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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The True Price of Everything

| Tuesday September 12th, 2006 | 4 Comments

groceries.jpgThere is a lot of talk these days about rising energy prices, but many U.S. agricultural sector websites still insist on telling Americans that they live better than anyone else in the world because their food is cheaper. Calculating from a base of the percentage of one´s annual wage that is dedicated to food expenses, the statistics are quite astonishing. According to the USDA/Economic Research Service, the percentage of family income spent on food in the United States has dropped from 24.2% in 1930 to a mere 9.5% in 2004. A UC Davis education site puts the figure at less than 9%, adding a eulogy that Americans should be truly grateful.
According to Food Check-out Week, another site published by the California Farm Bureau, in 2006 “the average household will earn enough disposable income — that portion of income available for spending or saving — to pay for its annual food supply in only five weeks”. Five weeks compared to nine weeks for the French, thirteen weeks for the Japanese and a whopping seventeen weeks for the Mexicans.

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Sharing the View from the Summit

| Tuesday September 12th, 2006 | 6 Comments

Before I started writing about sustainability, I used to take on freelance work as a language, public relations and corporate communications coach for Spanish executives in a wide range of sectors, from tourism to manufacturing. I helped them negotiate contracts with foreign partners, compete for high-level positions in multinational corporations and survive foreign takeovers of their companies.
I was often sought out because I was an American and the American executive model was the most admired. From time to time, I served as a human resources consultant for Northern European and American companies. After a candidate was hired, I was often asked to coach the new executive to improve his or her language skills and inter-cultural communications. Most of these executives had shelves full of books about American management and marketing concepts. To perplexed FC Barca and RCD Espanyol fans, I explained the business terminology related to American and British sports vocabulary; what it is was to field or bunt for another person, cover all the bases, have targets and goals, to huddle, and to establish a level playing field. In those days, Europe looked almost exclusively to North Americans for advice on how to reach the heights of success; from stolen cheese theories to the strategy of selling one’s Ferrari after one reached the top. Things have changed a bit since then.

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The Worsted Witch Takes on the Carnival of the Green

| Monday September 11th, 2006 | 0 Comments

cotg.gifNot to be outdone by the excitement today about Pablo’s mugs post, The Worsted Witch is hosting the Carnival of the Green and it’s a great read as always with an extra creative carnival style narrative to wrap up your Monday with a laugh.

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The Economist Tackles Climate Change and Walks the Walk

| Friday September 8th, 2006 | 0 Comments

economist090806.jpgUnlike Vanity Fair, whose green issue was notoriously un-green, The Economist has gone to great lengths to document and offset the environmental impact of its 16 page “green issue” which comes out tommorow. After tallying it all up, the magazine paid about $1200 to a company called Carbon Neutral which sequestered a certain tonnage of CO2 in a mine on their behalf. The solution is interesting, but the fact that they took the time to make the calculations is arguable more valuable since it lays the groundwork for understanding where to direct future efficiencies.

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McDonald’s Happy Meals: If a Hummer Works, Why Not a Prius?

| Friday September 8th, 2006 | 4 Comments

hummer_prius.jpgRather than yet another post bashing McDonalds for their ill-advised decision to put toy Hummers in their happy meals, I thought presenting them with a new idea might be more productive. Al from CityHippy and Matthew from Enviroblog have been cooking up a really interesting notion (Inspired by Brie’s comment on my last post): If Hummers sell happy meals, why not Priuses?

Hybrids of all kinds are outselling Hummers a million to one, so there is clearly an appeal, and kids love technology and new gadgets. Why not give out happy meals with toy Priuses, Smart Cars and Tesla Roadsters inside? The kids would love them, the PR would be outstanding, and McDonalds would actually have the satisfaction of feeling good about their claims to be commited to environmental stewardship. I don’t know what kind of cash GM forked over to promote their Hummers, but couldn’t a similar deal be worked out with more responsible automakers? What if I promise to eat a Big Mac?

Seriously though, unless GM has given McDonalds untold millions for the promo, it seems like giving away something that actually promotes wiser choices can’t possible be a bad thing, in fact it has to be better. What would it take to make it happen?

PS – In further news, a number of people have called into question the open-ness of the McDonald’s CSR blog, whose comments section seems to be very delayed and may not, in fact, post all comments. Although some degree of spam and troll monitoring makes sense, it goes against the principals of a blog to filter comments however negative! Hopefully they will have the courage to open comments up more quickly.

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Kiehl’s Drugstores and NRDC Clicking for Greenland

| Thursday September 7th, 2006 | 1 Comment

logo_kiehls.gifKiehl’s is a famous chain of drugstores which for some reason I’d never heard of. Nonetheless, I’m told by their recent press release that they are a global brand with some clout. So it’s great to see a brand of their stature teaming up with the NRDC to raise awareness of global warming. The banner under which they’ve decided to march is called “Click for Greenland“. If you watch a short presentation and then click a link, 25 cents is donated to the NRDC. Not bad.
This is a very interesting sort of campaign. For one thing it’s a little more interactive than just sticking up a banner in the store saying “we care” or even by making an outright donation. By forcing the reader, and potential customer, to visit a website and look around, then click on something, you get a lot more of that person’s time and both the issue and the sponsor get a lot more exposure. Plus, the website is well designed and rather interesting, which should presumably be an added payoff for the visitor and obviously benefits the NRDC, a worthy organization.
But the marketing campaign is obviously good for Kiehl’s considering I’d never even heard of them and here I am singing their praises in a very public space. If you know any reason why I shouldn’t please comment below…

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McDonalds Responds to the Happy Meal Hummer

| Wednesday September 6th, 2006 | 8 Comments

mchummer.jpgMcDonalds has caught a lot of flack lately because of the infamous toy Hummers included in their happy meals for kids. They’ve also caught a lot of defense from people who don’t really see what the big deal is – it’s just a toy truck after all. The problem, of course, is that the Hummer has become something of an international symbol of bad taste and touching it with so much as a ten foot poll is bound to rile people up, whether justified or not.
Bob Langert’s excellent McDonalds CSR blog offers a response today, saying that he feels the promotion does not, in fact, reflect McDonald’s commitment to envrironmental responsibility, which is not quite the same thing as saying it was a bad idea. But either way, I think it’s great that McDonald’s official blog can offer an honest response.

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Ask Pablo Introduction

| Wednesday September 6th, 2006 | 7 Comments

Pablo is a Sustainability Engineer who uses his unique background to answer readers’ sustainability-related questions. Pablo is a Sustainability Engineer and VP at ClimateCHECK. He is a graduate of the Presidio School of Management and earned his engineering degree from Cal Poly. CC_logo_small.jpg He answers readers’ questions with regards to such technical issues as energy consumption, efficiency, life cycle analysis, and environmental footprints of business. His perspective is that of a seasoned engineer with the added business sense that comes with an MBA in Sustainable Management.

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Presidio MBA Program Open House September 22 in San Francisco

| Tuesday September 5th, 2006 | 0 Comments

presmba.gifIf you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are considering entering an MBA program, consider popping over to Ft. Mason on Friday, September 22 to meet Presidio faculty, staff, graduates, and students for an MBA Open House. It starts at 5:30 PM
There will be a half-hour presentation followed by Q&A. It’s a great way to start your weekend. See you there!
Open House Location:
Fort Mason Center Building A – Marina Room
in San Francisco
You must RSVP to:

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