Are Your Employees Onboard?

| Monday June 20th, 2005 | 0 Comments

Manage.jpgNo matter how sustainable a company’s goals, it takes an aware and empowered workforce to achieve them. A good manager finds ways to effectively communicate the company’s strategy to all employees, and gives them the tools they need to make decisions accordingly.
In a recent study, McKinsey consultants rank hundreds of manufacturing companies’ management styles. In the examples mentioned in last week’s Economist, the more effective the communication between management and employees, the higher the company’s management score.
The article explores the longevity of some badly-run companies; read it here.

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Interesting North Dakota Ethanol Campaign

| Monday June 20th, 2005 | 2 Comments

goe.gifAlthough there remains a certain amount of debate (see here) on both the “greenness” and the practicality of Ethanol, if it ever grows to be a real gasoline alternative, there will be a great economic benefits for states such as North Dakota. As a result, that state has embarked on an amusing campaign for public awareness of ethanol’s potential for the state.

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Could Toyota Buy General Motors? For a Stronger USA?

| Friday June 17th, 2005 | 15 Comments

gmtoyota.gifThomas Friedman has a rather interesting Op-Ed piece in the New York times where he suggests that Toyota should buy General Motors. I have no idea if any such thing is remotely on the table, but the points he makes are quite thought provoking and pertinent to sustainability. The basic premise is that shortsighted management at GM (largely toward fuel economy) is the main culprit in the company’s currently dismal financial condition.
A buyout by, say, Toyota (soon to be the world’s largest car company) would bring new thinking to American automaking, massively boost hybrid technology, and move a “geo-green” agenda forward that would ultimately “strengthen the dollar, reduce our trade deficit, make America the world leader in combating climate change and stimulate U.S. companies to take the lead in producing the green technologies that the world will desperately need”. Read the rest at

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NYC Opens 100% Solar-Powered Subway Station

| Friday June 17th, 2005 | 1 Comment

subway.jpgThe MTA’s Stillwell Ave. Station in Brooklyn will be completely solar powered. Hailed as one of the most environmentally responsible mass transportation sites built in the U.S, a 76,000-square foot state-of-the-art solar roof, manufactured by RWE SCHOTT Solar, is expected to contribute approximately 250,000 kilowatt hours a year to the subway station’s non-traction power needs.

For the first time, the city’s subway system will have a clean and efficient source of energy, an environmentally sound way to keep this terminal up and running round the clock, year round,” says Donald Press, General Manager, Advanced Materials. He adds that NYC Metro Transportation Authority, “has surely set an example for the rest of nation.

Click here for the detailed story on Sustainable Business News.

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Survey Says Graduates Look to Contribute to Society

| Friday June 17th, 2005 | 0 Comments

balance.jpgA recent UK survey shows that at least one third of recent graduates say that contributing to society is as important as status and money, according to The Independent. On top of that, the survey says that 2/3 of consumers would boycott a company they didn’t agree with. These results may show nothing more than the wishful thinking of the survey takers, but the trend is still real and innumerable resources are available to help graduates and consumers more accurately make the choices they suggest they adhere to. Check the article for more.

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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.”

Click to continue reading »

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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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