Pepsi Bows to Pressure, Labels Aquafina “Public Water Source”

| Friday July 27th, 2007 | 1 Comment

aquafina.jpgAlthough I’m partial to a bottle of Pelegrino from time to time, I generally eschew bottled water as basically a gimmick. Much of it is, after all, literally tap water. PepsiCo’s major bottled water brand, Aquafina, is indeed tap water, and will now state it’s source on the bottle.
The change in labeling (somewhat subtle though it may be) is a direct response to Wednesday’s “Pepsi Call-In Day” by an organization called Corporate Accountability International. The activist group has been pressuring Pepsi and other bottled water manufacturers to state clearly that, despite the alluring mountain peaks on the bottles’ labels, the water is in fact municipal tap water, perhaps lightly filtered at best. Their website ThinkOutsideTheBottle.org sums it all up.
I applaud Pepsi for responding to these reasonable demands and suspect that they’ll earn some kudos for the move from many sources. Perhaps they’ll make a Pepsi-branded water container that you can fill up at your own tap and carry around?

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Socially-Conscious MBA Students Aim to Avoid “The Trap”

| Friday July 27th, 2007 | 4 Comments

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have read a number of reviews of the new book, The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, by Daniel Brook. The most interesting of these was written by Astra Taylor on Salon.com.
I have not read the book, but Taylor offers a good summary and analysis of its key points. The Trap argues that 20-somethings are now being forced to choose between living by their ideals or making a living. Taylor observes that,

Brook’s primary point will be familiar: Compared with our parents at the same age, we’re working longer hours for less money, reduced job security, slashed benefits and fewer social services… Let your student loans fall into default, rent a cheap, dingy room, go without healthcare, plan on staying childless; that’s the price you pay for following your passion or adhering to your ethics.

Socially-conscious MBA students may beg to differ with Brook that the only options available to young workers today are to be a “sellout” or a “saint”. According to the recent Net Impact survey, “MBA Student Opinions on the Relationship Between Business and Social/Environmental Issues“, 79% of students say they will seek socially responsible employment at some point during their careers; 59% say they will do so immediately following business school.
But…will they find jobs to match these ideals? A Newsweek article posted yesterday reports that graduates of the class of 2007 are finding the job market is receptive to those who want to do good by the environment.

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IMB to Enter the Solar Cell Space?

| Thursday July 26th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Cleantech blog had a great scoop yesterday suggesting the imminent entry into the solar market by IBM. The evidence gathered in this well researched piece cites a number of recent patents by IBM in various areas of high-tech solar cell development as well as the obvious market trends toward solar technology in general. It sound’s like one of the smartest things big blue could do given their technical ability, and if it’s as big as cleantech blog suggests, it’s another major leap forward for solar technology.
(Read the rest)

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Visualization of Ecological Footprint by Country

Sheila Samuelson | Thursday July 26th, 2007 | 0 Comments


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Ecological Footprint
Worldmapper has created a series of 366 world maps, each showing the proportion of a single variable in each of 200 territories, encompassing 99.95% of the world’s population. The maps are density-equalising cartograms, which allow direct comparison of one map to each of the others. The above comparison of current world population (top) with ecological footprint (bottom) gives a clear visual representation to just how out of balance consumption in the US has become. If you’ve read that it would take six Earths to support a world population that lived like the average American citizen, this shows why.
Other map categories include population histories and future projections, income, wealth, poverty, education, resources, manufacturers, pollution, health, and much more.

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Burning Man Corporate Controversy – Selling Out or Evolving?

| Tuesday July 24th, 2007 | 4 Comments

bman.jpgThe bulk of San Francisco’s creative social scene revolves around the monumental once-a-year event known as Burning Man. This year, Burning Man will have a “Green” theme which expands their already strong environmental policies to try to become a closed-loop event. Nonetheless, there is also great controversy this year, as Burning Man will feature a “worlds fair of clean tech” wherein companies have been invited to show off their wares.
Since its inception has been explicitly non-commercial in spirit (commerce of most kinds is banned at the event, logos banished, and a ‘gift economy’ proclaimed) so the invitation to corporations has many long-time burners seeing red.
The fear is that this act will be quite literally a death blow for the event – that corporate interests are so inherently contradictory to the philosophy of Burning Man that they simply can’t co-exist. On the other hand, with a logo ban still in effect, and companies required to turn over their products to artists who will have free reign over how and where the items are displayed, perhaps it’s not that big a deal and it’s the corporations that will really be changing for the better – or, more specifically, ideas that will be changing and evolving for the better into new and different kinds of companies.
Here’s what Money Magazine says. and here are two discussions about it [1][2] that take a different view.

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Intel Launches CSR Blog

| Tuesday July 24th, 2007 | 0 Comments

Intel has launched a new blog on corporate social responsibility called CSR@Intel. There hasn’t been anything particularly interesting up on the blog yet, but I’m happy to see any company moving in the direction of more transparent communications, especially in the realm of CSR. Intel actually has 8 blogs on various subjects linked to from their sidebar (see them all here) which might be overkill depending on how stratified they perceive their audience to be.
Anyway, as will all communications outreaches of this type, I encourage Intel to take some risks with it, raise some issues that the company might not have a rehearsed answer for and to not be afraid to say they don’t have an immediate answer. And I’d encourage readers to get on board too.

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AskPablo: Black Google

| Monday July 23rd, 2007 | 17 Comments

blackle.jpgThis week’s question comes from Julia. She asks “is it really true that a black Google page would save energy?” She is, of course, referring to a very popular article written by Mark Ontkush back in January. He claims that turning the Google page black would save 3000 MWh per year! As a result, Blackle was created. While it may be true that a CRT monitor uses 15 watts less with the black screen Mark does admit that only 25% of the world’s monitors are CRT. What about the rest of us, with shiny new LCD monitors?

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Junk Food Thwarts Pepsi – Nestle MegaMerger

| Thursday July 19th, 2007 | 0 Comments

junkfood.jpgAccording to the Wall Street Journal, PepsiCo’s dependence on junk food for the bulk of its sales was a primary factor in derailing Nestle’s intent to merge with the company. Nestle manufactures a fair amount of junk food too, but is not as dependent on soda and chips as a cornerstone of its business and feared that taking on such things would undermine their stated mission as a “healthful” company. Given the rising interest in eating more healthy around the globe, this probably makes good business sense too.
Of course, this leaves Pepsi holding the bag of chips…

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Walmart: 1MPG Better Saves over $35 Million

| Thursday July 19th, 2007 | 5 Comments

walmarttruck.jpgI always have to preface any Walmart post with my grain of salt, but when it comes to demonstrating the raw financial savings of better efficiency, they’ve constantly amazed and should serve as a common-sense model. Simply by increasing the fuel efficiency of their truck fleet from 6mpg to 7mpg (though a variety of means) the company will save at least $35 million. Those of us with wider concerns can do the math to see how many other benefits this has for society at large. (more on MSNBC)

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Whole Foods Selling $15 Shopping Bags… Lots of ‘em

| Wednesday July 18th, 2007 | 4 Comments

designer-bag.jpgGetting rid of our incredible plastic bag glut is a monumental challenge with all sorts of approaches. Whole Foods seems to have come up with another one, which is working out great financially for the company as well. WF is offering “designer” shopping bags at a (pretty steep) $15 each to shoppers. They look cool and have comfy straps as a bonus. But will people pay that much for a shopping bag? Evidently yes, as people literally lined up around the block in New York to buy them. (more on CNN Money) (thx, JPW)

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StonyField Farms Working with Sustainable Harvest

| Wednesday July 18th, 2007 | 2 Comments

sust-harvest.jpg(This is a guest post by Jessica Schessler)
Obviously, rainforest destruction is a heated topic of discussion. Many popular websites claim to plant trees in exchange for donations, and even Dell has hopped on the bandwagon. When you buy a new computer you can select “plant a tree for me” as you checkout and help offset your carbon footprint. Planting trees can be a good thing, but are we really making progress if we do nothing about the source of the problem? Sustainable Harvest International is heading straight for one source. This small non-profit organization “has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region.” Malnutrition is a huge problem in this area of the world, and many vegetables are considered a luxury item. SHI teaches new farming techniques to the local families, such as alley cropping, organic vegetable gardening, and seed saving and storage.
Since 1997, SHI has successfully:

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All-Electric Mini Cooper Ready for Consumer Market

Steve Puma | Tuesday July 17th, 2007 | 7 Comments

minicooper.jpgHybrid Technologies, known for their Smart Car and sponsoring UC Berkeley’s sophisticated Cal Sol Project, announced today that their all-electric, Lithium-Ion powered BMW AG Mini Cooper has moved into production. The car is reported to have a range of 120+ miles on a single charge, speeds up to 80 miles per hour, and acceleration of 0-60 in 6.0 seconds. According to the press release, “The Mini Cooper Frame is produced by Mini Cooper in Oxford England, and the conversion to all-lithium currently takes place in North Carolina at Hybrid’s Mooresville plant.”
You can watch these test drive videos from Popular Mechanics and Forbes Magazine.
I love announcements like this. I think fun and sexy cars like the Mini and the Tesla are just what the auto industry needs to get people excited about the potential of electric cars. No word about the cost, though. Hopefully it will be affordable…
The Mini is incredibly fun to drive as it is…I can only imagine what an electric engine will do for its performance. You can currently rent a non-electric one from ZipCar, it will be interesting to see if car sharing companies hop on this as a great way to introduce people to these cars.
On a related note, check out Jay Leno’s review of the Tesla.

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Case Studies for “Green” Corporate Marketers

| Monday July 16th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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The Business Development Institute and PR Newswire are putting on a half-day conference in New York on Tuesday, July 24th that will feature “green communications” case studies presented by corporate executives from Ford, HSBC, Interface, National Geographic, and the U.S. EPA. If you can’t be there in person, sign up to view a free webcast of the event. The agenda sounds interesting: HSBC will discuss its 5-year, $100 million Climate Partnership program; Ford will describe its marketing and communications strategy for the Escape Hybrid; and the director of marketing for the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders program will talk about its successful marketing plan.

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AskPablo: Time to get a new car?

| Monday July 16th, 2007 | 71 Comments

This week David asks “how much more energy efficient does a new car have to be to make up for the energy of production vs a used car? For example, if someone was considering buying a used car that gets 18 mpg vs. a new car that gets 30 mpg. At what point in driving would that increase in mpg make up for the energy of production of the new vehicle?” Read on to find the answer in this week’s AskPablo.

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Fast Company’s Greenest Cities

Sheila Samuelson | Thursday July 12th, 2007 | 2 Comments

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Speaking of walkability, the current issue of Fast Company highlights Chicago, Stockholm, Portand and Vancouver as Green Leaders in their 2007 Fast Cities index.
Here’s why the leaders were chosen:
Chicago: Since 1999, the city has planted 2.5 million square feet of heat-reducing rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined. Mayor Richard Daley has overseen a downtown renaissance and the planting of 500,000 new trees. In the wake of a deadly 1995 heat wave, he has also launched a raft of aggressive initiatives to cool the city while conserving energy–and beat New York to an environmental action plan by two years.

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