With bike to work day coming up, this article in GreenBiz is all the more pertinent. There’s an EPA program called the “best workplaces for commuters” which outlines a host of ways in which companies can make commuting easier and more flexible on their workforce, from telecommuting a few days a month, to flexible hours, to bike parking and shower rooms at the office. There are a ton of different ways to make commuting easier and healthier, but the bottom line is that by offering alternatives to being stuck in traffic, companies wind up with happier, more productive employees – and the stronger financial performance that comes with it.
The Calvert Foundation, will offer a type of investment note designed to stimulate business in the devastated Gulf Coast region that focuses on local community organizations to dissuade predatory bargain hunting and still offer a decent return.
Calvert’s notes function like a Certificate of Deposit (CD) investment account, paying up to two percent interest (although investors can forego the interest so as to leverage the investment further). Unlike bank loans, which are insured by the FDIC, the Calvert Foundation’s notes are backed by its own loan loss reserves as well as $12 million in collateral. These guarantees, coupled with the foundation’s successful track record, mean investors won’t lose their shirts by ponying up cash for the effort.
The details are in E-Magazine – required subscription to read. (Thanks Mary!)
Accordng to the Seattle Times, the trans fat content of McDonald’s food varies significantly according to the country it’s being served in. This is slighly surprising given the uniformity that McDonalds and other fast food franchises are known for. Acording to a study a large fries and chicken nuggets combo in the US has more than 3 times the trans-fat as the same product in many European countries. The cost difference dosn’t seem to be significant and McDonald’s claims the differences are caused by “taste differences” among populations. This is weird since I’ve never noticed a difference among any of the many international McDonald’s I’ve sampled (in earlier days). So what’s going on? Is this a supply chain problem? Or someone being lazy?
I need a vacation. But there won’t be one till summer. So, in the interest of suviving till then, and distracting you from whatever important thing you have to do, here’s a report from my good friend Derk about his recent trip to Maho Bay in the US Virgin Islands. Derk, take it away…
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Serene, quiet, relaxing, and cheap. I was probably lucky to get in,since I scheduled only a week in advance. Direct flights from JFK, BOS,and elsewhere on the east coast to St Thomas makes this very accessible. It does take a little more than an hour from the airport (cab-ferry-cab) to get to the camps, but its not too painful.
This is not a place to go if you want to join a raging spring break party. The camps are fairly remote and attract a somewhat reserved family set. But there are some great beaches just steps from the tents where you can rent little sailboats, snorkels, scuba gear, sea kayaks, et cetera. A couple of sail boats offer regular day-sail/snorkling trips that leave from the beach right at the resort. Maho Point, on which several tents are situated and a zero minute walk from the main beach, has excellent snorkling – green turtles, nurse sharks, puffer fish. Also a glassblower and pottery shop on site offering classes – might have been cool but I did not partake.
I”m not the biggest fan of diamonds in general but they remain a massively popular (almost obligatory) commodity in many circles. As a result of their high demand, enormous amounts of crime, war, and environmental degradation are associated with their production and sale. Therefore, it’s critical to do your homework when considering a diamond to purchase and learn as much as you can about how it was mined and where it came from.
“Brilliant Earth” claims to solve the mysteries of diamond orign, and according to their website looks like they’re doing a pretty good job. All diamonds they purchase are “conflict free” and are “crafted with fair labor and environmentally responsible practices” and they donate a fair bit of money to various communities in conflict areas.
Having looked over their material, it looks like they’re a lot better then most jewelers in terms of addressing some of the negative aspects of the jewelery trade, but I have to admit it would be nice if they had a little more information about specifics on their website, such as a defninition of exactly what “conflict free” and “environmentally responsible” really means.
Hunter Lovins and Natural Capitalism team will be giving a “webinar” next week on the 17th. The events, titled the “Path to Prosperity” will hdescribe how “Natural Capitalism enables communities, companies and countries to gain competitive advantage, both now and far into the future”. To register click here or call 1-866-554-6550. It’s not a cheap event, so it might be perfect for a firm or company to buy a seat for their whole team.
From Paul Sheldon – “McDonalds gets busted for feeding soy that was grown on former Amazon rainforest land to its chickens. This is a good example of why large corporations with large supply chains have to be careful–very careful–to examine all the sustainability practices (or lack thereof) of their entire supply chain. What matters here is not just that they did it and either didn’t know or didn’t care, but that Greenpeace was able to make it appear that they were being irresponsible.”
[ARTICLE HERE] Thanks Paul!
I needed a couple days off… getting close to graduation and much work to do! If you have anything post worthy, please put it paragraph form and send it over to naster at presidiomba.org.
Nathan Shedroff talks about “meaning” in this month’s Sustainable MBA collumn on Greenbiz. He talks about 15 different types of meaning which we use to understand our reality and how making your business offering more meaningful will not only make for a better world, but will earn you a lot more money.
Let the drumroll begin. Current TV interviewd eco-entrepreneur Graham Hill and myself at South by Southwest in Austin a few weeks ago and the video is out. It’s a look at the origins and message behind treehugger.com the site Graham founded and I now spend most of my time working on. Have a look!
Inside Green Business reports on the “going green” efforts of insurance giant AIG. Like many other giant insurers, such as Swiss Re, AIG is taking practical moves to reduce their potential liability in the event of climacticly caused calamities such as hurricanes which are likely to become more severe as a resuly of human induced climate change. AIG plans to encourage clients to reduce emissions and is signing on to various greenhouse gas trading schemes and make funds available for renewable energy, efficiency, and other “green” practices among its holdings.
We’ve all seen reports that talk about adding up the financial burden caused by “externalities” such as air pollution, but it never hurts to be reminded. The SF Chronicle reports that that the cost of air pollution in California’s San Joaquin Valley is an astonishing $3 Billion a year when asthma, lost work days, and other hospital costs are added up. The valley has the unfortunate luck of being a very effective catchment for much of the state’s pollution and the smog tends to add up rather than dissipate. But that dosn’t mean it should be discounted as an anomoly – the measureable & destructive costs of emissions are everywhere.
I’ve mentioned before that I hold Chinese restaurants in much higher regard if they provide real chopsticks instead of those disposable ones which make you feel like you’re eating chalk. China goes through an inconcievable 45 billion pairs of chopsticks a year resulting in major deforestation and the diversion of bamboo resources that would probably be much better spent elsewhere.
As a result, the Chinese government will place a 5% tax on the sale of disposable wooden chopsticks in an effort to encourage the use of durable ones. Whether it has any effect remains to be seen! BBC article here.
Investors’ Circle, in collaboration with the Skoll Foundation, is pleased to announce our spring conference and venture fair: “Patient Capital for a Sustainable Future” May 10-12, in San Francisco. Join a leading group of investors, philanthropists and entrepreneurs for two days of deal doing and the most innovative thinking in socially responsible venture investing. Early-bird pricing ends April 15th; for more information and to register, check out the conference site.
If you are an MBA student, there are volunteer opportunities avaiable! Check out the website above, or get intouch with Elizabeth U – elizabeth at investorscircle.net