Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peer-to-Peer Lending Set to Expand in U.S.: Zopa Prepares for Launch

In an email announcement received today, Zopa plans to launch their social lending network in the U.S. in the next few days.

They also state that they "could use some borrowers to pound on the site, take out loans, and make sure all our bells and whistles are...ringing and whistling. If you were thinking of borrowing on Zopa, have good credit (FICO 640+), and are a U.S. resident 18 or over, drop us a line:"

From their email: " Some of the ways we'll be different from the sites that exist today:

  • No risk for investors.

  • Your funds will be federally insured. No more worrying about whether your borrowers will pay your loan back.

  • Pick who you want to help.

  • Investors will choose exactly who they want to help.

  • Set your rate.

  • Investors will choose how much they want to earn, up to a ceiling.

  • No waiting.

  • Borrowers will get their loans immediately upon approval.

  • Lower your monthly payment.

  • Borrowers can actually reduce their loan payments after they've borrowed. They'll do that using rich profiles... "

More information on Zopa can be found on their UK website and in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Our own brief coverage of the peer-to-peer (P2P) or social lending industry can be read in a previous post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kevin Rudd: New Leadership for Australia

Australia's newly elected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, states that industrial relations and ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (an international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) will be his first priorities. "Rudd's decision to ratify Kyoto leaves the United States the only industrialized country not to have signed the pact." In addition to these priorities, Rudd has promised to pull Australia's 550 combat troops from Iraq in a phased withdrawal.

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall

The Energy Information Association has released their report, "Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2006." Among the key findings published in the report:

  • Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 were 1.5 percent below the 2005 total—the first annual drop since 2001 and only the third since 1990 (largely a result of reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions)
  • Relatively robust economic growth in 2006, at 2.9 percent, coupled with a 1.5-percent drop in total greenhouse gas emissions, led to the decrease in greenhouse gas intensity
  • Some of the factors that led to the decrease (such as weather) are variable; others (such as increased use of renewable energy for electricity generation) may indicate trends that are likely to continue.
  • The steady decrease in carbon intensity (carbon/GDP) has resulted mainly from reductions in energy use per unit of GDP (energy/GDP) rather than increased use of low-carbon fuels
  • The important factors that contributed to a drop in carbon dioxide emissions in 2006 included: total energy consumption in 2006 that was 0.5 percent below the 2005 total—due in part to favorable weather conditions (both heating and cooling degree-days were below 2005 levels) and in part to higher energy prices that helped to dampen energy demand. A decline in the carbon intensity of electric power generation that resulted from increased use of natural gas, the least carbon-intensive fossil fuel, and greater reliance on non-fossil energy sources also contributed to the decrease.
According to a statement issued by President Bush today:
"I was pleased to receive the Energy Information Administration's final report today, which includes U.S. greenhouse gas emissions for 2006. The final report shows that emissions declined 1.5 percent from the 2005 level, while our economy grew 2.9 percent. That means greenhouse gas intensity - how much we emit per unit of economic activity - decreased by 4.2 percent, the largest annual improvement since 1985. This puts us well ahead of the goal I set in 2002 to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent by 2012."

The Purpose Prize Nominations Are Now Open

The Purpose Prize is now accepting nominations through March 1, 2008. The Purpose Prize awards $100,000 to five outstanding social innovators over the age of 60 and is an initiative of Civic Ventures, a nonprofit founded in the late 1990s by social entrepreneur Marc Freedman.

Civic Ventures is reframing the debate about aging in America and redefining the second half of life as a source of social and individual renewal. Through research, publishing, conferences, and media outreach, Civic Ventures reports on the growth of the "experience movement." Through programs and consulting, Civic Ventures brings together older adults with a passion for service and helps stimulate opportunities for using their talents to advance the greater good. In these ways, Civic Ventures is helping America realize an experience dividend.

The first of 77 million baby boomers turned 60 in 2006. They are on the front edge of the largest, healthiest, best educated population of Americans ever to move through and beyond their fifties; they represent an extraordinary pool of social and human capital; and never before have so many people had so much knowledge-and so much time to use it. Unleashing this vast human potential is a social imperative.

Initiatives of Civic Ventures include:

  • Experience Corps, a national service program for Americans over 55.
  • The Next Chapter, an initiative that provides expertise and assistance to community groups across the country working to help people in the second half of life set a course, connect with peers, and find pathways to significant service.
  • The Lead with Experience Campaign and The Purpose Prize, a three-year initiative to invest in older social innovators by recognizing outstanding achievements, creating a network of people wanting to use their retirement years for the greater good, and channeling funds and assistance to these new pioneers. The Purpose Prize is now accepting nominations through March 1, 2008 for outstanding social innovators over the age of 60.
  • Still Working, a documentary project that profiles people working for the greater good in the second half of life.
  • The MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures BreakThrough Award is for innovative organizations that tap the passion and experience of people over 50 to improve society.
  • The MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Community College Encore Career Grants are for innovative community colleges that are creating new ways for adults 50+ to transition to "encore careers" in education, healthcare and social services - all sectors facing critical labor shortages.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Toward Oversight of Voluntary Carbon Offsets

Voluntary carbon offsets remain a growing yet unregulated business and two additional efforts are underway to oversee the burgeoning field.

First is the recent announcement of a new Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) for carbon offsets is intended to boost the sector's credibility and help to drive rapid growth in voluntary offsetting. The VCS covers "reductions in all six gases regulated by Kyoto."

"Carbon offsetting is growing rapidly but remains controversial. The VCS aims to counter this by guaranteeing that certified offset projects reduce carbon emissions, and that reductions are measurable, additional, permanent, verified and are not double counted."

"Guarantees made about the VCS include: certified offsets will have environmental benefits, the VCS will stimulate greater innovation and investment in a wider range of low-carbon technologies without compromising environmental integrity, and the public will be able to access information on every VCS-approved offset project."

Second, the Federal Trade Commission has announced they will hold a free public workshop on January 8, 2008 in Washington DC "to examine the emerging market for carbon offsets (i.e., greenhouse gas emission reduction products) and renewable energy certificates, and related advertising claims. The workshop will focus on consumer protection issues in these markets, such as consumer perception of carbon offset and REC advertising claims and substantiation for such claims." A live webcast of the workshop will be available.

New Blog on Global Development Issues

A new blog, Global Development Matters, has been launched by the Center for Global Development.

"Global Development Matters is designed to engage U.S. citizens and leaders in examining how rich world policies affect global poverty reduction. As we make decisions on the eve of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, understanding the connection between global development and U.S. political choices is now more relevant than ever." You can read their updates on where the candidates stand on global development issues.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carbon Management: Job & Education Growth

BusinessWeek reports that more business schools are addressing the topic of carbon through education in the classroom, tracking their own carbon footprints, or by purchasing carbon offsets. And Reuters reports that jobs in the global carbon market are expected to double over the next year and increase by 50 times by 2012, but they also state that jobs are "standing vacant because of a lack of suitable talent." Junior level jobs start at over $124,000 but can take 2 or 3 months to fill while senior level jobs start at over $310,000 plus bonus and can take up to 6 weeks to fill.

To meet growing demand and limited talent pools, a new MBA in Strategic Carbon Management program is starting. Billed as the world's first and only MBA in Strategic Carbon Management, the program is housed in the Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The inaugural class begins in January 2008.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Free Range Studios - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Free Range Studios is a full-service creative agency delivering progressive socially-minded messages for clients. Their website states, "We enable our clients to communicate key messages and empower individuals to transform society through the innovative use of digital media, storytelling, graphic design and strategy."

You may be familiar with some of their flash movies, Sam Suds, The Meatrix, Friends With Low Wages, Grocery Store Wars, Say No to Blood Diamonds, or their reports for Amnesty International, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, or the ACLU or any of their work with socially-conscious individuals, nonprofits, and businesses.

In addition to their socially-conscious creative work, they also seek to reduce their own environmental impact and give back to their communities through the use of triple bottom line accounting, 100% wind power, eco-printing, and other initiatives.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Black Friday is "Buy Nothing Day"

For those who desire a completely different approach to greening Black Friday, November 23 is "Buy Nothing Day." Here is a 30-second advertisement from

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

12 Ways to Green Your Black Friday (from The Daily Green)

From The Daily Green:

Black’s the day after Thanksgiving that so many retailers rely on to help them go in the black by selling us on the need for salad shooters and other gadgets and gizmos for stuffing into stockings. It can be a fun day...and it can also be a green day with just a few ideas.

1. Car pool to the mall. Make it even more fun by shopping with a couple of family members or saves gas, reduces carbon and makes parking easier.

2. Buy American-Made. Not only does this reduce the chance of purchasing lead-laced toys, or lead jewelry, it reduces your personal carbon footprint by not buying products shipped in from far-away lands.

3. BYOB. Bring your own shopping bags. Don't laugh; everyone's doing it.

4. Skip the drive-through. Idling your car puts pollutants into the air. So don’t use the drive through; stop the car and walk into the fast food joint. Better yet, grab a salad at a locally-owned restaurant.

5. Shop local retailers. Support local stores run by local people. It's a way to support a thriving local economy; a very green concept whose time has come.

6. Shop online. The internet is open for business on everyday, including Black Friday, with plenty of deals and steals. (Expect the best Web deals Cyber Monday.)

7. Buy green gifts for the holidays. Support the manufacturers who are jumping on the sustainability train and look for the great new eco-items that are out there. From fragrances to clothes to home spa luxuries, you can find green alternatives to most things you are looking for.

8. Forget gift cards. The dormancy charges, the forgotten balances...and even the potential for fraud make these cards a bad deal for you. Plus, they’re often made of plastic and will live on in landfills for ever and ever.

9. Start a stay-at-home Friday family tradition. Keep the family thing going one more day. Stay home and make gifts, holiday treats, things to give that cost less and come from the heart.

10. Send holiday e-cards. Save a tree and save a stamp and send a holiday e-card. Your posse will be impressed and, Gramps, your kids will stop calling you a Luddite.

11. Give a starter kit of eco-friendly gifts. Put together a collection of goodies to help your friends and family members get started going green. Think of the very first green steps and include things such as: a collection of cfl light bulbs, a pound of organic fair trade coffee, a power strip for fighting the energy vampire at home, a tire pressure gauge, all put in a cool looking shopping tote bag they can use for their own grocery trips all year.

12. Spend less and donate more. Put the heart back into the holidays this year. Remember what you're celebrating by remembering the less fortunate. Wait 'til you see how it makes you feel!

Find this article at:

A Green Thanksgiving for the Detroit Lions

After the parade, after the turkey, you'll sit down to watch...a carbon neutral football game?

On Thursday, November 22, the Detroit Lions and Ford Field will hold the first carbon neutral NFL game. They plan to offset 1,866,000 pounds of GHG/CO2 emissions in one day to cover the cars, jet, electricity, gas, and water expected to be used to attend the game. They will be purchasing offsets through Carbon Credit Environmental Services (CCES) of Detroit.

The Detroit Lions - Green Bay Packers game on Thursday, November 22 will be broadcast on FOX at 12:30pm (EST).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Coffee Company - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it seemed appropriate that this week we highlight Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Based in California, they offer fair trade, organic, and kosher blends of coffee.

Their website states, "Our generation will always be faced with issues of sustainability, waste, and resource use. We recognize that it is in the best interest of our company to be actively involved in the environmental and social consequences of coffee consumption. These issues affect not just our employees and community, but also the millions of people involved in the cultivation, processing, transportation, trade, roasting, marketing, and sipping of coffee around the world. Our mission is to enhance the well-being of all we touch, from coffee picker to coffee drinker."

"Through our products and actions we communicate the values and ideals that are embodied in the name "Thanksgiving." We use the medium of coffee and the environmental and social responsibility issues it embodies to teach people how their purchases impact the rest of the world. We continually strive to improve our practices in order to model a new corporate paradigm that takes responsibility not only for current actions but for the future well-being of the whole planet."

Their motto: "Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup"

Friday, November 16, 2007

One-Third of All Species 'At Risk'

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the U.N. plans to release a report this weekend which declares that "Almost one-third of the world's species will face extinction if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise."

The newspaper goes on to report, "A draft circulated ahead of the conference blames human activities for rising temperatures and says cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are needed to avert heat waves, melting glaciers and rising seas. The Synthesis Report, the fourth from the climate panel this year, is intended to inform negotiations on a new climate change treaty next month in Bali."

"The scientists will say that it is possible to halt global warming if the world's greenhouse gas emissions start to decline before 2015. This is highly unlikely. Emissions are projected to increase by up to 90 per cent by 2030 on present estimates, the report says."

"The study, to be published on Saturday, will warn that if emissions continue to rise without action being taken until 2050, then global average temperatures would rise by up to five degrees."

"Such an average rise would cause "significant extinctions", a decrease in cereal harvests everywhere and the flooding of 30 per cent of coastal wetlands."

Read the full story here.

Plug In...To Your Backpack

Bags and backpacks which generate solar power for handheld electronics are becoming quite popular. As the holiday shopping season approaches, here are some makers of solar-powered bags and backpacks:

Eclipse Solar Gear offers everything from backpacks, to camera bags, to bike bags, to coolers, to tackle bags, and more!

Voltaic Systems offers solar powered backpacks that generate enough power to charge handheld electronics.

Solar Gears offers solar powered bags.

Macro-Solar offers solar powered backpacks.

Reware offers a beach tote and various other bags.

So go ahead, plug your backpack.

Newspaper "Green" Business Stories Already Doubled Over Last Year

According to a study released this week by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, "the number of “green” business stories published in the nation’s 10 largest newspapers this year has already doubled last year’s total." Other findings are that business editors do not believe that reader interest in the topic has peaked yet, all editors said that their sections ran such stories at least a couple of times a month, and nearly half said that business stories with a “green” angle of some sort appeared as often as once a week. The study was conducted by Stephen Doig and concludes "A significant shift is underway in coverage priorities."

You may recall that in August, Nielsen Buzz Metrics announced "Online Buzz on Environmental Issues Up 169% Versus Year Ago" and in April they announced "Blog Conversation on 'Sustainability' Doubles Over Last Year."

We also mentioned reports in a previous post that found "Students Want Green Jobs, Businesses Want Green Credentials, Business Schools Race to Bridge the Gap" and another post pointing out that the number of corporations announcing sustainability initiatives is growing everyday.

This is indeed an exciting time of transition as the movement toward sustainability continues.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wal-Mart Releases "Sustainability Progress to Date" Report

Today Wal-Mart announced the release of "a comprehensive report of its sustainability efforts, outlining initiatives to improve the environment, health care, diversity, sourcing and highlighting the work of its foundation. The report discusses Wal-Mart's sustainability initiatives and defines the challenges, as well as goals, for moving forward."

"In an October 2005 speech titled "Twenty-First Century Leadership," Wal-Mart committed to three large sustainability goals: to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment. The report examines the progress Wal-Mart has made toward those commitments and details how the company has worked to integrate sustainable practices into its supply chain, the products it sells, the lives of its associates and the communities where it operates and sources."

The report, entitled "Sustainability Progress to Date 2007-2008: We're making sustainability our business," covers their progress over the past two years since announcing their sustainability commitment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apply to Become a Kinship Conservation Fellow

Applications are now being accepted for Kinship Conservation Fellowships.

From their website: "Kinship is a ground-breaking environmental leadership program. Designed to serve as a mini-Green MBA, our intensive, month-long program combines leadership training with business and economic tools and fellowship in a dynamic community, while offering you time to develop your own project. With expertise in environmental economics and a wealth of on-the-ground experience in conservation projects, our elite faculty will mentor and guide your progress."

"Join a new generation of dedicated conservation leaders next summer as we explore market-based approaches and real solutions to the challenges of creating sustainable development for our environment."

Eighteen applicants will be selected to become Fellows. Deadline for applications is January 31, 2008.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Surprise! Biz Professors Make Good Executives, Study Suggests

A new study seeks to break the "familiar stereotype...that business professors cannot make it in the real world."

"Companies managed by former business school professors generated greater revenues per employee than companies managed by non-former business school professors," report the study's authors, Bin Jiang and Patrick J. Murphy of DePaul University. They add that "professors make especially valuable contributions as vice presidents in company top-management teams because their domain expertise corresponds to common functional business areas."

"The study, entitled 'Do Business School Professors Make Good Executive Managers?' is in the August-October issue of Academy of Management Perspectives."

Read the full Academy of Management press release here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What Toxic Chemicals Are Inside Your Cell Phone?

In a previous post, we showed photographs of e-waste and provided links to e-cyclers. Here is a video that dismantles an iPhone to reveal the chemical components: bromine, chlorine, and phthalates, all of which are potentially toxic. So remember to recycle those old cell phones and your other electronic waste!

Eco-Libris - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Booklovers and reading aficionados everywhere can buy an "offset" for every book they read. At Eco-Libris, the idea is simple: people can plant one tree for every book they read. The following information is taken from their website.

"We believe that taking responsibility for the environmental costs of the books we read is only natural. We strive for a world where reading books doesn’t have adverse effects on the environment, and therefore our mission is to make reading much more sustainable than it is today. Eventually (and hopefully sooner then later), books will be made from recycled paper or other eco-friendly materials. But till then, we can still do something to make the world greener."

"A tree (actually 1.3 trees - for example, 13 trees are planted for every 10 you pay for, as detailed below) will be planted by our planting partners (in a developing country) for every book you balance out. You will also receive an Eco-Libris sticker to put on your book and demonstrate your commitment to the environment, with the sticker saying "One Tree was planted for this book."'

"Since not all trees survive during their growth, we plant 1.3 trees for every tree you pay for - for example, 13 trees will be planted when you pay for 10 trees. In this way we significantly increase the chance that at least 10 trees will actually mature and live happily ever after. Currently, our planting partners plant trees in Nicaragua, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama (all in Central America) and Malawi (Africa). "

Eco-Libris is a service of Redwood Visions Consulting LLC, a private company based in California.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One Laptop Per Child Goes BOGO

Starting Monday, November 12 (and for two weeks only!), the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child is offering a buy one-give one (BOGO) promotion. "For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops—one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home."

The XO laptop is a computer built for learning and designed specifically with children in mind. For specifications and details on the computer, visit their website. This is the project that began as a quest for the $100 laptop.

Logo Design Competition for the UN Documentary Film Festival

Call for Entries:

Design the official logo for “Stories from the Field: The United Nations Documentary Film Festival,” a film festival to showcase documentaries which reflect one or more of the points contained in the Millennium Development Goals.

Prize: $5000

Deadline: November 26, 2007

Click here for more information.

Men Produce More Carbon Emissions Than Women

Men's lifestyles create more carbon emissions and contribute more to climate change than women's lifestlyes. This is the conclusion of a study presented at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development in May 2007. The study, "A study on gender equality as a prerequisite for sustainable development," was conducted by Gerd Johnsson-Latham.

"The purpose of the study is to bring out often-neglected facts concerning dissimilarities in the lifestyles and consumption patterns of women and men, and thus in their environmental impact, by describing how men, primarily through their greater mobility and more extensive travel, account for more carbon dioxide (COB2B) emissions than women, in both rich and poor countries. The study points to how a changed behavior among men – notably rich men who are decision-makers - can be crucial in addressing climate change and in enhancing the opportunities of all human beings to enjoy sustainable development."

You can read the full paper here.

Upcoming Webinars on Sustainability & Related Topics

Next week will be a busy one for online webinars on sustainabililty and related topics. Here are webinars offered by a variety of companies next week (a full list is maintained on our site):

Study Says Stock Prices Rise and Fall with Protest Coverage

From the Columbia Journalism Review: Media coverage of protests against publicly traded corporations affects stock prices. The more coverage, the more the price declines. This is the conclusion of two sociologists, anyway, in a paper to appear in the upcoming issue of Administrative Science Quarterly.

The paper, titled “Social Movements as Extra-institutional Entrepreneurs: The Effect of Protests on Stock Price Returns,” examines New York Times coverage of protests against public corporations, from 1962 to 1990. Co-authors Brayden G. King, of Brigham Young University, and Sarah A. Soule, of Cornell University, observed that stories on protests caused a stock price to fall between 0.4 and 1.0 percent, on average. Longer stories resulted in greater declines. Most of the drop happened the day of the protest and the day after it.

The size of the protest appeared not to matter. Neither did the use of boycotts. “What really matters,” King said in a telephone interview, “is that you’re able to gain media coverage.”

Read the full story here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hollywood Goes Green


The entertainment industry is continuing the move toward sustainable business practices. The Hollywood Goes Green conference will be held December 11 & 12 in Hollywood, CA. Keynote speakers include Ed Bagley, Jr. (Living With Ed), Kevin Wall (Live Earth), Lauren Zalaznick (NBC Universal Green Council), and others as well as speakers from MTV, U.S. Green Building Council, Warner Music, Capitol Music, and more.

"Today, green is becoming a way of life within global entertainment business operations with industry icons Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch committing their vast empires to the cause." According to the conference brochure, this is "the only summit on how the entertainment industry can implement corporate environmental strategies, make eco-sensitive choices, stay competitive... and set the green standard for companies everywhere."

The conference is hosted by iHollywood, which is organizing other related conferences:
January 5, Las Vegas, Tech Goes Green Breakfast
March 3-4, San Jose, Business Goes Green
April 2008, NYC, Business Goes Green
June 2008, Las Vegas, Tech Goes Green

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Prahalad Named World's Most Influential Management Guru

CK Prahalad has been named the world's most influential living management guru. The Times Online has published The Thinkers 50, their biennial poll of the world's top 50 business thinkers. Prahalad is most recently known (along with Stuart Hart) for co-developing base of the pyramid strategies in their seminal 2002 article and for his best-selling book on the topic.

Of note on this year's list:

  • Bill Gates is #2 on the list
  • Alan Greenspan is #3 on the list
  • Michael Porter, strategist, dropped to #4
  • strategists are on the rise, capturing ten of the top 50 slots and accounting for four of the top ten
  • there is also a rise of Indian thinkers
  • Al Gore is #41 on the list
  • there are only three women in the top 50, down from four last time
You can read the article here and see the list here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Whole Foods Restricts Top Officials' Online Activities

According to the Wall Street Journal, Whole Foods Market Inc.'s board amended the company's code of business conduct last week to sharply restrict online activities by the grocer's officials. This was done in response to Founder & CEO, John Mackey's, online postings (under the psuedonym Rahodeb) about competitor and merger target Wild Oats (read the CNNMoney story).

The new code bars top executives and directors from posting messages about Whole Foods, its competitors or vendors on Internet forums that aren't sponsored by the natural-foods chain.

Studies Offer Insight Into Conscious Consumers' Purchases & Investments

Two studies have recently been released that may be of interest to readers: the "BBMG Conscious Consumer Report" (a national survey on purchasing behavior and social values) and "Carbon Beta© and Equity Performance: Moving From Disclosure to Performance" (a study that evaluates the relationship between a companies' climate change plan and their financial performance).

Among the key findings of the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report (by BBMG):

  • Health and Safety is Most Important. Consumers’ most important issues are their personal health and safety, such as safe drinking water (90%), clean air (86%) and finding cures for diseases like cancer, AIDS and Alzheimers (84%). By comparison, only 63% describe global warming as the most or a very important issue.
  • Greater than Green. Americans readily self-identify as “conscious consumers” (88% well, 37% very well), “socially responsible” (88% well, 39%very well) and “environmentally-friendly” (86% well, 34% very well). Fewer respondents self-identify as “green” (65% well, 18% very well), which is viewed as more exclusive.
  • Beyond Convenience. When making purchases, convenience (34% very important) has been edged out by more socially relevant attributes: where a product is made (44% very important), how energy efficient it is (41% very important) and its health benefits (36% very important).
  • Most Socially Responsible Companies? Whole Foods Market (22%) tops the list of the survey’s most socially responsible companies, followed byNewman’s Own (19%), Wal-Mart (18%), Burt’s Bees (17%) and General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and Ben & Jerry’s (all 16%).

Another interesting report just released is "Carbon Beta© and Equity Performance: Moving From Disclosure to Performance" (by Innovest).

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Companies’ risk exposures to climate change varies widely, both between and even within different industry sectors and geographic regions
  • Companies with the most robust risk management architecture and ability to seize competitive opportunities on the upside have tended to out-perform their same-sector peers financially over the past three years
  • The “Carbon Beta© premium” for leading companies appears to be growing larger over time, as regulatory regimes tighten around the world
  • Non-verified, company-provided information provides an extremely poor and limited basis for actual investment decisions. More in-depth company research is clearly required

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

DOE Seeks Entrepreneurs to Help Commercialize Clean Tech

The Department of Energy has announced their Entrepreneur in Residence program to work in one of three National Laboratories side-by-side with their researchers with the intent to help commercialize energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

"Selected entrepreneurs would conduct technology assessments, evaluate market opportunities, formulate preliminary business cases, and propose business structures for start-up enterprises, as well as recommend policy and business practice modifications to the National Laboratories to refine their approaches to moving technology into the commercial sector."

Deadline for applications is December 21, 2007.

Target Corp. to Further Reduce PVC Usage

According to the Wall Street Journal, Target Corporation has announced they will further reduce PVC usage in packaging and products. "PVC is made with vinyl chloride, which the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a human carcinogen." The company's plan is "to identify PVC alternatives, efforts to make the company's place mat and table linen categories nearly phthalate-free by spring, and efforts to find PVC alternatives in most toy categories for fall 2008. The company said all children's lunch boxes and utensils in Target's own brands are now PVC-free."

For more information on PVC, check out this site by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and the "Sam Suds" animated video.

November 10: Green Gatherings for Obama

This Saturday, November 10th, "supporters across the country will host Green Gatherings for Obama. The goal of the events will be to sign up new supporters while participating in an environmentally focused activity."

Hillary Clinton Releases Energy & Climate Plan

Hillary Clinton has released her plan to address the energy and climate crisis. Here is the Grist commentary: "It is thoughtful, comprehensive, and though disappointingly conventional in a few areas, inspiringly bold in others. With the release of Clinton's plan, all three Democratic frontrunners for the presidency now have visionary, far-reaching energy plans that would fundamentally reorient the country away from carbon-intensive energy and toward energy efficiency and renewables. It is difficult to think of a another policy issue on which the ground has shifted so far, so fast, and difficult to think of another policy issue on which the gulf between the two political parties is so vast and striking." Read the full review here.

In a previous post, I mentioned the list compiled by League of Conservation Voters on the "green" position of each of the presidential hopefuls. Grist has also published their own review of each of the candidates.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

EDUN - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

"EDUN is a socially conscious company launched by Ali Hewson and Bono with New York clothing designer Rogan Gregory. Our mission is to create beautiful clothing while fostering sustainable employment in developing areas of the world. EDUN is at the forefront of ethical fashion and organic clothing."

"In an effort to create a truly sustainable global community, EDUN has established the Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI). The Initiative will work towards improving the livelihoods of communities in Africa by promoting greater investment in sustainable and ethical production of conservation-friendly agricultural products. CCI will focus in particular on cotton grown organically or through methods that are part of a transition from conventional to organic production. Another focus of CCI is to incorporate sustainable conservation agricultural practices and the protection of wildlife. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) currently works on sustainable conservation farming with farmers in Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia."

In addition to the EDUN retail collection, "edun LIVE is a B2B solution for anyone who wants ethically produced t-shirt blanks. Launched by Ali Hewson and Bono, our mission is to drive sustainable employment in sub-Saharan Africa through high-volume sales of blank t-shirts." As part of edun LIVE, they have created edun LIVE on campus, a partnership with Miami University of Ohio, to sell t-shirt blanks to campus organizations with the goal to eventually expand to additional campuses.

EDUN and edun LIVE products are currently produced in India, Peru, Tunisia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius and Madagascar. They work with Verite for third-party monitoring and reporting of socially responsible business practices.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Use One Paper Towel - Help Reduce Waste Up To 80%

Did you think you needed a lesson on how to dry your hands? Well, thinks you do! Did you know most people use 3-5 paper towels when drying their hands? If each of us could use just ONE paper towel to dry our hands, we could reduce waste by up to 80%. One towel...a better idea than one square.

Professionalizing the Sustainability Field

The field of sustainability is still in its infancy, it is growing rapidly, and it is still highly fragmented. Recognizing this, some folks are trying to bring a sense of community, professionalism, and standardization to the field. One group is the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, which is attempting to create a professional society for sustainability professionals, and another is the Balaton Group. Also, Alan AtKisson is working on a professional code of ethics and seeks your feedback on A DRAFT Professional Code of Ethics for Sustainability Professionals.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Grameen America

From ABC News: Grameen America has opened in a small office in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, NYC. In following the Grameen tradition, the goal is to provide an effective, sustainable and measurable response to poverty in America, with a focus on entrepreneurial women and immigrants. And at Grameen America, if you don't have credit, you could be the perfect customer.

The concept behind the Grameen bank is simple: Charge affordable interest, encourage small, regular repayments, and provide ongoing support to every borrower. But there's another key ingredient -- the so called "secret sauce." Clients are organized into borrowing groups of five persons, and individual business loans are made to group members who are supported by the group. During regular group meetings, the members use peer pressure to encourage the other borrowers to repay their loans.

The bank itself is a profit-making business owned by the shareholders, who are the borrowers. So any profit goes back into making loans.

ABC recently aired two interviews with Muhammad Yunus: Yunus: Crediting America and Small Loan Revolution Comes to the U.S.

Read the full ABC News story here.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Yogurt in the BOP: Yunus & Danone Partnership

Muhammad Yunus and the French company Danone have partnered to create a social business enterprise in India.

According to Fortune magazine, Danone will work with Yunus to build a factory that makes yogurt. The yogurt would be fortified to help curb malnutrition and priced (at 7 cents a cup) to be affordable. All revenue from the joint venture with Grameen would be reinvested, with Danone taking out only its initial cost of capital, about $500,000, after three years.

The factory - and ultimately 50 more, if it works - will rely on Grameen microborrowers buying cows to sell it milk on the front end, Grameen microvendors selling the yogurt door to door and Grameen's 6.6 million members purchasing it for their kids. It will employ 15 to 20 women.
And Danone estimates that it will provide income for 1,600 people within a 20-mile radius of the plant. Biodegradable cups made from cornstarch, solar panels for electricity generation and rainwater collection vats make the enterprise environmentally friendly.

Rethinking the divide between profit motive and social good is an emerging trend for business, and Yunus is at the forefront of the movement. "If we can create this," Yunus says, "the world will be a much better place."

The factory, Grameen Danone, opened last year.

Clorox Acquires Burt's Bees

The Clorox Company has announced they will acquire Burt's Bees, a leader in the natural personal care category. "The acquisition of Burt's Bees is strongly aligned with Clorox's Centennial Strategy to pursue growth in areas aligned with consumer "megatrends" in health and wellness, sustainability, convenience and a more multicultural marketplace."

Clorox states, "With this transaction, we're entering into a new strategic phase for our company, enabling us to expand further into the natural/sustainable business platform. The Burt's Bees® brand is well-anchored in sustainability and health and wellness, and we believe it will benefit from natural and "green" tailwinds."

Clorox has also recently introduced their Green Works line of natural cleaning products. "The products' ingredients come from natural sources like coconuts and lemons. They're biodegradable, formulated to be nonallergenic, not tested on animals and packaged in bottles that can be recycled. "

Wal-Mart, Clinton Climate Initiative Announce Partnership

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and the Clinton Climate Initiative today announced a partnership to help bring environmentally-friendly technologies to cities across the United States and around the world. The two groups will explore ways to use their purchasing resources to lower prices on sustainable technologies such as energy efficient building materials and systems, energy efficient lighting and clean energy products.

“This shows what can be achieved when business, government and the non-profit sector work together on some of the biggest challenges facing the world today,” said Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “By combining our resources, we can help drive innovation, create new technology markets and ultimately reduce this country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

As part of the partnership the two organizations will:

  • Collaborate regarding the design and discovery of new products and best practices related to environmentally-friendly technologies. This includes working together to develop specifications for new products and test new products.
  • Work together to source new products, again sharing specifications as well as suppliers. This also includes going to market at coordinated times in order to maximize purchasing power and drive down costs.
  • Designate a representative from each organization to coordinate with Wal-Mart’s building team, the Clinton Climate Initiative and its member cities.
  • Continue to seek opportunities for the two organizations to collaborate.

Read the full story here.

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