Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Treasury Secretary Supports Environmental Causes

President Bush's appointment of Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson as new Treasury Secretary is an appointment of someone who is known on Wall Street, "for his dedicated support of environmental causes". Paulson is a chairman of the Nature Conservancy and the chairman emeritus of the Peregrine Fund and has made large donations to conservation and environmental education.

Sustainability at a Tipping Point?

Gil Friend, founder, president and CEO of Natural Logic, Inc. speaks of a number of events in manufacturing, finance, retail and others that makes him feel that the sustainability movement has reached its "tipping point" in 2005. Mr. Friend has been following what are now termed "sustainability" issues for a number of decades now, so his optimism gives good cause for hope that the trend, indeed, does continue strongly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Marketing to LOHASians

If you noticed my links, one of them is for LOHAS. The acronym stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The June 5, 2006 issue of Newsweek speaks about this segment, believed to be comprised of 17% of the population. This segment, which is "dedicated to personal and planetary health", according to the article, is growing - these are people that businesses are targeting more and more in their marketing expenditures.

The Newsweek article also has a link to a list of things "Lohasians" like.

Businesses Reducing Carbon Emissions

What I like about this article is that it touches upon something I feel is often overlooked when discussing corporate social responsibility - the true cost of manufacturing goods.

What I mean is that people will often point to the fact that companies that can offer items at the lowest price will be most successful. So the conversation is about price and not about cost. For example, had General Electric had to take into consideration the millions of dollars of dredging the Hudson River of the PCBs they were found to have dumped into it - a cost they were ordered to cover - they surely would have looked to ways to avoid or minimize the cost. That's just one example, but it shows that if individual companies were ordered to consider the true cost of what they produced, then they'd find ways to minimize that cost. Now, they often do not have to worry about it - in cases like G.E.'s, the government - thus us, the consumers - often have to take on these costs at some point anyway.

The article talks about how many companies are trying to reduce their carbon emissions - some do it for public relations purposes, but others, like Timberland, are trying to do it because it makes economic sense. Since carbon emissions are contributing to global warming, here's hoping that more and more companies look to ways to reduce their carbon emissions.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Goldman Sachs Links Environmental Sustainability to Profit

Goldman Sachs was the first investment bank to adopt a comprehensive environmental plan. You can read about it here and, if you have a subscription to Fast Company, here. According to the Fast Company article, from the June 2006 issue, Goldman's environmental policy, "calls for world governments to tighten restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions, commits to investing $1 billion in renewable energy, and proposes a Center for Environmental Markets, a research partnership that will explore how the free-market system can solve environmental problems."

As noted in my previous post, this is the type of action will hopefully influence others to follow their lead.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Wal-Mart Aims to Double Truck Fuel Economy

Yes - another somewhat dated article - this was announced back in December. But I'd just like to point out some items that many people may overlook. This initiative, doubling the fuel economy of their trucks by 2015 doesn't turn me into a Wal-Mart fan, but it's good to see. Some may say they are doing it to lessen some of the criticism they receive from environmentalists and others. Perhaps that is true. I'd like to believe, however, that Wal-Mart cares only for their profits, so they see this environmental-friendly step as something that will save them money in the long run. Whatever the reason they are doing it, I certainly encourage it. The more large companies take these steps, the more others will follow.

The U.S. Army also in on the Sustainability Action

The U.S. Army's Fort Lewis base in Washington state has pledged to purchase 10% of its annual electricity needs as renewable energy certificates as a committment to use more renewable energy. As part of this committment, it has also purchasing wind power from wind farms in eastern Washington and Oregon.

Here is a link to a presentation about Ft. Lewis' Sustainability Program. Included in the presentation is a list of 12 goals laid out back in September 2002:

1. Reduce traffic congestion and air emissions by 85% by 2025
2. Reduce air pollutants from training without a reduction in training
3. Reduce stationary source air emissions by 85% by 2025
4. Sustain all activities on post using renewable energy sources and generate
all electricity on post by 2025
5. All facilities adhere to the LEED Platinum standard for sustainable
facilities by 2025
6. Cycle all material use to achieve ZERO net waste by 2025
7. Attain healthy, resilient Fort Lewis and regional lands
that support training, ecosystem, cultural, and economic
values by 2025
8. Recover all listed and candidate federal species in
South Puget Sound Region
9. ZERO discharge of wastewaters to Puget Sound by 2025
10. Reduce Fort Lewis potable water consumption by 75%
by 2025
11. Fort Lewis contributes no pollutants to Groundwater
and has remediated all contaminated groundwater by
12. Develop an effective regional aquifer and watershed
management program by 2012

Friday, May 26, 2006

Random House to Print Books with 30% Recycled Paper

According to the article, while it will be a "multi-million dollar" investment on the part of Random House, they'll be able to preserve 550,000 trees a year while only raising the price of publishing a book by 3 cents. Hopefully, other major book publishers will follow suit - the average industry is currently about 5% recycled paper - though a number of small companies have already started using recycled paper.

Turning Trash into Clean Energy

I came across the Bilboa Project today. It's part of a company that aims to use a special process to turn solid waste into enough energy to power 50,000 homes. I believe they are still trying to get funded for this ambitious project. They are planning on using a technology that has apparently been proven elsewhere in the world.

Another Large Sporting Event Trying To Clean Up

All of the cars in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 will be fueled by a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% methanol. Good move by the corn industry to try to get their 'alternative' fuel in front of a lot of people at one time. Since there is little question there will have to be a serious toward 'alternative' fuels, this may just give the corn growers and the ethanol industry the boost they need.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Some Examples of CSR from FedEx

Over the past few years, FedEx has taken a number of steps to decrease their ecological footprint. I doubt most people know about these initiatives, so I feel they are worth learning about. FedEx has:
There are many other examples like this out there. I'll try to post as many as possible. Please let me know if you have other good examples.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Timberland - Good Example of CSR

This article shows Timberland is a very successful company while doing such things as offering credits for employees to purchase hybrid cars, giving employees 40 paid hours of leave to volunteer, and purchase a solar array.

Special Section in New York Times

The New York Times recently posted a special section, "The Business of Green" that deals mostly with environmental issues in business, such as green building, green marketing, and socially responsible investing (SRI). One of the articles also deals with the city of Chicago's efforts to be a cleaner city.

There is a total of 14 or so articles that all touch upon something different.

Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Announces Large Scale Greening Initiatives

It's great to hear about these types of iniatives. Large events such as concerts, sporting events and conferences use great deals of energy and produce a lot of waste.

I went to the 2005 Net Impact Conference at Stanford University this past November. Their goal was to be carbon-neutral. I don't know how successful they ultimately were, but I can say that they even the plastic containers our quick, portable lunches were served in (as well as the plastic utensils) were made to cleanly break down.

While that conference had "only" 1300 attendees, did you know the latest Super Bowl held in Detroit this past January was the 2nd annual carbon-neutral Super Bowl?

If you think of all the concerts, sporting events and conferences that occur every year, these types of initiatives can add up.

VC's Are Going Green

Forbes writes that big venture capital firms - Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers in this case - are now looking toward "green tech" to make some investments.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Introductory Post

I aim for this blog to be a place to learn and have meaningful discussions about corporate social responsibility. Too often people dismiss the concepts of CSR without taking the time to analyze what is being accomplished and without realizing that money can be still be made for shareholders - sometimes more than what is being made - when more responsible business practices are undertaken.

What do I mean when I speak of CSR? I doubt I will give a complete answer at this point. It will be made more and more complete as I learn more myself. I believe CSR can involve any or all of the following:
  • environmental-friendliness;
  • fairness (at least) to employees in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions;
  • fair pay and working conditions for suppliers (e.g. coffee growers); and
  • good community citizenry (e.g. supporting education in the community)
As I said, there are other examples that will surely be mentioned.

I will bring examples of companies who have been or are trying to be successful employing some of these concepts by posting links to articles out there. I will also post information about those that are failing or have failed when I see those.

There seems to be and increase in articles written about CSR as time goes by. My hope is that we will all learn something from these articles and from each other and can apply them in our own business world. I'd like to leave the first post with something I read recently by Bill McKibben in a recent issue of YES!: "We don't know if the solutions we're building now, even the finest ones, will still make sense in a millenium. But we don't need to worry about millenia, not yet. If we could slow down the momentum of our helter-skelter world just enough to let us see a mildly plausible future for our children and then their children, that would be an enormous victory." Enjoy.