Thursday, February 28, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
The blog below by Millennial 4 Earth about the Nike take back program made me think about what other big companies are doing. Whether the reason is customer demand, a tidy profit in the resale market, or out of civic responsibility, many big companies are getting in the act. Fewer electronics that we use in our offices and homes are ending up in landfills after their "useful" life and polluting our soil and water. Here is a compilation of some of the "greatest hits".
Sony's take back program has been ongoing since 2000. Sony teamed up with Waste Management and built a recycling program that makes it easy to dispose of electronics in an environmentally-safe way. Bring your unwanted Sony product to any participating Waste Management eCycling drop-off center (in every state) and recycle it for free. Waste Management will collect, store, track inventory and dismantle the products into the form of common raw materials where they can be bought and sold on the global market. In some cases, it is likely that recycled plastics will be purchased for reforming into a new current model electronic product.
Additionally, as a member of the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), Sony encourages consumers to recycle their used rechargeable batteries through RBRC’s recycling program, “Call2Recycle.”
Dell offers consumers the opportunity to recycle unwanted Dell-branded Product for free. Plus, if you buy a new Dell desktop or notebook and select the free recycling option at the time of purchase, they will recycle your old PC and monitor at no cost to you (even if it isn't a Dell-branded Product.)
Best Buy now offers grants to help increase the recycling opportunities available in communities across the country. Grants range from $500 to $1,500 per event, depending on the size of and scope of the program hosted by nonprofit organizations, cities, counties, or public-private partnerships.
Free recycling drop-off kiosks – these kiosks, just inside the door of every single U.S. Best Buy store, are available for consumers to drop off old cell phones, rechargeable batteries, and ink-jet cartridges at no cost.
Appliance Recycling – Best Buy will remove an old or obsolete appliance at no charge from a consumers’ home when a new product is purchased and is being delivered to the home by Best Buy Home Delivery or Geek Squad.
Television Recycling – Best Buy will remove an old or obsolete television at no charge from a consumers’ home when a new product is purchased and is being delivered to the home by Best Buy Home Delivery or Geek Squad.
Mail-in cell phone recycling – New cell phone customers receive free, postage-paid envelopes to mail old phones to ReCellular, our cell phone reuse/recycling partner. In turn, ReCellular donates dollars from their recycling program to Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Recycling events – Best Buy hosts and/or sponsors a series of weekend recycling events at its store parking lots across the U.S.
Best Buy is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Plug-In to eCycling program - , in which it worked with other member retailers and electronics manufacturers in 2007 to voluntarily recycle more than 34 million pounds of electronics in 2007.
Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC) – Best Buy is a proud member of the EICC, a coalition of 26 multinational corporations and manufacturers that deliver the consumer electronics in demand around the world.
- The upper is pieced together from leather and synthetic leather waste from the factory
- The mid-sole uses scrap-ground foam from factory production
- The outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber that reduces toxics and incorporates Nike Grind material from footwear outsole manufacturing waste.
For more information on Nike’s commitment to the environment and their Considered design ethos, check out their corporate social responsibility report on line.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
"Alfred Heineken had an epiphany while on a world tour of Heineken factories. When Heineken was on the Caribbean island of Curacao in 1960 he saw many bottles littering the beach because the island had no economic means of returning the bottles to the bottling plants from which they had come. He was also concerned with the lack of affordable building materials and the inadequate living conditions plaguing Curacao's lower-class. Envisioning a solution for these problems, he found a dutch architect John Habraken to design what he called 'a brick that holds beer.'"
What is Heineken up to today? Their 2006 Sustainability Report is very compelling and shows their well-rounded commitment to the environment. However, it lacks the creativity and chutzpah of their strategy from the 60s. Bring back those bricks!
This could be a powerful demonstration to employees and employers alike. Also might be used for demonstrations to school groups.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This epoch has been discussed since its coining in 2000 by geologist Paul Crutzen, but is gaining steam.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The Economist Intelligence Unit's report, "Doing good: Business and the sustainability challenge" [PDF], surveyed 1,254 senior business executives to find out how, if at all, stock performance correlates to CSR performance:
"There is a link between corporate sustainability and strong share price performance. In our survey, companies with the highest share price growth over the past three years paid more attention to sustainability issues, while those with the worst performance tended to do less. Causality is difficult to establish, but the link appears clear: the companies that rated their efforts most highly over this time period saw annual profit increases of 16% and share price growth of 45%, whereas those that ranked themselves worst reported growth of 7% and 12% respectively. In general, these high-performingcompanies put a much greater emphasis on social and environmental considerations at board level, while the poorly performing firms are far more likely to have nobody in charge of sustainability issues."
"A growing body of evidence asserts that corporations can do well by doing good. Well-known companies have already proven that they can differentiate their brands and reputations, as well as their products and services, if they take responsibility for the well-being of the societies and environments in which they operate. These companies are practicing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in a manner that generates significant returns to their businesses."
What are the solutions? Well, a better coffee option at work might help. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Get a barista machine and provide higher-end coffee
- Add a staffed barista kiosk available in the office part time
- Provide travel mugs and encourage employees to use them
- Provide exclusively organic free-trade coffee – locally grown if possible
- Brew large pots in a standard drip coffee maker and compost the grounds
- Use sugar and cream dispensers rather than individual packets
Would these be more sustainable options? Possibly, depending upon implementation. It’s definitely worth thinking about.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
There is a new social networking site called Greenopolis. It's all about sharing green ideas with a network of people focused on green issues. I didn't realize that "niche social networking" was in, but its a natural progression... like minded groups are bound to want to find each other more easily online.
Let’s start with the card: according to the Greeting Card Association, Americans purchase 7 billion cards a year and they buy most of those cards on Christmas and…Valentine’s Day. Additionally, the “majority of Americans say they prefer the old-fashioned handwritten card or letter to make someone feel truly special.” So what to do? Try electronic cards or environmentally sensitive paper greeting cards with “100% post-consumer content (PCC)” specified.
The dozen flowers you just purchased are very romantic but are very South American and are probably soaked in pesticides. Look for flowers with the VeriFlora certification, which guarantees “that flowers and potted plants have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and meet the highest standards for freshness and quality.” To gain certification, growers and handlers must meet six criteria: sustainable crop production, ecosystem protection, resource conservation and energy efficiency, integrated waste management, fair labor practices, community benefits.
As for the chocolate, finding organic chocolate shouldn’t be that difficult anymore but here are a few. Green & Black’s chocolate is both organic and Fair Trade. Dagoba Chocolate not only features organic chocolate, but their wrappers are 100% recycled and use vegetable based inks. And their facility is 100% powered by renewal energy. If you still haven’t found that perfect bar of chocolate, check out Endangered Species Chocolate, who donates 10% of their net profits to “help support species, habitat and humanity.”
Finally, tell her she has cute shoes. Good luck!
For a complete Valentine’s Day green gift guide, visit here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I work with a number of organizations to make their workplace greener. I spend much of this effort on change management activities. After a while I've started to see patterns in the ways in which people approach going green. I've even started to categorize an organization by what I call their "green profile." The green profile is the unique mix of people in the organization made up of four types:
Greeniacs. This portion of the population will say “yes” to anything when it comes to helping the environment. They have already purchased their solar backpack, are using geo-thermal energy to heat their home and have an electric car (better yet, they bike to work). When it comes to creating a green workplace for this portion of the organization, they are ready to go and probably impatient for their organization to “get with the program.” This group is not afraid to practice what they preach and share with others what they are doing. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy, the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council have large portions of their population that are comprised of this group.
Business Environmentalists. This group is aware of the environment and active in their community when it comes to green issues. They believe there are environmental problems that need to be solved. They also believe that making good choices for the environment are often good business decisions as well and can save costs and increase organizational value in the long run. This group is already engaged in environmentally-friendly behavior; they may recycle, purchase local foods and drive a hybrid. However, they are not first adopters to green technology or ideas – they prefer to see them tested before they invest time and energy taking on something new. A growing number of people fall into this category.
Couch Potato Environmentalists. This group is willing to try new green behaviors, but only if it is easy for them to do so. They are not interested in going out of their way to try something green, especially if it is disruptive to getting their job done. Green strategies that work with this group are about tackling the low hanging fruit (simple changes that minimize labor or costs to the organization). Strategies that affect them personally and make their life easier are also very effective. An example of this might be providing a campus shuttle to minimize single occupancy vehicles. The shuttle service probably saves these folks the hassle of finding a parking space, so they are willing to adopt a new behavior.
Green Skeptics. This group may be annoyed by the constant media attention given to green issues and feel that even if there are environmental problems, the environment is just one of many very important priorities (and perhaps they are champions of one of the other priorities). This group is a small and a decreasing percentage of any organization, but should be acknowledged, particularly if they are in positions of influence. This group may never enroll in a green strategy or behavior, but will need to be considered when planning for target metrics.
How how do you assess your organization? We'll share that on a later post. For now, know that it's important to acknowlege and listen to everyone (those nay-sayers usually have very good points) and keep your focus on enrolling the Greeniacs and Business Environmentalists - they are more likely to lead the organization into a greener future.
Typically when we think of green workplaces, we think of energy efficiency and water use reduction. But a large part of sustainability is the health of employees. Our office offered a health fair today – a great way to get people thinking about how to more sustainably use their bodies. As part of the health fair, the following services were available:
- Basic health screening: This tested emlpoyees cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, body fat and body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. A health counselor was on hand to review the screenings with individuals, provide some basic advice on how to improve scores, and provide outside resources.
- Massage: sadly I did not get to experience this as there were limited slots available.
- Vision Screening: Early identification and treatment can prevent or at least alleviate many of the problems that result from impaired vision.
- Chiropractic Advisor: A Chiropractor was available to provide stress screenings to assess the impact of physical trauma, emotional stress, and chemical toxins on your body.
- Stress-Management Advisor: This session offered relaxation and breathing techniques and stretching exercises specifically designed to relieve tension caused by repetitive office routines; how to utilize aromatherapy; strategies for getting a better night’s sleep; and self-massage techniques for reducing tension in the head, neck, shoulders, and hands.
This is a great way for people who don’t have time to get to the doctor to do a quick check in for huge red flags. One of the senior principals of the office was perhaps the best salesman: “if we’d had this years ago, I would have known to change my lifestyle and could have prevented a stroke.”
Sunday, February 10, 2008
It’s rapidly becoming apparent to the masses that remote work can be good for the environment (less driving, less office space, etc.); however, there are some aspects of remote work that can be hazardous to your health.
- Laptop (6-10 lbs)
- Laptop support (mouse, power, flash drives, etc)
- Other chargers (phone, iPod, etc.)
- Paper/work materials
Having a job where I travel and sometimes work from home, I invested in an ergonomic backpack to help shoulder the weight. This was great…except that I would cram easily 40 lbs of stuff into it…that would mean I need to weigh between 266 and 400 lbs to carry this load (for the record, I do not).
The average American woman weighs 140 lbs (source: http://www.inch-aweigh.com/dietstats.htm) - meaning that the maximum she should carry is 14 to 21 lbs. I’ve remedied my personal situation by purchasing a smaller, lighter backpack, and when my laptop lease is up, I’m going to lobby for a lighter version.
Just something to think about as we transition more toward mobile workforces.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
- Paper, plastic, and metal are recycled
- Yard waste is mulched and used in the yard
- Food scraps are run through the garbage disposal
- Unwanted items are given away to friends or through Craigslist
The city requires weekly trash pickups as part of their municipal code, and as the homeowner does not have one scheduled, has opted to pursue legal action.
Granted, upon further investigation, it appears that there may be some extenuating circumstances related to the city's decision; however, this issue highlights the importance of policy in encouraging sustainable practices, whether in the work place or at home.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
NYC/London Interactive Transit Map: These two web tools by software developer Gregory J. Brail combine transit data and Google Maps to create the easiest way yet to figure out how to get somewhere using public transit (at least in New York and London). By simply clicking (or typing in the address) of your starting point and destination, these interactive transit maps instantly plot the shortest travel route using each city's underground metro.
Walk Score also made the list. Refer to Greenette’s previous post on this resource.
Monday, February 4, 2008
The Air Car is the brainchild of Guy Negre, a French inventor and former Formula One engineer. In February, Negre’s company, Motor Development International (MDI), announced a deal to manufacture the technology with Tata Motors, India’s largest commercial automaker and a major player worldwide. Plenty
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Make your plug for Super Tuesday (Feb 5)! Who do you think will be the strongest on environmental issues? Tell us why and leave your comments below.
Here's what others have to say: Grist, Low Impact Living, CNN, The NY Times
And Treehugger gives advice on what we should be asking the candidates (or all other politicians for that matter):
1. How would your administration plan to reduce global warming emissions?
2. How will your administration work with other nations to reduce global warming pollution worldwide?
3. How would you balance federal funding for public transportation and road construction?
4. How do you respond to industries who try to argue that we have to choose between jobs and clean energy?
5. What are your policies on new coal fired power plants and new nuclear power plants?
Friday, February 1, 2008
I was travelling for business recently and struggled with living sustainably out of a hotel room – I had some successes and some failures. For example, I found a great way to combat purchasing bottled water – refills from the filtered water in the gym rather than the slightly rusty water from the hotel faucet.
Some companies have corporate travel policies that support environmental/social responsibility:
- Preferred rental of hybrid automobiles
- Carbon offset purchasing
- Preference for hotels with green energy/green buildings
Not only should we ourselves create demand with our dollars (and words), but also, we need to encourage our companies to increase their dedication to sustainable travel initiatives.
"Americans send about 38 billion water bottles a year to landfills. Considering the 1.5 million barrels of oil needed to make those bottles, the environmental impact of plastic bottle waste is truly staggering." (from Filter for Good)
So filter your water! It saves money and the environment. The low tech route? A water filter on the faucet or a filter pitcher in the fridge. A slightly higher tech version? Try the Innowave Chiller (pictured.) It filters water three times over from your tap.
And take the pledge to reduce bottled water! Go to Filter for Good and find out ways to reduce bottle waste. You can also "map the pledge" to see how many people have pledged to save bottles in your city.