100% Recycled – A Greenwashed Claim that Still Persists

| Wednesday November 9th, 2005 | 9 Comments

recyc1.jpgI’ve written in the past about the misleading nature of the term “100% Recycled”. When consumers see this term, they tend to think the item they are buying is made of material that was actually used by someone, discarded, and then recycled. Or at the very least, that they are somehow preventing material from entering the waste stream.

In reality, “100% recycled” means next to nothing – legally speaking, scrap material that winds up on the floor and is thrown back into the raw materials bin, is considered recycled. Material that was actually used in a product by a consumer, then returned to some sort of recycling facility to be reprocessed has a second term attached to it – “post-consumer recycled”. That’s why you’ll often see both terms used on say, your roll of expensive recycled toilet paper. Only the “post consumer” percentage, which is very rarely 100% actually meets people’s expectations for what recycled really means. Confused?

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Habitat Jam Offers Online Discussion of Urban Issues Dec 1-3

| Wednesday November 9th, 2005 | 4 Comments

HabitatJAM-logo.gifThe Government of Canada, in partnership with IBM and UN-HABITAT, have put together a 72-hour online event in preparation for the World Urban Forum, to be held enxt summer in Vancouver. It’s called “Habitat Jam” and it’ll basically be a, dare I say, jam session about urban issues – poverty, water, sustainability, safety, and business. You can register to participate for free right here.

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A Five Minute Survey For A Presdio Project

| Wednesday November 9th, 2005 | 0 Comments

I hope you’ll have a few minutes today to take a survey that was put together by a collegue of mine concerning the different sorts of ways we use the internet to find activating information – the kinds of things that engage you, inspire you, and make you feel you can make a difference. It’ll only take 5 min – I promise!
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A Useful Listing of Right/Left Blogs

| Tuesday November 8th, 2005 | 1 Comment

leftright.jpgI’m of the opinion that “right” and “left” don’t really mean anything. Most issues, if you spend more than a few minutes thinking about them, are full of common ground. Irrational misunderstanding, bad reporting, and jumping to conclusions are the causes of this strange obsession with right/left blue/red and the myth that there is some kind of unbreachable gap amongst us.
Anyway, that said, there are still many who think this way, and I thought I’d pass on two great links which might help you out. From The QandO blog (which is itself slightly right) – a listing of RIGHT WING BLOGS and LEFT WING BLOGS. I highly recommend glancing at both and bookmarking some of them. Sometimes both sides are full of crap, sometimes they’re both full of insight. Either way, if you’re not reading outside your box, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

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Kraft decides to Fight Obesity Among Children in a Big Way

| Tuesday November 8th, 2005 | 0 Comments

kraft.jpgBetween the 1960s and 1980s, the percentage of overweight children in the US hovered around 6%. Since 1980, the rate of obesity in children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled, and the rate in adolescents has tripled to 16%. Currently one child in five is overweight. The increase is in all age, race and gender groups. The main culprits are the same as those for adult obesity: eating too much and moving around too little. Almost half of children aged 8-16 years watch three to five hours of television a day. Kids who watch the most hours of television have the highest incidence of obesity, not only because little energy is expended while viewing but also because of concurrent consumption of high-calorie snacks. Other factors of obesity are: poor nutritional habits, life style, heredity.
Since obesity in kids is now epidemic in the United States, Kraft is taking a stand and addressed the issue by banning some food ads targeting children and by introducing healthier food for children (lower content of fat and sugar). Under Kraft’s new policy (at work since 2003), any product advertised on a TV show where more than 50% of the audience is under 12 (as measured by Nielson Media Research) has to meet the nutritional standards set by the company.

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Can Oil Companies Go Green?

3p Contributor | Monday November 7th, 2005 | 3 Comments

chevronlogo.jpgIs it possible for an oil company to change its brand image/essence? Can we be convinced of their sincerity as they try and convince us that they want to “go green”?
What is a brand? According to the AMA a brand is “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. Brands can include products, services, events etc. According to Lyn Upshaw, the true meaning of a brand is when trust is transformed into value. (Upshaw lecture 10/22/05)

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Mercury Marine Puts Energy Responsibility on Backs of Plant Managers

| Monday November 7th, 2005 | 0 Comments

merc.jpgDo you know a guy who runs his heater with the window open simply because the landlord pays the utility bills? Well, Mercury Marine plant managers were not even aware of their energy costs because the corporate office had been paying them.

Not anymore. Utility costs are now part of each Mercury plant’s operating goals, just like productivity and material costs. To help keep track, the company installed power meters so that managers in every building know the natural gas and electricity usage.

In other words, simply by restructuring the way costs are covered, impressive new ways of saving money – and reducing environmental impact are realized. The details, and the numbers are are outlined in Saturday’s JSOnline. Also in the article is the note that higher energy prices mean a faster payback for efficiency measures, which means they’re more likely to be put into effect by managers seeking to impress higher-ups. It’s also common sense.

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Carnival of the Green Launches!

| Monday November 7th, 2005 | 1 Comment

cotg.gifWithout further ado, the first Carnival of the Green is here. You may have enjoyed the Carnival of the Capitalists we hosted last Monday. Well, now it’s time for another carnical, with a slightly different bent – more about environmental issues, less about economics. CityHippy is hosting it this week, and I’ll be hosting it next Monday. So start your week with some good reading – pop on over to the carnival and check it out!

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Hummers: A Bad Idea Finally Nearing its End?

| Friday November 4th, 2005 | 11 Comments

hummers.jpg

Is schadenfreude a sin? Well, sue me. The Hummer, including the “less bad” H3 model, is selling so poorly that excess Hummers are piling up in remote lots because there’s no room for them at dealers. Sleuthing bloggers from “The Mess that Greenspan Made” have uncovered a semi-secret series of parking lots in Southern California where upwards of 300 unsold Hummers sit and fester. It’s a hilarious story, but it’s also a dismal wake-up call for GM who probably could have anticipated this if they’ed thought about it for a minute.
What’s the scrap value of 300 Hummers?

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Triple Pundit Goes Mobile with Silicon Valley Watcher

| Friday November 4th, 2005 | 0 Comments

free_range.gifTriple Pundit is now available in a special mobile format for devices such as Blackberrys and Treos, and some regular mobile phones. It’s all been made possible by Tom Foremski at Silicon Valley Watcher – arguably the valley’s most interesting tech/business blog. SVW teamed up with Free Range Communications – a leader in mobile RSS – to make it possible. It’s also totally free. You can find out more here.
Since I have the oldest phone in the known universe, I haven’t been able to test whether this actually works. So please let me know if there are any problems.

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Fair Trade Firm Aims Way Beyond Coffee

| Friday November 4th, 2005 | 2 Comments

Fair Trade First is another great company idea. (website here). Most people are familiar with the idea of “Fair Trade Coffee” wherin coffee buyers are ensured that their cofee was grown in a sustainable manner and that decent wages were paid to the workers. Well, there’s a lot more than coffee out there, and this UK based firm aims to help companies and individuals find out all about it. They offer a totally free service to companies wishing to buy certified goods for the company kitchen – in return for a commission from suppliers. They insist that more often than not, going “fair trade” is less expensive than one might think.
thx DK!

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China Talking About a “Green GDP”

| Thursday November 3rd, 2005 | 2 Comments

china_flag.jpgPeople have proposed two scenerios for the growth of China. The first is that it continues to grow at a massive rate, consuming everything in its path, and producing an ecological catastrohphe that will be its demise, and possibly ours too. The second is that China wises up and becomes an unprecidented leader in “green growth” balancing its economic needs with good health for its people and a clean, healthy environment.
This article (WBCSD) gives great hope for the second scenerio. It seems China is studying the possibility of a new measurement for economic success – a “green” GDP if you will – which is not only a tally of economic progress, but also accounts for environmental impact and resource consumption as negatives against the total. It’s potentially a similar idea to the “Genuine Progress Indicator” proposed by the group Redefining Progress.

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Asian “Recycling Zones” Proposed

| Thursday November 3rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

recyel77.jpgJFS points us to a cool proposal to create a network of international “recycling zones” in Asia. The idea is to give some structure to the burgeoning cross-border waste trade across Asia and to confront the huge problem of illegal dumping.

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The Magical Boost of an International Marketing Channel

| Thursday November 3rd, 2005 | 0 Comments

bootsss.jpg

This has very little to do with sustainability, or the integrated bottom line, though I suppose I could make a case that it has something to do with cross cultural relations. Anyway, here’s an interesting marketing phenomenon – rebranding something that’s utterly generic in one country as something special and/or exotic in another.
Boots is a pharmacy chain in Britain that can be found on almost every corner in any town in the country. There must be a thousand in London alone. It’s like Walgreens, but smaller. Basically it’s a place to go when you need some deodorant. There’s nothing exotic about it whatsoever. In fact Britons would probably laugh if you suggested that the store, or anything in it, was even worth talking about.
Enter the Target marketing channel…

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Synergizing Market Trends to Communicate Effectively with Cultural Creatives

| Wednesday November 2nd, 2005 | 0 Comments

Having only recently become aware of the Cultural Creatives market, a 50-million-strong and growing segment that shares such values as environmental sustainability and a healthy lifestyle , marketers are seeking ways to effectively communicate with it. According to hereshowmarketing.com, Cultural Creatives don’t mind advertising, but they want it to be informative, clear, and truthful without the hard sells or emotional manipulation . Two synergistic business trends might offer some businesses a great opportunity to differentiate and communicate their products’ value to this particular market: 1) the increasingly sophisticated process- and information-focused collaborative partnerships along the value chain and 2) environmental product designs within system-based, life-cycle processes such as in Design-for-Environment (DfE) and Cradle-to-Cradle (McDonough & Braungart, 2002) approaches.

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