Want to Cut Heating Costs? Use the Horse, of Course!

| Wednesday February 1st, 2006 | 1 Comment

horsep.jpgThe Manchester, UK police department has turned to an interesting source to cut their heating bill: Their large stable of police horses and the, ahem, waste they produce. The idea is to turn the waste into bricks and burn them in a furnace inside the police station. Interestingly enough, this is a fairly ancient technique that was also used by settlers traversing the great plains and is apparantly quite effective. The Manchester Police are not quite sure how much they’ll save, but are confident that the system will “pay for itself”.
(as reported on Sustainablog)

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Could China Face Reverse Censorship? Is this a Job for the Blogosphere?

| Tuesday January 31st, 2006 | 3 Comments

china_flag.jpgTom Foremski has a crazy idea: What if websites blocked Chinese users as a form of protest toward Chinese censorship of the internet? Given the importance of a free internet to the Chinese economy, would a mass content blockage irritate the Chinese government enough to get them to loosen up restrictions? To be honest I’m not so sure – sanctions have a way of hurting the average person a lot more than the government. Not to mention the fact that China is arguably already doing itself harm by restricting the freedom of its citizens, a practice that (optimistically) will erode naturally if not by mass protest at some point in time. Why make matters worse by keeping information away from people – especially those who have already found ways to sneak around the “great firewall”.
As long as we’re talking about crazy ideas – what about an opposite mission? What if millions of blogs went on a rampage posting anti-Chinese-government essays and stories about Tiannamen Square for several days straight? It would drive the Chinese censors insane and make a noticeable statment among Chinese internet users who might be at once amused and inspired? More on Tom’s ZDNet Blog.

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More Sustainable Chopsticks?

| Tuesday January 31st, 2006 | 2 Comments

chopsticks.jpgEver since hearing that some inconcievable tonnage of wood was being flushed away by disposable chopsticks worldwide, I’ve always held Chinese restaurants in much higher regard if they provide “real chopsticks” to their customers rather than those lousy throw-away kinds. Not to mention the fact that real chopsticks don’t make your lips feel like they’re scratching a chalkboard. Anyway, it seems I’m not the only one – Both Treehugger and Japan for Sustainabilty report that movements are afoot to encourage people to carry their own set of chopsticks to the restaurant.
This is not only better from an environmental stance, it’s probably more sanitary, cheaper for the restaurant, and makes you look cool – kinda like the guy with his own pool cue at the billiard hall.

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Tonight – 3P and More at Commonwealth Club, San Francisco

| Tuesday January 31st, 2006 | 0 Comments

commonwe.jpgIf you’re in San Francisco, be sure to drop in tonight (Tuesday the 31st) to see Nick Aster, along with Treehugger writer Kyeann Sayer, GreenLAgirl and Jamais Cascio from Worldchanging on a “green blogging” panel moderated by Gil Friend. It should be a great conversation and a great networking event. Last I heard there were still tickets available, but be sure to RSVP anyhow by clicking on this link.

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“Precooling” Small Buildings May Save Energy and Money

| Monday January 30th, 2006 | 0 Comments

fan.jpgAccording to a study reported by LOHAS journal, running the air conditioning at low setting in the morning, then turning up the thermostat in the afternoon can result in a 30% better efficiency, and still not compromise comfort because the actual mass of the building has been cooled and will stay that way for quite some time, even at the higher thermostat setting. The method would also take pressure off peak energy demand periods which typicall occur in the afternoons.

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The ICI NYC – Report… The Future of Green?

| Monday January 30th, 2006 | 3 Comments

party33.jpgLast Wednesday I was in New York for the ICI-nyc party. A hip gathering of environmentally minded folks who also happen to be leaders in fashion, design, media and other societally influential outlets. The event was masterminded by Josh Dorfman of Vivavi and Summer Rayne Oakes, aka ‘the green fairy’ as a statement countering “the burlap sack theory” – namely that, in the words of Dorfman, “ecologically sound products have to suck”.
It was an awesome party, with some great press coverage. The whole thing represents an interesting trend in the environmental movement, and in my opinion, it’s a good thing. It’s more than just a “branding” of environmental thinking as hip – it’s a bit of a reality check – a statement that says, you don’t have to really “give up” the basic things that are fun and social, like parties and fashion, in order to actively participate in a “greener” society.
I think the implications for business are twofold – one, a new set of successful entrepreneurs is exploding out of this movement who will be respected and emulated around the globe, and two, with a ‘fashionable edge’ – even if it’s understood only superficially by many people – environmental demands by customers of all business will continue to increase.
(more photos on fiftyrx3’s site – this photo from Grist because I was too busy running around to take any)

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Top Performing SRI Funds of 2005

| Friday January 27th, 2006 | 0 Comments

moneyup.jpgMany individuals interested in supporting sustainably minded and CSR-focused companies want to put their money in Socially Responsible Investment Funds, knows as SRI Funds, but wonder about the percentage of return on their money versus more traditional investment or mutual funds. Well, wonder no more because Business Ethics Magazine has just come out with 2005’s top performing SRI funds. Good stuff.
Now go out and put some of your money into them so they can become more mainstream!

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Amory Lovins’ Oil Free Vision

| Friday January 27th, 2006 | 2 Comments

ebunny.jpgI’m amazed Amory Lovins doesn’t get more press. Having heard him speak on a number of occasions the depth to which this man has thought about our fossil-feul based economy is unprecidented, and the optimistic solutions he and the Rocky Mountain Institute have come up with are enough to delight even the most jaded doomsayer. (That said, he does have critics).
Nonetheless, check out this article in Discover Magazine. Mr. Lovins has outlined what seems to be a reasonable (and profitable) plan to elimite fossil fuels from the economy in less than 35 years while the economy itself continues to chug along, like the energizer bunny.

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Compeititve Advantage Goes for CSR

| Thursday January 26th, 2006 | 0 Comments

The Competitive Advantage has an interesting short piece on CSR which states basically what we’ve been saying all along – that companies that do not address some interpretation of social/environmental responsibility will ultimately be at a competitive disadvantage.
The article also exposes a debate – how much of this can be expected voluntarily, and how much will require additional regulation? Although 1/3 of companies in the article are addressing the issue in some manner (however superficially) a mere 1% are actually bringning in third-party ‘auditors’ to validate their own claims. The expectation, therefore, is that increasing regulation is not only needed, but inevitable.

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ICI NYC Party Tonight

| Wednesday January 25th, 2006 | 0 Comments

icinyc.jpgIf you’re in New York, drop by Libation on the Lower East Side for a smashing affair tonight called ICInyc. It’s “a roving celebration of front line visionaries blending fashion, design, media and the arts with the modest task of saving the planet”. More info on Treehugger. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and a template for events to follow. I’ll be there representing Triple Pundit and Treehugger, so get in touch if you want to meet up.

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Matisse & Jack’s Energy Bar Mix Solves the Clif Bar Wrapper Problem

| Wednesday January 25th, 2006 | 0 Comments

trailblazer.jpgEveryone loves Clif Bar, and recognizes them as one of the more admirable companies out there by just about any measure related to the integrated bottom line. But there’s one problem that Clif bar has never been able to solve – packaging. In order to keep Clif Bars fresh, the packaging has to be made out of material that is generally not recyclable nor compostable.
A little start up called Matisse & Jack’s seems to have an solution for those people seeking a better packaging solution for their energy bars: They sell the mix to bake them yourself at home. Not only is it better from a sustainability concept, but you can tailor the recipe to your taste, have a bunch of fun, and know exactly what you put into it. Check it out!

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Forth & Towne to go 50% Renewable

| Tuesday January 24th, 2006 | 0 Comments

ftLogo.gifThe Gap’s upscale Forth & Towne brand will offset its energy comsumption by purchasing renewables equivalent to 50% of its needs. The new, 5-store chain with purchase “Green tags” from a variety of sources “In this case, the certificates support a wind farm in Minnesota. But that’s not all. A portion of the proceeds from the farm will also support orphanages in Bangladesh and Southeast Asia.”
So far, this is The Gap’s first foray into renewable energy. We’ll see if it expands across the company!
(source – Gap internal doc I can’t link to)

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Japanese Firms Thinking About “Warm Biz” Winter Wear

| Tuesday January 24th, 2006 | 2 Comments

coat.jpgBy turning down the thermostat a little bit during the winter, you can save a lot on energy costs and reduce various emissions. It also gets colder inside. Japan for Sustainability reports that some firms are considering doing just that – while encouraging employees to wear warmer fashions.
At first glance, I’m picturing thousands of cubicle workers shivering at their desks, but the temperature reduction is actually not that enormous. Still, it makes me wonder if better insulation and green building techniques might accomplish the same thing while keeping people toasty.

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EPA Heads Denounce Current Administrations Stance on Global Warming

| Monday January 23rd, 2006 | 2 Comments

elalogo33.jpgThe Washington Post reported Friday that 6 former heads of the EPA are speaking out against the lack of environmental leadership coming from the Bush administration. What’s particularily interesting is that 5 or the 6 are Republicans.
To me this is more evidence of a turning point toward greater awareness of environmental issues in general, and in particular, global warming and the role we may be playing in it. It’s satisfying to see republicans take a more proactive stance in, at the very least, talking about it. Will their words result in better leadership at the top?

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Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

| Friday January 20th, 2006 | 3 Comments


Ever wonder exactly what happens to your tax dollars? This fantastic graphical chart (Click here for the full size view) gives a proportionally displayed breakdown of pretty much everything the US government spent money on in 2004. Not suprisingly, the department of defense gobbles up the lion’s share. It’s an interesting and rather illuminating picture!

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