In all honesty, this looks like more of a novelty than a practical solution for anything. This contraption probably costs the car more in wind resistance than would be gained by charging the battery with say, regenerative braking. Still, it’s attention getting and builds awareness among passengers. The same company, Kyoto based Ecolo, also has bike racks on all its taxis.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
In this week’s Economist magazine, there is an article entitled “In hot water: The world’s biggest drinks firm tries to fend off its green critics” which tells the story Coca-Cola and their attempt to respond to green critics by protecting their brand image. When large brands, such as Coca-Cola, are subject to bad press, they must overcome the tarnished image by reinventing themselves or addressing the very issue that caused them the bad press. Coca-cola’s manager of environmental affairs, believes that, “water is to Coca-Cola as clean energy is to BP”, but BP took the strategy of reinventing themselves from an oil company to an energy company and Coca-cola is attempting to address their water complaint issues by releasing an environmental report which discusses and explains their new global water strategy.
Coca-cola’s company mission is “to benefit and refresh everyone it touches”. Amrit Srivastava of the India resource Centre believes that their mission is in conflict with their actions, and has launched a campaign against Coca-Cola because of their activities in India.
British Petroleum and ExxonMobile both sell the same thing – Gasoline. Both are strong and globally recognized brands with 19.3% and 6.6% of the California market share respectively (I couldn’t find national stats).
For a few years now, BP has been undertaking a massive green marketing campaign, aggressively showcasing its investment in renewable resources, and going so far as to refer to itself as “Beyond Petroleum”. It also showcases environmental issues prominently on its website. ExxonMobile, on the other hand, has made very little effort to brand itself as anything other than a petroleum company, has publicly refused to accept renewables, and maintains a much more basic website with little obvious environmental messaging.
The question: Which marketing strategy will pay off in terms of market share? Is either more honest?
In NPR’s Morning Edition today (11-Oct), a reporter desribes a dilemma facing wealthy countries that provide farm subsidies. The Swiss government, for example, has long provided farm subsidies for various reasons–sustainability, tourism, national pride and cultural preservation among them. The problem is global trade talks will require the cessation of farm subsidies.
The challenge the Swiss face is that no one wants to give up farming, but they’re also not all prepared to pay the steep prices for farm products. A farmer describes the situation as a choice between paying about 65 Francs per kilogram of Swiss-raised pork and about 10 francs across the border in Germany. The question they have to resolve is, “How much is happiness worth?”
Listen to the article here. – Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com
The market is Western culture’s cosmology. In the space where symbols, archetypes and elemental energies once occupied the Western psyche, the brand has grown into the vacancy left by a shift of culture towards ever-increasing commoditization of consciousness. One does not have to look very far to observe parallels between brand-stories and core human tendencies to meet the need of myth.
The Nike swoosh is a great example of a brand that holds a key to one of these core mythological human needs. The swoosh is air. It is ethereal and quickly able to “Just Do It.” It moves effortlessly and with great power. The Nike corporation defines itself as being in service to human potential. According to Nike, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Basically, the story of the swoosh proclaims a universal truth: if you are breathing, you are alive, and you are wrought with physical potential through the breath, the element of air.
In more and more companies, top level CSR Executives are grappling with the challenge of financially quantifying and justifying how CSR related activities add true shareholder value.
Fortune Magazine wrote a fantastic article about the movement to define and standardize what corporate social responsibility means and how to achieve it. They looked at 2 leaders in the CSR metric industry, London think tank AccountAbility, and consultancy CSRnetwork, who both have devised a method to score companies on their CSR efforts and the challenges they face.
Read the article titled “Managing Beyond the Bottom Line” on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development website.
I havn’t yet had time to go through this report on Worldchanging, but having had a glance at it, I have to highly recommend taking a look. It’s a summar of Environmental Accounting, Natural Capital and the various ways that traditional “bottom line” methods can be used to prove the value of a healthy environment.
Could hurricane Katrina be a classic case of “Blowback” to the Bush Administration’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol? From a marketing standpoint it is, and we see the President’s advisors and PR people working overtime to re-brand and market him as the strong leader amid disaster. The results of this effort we will have to wait and see.
Corporate America though appears to not want to wait and see in regards to climate change. And it’s doing so for good reasons.
Creating more computers may not be a “green” undertaking, but enabling the world’s poor to have access to modern technology certainly is. MIT has been working for some time on the holy grail of leapfrog technology – the “$100 Laptop” – a laptop computer that can be charged by turning a crank and that can be bought in bulk by governments for less than $100 a piece. The laptops can then be distributed to children by the thousands. It seems that dream is now a reality, and 5 to 15 million test units may be available by the end of the year.
Once again, proof that cutting emissions can result in tremendous cost savings: IBM has cut CO2 emissions by 1 Million tons, and in the process realized a cost savings of $115 Million since 1998. That’s not trivial any way you look at it. The project was a part of the World Wildlife Fund’s “Climate Savers” program.
3P followed the adventures of the Treasure America team this summer as we visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in search of economic arguments against opening the refuge to oil development. The project successfully showed that tourism and other locally born industry could be a more viable long term economic strategy than oil exploration. The second part of the project was to produce a video for the rest of America demonstrating that drilling in the refuge will do next to nothing for our economy, and ironically, NOT drilling is a better economic stimulator.
I’m happy to say the video is finally done, and it’s available for you right here. It’s a limited-quality version. If you are interested in helping to distribute a DVD-quality version please email me! Read on to launch the 12 minute video. Hope you enjoy it!
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Ken Chung for 3p: In an unusual twist, some are beginning to believe that the alignment of financial and social performance are not necessarily good. Deborah Doane, a respected activist in the U.K. writing in a recent issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, explains that many companies are hiding behind a CSR facade when in fact there is no underlying improvement in social conditions.
Doane believes that the voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) equals profits approach is at best a temporary measure. When profits are at risk, companies will drop CSR efforts. Instead, she recommends that companies’ social behavior be regulated and the role of the corporation be re-considered.
There may be some merit to regulation. Research suggests, however, that corporations deliver more innovation where they are allowed to excel and gain a competitive advantage. Regulations create an atmosphere of “equality” and pushes innovation away. What we really want is for companies to create more innovative solutions to social problems.
A PDF of the full article is downloadable here. This article was contributed by Ken Chung at InformedStrategy.com.
Two green bloggers – City Hippy in London and Green LA Girl in Los Angeles have teamed up to put Starbucks’ CSR policies to the test.
The plan: Visit Starbucks shops around the globe and ask “can I get a fair-trade cup of coffee”. The idea is to see how many of Starbucks employees have been properly educated about the issue, as well as to see what’s really available. People are encouraged to report their findings. The results will be interesting, and if not entirely positive, it will be interesting to see if enough people get on the bandwagon to elicit a response from the company.
So go ahead and try it! Report your findings to Cityhippy or Green LA Girl, or post them right here.
There is talk that car sharing may be approaching its “Tipping Point“. Sustainable Industries Journal reports on two major investments made recently in FlexCar and ZipCar that enphasize the level of interest in this nascent industry.
Here in San Francisco, City Car Share continues to grow, and you can’t go 10 minutes without seeing one of their trademark green bugs pass by. ZipCar is undergoing a major west coast expanstion and in San Francsico will create the first major market where two car-sharing programs will be compeating head to head.
There seems to be a perfect storm brewing – high gas prices and ownership costs, combined with more urban living, and a general ecological consiousness. Will it be enough to see large numbers of people ditch their cars for a shared vehicle? Time will tell, but for now, car sharing companies seem to be poised very well.
Everyone knows that a certain amount of money can bring happiness. But we also know that life is more complex than that, and many factors that cannot be quantified in economic terms play a role in ensuring a satisfying livlihood. Free time, good health, an intact environment, and other factors are important too. So why do we insist on using Gross Domestic Product – essentially the sum of all money spent in an economy – as our primary indicator of progress?
The New York Times reports on the efforts of the nation of Bhutan which despite having one of the world’s lowest GDPs has made great leaps in terms of life expectancy, stability, and environment. The Bhutanese are attempting to quantify their progress as a country using not only GDP, but also “Gross National Happiness” as a measurement.
Another effort to provide a fuller picture of the state of society is the “Genuine Progress Indicator” (GPI) which has gathered some support of economists and “considers the value of housework, caring for children and the elderly, volunteerism”. It also counts spending due to crime as a negative number.