Whole Foods Selling $15 Shopping Bags… Lots of ‘em

| Wednesday July 18th, 2007 | 4 Comments

designer-bag.jpgGetting rid of our incredible plastic bag glut is a monumental challenge with all sorts of approaches. Whole Foods seems to have come up with another one, which is working out great financially for the company as well. WF is offering “designer” shopping bags at a (pretty steep) $15 each to shoppers. They look cool and have comfy straps as a bonus. But will people pay that much for a shopping bag? Evidently yes, as people literally lined up around the block in New York to buy them. (more on CNN Money) (thx, JPW)

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StonyField Farms Working with Sustainable Harvest

| Wednesday July 18th, 2007 | 2 Comments

sust-harvest.jpg(This is a guest post by Jessica Schessler)
Obviously, rainforest destruction is a heated topic of discussion. Many popular websites claim to plant trees in exchange for donations, and even Dell has hopped on the bandwagon. When you buy a new computer you can select “plant a tree for me” as you checkout and help offset your carbon footprint. Planting trees can be a good thing, but are we really making progress if we do nothing about the source of the problem? Sustainable Harvest International is heading straight for one source. This small non-profit organization “has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region.” Malnutrition is a huge problem in this area of the world, and many vegetables are considered a luxury item. SHI teaches new farming techniques to the local families, such as alley cropping, organic vegetable gardening, and seed saving and storage.
Since 1997, SHI has successfully:

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All-Electric Mini Cooper Ready for Consumer Market

Steve Puma | Tuesday July 17th, 2007 | 7 Comments

minicooper.jpgHybrid Technologies, known for their Smart Car and sponsoring UC Berkeley’s sophisticated Cal Sol Project, announced today that their all-electric, Lithium-Ion powered BMW AG Mini Cooper has moved into production. The car is reported to have a range of 120+ miles on a single charge, speeds up to 80 miles per hour, and acceleration of 0-60 in 6.0 seconds. According to the press release, “The Mini Cooper Frame is produced by Mini Cooper in Oxford England, and the conversion to all-lithium currently takes place in North Carolina at Hybrid’s Mooresville plant.”
You can watch these test drive videos from Popular Mechanics and Forbes Magazine.
I love announcements like this. I think fun and sexy cars like the Mini and the Tesla are just what the auto industry needs to get people excited about the potential of electric cars. No word about the cost, though. Hopefully it will be affordable…
The Mini is incredibly fun to drive as it is…I can only imagine what an electric engine will do for its performance. You can currently rent a non-electric one from ZipCar, it will be interesting to see if car sharing companies hop on this as a great way to introduce people to these cars.
On a related note, check out Jay Leno’s review of the Tesla.

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Case Studies for “Green” Corporate Marketers

| Monday July 16th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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The Business Development Institute and PR Newswire are putting on a half-day conference in New York on Tuesday, July 24th that will feature “green communications” case studies presented by corporate executives from Ford, HSBC, Interface, National Geographic, and the U.S. EPA. If you can’t be there in person, sign up to view a free webcast of the event. The agenda sounds interesting: HSBC will discuss its 5-year, $100 million Climate Partnership program; Ford will describe its marketing and communications strategy for the Escape Hybrid; and the director of marketing for the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders program will talk about its successful marketing plan.

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AskPablo: Time to get a new car?

| Monday July 16th, 2007 | 71 Comments

This week David asks “how much more energy efficient does a new car have to be to make up for the energy of production vs a used car? For example, if someone was considering buying a used car that gets 18 mpg vs. a new car that gets 30 mpg. At what point in driving would that increase in mpg make up for the energy of production of the new vehicle?” Read on to find the answer in this week’s AskPablo.

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Fast Company’s Greenest Cities

Sheila Samuelson | Thursday July 12th, 2007 | 2 Comments

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Speaking of walkability, the current issue of Fast Company highlights Chicago, Stockholm, Portand and Vancouver as Green Leaders in their 2007 Fast Cities index.
Here’s why the leaders were chosen:
Chicago: Since 1999, the city has planted 2.5 million square feet of heat-reducing rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined. Mayor Richard Daley has overseen a downtown renaissance and the planting of 500,000 new trees. In the wake of a deadly 1995 heat wave, he has also launched a raft of aggressive initiatives to cool the city while conserving energy–and beat New York to an environmental action plan by two years.

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Responsible Competitiveness Report Now Out

| Thursday July 12th, 2007 | 0 Comments

thumb_RC%202007.jpgAcountAbility’s new report “The State of Responsible Competitiveness” is well worth checking out today. The report ranks countries in terms of their “responsible competitiveness”, which is described as “is about making sustainable development count in global markets. It means markets that reward business practices that deliver improved social, environmental and economic outcomes; and it means economic success for nations that encourage such business
practices through public policies, societal norms and citizen actions.”
The whole report with detailed country rankings can be downloaded as a PDF here.

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Walk Score: One of the Best Google Mashups Ever

| Wednesday July 11th, 2007 | 2 Comments

map-box.pngHere’s some fun for your Wednesday. Check out www.walkscore.com. The site is a google maps mashup which rates any address in the United States in terms of it’s “walkability” – to what degree you can walk to basic conveniences, restaurants, parks and other urban features. It’s a pretty basic calculation that does not take into consideration the quality of the streets or the nature of the urban fabric, but still gives a rather insightful look at how our cities are built.
Placing your business or home in a location that does not depend 100% on the automobile is a good idea for many reasons and this kind of metric makes that decision deliciously visible.

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AskPablo: City Living

| Monday July 9th, 2007 | 4 Comments

city.jpgSome time ago someone asked me if it is better for the environment to live in a city, or out in the country. I didn’t have an answer at the time, but I do now…

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Big Waste Comes in Small Packages

Sheila Samuelson | Saturday July 7th, 2007 | 0 Comments

The New York Times reported on a consumer trend today that may be on the right nutritional track, but the wrong track environmentally. The rise of the 100-calorie snack pack – in everything from beef jerkey to cottage cheese to licorice – indicates a reversal of the “super-size me” trend of the early 2000s. The 100-calorie packs are profitable for companies, which can charge 20% more for the packaged convenience, adding up to a $20 million dollar per year industry.
While the packages are small, the aggregate ecological downside of this trend is large. Multiple small packages, plus a larger box or bag to contain them all creates more waste, and is a step backwards in materials efficiency. Consumers are essentially paying more for less product (which they want) and more waste (which has no value). As the article points out, the irony is that buying one large bag and measuring out single servings would provide more product for the dollar – and it would also reduce packaging waste.

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Firms With CSR Policy Thrive

Sheila Samuelson | Thursday July 5th, 2007 | 3 Comments

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The results of three trailblazing studies released today from the United Nations Global Compact, McKinsey, and Goldman Sachs, show two clear trends within sustainability in business. First, an increasing number of business leaders consider CSR to be an important business strategy for creating value, competing successfully and building trust with stakeholders. Second, the studies show that sustainability front-runners tend to create sustained competitive advantage, having outperformed the general stock market by 25 per cent since August 2005. Of those, 72 per cent have outperformed their peers over the same period.
The Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, Georg Kell says, “Taken together, these three reports show that for an increasing number of business leaders, corporate responsibility is no longer an option, it is a necessity in order to compete successfully”, said Mr Kell.
From the press release by the UN:

More than 90 per cent of CEOs are doing more than they did 5 years ago to incorporate environmental, social and governance issues into strategy and operations. 72 per cent of CEOs said that corporate responsibility should be embedded fully into strategy and operations, but only 50 per cent think their firms actually do so. 59 per cent of CEOs said corporate responsibility should be embedded into global supply chains, but only 27 per cent think they are doing so.

Via: One Shade Greener

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AskPablo: Corn-Based Ethanol

| Monday July 2nd, 2007 | 18 Comments

corn.jpgJason keeps bugging me about my take on the issue of corn-based ethanol. This week I am finally going to take this one on. My gut feel is that it is the devil. Producing an energy-intensive crop that could feed starving people around the world (or at least feed the livestock that will become my next burger) to make a liquid fuel does not make sense to me. Corn farming is notorious for biocide use, genetic engineering, and endless square miles of sterile monoculture. The ammonium nitrate fertilizer, without which corn could not thrive, is a relic of World War II explosives production. This manifestation of the “military-agricultural-industrial complex” is also carbon intensive since it is made from natural gas.

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What Social Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Birds and the Bees

| Sunday July 1st, 2007 | 2 Comments

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The Economist magazine website has a nice little feature called “What’s in the Journals?” The page profiles a small number of recent articles from top-notch business journals with links to view the articles online (registration sometimes required). For those of us who are reluctant to shell out for pricey subscriptions to journals we don’t actually have time to read, this is a great service!
One of the articles reviewed in the latest column is called “The New Principles of a Swarm Business,” published in the Spring ’07 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. The “collaborative innovation” principles described in the article may be particularly interesting for social entrepreneurs:

…members of a swarm typically reject the traditional business notion of building shareholder value as the basis for their decisions and actions. In its place, the swarm works toward the collective interest of stakeholders, which is broadly defined as any party that can affect or is affected by the innovation….shareholders but also employees, customers, suppliers, partners, and even competitors…

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A Mighty Wind

Sheila Samuelson | Saturday June 30th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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Hold on to your hats! If you live on at least 1/2 acre and the wind blows at speeds of at least 10 mph in your backyard (find out here), then harnessing the wind for power may now be an affordable renewable energy option. The Skystream 3.7, available for $5,400 (US), can produce 240 KWh per month at 10 mph and 380 KWh at 12 mph according to the EERE‘s Wind Turbine Buyer’s Guide (here).
The Skystream has been called “the iPod(r) of wind power” due to its simplistic, modern design, ease of use, and capacity to monitor and download energy performance data on your home computer (including optional remote control). Thanks to a low RPM and advanced blade and vibration technology, the Skystream – unlike your iPod(r) – “is as quiet as trees blowing in the wind”.
The 1.8 kW system – developed in a partnership with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab – is said to provide from 40-100% of power for a home or small business.
For wind-specific grants, rebates, tax incentives and interest-free loans available in your state, visit the American Wind Energy Association here.
Article via One Shade Greener.

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California Cleantech Open Submissions Due Tommorow

| Friday June 29th, 2007 | 0 Comments

ctopen.jpgIf you’re thinking about entering the California Clean Tech Open business plan competition, now is the time to get your three page executive summary submitted – tomorrow’s the deadline. Click here to learn how.
Whether or not you’re interested in the contest, there are some great resources on the CCO website worth checking out.

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