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Posts Tagged ‘green activism’

The following is a reprint from comment I left on Huffington Post this morning, in response to their call out to bloggers for some input on future of their Green section. By the way, thanks Nadine, and Ian at NRDC blog for your kind comments about La Marguerite blog.

Olivia,

There are three very important aspects of blogging that I would like to bring up in this discussion:

First, is blogging as a vehicle for the building of a vibrant community of passionate people. This has been the most rewarding part of my involvement with La Marguerite blog. In order for it to work, your team needs to play the role of moderators, responding to, and connecting all the folks that honor you with their visit. Most of the major green blogs follow the old model of blogging as just writing, and interact very little with their readers.

Second, is blogging as a channel for problem solving and activism. Sooner or later, just talking about things cease to be sufficient. One natural progression is for clusters of people to want to take it further, and start implementing solutions discussed in the blog. This is happening on my blog, where several groups of readers have spun off into offline discussions, leading to several green initiatives. What I would like to suggest, is that you incorporate a more formal structure for such initiatives.

Third, you may be interested in Mark Klein‘s Collaboratorium initiative at MIT, regarding new ways to structure blogging discussions, so that they become more productive. For more on this, I invite you to read post I wrote a while ago, including discussion with Mark Klein‘s comment towards end of the thread: https://lamarguerite.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/mit-collaboratorium-wants-to-organize-the-climate-change-debate/

Marguerite
More on Environment
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Green is out, blue is in. Move out treehuggers, make room for the sky watchers, and the sea divers.

Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t heard trees mentioned in a long long time anywhere in the press. That, folks is just plain unfortunate. While we are busy chasing after carbon sequestration technologies, trying to build artificial trees even, right there, next to us is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective solution. Trees are amazing CO2 eating factories. And while initiatives such as the United Nations Environment Program ‘Let’s plant one billion more trees in 2008 are commendable, in my opinion, they are not enough, and have not made it down to the mainstream public.

I started thinking what would happen if there were no longer trees? What would the world be like? I imagined it to look like this:

A nightmarish universe, populated with rows and rows of manufactured things, and no sign of nature to be seen. Aseptic, lifeless, colorless, with the smell of death lurking. This could become our world, if we are not careful. According to popular lore, Thom Yorke recorded the vocals for ‘Fake Plastic Trees‘ in two takes, and broke down in tears after doing so.

Just as I was about to give hope, Prad drops this morning’s paper at my side, with, what do you know?, an article on ‘PG&E picks forests for green funds‘ . . .

San Francisco’s PG&E will use cash from its ClimateSmart program to fund the restoration and management of two California forests, one in Santa Cruz County, the other on the state’s North Coast. The trees – mostly coastal redwoods – will soak up carbon dioxide from the air, offsetting some of the gases produced by the power plants that provide PG&E customers with electricity.

The amount of money changing hands is small by the standards of the utility industry – only about $2 million. That cash, however, should help remove 214,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from the air. That’s roughly equivalent to taking almost 40,000 cars off the road for a year.

It also means that the 17,500 PG&E customers who have signed up for the ClimateSmart program will have offset all the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the electricity and natural gas they consume. Participating customers pay an average of $5 per month over and above their regular bill. They receive nothing in return, except the satisfaction of helping the environment.

Still, not quite what I had in mind. Trees need a PR makeover, with Hollywood celebrities stepping in and speaking on their behalf. Or maybe, just someone to start a tree movement that makes it clear what can be accomplished with just a shovel and a few seeds. Cost: just plain goodwill from citizens.

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Found this morning in my Inbox:

Andy Hobsbawm sent a message to the members of Do the Green Thing.——————–
Subject: Two groundbreaking announcements about using body warmthBecause Feb’s Green Thing is about Using Body Warmth and turning your heating
down a bit or off a bit, this Valentine‘s Week you can take part in two daring
experiments in communal warmth and trust. 

Red Heart

1) The world’s first global experiment in decentralized cuddling.

For five days between 10am – 6pm GMT this week, brave
Green Thing volunteers are turning their heating off and shivering like jellies
unless you send them a body-warming hug.

Just mosey over to hug.http://dothegreenthing.com and press the big, green HUG
button and see what happens. You can chat to them too – even make special
requests.

2) And if that wasn’t enough there’s also the world’s first Body Warmth Flash
Hug in Soho Square, W1 this Valentine’s Day lunchtime at 1.30pm.

The plan: turn the heating down or off for a bit in your homes or offices, come
to Soho Square at lunchtime, hug some beautiful people (or some of the Green
Thing team) then go back to your unheated homes and offices with a huge body
warmth boost. (Green nibbles like celery or apples may be provided).

You can sign-up on this FB event page, or just show up: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8199023999
*walking to Soho Square good, flying to Soho Square bad

Such a brilliant, zany idea. I can’t say enough about it.

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Adam Werbach is the CEO of Act Now Productions, one of the hottest environmental consulting firms. Adam Werbach and his company are most known for their controversial work with Wal-Mart. Of particular interest to me is the program called ‘PSP‘, for ‘Personal Sustainability Promise‘, that Werbach and his team implemented with all Wal-Mart employees.

What Is Your Personal Sustainability Promise?

Below is a description of the program, from a recent San Francisco Chronicle article:

‘The crux of the program was a concept Werbach and a few others had created called “PSP,” or “Personal Sustainability Promise,” the goal of which was to get every Wal-Mart associate to commit to a behavioral change that would benefit the earth. It could be the decision to carpool, to plant trees, to eat organic food, to recycle – anything that might reduce pollution and waste and raise environmental awareness.

After testing the concept in 120 stores, Wal-Mart gave Act Now the green light to take PSP companywide. By now, virtually every employee has been approached, and the response, Werbach says, has been remarkable.

“There was always going to be that guy who says, ‘I’ve got my cheeseburger, I just want to drive my truck,’ but a lot of these people have Depression values – you just don’t waste, you don’t throw stuff away – and we found you could make it resonate with them on that basis. Also, a lot of them connected it to their religion, the idea that they’re stewards of the earth. There were a lot of ‘Aha! moments where somebody would go, ‘So this is sustainability.’ “

Some environmentalists I talked to scoff at the PSP idea, arguing that Wal-Mart and Adam Werbach are fiddling while the globe burns. But, according to Andy Ruben (Wal-Mart Sustainability Program Head), the program is having such a positive effect other large corporations (as well as Wal-Mart’s suppliers) are beginning to follow suit.’

What I like about the PSP concept:

  • It does not overwhelm people and asks them for one behavioral change instead.
  • It lets them define what change would work best for them.
  • It acknowledges the fact that the most important thing is for people to get started.
  • It leverages peer pressure from work community.
  • It opens the door for people to create their own definition of sustainability.

In turn, all the Wal-Mart employees, 1.4 million of them can become agents of change withing their own social circles.

I don’t see why the PSP model could not be used in other settings, besides corporations. Think schools, cities, congregations, small businesses, social networks.

My Personal Sustainability Promise is: to cut down on driving whenever I can. What is yours?

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I promised Eban Goodstein on the Grist, that I would rally people to Focus the Nation, the movement he started a year ago:

Will you be there on January 31st?

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Karen and I trade comments on our blogs on an almost daily basis. Although I have never met Karen in person, I feel I know her as a friend almost. Her blog, Best of Mother Earth, does have an earthy quality, that makes you want to linger. She writes some awesome articles on cooking, that always make me hungry. And a lot more. Posts on being a new dog owner, musings on parenting, tips on nutritional supplementation. When not blogging, Karen earns a living as a nutritional consultant. I especially enjoy Karen’s moments of greenness, such as the one she shares in this BlogAct.

I was divorced this summer and in the fall my eldest child moved out, to go to college. My teenage daughter, Kate and I describe our current world as “everything is different” She’s right. We are both transitioning.

On Sunday – every single Sunday, I do laundry – I have had a laundry day of the week for as long as I can remember – I started doing laundry in 1977, 30 years ago – yikes!

1560 weeks of laundry.

4 loads a week average – sometimes more – sometimes less

6240 loads of laundry. Wow. That’s a lot of laundry.

In my first marriage the husband would not buy a dryer, the first house we bought came with a washer. That was good enough – he said. Hey I was a stay at home mom, what else did I have to do? (don’t get me started) I hung to dry for 10 years. In the winter I dried clothing in a 6 ft by 6ft laundry room. Truthfully I didn’t mind all that. It made laundry ritualistic. I was green before my time!

I have these ah ha moments that I affectionately call domestic brilliance. In these moments I try and take the ho-humness out of housekeeping and find ways to be more efficient, face it folks – doing the dishes day in and day out is just plain boring, and when you get to the “doing laundry for 30 years” point — talk about the doldrums.

As I was recently sorting the whites from the darks (for the 1561 – ish time) I realized how little laundry there actually was. Now part of that could be because ½ my daughter’s wardrobe is on her bedroom floor ( hmmmm- that could be a future parenting post) or part of that could simply be because everything really is different.

I asked my Kate to count her underwear to see if she could get by with me not doing laundry that week. (I am not even going to say how many pairs of underwear that girl has) Needless to say she could definitely get by. I then counted my underwear, and lo and behold I had another 7 pairs.

We then counted socks and guess what – enough to cover.

I skipped laundry that week. I just didn’t do it! What a totally novel idea.

Officially I do laundry every other week. I have now reduced my laundry by 50% merely by wearing every last pair of underwear we own, wearing all of our socks, and by being more on purpose about full loads.

I will save money, water, electricity, gas and laundry detergent. I will pollute less, and wear all the clothes I own rather than the T- shirt that’s always on the top.

Now that’s green domestic brilliance, if I ever saw it!

Additionally I have completely altered one laundry day a week to a “we can do something else now” day of the week. Which is even more exciting! Count your underwear and your blessings!

Green Mandala me … being green

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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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