Category Archives: corporate green initiatives

Days 261-263: MLwC and the Blog of the Day

I’m just getting so much enjoyment out of La Marguerite’s blog and her blog actions. Two different things: her own writings that she is posting on her blog chronicle her daily actions–like ALL of her action and how they impact the environment. She calls it her Daily Footprint Project and she uses it to track usage of the car, walking, eating, flushing the toilet–all of it. I could no more do that than jump over the moon, I don’t have the attention span to do it, but I’m so enjoying her journey, and learning a lot.

Her posts make me think about things differently. And that’s not surprising: Marguerite has a strong background in psychology and comes at this project and blogging in general from a very behavior oriented perspective, as well as vivid systems thinking. Systems thinking can drive a person crazy after awhile but I’m convinced that without it, we become numb with various denial techniques such as frenzied lifestyles and useless anxiety. Marguerite seems to have a helpful approach to systems thinking that asks the right questions and offers some good answers.

The other thing she’s doing is inviting certain bloggers to share their BlogAct--what they’re doing via their own blogs to encourage consciousness around the environment. In my own case, I’ve radically changed my relationship to my car. That in turn has changed my relationship to the dominant culture in a lot of ways that I chronicle here in my blog. There are many others on La Marguerite’s site and because of this collection she’s started, I’ve been introduced to some really great bloggers and encouraged once more by the vast conversation happening online about the environment.

So head on over to La Marguerite’s site and enjoy!

Daily Stats (Fri, Sat, Sun)

Car: 0
Bike: 17.5
Ped: approx 1.5
Bus: 15

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Day 125: MLwC and what some people are doing….

People are truly amazing. I mean, forget the Supreme Court tax-abuse nonsense or its flippant response to endangered species...all of it a real downer, but then I turn my focus back to people who are doing small things to make a difference.

Some examples:

GreenBlog, where business people can find quick, easy and smart ways to aim their companies down a greener path.

The SF Compact, have I mentioned the compact? Yeah, thought so.

CompanyEarth, a blog that covers all kinds of green tips, tricks and news, from travel to politics.

The Green Patrol, in Montreal, is a group of about 80 students that cover the city in the summer months in search of “infractions”–opportunities to change habits: don’t let the car idle, turn out lights during the day, transportation options. They hand out “warning” tickets which are in reality tips for more environmentally conscious choices.

The GreenLifeStyle, in which a girl and her boyfriend journey to a more eco-friendly life.

worldchanging.com, works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us. These folks cover it all and have input from lots of sources around the world.

NoImpactMan, a superhero, changing his life one day at a time.

Green Technology covers green investing, corporate green initiatives.

enn.com–all kinds of green news and homestyle tips for gardening, homecare, etc.

LiveGreenBlog, full of real, practical knowledge about how to live a greener life–from lawn to leisure and everything in between. This is a great resource.

So, you know, I can’t do much about the Supremes, or the War, or my dumb government–all of which threatened to get me down yesterday–but I chose instead to focus on what I and a lot of other people are doing that’s healthy and good for the planet.

Plant a butterfly or hummingbird attracting flower in your garden your wild garden today.

Daily stats (Tuesday)
Car: 5.2 miles (7 tasks)
Bike: 0
Ped: 2 miles
Bus: 0
Air: 0

Day 111 & 112: MLwC and the frog in the water

Green writes an exceptionally uncomfortable post about frogs in increasingly hot water. They won’t, as most know, hop out because they just get used to the increasingly hot water…until of course, it is too late and they are cooked.

Point: obvious. We will likely not make changes until it is too late, and the leadership in this country is particularly frog-like in its decision making.

I’m reading Blessed Unrest right now and the premise of the book is basically, how to not become depressed with the state of environmental affairs. Paul Hawkin speaks to audiences all over the world and found he is able to stay constructive and positive because he knows there is a rapidly growing movement of people like you and me who are determined to change the way they live.

I’ll include some thoughts from this great read over the next few days. I’m traveling again this week which is sort of a drag but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, my daddy used to say. It pays the mortgage.

Daily stats (Saturday and Sunday)

Car: 14 (3 tasks, 2 people)
Bike:0
Bus: 0
Air: 1700 miles

Day 105: WLwC, John Doerr at Ted

John Doerr’s talk at this year’s Ted conference is heart-felt and intelligent. His 15 year old daughter challenged him and his friends to fix the problems his/our generation has created. His bottom line: there is a time when panic is appropriate and that time is now. He doesn’t believe we can do enough to change the course of climate global change we’re on.

For me, to hear Doerr touting WalMart’s recent green changes was a challenge in itself. And a refreshing challenge. His questions are excellent and the talk is worth listening to.

He calls out the stupid behaviors in our culture (such as bottling water in Fiji and shipping it to Sacramento, California, or traveling to a store in a two ton hunk of plastic in metal to buy a quart of ice cream).

His focus on the importance, the absolute necessity of governmental participation in policy–local and national and global.

I sort of agree: none of this is enough, but it’s encouraging to hear the long list of changes that groups of interested people are putting in place and the good its doing. Take the good where you can find it.

Daily stats (Friday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Foot: 1.5 miles
Bus: approx. 15 miles

Day 99: MLwC and a top 5 list

Everybody loves lists so I thought I’d offer a quick one for the MLwC project and for those who might be trying to think differently about transportation in this post-peak-oil age.

Top 5 things to keep in mind (and Please! Add to this any thoughts you might have–I’m just making this list up on the basis of my experience so far)

1. The goal is to simply become more conscious of how you travel, where, when, why, with whom. That is, how many tasks can you combine in order to avoid multiple trips; how many people with tasks can you combine; why are you jumping in the car–are there other alternatives? Is the weather great and do you have a little time? If so, why not walk or bike? Just note what you’re doing–easy shmeasy.

2. Once you’re more aware, little personal contests help a lot. For example, at first I was aiming for a reduction of one day per week of no car usage–just one day. It was a very modest goal and it took a while to achieve it; it may have been a huge hurdle in retrospect. I’ve since completed two work weeks sans car usage without even breaking a sweat. Keep in mind that no car usage doesn’t mean staying home, locked up and out of action. I’ve taken buses, passenger ferries, my bike and of course, walking on my own two feet.

3. It help to let others know what you’re doing. Yeah–they’ll think you’re a freak, but if you’re reading this, you might already be a freak so who cares. Let them know that it’s a sort of game or experiment you’re doing–just to see. They’ll be curious, I’m betting, based on my own experience–and it’ll give everyone a chance to think a little differently about car usage. Especially let your signif-other in on it–who knows, you may be able to figure out some way to jointly think differently about getting around.

4. Make sure your other means of transportation are in good working order. If your bike sucks big time, it’ll be a pain (really!) to ride and you won’t want to continue. If you have to struggle with change for the bus, buy a packet of tickets or a pass–it’ll make life so much easier and you won’t give using the bus another thought. Also, I don’t know about your city, but most companies in the Seattle area do a lot to help their employees use mass transit–check it out. It’s usually the deal of a lifetime–some companies downtown offer their peeps what’s called a Puget Pass which lets you ride the train, the ferries, the buses–whatever, whenever. It’s an incredible deal.

5. This goes along with awareness, but as you move away from using your car as much, be aware when you do use your car–how does it feel? Notice any difference, a tad more sensitivity to traffic, congestion, stress, etc? Just be aware–maybe nothing in your perception will change, but maybe something will.

have great holiday weekend!

Daily Stats (Friday)
Car: 0
Bike: about 8 miles (we ended up riding to the beach for dinner;-)

foot: approx 12 blocks + approx 3 mile walk/run in the park
bus: approx 14 miles

Day 98: MLwC & and the Group Health Adventure

The other day I mentioned that the health profile I filled out online didn’t count “walking” as part of its exercise profile–me no likee. I got a couple of comments on that…Today was the actual physical with my actual doctor at Group Health Coop in Seattle.

First though, a quick note: their online site is great, and it interacts really well, has tons of options, so you can do a lot of stuff online, like make your appointments, speed through profiling questions, get history, and get results. Also note: I am about as far from a Medical Industrial Complex Consumer as you can get–I have a lot of contempt for the Industry and am pretty conservative in my use of it. So, if they make it easy and on my terms–so much the better.

Anyway, I mentioned to my doctor that the exercise part of the profile sort of sneered at walking and get this–he actually took notes so he could relay the info! Because his view is: the more people walking, the better. Yazza!

Second big thing: this was a general physical, which I don’t do often so when I do them, I do the whole kit-n-kaboodle. He was setting me up for a mammo and told me how to make an appt–and I stopped him and said is there anyway we can do this all today, like a one-stop deal? He kind of looked at me and I said, you know, I don’t live close and I think a lot about transportation issues….So he says, well let’s check it out. Maybe they’ll have an opening (he seemed a tad skeptical) He stayed on hold with the lab (interesting, I’ve always thought doctors didn’t have to be on hold with their labs) and finally gets through to someone who checks the calendar and sure enough: there’s a free appt in an hour and half.

capp.jpg

So here I am, sipping a capp at the Victrola, excellent place to be waiting for my appt, and when I leave, I’ll be done for the next couple of years.

Again, got me to thinking about how our culture is set up around the car. The doc never really thought about my returning, it was just built into the system–of course you’ll just drive home and then drive back and do exam another day. Brings me to another issue on their website: it didn’t allow me to make an appointment in advance, even though I absolutely knew I’d be getting labwork. If there was a pre-screening or sort of automatic recognition of exam dates, you could have the option of pre-scheduling the standard lab/exam items, negating the need to return at all.

Oh, and one last thing: I want them to not send me hard copies of my results and put everything in my account online–can they do that? Yes, they can! So, this is the kind of customer centric focus I’d like to see in this Industry. Let me choose when, how, where I interact with the company!

Hey Dr. Thayer–if you’re out there, howdy!

PS: kudos to Diana for forwarding this link for checking carbon footprint. Interesting stuff, and great to have this available to anyone/everyone who wants it!

Daily stats (Thoisday)

Car: 20.4 miles (3 tasks)

Bike: 0
Foot: 8 blocks
Bus: 0

Day 94: MLWC and Go, Al, Go!

Al Gore is a founding partner, with David Blood, in an investment firm that focuses on environmentally progressive enterprises. They toyed with the name of the firm, ala Blood & Gore but demurred. Anyhoo, officially and preferably known as Generation Investment Management, the two founders explain their approach here.

What really struck me about their management style:

  • they must have used the words long term about 50 times in the article–I love that. Most companies are only looking at the quarter, under pressure from the market, and I truly think this is doing us all a great disservice. Just look what short term quarterly report shenanigans have gotten us into–Enron, Worldcom, etc.
  • short term investing gives up the value of building a strong biz foundation.
  • they research specifically how a company is responding to our current and growing limited ecological systems; they’re focused on long term issues like building an infrastructure that will significantly reduce carbon budget and reduce waste (less waste=more $).
  • Did I mention long term?

They also smartly distinguish between “socially conscious investment” which can and does often include companies like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart because these, and other companies, have learned how to beat the “check-list” approach to hiring, benefit packages, etc. I find I have to look very closely at the portfolios of lots of “socially conscious” investment funds to make sure I’m not investing in a company I literally want nothing to do with.

Al Gore has also released his new book, Assault on Reason (see my “pile ‘o’ books by the bed, right nav); his timing is impeccable–he can leave the door open for a fervent recruitment to run for prez again and he doesn’t sound like sour grapes. If he’d written a book like this two years after the election he won/lost, he would have had no credibility. A real testament–whether you like the guy or not–to waiting for the right moment to act.

Daily Stats: Sunday
Car: 6.5 miles (2 people, 3 tasks)
Bike: 0
Foot: here and there
Bus: 0

Day 92 & 93: MLWC, some green links and Measuring KM

A bunch of green specific websites are springing up. They sort of remind me of the early days in the gay&lesbian community when everything had to be really gay&lesbian and only gay&lesbian or it didn’t count. Things are much more mainstreamed now and that’s a good thing in many ways–hopefully the path to mainstreaming green living, green concerns, green investing will be faster, smoother, better.

So, without further ado:
Greener.com, a green search engine. If you want to find something, but want to narrow the field to green, here’s your engine.
Greenmaven, another search engine that also includes social awareness along with greeniness in its search results.
Hugg is like Digg but with a green angle. This one’s pretty interesting and since I have found myself having a hard time categorizing green stories adequately in Digg, I’m liking the alternative.
Inhabitat is a beautiful blog discussing sustainable design of all kinds. It’s gorgeous in a West Coast Zen kind of way.

And now for something completely different: measuring the effectiveness of KM. Suarez in his blog discusses the ongoing question of measuring KM–to prove its worth to everyone from end users to IT, to Veeps, etc. He despairs of finding an adequate answer to the ongoing question and I don’t blame him. KM usage, wikis, blogs, etc are all experiential and viral in their best cases; like I ranted in my post yesterday, KM of all stripes is a haven for command-and-control management and the insistence on measurement is a key indicator of command-and-control style.

That said, I don’t live in such a fantasy land that I think we’ll get rid of measurement any time soon. I introduced wikis to a very large, global computer maker and the biggest difficulty we had in the process was trying to get them to think differently about “measurement.” I don’t think we succeeded, and as a result, even though the wiki is successful in terms of adoption, the lack of meaningful (read: corporate) measurement has all but made the wiki invisible to upper echalons of management. They can’t talk about it in numbers, so they disregard it. Fortunately, the wiki itself, intended for front line users, can live quite happily without a lot of attention.

My ongoing philosophical question: has Excel made life better or worse or something in between? We now use it because we can–for anything and everything. It’s a fabulous tool…I just wish sometimes we could put it down and thinking differently about things.

Daily stats:
Car: 0
Bike: 10.2 miles
Foot: 0
Bus:0

Day 91: My Life w Car + SBUX’ benevolent self-interest

Starbucks has created an online VR game for learning about carbon footprint, alternative transportation, etc. It’s called Planet Green Game and like all VR games, you choose a personality and then head out on your “adventure.” You choose your transporation options, you go to different places and then you get points (or demerits) for your actions and choices. Kinda dull, but I do recommend going to the Movies as soon as possible–they’ve got some indie shorts that are pretty good and worth watching.

The site also offers Starbucks itself as part of your virtual city adventure–and I sort of thought: not only are they on every corner, now they’re on every virtual corner, too. But hey. Starbucks does a lot of good, green stuff so I give them some points for this–credit where credit is due. They, in turn, gave me about 3500 points before I signed off and called me a Journeyman–not sure what that meant or if I could have been more if I’d stayed on longer? Maybe kids would like it–it’s sorta fun, so check it out.

Tom over at Mytechvision has an interesting article about new solar power plant project that use mirrors and water towers. The mirrors reflect the sunlight back into the tower heating the water to like 400C or so which creates enough energy to heat 6000 homes. This makes me think of something off the wall: a 1987 movie named Bagdad Cafe–great flick, see it if you haven’t. Anyway, one of the characters paints these desert scenes wherein a blinding light radiates from the horizon; the main character, Jasmine, thinks this is a mystical light but in the end it’s revealed that this light is actually from a solar power plant. So my question is: has this technology been around for a while?
bagdad_cafe.jpg

Finally, a review of hard-nosed reasons big businesses might be compelled to go green–nothing new here, and that’s what’s news. The same practices that are in place in the best companies will find an affinity with green initiatives: eliminating waste, how to leverage price differentials, market share through leadership, new studies showing environmentally sound companies are more efficient and well run overall–and tend to attract a better hiring pool. Interesting opinion piece here.

Daily Stats:

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: approx 15 miles
f/c: 0

Day 87: my life w car plus Big Blue Goes Green

IBM is investing a billion a year in figuring out how to utilize alternative energy resources for their systems–from cooling mechanisms to software. The company promises higher CPU without any more energy use. Sweet!

read more | digg story

Also, a friend (sorry Yo, now you’ll really have to do that site ;-))and I had coffee yesterday in Pioneer Square and discussed the issue of.. well, Web 2.0 and knowledge management–though I wince when using the Web 2.0 term. It seems hackneyed, yet what can we call this internet wave that’s upon us? The one where we are increasingly in touch, sharing info at such a massive level–truly a big tent community with all the noise and chaos of a bazaar. At every level, corporate and personal, the sheer amount of information out there is mind boggling yet at every moment has the potential to organize itself organically and pretty doggone effectively.

My point was, how can you deny that information sharing is morphing right before our eyes when companies like Dell are forced to change their ways by the popularization of a term to describe their dysfunction on a single customer blog–the blog heard round the customer experience world?

A side note on Dell–Dell himself. How come these guys get big money? Thanks for this, Yo!

Daily Stats:
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Bus: 0
Flexcar: 0
Run through Park along waterfront: approx 3.5 miles

Day 85 & 86: my life w car, Urban Birds and Green vs. Gray

Cornell Ornithology Labs–which sounds pretty daunting for us average folks–is really stellar at bringing bird watching to kids and communities all around the world. Their focus is the coolest: Citizen Science. They make awareness of birds fun for urban kids and country kids, for seasoned bird watchers and rank beginners, for scientists and regular folks as well. I’m a huge fan of this organization!

city_song_birds.jpg

So then, I’m really psyched about their latest online endeavor: Urban Bird Watch. Mainly for kids, but for anyone who wants to participate, it’s an online, multi-month, easy-as-pie survey of the birds around us. Sign up and they’ll send you a packet of pretty cool stuff to get started. If you have kids, or have friends or family with kids–check it out. It’s a great way to spend 15 minutes with the birds…and your kids!

Here’s an interesting site with a discussion of Green vs. Gray Economy. Not sure “gray economy” conjures up what they hope it does–it really does feel more akin to Black Market than Green Economy. But the point is: there are companies that are taking steps toward sustainability or improved carbon footprint…and then there are the other companies. The ones that will live and die by fossil fuels.

dinosaur.jpg

Daily Stats:
Car:0
Bike 19.5 miles (4+ tasks)
bus: 2 miles
flexcar: 0

Day 85: my life w car

Check out the green news for the day:

Pepsi goes 100% green, rubbing shoulders with the likes of WholeFoods and Starbucks. Can Walmart be far behind?

Green and stylin’ –get it here. You can have it all!

And call me a silly nationalist, but why couldn’t the world’s first zero-carbon city be San Francisco instead of Abu Dhabi???

Daily stats:
car: 0
bike=0
bus=0
flexcar=0
run through park: approx 3 miles.

Day 73 & 74: My life w car

Our beautiful planet:
img_1125.jpg

img_1090.jpg

Green investing: some people are saying that we’re at a tipping point in our culture wherein we have the opportunity and the will and the ways to radically change how we lead our lives–work and personal. The technology for green energy is evolving more rapidly than ever, local energy companies are beginning to offer alternative energy, car companies are offering greener models, WOM on tax advantages of energy wise alternatives is showing up in the mainstream.

All of this leads to some investing ideas that you might want to investigate. The mutual fund field for green investing is grouped under a larger category called “Socially Responsible Investing,” but that has usually indicated companies that have progressive approaches to people issues, not green issues. Still, for your consideration, here are some ideas re green mutual funds:

Winslow Green (WGGFX)
Parnassus funds (many to choose from)
Powershares (PBW)
Sierra Fund
Spectra Green (SPEGX)
Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX)

Note that some of these are so new they don’t yet have a Morningstar rating but several do, and the ratings are certainly comparable (if not better) to other funds that actually invest in destructive industries. Check em out, give em a try.

Daily stats:
car: 6 miles (3 tasks)
bike: 6 miles
electric hybrid bus: approx 14 miles
flexcar: 0

Day 71 – 72: My life w car

bumblebee_mirrorlake1b_web.jpg

Oprah goes green: Going Green 101. I really loved seeing this show at the gym while I was working out, even though some of the ideas seemed really, really old. I thought: we can recycle just about anything.

Green investing: I truly believe that this will become a big deal in the near future. We’re about to be cornered on everything from energy to sustainable foodstuffs. So, one day soon, all these “wacky” alternative ideas may become more mainstream than ever thought possible.

What’s up with the bees?

Use one less paper napkin!

Daily Stats:
Car: 10 miles (two tasks, two people)
bike: 0
bus/flexcar: 0

Addendum: WildAid is now Wildlife Alliance

I was notified last month that WildAid had made an organizational and name change at the start of the year, but neglected to use the new name in my note yesterday–and Wildlife Alliance Dev Mgr Michael Zwirn contacted me to clarify. Here is the new name: Wildlife Alliance. Check out their website here.

You can check out their great work and a review of their organization at Charity Navigator online. Give often and generously. And if you work with less-than-favorite companies like I do, consider it money laundering–or your very own corporate green initiative.

Thanks Michael and team for all the good work you do!