Timbuktu Chronicles Offers Light on African Development

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

africa0blue.jpgThe are few socio-economic situations as complex and frought with problems as those of many African nations, and solutions remain scarce. From an article on Enviropundit about the well intentioned, if often misguided efforts by Rock Stars and other celebrities to ‘save’ Africa with aid, I stumbled up a fantastic weblog called the Timbuktu Chronicles. In the words of blogger Emeka Okafor, the site offers

A view of Africa and Africans with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, technology, practical remedies and other self sustaining activities.

I’m no expert on the continent, but from what I’ve read, this is the kind of effort that seems to be doing the most good.

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SUV Market Shrinks, Even in Texas

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

stuck_suv.jpgAccording to today’s Wall Street Journal (may require subscription to read), the large truck market has been showing steady signs of weakening in what is arguably its most fashionable home: Texas. High gasoline prices are clearly the main reason, rather than a sudden affection for cute volkswagons. Nonetheless, it’s a real market shift in one of the strongest big-car holdouts, and it’s likely to continue for the indefinite future.

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GE Ecomagination Launches

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 74 Comments

ecomagination.gifAs reported by Joel Makower on Worldchanging yesterday, General Electric has just launched a major initiative toward sustainability, something they call “ecomagination“. It’s more than a trivial effort – the website is full-scale rebranding of GE from the top-down led by CEO Jeff Immelt. There is a strong message associating ecologically reposponsible innovation with good business. The messaging promises a real, long-term commitment to sustainability by GE. It will be interesting to see how will this stragegy pays off both in environmental terms, and in terms of shareholder value.
If you would like to see the advertisement. It’s here: Ecomagination Singing in the Rain

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Alterra: Coffee With a Conscience

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 1 Comment

alterra.gifAlterra Coffee is a local Milwaukee roaster with a reputation for the best cup around. They’re also wildly succesful despite the presence of no less than 17 nearby Starbucks franchises.
What are they doing right? Well, for one thing, they’ve returned a lot to the community, which results in loyal customers. They’ve recently begun costly renovation of a historic building that represents a direct investment in a central city neighborhood. That’s only the latest in an amazing list of civic and environmental accomplishments.

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Consumer Reports Adds Environmental Impact

| Monday May 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

consrep.gifConsumer watchdog magazine Consumer Reports has launched a web site dedicated to the environmental impact of consumer products, called Greener Choices. It provides health and environmental information (including an energy efficiency rating) on cars, food, garden products, consumer electronics and home appliances.
An online survey of 1,200 adults found 70 percent are willing to pay more to recycle large products such as TVs and computers. The Kansas City Star reports that 43 percent are willing to pay more for electricity from environmentally sound sources, and the survey suggests that people are seeking energy-efficient appliances, as well as organic foods and are trying to avoid dangerous chemicals in the products they buy.
Greener Choices director Urvashi Rangan says:

While consumers do not want to be labeled green, they are searching for green labels… [and] not only do consumers care, they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

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Treasure America: Promoting ANWR and Economy

| Friday May 6th, 2005 | 3 Comments

treasure_america.jpgIn appropriately patriotic spirit, the Treasure America project has launched. In a nutshell, it’s a project to look at the economic impact of oil dependency on the country and to consider economically viable (or better) alternatives for the people on the North Slope, as well as the country in general. It may or may not be too late to head off the current legislation, but project leaders still think there’s still plenty of room for education and with a little luck, the possibility of making a big difference.
I’m going to be leading the media aspect of the project, and you’ll see plenty of info on our progress here on 3P (and hopefully a lot of other places) as the summer approaches. The project is still looking for a few more team members, so if your summer plans aren’t yet ironed out, get in touch!

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Xerox Joins in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

| Friday May 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

xerox.jpegXerox has joined the long list of major companies commiting to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The company has committed to a 10% drop in emissions from 2002 levels, a feat that will require a 30% improvement in efficiency. CEO Anne M. Mulcahy put it succinctly: “it is the right thing for Xerox to do”. (From businesswire press release)

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Offshore Wind Farm to Surface off Long Island

| Friday May 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

offshorewind.jpgOne way to avoid complaints about “ugly” wind farms and capture the best wind at the same time is to put the wind farm out to sea. Long Island Power is planning a 40 Turbine facility about ten miles off the south coast of Long Island, NY. It’s expected to generate 140MWs of electricy and power close to 45,000 homes – that’s pretty significant, even in an area as developed as the New York Metro Region.

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Domini Fund’s Performance Helps Validate SRI

| Friday May 6th, 2005 | 0 Comments

dsi.jpgSocialFunds.com reports that the 15-year track record of strong, positive stock returns by the Domini 400 Social Index (DSI), demonstrates that SRI performs competitively, and sometimes outperforms the broader market, including the S&P 500.
“The Domini index has helped validate socially responsible investing through its long-term record, which is very similar to that of the S&P 500,” said David Kathman, an analyst with mutual fund rating agency Morningstar who covers SRI.
Since May 1, 1990 inception of the Domini 400 Social Index (DSI)through April 30, 2005, it has generated 438.79 percent total returns, almost 60 percentage points more than the S&P 500’s returns of 381.89 percent. Read the CSR Newswire story.

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GM, Ford Downgraded to Junk Status

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

suv_stuck.jpgStandard & Poors has downgraded its corporate credit ratings for both Ford and General Motors to junk status. The news sent both companies’ stock price tumbling by 5%, and left investors asking: why? According to S&P, lousy SUV sales have a lot to do with it.

S&P said its greatest immediate concern for Ford is the prospect that its sport utility vehicle business will not be able to generate the profitability it’s enjoyed historically. Ford’s financial performance has been heavily dependent on the earnings of its SUVs but sales of midsize and large SUVs have plummeted of late

The question is – with lower gas prices nowhere in sight, will American car companies refocus on the more efficient vehicles that have beefed up the profits and market share of their Japanese competitors?

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Pension Funds to Invest in Clean Energy Projects

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 1 Comment

prosperity.jpgThe National Apollo Alliance of Washington State has proposed using state pension funds to creatively finance energy efficient upgrades to major buildings as well as to fund renewable energy projects.
A recent $3.5 million smart energy and efficiency upgrade of a Seattle skyscraper by Washington Real Estate Holdings, which manages the state’s pension funds, lowered average annual energy consumption by 40 percent, saved nearly 7 million kilowatt hours of energy per year, and had a 16.5% ROI with only a 6 year payback. This is what SMART, PROFITABLE, and SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS is all about!
These projects create jobs, lower our need for imported oil, and make life better for all. It seems like a no brainer to me…read entire story in Sustainable Industries Journal Northwest.

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Support for Local Coffee Shops

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 7 Comments

delocator.gifTheir stock was recently dumped by Pax World Funds, and there’s no denying the impact that Starbucks’ 6,000+ stores have on the viability of locally-owned coffee shops. Finishing School empowers coffee addicts to avoid Starbucks with the Delocator, a searchable database of independent cafés. Enter a zip code to find local coffee houses; Starbucks stores in the region are displayed alongside.
Your favorite java joint isn’t listed? Go ahead and add it! The participatory site encourages users to contribute to the growing database of Starbucks alternatives. (Via Ethical Marketplace anchor Simran Sethi)

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Lessons in Emissions Trading from Down Under

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

australia.jpgBefore widespread carbon emissions trading, Australia’s Hunter River Valley was already succesfully trading another type of emissions: Salinity.
The valley is home to some of the country’s most productive agriculture as well as some major mining operations which have the unpleasant side effect of releasing lots of salty runoff which harms agriculture. By permitting a maximum level of runoff, and dividing it into “discharge credits”, a market was born. More on Ecosystem Marketplace.

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Top Five Energy Priorities for Companies

| Thursday May 5th, 2005 | 0 Comments

energy_priorities.jpgFrom the Energy Priorities Website, the top 5 things that a company can do to be more sustinable are as follows. Incidentally, most of these involve immediate or short term financial payback on top of the satisfaction of “doing the right thing”.
1) Energy efficiency 2) Backup power 3) Green energy 4) Peak load management 5) Clean transportation
Details on the site.

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The Business of Urban Farming

| Wednesday May 4th, 2005 | 0 Comments

coop.jpgIt’s not news that consumers are interested in fresh, healthy food. But a new spate of companies are making easier and more fun for people to be able to have that need met. As reported on Springwise, there are easy ways to move beyond a simple vegetble garden and raise your own chickens, and even make wine and cheese (the cheese comes from a “leased” cow. Additionally, there are companies specializing in the home delivery of fresh organic produce for those not inclined to grow it themselves. Exciting stuff, exciting opportunities. (via Sustainablog)

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