SOCAP09 is being held in San Francisco September 1-3. And if the $1,195 registration fee is beyond your budget, but you are interested in intersection of money and meaning, don’t miss the free pre-conference workshop being offered on Sept 1st by SVT Group. Both SOCAP09 registrants and non-registrants are welcome.
I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Sara Olsen, founder of Social Venture Technology Group. She has led the firm to become a world leader specializing in the development of frameworks for measuring the value of intangibles, and communicating this value in terms practical for entrepreneurs, managers and investors. Most recently Sara worked with the Environmental Investment Advisor to CalPERS, Environmental Capital Group, to design and pilot the Environmental Performance Reporting System used in its $1Bn environmental technology private equity portfolio; and has teamed with HIP Investor to develop and launch the Human Impact + Profit (HIP) Framework for investors, publicly-listed corporations and other institutions.
Impact Measurement Workshop
The target audience for the workshop is leaders from companies, NGOs, foundations and investors in charge of allocating funds who want a better understanding of the tools available to measure and quantify the positive social, economic and environmental impacts of their investments.
Last week, I presented at a Sustainability Summit for the Food Marketing Institute, an industry trade group representing 3/4 all the food sold in the United States.
Joel Makower, founder of GreenBiz.com, delivered the keynote address with a bold call to action: We have just 5,000 days to prevent irreversible global catastrophe. (Actually, since his first article about the topic, we are down to 4,844 days.)
After the conference, I am optimistically concerned. I am concerned that we have big environmental and social challenges to confront. And I am optimistic we can do it.
Last week non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags were officially banned in Mexico City, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to ban plastic bags. In March, Mexico City’s local assembly passed a law requiring stores in the world’s 11th largest city to provide biodegradable bags. There is a one-year grace period before authorities will impose sanctions. The grace period gives merchants time to come up with alternatives and for plastic bag producers to convert their factories.
“The challenge as always is how the law is applied,” said Beatriz Bugeda, the head of Citizen Observers of Environmental Vigilance. “You go to the markets and they put every fruit in a plastic bag. You can leave with 20 or 30 bags. More than waiting for penalties, I think the challenge is convincing citizens to change their habits. We have to go back to our grandmothers’ habits.”
Prolific writer and environmentalist Bill McKibben is heading a group of advocates that are rallying around an aggressive goal of capping the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million–based on findings of (civilly disobedient) climatologist James Hansen. The group, 350.org, is gearing up for an international “Day of Climate Action” on October 24, aimed at spreading the message that if humans aren’t able to bring the carbon level down to 350 ppm (from its current 390) then, well, we’re screwed. And now the 350 movement has received an important, personal endorsement from Rajendra Pachauri, the U.N’s top climate scientist.
In an interview with Agence France Presse reporter Marlowe Hood, Pachauri said his chairmanship with the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) precludes him from making an official endorsement of the 350 ppm goal. However, he did say “as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target.”
Many of the industries that have been hardest hit by the economic crisis are male dominated. Construction and manufacturing are two prime examples.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 247,000 jobs were lost in the US during July, including 76,000 construction and 52,000 manufacturing jobs.
The male unemployment rate is now 9.8%, while the female rate is 7.5% in the US. This trend is also seen in parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark.
As some male dominated industries lose jobs, some female dominated industries have gained jobs. In the health care industry, 81% of the workers are female. During July, 20,000 jobs were gained in this industry.
There’s no denying that there are few things more influential than Hollywood. From blockbuster movies to TV shows to the latest in celebrity fashion, these things inform popular culture, and leave an emotional impact on us. So, imagine the vast possibilities of harnessing the power of the entertainment industry to generate awareness of important social and environmental issues and make a difference. The American Red Cross recognizes the tremendous opportunity to seize a mainstream audience through entertainment, and in partnership with the CW’s promotions for their new series, ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ they are launching a full scale blood drive. The campaign’s tagline is ‘Starve a Vampire. Donate Blood.’ and will “take place on more than 230 high school and college campuses around the country,” according to Stephanie Millian, director for biomedical communications at the Red Cross in Washington.
Triple Pundit recently reported on a series of letters sent to Congressman Tom Perriello of Virginia. The letters were purportedly from constituent community groups urging a no vote on the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill that was then pending before the house. Fact is, they weren’t from constituents at all but from D.C. “grassroots” lobbying firm Bonner & Associates – and completely forged, lock, stock, and barrel.
It turns out those first letters sent to Perriello are but the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this month, when the count had risen to 12 forgeries sent to three House Democrats, Ed Markey called for an investigation into the fraud, expressing his dismay about the chilling effect such action has on the legislative process. “This fraud on Congress distorts the legislative process and disserves the American people. It represents a serious breach that needs to be fully understood as to the extent and scope of these wrongful acts,” Markey wrote in a letter to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a lobby group for the coal industry.
And the distortion grows. With 5 more fake letters recently uncovered by Markey’s investigation, the total comes to at least 17 forged letters sent and potentially 45 more yet to be verified as legitimate.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi recently vowed to clean up their water use practices in China. Thing is, the vows weren’t exactly voluntary. Only after a Beijing economic council released a scathing report on the firms’ water practices did the soft drink firms swear to change. Moving forward, Beijing will monitor the firms, and 25 other companies, for environmental infractions, Environmental Leader reports. (Coke and Pepsi pledged complete cooperation with the plan.) Meanwhile, other sources indicate that Coke and Pepsi do not deserve environmental blacklisting. What does all of this mean for sustainable business?
This December could be a make-or-break month in terms of, well, saving the world. “Decisions that we will make – or not make – [during the UN Climate Change Conference in December] will have profound impacts [on] the next five thousand generations. Will we, this year, establish the architecture that can rewire the entire planet with clean energy… help lift billions of people out of poverty, and stabilize the global climate?” Good points, posed by the National Climate Seminar on its website. The Seminar will attempt to improve public awareness – a crucial component of the Conference’s success – by hosting a bi-weekly phone series on climate change. The Seminar is expected to engage educators, scientists, politicians, and everyday Americans in the issues.
Stop filling up your garbage can with cheaply made vibrators. No more broken dildos piling up in landfill. Now you can recycle your old sex toys!
Yes, that’s recycle, not reuse, which is where my mind initially jumped.
According tothe Recycle my Sex Toy site: “Finally, there’s an environmentally friendly way to dispose of used or broken vibrators, dildos, plugs, or any other sex toy you may have. Our Sex Toy Recycling program offers you a way to recycle sex toys that you no longer want or use.”
A few weeks ago, construction began on the first of seven 10-gigawatt wind power bases in China.
I initially wrote about these wind power bases last month, when the vice president of the Chinese Wind Association announced the project— which is to be completed by 2020. Certainly this is a major part of China’s wind power goal of 100 gigawatts by 2020.
But as I’ve said time and time again, this is a global trend. And while new government support in China and the United States is providing fertile ground for growth and opportunity, wind energy momentum is not constrained by borders.
Last week, a lede in the Guardian UK’s environment blog read: “Greenpeace’s sea ice ‘mistake’ delights climate change sceptics (sic).” Apparently, in a recent interview on BBC, a Greenpeace expert went on air and said that the Arctic is looking at ice free summers as early as 2030. He, in fact, meant to say sea ice-free summers, citing research inspired by NASA focused on Greenland.
Gerd Leipold, the executive director of the environmental organization, then went on to say, “As a pressure group, we have to emotionalise issues and we’re not ashamed of emotionalising issues.” Despite what is seemingly a small omission, the Guardian reported that Leipold’s slip-up gave ammo to the many climate change detractors out there. The environmental advocacy group was quick to issue a defense, claiming that the context in which Leipold was speaking was obvious that he was referring to sea ice and not the land-based ice sheet of the Arctic, and the phrasing he used was in line with terminology used in the initial NASA study.
It appears, however, that what most critics have latched onto is not the specific data regarding Arctic ice melts, but the underlying ethos by which Greenpeace operates. “Admitting you don’t mind emotionalising issues,” writes the Guardian blogger, “gives ammunition to critics that will then use to say you are prone to exaggerating the facts.” One blog claimed Leipold’s comment highlights the fact that Greenpeace is “doing more harm than good by overselling alarmism.”
The building, located in Atlanta, Georgia, stands at three stories and encompasses 10,100 square feet and uses 84 percent less potable water and 53 percent less energy than a comparable building. Designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the Eco Office was made possible by the collaboration of over 200 organizations donating their time, materials and financial resources towards the project, which not only serves as an office, but doubles as a demonstration and training facility, showcasing the possibilities for high performance buildings to reduce operating costs.
One of the most cited reasons for choosing to live in an urban environment is “walkability.” A walkable city gives residents the ability to get around on foot and provides places to walk to, like shopping areas, transit stops and schools. A compact, walkable neighborhood encourages healthier lifestyles, protects the environment and saves energy by reducing our dependence on cars. Furthermore, they create a sense of community and generate stakeholder involvement around community related initiatives. Not only does living in a walkable community make personal economic sense, but it makes economic sense on a larger scale as well. In the current housing slump, homes located in walkable communities are more likely to hold their value and may even appreciate once the recession ends. These benefits and economic indicators prompt the question, would you pay more for walkability? If so, do the costs justify the benefits?
A key principle of smart growth is the development of walkable communities, but another goal is to make homes in metropolitan regions affordable and accessible to jobs and essential services. Families in search of their piece of the American Dream increasingly must drive farther and farther into the exurbs to find homes with mortgages they can afford. A report released on August 18th shows that home buyers are paying more for homes in neighborhoods where you can get around without wheels. The study, conducted by CEOs for Cities, explores the connection between home values and walkability, as measured by the Walk Score algorithm. The report looked at 94,000 real-estate transactions in 15 markets across the country. Researchers found that in 13 of the markets, housing values were higher in more walkable neighborhoods. Data showed these “walkable” community houses commanded $4,000 to $34,000 more than those in communities with average walkability.
Americans love food. You can’t drive more than a few blocks in any town without passing by a restaurant, fast food joint or grocery store. And after each meal or snack, we also throw out much of our uneaten food. Those scraps that don’t end up in the mouth of a family pet are instead sent to the family trash can.
These food scraps, along with leaf, yard and wood wastes, which emit carbon when they decompose, are known as organic waste. Organic waste accounts for about two-thirds of the total solid waste stream in the U.S., yet it is also often forgotten when considering practices like reducing, reusing and recycling waste. If you take a look at your own trash can right now, more than likely you’ll find that much of it contains organic waste.
Food scraps, in particular, are the single largest part of the municipal solid waste stream by weight. In 2007, nearly 12.5 percent of the total waste generated in the U.S. included food leftovers. An even more sobering statistic shows that only about three percent of food waste was recovered. Fortunately, alleviating the amount of food waste we trash can be a simple process, both at home and with the help of local municipalities.
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