Other Random Eco-Stats, David Suzuki Style

Scott Cooney | Tuesday June 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Continuing a line of previous posts on terrific eco-stats coming from David Suzuki’s Green Guide (on energy, food, ecopsychology, and travel), here is a summary of eco-stats that don’t fit into any particular category, but may be of marketing use for green businesses.

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The Sustainability Lens

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Piersonbooklens.jpgBy Steve Pierson
“The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful. This is your century. Take it and run, as if your life depends on it.”
From Paul Hawken’s commencement address to the University of Portland Class of 2009

Let me begin by saying what a wonderful commencement address I think Mr. Hawken’s was, and thank Hunter Lovins for relaying it to the Presidio community. It reminds me of Mark Sower’s Presidio graduation address comment about how “we are faced with insurmountable opportunities.” Both hold the tension of that impossible task we must nevertheless do. The anchor is the impossible task, and the variable is our capacity to rise to it.

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The Heineken Experience: Marketing that Leaves a Bad Taste in my Mouth

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Let’s face it – we all go on brewery tours for the free beers. Heineken understands this, and has pretty much done away with all of the real brewing aspects of the show, while giving customers a strong dose of the Heineken experience: an extended opportunity to view Heineken ads, drink shots of beer offered from a Heineken star shaped bar, listen to hip-hop in a darkly lit room (chandelier of bottles of course) with ads blaring on all 4 walls and even make a music video with men in lederhosen as background singers. The most exciting part of all, though, was the “Brew U” experience, wherein we did not have a tour guide, nor did we see the actual brewing or bottling of beer. Instead we stood on a platform and got heated up and tossed around like malt.

But, perhaps, I’m just a crotchety idealist. This might be the most brilliant marketing strategy of all time. Customers who already have at least a passing interest in your product willingly pay 15 euros to be subjected to a 2-hour, full-sensory experience of it, with beer! When we ended the tour, I asked around to some of the other people who had participated, and they had a great time. People were loving it! They didn’t feel ripped off at all. And they weren’t all just 18 year olds stoked to be free of the drinking age restrictions in their home countries. They didn’t even realize that they had paid for pure advertising, but then, isn’t that the most effective kind?

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TerraCycle and Yak-Pak Join the Billboard Bag Bandwagon

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Bags, backpacks and accessories made out of used billboards, tarps, and other inspired detritus are a classic example of “upcycling.” That is, re-using something that’s met the end of its “first life” as something at least as durable and long-lasting in its “second life.” Not only that, but entrepreneurs have managed to do well taking advantage of practically free raw materials while earning a little “eco street cred” on the side.
One of the pioneers in the trend has been Freitag. The Swiss bag manufacturer has been making stylish and durable goods out of European “Truck Tarpaulins” since 1993 to great acclaim – building an 80+ person company and winning design awards left and right.
With Truck Tarpaulins uncommon in the US, discarded billboards have also become a hugely popular raw material for bags, as evidenced by the dozens of start ups who’ve made use of them. But a big challenge remains on the supply chain side – it takes a lot of effort and connections to establish a reliable source of, say, billboard material in order to run a predictable operation.
That’s where the networking genius of TerraCycle can play a role – in this case, helping Yak-Pak.

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Starbucks Drops the Spin for a Candid Q&A

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 7 Comments

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Update: Starbucks offers a 10-cent discount in all of their stores in the U.S. and Canada to customers who bring in their own reusable mugs for their beverages. Customers staying in a store can also request that their beverages be served in a ceramic Starbucks mug. More information about their “Mug Pledge” is available on their Shared Planet website.
Starbucks. A name synonymous with coffee and other frothy caffeinated delights. Or, if you read my Cause Marketing series, it’s a name I often liken to greenwashing, and have on more than one occasion questioned their authenticity when it comes to environmental consciousness — especially as it relates to the glaring fact that their cups are not recyclable in a majority of states in which they have stores. But I’m not alone. A quick google search with the terms “Starbucks cups not recyclable” will return a host of results and commentary around this issue as consumers struggle to understand why a company who claims a deep commitment to the environment would neglect such a critical element. And we’re left speculating if their CSR practices are only marketing deep.

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New 1% Rule Proposed for Reporting On Energy-Savings

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

We have certifications for organic claims, guides for green marketing, why not impose a new rule of thumb for news articles about energy-saving products or projects?
David MacKay of The Guardian proposes a rule that a device or project can only be reported in the public arena if it leads to energy savings of at least 1%. He complains that currently, valuable newspaper space is being wasted by the latest “green” inventions, “creating a delusion of happy progress while distracting people from serious change.”

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Hewlett Packard Continues to Raise the Green Bar

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

HP Expands its Eco Solutions Portfolio: Aims to Save 1B kWh by 2011
hpweb_1-2_topnav_hp_logo.gifAccording to a recent report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), consumer electronics and computers account for a whopping 15% of your household energy consumption. Considering that the average U.S. household now owns over 27 consumer electronics devices, and growing, it’s expected that over the next 3-5 years this percentage will increase to over 20% which is the same energy consumption used for heating or lighting our homes.
The good news is many consumer electronics companies are now competing to see who can be the greenest by driving energy efficiency initiatives throughout their product portfolios. Even though this competition can seem more about marketing at times, it also helps to demonstrate that big companies can have a big impact just by making continual, incremental improvements to their products and operations. Take for example HP’s recent announcement about the several additions to its HP Eco Solutions program, including new products, services and operations, as well as company-wide environmental goals. HP has set a new goal to save 1 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity by 2011 through a variety of product design strategies. As for impact, this is enough energy to power 90,000 homes for an entire year.

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Socap09 Lays out the Roadmap to a Social Capital Marketplace

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Social capital lies “at the intersection of money and meaning” according to Kevin Jones and Gary Bolles, founders of the Social Capital Markets Conference (Socap). Socap08 was about mapping the landscape of the social capital marketplace (also the topic of my first ever TriplePundit post). Two hundred attendees were expected, 600 came.
“Last year we wanted to validate the asset class – prove that social capital is real, large and resilient. Social capital was hurt less than other sectors. It didn’t participate in the bubble and it didn’t cause the bust and has since out performed the traditional capital market. This is partly because so many more risks are factored in, in terms of externalities,” Kevin Jones said.
Socap09 (coming up Sept 1-3, 2009) outlines the roadmap to a new economy, focusing on three themes:
1. The new administration and its focus on social innovation and social enterprise
2. An increasing acceptance of social venture funds and impact investing
3. The impact of disruptive technology
“This market is evolving. Pieces of infrastructure are starting to get filled in. Two years ago it was about discovery and finding our way. Now there is a roadmap. It doesn’t mean it’s a smooth highway. It’s extremely tough,” Jones explained.

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Ethonomics Explained

| Monday June 22nd, 2009 | 7 Comments

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By Rebecca Greenberg
It can be said, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that our world is changing.
Our planet is warming, our population is growing, our water supply is under preassure, and our financial systems have suffered. We have a new president in office; a man who passionately describes a new, green economy. The traditional ways of conducting business are changing. Even the largest investment banks and motor companies are beginning to realize that the “status quo” of doing business, i.e. profit for profit’s sake, must be revolutionized.

Our economy must adapt to be faster, “greener” and more innovative. So what do we have when we combine traditional economics with environmental stewardship and social ethics? Ethonomics, of course.
Ethonomics has several definitions. The term was originally coined to describe the academic process of mapping value systems. Earlier this year, however, Fast Company magazine assigned a new meaning to the term Ethonomics: ethical economics.

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Mission One Makes Strong Showing at World’s First Carbon-Free Grand Prix

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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We first introduced readers to Mission Motors last February. A San Francisco-based startup that began in a Mission District garage, Mission Motors debuted the all-electric, high performance motorcycle, dubbed the Mission One only months ago at the TED conference in San Diego.

Mission Motors is the vision and brainchild of co-founder and CEO Forrest North, a Stanford-educated engineer who cut his teeth on the school’s Solar Car Team and later went on to work at Tesla Motors. While at Tesla, North dreamed of using the concepts of high-end sustainable design he learned at Stanford and Tesla to build a high-performance, sustainably designed and built, all-electric motorcycle to help prove his conviction that “sustainable” didn’t necessarily mean sacrificing high-end performance

Last week on the Isle of Man, North and his team, including professional motorcycle racer Tom Montano, pushed the dream a little bit further after a strong showing at TTXGP, the worlds first carbon-free Grand Prix.

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Recession Bugging You? Get Launched!

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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high-dive-rockwell.jpgWhat do Google, Ocean Spray and Walt Disney have in common? All were launched during recessions. Since the beginning of this recession, most headlines have been riddled with gloom, but tough economic times lend themselves to advantages many business leaders overlook.
Last summer, as we were still headed into the worst quarters of this recession, I co-founded SoupCycle, a company that makes organic soups and delivers them by bicycle. Whimsical and a bit ridiculous? Sure – but the idea is odd enough to attract customers during a recession, and despite a sluggish economy SoupCycle has already made more than 3,000 bicycle soup deliveries. If you’re up for the challenge, now may be the right time to turn your sustainable business idea into a reality. Here are nine pointers to successfully launch your sustainable business during the recession:

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Felt Flowers Make a Happy Supply Chain All the Way to the Sheep

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Liz Cook is too modest. Ask her to tell you what her company does, and she’ll pull an (admittedly beautiful) flower with a bendy stem out of her enormous purse, straighten the leaves, and present it to you for inspection: “I make felt flowers.” Felt flowers? That’s cool, but what does it mean for me? In fact, these flowers are not just the fanciful creation of an indulgent artist, they are the products of one of the most innovative, meaningful, and heartfelt business models you will ever hear about.
Henry and Jayne is a UK based company that makes objects d’art, flowers and stones, of felt. The company is entirely vertically integrated, beginning with a community of sheep farmers in India, from shearing through felting the wool, dyeing, cutting and sewing the flowers. All of it happens with a community that might not otherwise have a product for sale, at least one that can fetch a pretty penny in a UK department store.

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Humdinger Wind Energy – What the Flutter?

Chris Kaiser | Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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As a mechanical engineer, I love watching things move; which is why I have a natural affinity for wind power over solar PV. I don’t have anything against the Sun, it’s just that I like visual confirmation that energy is being produced (watching a wind turbine turning). It is for this reason that I was so excited when I first heard about Humdinger Wind Energy back in 2007.
Unlike most wind generating devices, which use a turbine blade to catch the wind and rotate a shaft, the Humdinger approach relies on a much cooler sounding phenomenon – aeroelastic flutter (flutter for short). Flutter is what helped to bring down the Tacoma Narrows bridge ( as seen above and in this awesome vintage clip ).

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Global Mamas in Ghana: The Future of Fair Trade?

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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choolips I am a strong believer in the fair trade business model. The notion that producers, especially those in developing countries, should be paid a fair price for their labor and expertise seems both obvious and necessary. By manufacturing and exporting products that are designed and made traditionally, fair trade suppliers are empowered to profit from their skills. LOHAS consumers in Europe and America love buying fair trade products, because it makes them feel good about their purchasing power.

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Imara Wants to Dominate the Lithium Ion Battery Market

| Friday June 19th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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Increasing interest in the plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) and full electric vehicle (EVs) industry is breeding attention for another industry, too: batteries. A glut of start-ups have popped up in recent years to take advantage of the market–Boston Power, A123 and ZPower, to name a few–and put their own spin on the traditional lithium-ion battery. I recently had the chance to talk to the CEO and VP of Business Development of Imara, one of the up-and-coming li-ion battery manufacturers, to find out what makes the company different from its competitors.

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