Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Contests: You Have to Enter to Win!

More contests...for all you creative and competitive readers out there!

Project Slingshot - sponsored by Clif Mojo and Focus the Nation, they want you to propel your creative Global Warming solutions into action. Three winners will receive up to $10,000 to slingshot their ideas into reality. There are 3 categories: outdoor fanatics, artists, and innovators.

How Hip Is It? - HIP Investor has a monthly contest to rate your favorite (or most hated) product! Choose any product on the market – this can be something very HIP (think electric-powered convertible autos, like the Tesla) or a new product (think iPhones) or even something clearly un-HIP (think cigarettes). Then, using HIP’s innovative framework, take an hour to analyze the product’s HIP factor and demonstrate how sharp your HIP lens is. A winner selected each month can win $100, entry to our annual competition AND a chance to be published.

Free Software Helps Save Paper and Trees

GreenPrint World software promises to eliminate those wasteful one-line pages from being printed. 'GreenPrint World is a free version of GreenPrint software for home users worldwide. GreenPrint solves a problem nearly every computer user has experienced: The wasteful pages that seem only to appear after a document has been printed (for example, pages with just a URL, banner ad, legal jargon, or a run-over Excel column). GreenPrint does this by analyzing the document and then highlighting and removing unnecessary pages. GreenPrint also incorporates an easy to use PDF writer, a print preview called GreenView, and a reporting feature, which keeps track of the number of pages, trees, and money saved."

"In an effort to end wasteful printing worldwide, GreenPrint World is available at no cost to home users around the globe. With widespread use we will save over 100 million trees and reduce greenhouse gasses by over 300 million tons. The World Edition is perfect for anyone who wants to eliminate the frustration and waste of unwanted pages and have a positive environmental impact right at home."

There are also two paid versions available, Home Premium and Enterprise. You can compare the features of all three versions at their website.

Home users can download the free GreenPrint World at

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Webinars for February 2008

Interested in learning more about sustainability and green business practices? Here is a list of webinars offered in February from various companies:

Building Projects III: Commercial Interiors & Core and Shell (Feb. 6)
Green Your Office (Feb. 13)
Sustainability in Government (Feb. 19)
A Guide to Green Purchasing (Feb. 20)
Implementing a Green IT Program (Feb. 21)
Carbon Offsetting (Feb. 27)
Corporate Sustainability (Feb. 27)
Sustainability Careers for MBAs (Feb. 28)

You can visit our site for the most up-to-date listings we know about and for a list of archived webinars available on demand.

Pedaled Phone Calls: A BOP Startup

Brian Forde and Edgard Cruz are business partners who founded Llamadas Heladas, a national chain of 22 call shops across Nicaragua. They are now embarking on a new venture, Llamadas Pedaleadas, or Pedaled Phone Calls, a bicycle-pedaled mobile cart with public telephones on board.

According to Mr. Forde, "The one essential thing that a cell phone has that a call shop doesn't is a battery, so using parts found in a junk yard we created a constantly recharging battery by pedal power. Electricity is generated as the person is traveling to his destination, if the battery runs low at the destination he can drop the kick stand and start cycling in place. Generating electricity from pedaling allows us to travel to the central park, a remote town or a big festival increasing access to inexpensive telephony anywhere. "

"Because this bike is built for the developing world we had to use parts that could be easily found. To generate the electricity we used an old car alternator that sends the electricity generated to a car battery. The electricity stored in the battery is accessed by an old computer UPS to convert the electricity to 110V. Our goal with this bike is to create a ready made business for local entrepreneurs and to increase access to affordable telephony for bottom of the pyramid (BOP) customers."

BOP entrepreneurs Forde and Cruz expect to begin producing Pedaled Phone Calls carts this month and sell them to aspiring business owners in Nicaragua. Watch a video of their prototype below.

"The 2% Solution" Airs Today

"Focus the Nation will stream a free, live, interactive webcast called The 2% SOLUTION. Join Stanford University climate scientist, Stephen Schneider, sustainability expert Hunter Lovins and green jobs pioneer Van Jones and youth climate leaders, for a discussion of global warming solutions. Audiences can weigh in with cell phone voting. Our goal is 10,000 screenings—and a change in the course of history. "

"To hold global warming to the low end of 3-4 degrees F will require cuts in global warming pollution in the developed countries by more than 80% below current levels by 2050. Put another way, we need to cut roughly 2% of current emission levels a year for the next forty years. The webcast will revolve around the question: can we as a nation get on to this path, and cut global warming pollution 2% a year for the next decade? If so, what would it take?"

The 2% Solution webcast will feature brief discussions of:

  • The expected range of warming: 3-10 degrees F.
  • The possibility of initiating a continental ice sheet collapse, and how long it would take for sea level to rise.
  • The costs of controlling global warming pollution in the near term.
  • The potential for the creation of “Green Jobs” through energy efficiency programs that weatherize and solarize buildings.
  • The idea of a “cap and auction” system, including thoughts on what to do with revenue generated from the auction. (Audiences will be asked to weigh in with a cell phone vote on what they would do with $100 billion!)
  • The Warner Lieberman bill now in Congress as an example of cap & auction.
  • How to address emissions from the developing world: China and India.
  • Campus based initiatives to cut global warming pollution.
The broadcast airs today, Wednesday, January 30, at 8pm EST on Earth Day TV and will be available online for viewing after the live webcast. More than 1700 institutions around the country are participating in Focus the Nation events this week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Low Carb Corporate Diet

Every year, one of the most common New Year's resolutions is to lose weight. But what about the company that resolves to be more environmentally-friendly in 2008? According to Sustainable Business Design Consulting, it's much like following a diet. If your business is interested in reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, there is The Low Carb Corporate Diet™, a step-by-step plan for success to help your company shed those unwanted (carbon dioxide) pounds! The Low Carb Corporate Diet™ follows the following steps and each step is tailored to the company.

  1. Make a commitment - Be clear in understanding your motivation for undertaking The Low Carb Corporate Diet™ (certification, public relations, compliance, etc.). There must be strong commitment in order to ensure your best chance for success. This includes top management, a support or “green team,” and your own commitment. Part of “making the commitment” is also considering the consequences of inaction or business as usual. For a business, this might entail risk assessment.

  2. Measure your starting weight - A greenhouse gas (GHG) audit or carbon footprint of your current emissions is necessary to begin a corporate low-carb diet™. Have an energy audit performed. How many pounds or tons of greenhouse gases or carbon dioxide does your company currently emit?
  3. Analyze your current behaviors and consumption patterns - Where is the company “heavy” in emissions and in need of shedding excess weight? What are the current patterns of energy usage?

  4. Establish your priorities and goals - Where should you start? How many tons or pounds does the company want to shed? Where does the company want to trim the excess? What are the priorities?

  5. Create a plan - Create a detailed reduction plan to help the company reach it's goals. Identify the necessary actions, timelines, and responsible parties.

  6. Implement the plan - Get everyone’s support; you can’t do this alone. Work with the “green team.” Assign responsibilities. This can be challenging and, at times, frustrating; don’t give up.

  7. Measure progress regularly - Most companies will opt for an annual audit to measure progress toward goals.

  8. Review and revise your plan - What’s working and what’s not? What modifications are necessary in the plan?

  9. Celebrate success - Remember to celebrate (and promote) success along the way. Every small success is an accomplishment.

  10. Mentor others - Share your knowledge and experience to help others.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fair Trade Flowers: A Sustainable & Responsible Choice

When you buy fresh-cut flowers, do you consider where they come from? It's very likely they can be traced back to Colombia and Ecuador, the largest importers of fresh-cut flowers in the US.

But just in time for Valentine's Day, Transfair USA now has a Fair Trade Certified flowers website. On the website, you can learn more about fair trade flowers and find locations where you can purchase them. Did you know you can purchase fair trade flowers online through Sam's Club or 1-800-flowers, or in-store at New Season's Market, GIANT Food Stores, or UKROPS?

You can read about the International Labor Rights Forum's "Fairness in Flowers" campaign here.

GRI Readers' Choice Awards

The Global Reporting Initiative's G3 Guidelines have emerged as "the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework....This framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance."

Over 800 reports were initially posted to their website but, through an early round of online voting, they have now been narrowed to a short list and you are asked to read and score them to help select the Readers' Choice of the best sustainability report. Voting closes on January 31, 2008. The winner of the Readers' Choice Award will be featured at the upcoming Sustainability Reporting Today: The Readers' Verdict conference, May 7-9, 2008 in Amsterdam.

Fair Trade Chocolate: A Sustainable & Responsible Choice

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, have you considered fair trade chocolate? You can find a list of fair trade chocolate producers on the Global Exchange website.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of fair trade is "a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade."

Another fair trade chocolate producer of interest is Tony's Chocolonely. You may remember founder Teun van de Keuken, a Dutch TV journalist who discovered that most chocolate can be traced back through its supply chain to child slavery in the Ivory Coast. Since slavery is illegal in his home country and in the Ivory Coast, and the purchase of products from illegal activities is a criminal offense, he surrendered himself to police and (unsuccessfully) sought criminal prosecution against himself.

It is also worth noting that the extended Harkin-Engel Protocol deadline is July 2008, in which chocolate producers are expected "to eliminate the worst forms of child labor." The first deadline in 2005 was not met and an extension to July 2008 was granted.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Breathing Earth: Real-time Counter of CO2 Emissions

Breathing Earth "displays the carbon dioxide emission levels of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates, all in real-time." You can move your cursor over any country, read their current statistics, and watch the counter increase, showing the worldwide number of births, deaths, and tons of CO2 emissions since you started viewing. "The presentation shows the impact different countries have on climate change." Breathing Earth is the creation of David Bleja.

Greyston Bakery - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Greyston Bakery (Yonkers NY) is an example of social entreprenuership at its finest. The for-profit bakery was started to provide employment opportunities and economic renewal for this inner-city community. Their website states, " "We don't hire people to bake brownies; we bake brownies to hire people."

All profits go to support the Greyston Foundation which offers affordable childcare for the community, affordable housing for homeless and low income families, and affordable health care for persons with HIV. The bakery's facility was selected as a Top Ten Green Project in 2004 for their use of natural light, rooftop gardens, efficient machinery, and the use of outdoor air to cool baked goods. The bakery produces many traditional baked goods, but they are probably best known as the exclusive supplier of brownies for Ben & Jerry's ice cream products.

Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week: If they can do it, so can you!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Eco-Afterlife

According to CNN, green burials are a growing trend and "the market is potentially huge." "Biodegradable coffins are part of a larger trend toward "natural" burials, which require no formaldehyde embalming, cement vaults, chemical lawn treatments or laminated caskets. Advocates say such burials are less damaging to the environment."

The Natural Burial Company and The Green Burial Council are featured in the CNN story. Read the full story here.

Chicago Green Business Conference: May 14-16

The Chicago Green Business Conference is slated for May 14-16, 2008 prior to the Green Festival. Their website promises, "You can build the marketplace for green businesses.You'll connect with like-minded business visionaries.You'll learn how green businesses succeed." Speakers scheduled for the Chicago Green Business Conference include Van Jones, Ray Anderson, Joel Makower, Michael Crooke, Jeffrey Hollender, and many others.

Switzerland #1, US #39 on Environmental Performance Index

The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) was launched Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The Index, produced by a team of environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University, found that Switzerland tops the global list of countries ranked by environmental performance."

"The 2008 Environmental Peformance Index (EPI) ranks 149 countries on 25 indicators tracked across six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Pollution, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Climate Change."

According to the EPI, the United States ranks 39th, behind such countries as Norway, Sweden, and many other European nations, Japan, Canada, Iceland, Malaysia, Brazil, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, just to name a few.

P2P Home Loans & Student Loans

Peer-to-peer lending, or social lending, has grown in popularity with a number of nonprofit and for-profit companies now using this business model. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending networks allow customers to borrow money from other individuals rather than borrowing from a bank.

Two new companies are now carving out their own specialized niche in the social lending marketplace:

  • Home Equity Share creates co-ownership in real estate by allowing investors to provide down payment loans, buyers to secure a mortgage, and the two co-own the property.
  • Fynanz allows investors and lenders to fund alternative private student loans to finance a student's higher education.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Green Festivals: Parties With Purpose

Green Festivals, a joint venture between Global Exchange and Co-op America, bring together "local and national socially responsible businesses and environmental, social justice, and community organizations." They promise "more than 200 visionary speakers and 400 green businesses in each city."

This year's schedule of Green Festivals includes:

April 12-13 in Seattle

May 17-18 in Chicago

Nov 8-9 in Washington DC

Nov 14-16 San Francisco

Green Festivals promise to be a "party with a purpose!"

Zambezi Organic Forest Honey - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Zambezi Organic Forest Honey (Oxford OH) was founded by two former Peace Corps volunteers who spent time in Zambia Africa. "The Lunda people of northwestern Zambia have wild-crafted honey from wild forest bees for over 500 years. Sustainable organic beekeeping is a way of life for the Lunda people, who use honey as food, to make mead, or as a natural medicine."

"The remote Miombo forests of Zambia have one of the highest densities of wild bee colonies in the world. Spanning more than 11,000 square miles, these pristine forests cradle the headwaters of the mighty Zambezi River. Untouched by modern civilization, this is one of the last remaining biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. By helping Zambian farmers access new markets for their organic honey, we help them to value and preserve their vital forest ecosystem" by generating a viable income from a forest resource other than deforestation.

Zambian beekeepers who register with the company cooperative gain access to free training on sustainable beekeeping, agriculture, and forestry practices; free education for literacy, mathematics, and small-business skills; free beekeeping supplies; and farmers are under no obligation to sell solely to the company, fostering further economic growth of the region. They pay, on average, 40% above market prices for the organic honey and their collective currently has 5000 registered beekeepers. In addition, "Zambezi Honey donates a portion of profits back to Zambia for projects such as malaria prevention, HIV/AIDS education, school scholarships, and rural-income generation grants."

When you purchase Zambezi Organic Forest Honey, you "can have an impact on environmental health and on farmers who live and work halfway around the world."

Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week: If they can do it, so can you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Your Environmental Road Trip" Coming to a City Near You!

YERT (Your Environmental Road Trip) recently passed through Arkansas, The Natural State. According to their website, YERT is "a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, we're exploring the landscape of America's unique approach to environmental sustainability. We believe that Americans want to do the right thing - they just don't want to look strange doing it, and they don't have the time or the means to explore all the options. That's where the YERT team comes in. Follow us each week as we shamelessly bathe ourselves in the best (and weirdest) of America's ecological progress with a mix of outrageous antics, provocative examples, and thoughtful reporting."

You can check out their website for their route, videos and photos of places and people they've visited, and even buy "YERT sherts."

Help "Focus the Nation" on Global Warming Solutions

Momentum continues to build for Focus the Nation. Over 1450 institutions have now signed up to participate and it's not too late for you to sign up, also.

Focus the Nation is an educational initiative seeking to advance discussions on global warming solutions for America. The initiative consists of four components:

The 2% Solution - a free interactive webcast being shown at thousands of schools and faith and civic organizations around the country on Wednesday, January 30 at 8pm EST and available on demand afterwards. The webcast will feature actor and clean energy activist Edward Norton, Stanford University climate scientist, Stephen Schneider, sustainability expert Hunter Lovins and green jobs pioneer Van Jones and youth climate leaders, for a discussion of global warming solutions.

National Teach-In - on Thursday, January 31, educators are encouraged to engage in a national teach-in engaging millions of students and citizens with political leaders and decision makers about Global Warming Solutions.

Green Democracy - urges every Focus the Nation team to end their event the same way, in a round-table dialogue with elected leaders answering questions by a panel of students.

Choose Your Future - from the list of policies advanced on the Focus the Nation website, during the week of January 31st, 2008, students and citizens across the country will vote on five as priorities for action. This campus and citizen endorsed agenda will be held up to political leaders in Washington DC, and state capitals across the nation.

You can click on their interactive map to find Focus the Nation events being planned near you. It's not too late to get involved and plan a Focus the Nation event. Visit their website for more details and to register your event.

World Bank Pledges to Save Trees... Then Helps Cut Down Amazon Forest

According to a story in The Independent, "The World Bank has emerged as one of the key backers behind an explosion of cattle ranching in the Amazon, which new research has identified as the greatest threat to the survival of the rainforest."

"Ranching has grown by half in the last three years, driven by new industrial slaughterhouses which are being constructed in the Amazon basin with the help of the World Bank. The revelation flies in the face of claims from the bank that it is funding efforts to halt deforestation and reduce the massive greenhouse gas emissions it causes."

"Roberto Smeraldi, head of Friends of the Earth Brazil and lead author of the new report, obtained exclusively by The Independent on Sunday, said the bank's contradictory policy on forests was now clear: "On the one hand you try and save the forest, on the other you give incentives for its conversion."

Read the full story here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why Are U.S. Businesses Tackling Climate Change?

"Ahead of the Curve: Business Responds to Climate Change" is a "12-minute documentary film (that) provides new insight into why major US corporations are reducing global warming emissions. Featuring interviews with business executives including PG&E CEO Peter Darbee, Dupont CEO Chad Holliday, and Johnson & Johnson VP Brenda Davis, the short film provides a whirlwind tour of a major trend to watch in the business sector."

The documentary was created by Sea Studios Foundation (Monterey CA), a nonprofit "team of award-winning filmmakers, scientists and strategic communicators...dedicated to raising awareness of all the ways human life is entwined with the natural environment and motivating action on urgent threats to our planet’s health." The documentary was funded by The Rockefeller Brothers Fundand The Relations Foundation.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Number of CSR Jobs Increased by 35%

Even though there are more socially responsible jobs available for business school graduates than ever before, it's not enough to meet the growing demand, according to a report released yesterday by Net Impact and Ellen Weinreb Recruiting. The report found "CSR jobs at two leading business job sites growing at 37 percent per year." The fastest growing sectors are in clean technology, consumer products, and public relations. They also report that the "top multinational corporations advertising CSR positions include Disney in Burbank, California, Nike in Beaverton, Oregon, and Starbucks, in Seattle, Washington" and the "average disclosed annual salary was $67,000" although they report that companies are "likely to post low salaries as a screening mechanism."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Masdar City: Most Advanced Sustainable Community in the World

"The world's first verifiably sustainable city is to begin construction in Abu Dhabi later this year," according to the WWF. "Masdar City - which will be zero-carbon, zero-waste and car-free - plans to exceed the requirements of the 10 sustainability principles of the One Planet Living programme, a global initiative launched by WWF and environmental consultancy BioRegional. It is expected this will make it a global benchmark for sustainable urban development. "

"A model of the Masdar City will be unveiled on January 21, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi" and is expected to be completed and fully functioning by 2012. Masdar City is expected to be "the largest and one of the most advanced sustainable communities in the world."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Earth Class Mail To Open Retail Locations

Earth Class Mail (Seattle WA), a virtual post office, plans to open their first retail store in Manhatten NY within the next two months. In all, they plan to open 18 retail stores across the US and a mail-sorting operation in New Jersey.

According to CNET news, "Earth Class Mail is billed as an efficient, eco-friendly alternative to a post office box and ideal for on-the-go workers. For between $10 to $64 per month, customers have their mail sent to the company rather than a personal address. Earth Class Mail's users recycle 90 percent of mail received, but only 20 percent of mail delivered to someone's door gets recycled, according to the company."

Earth Class Mail was selected as a Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week on our blog last year (read the post here).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Sustainability of Corn-Based Products

Corn-based products are considered to be environmentally-friendly because they are an alternative to petroleum-based products. Many products are made from corn, such as clothing items, carpet, food containers, tires, and now computers. But to be fully sustainable, we must consider the triple social, economic, and environmental impact of agriculture for use in manufacturing products. This is a summary of the ongoing debate.

Social Impact: Food Shortages

Jean Ziegler of the UN states, "Using land for biofuels would result in massacres" due to a reduction in the amount of food aid sent to developing countries by richer ones.

According to the Global Risks Report 2008 from the World Economic Forum, "Food security, at the nexus of a number of issues from energy security to climate change and water scarcity, may be emerging as one of the major risks of the 21st century....The consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable communities, may be harsh."

Other foods, such as agave plants (for tequila), are now being supplanted by the more profitable corn crop.

Economic Impact: Higher Prices

The Global Risks Report also states, "In 2007, prices for many staple foods reached record levels. The price of corn in late 2007 was 50% higher than 12 months previously. The price of wheat was double. Global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and, as a result, world food supply is vulnerable to an international crisis or natural disaster."

"In 2007, (UK) food and drink prices rose at their fastest rate in 14 years, at 4.7%. In the US, food prices were up 4.4% year-over-year at the end of 2007 – double the rate of non-food, non-energy inflation – partially due to increased acreage devoted to corn to make ethanol." Food prices increased even more in developing countries.

Environmental Impact: More Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Research has shown that US corn ethanol has a worse life cycle impact on the environment than gasoline, partly because it takes more energy to produce. And research has also shown that corn-based cups and food containers ranked 2nd (of 4 plastics products) in energy usage, only behind PET plastic containers (frequently used for soft drink bottles). And deforestation is occuring in order to plant palm oil and soya for biofuels.

In using corn and other agricultural crops for the manufacture of products, we must consider the triple social, economic, and environmental impact in order to be fully sustainable.

Friday, January 11, 2008

White Bear Racquet & Swim - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

White Bear Racquet & Swim (White Bear Lake, MN) has fully embraced sustainability.

The sustainability section of their website outlines the many initiatives that they have undertaken in their quest for a more environmentally-friendly facility. Here is a sampling:

  • They replaced incandescent lights and increased natural lighting, both of which resulted in decreased energy usage.

  • Replaced chlorine with a salt water system.

  • Replaced a five tennis court bubble with a permanent, super insulated tennis building featuring in court radiant heat, cooling and heating powered by ground source heat pumps, and a super efficient lighting system (courts 1-5 in the old bubble used $44,744 worth of natural gas to heat. During the same time, courts 6-10 in the new building used less than $300 to heat.)

  • Installed water-saving showerheads.

  • Made improvements outside, such as taking an acre of land they used to water, mow, and fertilize and restoring it to a short-grass praire.

  • Reduced waste.

  • Use local and organic foods.

  • Switched from chemicals to natural green cleaning.

  • Office furniture is made from renewable or recycled materials and can all be recycled.
White Bear Racquet & Swim was acquired in September 2007 by the "big box" of fitness centers, Life Time Fitness.

Why do we highlight sustainable and responsible businesses each week? To show the ways in which for-profit businesses are looking beyond profit and are seeking to address their environmental and social impact. Sustainability goes beyond the product sold or service offered and attempts to incorporate positive impacts through all aspects of the business. We hope to show the wide array of possibilities across various businesses and industries.

Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week: If they can do it, so can you!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"People's Car" Unveiled

Tata Motor's much anticipated "People's Car" has been unveiled! As promised, Tata Motors has just revealed the car created for consumers in emerging markets at an Auto Show in New Delhi, India, despite much criticism and controversy. The Tata Nano will cost Rs 1 lakh (about $2700), meets Bharat Stage-III emission norms and can also meet the Euro 4 norms, has air conditioning but no power steering, gets 20 kmpl in the city and 26 kmpl on the highway, has passed the full-frontal crash and the side impact crash, and comes in one standard and two deluxe versions.

Tell Us What You Want: Help Us Improve Our Site

Do you have suggestions for what we should include on our site? We have put a brief survey on our site asking what items you would like to see increased on our site in 2008.

More "Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week" features? Posts notifying readers of upcoming sustainability- and CSR-related webinars? More about the links on business education programs in sustainability and CSR? Keep you posted on upcoming conferences in sustainability and CSR? More coverage of the research on sustainability and CSR? More sustainability and green tips for businesses? More coverage of news items related to sustainability and CSR? More coverage of news and items related to the base of the pyramid? Other items (use the comment feature to suggest other items)?

Your votes will help us increase items of interest to our readership and decrease items of less interest. Hurry and get your voice heard! Voting ends January 30th.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency

If you are in search of financial incentives to help your workplace become more sustainable through energy efficiency, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). You can click on the map to find incentives for your state, you can sort data by project type (solar, net metering, etc.), you can sort data by incentive type (loans, grants, etc.), and you can search by sector (nonprofit, industrial, school, etc.).

The website database is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Upcoming Webinars

There are several sustainability- and corporate social responsibility-related webinars coming up in January (offered through various companies) that may interest our readers.

Also check out our site for a list of several archived webinars that are available on demand.

Sustainability Contests: Put On Your Thinking Caps!

Here are several contests related to sustainability that might interest you. Follow the links for more details, deadlines (some are just a few days away!), submission guidelines, and prizes.

ReVision offers several contests "generating visionary ideas for what can and should be in the design of urban space." Current contests cover energy, transportation, urban planning, architecture, and urban economies.

Super-Cars Shout Out Competition "allows you to place a simple, colorful flier on high mileage cars that you encounter, showing the vehicle owner that she or he has done something worthy by choosing a leading-edge (in fuel efficiency) vehicle." Snap a photo of your flier on the vehicle, upload it to their website, and wait to see if you've won!

Greener Gadgets and Core 77 are hosting a competition to" seek out design innovations for greener electronics." Your new and innovative solution should "address the issues of energy, carbon footprint, health and toxicity, new materials, product lifecycle, and social development."

The Rockefeller Foundation is co-sponsoring a contest search for a design of a solar-powered wireless router composed of low-cost, readily available hardware and software components. This router is to become part of a reliable Internet communication network connecting metropolises and remote towns in developing countries. The challenge requires only a written proposal that must be registered through InnoCentive (challenge 5644660).

Quantum Shift TV is hosting the New Year's Eco-reSolutions video contest "about what you plan to do for the earth this year. It could be personal, political, local or global. Any action you can think of that moves us closer to a sustainable future."

Quantum Shift TV is also hosting the Be the Change! Share the Story! contest for schools to showcase their "environmental, human rights or social justice project."

EcoCar The NeXt Challenge is open to university and college engineering students to "build and test advanced vehicles with a wide range of potentially feasible production technologies that can be used in future cars and light trucks to achieve much higher energy efficiency and lower GHG emissions."

Monday, January 7, 2008

Carbon Forum America Trade Fair & Conference

The Carbon Forum America Trade Fair & Conference will be held February 26-27, 2008 in San Francisco, CA. From their website, the conference "is a response to the demand for an organized and regulated market. Unlike others, CFA is the first US industry event which combines a Trade Fair with a Conference."

The conference will offer a broad selection of workshop topics, including corporate carbon footprint and strategies, solar energy and energy efficiency, and the carbon market.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Great Lakes Brewing Co. - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Established in 1988 by brothers Patrick and Daniel Conway, Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH) is a "principle-centered, environmentally respectful and socially conscious" microbrewery focused on the triple bottom line. They recycle waste, use recycled products, and have invested in energy efficiency.

To pursue sustainability even further, they have incorporated "zero waste initiatives" into day-to-day operations. "Our objective is to make full use of the by-products generated from the brewing process," says Patrick Conway. "By taking a 'full circle' approach, we are making the most of potential savings and income-generating opportunities as the raw materials used to produce our products are continuously transformed into a host of food-generating and energy-saving opportunities." The ultimate goal is to mimic nature, where 100% of resources are used in closed-loop ecosystems. This is accomplished in several ways. Certain bread and pretzels found on the menu are made using grains from the brewing process. Brewery grains are also used as a substrate for growing organic shitake and oyster mushrooms. And they also compost waste to create fertilizer to grow herbs and vegetables for menu items. In addition, their beer delivery truck, "The Fatty Wagon," runs on 100% pure vegetable oil.

All of this is quite impressive--and the beer is award-winning, too!

Friday, January 4, 2008

One Laptop Per Child & Intel Part Ways in Dispute

From The Times Online, Jan. 5: Laptop charity hits out as Intel leaves project after dispute

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of a charitable project to provide cheap laptop computers to developing countries, yesterday accused Intel of trying to profiteer from the world’s poorest children.

His comments came after the chip maker angrily abandoned the non-profit venture that is trying to bridge the technology divide between rich and developing countries by selling $100 (£50.60) computers to some of the world’s poorest youngsters.

Mr Negroponte said: “We . . . have been disappointed that Intel did not deliver on any of the promises they made. While we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialised. We view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market.”

This week, Intel said it has left the project, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The chip maker joined the project in June and has been at loggerheads with it ever since. Intel had wanted the laptops — called the XO — to contain its own more expensive microchips, rather than those of its rival Advanced Micro Devices. The two parties also rowed over Intel’s conduct when it launched its competing laptop — the Classmate — in countries that had signed up to Mr Negroponte’s computers. OLPC accuses Intel of “disparaging” the XO to boost Classmate sales.

Walter Bender, OLPC’s chief operating officer, said: “Intel wants Intel [products] in everything. But if we had used Intel Inside [chips] in the XO laptop, it would have cost more and been less robust. That would have achieved the exact opposite of what we have set out to do.”
He added: “We have wasted a lot of time and energy with Intel. It has been a huge distraction, trying to realign ourselves with this elephant in the room. We are now in a much stronger position without them.”

Three years ago, Mr Negroponte, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced that he aimed to devise a programme to supply cheap laptops to the world’s poorest children. He proposed to find a way to make laptops for $100 each and wanted to see 150 million school children with XO laptops by this year.

Mr Negroponte also sits on a committee to guard the editorial independence of Dow Jones, the media group acquired last year by News Corporation, parent company of The Times.
The XO has a web browser, a built-in camera and a word processor and is designed to last about five years. OLPC says it can withstand extreme temperatures and being dropped.
Intel says that if it abandoned selling its Classmate computers to countries such as Peru and Uruguay — a key demand of Mr Negroponte — it would harm relationships with its overseas manufacturers and suppliers.

Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, was reported to have said that his company “had reached a philosophical impasse with OLPC”. Intel failed to return calls yesterday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Research: How Green Are Biofuels?

In an article published in Science, "How Green are Biofuels?," authors Jörn Scharlemann and William Laurance have returned attention to a study from last summer by Rainer Zah. Zah and his colleagues' conducted a life cycle assessment for the environmental impact of bioethanol, biomethanol, biodiesel and biomethane. Zah et al. state, "While the use of a number of biofuels can reduce greenhouse gases by more than 30 percent, the cultivation, processing and conversion of the raw materials into usable fuels cause quite an impact upon the environment." The results of their life cycle analysis show that Brazilian soy biodiesel, European rye ethanol, European rapeseed biodiesel, and US corn ethanol all have a worse life cycle impact on the environment than petrol (read the Zah et al. summary or full study).

More "Green" Terminology

As I sort through the many items in my news reader from the holidays, I've run across some new (to me) terminology. So if you would like to expand your green vernacular, here are some terms for you:

  1. "carbon advantage" - Dave Douglas argues in Business Week that "We need companies to go beyond carbon neutrality to something I call "carbon advantage." You can create a carbon advantage for your company in two ways: First, you can use efficiency and resource reduction to provide a fundamental cost advantage in your operations and products. Second, you can use innovation in green products and services to offer customers a competitive advantage, thus differentiating your offerings." Read his full article here.

  2. "greenmuting" - Bob Langert, VP of McDonald's, states that "many companies are reluctant to talk about their environmental efforts because they are concerned they will be met only with criticism. After all, true progress is so hard to define, and achieving perfection on the environmental front is impossible because there will always be ways to improve. But not talking about environmental efforts, or "greenmuting," can be a sin as well." He goes on to offer his list of "The Six Sins of Greenmuting."

  3. "greenflation" - James Kanter of the International Herald Tribune argues (in response to SERT's campaign to legalize alcohol sales in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) that "in the wake of so much publicity, we (are) now undergoing a wave of “greenflation,” where the term “green” is used to justify almost everything and anything, as long as it can make the claim of lowering carbon." Read his full post here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Save the World: Legalize Alcohol

Some residents of Sharp County, Arkansas have a novel idea to curb greenhouse emissions: legalize alcohol. The group Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT) argues that residents of this dry county in northeast Arkansas can travel 70 miles round-trip to legally purchase alcohol, emitting 22 pounds of carbon dioxide for every gallon of gas burned; they argue that a vote to legalize local alcohol sales would help the environment. According to the SERT website, "Legalizing local alcohol sales and other government policies that encourage energy conservation will help save the world from possible catastrophic climate change."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

You Can Help "Focus the Nation" on Global Warming Solutions

Focus the Nation is an educational initiative seeking to advance discussions on global warming solutions for America. The initiative consists of four components:

2% Solution - a free interactive webcast being shown at thousands of schools and faith and civic organizations around the country on Wednesday, January 30 at 8pm EST and available on demand afterwards. The webcast will feature Stanford University climate scientist, Stephen Schneider, sustainability expert Hunter Lovins and green jobs pioneer Van Jones and youth climate leaders, for a discussion of global warming solutions.

National Teach-In - on Thursday, January 31, educators are encouraged to engage in a national teach-in engaging millions of students and citizens with political leaders and decision makers about Global Warming Solutions.

Green Democracy - urges every Focus the Nation team to end their event the same way, in a round-table dialogue with elected leaders answering questions by a panel of students.

Choose Your Future - from the list of policies advanced on the Focus the Nation website, during the week of January 31st, 2008, students and citizens across the country will vote on five as priorities for action. This campus and citizen endorsed agenda will be held up to political leaders in Washington DC, and state capitals across the nation.

You can click on their interactive map to find Focus the Nation events being planned near you. It's not too late to get involved and plan a Focus the Nation event. Visit their website for more details and to register your event.

Our Top Stories of 2007

In case you missed it the first time around, here are our most viewed stories of 2007:

  1. Keen Footwear & Simple Shoes - Sustainable & Responsible Businesses of the Week

  2. One Laptop Per Child Goes BOGO

  3. Green-Collar Jobs are Good Jobs

  4. Have an Idea for a Solar-Powered Router for the BOP?

  5. Richardson's New Energy Revolution to be Presented at GreenXChange Conference

  6. What Toxic Chemicals Are Inside Your Cell Phone?

  7. New CEO for Coca-Cola

  8. Earth Class Mail - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

  9. 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics

  10. GLOBE 2008 Trade Fair and Conference on Business and the Environment

Thanks for your readership and support in 2007! And here's to more sustainable business in 2008!

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