The great diaper debate of disposable vs. cloth now has a new dimension thanks to gDiapers, flushable nappies that are cradle-to-cradle certified. But is it really environmentally sound to flush each diaper? The gDiapers Web site says it’s OK to throw them away since they biodegrade within 60 days, but it also points out that poop in landfills is generally a bad idea because of all those nasty bacteria, and that “the best way we currently have for treating human waste is in our existing sewage facilities.” What say you?
You are not the first to ask about disposable diapers and, lucky for you, my editor wants me to work on this smelly subject this week. And what topic could be more fitting after my last article on the environmental impact of bringing an additional child into the world. Honestly, I don’t know much about diapers — and those who wear them — but hopefully we can learn something together this week and find an environmentally friendly solution to this mess. Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2008/03/24/ask_pablo_diapers/index.html
In a sign that eco friendly shoes are moving out of the hemp, vegan, crunchy cliches and into the broader world is the newly released Nike Trash Talk shoe. Nike themselves have had a sustainably made shoe line called Considered, that, while a great effort, stayed firmly in the brown shoe, casual segment, not touching the performance end of their product lines, the majority of what they produce. It now appears that they’ve begun branching out, with the trail athletics oriented Humara and Takos shoes, that incorporate recycled shoe rubber, and their trail jacket, that uses recycled polyester. The Trash Talk, however, marks a coming out of sorts, as this has been created in partnership with Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, and they made it a point to let it be known he was wearing them at the All Star game in February. So, is there substance behind their green claims, or is it hyped greenwash?
It’s amazing how at certain key turning points decisions and policies that will strongly influence and determine the future course for entire nations of individuals hang on a razor’s edge…and fall one way or another based largely on meetings and get-togethers carried out out of the public eye. One of the first things Pres. Bush and his administration focused on upon taking control of the executive branch of government was to push for a National Energy Policy…Unsurprisingly, it focused heavily on ramping up domestic petroleum and gas exploration and development. The almost clandestine way the Bush-Cheney team carried out the policy formulation process came to light, leading to claims of abuse of power, and once again highlighting the potential conflicts of interest inherent in policy making given their well-known personal histories and vested oil and gas industry interests. Those policies have changed dramatically…Here’s a video — courtesy of davidanyc2 and YouTube — to Pres. Bush’s address at the recently concluded WIREC 2008 (Washington International Renewable Energy Conference) where more than 8600 delegates from more than 150 international delegations made more than 100 pledges of action to promote and increase renewable energy development and use.
And if you were to ask Lee Scott, Walmart’s CEO, he’d say Walmart isn’t green at all – which doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.
Walmart has been vilified for destroying America’s “Main Street”, exploiting workers all over the world (including here in the U.S.), and helping fuel a consumerist environmental mess on a scale not even possible by smaller, lesser retailers. They have one of the largest commercial truck fleets on the planet and consume more electricity than any other private user. Walmart is the big (really big) elephant in the room we call “retail commerce” and the footprint they leave throughout the world is a large one – to put it mildly.
We love to hate Walmart.
But even if Walmart isn’t green, they’re pretty good at making money and maximizing profit. And with efficiency comes lower operating costs, more profit, and more money.
Efficiency is the name of the game with their latest generation “Supercenter” in Las Vegas that utilizes new cooling technology expected to reduce overall energy use by 45%. Since 2005, Walmart has reportedly put in place a program aimed at increasing overall energy efficiency throughout the chain, reducing packing waste, and adding more sustainable products to their shelves.
If that isn’t green, it is more efficient. You don’t always have to be green to do the right thing.
When ex-Sierra Club president Adam Werbach and then the Environmental Defense Fund signed on to WalMart’s payroll, it raised more than the eyebrows of environmentalists, to put it mildly. Scathing criticism and cynical commentary inevitably followed. But in an environment where “being green” is increasingly good business, corporations are increasingly seeking to enlist the aid of – and gain endorsements from – environmental organizations. Businesses’ efforts to “go green” carry more weight and are more credible when they are endorsed by third-party environmental groups, particularly those whose efforts have an impact on their local communities, according to 75% of respondents to an “Eco-concerns” survey recently released by Peppercom’s GreenPepper division and conducted by San Francisco’s Media-Screen. “Nearly two-thirds of the 100-plus company executives surveyed launched eco-friendly initiatives within the past year, but much of what has been showcased is viewed among consumers as greenwashing,” said Ann Barlow, president of Peppercom’s West Coast office and head of GreenPepper. “That’s why it’s important for companies to seek opportunities for guidance from and collaboration with NGOs at all levels, particularly those that are locally or regionally based. They can help companies focus on the most important investments and changes to make.”
As is true for stock exchanges around the world, one of the oldest, the London Stock Exchange, has undergone a transformation in recent decades. The advent of digital trading and information systems technology has spurred fundamental changes in the way the LSE and counterparts in major financial centers around the world do business, prompting them to move from floor to electronic trading, opening them up to a much greater degree to international capital flows and re-organizing the structure of the brokerage and investment banking industry. And like other exchanges – though perhaps more successfully – the LSE has built a subsidiary exchange that provides a conduit for entreprenuerial, less well-established start-ups to tap into individual, fund and institutional investors’ capital. The LSE’s Alternative Investment Market, or AIM, – akin to Nasdaq – has pursued that strategy with great success. But while Nasdaq built its name and achieved great success by capitalizing on the information technology and Internet boom, the AIM has become a hotbed of activity when it comes to raising capital and trading the shares of mineral and energy resource companies. The rising prominence, and market prices, of oil, gas, gold, silver and the range of key base and industrial metals and minerals has been the key factor driving this trend. Similarly, efforts to mitigate climate change have led to strong investor interest in companies developing alternative energy sources and technology. Biofuel, solar and wind power start-ups from the U.K., the U.S. and other countries around the world have fulfilled their capital needs by listing on the AIM.
There hasn’t been a lot of good news in the general economy lately; from a complete collapse of sub-prime mortgage loans, to slumping property values, whip-sawing stock markets, $110+ barrels of oil and colossal brokerage houses that suddenly run out of cash – it isn’t pretty.
At first blush, it might appear that this is no time for green builders to forecast increased orders through 2008. But that’s exactly what Rob Moody is doing. Owner of The EcoBuilders based in Asheville, North Carolina, Moody started the business in 2003 and states in a recent Newsweek article that he expects orders to double this year, after doing the same last year.
Contrast this to “builders have run scared and orders have dried up” in answer to the question “how’s business?” of a friend last weekend who supplies builders with high-end kitchen cabinetry and fixtures.
In fact, builders laid off a quarter of its workers last year, and new homes sales for this year are estimated at just 632,000 homes, the lowest since 1992.
Does any of this mean that a relatively small niche has any chance of impacting the mainstream?
When it comes to business, finance and economics you know that something has arrived when the big investment banks and brokerages get behind it. That’s been the case with carbon emissions credit trading for a couple or so years now, and now it’s happening in the case of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions accounting and auditing. The Carbon Disclosure Project and Merrill Lynch & Co. on March 17 announced a global, three-year partnership that aims to further develop and expand the CDP organization and its efforts to develop international standards for corporate carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions accounting, disclosure and auditing. A collaboration on the part of 385 institutional investors with some US$57 trillion of assets under management, CDP is the world’s largest investor collaboration on climate change. Each year it sends out climate change and carbon emissions surveys and disclosure requests to over 3,000 companies globally on behalf of investors.
EcoTuesday is a forum for sustainable business leaders to come together to network, collaborate, and engage with one another in a structured environment. Here’s how it works: Participants arrive and settle in, taking a few minutes to get a beverage and see old friends and meet new ones. We start the evening with a speaker from one of the many areas of sustainability, who will share news, tips, and information about their area of expertise. The topic is different each month. After the speaker is complete, participants have the opportunity to ask questions to gain more information. After that, everyone in the room gets into a circle and shares their name, their affiliation, and one thing they’re passionate about regarding sustainability. It’s is a great way for you to learn about everyone in the room, and for everyone in the room to learn about you! After that, we have time to meet all of the people we learned about in the introduction circle. EcoTuesday attracts a diverse group of sustainable business leaders involved in a wide variety of interests and fields. EcoTuesday is held on the 4th Tuesday of each month – and we’re growing! Look for an EcoTuesday event in your city! You must RSVP in order to attend (see RSVP links below): a) San Francisco b) Los Angeles c) Seattle d) Atlanta e) Minneapolis If your city is not listed, get in touch with EcoTuesday about becoming an ambassador today. Don’t forget to mention you heard about it on Triple Pundit.
Tesla President and CEO Ze’ev Drori wrote in his blog today that regular production of the Tesla Roadster has begun. This is a big step for the electric-car manufacturer. I personally can’t wait for the first time I spot a Tesla on the road, but I am even more excited that I might get to tour the factory very soon. Congratulations to Tesla on their achievement.
While sanitation is said to be the greatest medical advance in the past 150 years, some 2.6 billion people around the world – some 40 percent of total population – lack access to basic sanitation, according to the United Nations. That’s something that the U.N. has been trying to change for the better. One of its Millennium Development Goals is to halve this number by 2015. It’s been hard going thus far, however. The U.N. estimates that the annual cost of doing so would require a relatively small US$9.5 billion yet this is the U.N. Millennium Development Goal furthest from being achieved. Responding to what it has called a global scandal, the U.N. has designated 2008 as the “International Year of Sanitation”. It’s also recently launched the Global Sanitation Fund, the first global financing mechanism aimed at addressing the problem and is organizing World Water Day events in Geneva and New York City for March 20. “Over the past 10 years diarrhoea has killed more children than all the people lost in armed conflicts since the Second World War,” according to the U.N.’s Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), which launched the Fund. “Clean toilets save lives. Healthy people can go to school and go to work. “Research indicates that meeting the sanitation MDG target would yield economic benefits of $63 billion each year, and universal access would yield $225 billion. In other words, clean toilets contribute to economic development.”
If you’re like many others these days, you know the value of buying local. Buying non mass produced. Supporting the creator of something directly. Or perhaps you yourself make something by hand, whether it’s clothing, jewelry, or perhaps some amazing deserts. You want the world to know about and have an opportunity to buy them, but don’t want or have the desire to have a full store for your wares. Where do you go? Etsy is a great solution to all of the above. Though it does place an emphasis on the hand crafted, it’s by no means a crunchy, wan effort. Quite the opposite, this site provides an attractive, interactive presentation of people’s products, creating a user friendly hub for connecting those who make with those who buy. Etsy gives a whole different twist to the term “social entrepreneur.” Etsy does a stellar job providing a range of intriguing ways to find what you’re seeking, or didn’t even know you were seeking. Other retailers, take note!
Photo: Gerard Lemos, flickr I work the computer store on campus, The Tech Shop. I can sell two or three computers in a day and a lot more during back-to-school times. For a long time, I was satisfied by simply providing useful technology to students at great prices. Sales schtick aside, people want computers. That is, people need computers. E-mail is a valid form of communication at KU and papers are expected to be submitted electronically. Around finals time, it can be a pain to find a computer in one of our computer labs. People need computers. Following Moore’s Law, a computer three years in age will be four times as slow as a new computer. This is theoretical of course, but as computers become more affordable, more people are replacing their old ones. The stack of out-of-use computers adds up.
“We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping”
Thus is the verdict from MV Beluga Skysails captain Lutz Heldt upon completion of the vessel’s 12,000 mile round-trip maiden voyage. The crew and vessel were at sea for nearly two months, giving the “skysail” concept ample opportunity for testing and tweaking.
The journey took the ship from Germany to Venezuela, the United States, and then to Norway, arriving on March 13.
We’ve been keeping an eye on the ship’s progress here at Triple Pundit, from initial concept, sea trials, and now the round-trip completion of her first commercial voyage using the hybrid auxiliary power kite system installed on the Beluga Skysails.
Deployment of the 160–square-meter towing kite offset up to 20% of the engine’s power (and carbon emissions), saving an initial $1000 per day in fuel costs.
Future testing and plans for the system will focus on extending flight times and performance of the sail, as well as implementing a sail twice the size of the current one deployed on the Skysails. With the larger sail, savings of up to $2000 per day is possible, as well as further reduction in carbon emissions.
If all continues to go as well as it has, the Skysail concept will help usher in a new and innovative chapter in shipping.
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DoT) on Wednesday released a study of the potential impacts climate change and land subsidence could have on the Gulf Coast region’s transportation infrastructure. Examining an area that includes 48 contiguous counties in four states – from Galveston, Texas to Mobile, Alabama – the DoT has undertaken the study to provide valuable information to regional transportation planners and government. The report is the first of a three-phase study on a region of particular concern given its geography, ecology and vulnerability, as well as the central role it plays in the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure. “The Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I,” assesses regional transportation systems’ vulnerabilities to potential changes in weather patterns and related impacts, as well as the effect of natural land subsidence and other environmental factors, according to a DoT media release. Potential climate changes in the next 50 to 100 years could disrupt transportation services across the region, according to the study, which made use of 21 simulation models and a range of emissions scenarios. “Twenty-seven percent of major roads, 9 percent of rail lines, and 72 percent of area ports are at or below 4 feet in elevation, and could be vulnerable to flooding due to future sea level rise and natural sinking of the area’s land mass,” according to the media release. The study is being carried out by the DoT in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and state and local researchers as one of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s 21 “synthesis and assessment” reports. Subsequent phases of the study are meant to develop risks and adaptation strategies that can be used for planning, investment, design and operational decision making related to infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region and nationwide.
Greenwich: Oct 23 – Oct 26 Social Venture Network 2014 Connect with like-minded business leaders at an SVN conference, Social Venture Institute or workshop. Get recharged, supported and inspired! Register here.
Los Angeles: Oct 28 – Oct 31 Sustainatopia Consisting of 5 Conferences and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability like no other single event. Register here.
London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
New York: Nov 4 – Nov 6 BSR Conference 2014 BSR 2014 will explore how transparency can transform supply chains, energy and climate, consumer engagement, community impacts, and more. Register here.
Redwood City: Nov 12 Corporate Philanthropy Institute 2014 Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Northern California Grantmakers bring together many of the country’s leading CSR professionals to discuss changing expectations of corporate citizenship, strategic local and global programs and assessing the impact of community investments. Register here.
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