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8 posts from November 2007

November 29, 2007

Dorothy, you're the wizard now.

JudygarlandasdorothygalefromthewizaJust for grins, go to www.topix.net and try this yourself. Type in "green consumers", "women consumers" and "men consumers". Here are the results I got.

green consumers 199 

women consumers 110

men consumers 1

(Do the math, ratio matters)

In March "Sustainable Products" had 1 mention - In November 976 mentions.

In March 26 "green products" had 68 - today "green products" has over 2000 mentions.

There is a lot to be learned from this little survey. First, ladies, you are the consumer that will turn the planet green. That also makes you voter who will turn the planet green. Vote with your voice first, your wallet second and your ballot third.

Second, this isn't fad that will go away until everything turns green and that's where the next trend is heading now. Don't just look to buy green, look to buy sustainably. Companies are working hard to provide the products.

Third, this trend has happened without one ballot being cast or bill being passed. It happened because the population of the world wants it to happen. On days when you're completely frustrated with what is happening (or not) in DC remember, the power has been with you all the time. 

November 24, 2007

Buy Nothing Day is not a Do Nothing Day

November 23 was Buy Nothing / Sell Nothing Day. Did you participate? Tell me what you did. It's a concept that perhaps we need to return to. While I was growing up we had something like that, we called it Sunday, the day and we switched from buying things to doing things mainly because all the stores were closed. Some of my best childhood memories are from those "not-so-nothing" days.

Meanwhile, while we're waiting for old habits to gain new traction... You know the world is changing when a former Senior Buyer at Wal Mart turns advocate for buying less stuff and using less print advertising. That's a brave stance to take in a capitalistic society. If you're in retail, you'll want to earmark the new blog by Coral Rose, her insights into fabric trends are good for business and consumer alike.

"We are headed into the most unsustainable time of year, a time of year whereby people buy more stuff, throw more stuff away, all in the name of glad tidings and good cheer?"

Her pragmatic viewpoint sounds a warning to business to imagine a world where people are happier with less. Imagine a world where we no longer have to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, keeping up with the Joneses actually is a sign of VERY bad taste in an ever-less-sustainable world.

Less, has become fashionably more.

Real_simpleReal Simple Magazine already captured the do-with-less trend. One glance down it's list of articles for the month and you'll feel like you've been transported back to the 50s when women had time to hand make food, gifts and party invitations.  I'm actually ok with that. I can still recall the handmade center pieces that my very clever Aunt Wilma created for Christmas dinner on the ping pong table. At our house we used wall paper from old sample books to wrap up presents. (It helped that my Dad was a decorator with old books on hand.) I don't recall feeling like we were "making do," in fact it was quite the opposite. At one point I remember feeling sorry for the kids that had to use store bought paper because they weren't creative enough to come up with original wrap jobs.

Buying less or buying sustainable doesn't mean having Christmas with the Kranks. Becoming greener doesn't mean giving up the holidays, just rearranging priorities. I bet if you ask anyone about their favorite memories, they don't include "things". One of my friends takes her family on a holiday skiing trip every year instead of giving out presents. Talk about a memory maker and the real cost is about the same. It sure makes their holiday a whole lot simpler and something they all really look forward to.

Have you bought nothing yet for the holiday? Congratulations. You're ahead of the trend.

November 21, 2007

Fireman's Fund is rebuilding GREEN homes in SoCal

Cal_fire Under things to be thankful for, as I slip into pumpkin pie mode, are companies who take the initiative to create a better product before it's trendy. That tells me something about their integrity.

Two years ago, Fireman's Fund looked into what it would cost to bring a policy in line with green building codes. The Prestige Premier policy came from that research, if something happens to your home, they'll rebuild it green.

Ok, that's solid, forwFiremans_fund_2 ard thinking that I can appreciate as a former Insurance corporate communications person. I know how hard it is to get such things through legal and launched. Here's the REALLY cool part, any of the Fireman's Fund homes that were lost during the recent fires in Southern California will be rebuilt green as though they had the upgraded policy already in place.

That's not only an incredibly generous offer by Fireman's Fund, green homes are more expensive to build, but a wise choice for the future when the next fire burns through. Green homes are less likely to burn and not only is the home replaced, but the landscaping with things that are less likely to torch.

According to a news release, the rebuild includes:

·         Green replacement upgrades will repair or replace damaged property with materials and products that meet environmental safety and energy efficiency standards.

 

  • Green building features include Energy Star-rated appliances and lighting fixtures, home insulation, heating/ventilating/air conditioning, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, sealants, adhesives, low emission carpeting, Federal Energy Management Program- designated plumbing fixtures featuring water conservation, and use of forest stewardship certified wood for cabinets, ceilings, siding and framing.

  • Trees, Shrubs, Lawns and other plants – Up to $10,000 per plant and $50,000 total for replacing destroyed vegetation with those that reduce the risk of spreading wildfire.  Recommending fire-resistant and green landscaping is part of a comprehensive loss prevention program already available to Fireman’s Fund California policyholders to proactively reduce vulnerability to wildfire.

  • Pet injury – up to $25,000 for veterinary expenses due to injuries caused by an occurrence such as the fires.

Is that great, or what?  Those are the kind of actions that go beyond the call of green and straight to the call of caring. I never thought I'd be excited about the insurance industry again.

Thanks Fireman's Fund, for doing the right thing for so many and setting an example for the other Insurance companies to follow.

November 18, 2007

What turns Women Green? Natural Living.

Natural_livign 94% of home furnishings buyers/influencers are women.

93% of grocery buyers/influencers are women.

89% of vacations are planned by women.

The list goes on and on. Anyone who sells in the consumer market knows these stats. The most quoted stat is that women buy/influence over 83% of consumer purchases. Companies like Home Depot have even changed their image/track to get more women buying, and it's working. So why is is so hard for the green group to get on board? 

Yesterday, at the OpportunityGreen Conference, the question was asked over and over, "How can we get more consumers start buying green products?" You can start by calling them what they are, women, and that little shift will help you get in the right frame of mind.

Natural Living knows that. Their demographic is made up of 89% women. Idealbite knows it too, their demo is 94% women. Considering Ideal Bite grew to 170,000 subscribers from word of mouth, what does that tell you? Natural Living put out a terrific new magazine that is the perfect mix of what women want, a little of everything the touches our lives with a bit of sustainable education thrown in. THANK YOU!

The inside of Natural Living lists many, MANY women contributors. Is that all it takes? No, but that's a good start because then the ideas for what is pictured, written, chosen for advertising is all filtered through a women's brain or a guy who gets it. That chocolate on the back cover? If I wanted to lick the page.

Natural Living had appealing photography, short stories, NEW stuff that gets me excited about the future along with educational pieces that actually help me understand the bigger issues. There are about 50 things they did right on this one. Check it out and see if you can determine why it works or not. If you can't, maybe you need to start hiring more women writers and art directors. This ain't rocket science folks, it's common sense. It takes one to know one. Kudos to Kristina and all genders who work with her to develop a new approach to a sustainable way of life.

November 14, 2007

WLS / Susan Mills / EASE Initiative Nov. 16, 17, 18

Women Leading Sustainability - that's what it said on a link from a link leading off of the EnergyEase07 conference site. [more on that in a minute] Hummmm, I wonder what they are all about.

Another link chase took me to a down loadable copy of the MITSloan white paper on Collaboration for Systemic Change. (free) Buried in there was more information on this group's dynamics.

"The Women Leading Sustainability group explored how to connect their inner and outer lives, how to develop a career path that can provide leadership within the corporation whale also being consistent with their core values." [and] "founders of Women Leading Sustainability brought specific methods to the group, like personal check-ins and basic principles of dialog and learning. The provision of free space is a must and the most challenging..."

Other pages went into more detail as to how this Sustainability unconference was based on inter-relational skills. It was nice to read was that "soft skills," those very skills that were deemed as wishy-washy before are now being sought out for their usefulness in a collaborative world. It was the first time that I've seen them actually cited and then applied inside the same, professional setting. Cool. 

Then I dug deeper and found out that one women, Susan Mills, is the moxie behind EnergyEase07 (Nov. 16,17 and 18 at Fort Mason, San Francisco) It's focused on putting together solutions for a more energy efficient planet from a personal to city level and brings together those who seriously want to work on cross-disapline solutions.

Getting professionals to share ideas is always iffy. There's a fine line between helping others and hurting your own business. That said, this group understands that the mission - save Earth - is a tad more important than keeping an idea to yourself. So, this weekend, men and women, young and old, Buckeyes and Wolverines... feel FREE to attend and provide your ideas in the most collaborative and fun way to work. Get your idea out on the table.

November 13, 2007

Kudos to the Warm Kids Project

It's hard for me to feel the chill of a November day sitting here in Southern California, but back in Kalamazoo, MI the kids are feeling it. I was reminded of that when the Warm Kids Project annual pledge envelope arrived yesterday - only $45 for hats/mittens/coats/boots.

Kalamazoo was my home town during the 70s and 80s. That's when I met Leslie Reed. She was teaching art at the time and saw kids coming to school without coats. She and her gal pals, Wendy French, Sandra Ormanovich, Cindy Stonerock, Heather Butcher and Pamela Dickinson are now in their 21st year. Last year they gave out 1680 hats/gloves/mittens, 660 boots and 700 coats. Hummm, if I do the math that well over 12,000 warm kids over 21 years. They did it while holding down jobs and families of their own. 

I never thought about Kazoo being a "poor" area, but the stats tell the story, 35% of the kids come from a home where neither parent has a job. The last time I went through the state, it seemed like every other home was for sale. Not exactly the place I remember.

If you're not putting on Thanksgiving dinner this year, how about warming a kid instead.

November 06, 2007

Forbo Flooring is fully Sustainable and they can Prove it.

Here we go gals - an affordable / Sustainable product. Forbo Flooring is the poster product for triple bottom line Sustainability – it’s good for the environment, the economy and humanity. (not to mention great for designers) Forbo_brown_living I'll gladly endorse them.

While other companies are discussing what it means to become sustainable, Forbo has done it with their lead product Marmoleum. Marmoleum has achieved the SMART(c) Sustainable Product Platinum rating (the highest) which means it has practically zero impact on the environment. It's carbon neutral without buying carbon credits, and it puts no pervasive pollutants into the air, water or soil.

The flooring offers consumers and designers the practicality of wood combined with the creative freedom of an artist gone wild. With hundreds of color choices, Marmoleum opens designers up to a world way beyond beige. It's less expensive than granite, but like granite can be used in counter tops as well as flooring. (While granite may be "natural" it isn't necessarily sustainable. You've seen what open mines look like, right?)Forbo_kitchen

Creating a sustainable product isn't for the faint-green-of-heart, it means holding your books open to public scrutiny and then improving everything at once, matching to a set group of criteria* It also means allowing a third party group like Ernst and Young audit your documents and verify the information, and then going public with it. As you can imagine, some companies are reluctant to start this process. Luckily companies like Forbo are leading the way and unafraid to leave their sustainable books open for others to copy.

Forbo Flooring is certified under the SMART(c) Sustainable Products Standard. It achieved the highest level, Platinum, which means it scored the majority of the points on the scorecard system. That may not mean much to you, but it does if you have an architect or designer that's trying to build your home to the LEED Green Building Standards. It also means something to the bank who will be giving you a discounted loan if you build it green. It will mean something to the insurance company as well. Fireman's Fund not only will insure a green home at a discount, if something happens to it, they'll rebuild it green, too. 

SMART © stands for “Sustainable Materials Ratings Technology. It uses a score card that rates Sustainable criteria which looks at the entire life cycle of a product, i.e. gathering raw materials, converting materials into something that can be machined, manufactured, packaged, distributed, used and finally reused at the end of its days. It also measures all the transportation emissions that occurred between those steps. No small accomplishment. In the case of Marmoleum, it starts in a flax field in Canada, goes to Europe for processing, comes back to Pennsylvania for distribution, and eventually, 20-30 years from now when it's ready to be recycled, it can either be burned for energy, or chopped up and put back into the field to fertilize the next crop of flax. 

Repeat forever.

Forbo_livingroom In the life cycle of Marmoleum, it puts out fewer emissions than it creates. It’s one of the benefits using renewable resources like Rosin from pine trees, linseed oil from Flax, Wood flour from controlled forests, cork and jute. All of them absorb CO2 while growing, and "exhale" Oxygen. When you add back in the net CO2 emission coming from the manufacturing and it’s still less than the amount of CO2 the bio-system takes in while growing.  Essentially it’s a closed loop system. To help further, the Forbo production acility in the Netherlands, runs entirely on Green Power.  

The SMART© Certification is the latest in a series of global eco-labels which Forbo has earned. It also carries the Nordic Swan Label (96),  ISO 14001 (97), Sequoia Award (98), The Netherlands Environmental Quality Mark (98), German TUV Label (00), The Austrian Environmental Label UZ42 (01), The German Nature Plus (04), The Australian Good Environmental Choice Eco-label (05)

Forbo Flooring is indeed the poster product for triple bottom line Sustainability – it’s good for the environment, the economy and humanity. (not to mention great for designers) The next time someone says, "real sustainable products can't be made," point them to Forbo.

Do you have a certified, sustainable product? Let me know.

*Download sustainable_product_certification_criteria_04192007_pw.pdf 

November 03, 2007

A little skip to my loo...

BathroomRats, the week got away from me and I missed taking part in the Bathroom Blogfest. (closed on Nov. 2)

I invite readers to take a look at this profile of entries, however, which came from all women bloggers and one man. There is much to be learned by party host and businesses alike. Take the survey and find out what's the most important thing in such a room. Today the blog also features a hilarious video on proper loo-etiquette for men.

Next year ladies - count me in! Below are the faces of contributors. For quick gander of their bath perspective check out Toby's post.

If you are looking for inspiration on how women see the world, this would be it.