Drake & Company: Stewards of Social Change

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Sometimes those creating change and advancing awareness aren’t on the front lines, silently strategizing behind the scenes to bring important social issues to the surface. One such example is Drake & Company, an association management firm focused on helping non-profits and foundations gain market attention and achieve their objectives. They do this through linking non-profits with for-profit companies who can help them garner mainstream exposure and donations, cause marketing campaigns, fundraising activities, and ongoing stewardship of their core mission. And they boast an impressive roster of clients who entrust them with upholding the pillars of their organization, and for whom they’ve been able to generate significant results. In addition, founder Steve Drake recognizes that his company’s success is the direct result of their success, so he also feeds a percentage of his profits back into the associations, on top of other things such as volunteer efforts and food programs. With a watchful eye on his clients — and the world — Steve has created a circle of care that keeps consciousness at the forefront and causes thriving.

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Unpackaged: Green Grocer Asks Shoppers to Bring Bags, Tupperware, and Jars

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments

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Whither Lunchables, that epitome of excessive packaging (and poor health), if the ethos behind Unpackaged, a northeast London grocery store, catches on? Maybe consumers will find that all those plastic containers jammed into Lunchables make handy carriers for their quinoa and honey.
Unpackaged is a store that opened in late 2007 and has garnered lots of attention as a green concept store. As the name implies, nearly all of the goods sold in the store are sold in bulk, so customers need to come prepared with containers. This isn’t all that new, of course. Food co-ops and even mainstream grocery stores have been selling food in bulk for many decades, but the majority of goods are sold in cans or bottles or some other packaging that can’t even be easily reused.
Plus, Unpackaged puts a price on packaging. Customers who fail to bring their own zip-locks and re-born peanut butter jars need to pay about 75 cents extra to use the store’s packaging. But customers are embracing the concept: According to Reuters, more than 80 percent of the store’s customers bring their own containers.

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A Simple, Smart, Free Way to Green Your Office

| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 11 Comments

ecofont.jpegTypically when a company starts thinking of how to become greener, they either think big, as in how to reduce their carbon (and soon, water) footprint, or on an more immediate scale – how to green your office. Recycling, lighting, energy use monitoring spring to mind first.
But there’s something equally as ubiquitous and therefore overlooked – the amount of ink used when printing those everyday things – things that add up to a lot of paper, and a lot of ink.
How do you reduce the amount of ink used then? Simple: poke holes in the lettering. Come again?

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How Can the Solar Energy Industry Be More Sustainable?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday February 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

180px-Solar_Array.jpg Solar power is generally viewed as a viable alternative to fossil-fuel powered energy, but Solar PVs panels are made of toxic materials, some of which are hard to recycle. In 20 to 25 years, solar PV panels will reach the end of their product life and create a tremendous amount of waste. Making solar PV panels requires a tremendous amount of energy usage. Although solar energy at present only provides 1/10th of one percent of U.S. energy, it is estimated that it will grow. What can the solar industry do to make itself more sustainable?
In January, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition released a study titled, Toward A Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry. The report listed six recommendations for the solar energy industry:
1. Reduce the use of toxic materials with the goal of eliminating them while developing environmentally sustainable practices.
2. Implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the product’s impact on the environment. Implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the product’s impact on the environment.
3. Use a precautionary approach when testing new materials and processes.
4. Design products so they can be easily recycled, and expand recycling technology.
5. Promote jobs in the solar energy industry which protect a worker’s health and safety, plus provide a living wage.
6. Protect health and safety in the global solar energy industry.

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21st Clean Tech Forum Opens Rock Star Style

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments

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My environmentally minded friends always joke about “Eco-Rockstars” – the big names in the environmental movement we all drool over: your Hunter Lovins, Adam Werbach, and Shai Agassi. We line up to see them speak but their names would fall on deaf ears at the RNC. The Clean Tech Forum took the idea of Eco-Rockstars to a new level with 20 foot projection screens on each side of the presenters and spotlights that danced over the balding heads in the audience between speakers.
This is the biggest gathering of clean tech investors and entrepreneurs in the world, and it’s pretty clear when you walk in the door that everyone is there to fund and be funded. If you can make it in the door, you know you’re in the right place. The Executive Chairman of the Forum, Nick Parker, opened with a call to action, reminding the audience of the dire situation we find ourselves in: the economic crisis, ecological collapse, and the ‘insecurity crisis’ aka the separation between the haves and the have-nots. He issued a call to action, reminding the audience that we didn’t have to answer a call to arms and pick up an AK-47 like prior generations, we merely had to make money off of solving the world’s challenges.
Despite my capitalist leanings that call gave me pause – did Mr. Parker mean that we should dance on the graves of dead bald eagles? But further on in his presentation he made it clear that he is genuinely concerned about the environment and sees the efficiencies and innovation capability of the clean tech sector as the best solution we have. He discussed the great garbage patch for nearly 10 minutes and stuttered through a visibly discomforting discussion of the lowered sperm count he faces as a male in the 21st century.
Most conference keynote addresses give you a reason to graze over the leftovers on the breakfast table. This one made me sad that I had to sneak out and head back to my day job. Don’t worry – coverage doesn’t end here! We’ll be bringing you features on some of the most innovative and exciting companies present at the conference through the rest of this week and next.

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Faith in Greed

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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I think that I’m beginning to understand why greed is good. Greed provides clarity and focus in a world of steadily increasing and seemingly endless possibilities. When the twin towers go down, gold traders keep on trading gold, and in a global market that needs gold to stabilize itself from the shock maybe that’s a good thing.
Greed is also predictable. Greedy people are easy to understand, easy to motivate and therefore easy to do business with. Traders on the Enron floor did not graduate ready to shut off California’s power, they entered an environment built for and by greedy people and they conformed because greed is also safe. In an environment where everyone else is greedy there is no (apparent) benefit to being nice. A greedy person surrounded by nice people may or may not become nice, but a nice person surrounded by greedy people will eventually be forced to become greedy.

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California Green Lights CO2 Storage- Hydrogen Power Project

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

lunapic-12354630405385%282%29.jpg Despite being slammed by proponents of greener, cleaner alternatives, a place for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in state, national and international alternative energy stimulus programs is pretty well set, even in California.
The California Public Utilities Commission last Friday approved South California Edison’s request to carry out studies necessary to evaluate the feasibility of building a utility-scale base-load power plant fueled by hydrogen produced from gasification of petroleum coke, coal and possibly biomass.
What makes this clean and green you might ask? Well, the plant’s design specs include equipment and processes that would capture 90% of carbon dioxide emissions and the means to sequester it underground.

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Can Hype Sell An Inferior Hybrid?

Jeff Siegel | Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 6 Comments

fusion.jpgSomeone must have a really good press agent to get this one so much attention.
According to a U.S. News and World Report review, two automotive publications have published comparisons of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid against the Toyota Prius and Camry Hybrid, with Ford winning both.
USA Today stated that the Ford drives better than the Prius, and that when the gasoline kicked in to help the electric on the Fusion, there was no vibration or shimmying. Now I’m not a professional test driver, so I realize I won’t notice certain things the way a professional would. But I always rent a Prius when a rental car is necessary, and I’ve never felt any kind of vibration or shimmying. And I suspect your average driver would not likely notice something like this either, unless it was a real hassle. Looking to Prius owners I know, I’ve never heard that complaint.

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Wall Blank: A Canvas for Consciousness

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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Can you imagine not making any profit at all one day per week, every week? That’s what Shawn Kelly, owner and curator of Wall Blank, an art brokerage house based out of Rockford, Illinois, does on what he has dubbed “No Profit Fridays.”
What began as a singular promotion in support of a local cause has evolved into a weekly event, whereby the entire proceeds of all sales go directly to a non-profit organization of the artist’s choosing. The artist then forgoes any payment, and other than shipping costs, every single penny goes straight to the selected cause.
So far, Wall Blank has been able to send sizable donations to charitable groups such as Kiva, Happy Life Children’s Home, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Wishing Well, and many others. By creating an emotional tie between the artist and a cause, Wall Blank can reach consumers in a memorable way, which allows them to feel pride for their purchase and a special connection to the artwork.
For Shawn, these are relationships — not transactions — and he subscribes to the ‘vaue for the community, value for all’ philosophy in putting making a difference over making money. He admits his paycheck may be a little leaner, but the lives he’s been able to touch are that much richer. And you can’t put a price tag on compassion.

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Green:Net 09 – “The First Green Conference for the Internet Technology Industry”

| Tuesday February 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Whether or not you’re an internet technology professional, if you’re a 3P reader you know the importance that IT and related technologies play in measuring and reducing the environmental footprint of an enterprise. Not only that, but you’ve come to appreciate the phenomenal entrepreneurial opportunities the sector presents. From smart grids to less resource intensive data centers, software and the web technologies that drive it has been a constant theme of discussion on the site.
Coming up in about a month, take a break from your routine and join our friends from the GigaOM network, along with me, for the Green:Net09 conference. It’s being billed as “The First Green Conference for the Internet Technology Industry” and judging by the impressive roster of speakers and attendees, is not to be missed.
« March 24th at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco »

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Cleantech Investment to Inoculate American Economy

Nick Hodge | Monday February 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The cleantech is industry is still forging ahead even as broad economic indicators skid to 11-year lows.

Despite dismal stock valuations in the sector, cleantech deals are still being done at the private equity and venture levels, and Congressional support for the industry is stronger than ever. Certainly this fledgling industry still has many milestones to reach, as all indicators point to robust growth in all segments of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

But with so many grim financial headlines breaking everyday, our instincts generally direct us to dismiss good news like this; surely one industry can’t be succeeding as so many others fail.

To satiate our curiosity, I think it’s perfectly alright to look this gift horse in the mouth.

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Nuclear Energy: Pros and Cons

| Monday February 23rd, 2009 | 223 Comments

There is no perfect energy source. Each and every one has its own advantages and compromises. This series will explore the pros and cons of various energy sources.  Learn about other forms of energy generation here.

nuclear_power_plant.pngNuclear power is once again considered a prominent alternative, despite the disregard it was met with in the 1970s. This is because it’s now being touted as a more environmentally beneficial solution since it emits far fewer greenhouse gases during electricity generation than coal or other traditional power plants.

It is widely accepted as a somewhat dangerous, potentially problematic, but manageable source of generating electricity. Radiation isn’t easily dealt with, especially in nuclear waste and maintenance materials, and expensive solutions are needed to contain, control, and shield both people and the environment from its harm.

The dialogue about using nuclear power – and expanding it – centers on weighing these risks against the rewards, as well as the risks inherent in other forms of power generation. These are just some of the issues involved.

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DoggyNetwork.com: Starting Up Socially Aware

| Monday February 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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As doing business becomes more socially conscious, a new breed of entrepreneur is emerging. One who is committed to giving back, and who has built philanthropy directly into the business model — even before the first cent has been made. DoggyNetwork.com, co-founded by Ricky Paredes, is launching with their earnings already earmarked for causes dedicated to animal safety and welfare. A percentage of every sale will be donated to charities dedicated to improving the lives of pets through adoption, prevention of cruelty to animals, and education about how to care for animals in a humane way. Ricky believes it’s important to honor the relationships people have with their pets, and wants to help dog lovers everywhere contribute to creating solutions for the critical issues facing animals today. “There’s no point being successful if you can’t do good with it,” says Ricky, and that’s a spirit that will drive a society built on collective consciousness where change is our main form of currency.

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Risk, Recession, and the Future of Green Markets

3p Contributor | Friday February 20th, 2009 | 1 Comment

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By Rick Bunch, Managing Director, The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan
Sustainable business strategy experts, from economists to NGO executives, tend to agree that the market, and its myriad financial instruments and exchanges, is a powerful force for change when it comes to sustainable business practices. Cap-and-trade policy is high on the Obama administration’s list of environmental priorities, and in recent years, carbon trading markets, alternative energy investment firms and unique “green” financial products like weather derivatives have emerged to redefine the relationship between green strategy and greenbacks.
Amidst this change is an unprecedented level of uncertainly, combined with dismal performance within financial markets. With Wall Street in crisis, what is happening in the newly created environmental markets? And how will those markets change the way companies execute sustainability strategy in the future?
The short answer is, a lot. Green markets and related financial products have continued to thrive, although their growth has been dampened by the global slowdown. The regulatory/political landscape is shifting, and with that shift brings the likelihood of an auction-based cap-and-trade system for carbon being implemented in the near term. With political support for sustainability, demand for corporate transparency and enthusiasm for market-based solutions to climate change at an all-time high, it stands to reason that this should be the Golden Age of Green Markets.
Our research at the Erb Institute tells us that, yes, green financial markets and instruments are strong, but they are also complicated, and without close monitoring and smart regulation, these innovative tools for corporate sustainability risk the same fate as their traditional counterparts.

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Off the Rack and Into the Trash: The UK Tries to Turn the Tide of Clothes

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Friday February 20th, 2009 | 0 Comments


Of all the things we consume, clothing seems among the most environmentally benign. But given the frequency with which trends change and the low costs of many fashions–the ultra-cheap frocks from stores such as Forever 21 and H&M are often referred to as “disposable fashion”–it’s not surprising that garments represent a growing percentage of the waste stream.
In mid-December, UK’s The Times reported that of the two million tons of clothes purchased in that country each year, about 74 percent end up in landfills. The article goes on to explain how the proliferation of cheap clothing is impacting charities such as Salvation Army and Oxfam that rely on second-hand clothing sales but are now drowning in cheap togs because they can no longer compete on price with fast-food-like fashions sold in malls. It also discusses how the flood of quickly-disposed-of garments are changing business dynamics of the clothing textile recycling industry in the UK (which sells used clothes into developing countries but is now competing with cheap, new clothes from China). The article also noted that the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was developing a “sustainable clothing roadmap” to try to reduce the environmental impact of clothing production. The agency introduced this roadmap this week during London’s Fashion Week.
It’s a little early, of course, to know if the roadmap can actually push the fashion industry stakeholders to transform the industry, but its scope is comprehensive in that is addresses the industry’s environmental, social and ethical impacts.

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