Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Concepts, Green Action, Green Change

As ever I seem to be stumbling upon a lot of wonderful and exciting concepts and actions being taken for environmental change. Here are a few of the coolest....

Carrot Mob - consumer mobs for environmental change

Consumers have the power to make change. Carrot Mob located in San Francisco, CA, the brain child of Brent Schulkin is proving that by organizing consuming mobs for environmental change. They interview businesses and pick one that offers the most toward change. Then organize a large group of consumers to mob the store and buy something. The first mob in March 2008 called 'We Make it Rain' was a resounding success. The mob spent $9,276.00 at K & D Market in a couple of hours. The store committed to spend 22% of the money on greening their store with guidance from the San Francisco Energy Watch Program. And the local SF Food Bank received 366 pounds of food. Carrot Mob has taken off, is growing and has lots of great ideas for the future. The second mob of a Cafe in downtown is currently being organized. You can find out more at Facebook Carrot Mob.

A mob is also being planned in Kansas City at World of Spirits on October 21, 2008. This great new idea is expanding worldwide too. The UK has jumped on board. The first UK Carrot Mob took place September 16, 2008 in London at Redchurch bar. It was a resounding success. A second UK Carrot Mob called 'Maddness in the Minimarket' event is planned for November 6, 2008. According to facebook all of Finland has jumped on board and 2 mobs are currently in the works. This is exciting... grass roots activism at its best! - Random acts of environmental kindness is a website dedicated to offering ideas and stories of people helping each other. They suggest the following ways we can help the environment...

Practice kindness towards the environment. Participate in beach or park cleanups. Reduce air pollution by carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking. Recycle all aluminum, plastic, and paper materials. Cut down on the energy you use by lowering the heat and turning off lights and unused appliances. Learn more about solar energy. As gifts, give houseplants to teachers, friends, or coworkers. Plant a tree in your neighborhood. What a terrific website based on the concept of 'Pay it Forward'. How cool is that!

Sheryl Crow singing in environmental change

Sheryl Crow, singer/song writer and environmental activist is singing about change. Her latest album Detours is her most out-spoken record to date. She says about the album, “the most honest record I’ve ever made. It’s about being forced to wake up.” Sheryl Crow Interview: Can "Detours" Help Pave the Way to a Better World? by Larry West. Sheryl says, "Although I hate that a movement can be inspired by fear, at least people are talking about it, talking about ways they can incorporate green living into their homes and workplaces. If the IPCC reports are right, then we’ll see a third of our species, counting man, become extinct, a thing of the past. It’s very worrisome, but I have to believe that there is hope and that we can incite a sense of urgency in everyone. Our farming community [in Tennessee] is trying to go wind and solar, to remove ourselves completely from the grid. If we’re successful, hopefully we can be an example to other communities of how they can come together, work as a community, and become part of the solution." Thanks for your great work Sheryl!

UK's Big Green Challenge working together for change 

Big Green Challenge, the people-powered innovation prize from NESTA. The £1 million prize fund is designed to encourage and reward people who work together to develop new ways to save energy and lower CO2 emissions by 60% in their communities. 350 projects were entered, of them 10 finalists were selected. Each team of finalists were given £20,000 to develop their ideas further over the next year. Here is a list of the finalists.

Mirror News (12 September 2008) Big Green Challenge: Finalists up for £1million environmental prize. Nesta chief executive Jonathan Kestenbaum told the Mirror: "The fact that we had over 350 communities submitting strong ideas demonstrates there is the passion and knowledge across the UK to devise imaginative responses to climate change. "We are confident the 10 finalists will step up to the challenge of tackling the biggest single issue facing the planet." A very exciting contest can't wait to read who the winners will be. Yahoo!

A few interesting environmental links:

People & Planet an online global resource for environmental issues and solutions and their impact on the peoples of the world.

E - the environmental magazine - online and print magazine which provides independent coverage on a wide range of environmental issues.

Grist, environmental news and commentary - “Grist: it's gloom and doom with a sense of humor. So laugh now – or the planet gets it.” An online environmental magazine with a sense of humor and a little seriousness thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Change Please!!!

The girl who silenced the world at the UN for 5 minutes.

Severn Suzuki a 13 year old Canadian who formed ECHO (Environmental Children's Organization) speaks from her heart to the UN. Her message is powerful and thought provoking.

Severn says, 'I'm frightened for my future. I'm here to speak for all generations to come. I'm afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in our ozone. I'm afraid to breathe the air because I don't know what chemicals are in it. You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it."

But she says so much more. It leaves one pondering if indeed our children's children will even have a habitable planet to live upon.

In the late 1960s I joined with tens of thousands of other young people in Pittsburgh, PA in a peaceful demonstration. We chanted and sang for several hours with exuberant naive hopes of ending the war. Because of our efforts the park was renamed 'Peace Park'. Our message wasn't just about the end of war. It was also about love and respect for each other. The Vietnam war did come to an end eventually. But war didn't! How many wars have there been since? Our message of peace was forgotten. Peace is a collective worldwide vision. It's about love for all of humanity and a peaceful worldwide coexistence. Peace sustains us. It is something we carry forward through generations. Peace is a lifestyle. If we don't live in peace we could ultimately destroy all of humanity and the planet.

As I see it the same message is brought forward again in our Green movement. Living green is about love and respect for ourselves and the planet. Green is a collective worldwide vision which sustains us. It is something we carry forward through generations. Respect for humanity and our eco-system. Green is a lifestyle. If we don't live with this respect we will destroy our eco-system and ourselves ultimately.

Severn's message was given in 1992, 16 years later have we got it? In 2008 we have powerful spokespeople for climate change and perhaps we can turn things around. But we'll only do that if we all jump on board and make changes in our world, governments, societies, businesses and family.

Change begins with me... so I'm doing what I can at home and at work and writing this blog to let you know what I've discovered.  And I trust my little bit is enough...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Extreme Green - 'Zero Waste' Businesses

I just read the latest issue of The McKinsey Quarterly entitled 'Business strategies for climate change'. The report says, "Climate change is top of mind for many executives. We believe that the shift to low-carbon economy is already underway and that businesses must get ready for it, especially in energy, transport and heavy industry." The report suggests that businesses utilize existing methods to lower carbon output and suggests that it will be necessary to develop new low-carbon technologies to meet carbon reduction goals. It also suggests methods for implementation including reducing trash output, utilizing power from alternative sources like solar, wind and water, improving insulation and utilizing enzymes.

Have any businesses jumped on the Green bandwagon and made positive changes to the way they do business, manufacture products or handle waste? The answer is, absolutely, yes!

Here are some who are zero waste leaders...

Boulder Outlook Hotel - Zero waste program

Boulder Outlook Hotel in Boulder, Colorado is actively working toward Zero waste. Currently it recycles or composts 80% of it's waste. The current goal is 90%. They hold weekly brainstorm sessions to generate ideas on how they can become even greener. They utilize cornstarch based straws, cups and to-go containers which are compostable, utilize enviro-friendly cleaning products and give all frying oils to a bio-diesel firm. Their slogan is 'The cure for the common hotel'. They even have allergy friendly rooms with air filtration and other features. How cool is that!!

General Motors - landfill free program

GM's Transmission Facility in White Marsh, Maryland Achieves Landfill Free Status (28, August 2008). It eliminates 8,000 tons of trash by smart plant design, recycling, reusing, or removing and unique partnerships.

General Motors' goal is to have 1/2 of it's major manufacturing operations landfill free by 2010. Go GM go!!

Goodwill Industries works with GM disassembling obsolete containers. Then selling them to recyclers and compounders who turn the materials back into usable parts for the auto industry.

Anheuser Busch - Work Green program

Anheuser Busch Brewery in Baldwinsville, NY institutes numerous eco-friendly changes. The brewery recycles 99.9% of solid materials. They have also under taken measures to further reduce their carbon foot print. This was done by  changing lighting -which led to a 40% savings, reclaiming heat, and utilizing an anaerobic digestion system (bio-energy) for waste - producing methane gas for 19% of their fuel needs.

15 other Anheuser Busch plants have bio-energy, some also utilize solar and one is brewing organic beer. You rock AB!!

Subaru - WasteWise programSIA

Since 2004 Subaru Indiana Automotive (SIA) has achieved zero waste by recycling 99.3% of its' excess / leftover steel, plastic, wood, paper, glass and other materials. The remaining 0.7% is utilized by the city of Indianapolis to help generate steam.  SIA was awarded EPA's Gold Achievement AwardOne in 2006 for its' long-standing environmental program 'Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics'. It has heightened awareness for a clean environment by taking it's Leave No Trace program on the road reaching over 8 million individuals, in 48 states. Thanks Subaru you're leading the pack!!!

Other auto companies are greening their manufacturing facilities too...

Subaru's "Zero Landfill Waste" Auto Plant Raises the Bar by John DiPietro says, "In the automotive high-jump event known as environmental safeguarding, Subaru set a world record of sorts by being the first automaker to achieve "zero waste to landfill" status. Indeed, the company set the bar very high, and it's great to see that others have been inspired to start clearing that bar as well. Honda's Alabama plant is also a zero-landfill plant. Rolls-Royce's Goodwood, England plant (opened in 2003) boasts an 8-acre "living roof." Covered with sedum plants, this roof provides insulation from the heat and the cold; of course, as is the case with all green plants, these sedum plants also clean the air by ingesting carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. The Rolls plant also sends waste leather (from the upholstery division) to shoe and clothing makers, and filters run-off water from the roof and parking lots before it enters an on-site lake. Ford's Rouge plant also employs a living roof and similar water-saving measures."

This is great!!! Now if we could only get all businesses, plants and products zero emissions too. Am I crazy to think that's possible?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Makin' it Green

I was wondering if there were actually people out there who have changed their lifestyles to be more eco-friendly. I searched the internet to see who was doing what. Are people Makin' it Green? The answer is a resounding... Yes!!!

One man moved to the New Mexico wilderness to live without oil. Another family in California changes their urban yard into a farm complete with animals. And a Canadian couple goes off the grid but keeps their middle class lifestyle. And there are a lot more. All wonderful stories which inspired me. 

Inspirational stories of folks 'Makin' it Green'...

Farewell my Subaru - a greener life in New Mexico, USA

Doug Fine is the   author of 'Farewell my Subaru' a book about  his life without oil. Doug moved to New Mexico, USA with his girl friend. They built a green sustainable home, are raising goats, chickens, dougfineducks and growing much of their own food. You can read the continuing story of his new greener life at his blog. He is funny, charming and actually doing it... well. Amazing!!!


Path to Freedom - urban homesteaders in California, USA

An eco-pioneering lifestyle in Pasadena, CA. This is a story of a family who turned their lot into a 1/10th acre  farm which, produces 6,000 lbs. of organic food annually. On a path to self-sufficiency the Dervaes grow and preserve 99% of their ecopioneerown food, recycle, make bio-diesel, utilize solar power and more. You can read their blog or watch more videos at Dervaes' channel on Awesome!!!


 Off Grid Living - with renewable resources in Canada

Bill and Lorraine Kemp live a normal middle class lifestyle in an average home with all the things you'd expect like a big screen TV, home office filled with computers and other equipment, washer / dryer, and even a cappuccino machine. But the thing that makes them unique is that they live completely off the grid. They have wood heat, solar/wind power for electricity, a well and waste water reclamation system. You can read their blog or watch more videos at aztextpress channel on

We can make it green living well and inexpensively. So exciting and inspirational!

Some wonderful sustainable resources...

JanaiaDonaldsonPeak Moment TV - A network dedicated to sustainability and issues of our changing world. There are 23 interesting 28-minute episodes hosted by Janaia Donaldson (photo left) you can watch at Global Media. You can also read Janaia's blog about the latest goings on at Peak Moment too.

Natural Life Magazine - A paper and online magazine that is about how to create a greener, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

Your Backyard Farmer Located in Portland, OR. A great concept people who love to farm, do it for you and it's all organic.