Category Archives: green investing

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

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Day 124: MLwC, the hundredth monkey and a global immune system

I’m into the second half of Hawken’s book in which he discusses the varied organizations that in hundredth-monkey ways are tackling the many issues of our day: poverty, corporate abuse, pollution, disease, and dozens of other concerns. Through the interconnectedness of the wired world today, these organizations can share best practices, learnings, energy, inspiration and sweat equity to move en masse towards a more equitable, safe, healthy future.

He suggests that these organizations can be seen as the antibody response of our planet to the threatening disease of pollution and environmental degradation. It’s really a cool idea, and it makes sense too: a growing number of us sense the threat we face, understand the very personal toll that pollution and diminishing resources are taking on us, and we are making choices that correspond to the way the body wards off infection and viruses. It’s the Gaia philosophy expanded out even further…and it makes sense to me. We are an organic part of an organic system–as much as we often like to think the real world really is composed of the shiny new products we create. I welcome the idea that a growing majority might be compelled to respond to the potential crisis we face in a naturally evolving fashion–albeit with urgency.

Some examples of the localized antibodies that are collecting at the margins of our global culture (Hawken’s names names in his book, a list that is too lengthy for me to go in to here but I suggest you watch the video for more, if you can’t get the book):

the list goes on and on, and includes very powerful, very well known billionaires , ex-presidents, and celebrities, as well. It is a coalition of every level–from the margins of our society, working like antibodies to fight the many threats to our environment. There are more of us all the time.

Daily Stats (Monday)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all over the place

The most terrifying video….

Ran across this today–The most terrifying video you’ll ever see by wondermind42. It’s well worth the 10 minute view, even if the title is a bit of a reach 😉

It’s a quadrant argument reminiscent of the god/prayer logic: if I pray and God exists, I’m in like flint; If I pray and God doesn’t exist, I haven’t really done any harm, have I? I like quadrant arguments because it forces you to consider options you might want to ignore.

This quadrant argument is wide open to very factually based arguments and increasing swarms of data to fill in the “what-if” scenarios….

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 97: MLwC & SP, baby, SP!

Solar Power!

solar2.jpg

We’re considering installing solar energy modules on our roof–nothing I would ever have expected to consider here in the mostly soggy northwest, but the technology has improved so much that it’s becoming a viable option.

Here’s an article about a standard installation; it describes the process of installing these new super thin and unobtrusive modules on your roof. The article also discusses the outlay of cash, and the homeowner’s reasons for going ahead and doing it.

The outlay of cash, by the way, is offset by massive tax deductions–both federal, and likely, local (nod to Senator Cantwell). Then, if you’ve got it set up right, and you continue your energy efficient ways, there’s a very good chance you can put excess energy back into the grid–making your meter run backwards, in effect–and actually make money on the deal. This made headlines during the rolling brown outs of the Enron age in California and highlighted an attractive plus to the alternate energy source. This chart shows the rapid increase of alternative energy into the grid during that time (2001-02):

Solar energy on the grid

So, here in Seattle, we’ve got a small start up company that installs these systems. We’re going to have them out to evaluate our house and see if we might be able to install a system, cost, long term picture, etc. They charge $80 for the evaluation but they’re a small shop and the evaluation is extensive, about a half day’s work with a written plan afterwards. We haven’t sched’d the eval yet, but we’re getting ready to.

I mean, you know it’s coming. It’s just a matter of time.

🙂

Daily stats (Wednesday)

Car: 0
Bike: 0
Foot: 3.5 walk/run
Bus: 0
Internet: 4 countries and many states.

Walking, and how to think about “transportation”

Tom followed up yesterday’s piece on walking with a great entry of his own–with gorgeous snaps of his daily route through Lisbon–including time, transportation mode (mostly walking) and some thoughts about the added benefits of not driving. It reads at time like a poem, at other times like a mini-travelogue.

Jodene followed up this morning with a comment on her own walking method and a tangential thought about the long term (very nice nod to investment strategies!) benefits of walking–intellectual, physical, emotional, environmental.

So, I got to thinking: how cool would it be to get feedback from anyone/everyone who actually shakes it up in the transportation department. Those who are doing something other than the regular single-car/single-passenger-moving-through-urban space routine–and what you think about it. What does your transportation method allow you that you would not get from driving?

This would be more than a survey with radio buttons. This would be postcards from the urban-travel edge. We’ll see, maybe it could work.

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 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