Getting Kids to Help – Another Brick in the Wall?

| Wednesday February 14th, 2007 | 0 Comments

This post deviates a little from the usual business side of things, but I thought it would be a fairly rocking way to start the week. Take a Pink Floyd classic and tie it in with master DJ Eric Prydz and you get a rocking rendition inspiring kids to get involved with resource conservation and have some fun while they do it. I wouldn’t be one to say you don’t need an education, but it’s great to see this issue as something that’s just common sense, that anyone can understand…

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Smithfield Foods Phasing Out Gestation Crates

| Tuesday February 13th, 2007 | 9 Comments

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My colleague emailed me last week, “I never thought I’d see this, not in my lifetime.” On January 25, 2007, Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the U.S., announced it will be phasing out hog gestation crates over the next decade.
Several days later, Maple Leaf Foods, Canada’s largest pork producer followed suit.
Before we go any further, are you familiar with a gestation crate? According to Bgunzy Humeston, an Iowa farmer: “Picture a sow in a steel bar crate with 3″ of room on each side and about 9-12″ from front to back to move. The animal can’t turn around – she’s always facing the same direction, with her feed and water at her face.” In the crate; for life. The lives of breeding sows are spent repeatedly getting pregnant through artificial insemination and giving birth (as are the lives of dairy cows who must have a calf in order to continue to produce milk, but I digress…)

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AskPablo: Home Energy Saving Tips

| Monday February 12th, 2007 | 2 Comments

Marketwatch.jpgLast week I was invited to the home of Stacey Delo of DowJones Online to film a segment on home energy saving tips to be aired this week on MarketWatch. We looked at a whole bunch of energy saving measures, and this week I will show you how I got some of the numbers behind them. None of these particular facts made the final cut but they are worth reading.

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Pablo Paster Makes Market Watch

| Monday February 12th, 2007 | 6 Comments

Our very own pal, Pablo Paster, has a short segment on Dow Jones’ MarketWatch today on home energy efficiency. Watch it right here, and don’t forget to send your questions on sustainability to Pablo at Pablo.paster – at – gmail.com

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Forbes On Greenwashing and Green Scamming

| Friday February 9th, 2007 | 2 Comments

scam.jpgIn my opinion, 2007 is going to be a landmark year for environmental awareness. But some of that awareness will, unfortunately, come in the form of cynicism over green washing and even scamming. Aside from large corporate PR stunts that may be all smoke and mirrors, many small scale “entrepreneurs” are getting on the green band wagon in less that savory manners, according to this article in Forbes.
But I’m not too worried about it. In any boom time (And for green businesses the boom time is on the horizon) there will be a certain number of charlatans. A few publications will write articles highlighting some of them and a small handful of people will raise a stink saying that the whole green movement is a sham. They’ll quickly calm down when the multitude of legitimate businesses carry on.
PS – Why are so many scam companies headquartered in New Jersey or Florida? I’ve smelled that pattern before, am I hallucinating?

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Guest Post: Recipe for Student Health and Success

| Wednesday February 7th, 2007 | 2 Comments

omega3.jpgOne teacher’s quest for real answers to the problem of student underachievement.
When I was a kid, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge meant paying a toll each way. For decades traffic slowed (or stopped) morning and night, every workday. Then, because 30 years is enough time to think things through, a light bulb went on in the Bridge Authority and they realized they could slow traffic down in only ONE direction each day, and charge double, because those people would go HOME at night!
What else is right in front of our noses but we won’t notice for 30 years?
For instance, is there some hidden cause for the decline in SAT scores, and the far higher rate of absences, retention, violence, and vandalism? Could school meals have anything to do with it? GoodSchoolFood.org Dr. Alexander Schauss thinks so, he found that whenever prisons or juvenile halls improved nutrition, there was up to 75% less violence, theft, and other antisocial behavior. It’s time to see the obvious: when it comes to school food “garbage in, garbage out.”

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What’s the True Environmental Cost of Fiji Water?

| Monday February 5th, 2007 | 64 Comments

fiji water.jpgED Note: This is the original “Ask Pablo” column which set off enormous hullabaloo about the “cost” of bottled water. This post was picked up by media organizations far and wide and even by the Fiji water company themselves, who have since taken some interesting steps. Please read it with that historical context in mind!

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This week’s AskPablo comes from Maryline: “I am interested to know the ‘true-cost’ of a bottle of Fiji water that currently sells for $1.50 in the United States. David Lazarus wrote a report on the water business in the SF Chronicle and studied the success of Fiji (January 21 edition), where ‘distance and exoticism are marketed as advantages.’ Fiji is now # 2 in premium bottled water, behind Evian where we have the same transportation issue. An environmental absurdity!”

Please note: Due to overwhelming reader interest in this topic some of the assumptions made in this column have been adjusted. Numerous readers were kind enough to provide more accurate values for some of my previous assumptions.

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Ben Goldhirsch Interview by LX.TV

| Wednesday January 31st, 2007 | 0 Comments

Here’s a great interview with Ben Goldhirsch, the entrepreneur behind Good magazine. It’s nice to inherit 100 million, but even nicer to figure out something meaningful to do with it. Whether or not Good becomes a successful business remains to be seen, but he’s off to a great start.

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Realigning Incentives in India

| Tuesday January 30th, 2007 | 0 Comments

This is somewhat tangentially related to business but it demonstrates the kind of thinking that needs to be done in order to address the environmental and social problems both business and society face. Recognize a poaching problem in India. Then, instead of rounding up poachers at great expense and at great cost to an impoverished society that is more concerned with putting food on the table than protecting resources, hire the poachers to be guides for tourists. Suddenly incentives are reversed, the former poachers enjoy a more lucrative and legal livelihood, educational interaction happens on all fronts, and the wilderness is saved! Tah dah! Watch this little National Geographic video for more.

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Reflections from the DC War Protest

| Tuesday January 30th, 2007 | 0 Comments

washdc-protest.jpgThe United States capital was surrounded by about 100,000 anti-war protesters on January 27, 2007. The event was sponsored by United for Peace, which was very effective in bringing together religious groups, labor unions, political parties, celebrities, parents of soldiers, schools, veteran organizations, environmental groups, and a variety of special interests groups to create a cohesive event with a clear message to end the war in Iraq. During the march, I was surrounded by a sea of chants and banners, each with a different flavor, yet a shared vision of peace. Numerous groups used a variety of theatrical tactics to have their voice heard. I caught a glimpse of Uncle Sam walked around on stilts with a Pinocchio nose, human statues creating a visual representation of the casualties of the war, and a black hooded man with an oil gun. A group of grannies sang “An Urge to Surge,” mocking Bush’s war tactics, showing how hip senior citizens can be. I struggled to keep up with a woman who is the spokeswoman of four senior groups and has been spending her retirement traveling around the country to voice the needs of seniors.

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AskPablo: Computer Standby

| Monday January 29th, 2007 | 11 Comments

67437-click-hibernate.gifA few weeks ago I received the following question from A. Stevenson: “Any idea what a desktop computer uses when not turned on, or when it’s in ‘sleep’ mode?” This was in response to my Phantom Power article from January 1, 2007. Since I use a notebook computer I had to ask my dad to put his Kill-A-Watt meter to work on one of his office computers.

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Mainstream Green – More, More and More!

| Friday January 26th, 2007 | 1 Comment

logo_b2_137x20.gifI’ve been absolutely amazed at the amount of coverage “Green” is getting in business publications lately. The Wall Street Journal is chock full of articles on carbon emissions issues and this week Business 2.0 devoted basically the entire issue to the entrepreneurial potential of clean technology and other environmental strategies. Read the whole thing here or go out and grab a copy, it’s great weekend reading.
The challenge now, of course, is how do we keep the quality from the junk, the green washing from the reality, and the greedy from cutting corners and giving the cynics ammunition. To me it seems like goal number one – convincing business that going green makes business sense – is complete. The challenge now is – how to do it right! That’s where you, dear readers, come into play.

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WSJ: Industry Cedes Ground? Really?

| Tuesday January 23rd, 2007 | 0 Comments

climate55.jpgI enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal on a daily basis, but sometimes it really seems like a stodgy old rag – today’s front page headline was a response to yesterday’s press conference by 10 leading companies urging a more proactive stance on climate change on behalf of both government and industry. The Wall Street Journal’s headline was: “In Climate Controversy, Industry Cedes Ground”. (Reprinted here)
Although the article does acknowledge that some companies “see a lucrative new market in clean-energy technologies” the vibe of the article, and the headline in particular, is that industry is somehow “losing” and that there remains a “controversy” over climate change. Indeed there does remain a certain controversy over precisely how to go about addressing climate change from the perspective of industry, but the verdict has long been in that most proactive steps to address climate change will be very good for both industry and economy in the long term. This is partly because the alternative may be collapse, but more so because addressing climate change means doing things more efficiently, and thus more profitably. The only missing ingredient is the right political and legislative climate to favor efficiency instead of a climate that subsidizes waste.

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Is ExxonMobile Starting to Think?

| Monday January 22nd, 2007 | 1 Comment

I knew they’d be the last oil company to say anything remotely green and I have to admit a huge dose of skepticism that they really mean it just yet – but – on the front page of toady’s Wall Street Journal (I tried to scan it but technical difficulties) is a full color advert proclaiming ExxonMobil’s intention to “working to reduce emissions for cars, trucks, and buses”. The ad goes on to say that the companies efforts could improve fuel economy 30% across the nation.
It’s just an advertisement, but I’m actually quite blown away as it’s by far the most proactive statement I’ve ever seen the old curmudgeon of a company utter. Are they finally starting to feel embarrassed by their stubborn myopia? Did today’s awesome press conference by captains of industry rub off on them? Are the right people inside the company finally being listened too? Or are they just making a teeny tiny effort to test the waters?

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AskPablo: The Dishwasher

| Monday January 22nd, 2007 | 16 Comments

Emma.jpg People in tie-dye everywhere will tell you that technology is the devil, but most of today’s “Cultural Creatives” will tell you that using a dishwasher is far more efficient than washing your dishes by hand. So which is it? Well, this week we will find out once and for all. I am joined by my friend Emma, a junior scientist in the third grade, who will help me conduct the necessary experiments to get you an answer.

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