how much does the bike cost to build and implement? These technologies are often really pricey, which prevents them from being effective. Environmental innovations should be affordable to the people who need it most. Which is why I’m so excited about the hybrid tuk tuk contest!

A tuk tuk is basically a motorized rickshaw. It has three wheels, a seat up front for the driver, and a bench seat in the back for up to three passengers (and occasionally animals and/or the daily shopping). There are three million tuk tuks in India alone, but they are common all over Southern Asia and parts of Africa and Latin America. They are especially popular in areas where traffic congestion is an issue. The tuk tuks are also an environmental nightmare. They spew smoke. The drivers are often from lower socioeconomic classes, and therefore need to run their rickshaws on the cheapest, dirtiest fuel. Sometimes they even run on kerosene.

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Google Chills Out: Eliminates Chillers at Belgium Data Center

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

sustainable_operations.jpg By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact According to Andrew Winston’s new book Green Recovery, the average data center uses as much energy as 25,000 households, and he reports, “There is a persistent and believable rumor that Google is the largest single energy user in the state of California.

Google acknowledges that data centers make up a big portion of their footprint. As part of their efforts to shrink the footprint of their new data center in Belgium, they are relying entirely on free air cooling.
Rather than using internal air-conditioning for cooling the hardware, Google is depending on the seasonal low temperatures in Belgium to provide free cooling at its new facility.

Free Cooling
Chillers, which are used to refrigerate water, are widely used in data center cooling systems, but require a large amount of electricity to operate. With the growing focus on power costs, many data centers are reducing their reliance on chillers to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities and save money.
Free cooling is the use of fresh air from outside a data center to support the cooling systems. This approach allows data centers to use outside air when the temperature is cool, while falling back on chillers on warmer days.

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Clean Coal: The Battle of the Marketers

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 3 Comments

clean coal marketing With every great greenwashing campaign comes an equally fascinating anti-greenwashing campaign.

I have to credit the person who came up with the label “clean coal” because (while as of yet it’s a complete oxymoron) it says it all in the name, right? It’s coal, BUT it’s clean. As the Coen brothers explain in their fake ad, “Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word ‘Clean'”

America’s energy companies and watchdog organizations alike are having a field day with this one. Americans are seeing everything from “Factuality” to “Reality” grace their TV and computer screens.

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The Walmart Paradox

3p Contributor | Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 3 Comments

Why U.S. Consumers Perceive Walmart to Be the Most and Least Socially Responsible Company in the Nation
By Raphael Bemporad and Mitch Baranowski

walmart paradox
In our agency’s recently published 2009 BBMG Conscious Consumer Report, we asked 2,000 U.S. consumers to name the most and least socially and environmentally responsible company in the nation. It was an open-ended question, meant to get at baseline brand awareness on this front. Curiously, one company topped both lists: Walmart.

Why?

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Creating Sustainable Competitive Advantage

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

beads-mod.jpgLast month, Geoffrey Barneby wrote about FairRidge’s Sustainability Management Maturity Model (SM3), a tool to help businesses assess their readiness to address sustainability challenges and opportunities. Five management components were reviewed — Strategy, Organization, Process, Measurement, and People – which all relate to an inside-out perspective of the business.
As we’ve continued to evolve the model, another dimension has emerged for evaluating sustainability infrastructure: the outside-in perspective. This refers to the level of competitive differentiation and advantage that’s desired by the leadership team. On the scale of laggard to leader, how is your business perceived in the minds of customers, and is it where you want to be? This market-facing, aspirational consideration can drive both the internal infrastructure required for a market leadership position, as well as external initiatives to improve marketing, customer experience and ultimately competitive differentiation.

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Study Finds High and Low Income Shoppers Equally Likely to Buy Green

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

 

It’s appears to be a big time for green shopping surveys. Earlier this week we shared the results of a Cohn & Wolfe Green Brands survey that showed that the recession has not squashed consumers’ desire for green products. Another survey, this one conducted by Miller Zell, a retail consulting firm, dispels the notion that only well-heeled shoppers are willing to pay premiums for green products.
Miller Zell conducted an online survey of 999 consumers, with a portion of the questions devoted to their attitudes around products that are marketed as being green, or eco-friendly. Respondents were asked whether they would pay a premium for a green product, and then, if so, how much of a premium they’d pony up. Consumers fell into three income categories – high, middle and low – and while more low-income respondents said they were unwilling to pay any premium for green good than respondents in the other income categories, those low-income respondent who would pay a 10-cent premium outnumbered the middle and high income respondents who would pay that amount.

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Laundry Product Mogul Launches “Cleaner Planet Initiative”

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

unilever logoWhen it comes to the consumer-manufacturer sustainability dance, it takes two to tango: manufacturers must make green products, and consumers must use them sustainably. Unilever, multi-national corporate owner of numerous food, beverage, and cleaning products, has taken the lead in its dance with consumers: the company is seeking to make consumer habits, as well as more of its products, more eco-friendly.

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California Program Rewards Climate-Friendly Small Businesses

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

california-coastline-cliffs.jpgA new Small Business Award program, orchestrated through Cool California.org (a partnership seeking to provide all Californians with the tools necessary to prevent climate change in their state), is supporting the underdog. It will reward small businesses demonstrating “climate leadership” through the implementation and promotion of climate-friendly practices.

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Rural Texans Save Big by Installing Wind Power

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

There is a saying that, in Texas, it’s “so windy we’re using a log chain instead of a wind sock.” The adage is true: according to the [Texas] State Energy Conservation Office, the state has been the number-one wind producer in the nation for the past two years. While this isn’t the best weather for maintaining that perfectly coiffed up-do, it holds great potential for rural residents seeking to trim their electricity bills. Thanks to federal tax credits instated to promote small windmill installation, ranchers and other rural Texans who set up the wind-harnessing technology for home, business, or personal use may be able to save a pretty penny.

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While the Oceans Gently Weep: Climate Change & Marine Life

Richard Levangie | Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

Global warming has serious consequences for the international fishing community, but I’m also concerned that our soaring sense of wonder about something greater than ourselves might also be at risk.
A study published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that individual fish have lost half their average body mass, that fish populations have thinned drastically, and that smaller species are starting to dominate European fish stocks. Although overfishing probably played a significant role, the long, steady increase in fresh water and ocean temperatures caused by global warming takes the lion’s share of the blame.
“It’s huge,” said study author Martin Daufresne of the Cemagref Public Agricultural and Environmental Research Institute in Lyon, France. “Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity – – the capacity to reproduce.”

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One Small Step? US, China Agree on Clean-Energy Research Center

Bill DiBenedetto | Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

China US FlagSmall steps. Keep reminding yourself that the transformation to a globally green and sustainable mindset eventually will happen if enough small steps are taken.
From that perspective, the agreement between the United States and China to establish a jointly-owned clean energy research center fits right in. The agreement between the planet’s two most prolific polluters involves an investment of only $30 million, but maybe it’s a precursor of more to come.

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India: Economic Development vs. Climate Change

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

hillary india
Major developing democracies face an interesting predicament these days. They have fought through decades of poverty and political irrelevance and have now landed on the world stage. Sure, a large percentage of their population may still live in shantytowns (India), or they may manufacture billions of inexpensive plastic items for export to America (China), but they have become socioeconomic forces to be reckoned with.

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Whole Foods: All Stores Now Certified Organic

| Thursday July 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact (Photo Credit: Davidson Read)
Whole Foods Market has announced that each of its 273 U.S. stores has been individually certified organic by CCOF, a non-profit, USDA-accredited third-party organic certifier.
“…It’s important for Whole Foods Market to maintain its certification as an organic retailer so our customers can trust that the organic food they choose has been sourced, stored, handled and marketed according to organic requirements,” said Joe Dickson, quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

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