It’s always nice to see a lot of hard work come to bear fruit. Josh Dorfman is a friend of mine and also the founder of Vivavi.com. Additionally he’s been hosting a weekly radio program called The Lazy Environmentalist which has recently become a book by the same name. It’s a pragmatic look at the realities of human nature combined with the awareness to improve the environment. To borrow from the introduction:
“Designers are saving rain forests. Fashionistas are clearing toxins from the soil. Architects are rolling back global warming. A new wave of eco-conscious activists is stimulating fresh approaches to environmental challenges. The market is their arena. Organic cotton, bamboo, and certified sustainable woods are their materials. Hybrid engines and solar power are their technologies. Stylish, high-performing products and services are their tools of change. These innovators make it easy for us to integrate environmental awareness into our lives. They understand that while so many of us are concerned about the environment, we don’t always have the time, energy, or inclination to do something about it. We are lazy environmentalists. This is our moment.”
Lee Arnold has put together some nifty little animated descriptions of various economic situations on YouTube. They all fall under the title of “EcoLanguage” because all make an attempt to include integrated-bottom-line thinking into their explanations of everything from Social Security to Waste & Pollution. The animation is a little hokey, but the explanations are solid and worth your time – to help you understand the relationship between economics and ecology, as well as something to send to friends. Check it out.
Professionals for Responsible Supply Chain Management (PRiSM) will present a free “webinar” tomorrow at 10AM pacific time. PRiSM is an affilliate of Net Impact and will share recent survey findings of consumer attitudes to better understand how people perceive and value better practices within the supply chain, and how company and product brands relate to supply chain activities. Also, three graduate research teams will share their findings on sustainable supply chain innovation across 3 product categories: 1. Food & Beverages: Jessica Lin, The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment 2.Tobacco: Shay O’Reilly, The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business 3.Personal Care Products: Valerie Nibler, The Presidio School of Management Click here to register for the free educational web seminar, or visit www.aravo.com.
In honor of memorial day I will be taking a carbon-neutral trip to the mountains. I will be back with answers to your sustainability questions next week. If you have a great question please send it to pablo.paster(at)gmail.com.
I’m taking off for the long weekend and I highly recommend you do the same. All work and no play ya know. But here’s a Wal Mart Video featuring Andy Rubin, Adam Werbach and others talking about CFLs, along with a whole host of others. It’s a veritable youtube of options. The one about skylights in Kansas City is noteworthy. It’s basically a bunch of advertisements, but some of them are very well done and worthy of merit. Of course the question is, what’s going on behind this propaganda? For the most part I’m still giving Wal Mart the benefit of the doubt as there is clearly a lot of sincerity behind many of their efforts. But I’m stuck wondering – is the big-box model itself inherently flawed in terms of the context of either environmental or social sustainability? That’s my thought for the weekend.
It’s amazing the difference a little green makes. Perhaps inspired by San Francsico’s PARKing project, but with a much grander scale in mind, a group promoting tourism in London has temporarily ‘greened’ Trafalgar Square. It’s not a permanent installation (I can only imagine how quickly that grass would be trampled) but it really looks great. Trafalgar Square has always been grand, if a little stoic, but that grass really looks great and livens up the place in way almost no human-made object can.
Every time I see a major windfarm in California, regardless of the wind conditions it seems that half of the turbines are not spinning. I attribute this to the age of the windfarms around here (30 years or more) and an apparent lack of maintenance budget. But it’s still puzzling that we’re not doing more with windpower – Popular Mechanics notes that we’re using 2 million times *less* that our potential output of wind energy in the United States. They also outline three main reasons for the setback along with solutions: 1) Cost of transmission lines from relatively remote locations where wind is best. Solution: Small, local turbines, including personal sized ones that augment the grid with diffuse power generation and negligible transmission costs. 2) The inevitable windless day. Solution: Hook up generators to batteries that store electricity for peak demand and low wind conditions. 3) Difficulty of offshore construction. Solution: This is a tricky one, involving technology that’s not yet here at as-yet unknown costs. Check out the whole article here. 3)
Today’s NYTimes has a great announcement from New York City that’s been a long time coming – The entire city’s taxi fleet is proposed to be replaced with hybrid vehicles over the next few years, replacing the woefully inefficient Crown Victorias that now patrol the streets. The plan comes from Mayor Bloomberg himself, which certainly lends some likelihood that it will, in fact, be implemented. The new taxis will only get a comparatively modest 25 miles to the gallon, but that’s about double the mileage of the current fleet and as anyone who’s ever walked near the street on a hot summer day in Manhattan knows, the reduction in emissions is going to be, shall we say, breathtaking.
GreenBiz has launched a new website called Greenercomputing.com. The site will be a resource for IT professionals concerned about the environmental effects of computers and other pieces of high tech equipment – not just in terms of energy use, but in terms of manufacturing and disposal issues. Additionally, there’s a twice-monthly newsletter to keep you posted.
Here’s an interesting puzzle of priorities. AirTrain airlines, a discount carrier based in Atlanta is attempting a hostile takeover of Midwest Airlines, a premium-service carrier based in Milwaukee. The story is getting downright fascinating. AirTran, the reincarnation of ValuJet, is known for cheap fares, but not a whole lot else. Midwest, although a far cry from what it used to be, is still know as “the best care in the air” offering first class seating on most of its flights, along with their trademark baked-in-flight chocolate chip cookies. Mmmm… AirTran has been trying for months to take over Midwest, citing fleet commonality and complimentary route structure as well as new destinations and low fares among the benefits it purports to be bringing to stakeholders. Midwest management and employees have been fighting tooth and nail to resist the takeover. Midwest customers and many members of the Milwaukee business community are also up in arms for fear of being stuck with what they see as a second-rate airline, bad for business and community spirit, not to mention local jobs. Midwest stock is up from $8 to $15 since the take over efforts began, and AirTran recently announced they’ve managed to get the support of 57% of Midwest Shareholders (Midwest dismisses this as a ‘straw poll’). So is this a no-brainer for sharholders? What’s slowing things down? And what would you do?
Energy supply problems and the realization that a carbon-based economy cannot be sustained indefinitely have prompted us to look for alternatives. One such alternative is hydrogen, a noble gas abundant in water (H2O). Combustion of hydrogen releases only pure water and hydrogen fuel cells have a theoretical efficiency of 83%. Why is there not a fuel cell in every car and every basement? As this emerging technology matures, prices will decrease and fuel cells will become increasingly prevalent. Is hydrogen fuel cell technology suitable for use in vehicles? Or will the internal combustion engine remain the vehicle propulsion of choice? Bill Ford, Chairman of the Ford Motor Company says, “I believe fuel cells will finally end the 100-year reign of the internal combustion engine.”
I am very happy with Mayor Daley’s goal to become the “greenest” city in the nation. We’ve made such progress in promoting sustainable agriculture, with the Green City Market and other farmer’s markets providing convenient outlets for purchasing humanely-raised, sustainable food. Chicago hosted Farm Aid two years ago with events around the city, where I first met Sadhu Johnston, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Environment. We are also the host city of the annual FamilyFarmed.org conference and the All Things Organic conference. Last year, the Chicago City Council passed a ban on foie gras, which is a product created by force feeding young ducks and geese with a metal pipe in order for them to develop fatty liver disease. You can see for yourself at www.banfoiegras.org to understand why this inhumane practice is not allowed in sustainable agriculture under certified organic guidelines. Foie gras is already banned in many European countries and a Zogby International poll found that 77% of people in the U.S. think that foie gras should be banned.
“Smithfield is taking a first step in phasing out crates for pigs, but I’m concerned about 1) the lack of producers moving to truly humane animal husbandry standards and 2) the recovery of the family farm,” my colleague at the Animal Welfare Institute told me. Yes, group housing for thousands of breeding sows in warehouses is a much better option than sows being crated within that warehouse and I really laud this improvement, however, Smithfield’s practice still entails: • Pigs living their lives on slatted floors , breathing in urine and manure-filled pathogens as feces fall through the floor and are piped into huge, environmentally-unfriendly lagoons • A lack of nesting materials for sows and piglets • Confinement to warehouses with no natural daylight or outdoor access
This week Julio asks: “Is it more environmentally friendly to shop online or shop in-store? Or, is there a guideline I should use, since I shop online a lot?” I will try to offer my best answer and hopefully we will all learn something. I would like to remind the rest of you to please send in your sustainability-related questions or just topics that interest you. Just send me an e-mail at: Pablo.Paster(at)gmail.com.
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.
Minneapolis: Nov 6 – Nov 8 Net Impact 2014 We're ready to break boundaries—leaving limits behind, forging unexpected alliances, and exploring creative solutions—to transform the world. Register here.
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