Archive for July, 2008

The Hippies Go Back to School

Penned by Nick

Saturday’s NY Times article entitled “Green, Greener, Greenest“, provides an interesting look into how regulatory and review systems, such as the Princeton Review’s annual college guide, can push forward the environmental movement. Students are clearly clamoring for greater environmental progress on campus, whether it be through their dorm food initiatives to go organic, class demand for environmentally focused lectures, or school politics that increasingly promote green policies as a pathway to election. What’s most fascinating about this decision are the numbers that support it, and the implications for college campuses going forward.

When a conservative heavyweight like the Princeton Review throws its weight behind a green rating, it invariably pushes the environmental agenda into every campuses design and policy discussions. What more, it refocuses students on real-world challenges, and roots their coursework in the goal of finding solutions to improving the very environment they value.

Little wonder this gets national press–hopefully we see a similar push throughout other countries.

Two other articles on the Times also caught my attention:

1) 7 examples of campus-wide initiatives that are creating a greener school: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/education/edlife/27bus.html?ref=edlife

2) Green charter schools and their fascinating curriculum: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/education/edlife/27charter.html?ref=edlife

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July 27, 2008 at 2:50 am Leave a comment

Sonic Power

We received a lovely email this morning, from the Half Moon Band, who’ve penned a sure-chart-topper, ‘Bright Green’. We’ve been enjoying this track all morning, with even more toes-a-tapping and heads-a-bobbing than usual. Joy comes from many sides… our message has just gained even more colour, and become a little more sonic powered.

Go have a listen…

www.myspace.com/thehalfmoonband – be sure, as we did, to indulge in some ‘Bright Green’ choruses and, like Nick our visiting a-musicial Californian, some air guitar.

July 17, 2008 at 11:18 am 1 comment

“Leaf”lets in the Making

Compiled by Nick

Our beloved book keeper, Pam, has moved us one step closer to truly organic marketing materials. Pam’s update below not only draws attention to the fine (lost) art of hand-made goods, but the history behind the practice.  Below’s an excerpt of Pam’s most recent update:

“I soaked the cut up clothing in water and then, in small batches, processed it in the Hollander beater shown in the photo. A beater is a machine developed in the 16th century to process rag into pulp for papermaking—probably where the phrase beaten to a pulp comes from. It has a motor which turns a wheel with blades and with weights you can control how close the blades are to the bottom which in turn controls the amount of pulverizing. The trick is you don’t want to beat too quickly or you end up with pills or too slowly or you’ll overwork the fiber. This beater is from the 30’s and it works like a champ for beating rag (which is what you all gave me). I had to beat in really small batches as the knit on the socks would stretch and jam the beater if it was too full. The whole process took about 5 hours and then I ended up with that big tub of pulp! Interestingly enough, the clothing was a mixed bag of colors and yet the green prevailed. Hmm….”

As a lover of the simple things in life, this project brings a bright green glow to my soul, and reminds me to look deeper into the afterlife of everyday goods, be they clothes that can be turned into paper, silverware  that can be refashioned as jewelry, or just plain food that can serve as compost for future veggies.  When done even haphazardly in 2006, “Recycling, including composting, diverted 82 million tons of material away from disposal in 2006, up from 15 million tons in 1980, when the recycle rate was just 10% and 90% of MSW was being combusted with energy recovery or disposed of by landfilling.” To imagine that in 2008, as the environmental imperative has become even more pronounced, that we can find creative ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions seems not only cool, but imperative. As inspiration, the same EPA website reiterated that “Recycling also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions that affect global climate. In 1996, recycling of solid waste in the United States prevented the release of 33 million tons of carbon into the air-roughly the amount emitted annually by 25 million cars.

July 16, 2008 at 10:11 am Leave a comment

Paternal Pride

Quilled by Tom

My first baby has had babies. Blue Ventures, the marine conservation organisation I co-founded sent some exciting news back from the site today, details below. Although my days are predominantly Green rather than Blue nowadays (yes, my next company will have to be a colour too) – it is news like this that fills the heart with social entrepreneurial pride. Congratulations to all those Blue Venturers who continue to work so hard for us, day-after-day in some of the most challenging environments around.

FIRST HATCHING OF GREEN TURTLES RECORDED IN SOUTHWEST MADAGASCAR AS A DIRECT RESULT OF CONSERVATION EFFORTS.

LAMBOARA, MADAGASCAR: The first hatching of Green Turtles recorded as a direct result of efforts to protect the species in southwest Madagascar has been witnessed by marine conservationists working for British charity, Blue Ventures Conservation.

In a move unprecedented in southwest Madagascar, residents of the remote village of Lamboara have now voted to protect surrounding beaches, outlawing turtle nest raiding and targeted turtle fishing.

The emergence of 92 live hatchlings marks the success of an awareness-raising campaign launched by Blue Ventures two years ago. This aims to find and protect turtle nests along a 50km stretch of coastline south of Morombe.

“The impact of a small amount of education on the lifecycle and biology of the turtle has been amazing,” says marine biologist Charlotte Gough, campaign co-ordinator. “People here understand their resources are being overexploited, and that they need to do something to preserve them for future generations. The residents themselves put forward the idea of protecting whole beaches during the nesting season.”

Blue Ventures had been working with the community in Lamboara to guard the nest. A local fisherman reported it after hearing about the organisation’s initiative offering a reward for information on nesting activity.

“This is a really important time for me,” says the beach’s guardian, Lamboaran resident Sosy Kadioke. “When I brought the only two dead hatchlings into the village it was the first time people had ever seen baby turtles.”

The Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) is found in the waters off southwest Madagascar. The adults are targeted by fishermen and the nests are usually raided for their eggs. Turtle meat is also eaten and nesting females are often caught and killed after they have laid their eggs.

“We thought there were no turtles nesting here anymore. But saving this nest has prompted the village to help preserve a species,” says Gough. “Our experience of work in this region is that when one village chooses to do something, others follow. Village presidents from elsewhere are already showing an interest in the turtle project.”

It had been feared that the amount of nest raiding and turtle fishing meant that females were no longer able to reproduce effectively in the area, a situation that may have led to the local extinction of the species. Female Green Turtles return to the beach on which they hatched to lay their own eggs.

Last year Blue Ventures’ work with the neighbouring village of Andavadoaka received the United Nations Development Programme’s prestigious Equator Prize for efforts to conserve local biodiversity and alleviate poverty.

Other marine conservation efforts piloted by Blue Ventures in the region include the creation of Madagascar’s first community-based marine protected area network. This initiative is now being used as a blueprint for the creation of 50 further marine reserves in the country, part of an ambitious African Development Bank-funded marine conservation programme.

July 15, 2008 at 4:14 pm 1 comment

Tragedy, comedy

Penned by Nick

I found myself reading “The Onions” annual “All-Paper Salute to the Environment” this week, and laughing heartily at their story on titled “Raped Environment Led Polluters On, Defense Attorneys Argue.” Comic, but poignant, particularly as I watched from the doorstep of San Francisco as over 300+ wildfires continue to rage throughout the State, destroying over 600,000 acres of forest and injuring over 200 firefighters. The air quality is so bad that throughout much of the state, a moratorium has been placed on physical activity for nearly two weeks as particulate matter clouds the skyline to the point I can’t even see two blocks down the street. Scary, sad, concerning.

On the flip side, a bit of good news continues to come out of a wonderful woman who’s come into my life through Bright Green. Pam’s our A-list bookkeeper who’s currently on the east coast, cutting up the Bright Green team’s donated cotton clothing into small shreds (see pic below) to be made into organic paper that’s embedded with lettuce seeds. At the end of the project, we should end up with a marketing piece that can be read and then thrown into the garden, and hopefully these “leaf”lets will yield veggies galore for the reader. Seems the karmic equation’s in some balance–would be nice to see it tip in the environment’s favor. More on that, the G8 summit, and next step in our paper making process next week, when I write from London. Until then, green out.

Donated BGT team clothes being made into our marketing booklets

Donated BGT team clothes being made into our marketing booklets

July 11, 2008 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

Walkabouts

By Tom:

Whilst Nick delves into the finer points of carbon management, my mind has clearly been baked by the English sun at what feel like record temperatures today. Unable to work at the same level of analysis given the heat, and with the sun flirting through our windows – I wanted to share a new, unsophisticated but nice, development to my management style – that of the walking meeting.

We spend so much time sitting nowadays that a meeting with a new person is a chance to go for a walk, whether round the block, along a canal or to a park. I’ve increasingly started making longer calls on my mobile and going for a walk whilst doing so. Or, if the person I am meeting is up for it, a wander around the neighbourhood whilst chatting to people in person. I highly recommend it… I feel fitter, happier and more in touch with my community and certainly my brain is more alive whilst I’m using my body, as opposed to being stuck with my bum on some chair or other.

So, if you’re coming for a meeting at Bright Green, I hope you don’t mind if I suggest you bring your walking shoes so that we can share Bright Green thoughts and the environment we’re discussing as we go.

July 1, 2008 at 5:47 pm Leave a comment

A, B, C’s of Carbon Ratings

Penned by Nick

Though Sir Nicholas Stern doesn’t exactly hone in on the underlying carbon credit fundamentals that will determine whether projects are AAA, AA, A, BBB, etc (to use a conventional credit rating system), he does frame out the importance of quantifying and pricing the cost of carbon emissions such that the moral imperative and financial benefits are laid bare: a price on carbon makes dollars and sense.

From a financial perspective, the regulatory system that supports the Kyoto protocol’s CDM and JI mechanisms needs to be tightened up. A first step would be to standardize carbon ratings, followed by a robust international certification system that makes validating tonnes of carbon quite easy.

A third component that transnational organizations such as the World Bank and IMF could support would be an international fund that invests in carbon, helping to integrate disparate regional markets while serving to normalize prices that currently run a wide spread.

With the US presidential election pending, it’ll be interesting to see how these regulatory efforts come together in the US, if it all…

Embedded Video

July 1, 2008 at 12:40 am Leave a comment


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