ECOnomics Business Plan Challenge

| Wednesday October 26th, 2005 | 2 Comments

eco-nomics.gifAs part of their “Ecomagination” campaign, GE has teamed up with Dow Jones to issue a great sounging business plan challenge: ECOnomics. The contest is offering up to $50,000 for a winning business plan that demonstrates how “green” business is “good” business. It’s open to all university and MBA students with a deadling of December 15th.

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Oregonian: Bottom Line on Global Warming is Economy

| Tuesday October 25th, 2005 | 1 Comment

oregonian.gifAn editorial in yesterday’s Oregonian sums it up nicely: “If you care about jobs, the economists say, you better care about climate change.”
The editorial is exactly the kind of well argued news I’d like to see in papers across the country. It cites a new report by 50 Northwest scientists stating that unchecked global warming is an imminent threat to the Oregon economy. The ironic point is that many in the legislature who promise concern about economy and business are the same who dismiss global warming as irrelevant.

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Walmart Goes Green(er) with Bio Plastic Containers

| Monday October 24th, 2005 | 4 Comments

walmartplastic.jpgWalmart’s grocery department will soon begin switching from petroleum based plastic clamshells to corn-based packaging. The potentially revolutionary news replaces an astonishing 114 Million plastic containers.
Despite my generally poor feelings about Walmart, I’m pretty impressed – the potential impact on the bio plastics imdustry is enormous, as if McDonalds suddenly went all-organic.
That said, high petroleum prices undoubtedly played as much a roll in their decision as anything else. Furthermore, as pointed out on Treehugger, bio-plastics are often derived from genetically modified crops, and I have also seen reports that some bio-plastics (ironically) use as much fossil fuel as regular plastic due to the use of petroleum based fertilizers. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? Bravo Walmart. (via Treehugger)

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Solar Decathlon Wows DC

| Monday October 24th, 2005 | 0 Comments

solar_dec.jpgFrom Mary Morrison & Rick Anderson at Bainbridge Graduate Institute:
On a beautiful fall day in the Nation’s Capitol, we discovered the solar decathlon. This is an annual event pitting 18 universities, national and international, against each other in designing the best solar home. The University of Colorado at Denver and Boulder defended their title for the second year. But as the students will tell you, it’s an event where everyone wins.
The tour stop in DC was in the perfect setting. The Mall, the park area sandwiched between the Washington Monument and the Capitol steps was an ideal setting to demonstrate the ingenuity, practicality and creativity of young minds interested in transforming the building industry to utilize the earth’s access to natural energy sources, as well as using green building materials and water saving landscaping. Perhaps the political professionals took notice that the future of the building industry is taking heed to the ample and free source of power, the Sun.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is the primary sponsor.

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ANWR/Oil Dependance Video Now Better Quality

| Friday October 21st, 2005 | 3 Comments

TAP_video.jpgThe “Treasure America” video we produced this summer is now available on Google Video in a larger, higher quality format. The video makes a solid economic argument in favor of preserving the Arctic Refuge in its current state. Please pass it on, blog about it, write your politicians and let people know that investment in renewable energy is what this country needs. Watch the video here.

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Wind Energy is Slowly Edging out Fossil Fuels in Colorado

| Friday October 21st, 2005 | 0 Comments

windcol.jpgThe 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.

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Interra Project Proposes Credit Card to Benefit Local Economies

| Thursday October 20th, 2005 | 2 Comments

interra.jpgI 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!

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Who’s Paying for Climate Skepticism? ExxonMobile Is!

| Thursday October 20th, 2005 | 4 Comments

exxonmobil44.jpgI’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!

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McDonald’s Accepted as CERES Partner

| Wednesday October 19th, 2005 | 0 Comments

mcdo.jpgAs 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.

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Starbucks Gets Award for Better Recycled Content

| Wednesday October 19th, 2005 | 3 Comments

starbucksLogo.jpgSometimes 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.

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Making Pencil Lead from Generator Brushes

| Tuesday October 18th, 2005 | 8 Comments

pencil_lead.jpgHere’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.

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Thousands Throng to New Public Market in Milwaukee

| Tuesday October 18th, 2005 | 0 Comments

rooster.gifProving 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.

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Corporate Trinkets: A Waste, and a Waste of Money

| Monday October 17th, 2005 | 1 Comment

mousepad.gifHow 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.

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Natura Models the Triple Bottom Line in Brazil

| Monday October 17th, 2005 | 0 Comments

logo-natura.gifWith 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.

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Branding citizen?

| Sunday October 16th, 2005 | 2 Comments

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.

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