Friday, May 30, 2008

Under Pressure, White House Issues Climate Change Report

From the New York Times, May 30, 2008:

The Bush administration, bowing to a court order, has released a fresh summary of federal and independent research pointing to large, and mainly harmful, impact of human-caused global warming in the United States.

The report, released Thursday, is online at, along with a new report updating the administration’s priorities for climate research.

Most of the findings, like the spread of warmth-loving pests and the inevitable loss of low-lying lands to rising seas, are not new. But the report included new projections of how the poor, elderly and communities with lagging public-health and public-works systems will face outsize health risks from warming.

Among the report’s new conclusions on health: “An increased frequency and severity of heat waves is expected, leading to more illness and death, particularly among the young, elderly, frail and poor.” It added that deaths from cold would decline, but said uncertainties on both projections made it impossible to characterize the overall risk.

It gave high odds (essentially a two out of three chance) that Lyme disease and West Nile virus would have expanded ranges because of warming. The report gave the same odds that some food- and water-borne diseases would also increase among susceptible populations, but said “major human epidemics” were unlikely as long as public-health systems remained effective.

Under a 1990 law, presidents must submit a report to Congress every four years summarizing what is known about impacts of climate change and other global environmental problems on the United States.

The last such assessment, undertaken in the Clinton administration and published in 2000 in the early days of the Bush presidency, was attacked by groups and industries opposing restrictions on greenhouse gases. References to it were deleted from some government reports by political appointees in the White House.

Environmental groups sued to force the completion of a new study. In court, the White House contended that a series of more than 20 studies requested by President Bush in 2003 satisfied the 1990 law, but Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of Federal District Court for the Northern District of California rejected that assertion last August and ordered a comprehensive assessment to be published by the end of May.

“This assessment is an example of what federal scientists can and should be doing when they are freed from political interference and allowed to actually do their jobs,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who was the lead author of the 1990 law, strongly criticized the White House.

“The three-year delay of this report is sadly fitting for an administration that has wasted seven years denying the real threat of global climate change,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “In these lost years, we could have slowed global warming and advanced clean energy solutions, but instead America’s climate change strategy has been at best rhetorical, not real.”

Published: May 30, 2008

Wal-Mart Offers Recycling for Fairbanks

In the absence of a community recycling program, the Fairbanks, Alaska Wal-Mart has stepped in to offer local residents the opportunity to bring their recyclables to the store. Wal-Mart employees will manage the community recycling program. They will accept common recyclables, such as plastic, newspaper, aluminum, and cardboard. Items are loaded onto Wal-Mart trucks, transported by train across the state, and then shipped to the state of Washington for recycling.

It is the transport of items that has prohibited the Fairbanks community from establishing a feasible recycling program of its own in the past. However, since Wal-Mart already has the logistics in place for its store recycling initiative, it will simply include the community's recyclables alongside its own. "Managers and associates at the retail store say recycling falls in line with corporate efforts to reduce the corporation’s environmental footprint...(and) we’re all excited to be able to help the community out."

World Naked Bike Ride in June

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an ongoing worldwide event (started in 2004) to raise awareness of "indecent exposure to vehicle emissions" and "the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil and other forms of non-renewable energy." In North America, most rides take place in June. Upcoming rides are planned for:

Boulder CO (June 7)

Burlington VT (June 7)

Montpelier VT (June 7)

New Orleans LA (June 7)

Washington DC (June 7)

Ottawa ON (June 7)

Vancouver BC (June 7)

Victoria BC (June 7)

Nelson BC (June 7)

Mexico City (June 7)

Chicago IL (June 14)

Portland OR (June 14)

San Francisco CA (June 14)

Toronto ON (June 14)

Black City NV (Aug. 28)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frog's Leap Winery - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Frog's Leap Winery (Rutherford CA) was founded in 1981 by the Williams family. Frog's Leap Winery is commited to sustainable farming and traditional farming techniques, including dry farming, which requires tilling every ten days to hold moisture and which eliminates the need for irrigation. All wines are made from organically-grown grapes. The Winery has been 100% solar-powered since 2005 and the Hospitality Center and administrative offices are in a LEED-certified building.

Video courtesy ZDNet (added July 17, 2008).

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

Friday, May 23, 2008

O Ambassadors: Children Help Change the World

O Ambassadors is a new school-based program for children and youth which seeks to inspire youth to find solutions to global problems. From their website:

"O Ambassadors™ is an exciting new joint project of Oprah’s Angel Network and Free The Children that will inspire young people to become active, compassionate and knowledgeable global citizens.

The program connects young people in North America with people around the world to create lasting change by working toward the UN Millennium Development Goals. Participants address problems such as hunger, poverty and limited access to education."

You can visit the website to apply to start an elementary or high school club, find educator curriculum, select a world region on which to focus, find other O Ambassadors clubs, and play the O Ambassadors Game. The site offers plenty of resources for students and educators and also offers a community action page for those who want to help.

The O Ambassadors project is scheduled to be the topic of discussion Monday, May 26 on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sustainable Shoes

The most popular keywords searched on our site are "sustainable shoes." Although we have highlighted the following companies before in our "Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week" feature, we thought they are worthy of a second look.

Keen Footwear began in 2003 with their Hybrid design: part shoe, part sandal. Their Ventura shoe line is 100% vegan and created through environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. Their Transport bag collection is created from mostly recycled aluminum and reclaimed rubber from factory floors. Shoe boxes are made of 100% recycled materials, soy-based inks, water-based glues, biodegradable materials, and are smaller than standard shoe boxes, resulting in less materials, labor, and waste. They are currently preparing their first Accountability Report, following the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines, they are seeking Fair Labor Association accreditation, and The Keen Foundation supports environmental and social causes.

Simple Shoes is a company of Deckers Outdoor Corporation and since 2005, they have sought to be the leader in sustainable footwear design and manufacturing. Their vast line of products use recycled plastic, organic cotton, cork, recycled car and bicycle tires, recycled inner tubes, jute, bamboo, hemp, natural crepe rubber, latex, and felted wool. Boxes are made from 100% recycled materials. Through their Toepeeka line of shoes, they donate $5 to for each pair sold.

TOMS Shoes began in 2006. For each pair of these comfy shoes purchased, they will give one pair to a child in need in Argentina or South Africa. To date, TOMS has donated over 60,000 pairs of shoes during Shoe Drops. In 2008, they plan to give away 200,000 pairs of shoes. Shoes are manufactured in China and Argentina following fair labor practices. They have created the nonprofit, Friends of TOMS, where you can give aid to those in need or apply to participate in a Shoe Drop. For Tomorrow: The TOMS Shoe Story, a documentary, recently previewed at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Whole Foods' CEO Mackey "Back to Blogging"

Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey has returned to blogging. You may recall that in 2007, as Whole Foods was planning an acquisition of Wild Oats, it became known that Mackey had been making posts about the two companies on Yahoo! Finance discussion boards under the pseudonym "rahodeb." Whole Foods' Board, the FTC, and the SEC immediately began an investigation under accusations that he attempted to assail his competitor and improve his own company's stock performance. You can read the story in TIME, MSNBC, and NY Times.

In this second post, Mackey points out that "the board affirm(ed) their complete support for me and the SEC recommend(ed) that no enforcement action be made against Whole Foods Market or me." Mackey offers his side of the story, stating that the media selected only a few of his postings and then, he states, "exaggerated, distorted and, in some cases, simply lied about what I actually said. The comments that were taken out of proper context of the overall discussion do not accurately represent the actual spirit of rahodeb’s postings, in my opinion." Mackey also goes on to explain the following points:

  • that he enjoyed the lively online debates;

  • he has a competitive spirit and the right to express his own opinion;

  • he made a mistake in judgment, not ethics;

  • at the time he started posting in this online community, he was a relative unknown and had not become a public figure;

  • he was wrongly accused of attempting to manipulate Wild Oats' stock price and his last posting on the topic was 5 months prior to beginning talks of acquisition;

  • his postings were not an attempt to increase Whole Foods' stock price.

His lesson learned? That he has become a public figure and his public and private lives are closely intertwined and impact one another.

BetterWorld Telecom - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

BetterWorld Telecom (Reston VA) is a telecommunications company providing voice and data solutions for businesses and organizations with social and sustainable missions. They offer local calling, long distance, high-speed Internet, conference calling, and VoIP services for businesses and organizations. Jim Kenefick and Matt Bauer began BetterWorld Telecom in 2003 and their website states, "We are passionate about helping causes that support social justice and the environment."

The company donates 3% of revenues (administered by the BetterWorld Charitable Foundation) to nonprofit organizations through grants that help children, education, fair trade, and the environment. Their goal is to donate $1 million per year by 2012.

BetterWorld Telecom is striving for a paperless operation. When paper usage is necessary, it is 100% recycled or tree-free kenaf paper. The company is also carbon-neutral through a combination of "web-based infrastructure, environmental offsets and proactive environmental policies."

BetterWorld Telecom seeks to "Change the World. One Call at a Time."

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The War Against Climate Change

Richard Branson is being branded the modern day Churchill in the "war on climate change." In a February address to the United Nations General Assembly, Branson said climate change is “The first war that truly threatens almost all human life - a war that to win we must all fight together - one world, one people”. He suggested we must create a "powerful partnership that helps to scale up the best innovations by bringing together business leaders, economists, scientists, environmental groups and other expert organisations to tackle the war against global warming."

"...Like all wars this one may have to be fought on many ‘fronts’. How to extract carbon represents only one ‘front’. It’s a battle that may never be won. We need an overall battle plan. We need a War Room." The War Room should encourage "innovative technological ideas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or adapt to climate change."

Branson quoted Churchill throughout his speech and challenged governments to take action in the war against climate change. “One ought never to turn ones back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!”

If Richard Branson is being compared to Churchill in the "war against climate change," does that make Al Gore our modern day Eisenhower?

Could You Be One of the World's Richest People?

We are all feeling the crunch of rising food and oil prices. Before you complain about how hard it is in these tough economic times, visit the Global Rich List calculator which allows you to input your annual income and see how your income compares to others worldwide. Okay, so you're no Bill Gates. But I'd bet you fare pretty well. So consider how rising food and oil prices are affecting those with lower incomes, particularly those living on less than $2/day.

The Global Rich List calculator is the work of Poke (PokeLondon & PokeNewYork), a creative company for interactive media. The Global Rich List calculator seeks to "make people aware of the big injustices in the world. Please donating some money for the people in need." They encourage you to donate JUST ONE HOUR'S SALARY and the calculator explains how far that money will go to do some good. Donations are given through CARE International which helps people in 70 of the world's poorest nations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Where to get a Business Degree in Sustainability

Degrees and certificates in sustainable business are on the rise. There are a number of resources to find those programs.

While the resources above allow you to assess how much you'll be exposed to social and environmental issues within the curriculum, some students want to make sure they get a degree or major in sustainable business. Here is our list of known schools with majors or certificates in topics related to sustainable and responsible business. As new degree programs or certificate programs arise, we attempt to keep an updated list on our check back often.

Alliant International University
Aquinas College
Arizona State University
Bainbridge Graduate Institute
Ben & Jerry's Climate Change College
Blekinge Institute of Technology
Brandeis University
California College of the Arts
Clinton School of Public Service
Colorado State University
Dominican University of California
Duquesne University
Goddard College
Green Mountain College
Illinois Institute of Technology
Maharishi University of Management
Marlboro College
Michigan Technological University
New College of California
Northwestern University
Nottingham University
Portland State University
Presidio School of Management
Royal Holloway, University of London
San Francisco State University
Saybrook Graduate School
Unity College
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Denver
University of East Anglia
University of Michigan
University of North Carolina
University of Oregon
York University

NOTE: Please check our website (in the right sidebar) for the most up-to-date list. Additional schools are listed there.

UPDATE: Please also see our more recent post for online degrees in sustainable business and our list of best business programs in sustainability.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

sweetriot - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

sweetriot (NY NY) makes "all-natural chocolate treats called ‘peaces’, and we work to create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation." sweetriot gets their all-natural cacao from countries of origin in Latin America and abides by ethical and fair trade sourcing. The finished dark chocolate-covered cacao goodies are packaged in recycled and reusable tins featuring the work of emerging artists. If you don't have local recycling facilities, they encourage you to return your tin to them for recycling.

sweetriot offsets all employee travel and office emissions and offers customers the option to offset CO2 emissions for shipping their order. The company promotes fair HR practices and work-life balance and they also support nonprofits that share similar values and ideals. sweetriot was founded by Sarah Endline in 2005.

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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Could "Slow" Be Good for Business?

The Slow Movement (Carl Honore, In Praise of Slow, 2004) is gaining popularity, as evidenced by articles in the New York Times, on CNN, and CNet News. "Slow" is about taking time to build a (local) connection and gain enjoyment and quality from everything we do in today's fast-paced world; it's about taking time to experience our world and our activities instead of rushing through life.

The Slow Movement began in the food industry as Slow Food, using local sustainable agricultural products as an alternative to factory farmed, genetically modified, and/or fast foods and a return to the home cooked meal and family time. The slow movement has now spawned other "slow" applications:

  • slow travel - using public transportation, bicycles, walking, and trains as an alternative to high emissions automobiles and airplanes and taking time to immerse yourself in the local experience

  • slow shopping - buying local, organic, and/or fair trade as an alternative to items mass produced abroad; shopping at local stores and markets as an alternative to mass retailers; shopping at second-hand stores as an alternative to new merchandise

  • slow sport & slow exercise - enjoyment of yoga, tai-chi, Pilates, and other physical sports and exercises which still offer health benefits while promoting calmness and relaxation

  • slow design - designing safe non-toxic products for cradle-to-cradle usage (recycled new uses) instead of cradle-to-grave (throw away)

  • slow work - taking time to enjoy your workplace and job and taking time to rejuvenate as an alternative to the hurried fast-paced stress-filled days we often have at work

  • slow money - investing longterm in local sustainability projects (and accepting the possibility of slower returns) as an alternative quick returns in corporate stock investments

  • slow cities - cities designed for pedestrian and bicycle usage as an alternative to cities designed for automobiles and taking time to get to know our town and neighbors

  • slow books - taking time to enjoy reading

  • slow schools - returning to basics in education, connecting children to learning, involving parents in learning, bringing "slow" values to children

  • slow thinking - seeking deeper understanding, taking time to collect your thoughts, recapturing the imagination and creativity of childhood

  • slow living - appreciating and implementing the value of slowing down our lifestyles

  • slow medicine - "an approach that encourages less aggressive — and less costly — care", particularly for the elderly

  • slow sex - need we say more?

Slow Business

Could "slow" be good for business? The term "slow business" generally has negative connotations referring to a decrease in business activity - which results in decreased profitability and oftentimes reduced hours or layoffs for employees.

The Industrial Revolution, the Technological Revolution and Globalization are business eras that have continued our push for increased speed, quantity, and domination. Perhaps it's time for "Slow Business" and for a shift toward connection, experience, appreciation, quality, and inclusion.

What would "Slow Business" look like? "Slow Business" would suggest a return to "old-fashioned" business practices:

  • reconnect with the world and with others (with your surroundings)

  • engage local suppliers

  • operate in an ethical and just manner

  • keep your word; nurture trust (with employees, community, suppliers, and all stakeholders)

  • care and concern for others

  • treating others with respect (employees, stakeholders, supply chains, labor)

  • seek to offer a service or product that others genuinely need, rather than creating demand for built products

  • reverance for the natural environment in all your operations and activities

  • allowing employees to nurture the mind, body, and spirit

  • developing relationships and appreciation

  • more down time to allow a focus on quality, enjoyment, and taking time to experience your existence

To learn more about "Slow Business" visit the Sloth Club.

June 2008 Webinars on Sustainability

Upcoming sustainability-related webinars from a variety of companies:

Green City Webinar (May 21)
Virtual Energy Forum (June 10-11)
Greening Your Office 101 (June 11)
Top 10 Green Building Products of 2008 (June 18)
Green Purchasing (June 18)
Carbon Offsetting (June 25)

For a list of archived on-demand webinars, please visit our web site. You'll find them listed in the right sidebar.

Save the emissions - do it online!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Test Your Geography Knowledge & Help

If you enjoy the vocabulary-building game at, then you'll also enjoy Test your geography knowledge and for each location you can find on the world map, will donate up to ten cups of water to those in impovershed areas who are without access to clean water. Donations will decrease the farther you are from identifying the exact location. Donations are funded by advertisers on the site and are sent to the World Food Programme. The site was founded by Chung-Guk Kim.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Take Back the Tap" Student Organizers Wanted

May 13, 2008

"Corporate water hunters are bottling up our most precious resource for profit, but an unstoppable wave of youth activism is growing to stop them. Our organizing fellows will lead the way in ensuring safe, clean, affordable water for everyone. Whether it's running press events, creating coalitions, or mobilizing volunteers, we've got a job that needs you to make it work." -- Annie Weinberg, Take Back the Tap Organizer with Food & Water Watch

We need dedicated and talented fellowship applicants. We provide grassroots advocacy training, a chance to work with an incredible team of leaders, and a blueprint for environmental victory. Can you imagine you or someone you know leading the way on one of the most important environmental and human rights issues of our time?

Food & Water Watch's Take Back the Tap Campaign is building upon a groundswell of activism to address the global water crisis. It's growing fast and it needs leaders like you!

The Take Back the Tap Campaign is hiring right now for Organizing Fellowships for our Summer Session, June 3 through August 15, and the Fall Session, September 1 through December 15. Fellows will come to Washington for an intensive training in media and messaging; volunteer recruitment and management; coalition-building; campaign strategy; and more. Then, they'll go make it all happen in cities and towns across the country.

What fellows will get is a blueprint for changing communities and awakening water consciousness on campuses and beyond. They will help to win real victories to address the global water crisis. Plus we've got $1,000 stipend and college credit is available. The deadline to apply for the summer session is May 15!

To apply, send your resume and cover letter to; or fax to: 202-683-2501. To contact by phone, please call- 202-683-2483. Watch my YouTube video of the job description - and please -- tell others.
Annie Weinberg

Bike Sharing - Could it work for your community or company?

Community bicycle sharing programs are growing in response to overcrowded, inconvenient, or (in some cases) inadequate public transit systems. This "green alternative" is much cheaper than expanding or upgrading current public transit and much friendlier on the environment (and waist). Here are examples of community, campus, and corporate bike-sharing programs that could serve as models for others.

Community bicycle sharing programs go by a number of names, such as White Bikes, Green Bikes, Maroon Bikes, SmartBike, and Yellow Bikes. Yellow Bike programs have been popular in Austin TX, Portland OR, Decatur GA, Pittsburgh PA, Rapid City SD, and Lexington KY. However, retaining the inventory of bicycles is often problematic as the bikes frequently disappear.

In spite of this drawback to bicycle sharing programs, they are also gaining popularity on university campuses, including Middlebury College, Northern Arizona University, University of Vermont, Eckerd College, St. Cloud State University, and Texas A&M.

Have you considered starting a bike-sharing program for your community, campus, or company?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

IT Industry Emissions Exceed Those of Entire Nations

According to a study by McKinsey & Company with the cooperation of Uptime Institute, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of the U.S. information technology (IT) industry already exceeds the emissions of entire nations, such as Argentina, the Netherlands, and Malaysia. At the current pace, emissions are expected to quadruple and the IT industry will exceed the airline industry in emissions by 2020.

According to the study, the U.S. IT industry is increasing energy usage at a rate of 10-20% annually. "If current data center power consumption continues to grow at the current rate, 10 new coal-fired or nuclear power plants will be needed by 2010 and 20 more (for a total of 30) by 2015."

Thus the IT industry is being challenged to increase energy efficiency of current systems, even at the risk of losing some control over data centers. The study reports that most companies could double energy efficiency of data centers by 2012. They propose automobile CAFE-type industry standards for measuring efficiency in conjunction with the following ten suggestions: creating an energy efficiency dashboard, sealing cable cutoffs, turning off and removing excess hardware, increasing temperatures, virtualizing, and upgrading equipment.

How green is your IT?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Virtual Energy Forum: Free Online Conference June 10-11

Mark your calenders for the free two-day online Virtual Energy Forum, June 10-11, 2008. The online event will feature live streaming video, virtual exhibits and booths, live chat, and an emerging technologies showcase. The conference seeks to connect businesses and executives with energy experts, products and services, and discussions of case examples and best practices.

Keynote speakers include Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House) and Mark Ginsberg (U.S. Deparment of Energy) and others. The online conference will feature speakers from Marriott, Unilever, Whole Foods, Raytheon, Microsoft, Whirlpool, Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Harvard University.

There will be six industry tracks for presentations (consumer products, healthcare, government, education, retail and high technology) and five interest tracks (corporate sustainability, green energy, energy management best practices, green IT, and putting renewable energies to work).

McCain Pledges to Combat Climate Change

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - Republican John McCain pledged to take the lead in combating global climate change if elected president in a speech that set him apart from the policies of President George W. Bush.

In remarks he prepared to give at a wind technology firm in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, the Arizona senator said he would seek international accords to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and would offer an incentive system to make businesses in the United States cleaner.

He planned to present a so-called cap and trade system to Congress that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gas emissions for U.S. businesses, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions, so as to "change the dynamic" of the U.S. energy economy.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Social Enterprise Fellows Program Seeks Applicants

Good Morning Africa (GMA) is announcing the GMA Social Enterprise Fellows Program. The program seeks current graduate students in MBA, MPP, or PhD programs or recent graduates of these programs interested in spending 3-9 weeks this summer in Ghana to "learn first-hand what it takes for a venture to survive and thrive in one of the most challenging business environments on the planet!"

The program includes training on business in Africa, consulting experience, and completion of a market study or research proposal. The program is limited to 10 participants and costs vary, depending upon the length of stay.

According to the website, "Good Morning Africa (GMA) is the only US-based, non-profit organization that is solely dedicated to high-growth, social entrepreneurship in Africa. Our organization serves to grow and promote African business leaders who have an exceptional mind for business and a genuine passion for bettering their communities. We are headquartered in Washington, DC, and we have initiated test sites in Ghana, Rwanda, and South Africa."

There are 3 deadlines for applications (dependent upon your departure date): May 10, May 31, and June 24.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Corporations Urge Government Action on Water Crisis

CEOs of 19 mulitnational corporations have sent an open letter to G8 government leaders (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) urging them to work with the international business community in addressing the global water crisis. The letter states, "...water is not just an environmental issue - it is a poverty and development issue, an economic issue, and therefore a business business leaders, we will not achieve meaningful progress unless Governments live up to their responsibilities and commitments....As leaders of the world’s most powerful economies, we therefore call on you to make the emerging water crisis a global priority.”

Signatories include: Diageo; Hayleys PLC; Hindustan Construction Company; Läckeby Water AB; Levi Strauss & Co.; Liqum Oy; Metito (Overseas) Limited; Nestlé S.A.; Netafim Ltd.; PepsiCo, Inc.; SABMiller plc; Siemens AG; Suez; SunOpta Inc.; The Coca-Cola Company; The Dow Chemical Company; Unilever; Westpac Banking Corporation; WPP.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tropical Salvage - Sustainable & Responsible Business of the Week

Tropical Salvage (Portland OR) was founded by Timothy O'Brien in 1999. Tropical Salvage is a tropical wood furniture company that never cuts down a single tree to make their products.

While many tropical wood products are the result of illegally obtained wood from deforestation of tropical rain forests, Tropical Salvage items are made from reclaimed wood and trees from rivers, volcanic debris, and construction sites. According to their website, "we deconstruct old houses, buildings and bridges; we salvage old, wild-growth trees from rivers and lakes; we salvage trees felled by floods and landslides caused by Indonesia's annual intense rainy season; and, unique to Tropical Salvage, we mine trees from beneath the ground, where for centuries caches of large, species-diverse trees have laid buried by the consequences of volcanic eruptions."

The wood and trees are then transported to one of their two facilities in Indonesia where artisans build, carve, and finish the wood to create beautiful furniture and decorative items. Items are then shipped to US and Canada for retail sale. You can view the products on their website. The company is currently seeking new retailers to stock their products.

Tropical Salvage is collaborating with the nonprofit Institute for Culture and Ecology to create the Jepara Forest Conservancy, a public forest park and environmental education facility.

"Old wood. New use. Positive change."

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

A Fair, Green, & Just Mother's Day

Here are some of the most popular Mother's Day gifts. However, we would like to suggest a more sustainable choice this year.

Flowers - choose Fair Trade or organic flowers from a number of retailers (check Fair Trade Certified for a list of retailers).

Chocolate - choose Fair Trade chocolate.

Dinner or Lunch - choose a local restaurant that serves local and organic foods, or visit the farmer's market and you do the cooking!

Jewelry - why choose a conflict diamond or ruby when you can choose Fair Trade items or something made from recycled materials? Over 100 retailers are listed on the Fair Trade Federation website.

Gifts - Fair Trade, recycled, natural, or organic gifts of any kind or visit Changing the Present for gifts that benefit nonprofits.

Cards - send eCards through Care2, Blue Mountain Cares, Three Leaf Cards, Mother's Day for Peace, or any number of others that make a charitable donation when you send an electronic card. But you say you want the old-fashioned paper card? No problem. Purchase from (or make a donation to) Komen for the Cure, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Doorways for Women and Families, or Women for Women International.

BOP Business Plan Competition

New Ventures is seeking business plan submissions from entrepreneurs in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. Small-to-medium sized enterprises (SME) with an environmentally- or socially-focused business model are sought. New Ventures is a program of the World Resources Institute that provides business advisory services and access to capital. According to their website, "New Ventures promotes sustainable growth in emerging markets by accelerating the transfer of capital to businesses that deliver social and environmental benefits at the base of the economic pyramid."

Application dates vary for each country. Application materials and information can be found at

Award for Student Research on Campus Sustainability

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has announced a new award for student research on campus sustainability. The Award for Student Research on Campus Sustainability will recognize an undergraduate or graduate student in the U.S. or Canada who has conducted "outstanding student research that advances the field of campus sustainability."

Examples of research paper topics might include:

  • Best practices for a specific type of campus sustainability initiatives.

  • Costs and benefits of campus sustainability efforts.

  • Relationships between campus sustainability and other indicators such as number and/or quality of applicants for admission, alumni donations, number and/or quality of job applicants, campus employee satisfaction, etc.

  • Case studies of campus sustainability programs.

  • A comparative evaluation of different approaches to campus sustainability.

  • An assessment of the effectiveness of strategies used to foster sustainability on campus.

In addition to this new award for student research, AASHE offers two additional awards:

Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards recognize colleges and universities that have made the greatest contribution to campus sustainability efforts.

Student Sustainability Leadership Awards recognizes an undergraduate student "who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting campus sustainability."

Submissions for all three competitions are due August 1, 2008.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

"Goodbye for Nau"

We are greatly disappointed to learn that Nau, Inc. (Portland OR) has closed its doors after only 14 months in business. Last year, we selected Nau as one of our Sustainable and Responsible Businesses of the Week. The company integrated sustainability throughout all its operations, from clothing made of organic and/or recycled materials to tracking greenhouse gas emissions to allowing customers to select an environmental charity for a 5% donation at the time of purchase (which resulted in $223,000 in donations during its time in business).

Nau, Inc. management cited difficult economic times as the cause for failure, stating that it was extremely difficult to attract investors to their revolutionary business model during this time of economic uncertainty. Questions have been raised by others about the impact of a recession on the current green movement. However, critics blame Nau's business model.

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