Sunday, January 31, 2010

Engaging your Workers

Recently, I just finished the book Strategy for Sustainability by Adam Werbach. I really enjoyed reading the book and learning about all the different facts and figures of the companies that have made sustainable improvements. It was interesting to understand more in depth specific companies' sustainable practices and certain incidents where they were forced to change.

However, the chapter I enjoyed most was chapter five Engaging Individuals: People Want to Help. I thought it was interesting and valid to connect a sustainable work environment with engaged employees. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense, if an employee is passionate about working hard in their job and enjoying the work that they do then they will make the efforts needed to make sure things are done properly and well. It's when unengaged employees that don't care to fix the problems or pay attention to things that don't seem right affect the sustainability of resources in a business, much like the peanut butter incident in Sylvester, Georgia. Engaged workers are happy workers and according to the book there are four factors that help increase happiness in a person:
1. Being of service to something larger than yourself.
2. Experiencing "flow" or full engagement, on a regular basis.
3. Showing your gratitude to the people in your life.
4. Sharing your life with at least three close friends or family members.
Ultimately, people will become more engaged in the workplace if the company stands for a purpose and provides activities where people can connect their work to what matters in their life and what makes them happy. A business that promotes sustainability engages employees to get involved in more than a monetary gain. People do believe that the environment is in crisis, they do want to help and they do want to learn more about the issue. A company that provides this for their employees will improve engagement and better their business.

Take the test from the book to see how happy you and your employees are:

Rank your agreement on the scale of 1-10
7-strongly agree
5-slightly agree
4-neither agree nor disagree
3- slightly disagree
1-strongly disagree
In most ways, my life is ideal __
The conditions of my life are excellent __
I am satisfied with my life __
So far, I have gotten the important things I want in life __
If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing __
Now add up all your rankings to get a total score:
35-31 Extremely satisfied
26-30 Satisfied
21-25 Slightly satisfied
20- Neutral
15-19 Slightly dissatisfied
10-14 Dissatisfied
5-9 Extremely dissatisfied

A Changing Miss America

So last night flipping through the channels on T.V, I ran into the good old Miss America pageant. What a classic! The 50 women probably in pageants since they could talk, strut their stuff on stage showing how they "look" in a bikini, an evening gown, doing their talent (most like every time it is singing or some sort of dance), and finally, how they "look" answering their question that supposedly measures the true value of the individual. "World Peace" right?

Half of the time, I was laughing at how their fakeness showed through their smiles and how when walking in high heels most of them looked so off balanced that any second they could fall. Answering their questions, I could just tell how they were producing as much word vomit as the could to dance around a valid answer that showed any true depth to their core values or beliefs. They have to be careful to not be too controversial right? So minds well just blab and blab and blab with a sweet smile so it "looks" like they actually stand for and believe in a change. I thought to myself, these girls have been answering the same questions and doing the same talents for years, why haven't the issues and questions caught up to the times?

Then their it was, the former Miss America 2009 was interviewed about all of her accomplishments and improvements as she was the reining figure of all young women everywhere and among all the other wonderful community service and philanthropic actions, she showed her support for going green by promoting Natures Bottles. "Natures Bottles is an environmentally-friendly bottled water company that uses plastic made from plants to make their bottles, which helps to eliminate petroleum based plastic water bottles. We know that with their extraordinary vision, they can help change the future." Says Art McMaster the President and CEO of the Miss America Organization.

Finally, one of the most well known events and pageants of the year, that have dealt with the same issues and questions for years, is making efforts to promote green living. Even though my idols and role models in life are not these so called talented girls on stage, they are for millions of young girls around the world. Even though their are obviously more efforts that the whole pageant's organization could do to promote going green and sustainability, they are making steps and showing these steps on national television which could influence the actions of viewers watching. So last night I development small increase of respect for the Miss America pageant.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Speaker Tom

Today in class we had a guest speaker from the University of Oregon's Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Listening to him talk, it was interesting for me to understand and see some of the obstacles that get in the way of individuals making choices that help improve the ecological state. People are too concerned with simplifying their lives and can't handle the complexity or change that comes with altering your life to live sustainably.

All the great ideas and changes that are
being promoted that will drastically help the environment and preserve energy can be too detailed and complex for people to really want to take the time out of their busy day to understand and change. Even so, the question came about that if an environmental group went door to door telling people that they will come into their home and recreate their home into a sustainable building to no cost to them and ultimately, will help improve the planet and allow for more job availability in the United States, will people accept? I mean why not, it is no cost to them and it is only improving the environmental and social state. But many people will not accept. It's new. They're bringing these changes into their actual homes. It may seem too controlling and political. People are unsure about the real issues of the environment and are not completely sold that their needs to be a change.

That is where communicators come in. That is why it is so important that people speak out about the issues and bring it to the every day person. Yes, people understand that global warming is this new idea brought about by environmentalists, and they understand that conserving energy and reducing their carbon footprint will benefit the environment. But people do not understand the weight of each sustainable action and its impact on the world. Many do not understand that certain sustainable choices and improvements have more of an impact and benefit in the big spectrum. Communicators need to expand more on the issue and need to reach everyone, not just the big businesses and corporations.

Earth Day

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is coming up on April 22, 2010 and is providing more opportunities than ever to get involved and participate in Green activities and events. This day, devoted solely to the environment, hopes to bring historic improvements in climate change policy, renewable energy, green jobs and acknowledge individuals who make sustainable commitments in their daily lives. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together and make a change for the better in our world.

Earth Day provides many different events and opportunities for people to get involved:

Global Days of Service on April 17th & 18th 2010: Is a day of volunteer actions in communities that focus on climate change solutions like tree planting, forest restoration, energy efficient retrofiets, water protection, and urban gardens.

A Billion Acts of Green: Is the opportunity to register planned community events for Earth Day and also, your individual "Acts of Green." These acts can be anything from buying a hybrid car to planting your own garden.

A Global Day of Action on April 22, 2010: Earth Day Network will be assembling community meetings on climate change in 500 communities around the world and organize 2,000 campus events around the world.

A Global Day of Celebration on April 24, 2010: Earth Day network will organize 40 major city events around the world and an additional 20 events presented by partner organizations in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Tokyo, and Barcelona.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top 10 Green Celebrities of 2009

Recently I came across an article on the Top 10 Green Celebrities. The article, in honor of Earth Day, focuses on the top 10 celebrities that have made efforts to act green and become environmentally friendly. As the celebrities are in the spotlight supporting different environmental programs, becoming vegetarians, owning hybrid cars and speaking out about becoming environmentally friendly, I wonder if the motives behind these great role models and idols making a change is to truly help the environment or if it is only a publicity stunt. Like the article says, "These days Hollywood stars don't have red-carpet cred unless they roll up to awards shows in hybrids" asserting that the efforts that celebrities are making to go green are only so that they can keep up with the trends in Hollywood. Yes, these top 10 celebrities are doing more than just buying a hybrid, but are their efforts truly genuine to help improve the world and speak out for something they value and care about.

However, maybe the image and what these celebrities represent out in the media is what society needs to make the changes too. Celebrities can be role models and influence the decisions and opinions of people all over the world. If they have a strong green attitude and presence in the media, then more people may be inclined to find ways that they can be green too. When your a child, people always ask "who is your role model and why?". And seeing Cameron Diaz on Nickelodeon receiving the "wannabe" award may influence the children of today to make green choices and live environmentally friendly. Isn't that a celebrities positive role in society, to stand for something and encourage others to make a change as they do?
The list of Top 10 Celebrities of 2009:
1. Ed Begley Jr.
2. Leonardo DiCaprio
3. Daryl Hannah
4. Edward Norton
5. Brad Pitt
6. Woody Harrelson
7. Alicia Silverstone
8. Cameron Diaz
9. Adrian Grenier
10. Natalie Portman

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Clorox Advertisement Greenwashing

On the Greenwashing index website I find it interesting to see the different advertisements and consider whether what they are saying and promoting is truthfully valid, or Greenwashing.

This advertisement for Clorox's new product Green Works is a plastic tub that contains multiple disinfectant wipes that are apparently 99% natural and biodegradable. At first the ad draws in the viewer with the headline "Just what the world needs, another cleaning product". By saying this they are able to set up what is different and special about this product compared to other cleaning products. It becomes the consumers social responsibility to choose not just another cleaning product, but one that is biodegradable and natural.

However, the plastic tub is placed in the middle of the forest with the word "naturally" next to it. The plastic tub not 100% natural and not biodegradable completely counteracts that word. They are trying to convince the viewer that a plastic tub in the middle of the forest is part of nature and how are we to know for sure whether or not the wipes are really 99% natural and biodegradable too?

Also, visiting the Clorox website, the main theme and purpose of Clorox is cleanliness and bleach which really does not go hand in hand with green living. How can we trust a cleaning company to truly believe in the values and importance of sustainability? They don't. They are just trying to convince the consumer who is starting to value making green choices in their purchases that their product will help them feel like a responsible green citizen.

The whole product is anything but sustainable. A bunch of disinfecting paper towelettes in a plastic tub... How is that good for the environment? What people should do is use a towel that they can wash after each use. It would be just as effective in cleaning and would be much more sustainable.

A Sustianable Valentines Day

It's interesting to think that even meaningful gestures and precious memories from childhood could have been sustainable if people would have viewed production in a different light. One specific example is Valentines Day. I remember back to the elementary years when the true purpose and meaning of the day had really no relevance to the acts and activities that took place.
I would spend the entire week decorating an old shoe box so that my Valentines Day box would be the prettiest and most perfect in order to win the decorating competition. I would glue on wrapping paper, ribbons, buttons, cut outs of hearts and little heart candies which read "sweetheart" or "be mine". Then I would beg my mother at the grocery store to get the coolest Valentines Day cards which had pictures of Power Rangers or Tweety and Sylvester because these cards I would put my name on and would reflect my personality. Then I would beg and beg in order to get the best candy to go with my cards.
Now in elementary school, if you were going to give out a valentine, you had to give it to every single student (making the day that much more insignificant to its true purpose). So I walked around the room proudly, dropping my valentines into all the wonderfully decorated boxes and anticipated the reward of 29 other card valentines accompanied with assorted candies.

Looking back I realize how much "stuff" I and all my other classmates would use to continue a tradition that I didn't understand the true meaning of. And that is why I was excited to come across an article on The Green Guide on how to have a more sustainable and green Valentines Day.

They advise to:
For the card valentines, use printed card stock that may be lying around at your house such as: decks of cards or baseball cards. You can use the image on the cards and then just print out an overall greeting.
If you have time, you can even make homemade paper!
And give out organic lollipops.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sustainability in Other Countries

Check out this Video from about sustainability in the United States and developing countries!

Alex is right that we do need to make changes to live more sustainably. The fact that the amount of energy we are using equals 4-5 planets is outrageous. City life does need to become more sustainable through transit systems and sustainable buildings, and the resources that the United States has is making it easier for companies and people to make sustainable choices.

However, I think that his opinions on focusing attention on developing countries to become more sustainable is unnecessary at this time. It is important that the world uses less energy and reduces their carbon footprint, but these countries should focus their attention on improving their political and economic situations. Yes these sustainable technologies are ideal for developing countries, but who's to say that they would accept and use the technologies Americans are forcing on them.

I feel that it is more important to focus our attention on our country. The United States is the country that is using the most energy consumption. And so, we should focus the attention back on ourselves to make the changes before pushing our ideals and values on other countries.

You can also check out Alex Steffen's website worldchanging

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hybrids' True Effect

In the last few years Hybrid cars have become a new trend in car purchases. In order to reduce oil consumption and lower personal carbon footprints many people have traded in their regular vehicles for hybrids. These green citizens made changes to make a difference and transport in a more sustainable fashion.

However critics claim that Hybrid vehicles will have little effect on oil consumption over the next few decades. After comparing the increase of sales with oil consumption analysts concluded that in 2020 when Hybrid vehicles would account for a third of car sales the savings on oil would only account for one percent of the nations oil demand.

The analysis, even though taken from a respective financial services firm, makes assumptions that may or may not be correct. Green Inc.'s article on this issues exemplifies this by saying that the analysis "it uses an average fuel efficiency of 27 miles per gallon for regular vehicles versus 40 miles per gallon, on average, for hybrids. "

Many people are quick to question whether the efforts to be more sustainable are actually effective. While Hybrid vehicles will not make a huge huge difference like many assume and expect, they are making some difference and are a bit more sustainable that regular vehicles. Yes many of the trends of sustainable living seem to good to be true and the positive impacts may seem a little exaggerated; however, its one step at a time. It's with each new invention or innovation that gives people the option to be a little more sustainable that will all compile together to significantly make the difference.
Shop for a Hybrid Car

2009's Top Sustainable Travel Spots

Even though today's citizens are making efforts to live sustainably and act in green ways, most still want to be able to continue to enjoy the pleasures and adventures that life has to offer. One of these pleasures that many consider the highlights of their lives is traveling around the world. Site seeing, exploring, learning, relaxing, discovering new cultures and living in luxury; this is why we travel and it shouldn't stop because of our fear that we are contributing to an Eco-disaster.
According to National Geographic's Green Guide, the National Geographic Traveler magazine teamed up with Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations to evaluate and rate 2009's top world destinations on environmental and ecological quality, along with other categories.

Number one in the ratings is Norway's fjord region:

The rest of the top five rankings include Canada, New Zealand, Japan, United States, Slovenia, Australia, and Spain. (the last four all tying for fifth)

Friday, January 15, 2010

In a search to find an advertising agency that truly promotes sustainability and green thinking I have come across one that is focusing their foundation exclusively on sustainable brands and organizations. Egg, an advertising agency that has worked for successful brands such as; Southwest Airline, Coke, Hewlett Packard and Starbucks, now claims to be working for the "good guys." Their new focus and strategy is to only work with sustainable brands and to venture away from a traditional agency. In order to build effective relationships with their customers, they claim to have a transparent fee structure. They also have a blog where they show and talk about brands and organizations that are not acting in sustainable ways and expressing the need for agencies and brands to change.
Working for the "good guys" for Egg means that these brands and organizations have a positive impact on society. This positive impact can be defined "through the company's product or service, sourcing and eliminating of production materials, a true commitment to recycling, pollution prevention or energy conservation, its attention to stakeholders in the community, how employees are treated or other ways."

My first reaction to this website and advertising agency is Great! Wow! Wonderful! An agency is actually changing its foundation to work only with sustainable brands and organizations. They are claiming that they are transparent and that they will work with companies that have positive impacts on society. Now, while I am hoping that all this is true, how will they measure whether a brand or organization is having a "positive impact on society"? They did define positive impacts on society as I quoted above, but they didn't go into enough detail on how these brands' sustainability will be measured and what a true commitment to recycling really is.
Also, they vaguely state that positive impacts include pollution prevention or energy conservation, attention to stakeholder in the community and how employees are treated, but they do not expand how much water conservation or pollution prevention they should establish compared to other factors involved in the production of the brand. They also do not specify what kind of attention to stakeholders in the community they require or what the requirements and guidelines are for evaluating how companies are treating their employees. These concepts and ideas are all great but they need to have clearer means of measurably and accountability.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For years MillerCoors has supported and stressed the importance of responsible drinking. Now they have begin a new corporate responsibility platform which in addition to responsible drinking, focuses on environmental sustainability. Their new motto "Be Great" corresponds with their new website which informs visitors on how to live responsibly and ways in which they can make efforts to do so.

According to Cornell Boggs, chief responsibility and ethics officer for Millercoors says"The new Web site gives us a unique opportunity to connect with consumers who enjoy our great beers, and would like to learn more about the responsibility behind those brands." The site provides opportunities for consumers to make pledges to conserve water, prevent drinking and driving, and communicate their ideas.

On the website visitors can learn specifically about water conservation and provide an easy interaction for people to pledge their plan on conserving water. Visitors can also learn how MillerCoors is making efforts to use less water through watching videos. Deeper into the website, visitors can look specifically on how the company is packaging sustainably, becoming more energy efficient and working towards producing zero waste.

I am impressed with a beer company making huge efforts to promote environmental sustainability and responsibility to their consumers. Usually I associate beer companies with Superbowls and stereotypes, not responsibility. But as drunk driving has become a societal concern as it has caused many lost lives, each beer company should promote responsible drinking. Now with environmental concerns on the rise, MillerCoors is making a strong effort to promote a new kind of responsibility. Way to go!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sustainable Fashion

It is interesting to see what brands are making efforts to be sustainable. Recently I came across and article on about how the well known brand Coca-Cola is producing handbags made out of their bottle labels. Not only are these clutches sustainable, but the famous brand's label is communicating to consumers the importance of sustainability. The company's goal of having zero production waste is rapidly improving since the new clutch production is preventing Coca-Cola labels from entering landfills.

This new sustainable production reminds me of when I as a child produced my own fashion accessories out of wrappers. When eating a pack of Starbursts my friends and I would save the wrappers and fold them up in some specific folding way so that they could connect. After a little effort and a lot of persistence we would soon have colorful rings, bracelets’ and necklaces made out of Starbursts wrappers. Often times we would buy and big bag of Starbursts just so that we could make these cool accessories. Even though my main reason for producing these cool accessories was not to be a more sustainable citizen, I was. And the more I look back on different fashion trends and fads I have seen, I realize that people, in thier effort to be unique in their fashion, have produced many sustainable items. I remember the bags made out of Capri Sun juice packets or Kool Aid juice pouches and how they were made by people that were trying to be origional and make a fashion statement. Little did they know that they were making efforts to act sustainably. Fashion; saving the world one handbag at a time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tree Hugger

Often when I think about the beginning of the "green movement" one term comes to mind: Tree Hugger. Being young when I first heard the term, I couldn't help but take the term quite literally. Tree Hugger: one who hugs trees? Why would anyone do that? I doubt it would be very satisfying and I would think it would be a little uncomfortable since the trees are anything but soft and most of them you wouldn't be able to get your arms around. "Crazy people," I thought.

But as I got older I realized the true meaning and understanding of the term. defines the term Tree Hugger as: –noun an environmentalist, esp. one concerned with preserving forests

In the last decade the Tree Hugger has become a trend that was new, fresh, inspiring and a little crazy. Protests with picket signs in streets and people posting up on the limbs of trees stubbornly not letting the rise of industrialization destroy the beautiful evergreen. Many thought this was a trend that would soon fade after the newness and excitement wore off; A trend, perhaps like the infamous Beanie Baby. My grandmother was one of these furry little stuffed creatures biggest fan. As a child, I just expected to be given a new animal for any holiday, event or celebration. And every beanie baby that my grandmother bought for me, she also got one for herself. I remember her telling me; in a way to reason why she was so head over heels for these things, "Now I’m telling you, these things are collector’s items. They will be worth something some day. Just you wait". What a trend. My grandmother spent 5-10$ on each of these stuffed animals and 10 years later they were sold out of my garage for a nickel a piece.
However, unlike the beanie baby trend, the Tree Hugger trend brought with it the sense of responsibility in citizens to make choices that are sustainable. Maybe it seems a little overboard to sit on the branch of a tree and protest, but this trend gives other options for people to make the small changes in their lives to live more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The website provides tons of information about sustainable living and making environmentally friendly choices along with current news and stories about green living.

One article I particularly liked was by Kathryn Siranosian, who spoke about the Top 10 New Green Ideas to Watch in 2010... and here they are

"1. Alternative Measures of Prosperity France’s Joie de Vivre Index, initiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to provide a better assessment of well-being than the classic measure of economic health, the GDP (e.g., it considers indicators such as health care and family relationships). Sarkozy has urged other G20 leaders to adopt new indices, too. Look for more countries or companies to embrace alternative measures of prosperity, such as the Triple Bottom Line of people, profits and planet. (Hmmm…People, profits, planet? Sounds familiar.)2. Alternative Metals in JewelryWith gold prices volatile in recent years, Asian jewelry makers are turning instead to precious metals like palladium and titanium. China’s imports of palladium, which is cheap, durable and lightweight, have been rising steadily. Look for more jewelry manufacturers to choose it over gold.3. Buycotting The opposite of a boycott, a buycott is supported by consumers who make a conscious effort to buy from companies whose environmental and social policies they support. Examples: Canadian supporters of Israel prompted a buycott of Israeli products; people who agreed with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s ideas on health care countered a boycott of the store with a buycott last summer.4. Dry Shampoo Women are discovering dry shampoo—which removes oil and build-up from hair sans water—as an on-the-go solution for busy schedules, after-work refreshing, and anytime between regular washes. Exposure is spreading through new Sephora distributions, celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and reality TV star Heidi Montag, who has a product line in the works.5. Energy Dieting The recession has prompted more businesses and consumers to put themselves on an “energy diet” (buying more energy-efficient machines, keeping lights off longer, etc.). As they rack up savings—and come to think of themselves as more green—this practice will become habit. (This is Mack’s favorite green idea on the list because it represents an unintended environmental benefit from an otherwise dismal recession, she says.)6. Green RetrofitsThe retrofitting of homes and buildings to make them more energy efficient will ramp up. In the U.S., tax credits and stimulus money for this purpose will help drive change. For instance, California has allocated as much as $3.1 billion to cut residential power needs, including retrofitting programs. Changes in regulations are also helping to motivate commercial landlords and developers, plus green buildings can command higher prices and tend to move faster.7. Greening the PalatePeople will become increasingly aware of the impact their food choices make on the environment, well beyond local sourcing issues. Some foods (notably red meat) have a much bigger carbon footprint than others; some choices are better in terms of water consumption; and foods with palm oil are being linked to rainforest destruction. In Sweden, which is formulating dietary guidelines that take emissions into account, some restaurants and food manufacturers are already listing emissions information. (Related to Number 64 on JWT’s list: Nutrition-Washing. Much as “greenwashing” has made consumers skeptical about brands’ environmental claims, shoppers will increasingly take health messaging with a grain of salt, JWT predicts.)8. Hand-Me-Ups More people will start “handing up” their cell phones, digital cameras, computers and other electronic gadgets to their parents when they want to upgrade. The older items are often easier to master for those interested only in these tools’ basic functions.9. Return of the Water Fountain The water fountain is undergoing a resurgence and redesign as people seek alternatives to single-use plastic bottles. New water-refilling stations charge a small fee for replenishing reusable bottles. Several so-called HydraChill stations, installed in London in October, charge 20 pence, which goes to an environmental group.(Public water fountains? I see this in direct correlation with Number 67 on JWT’s list: Pandemic Fatalism.)10. The Waterless Washing Machine Using nylon polymer beads, which pull stains off fabric, this machine requires just a cup of water. It saves energy as well because the clothes come out virtually dry,and there’s little need for a dryer. The washers, developed by U.K. company Xeros, will initially be marketed to commercial laundry operations, beginning in 2010."


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Green living and sustainability has become a growing trend and important topic since the scare of global warming. Whether or not the world's heat is increasing because of natural causes or human influences on the earth, most people have decided that they too should make changes in their lives to improve the world's condition and not let their own crap pile up beneath their feet. And yes, advertisers have caught on. More and more products have become categorized as "green" and whether it truly is green or sustainable at least the advertisements are encouraging and reminding consumers that it is important to live environmentally friendly.
When advertisements that have labeled a product as green or eco-friendly appear on the t.v or in a magazine consumers most likely will not leave right then to go buy the product but subconsciously will be reminded about making sustainable choices in their daily lives. So while we all hope that each product advertised as "green" truly is environmentally friendly the truth may be a little far fetched. And as many enter into the advertising profession understanding the importance of ethics and honesty they will incorporate their values into their advertisements. But for now, at least the message is out there and consumers are learning to shop for sustainable when they have the option.