Sustainable Business

whew, the coase is clear

Debunking myths about free-market environmentalism

Money makes the world go … green?Cross-posted at The PERColator, a project of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). A recent post on Grist attempted to dismantle the intellectual foundations of free-market environmentalism — the application of markets and property rights to solve environmental problems. But far from toppling a burgeoning movement within modern environmentalism, it succeeded only in misrepresenting the subject. To recap: Clark Williams-Derry claimed that while free-market environmentalism may be effective in some areas of the environment (e.g., fisheries management), its reliance upon unrealistic assumptions about the real world largely relegates it to useless intellectual theorizing. …

putting the "world wide" in www

How wiring the developing world can help save the planet

Envaya helps people in Africa build ultralight websites, on the ultracheap.Like most equatorial countries, Tanzania is feeling the impacts of climate change. Malaria is spreading to areas at ever-higher altitudes. Lake Victoria, which feeds the Nile, is retreating. The rainy season is starting later and getting shorter — last year, the typically four-month season lasted just two, cutting soil moisture and stunting crop growth. Fodder for grazing animals is getter scarcer. Some farmers are foregoing water-hungry crops like corn, beans, and bananas in favor of mono-cropping plants like cassava, a tuber that is drought-resistant. These and other effects of global …

Fishermen find creative ways to get paid more to catch fewer fish

Fishing is ripe for innovation. New catch limits are critical for sustainability — without them, fish stocks would collapse, and then nobody has a job, plus a protein source vital for the planet's expanding population is wiped out. But they force fishermen to catch fewer fish, which means less money. A string of new programs and techniques are addressing the cash issue, allowing fishermen to make more scratch even as they bring in less catch. You've heard of energy audits for your home. Well, now Steve Eayrs, a research scientist at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, is conducting them …

Keeping it clean

This year’s Cleantech Forum: Less sexy, more efficient

Looking for new ways to get in the cleantech game.Photo: emilydickinsonridesabmxIt’s a rite of spring, the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. Venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, and various hangers-on gather at an upscale hotel to network, pitch, and hopefully clinch some deals. There are scores of these green biz conferences, of course, and after awhile they all tend to blend together in a mashup of hype and prognosticating. Still, the Cleantech Forum is one I make an effort to attend, and not just because it’s a short BART ride from Berkeley. Over the years, I’ve found the confab to be …

Frosted Flakes are (sort of) Grr-r-een!

How two 15-year-old Girl Scouts (and Grist readers) changed Kellogg’s

It’ll take some willpower, but don’t have “samoa” until they stop harming the planet.Photo: Laura TaylorWhen Kellogg’s announced this week that it is moving to limit the deforestation caused by the palm oil it uses to make Frosted Flakes, Keebler cookies, Rice Krispies, and Girl Scout cookies, it represented an enormous achievement for two 15-year-old girls from Michigan. You may remember Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen from my article two weeks ago, “Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?” They’ve been working for several years to get Girl Scouts USA to switch from palm oil to more planet-friendly and healthier alternatives …

the new word to have is revolution

Nicholas Stern: We need a new industrial revolution

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. This is the second in a three-part interview with economist Lord Nicholas Stern on climate policy. You can watch part one here. Lord Nicholas Stern, one of the world’s most prominent climate economists, believes that the fight against global warming will lead to the next industrial revolution. In the second part of an exclusive interview with ThinkProgress, Stern describes the scale of the challenge to wean civilization off its dependence of unsustainable fossil fuels. Since the consequences of failure are on the almost unimaginable scale of global war, this challenge is a necessary one. Stern …

Case clothed

Sustainable Apparel Coalition delivers the eco-skinny on your skinny jeans

Wheredja get those jeans?I spend a lot of time shining a light on murky areas of the food system, but what about the industrial-apparel complex? Just as the food we eat has a material basis and a history, so do our clothes. It turns out that I know a lot more about the (grass-fed, local) beef I ate last night than I do about the (non-organic) cotton T-shirt on my back. Recently, a group of apparel-industry companies banded together to launch a tool to help consumers — and the industry itself — figure out the environmental impacts of our clothing …

ex post factory

What if you updated your electronics like you update your wardrobe?

Photo: George MacklinDesigner and TED fellow Dominic Muren wants you to update your electronics like you update your wardrobe. In other words, he thinks you should be able to replace or update only what gets worn out, instead of tossing and re-purchasing everything you own at one whack just because one part is busted or old or doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore. Who really ever buys all new clothes? Instead, we modify a little at a time, replacing parts that wear out, of adding new pieces as our lifestyle changes. I needn’t point out that clothing is one of the …

... but they'll go green if they it makes them more greenbacks

Why companies don’t care about climate change

Businesses would be more interested in saving trees if money grew on them.Cross-posted from TriplePundit. In 2009, I cofounded a company called CO2 IMPACT to develop high quality carbon offset projects in the Americas. While I have a Ph.D. in business, I have frequently been too focused on my values to justify the business case for a lower carbon footprint. I guess I care too much about what we are doing to the planet and what we are leaving behind for my son, Mateo. Along the way, I have learned a painful lesson that hopefully can help other aspiring climate …

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