Terrapass Teams up with Expedia

| Monday August 28th, 2006 | 1 Comment

luggagetag.jpgSince I don’t own a car, my princiipal contribution to transport derived carbon emissions is flying. Until now, it’s been rather difficult to find a way to offset those emissions by buying credits. Terrapass has just announced a partnership with Expedia offering flyers the same sort of credits that they sell to drivers. There’s a nifty calculator which will tell you approximately how many tons of CO2 your upcoming trip will emit. It’s a simplistic system – for example, it doesn’t take into account the type of aircraft (higher occupancy planes burn less per person) – but it’s a great improvement on what’s available, and It looks like I can no longer pretend I don’t have any options.
Turns out my upcoming flight to Milwaukee in October will cost me an extra $10… that’s not too bad! (although with their tiered system I could have flown a lot further for the same price), and I don’t get a luggage tag.

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Carnival of the Green for Your Monday

| Monday August 28th, 2006 | 1 Comment

cotg.gifIt’s that time again – Monday. Head on over to “the disillusioned kid” for this week’s carnival of the green. It’s a little more political that usual, but who’s afraid of stirring things up a bit?

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All´s well that ends well.

| Friday August 25th, 2006 | 1 Comment

spinning44.jpgReading about World Water Week in Stockholm, I remembered one of my all-time favorite Treehugger articles: Ryan’s Well – It’s Not Who You Are, it’s What You Do. When 6 year-old, Canadian born, Ryan Hreljac found out that in other parts of the world people were dying for lack of clean water, he thought that he should personally do something about it. Thinking that a well in an under-developed country cost around 70 USD, Ryan badgered his parents to give him paying chores until he dutifully saved the amount needed to give a far away community a source of clean water.
Cheerfully presenting his hard-earned savings he discovered that seventy dollars was the cost of the pump – the pump and the well together would cost around 2,000. We´re talking about a six-year-old and a six-year old´s concept of personal goals and world realities. However, the bad news did not faze Ryan. His indignation that children died daily for lack of water was too strong. He continued to save money, tapped his friends and community and a well was dug in Northern Angola. To date, Ryan, now within the framework of Ryan´s Well Foundation, has raised more than a million dollars and built 277 wells in ten countries.

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New Wave Thinking- World Water Week in Stockholm

| Friday August 25th, 2006 | 0 Comments

wwweek.jpg
Last week the International Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) celebrated World Water Week. With the big-picture, multi-disciplinary approach that the Swedes take to almost everything, the city became a showcase for the proposition that problems as diverse as poverty, hunger, illiteracy, environmental degradation and gender inequality can be addressed through water and sanitation projects.
More than 1500 participants from 140 countries met for a program that included workshops, panel discussions and partnership-building events.
This year’s conference theme was “Beyond the River – Sharing Benefits and Responsibilities” and focused on trans-border co-operation over shared sources of water, land and water management and how to cope with weather and climate-related disasters.

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Norway Helping Other Oil-Rich Nations Overcome Corruption

| Thursday August 24th, 2006 | 0 Comments

IPS News reports, via WBCSD, on ways that Norway manages to distributed its oil wealth that are now being passed on to other oil-rich states with legacies of corruption and injustice. But it’s not as simple as simply bestowing money on governmental agencies that supposedly invest it for the good of a country’s people – generations of corruption need to be overcome, and it will be interesting to see how well Norway’s aid works in that regard.

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Faced With a Declining Water Supply, Ideas Start Rolling

| Thursday August 24th, 2006 | 0 Comments

water333.jpgGiven our insatiable appetite for fresh water, we’re coming very close to conflict over this resource which is more precious than oil. The Financial Times reports today (via WBCSD)on a variety of ideas that are being used to reduce water consumption from industry. It’s a start – after all efficiency is the first step toward real environmental improvements. The best thing about this first step, of course, is that it also has financial bottom-line incentives to getting implemented: efficiency & innocation = more profit. Of course, efficiency won’t create more fresh water, but it’s heartening to see the FT reporting on this.

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“Astroturf” Presents a New and Real Threat

| Wednesday August 23rd, 2006 | 1 Comment

astroturf.jpgIf you think Astroturf is just fake grass that you put on your deck, check out the extensive WikiPedia article on it’s being also a term that describes artificial grassroots campaigns. In a world increasingly interconnected by hard to verify websites, photos, and videos, the ease with which we can assume “that’s real” becomes harder and harder. That’s not to say misleading or overly rosy public relations campaigns are anything new, but this new breed of under-the-table campaigns poses a particular threat that must be addressed. Bruce Sterling draws our attention to it in his latest post on political astroturfing. Companies too, and their PR firms are increasingly finding ways to blur straightforward communication, sometimes for little more than brand awareness, but sometimes maliciously.
Many of these astroturf campaigns have been debunked, and bloggers in particular seem to have a knack for catching them in their tracks. The story of Al Gore’s Penguin Army and McDonald’s Lincoln Fry are two great examples of failed astroturf campaigns, the former insipid, the latter relatively harmless.
I’m still a bit of a utopian optimist when it comes to internet technology, but the rise of “astroturf” should keep us all on our toes.

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Honda May Roll Out Bio-Fabric Interiors

| Tuesday August 22nd, 2006 | 0 Comments

carseat.jpgJFS reports today that Honda has developed a plant-based “bio fabric” that can be used to cover car seats and other interior elements. The product is derived mostly from corn and is said to cost 10-15% less to produce in terms of energy with even more significant reductions in CO2 emissions as the plants it comes from would sequester a certain amount of CO2 during their growth. Finally, the material is supposed to be just as soft and durable as the petrol-based plastics we’ve gotten so used to.

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Editorial Monday – Hetch Hetchy Restoration An Example of Pushing Too Far

| Monday August 21st, 2006 | 2 Comments

The massive Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which provides almost 100% of San Francsico’s water and a fair amount of hydroelectric power would never be built today. For one thing, it’s actually inside Yosemite National Park. For another thing, its construction submerged one of the most beautiful and pristine valleys in the world. But in 1913, despite John Muir’s best efforts, building dams was a lot easier than it is today, and the O’Shaughnessy dam went up and Hetch Hetchy went under.
Now, a number of groups (hetchhetchy.org) are working hard to remove the dam and restore the valley to it’s pristine state. It’s a nobel task with a nobel purpose. Even so, my opinion is that the movement is tragically misguided and that leaving the dam in place for the forseeable future is a better solution. Here’s why:
The cost for removal of the dam and the construction of new replacement reserviors is estimated to be $3 billion to $10 billion – that’s an unacceptable cost for something that, in the context of a multitude of other priorities which that money could be spent on, is essentially asthetic. It also says nothing about the decline in the quality of water that will replace the purer water from Hetch Hetchy which I rather enjoy drinking. It also gives a bad name to environmentalists and makes us seem dangerously pushy in an era where much of the population still doesn’t quite “get it” when it comes to environmental and economic balance. Finally, what of a replacement for the clean hydroelectric power that the dam produces?
The loss of Hetch Hetchy was indeed a tragedy, but it’s a done deal and now is not the time to start talking about repairing it. Maybe in 50 years we can go there, but I think the issue should be laid to rest for the time being.
(See more in this eMagazine article)

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Carnival of the Green #41 Rolls to Frugal for Life

| Monday August 21st, 2006 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifHappy Monday! It’s Carnival of the Green time – get your Monday rolling right with a stop at the carnival – this week being hosted by Frugal for Life.

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Zara, Inditex and Amancio Ortega – the Responsibility of International Success

| Friday August 18th, 2006 | 6 Comments

zara.jpgEd Note:I’m happy to announce Jenni Lukac from Barcelona as a 3P contributor. This is the first of 5 in depth pieces that should add a little more variety to the site, as well as a bit of European flair! Withour further ado…
If I mention the names Amancio Ortega and Inditex to anyone outside of Spain I usually receive the puzzled response, “Who?” If I mention these names in Spain, they are almost universally received with a mixture of sincere admiration and ill-dissimulated envy – and I know what the other is thinking: “Him, again. How on earth does he do it?” Son of a railway employee from León, 70-year-old Ortega is the founder of Inditex, the richest man in Spain, the seventh richest in Europe and recently ranked 23rd in Forbes´ list of wealthy individuals worldwide.
Zara, the largest of Amancio Ortega’s companies and the flagship of his Inditex empire, recently moved up from 77th to 73rd place in Businessweek´s list of the 100 World’s Best Brands, the first Spanish firm to rank in Businessweek´s top 100 and the highest ranked name in fashion. The company also scored an astounding fourth place in Google’s Europe and Africa rankings, following Nokia, Ikea and Skype and ahead of fifth place BMW. Since 2002, Inditex has formed a part of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the FTSE4Good Index. No other Spanish company can compare with the rate of expansion and the CSR and environmental protection credibility that Inditex has sustained over the years. Having eclipsed his domestic counterparts and outpaced the foreign competition, such as H&M, Ortega’s empire stands in a class of its own.

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Friday Green Cities Roundup

| Friday August 18th, 2006 | 0 Comments

eastgate.jpgWarren Kalenzig from SustainLane has a nice little piece on his personal site about various “green city” planning techniques which is well worth reading. It’s mostly focused on heat and energy issues. His post got me thinking – part of the problem with cities today is that people are not aware of the zillions of ways their communities could be greener – and at the same time be more asthetically appealing, cooler, less costly, and just about every other positive adjective you could think of. Giving people interesting examples of cool, green ways to do things seems to almost always help. So here are a few to pass around this weekend…
The EastGate center in Harare Zimbabwe. This building is modeled after a termite mound and is entirely cooled by passive circulation of air. Folks in Phoenix could learn a thing or two from it.
Recycling Coal into Pavement. If we must burn coal, it’s nice to be able to do something with the fly ash. Here’s a sweet example of taking what was once sent to a landfill and using it to build an airport runway.
On second thought, make that pavement permeable and green. Hardscaping our cities with impermeable ashpalt causes no end of problems with storm water, polluted runoff and heat island effects. Letting water, and in some cases grass, soak through the surface keeps pollution in check, stops stormwater problems and replenishes groundwater. It also cuts air conditioning bills. Check out Grasspave2 and Gravelpave.

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Measuring What Matters Webinar this Monday

| Thursday August 17th, 2006 | 0 Comments

natlogic.gifIf you’ve never had a chance to hear Gil Friend talk about implementing metrics for understanding sustainability, you’ve got an opportunity this Monday online. Have a peek at the details and consider registering. Even though it’s not in person, I have guarantee that Gil can lend a lot of direction to your thinking when it comes to quantifiable ways to understand sustainability through indicators, metrics, and KPIs.
Details:
Monday, August 21, 2006
12:00pm to 1:00pm Pacific (3:00pm – 4:00pm Eastern)
and
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
10:00am to 11:00am Pacific (1:00pm – 2:00pm Eastern)
Register here.

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Environmental Defense and NRDC Launch Counter Attack TV Ads

| Thursday August 17th, 2006 | 1 Comment

In response to the various propaganda videos such as the now infamous “CO2 is Life” advertisements put out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, various environmental organizations are funding programs of their own. Most recently brought to my attention is a frightening short by Environmental Defense and the NRDC which outlines the crisis of global warming and points a finger at the “oil and gas lobby” for holding progress back. It’s very dramatic, and from an asthetic point of view it’s almost as nail bitingly awful as this wacky radio spot (listen here) put out by an industry funded group called SEECalifornia. The assembly bills the ads are referring to are specific to California, but the style is not. They propose various caps on emissions be put in place statewide.
Although I give NRDC and Environmental Defense the benefit of the doubt, I really wish the “other side” of the battle didn’t have to stoop to the same overdramatic, vague propaganda to get their point across. To me it simply underscores the communication gap that exists between industry and environmentalists that keeps flights brewing and prevents real dialogue. Then again, maybe I’m overestimating the depth to which the average TV viewer thinks.
Watch the film on the next page…. what do you think?

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Eco-Dent Toothpaste is Allowed on Airplanes

| Wednesday August 16th, 2006 | 1 Comment

ecodentLogo.gifWithout getting into the tragedy that toothpaste will no longer be allowed in carry on luggage on airplanes, I’ve just been sent a press release from Eco-Dent who proclaim that their Toothpowder product is, in fact, legal in hand luggage. Iv’e used their product before, and it’s actually pretty neat. Still, I’m not 100% sure why eco-dent is more ecologically friendly than regular toothpaste aside from the fact that you can fit more of it in a bottle, and because it’s lighter, it presumably uses marginally less fossil fuels to transport.
Either way, in issuing their release, the company is certainly finding a great way to capitalize on the current airline security situation. At first I was slightly taken-aback at the choice to jump in and profit from such a thing, but as I think about it I have to admit – eco dent is stepping in to provide a real need that people have right when they need it most. That’s a great entrepreneurial move. And if the product is indeed more ecologically minded, so much the better.

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