Do you secretly enjoy recycling? Do you prefer organic carrots to Dorito’s? (OK that’s not really a reasonable comparison – especially at 2 in the morning…) But even if you just like the feeling of buying organic food for your kids, you could be Green Positive.
So what does that mean? Is there a test? Is it dangerous.
Green Positive is a project designed to explore the power of positive green thinking to effect change. Yes, there is a test (in BETA) that you can take here, and no, it’s not dangerous to anything except the status quo.
Brought to you by the fine folk from Green Briefs and Unicycle Creative, Green Positive will explore how the power of positive motivation works. We’ll post examples of green people, companies and technology that are making a huge positive difference. (like the world’s largest PV solar array) We will share strategies you can use in your own life to maintain and magnify the effect of your own Green Positive actions and attitudes.
So take the test. Check it out. Let us know what you think of the brighter side of sustainability.
Things are heating up for the biggest green branding brain fest in North America. June 3 – 7, representatives from the sustainability industry’s biggest and brightest gather in San Diego California to compare notes on corporate initiatives, consumer expectations and organic alcohol. Once again I am heading south to immerse myself in this green culture, though not on Amtrak this time, as the additional distance makes it just too far to sleep in the bar car, even for me. Stay tuned to see how I deal with this carbon conundrum…
And, as a semi-official blogger and Sustainable Brands alumni, I have been granted special dispensation to offer a 20% discount code to any of my legions of loyal followers. So if you want the ultimate green brand networking experience, let me know. It’s going to be an amazing week.
Well I was as shocked as anyone that a recent Ipsos survey put our humble BC retailer above North American green behemoth Whole Foods on the eco friendly scale. But that’s apparently what 1,177 adult British Columbians said, 19 times out of 20, when asked to name one retailer they thought best exemplifies an environmentally-friendly business – without a pre-determined list to choose from. (See the top 10 list below) London Drugs came in at #7, and was the only ‘general’ retailer on the list.
That certainly warmed our green hearts, as we have been working very hard to get the word out there on London Drugs’ recycling and green products with the What’s the Green Deal brand, featuring our industry-leading Bring Back the Pack and Styrofoam recycling programs. (Full disclosure, Green Briefs and Unicycle Creative is a strategic consultant for London Drugs – so neutrality is out the window here)
Hats off to all of the companies on the list – it’s a contest no one really loses. And thanks, BC. We’ll shoot for number one next time!
Top 10 Mentioned Environmentally-Friendly Retailers in BC
Riding your bike and putting the blue box out every week is one thing. Deciding to lay your retirement investments on the thin green line is quite another matter.
As a publicly ‘out’ green person, I felt it was time to get my investments more in line with my values. What I found was, it’s not as easy as walking down the aisle reading the ingredients on bags of organic granola.
The Generic Options
Every bank and financial institution seems to have a product (or at least an ad campaign) designed to soothe the conscience of the wanna-be green investor, from the obviously-named ‘Ethical Funds’ to more obscurely-branded options like the SUMMA SRI Canadian Fund. The basic layer of screening for these funds usually excludes the usual suspects in the Merchants of Death lineup – weapons, tobacco, nuclear and (for some) alcohol. Beyond that, they can vary greatly in their content, and you might be surprised to learn that some of these funds hold stock in such tree-hugging enterprises as Athabasca Oil Sands Corp and the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Now some of you may be saying, “Hey wait a minute, hippie, there’s nothing wrong with those companies!” And if that’s what you believe, then you would be right. Because in order to invest with your values, you have to define what’s ‘green’ for you. And there is more to green investing than simply what the portfolio holds.
Finding an expert – Meet Tony Edwards Howe Street isn’t exactly chock-a-block with green investment companies. Through Google, I found Tony Edwards at Portfolio Strategies Securities in the bustling Vancouver Island burg of Courtenay, BC. On his website, Tony says, “When building a socially responsible investment portfolio, I look for companies that don’t cause me to lose sleep at night thinking about dead birds, or slave labour, or nuclear meltdowns.” On that quote alone, I thought it was worth a few kilos of highway carbon and ferry boat emissions to meet him.
We sat in Tony’s small office, on a sunny Friday afternoon, sharing a few cups of herbal tea.
“Companies aren’t ethical, or not,” Tony began, “It’s all in their behaviour. In order to make change happen, you can’t just throw up your hands and divest. You’ve got to have a seat at the table.” He showed me a report from Ethical Funds, (Make Money, Make a Difference.™!) showing how their shareholder activism process had led to positive changes in environmental policy with companies like Suncor and Enbridge. “These discussions happen before the shareholders meeting,” he continued, “Companies are a lot more responsive to their shareholders than they are to protestors.”
In one recently successful example, shareholder activist group As You Sow introduced a shareholder proposal in 2011 asking McDonald’s to consider stronger environmental policies for its beverage containers, such as setting recycled content and post-consumer cup recovery goals. McDonald’s now says they plan to test a new hot cup in 2,000 of its U.S. stores that could replace the polystyrene foam cups currently in use at all locations.
Who are today’s green investors?
“Many Canadians are not that financially literate. They think they can get all of their information from the big banks. Then, for some, something changes.”
“My average customer is an educated woman, or couple, between ages 55 and 65, who are fed up with the same old solutions, have done some research and just want to better align their investments with their values.”
Tony starts with the sort of due diligence and financial fact-finding you would expect of a certified financial planner, but then includes more in-depth discussions around sustainability as well, getting to know each client’s values as well as their overall financial picture.
How do you market the Green Market?
“People don’t want this stuff marketed to them,” Tony says, “They come in pre-disposed to a sustainable investing solution, usually through word-of-mouth. It’s a category that doesn’t seem to appeal to younger investors as much.”
“I’m a positive person, and I like to keep the whole tone positive.” Tony continues, “I sponsor local events like the Music Fest, the Film Festival, and sometimes write articles for the local paper.”
I couldn’t help but think if Tony could combine more of the information from his years of web articles with his positive tone and passion, and get it out there in the rich-media world, he would probably engage a whole network of very interested followers.
The Bottom Line
“People tend to think you can’t make any money in Socially Responsible Investing. That’s just old, in-the-box thinking. Some investments, like clean energy, may be too long-term for the average investor, but there are opportunities.” Turning his monitor toward me, Tony pointed to a stock curve that climbed like an Al Gore temperature chart. “This is a company I’ve been watching that makes denim fabric from flax. They just cut a deal with Levi’s.” Want to do some research on SRI Funds? Here’s a list.
Want to go deeper? Here’s a link to Tony Edwards’ website and article archive.
As my clients and friends will tell you, I’m seldom without a notebook in my pocket. It’s just too easy to miss all the brilliant words, catchy concepts and million dollar ideas flying around that I might someday be able to take credit for. As a result I have boxes of bound dead-tree-skins, bursting with… well, let’s just charitably say that perhaps I’m before my time.
But the iPad is threatening to change all that. I have discovered three apps that offer almost as much spontaneity and doodle-ability as my ubiquitous notebooks, and one that has made quite an impression on my impressionistic painting style. All without using more trees. More than were already harvested to make, document and promote the iPad itself, anyway.
This was my first note-taking app, featuring stylus-based writing and the ability to type text and even make recordings. (Not a feature I really use, but might come in handy) Multi-page notebooks can easily be created, and Notes Plus stores them in a hierarchy that is missing in most iPad apps. The writing and drawing capture is a little primitive, compared to the ‘Paper’ app below, but I have actually enjoyed the blocky interpretation of some of the lines when drawing cartoons in meetings. You can zoom in for more detail, change the colour of your text and pens and vary line thickness as well. But what I love most is that it lets me sketch and type on the same page, as notes can be exported as PDFs which lets you grab the typed text later. Drawings are also editable as vectors in Adobe Illustrator, which is kind of neat as well. A handy palm pad keeps the heel of your drawing hand from writing its own messy opus at the bottom of the page. At $7.99 it’s about the same price as an 8″ x 10″ paper sketchbook.
Paper by 53
As a lifelong Moleskine sketchbook aficionado, the clean interface of this app appealed to me immediately. The selection of pens, brushes and erasers is just what I might carry in my pocket, and the interpretation of the stylus sketching is the best I’ve tried. Opening the Paper by 53 app gives you a simple selection of notebooks to work in, to which you can add custom covers, using photos from your gallery. Adding more notebooks is a one-click process, as is adding page spreads to the books themselves. Once within a book, you pinch to open the pages and sketch away. Undo is kind of a neat two finger rewind process, but it’s limited. Page spreads can be exported as jpegs with email, so it’s easy to share million dollar doodles with clients, friends and venture capitalists. My biggest beef is with the colour palette. The designers wanted to keep things simple – I get that – but really, being able to select your own crayons is grade 1 stuff. I’m sure the app people at 53 will be releasing upgrades. If Moleskine does not merge with them first. Free with one pen, $1.99 a pen for the rest and $7.99 if you order them all. About half the price of a real Moleskine.
This is more of a painting app, at least the way I use it. Best advantage, besides not containing any nasty chemicals like cadmium red, is that I always have a paint box with me. With SketchBook Pro I can swipe out a blobby picture anywhere without so much as a cup of water for my brush. The interface takes a little getting used to, but I love that I can make layers like Photoshop, and blend them, delete them or control their transparency. There are a variety of brush textures and sizes, and it works great in low light conditions. Downsides are, it seems to be a bit unstable. I have lost entire paintings that didn’t save themselves when the program crashes, which it occasionally does for its own temperamental artistic reasons. Perhaps it feels it’s really worth more than $4.99
The Sustainable Art in the Deal
I don’t know if programs like these will make a huge dent in my consumption of artistic consumables. I most certainly will still leave a box of analog sketchbooks for posterity, or the recyclers to dig through and/or burn for heat. So use fine Arches watercolour sheets for your masterpieces, but for quick notes and on-the spot sketches, why not save the paper? Or who knows, sometimes those quick sketch-from-the-hip shots are the real gold. Just ask Picasso.
The Globe Foundation, and their biennial show, have been helping companies worldwide make the business case for green for 12 years. For the past decade they have also handed out awards for Environmental Excellence. This year, London Drugs was pleased to be named a finalist in the Greenest Retailing Practices category, alongside retail giants Sears and Canadian Tire.
The awards ceremony was held at a tasteful luncheon on March 16th, and the crowd clapped as enthusiastically as they could with one hand busy shoveling pan-seared arctic char and swigging glasses of surprisingly non-local Wolf Blass red.
As you might guess from the headline, London Drugs did not take home the hardware this time. Canadian Tire was the retail category winner, with substantial CSR reporting and a line of their own private label green products.
But the real winners were all of the people who work so hard behind the scenes to make sustainability happen. Too often, these unsung heroes toil away measuring obscure statistics and driving change in the darkest corners of the business world.
It’s nice to see them recognized, among their peers for their dedication and devotion. Thanks to the Globe Foundation for making that happen.
Here are all of the winners, in the various categories -congratulations to all, and maybe we’ll see you in 2014!
If you are a Brand Manager who thinks they can leave the sustainability stats to the green geeks, you had better think again. As activists, media and even customers start to do their homework on the issues (and your brand) you need to have more than a passing knowledge of the subject.
That’s the essence of an article I wrote for SustainableBrands.com – creators of the annual Sustainable Brands Conference.
Not too long ago, print was the pariah of the green movement. Piles of catalogues and reams of newspapers destined for landfill seemed fated to be replaced by the electronic word. The paperless office of the future beckoned.
Well, print’s place has certainly changed. That you are reading this on your digital device is proof of that. But ink on paper has also come a long way.
But this investment could (and should) go beyond green labeling. LEGO could do a whole lot more to promote their sustainability, while helping to create a new generation of green energy engineers at the same time.
The Vestas LEGO Wind Turbine Set 4999 was originally released in 2008 with wind company Vestas. Unfortunately, it required batteries to operate. (?) Some diligent Googling revealed this obscure Renewable Energy Add-On Sets from LEGO Education featuring areal WORKING turbine and Solar Power Kit. Come on, LEGO, time to get these off the back pages of your catalog, make the package design more action-packed and put them on the shelves at Toys’R'Us and WalMart.
Bringing renewable energy to the playroom is only the beginning. I would love to one day be able to snap full sized solar panels on to the LEGO roof tiles of my home. And replace them just as easily. As once I wrote in a blog for Sustainable Minds, If I was King, I would Make the Whole World From LEGO.
Thanks to Apple, I now carry more computer in my pocket than all of NASA had to work with when they sent meat puppets to the moon in 1969. I take photos and video anytime, anywhere. I blog, I tweet and I have my own contacts database in ‘the cloud’.
So why, when I am attending a 21st century business networking function, would I want to exchange slices of printed, dead tree-skin just to introduce myself?
Is the business card dead?
The geek-inventors of the world have certainly tried to make it so. On my iPhone is an app called ‘Bump’ that lets me butt phones with other bump-enabled cybernauts to automatically exchange information. Attendees at technology trade shows gleefully scan each others’ coded badges, presumably so they can send them a bag full of pdf brochures. I can even buy clothing emblazoned with a QR code, allowing anyone with a smartphone scanner app to instantly price-check me like a 160lb bar-coded ham.
But I don’t see the technology really catching on yet. It’s hard to scan anything in the dimly-lit beer-soaked after-hours events where I prefer to network. I’m not sure I would look too good in QR checker patterned sport coat. And I can’t remember the last time I bumped someone (other than my wife).
Frankly, I don’t know if I would have taken that extra step to reach out and touch someone if, upon meeting them, their email address had magically morphed itself into my database.
So I believe the death of the business card has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, there is more opportunity than ever to create an introduction piece that goes beyond mere digital efficiency. It will never end up in a Rolodex, but if a card starts a conversation, encourages someone to remember your brand, and respectfully biodegrades afterwards, its future is secure.
Yes, the seed-paper-business card will grow if planted, but apparently you need to water it occasionally.