Fair Labor Association Promotes Social Accountability

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

fla_logo.gifThe Fair Labor Association (www.fairlabor.org) is an NGO that accredits companies who add greater transparancy to their supply chains and has all their factories audited to the FLA’s code of conduct. The FLA Workplace Code of Conduct specifies compliance with forced labor, child labor, harassment, abuse, nondiscrimination, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, wages and benefits, hours of work, and overtime compensation. Read CSRwire story here.
Companies such as Nike, Reebok, Liz Claiborne, and Adidas among others are finding that by implementing a social accountability program, they are able to make more sound and profitable business decisions.

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Whole Foods Leading the Way to Zero Waste.

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

wficon.jpgPutting their money where their mouth is, Whole Foods has announced that it intends to reduce their waste stream to zero. The major ingredient for succes: Composting.

It hasn’t been easy, with having to find the right haulers, composting facilities, and enough space in the stories to pack and store compostables. Company officials realize, however, that composting could have a tremendous impact on reducing the company’s waste stream, and improving its bottom line.

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$76 Million Up for Grabs in New Brownfield Grants

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

brownfield.jpgThe EPA is offering $75.9 Million in new Brownfield grants to assist developers in revitalizing contaminated former industrial sites in towns and cities. By assisting companies with costly environmental cleanups, not only is land refreshed, but development can move forward in city centers where infrastucture is already in place, saving money for both companies and cities.

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Under Fire

| Friday May 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

croshairs.jpgThere is a backlash afoot against corporate reform. Tracy Rembert reports that the battle is most apparant in the efforts of California pension fund manager CALPERS in influencing companies in which it invests. Although is is possible that CALPERS overstepped its bounds with regards to labor unions, its other efforts have been generally both praised and profitable.
Still, essays have been written in various publications decrying the efforts of responsibility advocates as “anti-corporate”. The report by Rembert suggests, however, that many of these essays are knee jerk reactions that suggest CSR is moving very much mainstream to the mutual success of both corporations and other interests.

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Next Billion: Development through Enterprise

| Friday May 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

dev_ent.jpgIt’s been an exciting week for new internet resources. The latest to come our way is a weblog-type publication from the World Resouces Institute called Development Through Enterprise (nextbillion.net). It looks to be a fantastic website, with stories on things like microlending from South Africa to Sarajevo, cheap PCs and other plans geared to “Eradicating Poverty Through Profit: Making Business Work for the Poor”.
(via Worldchanging and SmartMobs)

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Ten US Corporations Pledge Greenhouse Gas Cuts

| Friday May 13th, 2005 | 0 Comments

epa_logo.jpgThe list of companies pledging to lower greenhouse gas emissions continues to rise – with Caterpillar, Frito-Lay, and Staples joining the vernerable list of corporations on the EPA’s voluntary “Climate Leaders” program. The program has now grown to 68 companies, 37 of which have now set emissions reduction goals.

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The Sustainable Supply Chain Problem

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

supchain.jpgYour company might be as responsible and sustainable as you can make it, but that means very little if you’ve got no idea about the practices of your suppliers. From Ethical Corporation:

Last week an article and editorial in the Financial Times newspaper highlighted the many methods that Chinese suppliers use to cover up poor health and safety practices. The revelations were sobering, if not surprising. The reality is that getting developing world suppliers to comply with international social and environmental standards remains a formidable problem.

Does the ultimate responsibility lie with the buyer? Perhaps, but it’s not easy to wade throught the maze of poorly documented information from suppliers of all shapes and sizes. One answer may be collaborative monitoring – wherein groups of buyers agree to demand a certain level of compliance from shared suppliers – this takes the burden off the buyers, and suppliers get a more streamlined system to work in. (more on ethicalcorp.com)

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What is Carbon Neutral?

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 2 Comments

carbonnutral.jpgGreenthinkers noted the other day that “carbon neutral” may become the next hot phrase in business-environmental circles. But what does it really mean, and how do you approach it? There’s some great information on the venerable David Suzuki’s website. There are also outlines of several programs that can help your company achieve a carbon neutral goal.

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Ecological Guide to Paper

| Thursday May 12th, 2005 | 0 Comments

paper.jpgPaper, that most basic of products is also one of the most commonly recycled, reused and wasted. As your business tries to be more sustainable, choosing paper wisely is an important task. This handy guide from Celery Design should help a lot in exploring the differences between brands and types.
Remember though, “100% recycled” means essentially nothing – you have to look for the phrase “post consumer” if you actually want paper that was really recycled from the waste stream. Also, the guide mentions paper that comes from certified sustinable forests. Assuming a forest is properly managed, virgin pulp is not necesarily any worse than recycled, and in some cases is better!
(found via Mitra)

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Mitsubishi to Bring Back the Electric Car in 2010

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 3 Comments

mitsubishi_electric.jpgEarlier we reported on the apparant demise of the electric car. We may have spoken too soon – Mitsubishi is planning an all new electric car for the Japanese market in 2010 (source – green car congress). The test vehicle (based on the Colt) is said to hit 94mph and goes about 100 miles on a charge. (company press release)

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CO Teen Creates a Car Powered Only By Water

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 6 Comments

hydro_model.jpgA sophomore at a Cortez, Colorado high school has created a model car powered by hydrogen. The football-size car runs on distilled water. A solar panel provides energy to begin the reaction that splits hydrogen from water, so it can drive around and create hydrogen at the same time. As a result, the fuel source is never depleted, and the car never needs a fill-up.
“When it’s running, it’s making water,” Biard said. “When it’s stopping, it’s turning it back into hydrogen.”
Why didn’t I learn this stuff in High School? Read article here.
ED NOTE – May 14:If only it were that simple. One of the greatest things about the blogosphere is the virtually instantaneous system of fact checking that exists. No sooner was this post published than avid readers brought it our attention that this kid did little more than put together a ready-made kit. (see comments below) Still a neat demonstration of technology, but hardly a newfound prodigy (sorry kid).

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Milorganite Company Reuses Municipal Sewage

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 17 Comments

milorganite.jpgThe idea of using human waste as fertilizer is as old as time, though in modern cities this practice has largely been lost. Nonetheless, the Milorganite company has been profitably making fertilizer out of treated sewage from the city of Milwaukee since 1926. It’s mostly used on golf courses because certain chemicals that are flushed down the john may pose a health risk if used on food crops.
Still, it all sounds good. My only concern is that I never hear anything about Milorganite from environmental circles, which makes me wonder if they’re either doing something wrong or have just been incredibly modest in their 75 years of operation. If you know somthing I don’t know, please post a comment.

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New Zealand Enacts First Ever Carbon Tax

| Wednesday May 11th, 2005 | 0 Comments

emissions.jpgAs reported yesterday on Worldchanging, the New Zealand governement has imposed a NZ$11 per ton tax on carbon emissions. The tax ammounts to about NZ$2.90 per citizen, but is expected to be balanced out by other tax cuts. Also, as a tax on waste, it provides the right incentives for companies to become more efficient to reduce costs.

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Hygridding – More Incentives for Personal Solar

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 2 Comments

solarchicago.jpgThere’s another great article in Wired Mag today about personal energy independence – you know the idea of slapping up some solar panels and a wind turbine then sitting back and popping open a (freshly chilled) cold one. The best incentive about a properly designed energy system is that in most states, you can literally become a neighborhood power station, when the sun is bright, your electricity meter literally runs backwards, making you money and not the other way around. The resulting hybrid energy grid, or “hygrid”, is a lot more reliable the more people get involved. It also means that homeowners and business don’t need to buy a bunch of toxic and costly batteries to store electricity in their basements, the grid essentially becomes the battery, buying up excess and returning it in the form of cash.
(via Treehugger)

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Votaic Backpack Proves Demand for Solar Innovation

| Tuesday May 10th, 2005 | 0 Comments

solar_small.jpgThe Voltaic Solar Backpack, despite being fairly expensive, has been a great success for entrepreneur Shayne McQuade. It’s also an interesting case study in how to launch and market a sustainable product.
Note – I did a little work for the Voltaic a while ago (hence the sponsorship banner on 3p), but this success story is inspiring enough to merit a few words from the founder:

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