How can sustainability improve the lives of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa? Through the simple realization of good ideas and global collaboration – the founding principles of startup Africa Rural Connect (ARC). ARC seeks to change lives by engaging “anyone who cares about Africa” (including past and present Peace Corps Volunteers, the African Diaspora, development practitioners, technology innovators, and scholars), as well as requesting – and realizing – their ideas for positive change. In addition to demonstrating grassroots organization at its best, ARC also demonstrates the roles of technology, individuals, and businesses worldwide in promoting sustainable development in Africa.
According to an East Coast Blogging report, ARC was launched by several local firms in the DC area, plus the National Peace Corp Association. Their basic plan was to drive discussions of development challenges and solutions facing sub-Saharan Africa, aggregate participants’ knowledge, and turn participants’ ideas into action.
According to a recent Reuters report, Tucson Electric Power announced Wednesday that it will purchase power from two Arizona-based solar energy systems. The move is expected to benefit many of Tucson Electric’s 400,000 customers in Arizona by providing solar power for more than 6,000 homes. It will also prevent production of an estimated 64,000 tons of CO2.
Up to 12% of the world’s cargo ships are standing down, absent cargo or crews. Will there be a commensurate reduction in shipping-related CO2 emissions? Will 2009 be the baseline year against which shipping companies could be required to accomplish reductions? For details, see Ghost Fleet Moored Off Singapore: 12% Of Ocean Shipping Armada Stands Down Business significance for #1 is :U2/C3.
Do you work in a supply chain for the personal care products? Niche offerings from the green side are poised to threaten the market shares of multinational brands. An online distributor, Become Clean, is moving to be the Amazon of healthy and safe versions. For details, see Become Clean Offers 20% Off Natural Personal Care Products Business significance for #2 is :U1/C5.
By Matthew Madden In neo-classical economics, the paradox of thrift describes an economic scenario in which the more people save their own money, the worse off the overall economic situation becomes. As a result, the paradox of thrift states that what may be good for the individual may not be good for society. The consumption paradox describes a situation in which an individual enjoys an increased quality of life from a material standpoint, yet is less satisfied and content with that life. The consumption paradox is specifically focused on both the “take-make-waste” model we’ve embraced as well as the role marketing, advertising and sales campaigns play in increasing the throughput of this model.
Water and water bottles seem to be flowing into headlines as often as healthcare these days. But activists in the Northern California town of McCloud are claiming victory in a six-year battle to block Nestle Waters North America from erecting a water bottling plant at the site of an old mill in the once-prosperous logging town. Nestle announced on September 10 that it is bagging the proposal.
When first introduced, Nestle’s proposal was for a 1 million square foot facility that would bottle a mind-boggling 521 million gallons of water a year, pulling it from the town’s watershed and then trucking it as far south of Los Angeles. The plant would also employ 240 people, it said. Nestle later revised the scope down to 195 million gallons, and a plant with a smaller footprint (and a reduced workforce of 100), but the company had already raised the ire of McCloud residents—some of whom were pitted against each other on the issue—and had become a focus of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign of the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International.
There are many features of Hawaii that make the 50th state utterly different from the other 49. Probably one of the most obscure, however, is that it generates nearly 80% of its electricity from imported oil, mainly from Indonesia. When oil prices shot up in 2008, consumers in the state were paying around 50 cents per kilowatt hour — five times the national average.
The state’s tenuous reliance on oil has put added momentum behind the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, launched in January 2008, which calls for the state to generate 60-70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, through a combination of new development and energy efficiency measures.
But as planners across the country have found, switching to renewable energy is not as simple as planting wind turbines and solar panels, even when the impetus behind it is pressing.
Copenhagen’s upcoming bike share competition is a glimpse into the City’s vision for itself: that of a “modern city, with emphasis on effective and environmentally-friendly transport forms,” the CPH bike share competition website says. The primary goal of the contest is simple: To conceptualize and implement a custom-made-for-Copenhagen bike share program that will help the City meet its sustainable development goals. In doing so, the contest will help build a green, dynamic City that is workable for Copenhagen residents, commuters, and tourists. It will also cement sustainability into Copenhagen’s transportation system while (its creators hope) making the City a model of green transport development. But will the program result in financial benefits substantial enough for other communities worldwide to follow suit?
The House of Representatives is considering expanding government-led research into fuel efficient vehicle technology while increasing research dollars for auto parts suppliers, the Star Tribune reports. The expansion would boost funding for the auto industry, helping the industry meet tougher fuel economy standards and potentially creating more green jobs.
Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What’s required is farming smarter, not harder. Farmer Richard Wiswall is here to tell the world it’s possible to start an organic farm, enjoy it, and make a profit. Like any other business, organic farming has ups and downs. But Wiswall (who’s been farming in Vermont for 27 years) offers a hopeful and useful model to ensure a sustainable business that puts some money in the bank.
He says: “My goal is to see more happy, prosperous farmers. I see too many farmers work too hard for little money and burn out because of it. I would love it that farmland shouldn’t compete for developments because developments pay more. I want it that farms remain in farmland because it’s economically viable to do so. And I think that’s the way it should be.”
Chelsea Green recently produced an original video to introduce readers to this organic farmer and author.
Watch the 4-minute version:
For the super enthusiastic, there’s also a 30 minute version:
One of these days, 3p will get invited to the TED conference. In the meantime, their presentation videos are continuously phenomenal. In case you’re not familiar with the format, TED videos are all ~19 minutes long and feature leading thinkers from around the world working on ideas to solve humanity’s biggest problems.
Sit back and watch Dan Pink talk about how narrow-minded financial incentives can paradoxically decrease performance in the workplace. It really adds extra question marks to the incredible rewards given to some CEOs lately, especially in the financial sector.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Walmart has made extraordinary strides in advancing principals of sustainability into their operations. Among the most powerful economic forces in the world – when Walmart makes even a tiny, incremental change, the world takes notice. The Walmart force is especially strong when measured across its supply chain, an enormous network of small and large companies over which Walmart exudes considerable influence.
Earlier this year, Walmart announced their very own “Sustainability Index” – a way to measure the impact of companies and products that Walmart deals with. Now, companies (Walmart partners and otherwise) are poised to make changes in their operations in order to comply with Walmarts sustainability demands – a complicated logistical, legal, and philosophical challenge.
Our friends at GreenBiz have put together a live webinar to be held at 12 noon Eastern Time on September 24th. The venerable Joel Makower will host Walmart’s Rand Waddoups, EORM’s Tim Mohin, and Morrison & Foerster’s Christopher Carr in a conversation aimed at getting down to the details of Walmart’s index and its implications on the entire Walmart supply chain.
The EPA and Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released new vehicle standards, which would make new vehicles’ fuel economy the highest seen in over 30 years. Sustainability groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), are urging the Obama administration to finalize the standards (and prevent loopholes), a UCS press release reports. If finalized, the proposed standards would potentially benefit the environment, consumers’ finances, and the nation’s energy security.
For an average of 60 cents per gallon, the DewPointe DH9 Atmospheric Water Purification System extracts water vapor from the air and converts it to pure drinking water. The system uses similar technology as some home dehumidifiers to pull the moisture from the air.
By pulling moisture out of the atmosphere, the DH9 is said to eliminate virtually all contaminants that might otherwise occur in groundwater. The device then further purifies the water to eliminate 99.99% of contaminants. There’s an electrostatic air filter to remove small airborne particles like pollen and dust, a germicidal uV light that destroys bacteria and other microorganisms, a coconut hull filter that eliminates heavy metals, chlorine residuals and mineral salts, and a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to remove any remaining pathogens or fine particles. Unlike other RO filters, where the wastewater is then flushed (so that the user drinks one purified gallon for each six to ten that are wasted), the DH9’s revolutionary RO filter reprocesses it so that no water is lost. A gravity-fed storage tank holds 6.5 gallons that would be accessible even in the event of a power outage.
As if our obsessive-compulsive nutrition culture was not frenetic enough with the deluge of conflicting reports and industry funded studies about diet, a new food labeling project called “Smart Choices” has recently unveiled its pseudo certification to help shoppers identify “smarter food and beverage choices.”
“Smarter Choices” for consumers include Froot Loops and Cocoa Crispies. Yes, that’s right, sugar-laden cereals are considered smarter dietary choices according to the certification. Ellen T. Kennedy, a researcher from Tufts who presides over the “Smart Choices” board (apparently unpaid), defended products endorsed by the label in a New York Times interview, arguing that sugary cereals are a better choice than a donut.
Right. And a donut is better than a bag of crack. Perhaps they should reconsider blacklisting fried, sugary confections.
Employee engagement is a growing strategy for driving performance and building competitive advantage for companies with a commitment to sustainability.
“The engaged workforce will find more opportunities to get lean and identify more opportunities to innovate and create products and services that lower customers’ environmental impacts. All of this work will improve the top and bottom lines,” comments sustainable business expert Andrew Winston, in his recent book Green Recovery.
Based on his book, and some of the other recent literature available, I offer the following three tips for engaging employees in sustainability:
Look at the big picture and identify your greatest impacts across the value chain;
Involve staff in sustainability on multiple levels, both at work and at home; and
Integrate sustainability into operations and everyday decisions on products throughout their life cycle.
Catalyzing your employees to integrate sustainability into both their lives and work decisions can be a low-cost strategy for saving money, driving innovation and keeping employees happy.
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