The Green Minds

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Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk


Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Swinging Cow Wash Means Happy, Healthy Cows, and More Milk

The cow wash is a free-swinging brush that starts rotating when a cow rubs up against it. The cow can move around the brush as it pleases, getting rubbed wherever it wants – along its sides, back, and head.

The Daily Mail writes that the cow wash increases milk production by about 3.5% through improving blood circulation and decreasing the likeliness that cows will suffer disease. The company has already sold 30,000 cow washes in Sweden, and is moving on to the UK.

The cows definitely seem to enjoy it!

Though there are serious environmental issues with raising cows for milk (let alone beef), it’s not likely that we’ll see an end to dairy farming. So hats off to the dairy farmers who are doing all they can to make sure their cows are happy, healthy, and treated humanely.

Photo via Daily Mail, credit SWNS

Car Charging


The Car Charging Group, Inc. (CCGI) this weekend announced a partnership with LAZ Parking in New York and New Jersey to begin outfitting its facilities with smart, electric vehicle charging stations.

The Miami-based CCGI installs and maintains electric vehicle charging stations in government-owned lots, and at commercial sites like shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and corporate parking garages. LAZ Parking operates over 1,300 parking facilities in 21 states and 99 cities. The LAZ Parking sites will be equipped by CCGI with smart, ChargePoint Level II, 240 volts charging stations, manufactured by Coulomb Technologies.

Smart charging stations, unlike those designed for home-garage use, have metering and e-commerce capabilities, and are visible online. Drivers can find smart charging stations on Google Maps, for example.

Coloumb Technologies, the recipient of a $15 million Department of Energy grant (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative) is a leader in sales of charging stations in the U.S.

The company is, with some of its government grant money, setting up — sometimes temporarily free — public electric vehicle charging stations throughout the country, including New York City’s first.

General Electric and Toyota have announced that they are developing and will sell their own smart charging stations, as well.

The Department of Energy estimates that charging station locations in the U.S. will increase 41 times over between 2009 and 2012.

Citing consumer demand and a slew of new charging station technology, and vehicle models — like the Nissan Leaf, GM Chevy Volt, Fisker Karma, and Tesla Model S — Car Charging Group, Inc.’s president Andy Kinard said Saturday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Obama administration fulfilled its goal: getting one million plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

To recharge at public or commercially installed stations, Kinard says hybrid and electric vehicle owners should be prepared to pay about $3 per hour. He noted: “It’s hard to get 220 volts out into the streets. [Parking facilities] do have to charge more than it would cost an electric vehicle driver to plug in at home. But that’s nothing compared to gas prices now. And it will still be cheaper than what you spend driving an internal combustion engine.”

How Green Is My iPad?


By DANIEL GOLEMAN and GREGORY NORRIS

With e-readers like Apple’s new iPad and Amazon’s Kindle touting their vast libraries of digital titles, some bookworms are bound to wonder if tomes-on-paper will one day become quaint relics. But the question also arises, which is more environmentally friendly: an e-reader or an old-fashioned book?

To find the answer, we turned to life-cycle assessment, which evaluates the ecological impact of any product, at every stage of its existence, from the first tree cut down for paper to the day that hardcover decomposes in the dump. With this method, we can determine the greenest way to read.

(A note about e-readers: some technical details — for instance, how those special screens are manufactured — are not publicly available and these products vary in their exact composition. We’ve based our estimates on a composite derived from available information. It’s also important to keep in mind that we’re focusing on the e-reader aspect of these devices, not any other functions they may offer.)

One e-reader requires the extraction of 33 pounds of minerals. That includes trace amounts of exotic metals like columbite-tantalite, often mined in war-torn regions of Africa. But it’s mostly sand and gravel to build landfills; they hold all the waste from manufacturing wafer boards for the integrated circuits. An e-reader also requires 79 gallons of water to produce its batteries and printed wiring boards, and in refining metals like the gold used in trace quantities in the circuits.

A book made with recycled paper consumes about two-thirds of a pound of minerals. (Here again, the greatest mineral use is actually gravel, mainly for the roads used to transport materials throughout the supply chain.) And it requires just 2 gallons of water to make the pulp slurry that is then pressed and heat-dried to make paper.

FOSSIL FUELS The e-reader’s manufacture, along a vast supply chain of consumer electronics, is relatively energy-hungry, using 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels and resulting in 66 pounds of carbon dioxide. For a single book, which, recycled or not, requires energy to form and dry the sheets, it’s just two kilowatt hours, and 100 times fewer greenhouse gases.

HEALTH The unit for comparison here is a “disability adjusted life-year,” the length of time someone loses to disability because of exposure to, say, toxic material released into the air, water and soil, anywhere along the line. For both the book and the e-reader, the main health impacts come from particulate emissions like nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which travel deep into our lungs, worsening asthma and chronic coughing and increasing the risk of premature death. The adverse health impacts from making one e-reader are estimated to be 70 times greater than those from making a single book.

If you order a book online and have it shipped 500 miles by air, that creates roughly the same pollution and waste as making the book in the first place. Driving five miles to the bookstore and back causes about 10 times the pollution and resource depletion as producing it. You’d need to drive to a store 300 miles away to create the equivalent in toxic impacts on health of making one e-reader — but you might do that and more if you drive to the mall every time you buy a new book.

If you like to read a book in bed at night for an hour or two, the light bulb will use more energy than it takes to charge an e-reader, which has a highly energy-efficient screen. But if you read in daylight, the advantage tips to a book.

If your e-reader ends up being “recycled” illegally so that workers, including children, in developing countries dismantle it by hand, they will be exposed to a range of toxic substances. If it goes through state-of-the-art procedures — for example, high-temperature incineration with the best emissions controls and metals recovery — the “disability adjusted life-year” count will be far less for workers.

If your book ends up in a landfill, its decomposition generates double the global warming emissions and toxic impacts on local water systems as its manufacture

………………………………………………………..

Some of this math is improving. More and more books are being printed with soy-based inks, rather than petroleum-based ones, on paper that is recycled or sourced from well-managed forests and that was produced at pulp mills that don’t use poisons like chlorine to whiten it. The electronics industry, too, is trying to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and to improve working conditions and worker safety throughout its far-flung supply chains.

So, how many volumes do you need to read on your e-reader to break even?

With respect to fossil fuels, water use and mineral consumption, the impact of one e-reader payback equals roughly 40 to 50 books. When it comes to global warming, though, it’s 100 books; with human health consequences, it’s somewhere in between.

All in all, the most ecologically virtuous way to read a book starts by walking to your local library.

Source : The New York Times

Garbage is Getting a Makeover



Tons of waste are trucked here daily to a large industrial building. What can’t be recycled is burned and filtered for toxins. The ash is turned into building material, and the heat is converted into electricity — enough to power 55,000 homes.

The process saves landfill space. Air pollution is minimal. The 4-year-old firm, Tokyo Waterfront Recycle Power Co., will turn its first profit this year, said President Ikuo Onaka. But, he contends, the rewards aren’t purely financial.

“We’re making a social contribution,” said Onaka, whose business is one of nine firms operating on Tokyo’s waterfront to reuse the city’s garbage instead of burying it.

These private-sector companies are part of a very public push by Tokyo’s metropolitan government to turn this dense urban area, home to 13 million people, into the world’s most eco-friendly mega-city.

In addition to reducing solid waste, Tokyo over the last few years has unveiled a slew of environmentally conscious initiatives. Those include toughened environmental building standards, cash incentives for residents to install solar panels, and a plan for greening the city, including planting half a million trees and converting a 217-acre landfill in Tokyo Bay into a wooded “sea forest” park.

Last month Tokyo kicked off its most ambitious effort yet: a mandatory program for 1,400 of the area’s factories and office buildings to cut their carbon emissions 25% from 2000 levels by the end of 2020. The plan includes a carbon cap-and-trade system, the first ever attempted by a metropolitan area. The mechanism sets limits on emissions and requires those who exceed their quotas to buy pollution rights from those who are under their caps.

Tokyo’s strategy is reminiscent of California’s. The state’s landmark legislation, known as AB 32, requires polluters to curb their emissions significantly over the next decade. But while opponents, including large oil refiners, are bankrolling a campaign to stall that effort in the Golden State, Tokyo is hitting the gas.

More than half the world’s population now resides in cities. Metropolitan Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures have about as many people as the entire state of California. The way such teeming places respond to climate change will largely determine whether global warming can be slowed.

Masahiro Takeda, manager of sustainability for Mori Building Co., one of Tokyo’s largest commercial developers, said demand is rising for buildings that save energy and lower tenants’ operating costs. Large-scale recycling, greenery, rainwater reuse and waste heat recapture have become standard features in Mori developments.

At Roppongi Hills, a major shopping and office complex built by Mori in the heart of Tokyo, more than one-quarter of the 21-acre site is covered with trees and shrubs — including a rooftop rice paddy. The plants absorb carbon dioxide and lower roof temperatures, which in turn cuts heating and cooling bills.

Plants are essential in combating the so-called heat-island effect. Heat-trapping concrete and asphalt have raised Tokyo’s temperature by about 3 degrees Celsius over the last century, according to the government. Green roofs, along with tree planting and community gardens, are a way to build community support to fight climate change.

Tokyo rooftops are also sprouting solar panels. To spur adoption of photovoltaics, the metropolitan government offers its homeowners a subsidy of 100,000 yen (about $1,070) per kilowatt. (A typical system is about four kilowatts.) That comes on top of the federal subsidy of 70,000 yen (about $750) per kilowatt. The metropolitan government is also offering solar incentives to businesses.

Meanwhile, garbage is getting an afterlife. Tough recycling laws over the years have produced results such as a 99% reuse rate for asphalt and concrete and 72% for paper. What isn’t recovered is incinerated and the residue buried. But with landfill space in short supply, the metropolitan government in 2006 launched an initiative, Tokyo Super Eco Town, to get recycling to the next level.

Tokyo is well ahead of other major cities on many environmental issues. But environmentalists are particularly enthusiastic about its willingness to push ahead with a cap-and-trade program amid a sluggish global economy.

Source : BrandXDaily

Supply Chain Sustainability


In the United States, we are accustomed to hearing about the immigrant experience.  A family leaves their homeland behind, starts all over, and out of the ashes of what is often a devastating move is a success story.  It’s one reason why we hear so much about “American Exceptionalism.”  But the immigrant success story is hardly unique to the USA.  One story is emerging in South Africa, where a family forced out of Zimbabwe has found success in 7 years, became a model of supply chain sustainability, and will have its football (soccer) jerseys showcased at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which opens this week.

William Hughes and his family moved to Capetown, South Africa, after one of Robert Mugabe’s mobs forced them off of their Zimbabwe farm in 2003.  Having lost everything, Hughes came across a t-shirt manufacturer that was close to shutting its doors.  He bought its assets, kept the staff, and offered a manager, whose 25 years in the industry was too important to lose, 10% of the company.  The seeds for employee engagement were planted.

Impahla Clothing has since become an integral supplier to PUMA.  Impahla, which employs 180 workers, pays its staff wages higher than the national average, and hires no child or forced labor:  nor does it allow any of its sub-contractors or suppliers to run afoul of its strict labor ethics.  In 2006, Impahla started participating in PUMA’s pilot project, “Transparency in the Supply Chain,” which followed the Global Reporting Initiative’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance—European term for CSR) guidelines.  The company has since issued a 51-page sustainability report that documents how it became South Africa’s first carbon neutral garment manufacturer, and Mr. Hughes appeared at a press conference announcing PUMA’s commitment from 20 key suppliers to submit rigorous ESG reports.  What’s impressive about Impahla’s report is its transparency:  documenting the challenges as well as accomplishments, and giving the how and why it will come issues related from absenteeism to its sourcing of raw materials.

Ubuntu, or “I am who I am because of who we all are,” is the guiding spirit behind Impahla, and for football aficionados, the results will show on 4 African teams that will participate in the World Cup.  Players and their fans from Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and Ivory Coast will all sport PUMA jerseys that Impahla manufactured.  It’s an exciting time for football fans in Africa and around the world.  And it’s also a great case study of how a smaller company can make a commitment to its community, employees, stakeholders, and the environment and find remarkable success in a few short years.

Source : PeoplePlanetProfit

Marketing for Sustainable Products and Services: Creating Value From Innovation


Free PDF here

The Future: The Continued Growth of Green