Posts Tagged ‘blogacts’

cover-mary-frompdf-72sm.jpgMary Hunt found me through one of the comments I made on Dot Earth. Only a few minutes into our phone conversation, I was sure I wanted to feature Mary in the BlogActs Guest Series. Mary is a speaker, author and business developer for sustainable products and the women’sconsumer market. She believes in ‘String Purse Theory’. Women determine over 80% of all consumer buying. By purchasing and promoting fully sustainable products, they can redirect the business climate while cooling down the global climate. The following is a reprint of an article she wrote in which she talks about the power of women bloggers, and some of the actions she has started to take, to mobilize women and businesses, to promote sustainable standards and purchases.

After reading Emily and Cooper’s great post on the Clinton Initiative yesterday, I’m becoming more convinced that we are the ones the world has been waiting for to kick start climate change – women bloggers. Al Gore suggested that bigger dream:

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We have to go far quickly, and need a mass persuasion campaign to change the climate of public opinion on climate change.”

It’s interesting that Al said we need a “Marshall Plan” to get this going because he knows that his mass persuasion campaign isn’t working beyond creating awareness. Awareness isn’t changing into tangible action, not fast enough anyway. And, he’s lock-stepped into thinking that politics will set us free. Will it? If so, where’s the leadership now?

If you believe the numbers, that we need to get 80% of the CO2 out of the “global” air before things stabilize, you know it will take citizens and corporations alike working on it. How can that happen when governments keep worrying about the seating chart? I keep www.enn.com as my home page. It’s frustrating to read about the reality gaps between hopeful and helpful ideas. Meanwhile the climate change clock is ticking.

Let’s compare politics with a new idea, and then let’s talk about our own Marshall Blogging Plan.

You could lobby for presidential hopefuls to get them into office (2 years). Then send buckets of email and money to Washington get them to put up bills (6 months). Keep sending email to fence-sitters in hopes that they reconsider a vote (3 months). Only to end up with one, watered down incentive to tell business to cut their CO2 emissions?

Support businesses and products that are already bringing down the greenhouse gases and can prove it, and set off a tipping point for Sustainable change. If you read through the stories on www.ENN.com you’ll see a pattern of governments “discussing” and companies “doing.” Let’s work with the doers.

What would happen if we by-passed this DC middleland? Why tell someone-to-tell-someone-to-tell-someone to clean up their act and eat up years of climate-changing time when we can vote with our purse or our posts and help the market flip with a lot less work?

The good part? It flips the WHOLE world. Laws stop at border lines, corporations and products don’t.

By letting Sustainable Standards set the guidelines, we’ll accomplish many things at once. The top one being that standards trigger lower energy consumption during manufacturing operations and encourage the use of renewable energy. As more companies back the movement, the technology grows and that comes back to each of us. In five years we could be paying less for energy than today. Technology works faster when supply meets demand. Let’s supply them incentives rather than yelling demands. Isn’t that more fun than whacking them with a lawsuit after the fact, which just eats up even more years?

The better part? No one will wonder “where the women bloggers are,” companies will seek us.

They’ll want free word-of-mouth endorsements. And you know what? If we’re smart, we’ll give it to them. Why? Because it builds both of our markets. They need a consumer market to kick start new, sustainable products, and we need a way to prove to these brave souls that working with blogging women (as a media) is not only fun but a more effective way to market in a social media world. Women represent over 80% of the consumer market. Perhaps it’s time to use that clout for transformational good.

Are you still with me? Here’s how simply this can work.

As products become certified as sustainable, that product is acknowledged from bloggers who want to participate. Diane MacEachern will let us know which products to champion over at www.BigGreenPurse.com. This isn’t a product endorsement, per se, it’s a recognition of a company’s efforts to put out a Sustainable product. This is one step beyond the Big Green Purse million women mission. Many of us are already doing the green consumer work; by pulling the work together, we can get the public credit that’s due for our efforts. All you have to do is sign up and we’ll keep you in the loop.

A sustainable product not only promotes renewable energy, but provides cleaner air, soil, water and keeps 1300 nasty chemicals out of the system AND supports global worker’s rights. What’s not to love? A cleaner, nicer planet that by-passes politics and creates a social media marketplace. Once companies know that bloggers are actually very nice to work with, they’ll feel better about placing paid ad space and continue the relationship.

But wait – there’s more… Tom Friedman noted, this is an “Environmental Revolution,” which means it’s going to be painful and some companies will die. By supporting these early adopters, we can the lower transitional pain and help companies thrive. This program does both, creating a sustainable world and a sustainable economy.

Ok, I’m an idealist, but ya know. We’re running out of options.

Everyone is talking, but no one is trying anything new. It’s the same old song and frankly, we’re all tuning it out. Climate Change as a topic is as exciting as “Got Milk”? It’s just another thing – a big, bad scary thing at that. And the truth is, even if we recycled our entire home, the big, bad scary thing would still be there in our factories.

This is the moment to start, and here’s why.

If you were a CEO of a company and was just told by Wal-Mart that your products must be sustainable, wouldn’t you work EVEN FASTER if you knew that there will be a willing audience to give you positive word-of-mouth on the web for your efforts? (BTW that’s exactly what will be happening on Oct. 10th at Wal-Mart’s Sustainable Resource Fair, about 1000 of their 62,000 suppliers will be introduced to the world of Sustainability – not just green – but SUSTAINABLE in a “prove it” sort of way.)

Now, before you hog tie me into a Wal-Mart shopping cart and leave me adrift in the parking lot for the crows to pick clean, let me explain.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of any big box stores. I think they strip society of its soul. That said, I’ve joined the converted when Wal-Mart gave the world this gift of “manufacturing peer pressure.” If anyone can influence China, it’s Wal-Mart. If anyone can influence Wal-Mart’s vendors, it’s us – women consumers. Imagine the ripple effect around the world without one law being used except the law of market pressure, kept honest with a Sustainable Standard. (trust, but verify)

The faster this market flips, the faster we can go back to shopping trips instead of guilt trips. Can shopping/posting save the world? If it creates a tipping point for action it can. Marketers say it only takes 1% of a given population to create a tipping point. If that 1% were also bloggers, it may take less.

I’ll leave you with one last reason Why Women Bloggers can do what Washington can’t. If you stacked up the financials of the biggest companies and countries, 77 of the top 100 are corporations. That power structure isn’t going to change in the next five years. The majority of them make their money from consumer goods and services. The supply chain of their products is what is causing global warming.

Ladies, this is very doable. By the time we get a new President, s/he won’t have to answer to the question, “Why can’t you clean up your own country first”? We’ll be well on our way thanks to women bloggers.

Are you in? Go to http://www.biggreenpurse.com and become One in a Million Women. It costs nothing to be part of this very large experiment where women consumers rule. As products become certified, we’ll show you why they are Sustainable and what to look for in other products. We’ll eliminate the greenwash. Then, keep supporting the good guys on BlogHer and in your own blogs when they advertise. Capitalism is just another social “system” with money attached. Let’s leverage it to co-create, as Diane says, “The World Women Want.”

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It is my pleasure to introduce Cass Nevada, my new guest in the BlogActs Series. Cass was one of the very first commenters on this blog, and over the months, has become a long distance friend and faithful supporter. Cass always surprises me with the depth of her writings. I feel so zen whenever I read her! When not blogging, Cass works as a consultant in social media, online customer experience and support, as well as support training and management development.

The automobile is arguably a key component to our culture–not Shopping, not Monday Night Football, but the Car. Without the automobile, Shopping and Football games would take on a whole new look. In January of 2007, while living and working in El Salvador, I realized how much I enjoyed not having a car–how it changed my brain somehow. Every time I came back to the States and resumed my normal car-focused behavior, I was aware of a growing contempt for my car. I decided then to begin a year-long project to see if I could live without my trusty car. Not all cars, just mine. That was the beginning of My Life with Car–a project that has changed a lot more in my life than just my transportation habits.

First, about “BlogActs.” I really love what La Marguerite is doing by calling out BlogActs–it’s a stellar idea! But in my case, action seems like such a…well, an active thing. And I don’t quite think of my year long project as an “action” Maybe at first I did, but I don’t now. Now it’s just part of my life, and that’s good. But I got to thinking about my project and realized, you know when you commit to change something in your life–something fundamental or maybe even not so fundamental–so many other aspects of you life change as well, not to mention your consciousness.

For example, you can’t start taking the bus or riding your bike for most errands or meetings downtown and not have that impact your thinking about how much more relaxed you are than when you’re in traffic…and wonder what other parts of your daily routine are driving you slowly out of your mind–like shopping, consuming, wanting and wanting and wanting. It’s also not possible–at least I don’t think it is–to become conscious about one part of your life without other things popping up for attention. And that’s been the interesting part of this project. Let me diagram this in my own case, my year long project to change my transportation habits and perhaps even ditch my car:


So again, I’ve discovered and re-discovered this all along the way: it’s the small steps that count. The single BlogAct I took on was to chronicle a year of learning about my transportation habits. The hundreds of offshoots from that one commitment–now that’s action.

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Tonight was the official presentation of ‘The Digital Dump’ at the UNAFF documentary film festival, at Stanford University. I had invited Ted Smith, from Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition to join. As it turns out, Ted is an old friend of Jim Puckett, the director of the film, who was also present. Jim had just come back from the E-Scrap 2007 North American Electronics Recycling Conference, where he had the occasion to meet people from the industry, 80% are recyclers only by name. Dumpers would be a more accurate description, since all they do is ship the ‘recyclable’ goods abroad, without checking first that these goods are indeed recyclable, and not simply destined to waste. A big part of the problem is the fact that the United States, unlike Europe, has not signed the Basel Convention, under which member countries commit to strict controls for their e-scrap exports. Ted Smith mentioned the astronomical number of chemicals involved in the production of computers, over a thousand, and the need to also clean up production processes, not just recycling.

The abuses take place in other countries as well, not just Africa. I found this video from the Asia Society, ‘E-Waste: Dumping on the Poor’. Just as horrifying as ‘The Digital Dump’, only this time it takes place in China.

What to do? Here are two most important responsibilities as a consumer:

  1. Buy green computers
  2. Dispose green

You can also become an activist and lobby your congressman and senator, to pass a bill in support of the Basel Convention. Last night, was one more time when I felt ashamed to be an American. Thank God, I have my French side to redeem me.

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My second guest in the BlogActs Series is Adam Brock, from The Wild Green Yonder. WYG is a blog about grassroots urban sustainability, alternative economics, and ecological design. It is one of my favorite green guys’ blogs. In this post, Adam shares with us his preparations for Footprint Forward, a very exciting eco-project he is helping organize, and that will take place within the university community of NYU, of which he is a part of. A wonderful example of BlogAct and truly an inspiration for all his fellow green bloggers.

NYU is huge – like, small city huge. Making progress towards sustainability in an institution of 70,000 people can be a slow and often painstaking process. But every so often, I get the chance to work on something really incredible that makes it all worth it.

My favorite campus greening project so far this semester is Footprint Forward, a university-wide challenge to live with as minuscule an impact as possible for a week. Participants will have the opportunity to calculate their footprints before and after the challenge, but Footprint Forward isn’t intended to be a competition. Rather, it’s an opportunity to build community and discover how low-impact living can enrich their own health as well as that of the planet.

The week will kick off with a lecture by our neighborhood low impact expert, No Impact Man, to be followed by an introduction to ecofootprinting led by yours truly. A group called the Gallatin Consciousness will be using the week to start a campaign to ban bottled water on campus, and we’ll be cosponsoring a talk by “Post-Carbon Cities” author Daniel Lerch. With a participant handbook, a plethora of volunteer opportunities and workshops, and even a Footprint Forward blog, there should be no shortage of opportunities for participants to connect and share tips.

As part of the community-building spirit of the program, we’re extending an open invitation to the New York community at large. If you live in the area and are interested in participating, you can sign up here.

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I have the great honor of hosting Canadian artist and writer, Franke James, for this new BlogActs Guest Series on La Marguerite. Franke James’ unique philosophy on fighting climate change is to ‘do the hardest thing first‘, so she can relax and enjoy life! James environmental visual essays have been featured in newspapers, on radio, TV and many online blogs including Treehugger, Worldchanging, Eco-Sherpa, and What is the Next Message. Franke adapted her ‘Green Winter‘ visual essay into a narrated animation, with music composed by David Gray, Big World Songs. It was recently featured in her presentation ‘Six Tools to Make Climate Change Art‘ to 150 high school students at The McMichael Gallery. ‘A Green Winter’ will also be published in an anthology of readings for Canadian university students entitled Perspectives on Contemporary Issues, to be published by Thomson, Autumn 2007. James has a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University.

“Turn off that light!” That shrill command has been ringing in my head since last winter when we got serious about reducing our hydro usage.

If I ignored it — it was followed by a voice mocking me, “Do you own shares in the electric company, dummy?” Whoever or whatever planted that annoying voice in my head (I think it was my smart-a*s brother-in-law), it worked…

Yesterday, I opened our electricity bill and found an insert: “Congratulations and thank you for reducing your electricity use by 10% this summer!”

I studied the bill carefully… Only a 10% reduction? Not that I’m competitive or anything but I thought we’d done better than that! In fact, we have reduced our usage by over 20%. But Toronto Hydro is not awarding gold stars for overachievers. The good news is we earned a 10% Summer Savings credit. Not bad. And thankfully we didn’t have to sign up for any program — Toronto Hydro just went ahead and did it. They awarded the 10% discount to any consumers who qualified. Super easy. No red tape. I like that.

Now you’re probably imagining us as heroes for doing without electricity… But it was so easy.

#1. We threw out the TV and read books by candlelight.. (just kidding)

#2. We unplugged the Beer fridge (not kidding). We finally gave it the heave-ho in September. More room in the basement now!

#3. We turned off lights whenever we left a room. It’s a habit that’s easy to pick up if you think about money being wasted.

#4. We switched to the new curly (CFL) light bulbs. But we also have lots of Halogen lights, so that didn’t make a big difference.

#5. We reduced the use of our air conditioner by opening skylights and windows (clever inventions). We also raised the thermostat to 24 or 25 degrees. (If you wear shorts, it’s a very comfortable temperature.)

#6. We reduced the use of our electric dryer with the installation of a low-cost solar linear-drying device — otherwise known as a clothesline. (Thanks to Green Party Leader Frank de Jong for that fancy moniker.) I would have used the clothesline a lot more but I haven’t solved the problem of scratchy, sandpaper towels. I tried eco-fabric softener but that only helped a little.

Admittedly we still have a few ‘vampires’ sucking energy so I can see we can still do better…

But, hey… this feels pretty good. I’m encouraged that our little actions made a difference in our pocketbook. And in reducing our footprint. We’re adapting to the new reality of climate change.

Now if I can just reduce our use of water….

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On November 5th, look for the first edition of the ‘Green BlogActs’ Carnival, on La Marguerite. To participate, just click on the link, and submit one or several posts from your blog. Submissions should be about small acts of environmental activism you have personally engaged in. You may have started writing about some issue at first, and then decided to take action. Or you may have taken action first, and documented it later in your blog. Either way, the idea is to show the possible connections between the act of writing in blogs and acts of personal activism out in the community. Because just writing in a blog, is no longer enough in face of the planetary emergency facing us. One example I like to give is of me writing about a documentary I saw about ‘The Digital Dump’, and then taking action the next day, by writing a letter to the Computer History Museum, and writing about it.

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Blogging + Activism = ‘BlogAct’, a new word I just created in honor of Blog Action day . . . Starting today, I am adding a new category to my blog. The ‘BlogActs’ category will feature acts of ‘blogging + activism’. I would like to offer the La Marguerite blog, as a place to host ‘BlogAct’ stories from other green bloggers. You just send me your story, and I will feature it as a post on my blog, with links back to your blog.

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