Next Billion: Development through Enterprise

| Friday May 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

dev_ent.jpgIt’s been an exciting week for new internet resources. The latest to come our way is a weblog-type publication from the World Resouces Institute called Development Through Enterprise (nextbillion.net). It looks to be a fantastic website, with stories on things like microlending from South Africa to Sarajevo, cheap PCs and other plans geared to “Eradicating Poverty Through Profit: Making Business Work for the Poor”.
(via Worldchanging and SmartMobs)

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Ten US Corporations Pledge Greenhouse Gas Cuts

| Friday May 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

epa_logo.jpgThe list of companies pledging to lower greenhouse gas emissions continues to rise – with Caterpillar, Frito-Lay, and Staples joining the vernerable list of corporations on the EPA’s voluntary “Climate Leaders” program. The program has now grown to 68 companies, 37 of which have now set emissions reduction goals.

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The Sustainable Supply Chain Problem

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

supchain.jpgYour company might be as responsible and sustainable as you can make it, but that means very little if you’ve got no idea about the practices of your suppliers. From Ethical Corporation:

Last week an article and editorial in the Financial Times newspaper highlighted the many methods that Chinese suppliers use to cover up poor health and safety practices. The revelations were sobering, if not surprising. The reality is that getting developing world suppliers to comply with international social and environmental standards remains a formidable problem.

Does the ultimate responsibility lie with the buyer? Perhaps, but it’s not easy to wade throught the maze of poorly documented information from suppliers of all shapes and sizes. One answer may be collaborative monitoring – wherein groups of buyers agree to demand a certain level of compliance from shared suppliers – this takes the burden off the buyers, and suppliers get a more streamlined system to work in. (more on ethicalcorp.com)

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What is Carbon Neutral?

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 2 Comments

carbonnutral.jpgGreenthinkers noted the other day that “carbon neutral” may become the next hot phrase in business-environmental circles. But what does it really mean, and how do you approach it? There’s some great information on the venerable David Suzuki’s website. There are also outlines of several programs that can help your company achieve a carbon neutral goal.

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Ecological Guide to Paper

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

paper.jpgPaper, that most basic of products is also one of the most commonly recycled, reused and wasted. As your business tries to be more sustainable, choosing paper wisely is an important task. This handy guide from Celery Design should help a lot in exploring the differences between brands and types.
Remember though, “100% recycled” means essentially nothing – you have to look for the phrase “post consumer” if you actually want paper that was really recycled from the waste stream. Also, the guide mentions paper that comes from certified sustinable forests. Assuming a forest is properly managed, virgin pulp is not necesarily any worse than recycled, and in some cases is better!
(found via Mitra)

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Mitsubishi to Bring Back the Electric Car in 2010

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 3 Comments

mitsubishi_electric.jpgEarlier we reported on the apparant demise of the electric car. We may have spoken too soon – Mitsubishi is planning an all new electric car for the Japanese market in 2010 (source – green car congress). The test vehicle (based on the Colt) is said to hit 94mph and goes about 100 miles on a charge. (company press release)

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CO Teen Creates a Car Powered Only By Water

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 6 Comments

hydro_model.jpgA sophomore at a Cortez, Colorado high school has created a model car powered by hydrogen. The football-size car runs on distilled water. A solar panel provides energy to begin the reaction that splits hydrogen from water, so it can drive around and create hydrogen at the same time. As a result, the fuel source is never depleted, and the car never needs a fill-up.
“When it’s running, it’s making water,” Biard said. “When it’s stopping, it’s turning it back into hydrogen.”
Why didn’t I learn this stuff in High School? Read article here.
ED NOTE – May 14:If only it were that simple. One of the greatest things about the blogosphere is the virtually instantaneous system of fact checking that exists. No sooner was this post published than avid readers brought it our attention that this kid did little more than put together a ready-made kit. (see comments below) Still a neat demonstration of technology, but hardly a newfound prodigy (sorry kid).

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Milorganite Company Reuses Municipal Sewage

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 17 Comments

milorganite.jpgThe idea of using human waste as fertilizer is as old as time, though in modern cities this practice has largely been lost. Nonetheless, the Milorganite company has been profitably making fertilizer out of treated sewage from the city of Milwaukee since 1926. It’s mostly used on golf courses because certain chemicals that are flushed down the john may pose a health risk if used on food crops.
Still, it all sounds good. My only concern is that I never hear anything about Milorganite from environmental circles, which makes me wonder if they’re either doing something wrong or have just been incredibly modest in their 75 years of operation. If you know somthing I don’t know, please post a comment.

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New Zealand Enacts First Ever Carbon Tax

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 0 Comments

emissions.jpgAs reported yesterday on Worldchanging, the New Zealand governement has imposed a NZ$11 per ton tax on carbon emissions. The tax ammounts to about NZ$2.90 per citizen, but is expected to be balanced out by other tax cuts. Also, as a tax on waste, it provides the right incentives for companies to become more efficient to reduce costs.

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Hygridding – More Incentives for Personal Solar

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 2 Comments

solarchicago.jpgThere’s another great article in Wired Mag today about personal energy independence – you know the idea of slapping up some solar panels and a wind turbine then sitting back and popping open a (freshly chilled) cold one. The best incentive about a properly designed energy system is that in most states, you can literally become a neighborhood power station, when the sun is bright, your electricity meter literally runs backwards, making you money and not the other way around. The resulting hybrid energy grid, or “hygrid”, is a lot more reliable the more people get involved. It also means that homeowners and business don’t need to buy a bunch of toxic and costly batteries to store electricity in their basements, the grid essentially becomes the battery, buying up excess and returning it in the form of cash.
(via Treehugger)

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Votaic Backpack Proves Demand for Solar Innovation

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

solar_small.jpgThe Voltaic Solar Backpack, despite being fairly expensive, has been a great success for entrepreneur Shayne McQuade. It’s also an interesting case study in how to launch and market a sustainable product.
Note – I did a little work for the Voltaic a while ago (hence the sponsorship banner on 3p), but this success story is inspiring enough to merit a few words from the founder:

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Timbuktu Chronicles Offers Light on African Development

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

africa0blue.jpgThe are few socio-economic situations as complex and frought with problems as those of many African nations, and solutions remain scarce. From an article on Enviropundit about the well intentioned, if often misguided efforts by Rock Stars and other celebrities to ‘save’ Africa with aid, I stumbled up a fantastic weblog called the Timbuktu Chronicles. In the words of blogger Emeka Okafor, the site offers

A view of Africa and Africans with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, practical remedies and other self sustaining activities.

I’m no expert on the continent, but from what I’ve read, this is the kind of effort that seems to be doing the most good.

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SUV Market Shrinks, Even in Texas

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

stuck_suv.jpgAccording to today’s Wall Street Journal (may require subscription to read), the large truck market has been showing steady signs of weakening in what is arguably its most fashionable home: Texas. High gasoline prices are clearly the main reason, rather than a sudden affection for cute volkswagons. Nonetheless, it’s a real market shift in one of the strongest big-car holdouts, and it’s likely to continue for the indefinite future.

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GE Ecomagination Launches

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 74 Comments

ecomagination.gifAs reported by Joel Makower on Worldchanging yesterday, General Electric has just launched a major initiative toward sustainability, something they call “ecomagination“. It’s more than a trivial effort – the website is full-scale rebranding of GE from the top-down led by CEO Jeff Immelt. There is a strong message associating ecologically reposponsible innovation with good business. The messaging promises a real, long-term commitment to sustainability by GE. It will be interesting to see how will this stragegy pays off both in environmental terms, and in terms of shareholder value.
If you would like to see the advertisement. It’s here: Ecomagination Singing in the Rain

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Alterra: Coffee With a Conscience

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 1 Comment

alterra.gifAlterra Coffee is a local Milwaukee roaster with a reputation for the best cup around. They’re also wildly succesful despite the presence of no less than 17 nearby Starbucks franchises.
What are they doing right? Well, for one thing, they’ve returned a lot to the community, which results in loyal customers. They’ve recently begun costly renovation of a historic building that represents a direct investment in a central city neighborhood. That’s only the latest in an amazing list of civic and environmental accomplishments.

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