Business & Technology

Milking sustainability

Sustainability goals for the U.S. dairy industry

Last week, we witnessed the dairy industry hold their first ever Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy. The week long conference culminated in the announcement of an industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce milk's "carbon footprint" while simultaneously increasing business value (translation: profit) from farm to consumer. But how truly "green" are their efforts?

Help wanted: A Bill Gates for distributed generation

Framing the energy revolution like the computer generation

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. This week's issue of the Economist features a commemorative piece on Bill Gates, who stepped down from his position as Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft last week. Gates had an arguably turbulent career, due to his aggressive or monopolistic business tactics as the lead in the industry, but one that has been inconceivably successful and world-changing. Among the many legendary attributes the Economist article points out is Gates' determination and eventual responsibility for personalizing computers in the form of desktops. Gates made the technology accessible to individuals, homes, and businesses rather than keeping giant computers centralized.

Wal-Mart gobbles up local produce

You thought you took home a haul at the farmers market last week, but you’ve got nothin’ on Wal-Mart. The big-box retailer has become the nation’s largest buyer of local produce, planning to purchase and sell $400 million worth of locally grown fruits and veggies this year. Wal-Mart says it works with “hundreds” of individual farmers, and has 50 percent more partnerships with local growers than it did in 2006. During the summer months, says the company, one-fifth of available produce in Wal-Mart stores is sourced locally. An emphasis on local produce — which Wal-Mart defines as grown and sold …

Investment in renewable energy skyrockets

Global investment in renewable energy was a record $148 billion in 2007, jumping 60 percent from 2006, the United Nations reported Tuesday. About one-third of the investment went to wind power; solar power was the fastest-growing clean-energy sector from 2006 to 2007, with investment nearly doubling to hit $28.6 billion. Investment in biofuels dropped in the same time period, falling to $2.1 billion. Most clean-energy investing is happening in Europe, says the report, followed by the U.S.; China, India, and Brazil are also seeing significant investment, while “sub-Saharan Africa, arguably the region that has the most to gain from renewable …

What I saw at the Summit

Thoughts from the big organic confab in Boulder

Attending last week’s Organic Summit, held within the tasteful confines of the St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder, was a very, well, organic experience. It started with the hotel itself. The St. Julien, a human-scale building right in downtown Boulder, exudes calm. The lobby, a light, airy space overlooking a sun-dappled garden with mountain views behind, practically echoes with a low and relaxing ohhhmmm. As far as accommodations, I get drowsy just thinking about the sheets, whose thread count approaches infinity. Walk out into the rich-but-not-too-hot sun, and you find eminently walkable, liveable downtown Boulder, not the brutalist food-and-coffee …

Milk jug gets a makeover

Another example of how carbon constraints may benefit big box retailers

Wal-Mart and Costco have adopted a version of the one-gallon milk jug designed with efficiency in mind. The boxier containers stack better, eliminating the need for milk crates and conserving space in trucks and on refrigerated store shelves: The company estimates this kind of shipping has cut labor by half and water use by 60 to 70 percent. More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam's Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam's Club store to two a week, from five -- a big fuel savings. Also, Sam's Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80.

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