The LA Times reports that in Colorado, wind power is now actually cheaper than fossil fuel electricity. The same goes for Oklahoma and Austin, TX. The reason has more to do with skyrocketing costs of coal and gas plants, and less to do with newfound wind technology. There is no mention in the article how much subsidies play in the final calculation either. Still, it’s a great sign for wind and other renewables that a “tipping point” may be near when more and more customers choose wind over more polluting alternatives.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
I find myself often lamenting the corporate-brand takeover of the world. Sure, there’s something be said for economies of scale and convenience, but when every town in the world is dominated by the same six chain stores, it takes away from what’s interesting in life – and arguably undermines the strength of local economies. Aside from legislation, the only way to combat it is by “voting with dollars”.
A new project called “Interra” has been started by the founders of Visa International and Odwalla to add data to credit card transactions which rewards people for shopping locally or at shops that meet certain criteria. I’m not sure exactly how the criteria are decided, nor how the whole thing works logistically, but it sound’s really cool!
I’m not usually much for conspiracy theories, but this one seems well documented, and very juicy. The vast majority of scientists hold climate change to be a fact – and the vast majority of them also accept that much of it is due to human activity – mostly industrial and automotive emissions. There are, however, a handful of scientists who periodically cast doubt on the connection between climate change and our actions, and even on climate change itself.
It turns out, a lot of those scientists are recieving indirect cash payments from ExxonMobile – the only major oil company to consistenly deny the human – global warming connection. The breakdown of two dozen scientists and their payoffs is listed here on the EDF site. Fascinating science!
As long as we’re giving credit where it’s due, kudos to Micky D’s for progressing to a point where they’ve been approved as a CERES partner. CERES is a well respected network of various parties, public and private who’s mission is “to move businesses, capital, and markets to advance lasting prosperity by valuing the health of the planet and its people.”
CERES cites a number of efforts by McDonald’s as factors in their new partnership: A greener supply chain, resource stability, and energy efficiency, as well as a solid commitment to do more.
Sometimes I think Starbucks gets a hard time from people because they’re an easy target. That’s not to say they’re without flaws, or that the very idea of endless identical chain establishments isn’t interantly troubling. Still, it’s nice to give credit where credit is due. Starbucks has recently been honored by the National Recycling Coalition for upping the recycled content in their cups sufficiently to save five million pounds of tree fiber annually.
Apparantly the compay will also give away 5 pound bags of used coffee grounds for free to people who can use it as garden mulch. That I didn’t know about, did you? We might have to add it to the Starbucks Challenge questionaire.
Here’s another great example of taking one industry’s trash and turning it into a raw material for another. Tokyo Electric Power happens to have a pile of worn-out graphite “brushes” from their generators. Tombow Pencil Co makes pencils. Pencil “lead” is actually graphite, therefore a deal is made. With a few adjustments to the method that the power company crushes its brushes, decent quality pencil lead can be produces. Read more on JFS.
Proving that, even in America’s heartland, public demand for healthy, local, organic food is enormous, as many as 15,000 people thronged to the the opening day of the Milwaukee Public Market. The market is a semi-private enterprise leasing space to numerous culinary vendors in a recently redeveloped section of downtown Milwaukee. The vast majority of vendors are local entrepreneurs selling produce from nearby farms.
Not all of the vendors are organic, but local produce is often better in an environmental sense than anything organic that has to be flown or trucked in. Plus – the community building aspects of such a facility are tremendous – a vast improvement on the average big-box retailer in the suburbs.
The market is part of a nationwide trend to rediscover fresh, local produce that arguably dates back to Mesopotamia. Check out the website here.
How many mousepads do you need? This eco.psfk post got me thinking about what a massive waste most corporate gifts are. The bags of schmaltz from thousands of conventions a year that get hurled into the landfill beg the question – isn’t there a better way to express appreciation to clients? There are plenty of branded items that companies could give away without creating a massive waste stream – unique things that people don’t already have, or food perhaps, or maybe something more intangible like a mid-convention massage?
Environmental issues aside, does this kind of marketing really work anyway? The Sunday Times says: “At best, corporate freebies are a waste of money – at worst, they can appear tacky and unprofessional.” I’ve even received gifts (an inane talking pedometer that didn’t work for example) that made be curse the name of the gift giver and, riddled with unwelcome guilt, hurl the item into the trash.
With an immense portion of the world’s forests, fresh water, and other valuable eco-assets, Brazil is also in need of economic development. The challenge has always been how to acomplish the nation’s economic goals without making a mess of the extraordinary ecological diversity the country offers to the whole world.
A personal products company called “Natura” is hoping to make that possible. Through the years the company has taken a proactive stance in establishing relationships with local level salespeople and communitues which has given it the grounding on which to create more sustainable products.
A lot more information, including a case study is availble on the WBSCD site.
At the Presidio School of Management, we first heard of dialogue framing through the work of George Lakoff (Don’t Think of an Elephant). Yesterday, I just reconnected with the same concept about framing words, discussions, debates at the Bioneers Conference, during Thom Hartmann intervention: “Beyond Framing, How deep neuro-linguistic programming communicates”. He stated that to be effective in the public arena, one must understand and use the tools of defining arguments, persuade the public and eventually win elections.
I found really interesting his analysis on public identity. Hartmann noted that in the United States, our identity is one of a consumer and that notion is spreading worldwide, via consumerism. We have been branded as consumers. Contrary to many places in the world, people are first and foremost citizen, “The Defender of the Commons”. Also, Hartmann mentioned that people, as consumers, have been infantilized, pretending that “they are the center of the world”. This created individualism and de-responsibilization.
A blog “carnival” is great event that periodically takes place among blogs with shared subject matter. We’ll be hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists on October 31st. After that, CityHippy and 3p will launch the Carnival of the Green!
Each week, on Mondays, a selected blog will host the carnival and will provide, in one single and probably large post, a digest of the posts other green bloggers have submitted for consideration during the previous week (friday to friday). It’s a great way to find the “best of the week” among the green blogs.
If you’ve read the book Cradle to Cradle by McDonough & Braungart, then you are aware of the philosophy that “efficiency is not enough”. If we are ever to truly address the ecological problems we have created, then “eco-effectiveness” needs to be the ultimate goal.
The resulting philosophy is called Cradle to Cradle to point out that products don’t just “dissapear” in the grave at the end of their lifecycles. They can, and should, be designed to end their lives in a manner that provides fuel for new products or natural cycles – eliminating the concept of waste alltogether.
MBDC has taken the next step, and now offers a comprehensive, multi-tiered certification process for companies eager to differentiate their products in the marketplace along the principals laid out in the book. It’s very cool. There is also a good synopsis on Treehugger.
LOHAS Weekly reports that Levi Strauss has published a list of all contract factories that produce their various branded products. It’s a great way of demonstrating that the company has nothing to hide in terms of workplace compliance issues as well as environmental regulations. It also puts preasure on suppliers, many of whom may operate in countries with poor reputations for high workplace standards, to comply at higher levels. The report can be found here.
Robert Iger, the new appointed CEO of Disney, might have big shoes to fill by replacing the fallen King Michael Eisner. Most important, he needs to redirect Disney’s positioning and take into account the numerous new challenges of the ever-changing consumer market: a downturn in the core film business, the complications of expanding into foreign markets, particularly China and India-, and the urgency pressing upon all traditional media companies to reinvent their businesses for a new digital era. He is under pressure to devise new ways to drive growth.
The 54-year-old executive inherits a company whose old way of doing business has been blown up by technology. “If we sit back and rely on old technology, the consumer is going to pass us by”, Mr. Iger says, noting the music industry made that mistake. He realizes that his biggest obstacles may be the business habits of Disney’s old employees and of theater owners, mass retailers, television affiliates and others. “We need to create an atmosphere that tolerates experimentation, even if it’s at the expense of near-term economics”.
Storing carbon, either in forests, or underground in spent oil wells might be a great way to reduce the greenhouse effects of our CO2 emissions. A new group called the “Carbon Capture and Storage Association” aims to put new technology to use in the UK that will help the country meet emissions goals.
Led mostly by major oil and energy companies, the principal plan is to pump CO2 into old North Sea oil fields that will keep is out of the atmosphere. It also preserved oil field jobs as extraction is replaced by sequestration.