Sweet on Fair Trade

| Thursday June 16th, 2005 | 1 Comment

FairTrade.jpgIf you only think of coffee when you think of Fair Trade, you’re missing out! American businesses are taking advantage of the growth of the fair trade industry by sourcing tea, cocoa, tropical fruit, rice, and now sugar from farmers that get paid fair prices, live and work in decent conditions, have access to capital, and who use sustainable agricultural practices.
Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s offers three ice creams flavored with Fair Trade Certified coffee extract. Yum!

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KPMG Survey Shows Strong Top-Level Support for CSR

| Thursday June 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

graphs.jpgFrom today’s Financial Times:

More than half of the world’s biggest companies reveal details of their environmental and social performance, according to a KPMG survey that provides fresh evidence of business leaders’ support for corporate social responsibility

Far from being a passing fashion, CSR reporting has been growing steadily, even through economic downturns. Why? The article cites a direct correlation with shareholder value as the single biggest driver.
Thanks Simran!

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London Taxi Firm to Go Carbon Neutral

| Thursday June 16th, 2005 | 2 Comments

Would you believe a major London taxi company would spend £100,000 a year out of pocket to go carbon-neutral? RadioTaxi, with a fleet of 3,000 black cabs will spend the money on forestry projects in Europe as well as solar energy projects as far away as Sri Lanka in order to offset the effects of the company’s carbon emissions. All the details in are in this PDF. Interest in the environment from the firm’s major clients is credited as a major reason the firm is taking such proactive steps.
(via Treehugger)

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Conservatives Don’t Like Animal Cruelty Either

| Wednesday June 15th, 2005 | 1 Comment

factory_farm.jpgThe modern factory farm hasn’t improved much since the days of Upton Sinclair. In fact, with world-wide proliferation, dirty, overcrowded feed lots and sub-medieval conditions for the animals are probably worsening health risks for people. Many people, even steak-eaters like myself, see an obvious moral problem with the way that much of our meat is raised and the unscrupulous companies who manage it.
It’s a big issue, but the reason I raise it here is to cross a bridge. The factory farms issue does not have to be politicized in terms of right vs. left. There is a surprisingly loud conservative voice speaking out against it – in the form of former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully’s cover story in the latest American Conservative magazine. Read it and you may be surprised at some of the things this arch-conservative mag has to say.
There are certainly politics involved and of course many conservatives would rather make jokes about animal-activists being lefty weirdos that do anything about the problem, but it’s another example of the “common ground” that can be found among thinking people regardless of the somewhat superficial lines of politics.
Found via Treehugger.

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RetroBox – Making Money Tackling the E-Waste Stream

| Wednesday June 15th, 2005 | 3 Comments

rbox.jpgMy colleague Tom Foremski at SiliconValleyWatcher and I had lunch yesterday with a remarkable entrepreneur, Harvard MBA Stampp Corbin of RetroBox.
RetroBox is essentially a computer recycling firm, though they deal in all manner of electronic devices, breaking them down for recycling as well as selling functional equipment on the secondary market. Mr Corbin’s tales of the road to success were inspirational to say the least, but the fact that he’s been able to embrace a serious environmental cause as the central tenet of his business makes his company a case study in triple bottom line principals: doing right environmentally, providing a valuable and profitable service to customers, as well as providing good jobs for the community in Columbus, Ohio. Corbin says “I sleep well at night, doing well by doing good.”

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Triple Bottom Line Concept Spreads

| Tuesday June 14th, 2005 | 2 Comments

3-circ.jpgThis is the kind of article I like to see – An editorial in the Manila Times on the basics of sustainability and Triple Bottom Line reporting. It’s a basic article, but seeing it in the business section of what (to me) is a fairly distant place shows how far the concepts of sustainability in business have spread, and it ensures that more and more people are being exposed to them.

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Free Market Conservation: An Explanation

| Tuesday June 14th, 2005 | 5 Comments

The concept of “free market environmentalism” comes as counterintuitive to many people the first time they hear it. People have been taught that saving the environment is about restricting business, or the free market, because the free market, if left unchecked would wreck everything in sight. But, as explained in this great WBCSB article, it’s more a matter of recognizing the actual economic benefits a clean, functional ecosytem can provide, and letting business run its course, albeit more enlightened.

What lights people up is the idea of seeing ecosystem assets as working-capital assets that provide a stream of benefits, and then figuring out, using standard business and economic approaches, what an optimal investment strategy would look like.

More on WBCSD site.

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Wind Energy Finds Congressional Resistance

| Monday June 13th, 2005 | 8 Comments

wind44.jpgAs reported by Clean Edge, the wind industry recently had a “shot fired across the industry’s bow” on the eve of the American Wind Energy Association’s largest ever convention. The culprits: Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and John Warner of Virginia. They are the two driving forces behind the Environmetnally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005, which calls for the increased legislation of windmills.
Senator Warner has already gone on record as being opposed to the first ever U.S. offshore wind farm off Cape Cod. While this could easily take the wind out of the sails for those advocating renewables, it may mean that wind power’s increased viability is causing those most vested in traditional energy sources to shake in their boots. As cited earlier on Triple Pundit , Shell WindEnergy has plans in the works to create the world’s largest windfarm, which could supply London with up to 25% of its power. As wind’s lack of large scale viability continues to blow away, we will likely see an increased resistance to windfarms overall. Odd as it may seem, this actually may be a good sign.

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New Sustainability Label for Flowers

| Monday June 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

flowers.jpgOne of the most difficult aspects of promoting sustainably grown food (or ornamentals) is how to properly label it so that the customer knows what he or she is getting. There’s certification to deal with, plus politics, science, and industry pressure. The floral industry is making an effort with a certification system called “VeriFlora” which promotes a number of strict standards including organic practices. More details are spelled out on GreenBiz.
But this is not only good for consumers, it’s also good for business – if the demand for organic milk is any indication of postential success, then having proper labels on flowers is bound to take off too.

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BeeWare – A Cautionary Look at Globalization

| Monday June 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

bee3.jpgAbout 60% of all food consumed in the U.S. has a relationship with the bee through pollination. The services these oft feared insects provide is beyond measure. In fiscal terms, America would lose an estimated $20 billion in crops without the pollination bees provide. Lately however, their numbers are declining fast due to the varroa mite, an invasive species first found in the U.S. in 1987. Phenomenons such as this underscore one of the potentially negative economic consequences of globalization. While much of the world has enjoyed the economic pleasures of the expanding global market, the increased proliferation of world trade allows for a greater exchange of invasive species such as the varroa mite. More details on this issue can be found in The Economist (subscription required).

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Organic Milk Can’t Keep up With Demand

| Friday June 10th, 2005 | 1 Comment

milk.jpgDemand for organic food continues to grow, and in the case of Milk, is greatly outstripping supply – as reported in Cheese Market News.

Consumer demand for organic dairy products has eclipsed industry expectations. Growth predictions that once seemed overly optimistic are lower than actual growth. Yet, despite the market potential, organic companies are failing to cash in on the demand. There simply is not enough organic milk to keep the shelves fully stocked.

Although it’s stressful for farmers, as pointed out on Sustainablog, it’s also a great sign for the future of organics, and those who do business in the market. (via Sustainable Marketing)

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Bridging the CSR vs. “Business is Business” Gap

| Friday June 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

D2205SB1.jpgBusiness people who turn a blind eye to environmental and social issues are ignoring elements that are fundamental to their strategic future. Ironically, CSR advocates often operate defensivly and also are distanced from actual strategy making, reports this week’s Economist. The article continues by saying that the time is now to recognize some of the gaps in understanding that this dichotomy has produced. Read on for some solutions.

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TIME Publishing Demands High Forestry Standards

| Friday June 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

time.jpgTIME Inc., the world’s largest maganize publisher has taken a strong stance on sustainable forestry practices, reports The Vancouver Sun. David Refkin, director of sustainability at time, says “Our strategy has been to reward leaders, encourage laggards, and for those who have egregious practices: No business”. How influential TIME’s stance will be remains to be seen.

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Alcan Inc. Wins The 2005 Globe Award for Environmental Excellence

| Thursday June 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

alcan.jpgEach year The GLOBE Foundation and The Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) proudly supports the commitment of leaders of sustainably driven corporations by recognizing outstanding achievement in environmental stewardship with the GLOBE Awards for Environmental Excellence.
Canadian mining firm Alcan Inc. has won a 2005 Globe Award for Environmental Excellence for demonstrating a commitment to sustainable business strategies. According to eSource Canada Business News Network, Alcan has cut its carbon dioxide emissions to three million tons lower than 1990 levels, primarily by reusing bauxite residue and redesigning its packaging. Read about the other 2005 Globe Award winners.

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FedEx Kinkos Improves Post Consumer Recycled Content

| Thursday June 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

fedexkinkos.jpgFedExKinkos will increase post-consumer content in its ‘full service’ paper area from 10% to 30%. The ‘full service’ paper area is Kinko’s biggest paper consumption area (what you get behind the counter). The move should conserve almost 20,000 tons of wood per year and have a major impact on the price and availability of post-consumer paper. (FedExKinkos Press Release)

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