As reported in the Retail Bulletin, the vast majority of UK retail employees say that it’s important for their companies to have an active policy with regards to climate change. The report also shows that those same employees lack leadership that would both satiate their desires as well as save the company money.
Everyone is impressed by the success of the Prius, and its abilty to change the makeup of the world’s fleet of vehicles and make other car companies scramble to copy it. But it wasn’t just an “idea” that everyone at Toyota immediately found appealing. According to Fortune Magazine, “Toyota had to overcome punishing deadlines, skeptical dealers, finicky batteries, and its own risk-averse culture to bring its hybrid to market”. No easy task for a conservative Japanese company, but something which is paying off big-time. Check out the article in Fortune to read more. Hopefully GM and Ford are reading it too. (thx Bob!)
The graph above comes from a recent Gallup Poll which says that Americans “See the Environment as Getting Worse” but can’t be bothered to do anything about it because economic growth is a priority. My opinion is that this is a totally useless poll to begin with because it starts off right away framing environmental matters as necesarily opposed to economic matters. It also suggests that “compromises” need to be made in order to have a better environment. Says who? We definitely have to change things, but I wouldn’t call them compromises.
Economy and environment are NOT in opposition. If you trash the planet, guess what happens to your economy? Likewise, if your economy is a mess, the environment will likely suffer as short term thinking starts to kick in, but that only starts you on a mutual downward spiral. Both economy and environment need to be considered in order for progress to be made on either. (thx John)
With Earth Day coming up it’s always a good idea to brush up on ways to save energy and live a greener life. The Sierra Club has some cool tips on their website which you can pass on to others:
http://www.sierraclub.org/coolhome/ – Tips on saving energy at home.
http://www.sierraclub.org/coolcities/ – Find out about steps your city has taken.
http://www.sierralclub.org/housecooling/ – A nifty sweepstakes.
http://www.sierraclub.org/petition/energysolutions/ – A petition for better government leadership.
The “Cold War” pitted developed nations against each other for a half-century, sustained by a small number of corporate surrogates who designed and supplied defenses. The “Hot War” era now emerging is driven by serious and immediate resource shortages and climate change at a global scale: things indivdual governments are very poorly positioned to control. The “Hot War” era will pit large corporations and small businesses against each other with great intensity of competition. As in recent times, occasionally corporations will band together to use national governments as surrogates in this struggle, advocating policies scripted by a Cold War era progeny called the “Think Tank”.Click to continue reading »
The only negative thing about Wal*Mart and other large retailers embracing organic food is the fact that they may seek legislation that waters down the definition of “organic”. The Organic Consumers Association is calling for a boycott of organic brands that are lobbying to weaken organic laws and taking advantage of loopholes in the organic standards. Horizon Organic and Aurora Organic are the two companies specifically targeted for allegedly purchasing the majority of their milk from feedlot dairies where the cows have little or no access to pasture. I don’t know a lot, specifically, about this particular issue, but things like this were bound to come up with the odd marriage of organics and mass retail. Will this start another cat-and-mouse game? Or will retailers improve transparency?
More information here: www.organicconsumers.org/nosb2.htm. (thx Mary!)
I went to a hearing today at San Francisco City Hall concerning the striping of bike lanes on a certain section of Market Street. The bike lanes have been desired for many years by cycling advocates who note that Market St. remains a forbidding place to ride. This section in particular is a notorious bottleneck during rush hour which causes numerous close-calls and riding on the sidewalk. In a city that ought to have much better bike infrastructure given its supposed reputation as a progressive leader, it’s rather surprising that it’s taken so long to get these lanes on the drawing board.
What was even more surprising was that a great many local merchants came out to speak against the lanes. The reason was that parking spaces would have to be moved from in front of their shops to adjacent blocks (with no net loss of spaces). Numerous merchants came out to testify fervently that this moving of parking would cause them to lose business and suffer no end of hardship. They were so convincing that when it was my time to speak I could barely collect my thoughts and didn’t really say much. The board of supervisors remained commited to the idea, however, but with certain considerations, most importantly the need to preserve loading zones for people buying large items, which is perfectly reasonable.
Then I got to thinking…
When I was at Ecosa, one of the coolest projects we did was a redesign of ink cartridge packaging, which is absurdly wasteful. In many cases it took up more plastic than the cartridge itself. We learned that this was a theft-prevention measure as, amazingly, they were the number one theft item at the Staples we did our reaserch at. We also learned about a local company that would refill almost any ink cartrige for you for a fee (less than buying new) which seemed like both a great eco-friendly idea and a great business!
Anyway, I got to thinking about the demand for these things, which, given the amount of spam I recieve on the subject has to be monumental. I came up with a crazy business idea to sell them from vending machines with extremely minimal packaging made of whatever recycled material was at hand. The same vending machines could take-back your empties and give you new ones at some kind of discount. And the thing could be solar powered, etc…. I still think it’s a good idea for highly urban areas where people might walk from their offices to a machine, but for most of America, it might not work so well.
Enter “Cartridge World“…
With bike to work day coming up, this article in GreenBiz is all the more pertinent. There’s an EPA program called the “best workplaces for commuters” which outlines a host of ways in which companies can make commuting easier and more flexible on their workforce, from telecommuting a few days a month, to flexible hours, to bike parking and shower rooms at the office. There are a ton of different ways to make commuting easier and healthier, but the bottom line is that by offering alternatives to being stuck in traffic, companies wind up with happier, more productive employees – and the stronger financial performance that comes with it.
The Calvert Foundation, will offer a type of investment note designed to stimulate business in the devastated Gulf Coast region that focuses on local community organizations to dissuade predatory bargain hunting and still offer a decent return.
Calvert’s notes function like a Certificate of Deposit (CD) investment account, paying up to two percent interest (although investors can forego the interest so as to leverage the investment further). Unlike bank loans, which are insured by the FDIC, the Calvert Foundation’s notes are backed by its own loan loss reserves as well as $12 million in collateral. These guarantees, coupled with the foundation’s successful track record, mean investors won’t lose their shirts by ponying up cash for the effort.
The details are in E-Magazine – required subscription to read. (Thanks Mary!)
Accordng to the Seattle Times, the trans fat content of McDonald’s food varies significantly according to the country it’s being served in. This is slighly surprising given the uniformity that McDonalds and other fast food franchises are known for. Acording to a study a large fries and chicken nuggets combo in the US has more than 3 times the trans-fat as the same product in many European countries. The cost difference dosn’t seem to be significant and McDonald’s claims the differences are caused by “taste differences” among populations. This is weird since I’ve never noticed a difference among any of the many international McDonald’s I’ve sampled (in earlier days). So what’s going on? Is this a supply chain problem? Or someone being lazy?
I need a vacation. But there won’t be one till summer. So, in the interest of suviving till then, and distracting you from whatever important thing you have to do, here’s a report from my good friend Derk about his recent trip to Maho Bay in the US Virgin Islands. Derk, take it away…
Click to continue reading »
Serene, quiet, relaxing, and cheap. I was probably lucky to get in,since I scheduled only a week in advance. Direct flights from JFK, BOS,and elsewhere on the east coast to St Thomas makes this very accessible. It does take a little more than an hour from the airport (cab-ferry-cab) to get to the camps, but its not too painful.
This is not a place to go if you want to join a raging spring break party. The camps are fairly remote and attract a somewhat reserved family set. But there are some great beaches just steps from the tents where you can rent little sailboats, snorkels, scuba gear, sea kayaks, et cetera. A couple of sail boats offer regular day-sail/snorkling trips that leave from the beach right at the resort. Maho Point, on which several tents are situated and a zero minute walk from the main beach, has excellent snorkling – green turtles, nurse sharks, puffer fish. Also a glassblower and pottery shop on site offering classes – might have been cool but I did not partake.
I”m not the biggest fan of diamonds in general but they remain a massively popular (almost obligatory) commodity in many circles. As a result of their high demand, enormous amounts of crime, war, and environmental degradation are associated with their production and sale. Therefore, it’s critical to do your homework when considering a diamond to purchase and learn as much as you can about how it was mined and where it came from.
“Brilliant Earth” claims to solve the mysteries of diamond orign, and according to their website looks like they’re doing a pretty good job. All diamonds they purchase are “conflict free” and are “crafted with fair labor and environmentally responsible practices” and they donate a fair bit of money to various communities in conflict areas.
Having looked over their material, it looks like they’re a lot better then most jewelers in terms of addressing some of the negative aspects of the jewelery trade, but I have to admit it would be nice if they had a little more information about specifics on their website, such as a defninition of exactly what “conflict free” and “environmentally responsible” really means.
Hunter Lovins and Natural Capitalism team will be giving a “webinar” next week on the 17th. The events, titled the “Path to Prosperity” will hdescribe how “Natural Capitalism enables communities, companies and countries to gain competitive advantage, both now and far into the future”. To register click here or call 1-866-554-6550. It’s not a cheap event, so it might be perfect for a firm or company to buy a seat for their whole team.
From Paul Sheldon – “McDonalds gets busted for feeding soy that was grown on former Amazon rainforest land to its chickens. This is a good example of why large corporations with large supply chains have to be careful–very careful–to examine all the sustainability practices (or lack thereof) of their entire supply chain. What matters here is not just that they did it and either didn’t know or didn’t care, but that Greenpeace was able to make it appear that they were being irresponsible.”
[ARTICLE HERE] Thanks Paul!