Omaha Beach Revisited: “Attitudes need to change”

| Wednesday September 27th, 2006 | 0 Comments

beach_norm.jpgAccording to Costa Christ, director the Bar Harbor, Maine Chamber of Commerce and expert in international travel, tourism currently represents 83% of worldwide export trade. To put this figure in a meaningful context, he adds that tourism is the largest non-military service sector in the world. Travel and tourism spending exceeded $6 trillion globally in 2005, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
If you were a mayor of a coastal city or town anywhere in the world, on what would you base your community’s development strategy? Tourism, of course, which since the 1960´s has often meant creating pristine white beaches where nature never intended them to be and using mechanical sweepers to remove what the sea leaves behind every day at low tide. The French Conservatoire du Littoral, however, is campaigning to leave the beaches “au natural” and hopes that environmentally minded tourists will “vote with their flip-flops” for beach resorts that opt to let Mother Nature do her thing.
Article Here

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When Whole Foods Comes to Town, The Little Guys Do Fine

| Tuesday September 26th, 2006 | 1 Comment

whole_foods.jpgSome people are hard to satisfy – in one breath praising Whole Foods for their ability to mainstream organics and healthier food, in the other complaining about high prices and Whole Food’s effect on smaller local competition as if they were the next WalMart. Fair enough, if I were a small organic retailer in some place like Milwaukee I would certainly have concerns about the arrival of a gigantic fancy new Whole Foods store.
Nonetheless, at least in the Milwaukee example and according to this article, smaler retailers and co-ops are taking it all in stride. The smaller businesses say that they are seeing increased competition to sell organics and quality in general, so the arrival of Whole Foods is merely part of a trend they have been preparing for for quite some time. Secondly, smaller businesses may have greater ability to source locally and “raise the bar’ above what Whole Foods can do, becoming better stores an even more discerning public. Read the comments for more interesting perspectives.

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EcoStreet Hosts Carnival of the Green #46

| Monday September 25th, 2006 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifIt’s time for the latest installment of the “Carnival of the Green”. This time it’s over at “EcoStreet” … check it out.

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AskPablo: Bottles and Cans (just clap your hands)

| Monday September 25th, 2006 | 5 Comments

md_bkbh501012.jpgHello friends! This week we are talking about a subject that is very dear to my heart, beer (Hooray Beer!). This weekend I spoke to the students at Hunter Lovins’ “Principles of Sustainable Management” class at the Presidio School of Management about measuring sustainability as well as the Wuppertal Institute‘s “MIPS” Material Intensity Analysis method. I decided to create a hands-on example just to give them a taste of my favorite kind of headache… Since the results were interesting, and I’m too busy to do two MIPS analyses in one weekend, I am sharing it with you. Pop open a cold one (but only if it’s after five somewhere…) and enjoy!
Pablo’s Microbrew has a problem… They want to sell beer on the East Coast but need to select a container. Since they are a sustainable company they want to minimize their impact on the environment. Should they use aluminum cans or glass bottles?

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From Parks and Rec in Europe to the Pittsburgh Pirates – Transforming supply chains through Ethical Procurement

| Friday September 22nd, 2006 | 5 Comments

pirates.jpgIn Europe, pressure to have verifiable quality ratings recognized throughout the European Union has corporations working hard to obtain the ISOs necessary to sell their goods throughout the E.U. and keep pace with the competition, but with increasing numbers of suppliers located in developing, non-unionized countries, certifying sources and achieving anything close to socially responsible procurement is still a problem throughout the continent.

euroflag2.jpgSince the 1990s, community groups have engaged in individual campaigns primarily aimed at boycotting both European and foreign manufacturers who violated human rights or harmed the environment. These actions made companies and consumers aware of the social liability of doing trade with ethically dubious corporations, but did not result in stronger networks that worked with and rewarded compliant suppliers. Local and regional governments began to respond to citizen pressure for ethical practices in government procurement and since 2003, an increasing number of local governments throughout Europe have been working jointly to establish and enforce mandatory ethical standards for their suppliers. One such network is “Clean Clothes Communities“, which is focused on workers´ rights in the textile trade.

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Plan Resonate’s Observations on the IBM Innovation Jam

| Wednesday September 20th, 2006 | 1 Comment

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IBM is currently running something they call the “Innovation Jam” an online event that purports to be a sort of “giant brainstorm” for IBM and various invited participants. Among the issues discussed are energy and social & environmental sustainability, and how IBM can get involved and thrive. The cynics on Digg have basically dismissed it as a ploy to get free consulting, but even with a selfish motive there is still some interesting conversation coming out.
Jeff Osborne at Plan Resonate has been keeping a pretty solid tally of what’s been discussed that has relevence to those of us interested in sustainability. Among the better conversations are “implementing sustainable management at IBM” and “incentives for IBM to become involved in the carbon markets”.

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On Both Sides of the Atlantic Fashion Faces the Future

| Tuesday September 19th, 2006 | 0 Comments

summer-llamas.jpgThree cheers for Concha Guerra, Vice-Consul for Economics and Technology Innovation for the Community of Madrid and Leonor Perez Pita, director of Madrid’s “Pasarela Cibeles”, Spain’s top fashion show. Reacting to protests against the gaunt image projected at last year’s Cibeles, they announced this week that new health guidelines would be enforced for screening models participating in this year’s event. As part of an integral plan to address a growing epidemic of anorexia and bulimia in Europe, models participating in future editions of Madrid Fashion Week will now be screened according to an acceptable body mass index. Application of professional medical criterion has eliminated 30% of the models expected to work the catwalks of Cibeles, including supermodels Kate Moss and Esther Canadas. Elite, and other top modeling agencies worldwide are up in arms, wailing that they are victims of scapegoating, but Guerra and Perez Pita stand firm for a new healthy image for Spanish fashion.

Cibeles is the third largest fashion event in Europe, on par with Paris and just behind New York and Milan. In fact, the mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, has spoken in favor of Guerra’s decision and may introducing similar measures for Milan fashion shows. London is monitoring the industry and public feedback to events in Madrid and initial scoffing has given way to serious consideration of implementing changes there.

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TreeHugger’s Cradle to Cradle Umbrella Finalists Announced

| Monday September 18th, 2006 | 0 Comments

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Since the umbrella most of us know is a cheap disposable poster child for poor design and wasteful manufacturing, I.D. Magazine, The Sustainable Style Foundation, and TreeHugger asked for a smarter version. Our rockin’ Umbrella Inside Out judges (including Cradle to Cradle co-author Bill McDonough!) spent the last week evaluating over 100 incredible entries from around the globe to bring you these innovative tools for keeping dry.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FINALISTS AND VOTE!

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AskPablo: The Myth of the Beef-Powered Bicyclist

| Monday September 18th, 2006 | 14 Comments

thumb_Cow.jpgIt is once again time to explore the wonderful world of sustainability metrics. This week I am going to tackle the myth of the meat-powered cyclist. Here’s the story: A friend of mine once told me that it is more efficient to drive a car over a certain distance than to ride a bike over that same distance if your calories come from beef. Before passing on this great anecdote on the inefficiency of beef production I thought I would run the numbers myself. Join me this week in another exciting installment of Ask Pablo.
First we need to examine just how inefficient the conversion from fossil-fuel > fertilizer > grain > cow is. According to an article in Harpers, “It takes thirty-five calories of fossil fuel to make a calorie of beef.” While it is certainly tastier than eating spoonfuls of fossil fuels, this is pretty inefficient. By comparison, organic broccoli requires zero fossil fuel calories per calorie, except for a negligible amount for transportation.

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Carnival of the Green Reminder

| Monday September 18th, 2006 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifIs it Monday already? Don’t forget to pop over to a blog called “Karavans” for this week’s carnival of the green. Karavans is devoted to “Getting off-the-grid and out of the rat race” which is a perfect, if slightly dangerous message for a Monday morning. Have fun!

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Corporate Bicycling, The New Golf?

| Friday September 15th, 2006 | 2 Comments

bikegolf.jpgGolf has, for many years, been the de-facto sport of choice among corporate executives around the world. In many circles it’s almost criminal not to love golf and play it every weekend – the golf course has become the informal boardroom where deals and relasionships are really made. And why not? It’s a fun enough game with challenges both physical and mental and it amounts to a nice walk in the park.
Of course, the golf industry uses wild amounts of pesticides and fertilizer to maintain the illusion of perfectly controlled nature. In places like Arizona and Nevada, golf courses use obscene amounts of water, creating a totally artificial world that has no place in the desert.
Enter the corporate bike outing. A story in yesterdays Milwaukee Journal Sentinal entitled “Is Bicycling the New Golf?” has really got me excited. A number of companies are now sponsoring cycling events for employees, collegues and partners as a way to connect socially – the same sort of thing that has been done for years with golfing events. Cycling is a far more environmentally sustainable sport than golf, and if it gains popularity among the corporate elite, then the likelyhood of improved cycling infrastucture in our cities and suburbs is bound to improve, not to mention our health. Bring it on!

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The Silver Lining in China’s Acid Rain Problem

| Thursday September 14th, 2006 | 14 Comments

acid-rain.jpgChina’s massive-scale coal burning is producing acid rain at an alarming rate. With China’s new-found awareness of the economicaly negative exernalities associated with phenomena such as acid rain, the government has calculated that acid rain could be accounting for as much as $60 billion dollars in economic losses to the Chinese economy.
The good news is that China wants to solve this problem. The better news is that solving this problem represents a huge business opportunity. Canadian companies – having become experts in the arena of acid rain decades ago – are stepping up to the plate and offering China various technologies to help reduce the acid rain-causing emissions from Chinese power plants and manufacturing facilities – all at a profit to the Chinese economy and the Canadian invitees. It may seem ironic to look for profit amidst tragedy, but if we didn’t there would be far less incentive to do something about it quickly. Read more on WBCSD.

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What You Bring to the Table

| Wednesday September 13th, 2006 | 0 Comments

strawberries.jpgFor me, some of the most interesting marketing news this year has been the declaration of war between the big retailers for the organic food market, both in the States and the U.K. AdAge kicked off the campaign in mid July with an article about Wal Mart’s multimillion-dollar campaign “focused on its new organic food offerings,” their “first ever” organic logo and the advertising tagline “What will you bring to the table?” According to Janel LaMonica, VP-creative director at Bernstein-Rein, there have always been two things holding back the growth of the organic food market: one, the difficulty in finding organic products, the other, the difficulty of affording them. She makes the claim that “Wal-Mart has taken down both these barriers.”

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GOOD Magazine Debuts

| Tuesday September 12th, 2006 | 1 Comment

I just got my copy of the innaugural issue of the much-anticipated GOOD Magazine. It’s really good and well worth the $20 annual subscription fee – which gets you six magazines, admision to various parties, and a donation to the charity of your choice. If you like TreeHugger, you’ll love GOOD – it’s almost like a print version of everyone’s favorite modern green lifestyle blog, but with a bit more in-depth articles and more of a social and political bend to it. And it’s on paper, which I kind of like since I can throw it in my bag and read elsewhere.
The magazine is printed on recycled paper. That said – I hereby issue a challenge for Pablo: Let’s compare the impact of GOOD Magazine being in a print version with an online equivalent, asuming the stated goal of 50,000 bi-monthly subscribers.

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Urban Aquaculture Could be Worth $1.5 Billion in NYC Alone

| Tuesday September 12th, 2006 | 0 Comments

aquaculture.jpgAccording to an article in Seed Magazine, indoor urban aquaculture in the middle of New York City could be as productive as current fish-farming techniques with better health results for both people and the environment. A test system in Brooklyn is farming thousands of Tilapia succesfully while using a bacteriological system to handle the fishes’ waste. By recirculating water through this system the technique could be used on countless vacant lots and wharehouses in urban areas around the world. It is claimed the system is less stressful on the fish too. So far it isn’t a profitable business, but with pressure on wild fish stocks ever increasing, there’s a chance this entrepreneur is on to something.

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