I was happy to see this article on WBCSD proclaiming that the World Bank is now “urging” green accounting. The article opens by asking “Who is rich and who is poor”, and suggesting (with good reason) that GNP is hardly a real measurement of “richness” and that many new measurements need to be put into place, especially those that take into consideration the problems caused by distribution of wealth, natural resource depletion, and population growth. The risk if this advice is neglected: Knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
There are (at least) two ways of approaching the subject of sustainable marketing. On the one hand we can look at marketing as a set of tools that have no inherent ethical, moral or sustainable implications.
From this view the tools take on the qualities of their object, but have no moral impact themselves. Thus two nearly identical marketing plans – one for hamburgers from cows pastured on a clear-cut rainforest, and another for local, organic milk – could have vastly different evaluations in relation to sustainability.
Another way to approach the subject would be to examine the impact of the marketing methods themselves and ask if some are inherently unsustainable and should be avoided. From this perspective the medium itself has an effect on the message, and an unsustainable marketing program could offset the impact of a sustainable product or message.
Here’s a nice little piece of entrepreneurship: Capitalize on people’s desire to be proud of the investment they’ve made in a fuel-efficient vehicle. MPGStick sells little stickers (recycled?) that you can apply to your vehicle boasting of 30+, 40+, or 60+ miles-per-gallon efficiency. Pointless vanity? In the sense that it might instill envy in others, one ought to walk lightly, but in the sense that it makes efficiency something to be proud of, I think this is great.
Not to be outdone by rival Toyota, Honda has made significant progress in bringing hybird vehicles successfully to market. The new Honda Civic hybrid will soon debut with an expected 50mpg rating. If past success can even modestly be repeated, it is sure to be a major seller, while improving air quality for all. (Honda press release)
Taking advantage of the unprecented demand for their vehicles, along with the resulting economy of scale, Toyota has announced a goal to cut the price premium for hybrid automobiles in half. That means that going hybrid will no longer require such a premium over a regular car. Can Toyota pull it off? Most likely they will, according to this USA today article. (via Grist)
Despite the well documented potential benefits, California’s answer to the Million Solar Roofs initiative appears to have died amidst partisan squabling. It might not be the end of the program as the Governor intends to reintroduce it in November. The problem, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, was over zealous union provisions inserted into the bill. (via Grist)
The Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee is one of the “greenest” buildings in the region, but has no LEED rating because certification costs were deemed too high given the non-profit’s budget. This is completely understandable for that situation, but should other added costs, such as construction and planning hinder the motivation to “go green”?
Gil Friend has a great collumn on GreenBiz this week detailing ways that up-front costs are disappearing. The ratings proceess is still costly, but aside from that – there is “essentially no correlation between greenness and cost”.
Geothermal energy is potentially one of the cleanest forms out there, and in certain locations, the cheapest. There is a great explanation of how it all works on Calenergy’s Website here. Like any power plant (except photovoltaics), it all comes down to spinning a turbine, but in this case, with steam produced by the natural heat of the earth. But it’s a little more complicated than that… have a look at the series of Quicktime Videos for more!
(Via Curt Rosengren)
Royal Dutch Shell is offering UK businesses cash to cut their climate changing emissions. The program is called “Shell Springboard” and its offering from £20,000 to £40,000 for business plans that in some way address the reduction of greenhouse gasses and succeed as viable businesses. Its an unsually proactive program because even the cynic in me can’t see an obvious Shell profit motive here, aside from the PR benefit. Shell is literally handing out cash to a few companies that happen to demonstrate excellent work toward greenhouse gas reduction. Can anyone see more?
If British imports like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and “Pop/American Idol” can be a success, then why not a show about reducing family household waste? Sound’s far fetched, but the BBC is producing a successful show based specifically around the concept of taking an otherwise sloppy and wasteful household and teaching them how to reduce their ecological footprint. It’s as much about economics as it is about taking a proactice environmental stance, but either way, if it proves entertaining and popular, it can’t help but have a positive impact on the promotion of ecologically inspired efficiency. (BBC link) (Via Alt-e)
Most saavy internet users with a knack for sustainability are familiar with the blog treehugger.com. That popularity is testament to a very good, very well excecuted idea: to push sustainability mainstream via an entertaining and thought provoking piece of media – and in the process, build a successful small business. How’s Graham do it? The secret is bridging the gap between “The Granola Factor” and “The Convenience Factor”. Read a great interview with graham on eco.psfk for more!
Researchers describe social and economic value creation as two sides of the same coin. Companies can improve operations through employee motivation, loyalty, skill development, and even through product differentiation when social values are adopted and aligned with economic values.
A recent study (HBS link) shows non-profits are founded to solve a specific social problem whereas companies respond with social initiatives because of a problem. Companies are good with planning and can bring resources together, but have difficulties integrating new practices into the mainstream.
The study is particularly relevant because organizations studied were in Latin America and Spain, where human development is just as important as economic development. Bottom line: Companies and non-profits have much to learn from each other.
(This article was contributed by Ken Chung – thanks Ken!)
Airline Magazines are a specific and unique genre of publication, typically purchasing articles from free lancers and periodically, if not publicly, allowing articles to be purchased. In this month’s Hemispheres by United Airlines, the lead “voices” piece is an article by Starbucks CEO Jim Donald discussing the company’s CSR practices in in the many countries in which it the company operates. United Airlines boasts that they are the only carrier to serve Starbucks Coffee, which is a second part of this marketing relationship. Serve the coffee with highly visible branding and insert interesting articles into the in-flight magazine on behalf of the client. (I’m making the assumption that this articles appearance in the magazine is associated with a co-marketing campaign).
This particular article talks about the symbiotic relationship Starbucks has with its farmers, a program called “CAFE” – Coffee and Farmer Equity – which requires farmers to meet certain criteria in order to be recognized. The article also talks about the upcoming release of “Estima” a Fair-Trade Certified brand of coffee that Starbucks will soon launch.
The US gross domestic product (GDP) is almost perfectly correlated to the number of organisms protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to Brian Czech and colleagues. This observation was made in the journal Science on a discussion of measures for biodiversity.
Fortunately, no one (few?) believe GDP is a good indicator for biodiversity. Consider some reactions though …
If GDP measures economic wealth, does it mean that economic wealth is incompatible with species protection specifically or biodiversity conservation generally? If GDP and biodiversity conservation are compatible, does the correlation indicate we haven’t made progress in 30 years? Does it takes wealth to protect biodiversity? Are we wealthier because we have reduced some species to near extinction? Maybe they’ve been barriers to wealth?
Can we really have the triple bottom line?
(This article was contributed by Ken Chung – thanks Ken!)