Thousands Throng to New Public Market in Milwaukee

| Tuesday October 18th, 2005 | 0 Comments

rooster.gifProving that, even in America’s heartland, public demand for healthy, local, organic food is enormous, as many as 15,000 people thronged to the the opening day of the Milwaukee Public Market. The market is a semi-private enterprise leasing space to numerous culinary vendors in a recently redeveloped section of downtown Milwaukee. The vast majority of vendors are local entrepreneurs selling produce from nearby farms.
Not all of the vendors are organic, but local produce is often better in an environmental sense than anything organic that has to be flown or trucked in. Plus – the community building aspects of such a facility are tremendous – a vast improvement on the average big-box retailer in the suburbs.
The market is part of a nationwide trend to rediscover fresh, local produce that arguably dates back to Mesopotamia. Check out the website here.

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Corporate Trinkets: A Waste, and a Waste of Money

| Monday October 17th, 2005 | 1 Comment

mousepad.gifHow many mousepads do you need? This eco.psfk post got me thinking about what a massive waste most corporate gifts are. The bags of schmaltz from thousands of conventions a year that get hurled into the landfill beg the question – isn’t there a better way to express appreciation to clients? There are plenty of branded items that companies could give away without creating a massive waste stream – unique things that people don’t already have, or food perhaps, or maybe something more intangible like a mid-convention massage?
Environmental issues aside, does this kind of marketing really work anyway? The Sunday Times says: “At best, corporate freebies are a waste of money – at worst, they can appear tacky and unprofessional.” I’ve even received gifts (an inane talking pedometer that didn’t work for example) that made be curse the name of the gift giver and, riddled with unwelcome guilt, hurl the item into the trash.

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Natura Models the Triple Bottom Line in Brazil

| Monday October 17th, 2005 | 0 Comments

logo-natura.gifWith an immense portion of the world’s forests, fresh water, and other valuable eco-assets, Brazil is also in need of economic development. The challenge has always been how to acomplish the nation’s economic goals without making a mess of the extraordinary ecological diversity the country offers to the whole world.
A personal products company called “Natura” is hoping to make that possible. Through the years the company has taken a proactive stance in establishing relationships with local level salespeople and communitues which has given it the grounding on which to create more sustainable products.
A lot more information, including a case study is availble on the WBSCD site.

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Branding citizen?

| Sunday October 16th, 2005 | 2 Comments

At the Presidio School of Management, we first heard of dialogue framing through the work of George Lakoff (Don’t Think of an Elephant). Yesterday, I just reconnected with the same concept about framing words, discussions, debates at the Bioneers Conference, during Thom Hartmann intervention: “Beyond Framing, How deep neuro-linguistic programming communicates”. He stated that to be effective in the public arena, one must understand and use the tools of defining arguments, persuade the public and eventually win elections.
I found really interesting his analysis on public identity. Hartmann noted that in the United States, our identity is one of a consumer and that notion is spreading worldwide, via consumerism. We have been branded as consumers. Contrary to many places in the world, people are first and foremost citizen, “The Defender of the Commons”. Also, Hartmann mentioned that people, as consumers, have been infantilized, pretending that “they are the center of the world”. This created individualism and de-responsibilization.

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City Hippy & TriplePundit Announce the Carnival of the Green

| Friday October 14th, 2005 | 8 Comments

cotg.gifA blog “carnival” is great event that periodically takes place among blogs with shared subject matter. We’ll be hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists on October 31st. After that, CityHippy and 3p will launch the Carnival of the Green!
Each week, on Mondays, a selected blog will host the carnival and will provide, in one single and probably large post, a digest of the posts other green bloggers have submitted for consideration during the previous week (friday to friday). It’s a great way to find the “best of the week” among the green blogs.

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MBDC Cradle to Cradle Certification

| Friday October 14th, 2005 | 1 Comment

ctoc.gifIf you’ve read the book Cradle to Cradle by McDonough & Braungart, then you are aware of the philosophy that “efficiency is not enough”. If we are ever to truly address the ecological problems we have created, then “eco-effectiveness” needs to be the ultimate goal.
The resulting philosophy is called Cradle to Cradle to point out that products don’t just “dissapear” in the grave at the end of their lifecycles. They can, and should, be designed to end their lives in a manner that provides fuel for new products or natural cycles – eliminating the concept of waste alltogether.
MBDC has taken the next step, and now offers a comprehensive, multi-tiered certification process for companies eager to differentiate their products in the marketplace along the principals laid out in the book. It’s very cool. There is also a good synopsis on Treehugger.

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Levis Takes Steps Toward Greater Supply Chain Transparency

| Friday October 14th, 2005 | 1 Comment

levis.jpgLOHAS Weekly reports that Levi Strauss has published a list of all contract factories that produce their various branded products. It’s a great way of demonstrating that the company has nothing to hide in terms of workplace compliance issues as well as environmental regulations. It also puts preasure on suppliers, many of whom may operate in countries with poor reputations for high workplace standards, to comply at higher levels. The report can be found here.

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Disney’s new CEO: “If we sit back and rely on old technology, the consumer is going to pass us by”

| Thursday October 13th, 2005 | 3 Comments

disney.jpgRobert Iger, the new appointed CEO of Disney, might have big shoes to fill by replacing the fallen King Michael Eisner. Most important, he needs to redirect Disney’s positioning and take into account the numerous new challenges of the ever-changing consumer market: a downturn in the core film business, the complications of expanding into foreign markets, particularly China and India-, and the urgency pressing upon all traditional media companies to reinvent their businesses for a new digital era. He is under pressure to devise new ways to drive growth.
The 54-year-old executive inherits a company whose old way of doing business has been blown up by technology. “If we sit back and rely on old technology, the consumer is going to pass us by”, Mr. Iger says, noting the music industry made that mistake. He realizes that his biggest obstacles may be the business habits of Disney’s old employees and of theater owners, mass retailers, television affiliates and others. “We need to create an atmosphere that tolerates experimentation, even if it’s at the expense of near-term economics”.

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UK Industry Group to Promote Carbon Storage Plans

| Thursday October 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

forest.jpgStoring carbon, either in forests, or underground in spent oil wells might be a great way to reduce the greenhouse effects of our CO2 emissions. A new group called the “Carbon Capture and Storage Association” aims to put new technology to use in the UK that will help the country meet emissions goals.
Led mostly by major oil and energy companies, the principal plan is to pump CO2 into old North Sea oil fields that will keep is out of the atmosphere. It also preserved oil field jobs as extraction is replaced by sequestration.

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Windmills for Cell Phones Now on Taxis in Japan

| Thursday October 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

taxiwind.jpgIn all honesty, this looks like more of a novelty than a practical solution for anything. This contraption probably costs the car more in wind resistance than would be gained by charging the battery with say, regenerative braking. Still, it’s attention getting and builds awareness among passengers. The same company, Kyoto based Ecolo, also has bike racks on all its taxis.

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Buy the world a Coke or a glass of water?

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 12th, 2005 | 1 Comment

cokew.jpgIn this week’s Economist magazine, there is an article entitled “In hot water: The world’s biggest drinks firm tries to fend off its green critics” which tells the story Coca-Cola and their attempt to respond to green critics by protecting their brand image. When large brands, such as Coca-Cola, are subject to bad press, they must overcome the tarnished image by reinventing themselves or addressing the very issue that caused them the bad press. Coca-cola’s manager of environmental affairs, believes that, “water is to Coca-Cola as clean energy is to BP”, but BP took the strategy of reinventing themselves from an oil company to an energy company and Coca-cola is attempting to address their water complaint issues by releasing an environmental report which discusses and explains their new global water strategy.
Coca-cola’s company mission is “to benefit and refresh everyone it touches”. Amrit Srivastava of the India resource Centre believes that their mission is in conflict with their actions, and has launched a campaign against Coca-Cola because of their activities in India.

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Green Marketing vs. Not – On Gasoline

| Wednesday October 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

bp_exxon.gifBritish Petroleum and ExxonMobile both sell the same thing – Gasoline. Both are strong and globally recognized brands with 19.3% and 6.6% of the California market share respectively (I couldn’t find national stats).
For a few years now, BP has been undertaking a massive green marketing campaign, aggressively showcasing its investment in renewable resources, and going so far as to refer to itself as “Beyond Petroleum”. It also showcases environmental issues prominently on its website. ExxonMobile, on the other hand, has made very little effort to brand itself as anything other than a petroleum company, has publicly refused to accept renewables, and maintains a much more basic website with little obvious environmental messaging.
The question: Which marketing strategy will pay off in terms of market share? Is either more honest?

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Farm subsidies help sustainability?

| Wednesday October 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

farmfield.jpgIn NPR’s Morning Edition today (11-Oct), a reporter desribes a dilemma facing wealthy countries that provide farm subsidies. The Swiss government, for example, has long provided farm subsidies for various reasons–sustainability, tourism, national pride and cultural preservation among them. The problem is global trade talks will require the cessation of farm subsidies.
The challenge the Swiss face is that no one wants to give up farming, but they’re also not all prepared to pay the steep prices for farm products. A farmer describes the situation as a choice between paying about 65 Francs per kilogram of Swiss-raised pork and about 10 francs across the border in Germany. The question they have to resolve is, “How much is happiness worth?”

Listen to the article here
. – Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com

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The Holy Breath of Inspiration

| Tuesday October 11th, 2005 | 5 Comments

swoosh.gifThe market is Western culture’s cosmology. In the space where symbols, archetypes and elemental energies once occupied the Western psyche, the brand has grown into the vacancy left by a shift of culture towards ever-increasing commoditization of consciousness. One does not have to look very far to observe parallels between brand-stories and core human tendencies to meet the need of myth.
The Nike swoosh is a great example of a brand that holds a key to one of these core mythological human needs. The swoosh is air. It is ethereal and quickly able to “Just Do It.” It moves effortlessly and with great power. The Nike corporation defines itself as being in service to human potential. According to Nike, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Basically, the story of the swoosh proclaims a universal truth: if you are breathing, you are alive, and you are wrought with physical potential through the breath, the element of air.

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How To Quantify Corporate Responsibility

| Tuesday October 11th, 2005 | 0 Comments

csrg.jpgIn more and more companies, top level CSR Executives are grappling with the challenge of financially quantifying and justifying how CSR related activities add true shareholder value.
Fortune Magazine wrote a fantastic article about the movement to define and standardize what corporate social responsibility means and how to achieve it. They looked at 2 leaders in the CSR metric industry, London think tank AccountAbility, and consultancy CSRnetwork, who both have devised a method to score companies on their CSR efforts and the challenges they face.
Read the article titled “Managing Beyond the Bottom Line” on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website.

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