A recent astrological reading said that the year was starting off with a bang – all kinds of planets aligning to initiate a strong wave of forward motion. Well, that all may or may not be true, but it is interesting to see what a wave of new activity in the area of sustainability has come to the foreground so far this year!
The trend is the recognition that we can’t wait for politicians or world governments to come to agreement about what we should all do regarding sustainability and the overuse of the earth’s resources. Instead what is encouraged is grass-root movements, doing what works wherever you are. This is what is needed to lead us in the right direction for the whole planet. Think globally act locally in practice.
And we see this in action. We see inspiration coming from individuals, businesses, communities and organizations, taking the ball into their own hands and looking for ways to create sustainable growth, change the game, increase awareness, gather for change.
Here is a sampling.
The emphasis is on lighter or recycled materials. Less weight means less fuel use, which in turn leads to cost saving. Recycled materials means total energy saving for the planet and cheaper production for the manufacturer. Aspects of the refit also give added space and comfort for the passengers. A win-win for all.
This is only one of the many companies that are looking into their supply- chains to discover ways to make more sustainable choices.
A movement about bringing sustainability into schools has been gathering mostly under the radar. In February the Green Schools National Conference will bring the movement into the lime-light. To put the importance of this into perspective, Mr Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education will be part of this conference to present the Green Ribbon Schools Program. The convergence of educational advocacy, environmental sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship indicates some serious discussions about new possibilities, hoping to make schools and districts green & healthy centers of academic excellence.
NMI’s annual U.S. LOHAS Consumer Trends Study® has found most American consumers are adopting a “less is more” attitude when it comes to consumer product packaging. The survey, which will provide many additional data results on consumer trends, also revealed in addition to minimal packaging, consumers prefer by recyclable packaging and use of packaging materials that are environmentally friendly.
The good news is that this information will be processed by product developers and hopefully some shifts in packaging will become visible this year.
Nearly a dozen companies, including the likes of IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson & General Motors have joined forces to identify the innovations needed to create the next generation of sustainable practices in traceability, infrastructure, water management and logistics.
The companies have partnered with the World Environment Center (WEC) to form the Innovations in Environmental Sustainability Council. Charter members also include Boeing, The Dow Chemical Company and Walt Disney Company.
Innovation will be an important aspect to increase sustainability by significant margins, if we will be able to see a real reduction in energy use and the carbon footprint.
Substituting biofuel for bunker fuel (the kind used in ships) may bring about revolution in world’s shipping fleets! Bunker fuel is the most polluting fuel on the planet. One ship can produce as much pollution in a year as 50m cars. It is stated that even if only a partial switch to the algal oils occurs, it would massively reduce air pollution on the seas.
It is interesting to note that the company which will produce this new marine fuel is backed by the oil company Chevron and the US agribusiness Bunge along with Sir Richard Branson famous for his entrepreneurial visions. It is good to see some old-paradigm companies using their money to help the transition.
A brownie supplier to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, a skateboard maker and a payday lender are among the hundreds of existing businesses that plan to incorporate as “benefit corporations” in coming months.
They will be taking advantage of a new and untested corporate charter, available in only a half dozen states, allowing a company’s governing board to consider social or environment objectives ahead of profits. The legal structure is intended to shield the board from investor lawsuits.
We will have to see if this really works, but at least it opens the door for companies to provide benefits to all the stakeholders including Planet Earth.
And a few reports from closer to home:
A web-based resource for young professionals who want to become savvy leaders of sustainable businesses. The vision for this project comes from Rick Wheatley who is supported by three other evolutionary drivers. The project is aiming for a global on-line “Sustainability University” for next generation leaders. Driven by a passionate regard for the legacy being left to next generation leaders, Rick envisions a need to prepare them to meet the current global challenges. And he sees business as the most powerful and agile force on the planet to make the changes needed for a sustainable future.
Using interviews on video of various experts, senior business leaders with successful sustainable companies and young professionals telling about their needs, he establishes a base for transformation. This web-based resource becomes a gathering place for young professionals interested in contributing to a sustainable future. Here they have the potential to connect with like-minded colleagues which hopefully will lead to alliances and synergies for influencing their current companies or creating new initiatives.
Although at its early phases, this project attracted over 500 participants in the course of its three first days on the net.
2Lead is close to my heart as I am one of the advisers, deeply involved at this creative phase.
These sustainability projects are evidence of the increasing awareness of our total dependence on the earth’s resources. Every product, including our electronic devices, all our food and all of our shelters, not to mention the energy required to run, drive, cook and build, are sourced from the earth. We have taken them freely, as if there was an unending supply. We are also waking up to the fact that the earth is dependent on us to be wise, to see that any disturbance to her are cared for and healed and to help her stay in balance – not just for her sake, but for our own sake so that we can continue to live on her generous gifts. Funny how it has taken us so long to get this.
So to honor the earth for her role and to notice how much we appreciate her beauty, here is a lovely video by David Attenborough “What a Wonderful World.”
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