March 26th, 2009
There are two important pieces of hybrid auto news today. First, according to Reuters, Honda Motors has announced the base price for their new Honda Insightat $19,800, which is 10% lower than the base Toyota Prius. Honda is positioning the five-door Insight as an economical alternative to the Prius, which has so far dominated the hybrid market. We welcome the competition and hope that this aggressive pricing will entice many buyers. But, is it just us or does the Insight look shockingly like the Prius?
Second, according to AP, Toyota Motors announced that it will continue to sell the current Prius even when the revamped version goes on sale in May. This is an unusual move, and is likely directly a response to the Honda Insight’s pricing. The 2009 Prius pricing starts at $22,000.
Let the hybrid wars begin!
Popularity: 3% [?]
March 24th, 2009
Well thank goodness someone has seized upon this huge market opportunity! Here are Low Impact Living we’ve been talking for years about the need for a national, high-quality service that provides in-home green auditing and consulting services. And we’re thrilled now that Green Irene is on the scene.
Green Irene was started in New York but they now have over 300 independent green consultants all over the United States. A consultant will come to your home, and advise you on how to save energy, cut your water use, save money and live a healthier life as well. The home makeover costs $99 and takes about 60-90 minutes. At the end of their review of your home they will give you a Green Home Makeover Report and a Family Action Plan– so that you can jump into making positive changes right away.
Green Irene is doubly brilliant because they also offer Green Office Makeovers. We hear from people all the time who want to know how they can go green at the office– and now they can have a Green Irene specialist visit their office and help them make smart changes.
We are contacted all the time here by people who want to become green consultants and they don’t know where to start– well now we can direct them to Green Irene. The company provides extensive training for its consultants, so that anyone can become a green home expert. To learn more about becoming a green consultant with Green Irene, click here.
Popularity: 3% [?]
March 9th, 2009
Got a green business — or thinking about starting one — in this crazy economy? Then you’re likely busy doing a whole bunch of research on green businesses and the green market — and you’ll be happy to know that State of Green Business 2009, a FREE 62-page report, came out just last month!
Published by green business guru Joel Mackower and the editors of GreenBiz.com, State of Green Business 2009 lets you in on the 10 trends of 2008 — and the 20 indicators that “in aggregate, provide a picture of U.S. companies’ environmental achievements,” according to the authors.
The details are eye-opening — though if you’re looking for specific how-tos on making your green business successful, you’ll be disappointed. State of Green Business 2009 is less about how you can make your green business succeed and more about how green business is (or isn’t) helping the environment. The report’s muted vibe is this: “Ask not what your green business can do for you, but your green biz can do for the environment.”
That’s not to say that the report won’t be helpful at all for your green biz endeavors. After all, we need to take a good solid look at what’s happened to get a glimpse at what may be ahead. This studying the past aspect is where the report’s most helpful. State of Green Business labels each of its indicators with swim, tread, or sink icons, letting us know at a glance what’s going well and what isn’t.
What’s hot? In 2008, clean tech investments got twice the investments they did in 2007, among other good news. What’s not? Greenhouse gas emissions are still going up, though Obama might turn this sad trend around in the coming years.
But if you’re a green business owner or owner-to-be, what you’re interested in is probably less what happened last year as what will happen this year and the next. Unfortunately, the report’s rather low on conclusions. Makower takes the easy way out, ending his introduction to the report with a serious of yes-no questions:
“Are we moving far enough, fast enough? Does the ever-growing green activity in the business world represent a true transformation, one capable of adequately addressing pressing issues like climate change, air quality, the loss of species, and the looming water crisis? Or is it merely nibbling at the edges of the problems?”
These pressing questions are answered only with a vague statement: “Reasonable minds can justifiably argue both sides. The coming year will be a critical one for the future of green business and, by extension, the future of the planet.” Makower’s bloggy summary of the report’s highlights offers an even vaguer “We find ourselves in uncharted waters” — though Makower does say he fears “Optimistic as I am most days, I fear that the answer tends more toward the latter” of the options in his series of questions.
Read the full report to find out how the State of Green Business is today, on everything from employee telecommuting to packaging intensity. If that’s not enough, watch the videos from the State of Green Business Forum, an event held in conjunction with the debut of the report, to hear green business experts elaborate on these pressing eco issues. Best of luck with your eco-entrepreneurial endeavors!
Popularity: 2% [?]
February 26th, 2009
Considering our country’s current economic woes, it stands to reason that most of us are cutting back on our discretionary spending - in layman’s terms, we’re buying less stuff. And though we’ve been told that buying more stuff supports our economy, it doesn’t necessarily support our environment.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to make those purchases count. Not all companies are created equal when it comes to sustainable business practices, and many people underestimate the power that they have as consumers. And, though November’s elections were certainly historic, your right to vote didn’t end there. Vote with your dollars! Supporting companies that are doing the right thing by adopting eco-friendly practices, or “buycotting”, will help ensure that those companies make it through these tough economic times.
So how do you determine which companies deserve your hard-earned dollars? How do you spot those greenwashers? It’s not always easy, but fortunately there are some resources that can help.
Turn to the Experts
Recently, a couple of studies have been released that identify specific companies as tops in their class when it comes to sustainable practices.
First up, The Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the World, a list of publicly-traded companies that best manage the environmental, social and governance risk associated with sustainability. Brought to us by Corporate Knights: The Canadian Magazine for Responsible Business and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors the fifth annual list includes familiar American companies like Amazon.com, Coca Cola, Dell, Nike, and Walt Disney. (Note that these are all large, international, publicly-traded companies – no Tom’s of Maine here!)
Having a bit of info regarding these large companies’ efforts in sustainability can, and should, influence your buying decisions. Drop your laptop in the bathtub? Think Dell. Desperate for a carbonated caffeine jolt? Consider Coke.
But, when you make these purchasing decisions, just make sure that you keep the bigger picture in mind – do you really need a new computer? Updating your old one is a greener option, as is bringing water in a reusable container, washing those old sneaks, or borrowing books from the library – regardless of the sustainability efforts of Dell, Coke, Nike or Amazon. Vote with your dollars when it’s appropriate to do so, remembering that even the “greenest” of products do not actually help the environment – they just hurt it less.
Look for Green Brands
That said, you’re probably thinking, “When I think of a green beverage company, I don’t think Coca Cola, I think of Green Mountain Coffee.” Did I read your mind? Cool, huh? Actually, my source is a recent Earthsense report that takes another angle, examining consumer perceptions of popular brands.
Of 350 companies studied, 35 were singled out by consumers as tops in four categories:
- Sustainable business practices
- Product impact
- Investment likelihood, and
- Recommendation likelihood
The resulting list reads like a who’s who of companies for whom green is a big part of who they are. Topping the list were grocers Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, both of which achieved high marks on all four measures. Other familiar brands listed as “standouts” include Earthbound Farms, Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, Kashi, and Fresh & Easy. Google and Yahoo also made the list. You can download the entire report from GreenBiz.com.
On the flip side, check out Climate Watch’s list of “Climate Laggards” – those who are behind the curve on corporate responsibility and the environment. Who’s on it? Exxon Mobile (no surprise there), General Motors, and home-builder Standard Pacific.
Though some carbon-intensive industries are over-represented on the list, some companies (like GM) were singled out due to their total inaction, as they lag behind their competitors, are unresponsive to investor concerns, and fail to report their environmental impact to the public. Sounds like the trifecta of unsustainable business practices.
According to many analysts, the hard-hit stock market is a great place to pick up some investments on the cheap. If you’re trying to live a green lifestyle, don’t you want your investments to reflect your values? Research continues to show that companies that are strong on sustainability outperform their counterparts financially.
If you’re looking to buy stock, or just want to find out more about a particular company’s environmental performance, check out the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility’s “climate risk profiles”. Covering more than 150 companies, the profiles are particularly useful because they compare companies within a sector. For more on green investing, check out last year’s post on the topic.
Buy Used Stuff
Supporting companies that get it is important when you need something new. But what if you need something that’s just “new to you”? I’m a big proponent of thrift stores, garage sales, antique stores, libraries, Craigslist, borrowing, lending and dumpster diving (OK, so I’m not quite that hard core). If there’s a way to get it used, do it. Not only will reusing or recycling something keep it out of the landfill, but it will avoid the environmental damage done by a new product, from raw material extraction to manufacturing to shipping and finally, disposal. Plus, it’ll be easier on your wallet.
However you choose to go about finding the things that you need to get through life, just keep in mind that you have a lot of power in your bank account, even if your balance doesn’t make you feel so powerful.
Popularity: 3% [?]