Or rather, the villan in “The Constant Gardener”. Pfizer has been charged in Nigeria with administering experimental drugs to children with no authorization. It may or may not have lead to any deaths, but it’s certainly dodgy behavior from a giant pharmacutical who ought to know better. This is the kind of corporate leadership that ends up brining down companies, not to mention the reputations of more well behaved firms. Not a good move on the part of Pfizer who will probably catch a lot of heat for this, and deservedly so. The effect on their share price remains to be seen.
This is my favorite kind of post. Penn State has some really good data for people considering green roofs outlined on this page. It’s not as simple as laying out some dirft and throwing on some grass seed. There is an innumerable variety of plants and soil types, as well as arrangements of both that perform differently under different conditions. At the Penn State green roofs test facility (check it out), they’re testing all of it. Of particular interest is the data they’ve collected on storm water runoff. If I’m reading it corectly, a green roof will prevent 3 times as much stormwater runoff as a traditional roof, in addition to providing filtration of what does run off. With increasing costs associated with stormwater there’s an obvious busines case here.
Carbon prices are down a whopping 50% over news that many European countries emitted far less CO2 last year than the market had anticipated (article on WBCSD). While it’s good news that emissions are down, the immediate negative effect, of course, is that with lower prices for credits, companies have less incentive to cut back and sell them. Of course, as long as a credit is worth more than zero, there’s still something there no? Cutting emissions is usually profitable in the long term regardless of whether there’s an incentive program in place, but could this reduction in incentives be too much to keep companies excited about it?
What will the effect of this be on projects like TerraPass or DriveNeutral? (if something similar happened in the US market?) It seems to me that if consumers were picking up the slack and buying lots of credits to offset their driving, it would make up for the difference and stabilize the price.
Now this is just too cool – Enterprise car rental will now offer cars that run on biodiesel in the Portland, OR market. It’s a mere 5 cars for now, but with biodiesel now cheaper than gasoline, that’s bound to get better. The cars are only running on B20 (a 20% bio, 80% regular diesel) fuel, but it’s my understanding that you could fill them up with pure biodiesel if you wanted. (Correct me if I”m wrong).
In other news – the Wisconsin Ag Connection says that fullly 50% of soybean farmers in the state are using biodiesel on the farm and most of those who are not using it, cite availability problems not lack of desire.
Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollender has launched a new blog called The Inspired Protagtonist. It looks like it’s going to be a fun read from one of the most forward thinking companies in the US. Seventh Generation, whose name is inspired from the Native American concept of considering one’s impact on the next seven generations, has been producing post-consumer recycled paper products for years, as well as non-toxic household cleaning products. Some time ago, introducing non-bleached paper towels and napkins, they convinced me that there’s no reason whatsoever that such products have to be white – you’re only using them to wipe up a spills. Since bleach is basically poison, why use it if you don’t have to? It’s little epiphanies like that, on a large scale, that companies like Seventh Gen are pushing. Check out the blog.
I’ve been invited by McIntire-Strasburg from the venerable Sustainablog (soon to be writing for Treehugger too!) to be a guest speaker on Shea Gunther’s Green Business Chat. I think I’ll probably share some thoughts on Al Gore’s new climate change film which I just saw at a special sneak preview tonight. But then again, anything could happen! In order to tune in, you need an invite from Jeff, so pop him a lint at “sustainablog at gmail” and tune in at 8:30 CST/6:30 PST!
The other day, my friend Brie and I were talking about the annoyance of getting gigantic styrofoam containers and plastic bags every time you order take-a-way from a restaurant or decide to take home leftovers. Why not make a little collapsable container that’s small enough to take with you when you go out to eat? Despite the potential for tackiness, it struck me as a good business idea. It seems, however, that good ol’ Tupperware has beaten us to it, offering a nifty series of collapsable containers which, concievably, could be used for just that purpose.
On another note, what if a delivery service gave you the food already in some kind of Tupperware style container? You might have to pay a deposit, but the next time you order you would just exchange the old Tupperware for the new one being delivered. They could be standardized so that many restaurants could share them. Hmm…. maybe corn-based biodegradables are better. What do you think?
HP continues to lead the computer industry when it comes to addressing issues of sustainability. The Palo Alto company has published extensive guidelines to ensure that their hundreds of suppliers meet basic requirements for environmental compliance, as well as labor standards. With suppliers working for other companies as well, including HP’s rivals, you can imagine the complexity of the operation. Nonetheless, as detailed on WBCSD, HP has successfully held suppliers accountable and seems to be making great progress.
With high gas prices taking a bite out of people’s wallets, transit and other car-alternatives are on on the rise in popularity. A great way to make transit easier and save employees money is to sign up for Commuter Check. This brilliant service allows employers to pay out as much as $105 tax-free per month to employees for use on transit systems, van pools and similar services. In other words, by not spending a dime, a company can give its employees what amounts to a 20-35% discount on the price of a monthly transit pass, or they can just give them out as bonus pay.
That’s a lot of money in some people’s pockets, and everyone wins! The service is available in select cities in the US, but with a little preasure, it’s likely to availble elsewhere soon.
Forget sending everyone a check for $100. What might Congress do that could benefit anyone, be flexible, and reduce per capita gasoline consumption year after year? By now most people have figured out that the only hybrid car that makes economic sense to own and is widely available is the Toyota Prius. A tax code that favors hybrids benefits primarily one brand and technology. That leaves out every other maker and other worthy technologies like diesel. Given the poor likelihood of picking up a used hybrid, what Congress has been considering in the last week is so far off the mark from being fair and of value for most drivers it’s laughable. What approach would solve all these problems? Here’s a hypothetical approach that could work for everyone and drive positive, continuous change.Click to continue reading »
It’s great to see a nice big article on the front page of CNN about green roofs. The presence of this kind of article is a nice reenforcement that we are very much at a tipping point when it comes to knowledge about environmentlly better ways of doing things. With the “Green Room Industry” growing at 70% a year, it’s also a fantastic business opportunity to get involved with!
This is a rather interesting story, featuring innovation, boom and bust, recycling & reactionst behavior. (See WBCSD) Chinese companies are on the lookout for lead anywhere they can get it. The lead is for car batteries, and apparantly you can recycle old car batteries for their lead content (I didn’t know this!). So, Kenyan car battery scavengers are making a killing by selling old batteries to Chinese buyers instead of on the local market which pays about half as much. This sound’s like a great thing – Kenya exporting something, batteries being recycled, and a very undeveloped economy getting some cash.
However, the local recyclers are up in arms because they can’t pay the Chinese rates and are finding themselves battery-less, and therefore out of jobs. As a result, they are calling for bans on battery exports. So where does all this balance out? How big is the Kenyan car battery supply anyway?
Read on at WBCSD.
World Changing’s Alex Steffan wrote an outstanding essay on earth day which encourages us to see beyond superficial consumer changes. He’s dead on right. If all we do is recycle our beer bottles, we won’t be going anywhere. Still, with most people’s environmental consiousness at practically nil, the bulk effects of superficial changes can still be positive and can be a great first step toward something greater. I think that as business leaders, there is a dual responsibility. One is to understand the high level thought that is going on in Alex’s essay and truly strive to move in that direction. The second is to recognize the realities of our imperfect system, and work with it in a way that does not alienate people, however long that takes.
If there’s anything worth reading today, read Alex’s essay, and read the comments too.
Lest we get lulled into complacency and overflowing optimism that the world advances only by the invisible hand of unfettered commerce, check out this article. The synopisis is that activism is indeed an effective and necesary agent of change that should not be dismissed as an irrational nuisance. Activism opens doors to many optional futures, in addition to providing “diversity for when the mainstream runs into trouble.”
Sometimes you have to say things over and over again before they sink in. Speaking of sinks – saving water is not only going to become increasingly important, it also saves companies money immediately. It’s also easier to do than most people realize. Joel Makower’s Grist column today illustrates this nicely.
Water reduction, reuse, and recycling investments often have quick paybacks, especially when one considers the multiple business benefits water efficiency can provide