Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adam Werbach Speaks to Class

Today our class had the pleasure of being able to hear from and speak to Adam Werbach through skype. He talked, we listened, we asked, he answered and the experience was inspiring and a privledge for our class. There were many things that I took away from him and his wise words in regard to sustainability.
Whether the legality of the claim allows it, it is unethical to use the words all natural or green when advertising a product. The age of green washing is calling bullshit all over the place and it's finally time to move into the phase of transparency. It's about knowing the science to make a credible claim.
It says nothing to talk about being "green." When advertising a product people need to talk about the specific things that make it sustainable and express the sustainable value of the product. Promote blue because blue means sustainability. They need to define why the product is good from the green perspective and bring it into real life situations so that consumers can understand its benefits.

Employees can really make a change at the grassroots level. If they speak to their customers about the right products to use then they can become a successful resource of marketing and can become really involved in bettering the company and customer's sustainability.
A big theme is "make a change but shut up about it". However, it is important to use communication to accelerate the positive change. Once the company has invested enough and there is no point of return then it is very important to communicate and get the message out. You need to justify the time and energy that is put into making a company sustainable and still need to be gaining in business terms. If the company is investing capital, then they should be talking about it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Businesses Need to Join

Some companies and businesses are exemplifying the motives behind The Green Generation by focusing on manufacturing sustainable products, making their production more sustainable and changing their business strategy to focus on sustainability. However, many businesses are slow and apprehensive to make any change. In the worrying economy companies do not want to think about reconstructing their entire business. The first thing many companies are cutting, in response to the economic downfall, is producing environmentally friendly products or creating a sustainable business.

The main reason is that it costs more and they feel that customers will not be willing to pay more for an environmentally friendly product. Most companies also, have the belief that green business practices will not make a significant impact on the company. Even more, many do not feel that it is their position to address environmental issues and claim that the government should be providing public services to fix the catastrophic problems. Many businesses pride themselves on their traditional values and ways. The new green movement and suggestions for sustainability cross between the boundaries of their traditional practices and focus. They have been doing the same things for years and have been okay, so they question why they should change now.

Not only do businesses need to change their production and manufacturing for the benefit of the environment and the lives of future generations, but in order for companies to be able to compete in today’s and tomorrow’s market they need to create a sustainable business and product. Consumer value for sustainable and environmentally friendly products is increasing. People are starting to understand that their purchases affect the environment and that they can make a difference by purchasing those products that are sustainable or environmentally friendly.

Sustainable production in companies will also be cost effective in the long run. If a company reconstructs its building to use solar panels for energy use, then they will save more on utility bills. Even the simplest transformations in packaging a product can account for more spacing in trucks and thus, lower transportation cost and an increase of supply in stores. Finding ways in which a company can reuse their waste can not only clear up space in landfills but can be cost effective. Also, if companies make changes to eliminate unneeded packaging and use refillable containers as their packages, they will save more money in the end and will appeal to more customers.

Businesses and companies have the opportunity to act as role models for the rest of The Green Generation and can significantly impact the deterioration of the environment. No longer should there be blue-collar and white-collar jobs, but everyone should join to establish their role as a green-collar worker. The Green Generation is the beginning for all people to make the change and decisions that benefit the society we live in. America is at a standstill, trying to find jobs and improve the economy without looking to the real solution. Too many people are blinded by old tradition and denial of ecological problems. Sustainability in the workplace and implementing green jobs is the first step in improving the economy. Earth Day is more than just one day devoted to thinking about the environment and remembering to recycle. It is a movement, a direction. It is a resource for everyone to realize their new role and responsibility as an American citizen, to become a true member of The Green Generation.

The Green Generation

The Green Generation, the campaign launch for 2009 and 2010 on Earth Day Network, focuses on ordinary people who want to improve their heath, their school, and who want to help find solutions to environmental problems nationally and globally. The network claims that this upcoming Earth Day 2010 is the beginning of the year where people will change their ways of living and business practices to be sustainable. The Green Generation applies to everyone. Any individual can make changes in their lives that will improve sustainability of resources and the environment. Corporations and businesses especially will have a huge impact on sustainability efforts and will become leaders in the Green Generation campaign once they realize that sustainable products and business practices will lead to future success.

The Green Generation not only focuses on change in thinking about sustainable living, but also about a new economy. By focusing on improving the environmental crisis, new green jobs are needed and the unemployment rate will soon decrease, improving the economic state. According to the American Solar Energy Society, in 2006 the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries supplied 8.5 million jobs. Even more, by 2025, if 25 % of all American energy was produced from renewable sources, 5 million new green jobs would be created, claims a report by RAND Corporation and University of Tennessee.
Green jobs are defined as “well paid, career-track jobs that contribute directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality; they range from low-skill, entry-level positions to high-skill, higher-paid jobs, and include opportunities for advancement in both skills and wages” according to Green For All’s website. These jobs could range from reconstructing buildings, to creating sustainable buildings, to manufacturing a new green product, to organic farming, or even just teaching in green schools. However, one of the biggest concerns is that many of the people who need these green jobs do not understand the ecological complexities that most of these jobs require.

In response to this concern, The Green Jobs Act of 2007 was proposed. When the bill becomes law, 35,000 people a year will benefit from the 120 million dollars available for training programs. These programs will educate and train people on how to work in ecological fields. Soon anyone who takes advantage of these programs will be able to compete for the new jobs of the future that will improve the state of the world. For many who are behind in the job market, these programs and work opportunities may be the way out of poverty and unemployment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Earth Day's History

Senator Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day, began this movement by drawing concern that the environment was a non-issue in U.S politics. In November 1962, he established an idea to persuade President Kennedy the importance of addressing environmental issues by going on a national conservation tour. The president, liking the idea, began the tour in September 1963. Even though the environmental issue was not addressed into the national political agenda, the tour was the first big idea that eventually led to earth day.
Then in 1969 Nelson, influenced by the student anti Vietnam War protests, began the idea to involve environmental concerns with the public and use the anti-war energy to influence politics to address environmental issues. With the announcement of the nationwide grassroots demonstration that would take place in the spring 1970, Nelson received numerous letters, telegrams and telephone inquiries from people all over American who finally had the means to express concern for the environment.

Then on the first Earth Day April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans of all ages railed from coast to coast and organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Organizational groups that had been fighting for specific environmental protection aspects, came together to realize that they had common goals and values. Individuals all stood up together for protection of their environment and made a permanent impact on political action in America. This monumental day led the formation of United States Environmental Protection Agency and eventually the passage of numerous acts that promote environmental sustainability and protection.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Could My School Do?

Today in class, after discussing the different points and debates brought up in Alex Werbach's book Strategy for Sustainability, we dabbled on the question "what could the School of Journalism here at the University of Oregon do to be more sustainable socially, culturally, environmentally and economically?" After talking in groups, we realized that there is so much that could be done that would increase sustainability in all areas.

Our group talked specifically about the Internet and all the resources that it provides. We collaborated and thought up a list of ways the school could use the Internet to be more sustainable.
Well, we could turn all our assignments in online.
we would then save on paper (environment), printing expenses and time (economic). Not only that, but we could have a class blog where we show our papers, projects and assignments, that way the whole class can benefit from each others knowledge and work (social and culture) and if you connect it will twitter or other social media, then other people that aren't in the class can look at the work too (social and culture). Employers would have easier access to more students work and people all over the world can gain the knowledge expressed in the students' work.

We also thought, that teachers could hold their office hours using online social media. That way they don't waist their time waiting to see if students will show up and students wont have to commute (environment) or take the time to travel to office hours to wait in line to ask a simple question (cultural). Also, instead of having guest speakers commuting to meet the class, they could be skyped in, saving on gas money (economic) and traveling time (culture and environment).
And even more, how much do we, students, spend a year on books? A LOT! And how often do we feel completely gypped when we sell them back? ALL THE TIME!
If most of these books were available for us to purchase and view online then we would all save a lot of money and paper (environment and economic).

Some teachers and classes have already made tremendous efforts to use the Internet as a means of sustainability by putting the syllabus, lecture slides, and reading material online on the campus Blackboard website. But still, there is so much more that can be done. The Internet provides so many opportunities for people to be sustainable in different areas of their life and we need to start taking advantage of this huge resource.