So you’re standing in a public bathroom, having just washed your hands. You look to the paper towels, you look to the electric hand dryer on the wall, which one do you choose?Click to continue reading »
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
In all honesty, the idea of yet another ad in my face makes me cringe a little bit, but I have to hand it to the makers of the EcoHanger, that they’re onto a pretty neat idea – provide dry cleaners with free hangers to replace the rather wasteful metal hangers they always send you home with. The catch – the hangers have advertisements on them. They’re also made of biodegradable recycled paper. Here’s the site.
Of course, I don’t see anywhere on their site that mentions that 100% recycled includes post consumer content – the only real definition of recycled. There’s also not much explanation of exactly what the ink in the ads is made of. And with a useful shelf life of just 8 weeks, they won’t be replacing real hangers any time soon. But still, probably a better option than the wire version. If only looking at those ads would reduce my bill… hmm..
via springwise, thx Jamie!
Click to continue reading »
In the book ” Collapse“, Jared Diamond outlines 12 major problems which threaten human civilization: destruction of natural habitats, depletion of wild foods (fish, etc), loss of genetic diversity, soil erosion, fossil fuel depletion, shortage of fresh water, the photosynthetic ceiling (100% use of the sun’s energy for human purposes), pollution from toxic chemicals, species transfer, global warming due to human activity, population growth and the rising per-capita impact of population. He goes on to state that “our world society is on a non-sustainable course, and any of our 12 problems of non-sustainability…would suffice to limit our lifestyle within the next several decades. They are like time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years.” No one problem stands out as greater than all of the rest. “If we solved 11 of the problems, but not the 12th, we would still be in trouble, whichever was the problem that remained unsolved. We have to solve them all.”
Big business has had the dubious distinction of taking all of these problems and accelerating them. Corporations aren’t “to blame”, necessarily, because they are simply doing what they were designed to do: convert capital, natural, human or otherwise into something useful for human beings, and to do it in the most efficient way possible. Companies are required by law to be efficient, and they have gotten so good at it that they threaten to destroy the very things they were designed to serve: human beings. It is almost like the movie “Terminator”, where men create machines that begin to operate on their own then turn on their creators.
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…
Click to continue reading »
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…)
Last 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.Click to continue reading »
In 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?
One 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.”
ED 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!
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.Click to continue reading »
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.
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.
The 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.Click to continue reading »
A 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.Click to continue reading »
I’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.