How to green your phone service

| Monday March 31st, 2008 | 1 Comment

The words sustainability and business phone service don’t often get put together, other then, say, consumer long distance and cell phone carriers like Working Assets Credo service and Earth Tones that dedicate a portion of their profits to earth and social positive causes. So it was interesting to hear from someone at Broadcore, a voip phone service provider, who was wondering if we’d be interested in writing about them.
Their site doesn’t explicitly say they are a green phone service provider, but in explaining the benefits of using their service, it became quite clear that they are just that.
How so?

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Deforestation-Carbon Markets Research

| Saturday March 29th, 2008 | 2 Comments

Finding ways to include deforestation abatement projects into the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and private sector emissions trading schemes such as the EU’s ETS – thereby providing a market-based mechanism that offers an incentive and financing to jumpstart forest conservation initiatives – is one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s priorities.
Fossil fuel use and land use change account for roughly 1/5 of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC’s 2007 assessment report. Researchers at the Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany have put out a discussion paper that evaluates the economic implications of creating tradable carbon credits, such as CDM CERs (Certified Emissions Reductions), derived from reduced deforestation projects for the post-Kyoto emissions market in 2020.
Write “Reducing Deforestation and Trading Emissions: Economic Implications for the Post-Kyoto Carbon Market” authors’ Niels Anger and Jayant Sathaye, “We find that integrating avoided deforestation in international emissions trading considerably decreases the costs of post-Kyoto climate policy – even when accounting for conventional abatement options of developing countries.
“At the same time, tropical rainforest regions receive substantial net revenues from exporting carbon-offset credits to the industrialized world. Moreover, reduced deforestation can increase environmental effectiveness by enabling industrialized countries to tighten their carbon constraints without increasing mitigation costs.”
Tropical Foresters to Meet at Yale
Meanwhile, the Yale University chapter will be hosting the International Society of Tropical Forester’s annual conference in New Haven March 28-29.
The potential impacts of bioenergy and deforestation on tropical landscapes, both of which hold the potential to offset carbon emissions, would have significantly different impacts on land uses, according to the organizers, hence discussions will focus on questions such as whether bioenergy will be a tool for tropical forest conservation or a catalyst of its destruction and whether biofuel production and deforestation are compatible.

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Walmart Says No to Milk from “Juiced” Cows

| Friday March 28th, 2008 | 5 Comments

When Walmart takes a position in the marketplace, it’s hard not to notice. There’s little doubt that Monsanto hasn’t taken notice of Walmart’s decision to no longer carry milk from cows injected with Posilac, the synthetic growth hormone produced by Monsanto since 1994.

Some believe Walmart is delivering the knock-out blow, following behind other food retailers such as Kroger, Safeway and Starbucks in banning dairy products containing (or produced through the use of) recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). In 2006 Dean Foods, producer of 2 billion gallons of milk per year, made the decision to stop using Posilac.

While Monsanto and, thus far, the FDA (who approved the use of Posilac in 1993) claim there are no health risks to humans from rBGH – it doesn’t really seem very pleasant for the cows. The claims of the FDA and Monsanto notwithstanding, there are concerns about the effects of rBGH in humans. Use of rBGH is banned in Europe and Canada.

There are no labeling requirements for dairy products produced using growth hormone. In a curious twist (at least to me) some dairy producers have petitioned the FDA to block the labeling of milk and other dairy products produced without the use of rBGH – claiming the label of “organic” (or at least made with no synthetic growth hormone) is misleading to the consumer since there is no evidence that organic products are any safer or more nutritious than products produced with synthetic growth hormone.

But it all may be in vain.

On the first hand, there is ample evidence of the ill-effects growth hormones have on the cows themselves, and even if we don’t really care so much for the cows (and we should), those ill-effects make their way up the food chain and into our glass of milk.

And on the second hand, Walmart (and others) move on what the consumer wants. And that appears to be milk, cheese, and yogurt produced from dairy cows free of rBGH.

As goes Walmart, so goes rBGH. Maybe its time for Monsanto to throw in the towel.


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Solar Thermal Electricity: Catching the Eye of Utility Companies

Sarah Lozanova | Friday March 28th, 2008 | 7 Comments

mirrors%20small.jpgThe American Southwest has some of the greatest solar resources on the globe, it yet remains largely untapped. This trend may be changing as solar technology matures, market forces shift and concern for climate change mounts.
One of the most common arguments against large-scale use of renewable energy is that it cannot produce a steady, reliable stream of energy, day and night. Ausra Inc. does not agree. They believe that solar thermal technology has the potential to supply over 90% of grid power, while finding solutions to environmental issues.

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Birding and Solar Power in Israel’s Eilot Region

| Thursday March 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Israel’s southernmost Eilot region begins at the Egyptian border and gateway to the Sinai, a short way south and extending west outside the Red Sea coast and holiday/port city of Eilat. Practically walking distance to the east is the Jordanian border. Nestled against the Red Sea and the striking, majestic Edom Mountains is the neighboring city of Aqaba, a city made immemorial by David Lean in his epic film Lawrence of Arabia. Drive a bit farther south along the western fringe of the Red Sea and you come to the Saudi Arabian border.
Heading north from Eilat, Eilot stretches more than 100 kilometers to the capital of Beer Sheva. The road north along the Arava Valley is framed by the Eilat and Ketura Mountains and the Negev desert plateau to the west and Jordan’s Edom Mountains to the east.
The area, like many places, is a mix of striking similarities and stark contrasts. Sharing the same rugged coastal mountain, desert and acacia scrub geography and climate, it is not only one of the few places where Arab and Israeli/Hebrew cultures and people reside in relative peace and close proximity. An arid desert climate (with 10 millimeters or less of rainfall on average per year) modulated by the Red Sea is both harsh and gentle – and a challenge in terms of making the most out of precious natural resources and adapting technologies to the climate and geography without damaging what is at one and the same time a rugged yet fragile ecosystem.
Still sparsely populated, relatively speaking, the Arava Valley is nonetheless a center of agriculture, as well as eco-consciousness and entrepreneurial spirit. The former is thanks to a substantial underground aquifer and practical human farming skills and know-how. The latter is also a result of the people that have settled in the Valley, which is dotted with kibbutz communities that exhibit an intriguing mix of participatory, democratic, communal living and market-driven, entrepreneurial spirit.

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Reconnect Program Expands into Houston

| Wednesday March 26th, 2008 | 6 Comments

Reconnect opens in HoustonReconnect is a partnership between Dell Computer and Goodwill Industries offering consumers in participating cities a computer recycling and reuse program. Goodwills in California, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas have programs in place in many cities and regions.

The Grand Opening today of the Houston Computer Works store was the occasion to announce expansion of Reconnect into metropolitan Houston.

Computer Works will offer low cost software and hardware and house the “de-manufacturing” process for the recycling program, keeping an estimated 1.5 million pounds of computer hardware out of area landfill.

San Francisco has numerous recycling programs including Reconnect, so I am always disheartened when I see a battered printer or some other piece of hardware abandoned on the street.

Consumer education and awareness of the environmental hazards lurking inside our electronics is another key component to recycling success that Reconnect hopes to achieve throughout its growing network.

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Sustainability Below the Surface: Sustainable Brands Conference This June in Beautiful Monterey

| Wednesday March 26th, 2008 | 1 Comment

Sustainabiltiy Below the Surface this June in MontereyThe Sustainable Brands Conference is coming to Monterey California this June 2nd to the 5th at the Hyatt Regency.

Innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders of businesses large and small are slated for attendance at this unique conference billed as the “only conference focused on sustainability as a key driver for brand prosperity and success in the 21st century.”

A very short list of some of the speakers at the conference include:

  • JoAnna Abrams, Principal, MindClick
  • Phil Berry, President, Sustainable Product Works, LLC
  • Benjamin Allen, Senior Research Analyst, Parnassus Investments
  • Steve Bishop, Global Lead, Design for Sustainability, IDEO
  • Erin Carlson, Director of Yahoo! for Good, Yahoo! Inc.
  • Scot Case, Vice President, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, Inc.
  • Jeffrey Hollender, President and Corporate Responsibility Officer, Seventh Generation Inc. 

Sessions for the conference include:

  • Marketing Green 101
  • Designing Your Sustainable Brand Position & Voice: A Workshop in the Creative Process
  • Measuring Your Social Footprint
  • Culture as Brand
  • Strategies and Tools for Measuring Your Carbon Foot Print
  • On the Path to Carbon Neutrality — First Reduce Your Impact
  • Insight From the Blogosphere – Current Analysis on Green Consumer Conversation
  • Capital Flow & Sustainable Brands: How Investors are Driving New Opportunity for Sustainable Brands

… and there’s a lot more.

“…engage to create solutions for integrating brand, environmental and social purpose in the beautiful and stimulating backdrop of Monterey, California”.



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Eco Tuesday: A Discussion with Jonah Sachs of Free Range Studios

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments

TriplePundit has partnered with EcoTuesday, the monthly sustainable business networking event to provide an online dialog following each EcoTuesday event. The idea is that conversations that started at the event can be continued online, and connections that were made can be rekindled.
On Tuesday, March 25, EcoTuesday took place at Le Colonial Restaurant in San Francisco, with Jonah Sachs, CEO of Free Range Studios as the expert speaker.
A few choice clips:

(apologies for poor lighting)
Jonah’s pioneering communications work has helped hundreds of progressive organizations break through the media din with strategic, inspiring messages. He’s the creative force behind the web presences of such pre-eminent organizations as the ACLU, Heifer International and Environmental Defense.
If you were at the event, what did you think? Please use the comments here to continue the conversation. If you were not at the event, please feel free to jump in. As always, if you are interested in bringing EcoTuesday to your community, check out the contact form here.

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Music Wood: A Song for Sustainable Forestry

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Music Wood - guitars don't grow on trees ya' know...“Somebody has to do something, it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us”
-Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead

Jerry is no longer with us, of course, but he would be happy to hear about Music Wood, a partnership between Greenpece and musical instrument makers Martin, Gibson, Fender, Taylor, and Yamaha. The goal of the campaign is to promote the availability of instruments made from wood harvested within the sustainable forestry standards set forth by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

Spruce, Rosewood, Ebony, Mahogany, and Maple are among the “tonewoods” used to produce the musical tone musicians seek in their instruments, principally from old-growth forests, often harvested unsustainably.

Music Wood will initially focus on Alaskan Sitka Spruce, used for sound boards in guitars and pianos, harvested by Sealaska. Using Sealaska’s own numbers, the old-growth forests in Alaska will be gone in fifteen years if harvesting continues at current levels.

Sealaska has agreed to a preliminary audit with plans for a full FSC-certified assessment this summer. If Sealaska implements the recommendations of the assessment, they can apply for accreditation from FSC, helping to insure a sustainable harvest well into the future.

Guitars, mandolins, pianos, and violins make up but a small fraction of the old-growth harvest, but the market is a high profile one that can help lead the way and inspire sustainable forestry. 

With the forests goes the music.

Rock on.



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New Kyoto Protocol CDM Chair Sets Priorities

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Expanding and streamlining the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will be 2008’s focal points for the CDM Executive Board, according to Rajesh Kumar Sethi, who as its newly appointed chairperson is the man in charge of managing the world’s largest market-based mechanism for verifying and financing carbon dioxide emissions reduction projects.
“The CDM is operating in close to 50 countries, and is approaching its thousandth registered project with 128 million CERs already issued. Everyone involved can take some pride in those stats, but until the potential of the mechanism is realized in the lesser developed countries, especially in Africa, we cannot rest,” Sethi said in a media release.

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Mail Back: USPS to recycle e-waste free of charge

| Tuesday March 25th, 2008 | 2 Comments

This is a guest post was written by Bobby Grace, a student in Professor Simran Sethi’s Media and the Environment course at the University of Kansas originally published this to the course blog on March 18, 2008.

I don’t skateboard.
I’ve tried, but I never really got the hang of it. The last (and final) time I tried, I fell and cracked the screen of my phone. The proper way to describe the phone would be unusable, but I like to say it was totally thrashed.
The USPS knows there are people out there like me, people with electronics that are no longer usable. Knowing the toxicity of electronics, the USPS has set up a novel program to recycle electronics called Mail Back.
1. Go to the post office.
2. Pick up a pre-paid envelope.
3. Insert totally thrashed cell phone along with dreams of becoming a professional skateboarder.
4. Seal envelope and send it off.
Yes, people, it’s that easy with the Mail Back program. Your postage is care of Clover Technology Group, the company that won the USPS’s love and manages the electronic waste. Your PDAs, iPods, ink cartridges, digicams, and other small electronics are refurbished, reused, recycled, and never sent to the landfill. This program is a first for the USPS and as such it is only available in 10 areas across the country including Washington DC, Chicago, LA, and San Diego. If well received, the program will go national this fall.
via: Planet Green, USPS Press Release
Bobby Grace
(Photo: Max Knight, flickr)

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AskPablo: The great diaper debate

| Monday March 24th, 2008 | 0 Comments

The great diaper debate of disposable vs. cloth now has a new dimension thanks to gDiapers, flushable nappies that are cradle-to-cradle certified. But is it really environmentally sound to flush each diaper? The gDiapers Web site says it’s OK to throw them away since they biodegrade within 60 days, but it also points out that poop in landfills is generally a bad idea because of all those nasty bacteria, and that “the best way we currently have for treating human waste is in our existing sewage facilities.” What say you?

You are not the first to ask about disposable diapers and, lucky for you, my editor wants me to work on this smelly subject this week. And what topic could be more fitting after my last article on the environmental impact of bringing an additional child into the world. Honestly, I don’t know much about diapers — and those who wear them — but hopefully we can learn something together this week and find an environmentally friendly solution to this mess.
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Nike makes a green sneaker?

| Monday March 24th, 2008 | 7 Comments

In a sign that eco friendly shoes are moving out of the hemp, vegan, crunchy cliches and into the broader world is the newly released Nike Trash Talk shoe. Nike themselves have had a sustainably made shoe line called Considered, that, while a great effort, stayed firmly in the brown shoe, casual segment, not touching the performance end of their product lines, the majority of what they produce.
It now appears that they’ve begun branching out, with the trail athletics oriented Humara and Takos shoes, that incorporate recycled shoe rubber, and their trail jacket, that uses recycled polyester.
The Trash Talk, however, marks a coming out of sorts, as this has been created in partnership with Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, and they made it a point to let it be known he was wearing them at the All Star game in February.
So, is there substance behind their green claims, or is it hyped greenwash?

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Pres. Bush Address at WIREC 2008

| Saturday March 22nd, 2008 | 1 Comment

It’s amazing how at certain key turning points decisions and policies that will strongly influence and determine the future course for entire nations of individuals hang on a razor’s edge…and fall one way or another based largely on meetings and get-togethers carried out out of the public eye.
One of the first things Pres. Bush and his administration focused on upon taking control of the executive branch of government was to push for a National Energy Policy…Unsurprisingly, it focused heavily on ramping up domestic petroleum and gas exploration and development. The almost clandestine way the Bush-Cheney team carried out the policy formulation process came to light, leading to claims of abuse of power, and once again highlighting the potential conflicts of interest inherent in policy making given their well-known personal histories and vested oil and gas industry interests.
Those policies have changed dramatically…Here’s a video — courtesy of davidanyc2 and YouTube — to Pres. Bush’s address at the recently concluded WIREC 2008 (Washington International Renewable Energy Conference) where more than 8600 delegates from more than 150 international delegations made more than 100 pledges of action to promote and increase renewable energy development and use.

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What Walmart and Kermit Have in Common: It’s Not Easy Being Green

| Friday March 21st, 2008 | 1 Comment

A liquid cooler atop the new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of the Associated PressAnd if you were to ask Lee Scott, Walmart’s CEO, he’d say Walmart isn’t green at all – which doesn’t seem too much of a stretch.

Walmart has been vilified for destroying America’s “Main Street”, exploiting workers all over the world (including here in the U.S.), and helping fuel a consumerist environmental mess on a scale not even possible by smaller, lesser retailers. They have one of the largest commercial truck fleets on the planet and consume more electricity than any other private user. Walmart is the big (really big) elephant in the room we call “retail commerce” and the footprint they leave throughout the world is a large one – to put it mildly.

We love to hate Walmart.

But even if Walmart isn’t green, they’re pretty good at making money and maximizing profit. And with efficiency comes lower operating costs, more profit, and more money.

Efficiency is the name of the game with their latest generation “Supercenter”  in Las Vegas that utilizes new cooling technology expected to reduce overall energy use by 45%. Since 2005, Walmart has reportedly put in place a program aimed at increasing overall energy efficiency throughout the chain, reducing packing waste, and adding more sustainable products to their shelves.

If that isn’t green, it is more efficient. You don’t always have to be green to do the right thing.


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