67 posts categorized "Sustainable Products"

April 27, 2011

Two Thirds of Buyers of Groupon and Living Social are Women

This just in from regarding how Groupon and Living Social compare:

"LivingSocial users are 49 percent more likely than the average American online to make at least $150,000 a year, compared with 30 percent for Groupon, according to the survey released today. They are also more likely to be younger than 35 and to have college or graduate degrees... 

"Nielsen, based in New York, also found that about two-thirds of LivingSocial and Groupon users are women. [very smart and monied women given the prior quote]

The list of top interests tell the story...

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The take aways:

1. If you're an average Jane, you just became an above average buyer in the world of business. Your choices matter as they are collected into reports by Nielson. Understand that and remember it every time you make a buy or post a comment on line. 

2. If you're a business looking to cash in on the couponing world, get in touch with your feminine side. Make sure your product line does something for the higher good in the world. This is where having a sustainable product and a company with high social values wins. Think home and family first and be more of a Prius and less of a Hummer.  

This gives me great hope -- companies follow the money and the money lies with women's interests. In women I trust that our interests will lead the economy to a greener and friendlier world. 

April 26, 2011

Online Women or Location, What Drives Green Spending?

Amazon put out a green dot survey correlating the purchasing of green sector products. It's fascinating if you like tracking trends. [Go here to read the entire article in Green Biz.] One chart tracks energy products, another water, and another (below) parenting. 

The article draws the conclusion that financial or locational needs were driving the purchasing for energy and water, but when it came to green parenting what was driving that?

Why is there a green dot in the NW corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan? It's not exactly where you'd expect to see a green dot, San Francisco or the East Coast sure, but upper Michigan? 

The Amazon research was based on number of green items a parent purchased off of Amazon, such as Green Baby  and Toys.  One reason more green products are being purchased and mailed to Northern Michigan could be Sommer Poquette based in Petosky, MI. She's been a green mommy blogger for years on her Green and Clean Mom blog. Sommer has been so successful, that she's turned it into a business. 

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Screen shot 2011-04-26 at 8.25.19 AM Can I give Sommer all of the credit, probably not, the Great Lakes Bioneers conference spearheaded by Sally Van Vleck and Bob Russell holds their meetings just around the bay in Traverse City each October. For years Sally, Bob, and the Bioneers have been raising green and sustainable awareness. There are even green baby stores in Traverse City.  

But the Amazon article was based on purchasing from Amazon and specifically, they looked at items for "green" babies and children.  That takes an online champion, which makes me see Sommer as a larger influence. Her blog averages 6000 unique visitors a month according to Compete.com. Whether she links to Amazon or not isn't as important as that she is a constant voice for online readership and from there, Amazon is a click away.

I would like to see more research on this topic. When you look at all the maps, one thing is clear, if purchasing is an indicator of culture, the nation is beginning to put their money where their values are -- and that starts with pockets of people who are talking about and buying the solutions. 

Thanks to all the women (and men) who keep the drip, drip, drip of conversation going. 

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March 07, 2011

Women Leaders Break the Silo Ceiling at the Same Time

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For the first time, women lead the top Organic Food organizations announced a press release this morning, "With Maureen Wilmot named to the executive directorship of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) in January, four leading U.S. organic food and farming advocacy organizations are now headed by women for the first time. Joan Boykin is the executive director ofThe Organic Center, Christine Bushway is the executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), and Peggy Miars is the executive director of the Organic Materials Review Institute.

"Because women are the backbone of most families in America, it is not surprising that women lead key organizations in the organic community. Women have led the way in buying organic for our families, advocating for production practices that protect the environment, and ensuring that organic laws and regulations uphold the integrity of organic products. As a baby boomer, I remember when women's rights were still young, so it is very gratifying to see this leadership transformation in organic," said Ms. Miars."

This is an historic event to have all four organizations run with a women's touch and priorities. It will be interesting to track and see if having women leaders will make a difference in how the movement moves forward. They'll be meeting together on March 10th to begin that conversation. 

Congratulations to you all!

 

January 25, 2011

Kathleen's Legacy: Organic and Delivered to Your Door

How I found Kathleen Barsotti's  business -- word-of-mouth meets hot coupon idea. 

My friend Andrea told me about Groupon. One of the first offers came from Farm Fresh to You with a coupon I couldn't refuse, $15 for $31 of organic veggies delivered to my door. Even if I never used Farm Fresh to You again, I had my money back -- and then this box arrived on time filled with gifts from the earth. I was smitten, and that's when I dug in and learned the legacy story of Kathleen Barsotti, student and practitioner of the earth.


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It starts with a sad ending. Kathleen is no longer with us; cancer met her before I could. She started the farm with her husband Martin in the 70s, but four sons and a divorce later left just she and her boys to keep the farm stand open. Those who knew her described her this way, "Kathleen is beloved by all who knew her as a devoted student to ecological sciences, an excellent farmer."

Apparently, they all had a knack for the world wanted, today the boys now have about 30,000 customers all eating more fruits and vegetables collected from their farm or nearby partners.  

What is stunning about this service is that it's almost the same as going to store; instead, you do something more fun than grocery shopping and this no-excuses-to-eat-better-box arrives at your door. 

To prove that the pictures on their site aren't faked, here's a sampling of what showed up last week. They encourage you to leave the flattened box for them to pickup when they drop off the next batch. I'm not too happy with the plastic bag, but given that all the other packaging, i.e. skins, have no plastic and I can send the bag back; it's not a bad trade. It's like Nutrisystem, but without all the packaging...

Out of the box came this beautiful array of color. Just makes you want to start cooking looking it, doesn't it?  And if you're stumped for ideas, Farm Fresh to You gives them to you matching the ingredients provided that week. Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 2.03.40 PM

Kathleen's legacy is a consistent alternative to driving to the Farmer's Market, trying to find parking and lugging home weighty food. 

Her legacy is teaching thousands how to cook and WHAT to cook while it's in season and not shipped a bazillion miles from another country. Her legacy helps keep organic farming alive and profitable in a way that is scalable. 

Her legacy also promotes the use of untampered seeds that produce tasteless food with questionable parentage.  

Her son's expanded the farm stand business via modern marketing by taking their word-of-mouth business online. Their offering to spread the word has rewards for both the giver and the taker. Whomever orders a box of veggies using the special promo code* and my name Mary Clare Hunt, will get $5 off of their first order and I get a free box of goods. Of course you have to be within their California delivery range. 

No wonder they have 30,000 customers instead of depending on drive-by business. Everyone wins, especially Kathleen who created a life's work that put's life into others and back into the ground. What's not to trust? 

 

 *Code intentionally left off, this is a story about a well planted seed of an idea, not getting more free veggies for myself. 

 

December 30, 2010

I Resolve -- To Keep Earth in Business*

Screen shot 2010-12-30 at 1.40.13 PM If prior years were about green awareness, 2010 was about green market traction for companies and consumers. Next year, the market will turn full-frontal-green -- so in 2011  I resolve to buy green or buy nothing and nix the plastic packaging wherever I can. 

Because of progressive-thinking companies like Patagonia, thousands of businesses are turning into adults and taking responsibility for their eco/social-actions. Check out the video below on 1% for the Planet, it cured my cynicism.  (*BTW, whomever thought up "Keeping Earth in Business" as a tag line deserve a bonus. Love it!)

This is bigger than going green, it's about inspiring everyone around us to rethink our processes and give our lives a do-over. Need a personal mission statement, borrow Patagonia's: 

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. 

Check out the video and see how the power of 1% for the Planet inspired Sweat Pea Bikes -- then see if you aren't like me wondering how you pull the cash together for a custom fit frame...  

(Go to Hulu.com if you want the full movie experience.)

November 09, 2010

Earthster makes being socially responsible and transparent, easier

This blog is about co-creation -- women are doing many things to change the world, but if the world of business doesn't change at the same time, we're in a world of hurt. The Earthster system is the beginning of providing accountability to business that women will love. 

At this morning's webinar, Wal Mart, Seventh Generation, and Earthster (sister site Social Hot Spots) announced that they have teamed up with governments and companies to create a new law of the law -- the law of sustainability -- in a play-nice/be-transparent sort of way. 

Earthster is the public, open source backbone and keeper of the data in the same way that Wikipedia anchors community input to it's site. In Earthster's case, it's gathering third party approved information that comes from millions of supply chain contributors. Think Story of Stuff can now point to everyone and everything in the supply chain.

Below is a screen shot of what this visually looks like as products are tracked from their source to the store shelf. The common software and methodology will be available in multiple languages to encourage global participation. When the webinar link is available, I'll post it here.

Wal Mart will be testing the system more completely in the first three quarters of 2010 using the supply chains from ten vendors and rolling it out to the rest of their 60,000+ vendors at the end of the year. What happens at Wal Mart, doesn't stay at Wal Mart -- other big box stores will be using the same system and that's a good for everyone. 

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Earthster is agnostic in its design and is more of a clearinghouse for all information, not a standard that determines which information gets more credit than another. It creates that layer of transparency that has been missing in green products.

Earthster also changes the green marketing attitudes from "OMG We better not say the wrong thing or we'll be accused of greenwashing", to "We're doing the best we can and here is exactly where we are doing it."  Even the EPA is getting behind Earthster during a time when there are 300+ sustainable standards vying for the top slot. Standards mean nothing if the information isn't verified as accurate. 

What women will want to cheer about is that this move will speed up accountability on toxic materials, social equity, energy globally and many more issues. We won't have to hold political rallies to get rid of brain altering chemicals in our carpets. Earthster and the market competition will take care of it.

This new transparency will not only foster safer products, but infuse trust back into an economic structure that has to operate with/outside of all political systems -- and do it at a price point that small business can handle. Sites such as Good Guide will have a common way to rate their products. 

This gives me great hope, for people, planet and profits!

November 07, 2010

Ladies, the World Needs You To Be Less Plastic...

Is this India? Mexico? No, it's Long Beach, California after a rain. It's what happens when the 51 miles of LA river channel washes whatever is in it into the Queensway Bay in Long Beach.

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 We don't have to travel to one of the five ocean gyres where plastic swirls and chokes the life out of our marine animals, we can walk on water right here and spend millions cleaning it up. It gives new meaning to, "What a waste..."

The screen shot came via yesterday's all-day TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference held in Long Beach, CA organized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. The actual event had limited seating but anyone could attend virtually via house parties. Hopefully they'll post the presentations for later replay. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is but one of 5 Gryes of patches (maybe more) that have formed.

As shocking as the above is to look at, the statistics on what we are doing to our oceans and LAND by using single use plastics and then throwing it away are scary. You don't have to believe in climate change to see that we drastically need to change the way we relate to this pervasive pollutant.

A few of the not-so-fun facts from yesterday:

  • Over 2.4 million pounds of plastic are being dumped into our oceans EVERY HOUR.  
  • We're losing 1 million apex animals every year because of them eating plastic and dying horrible deaths.
  • Less than 5% of plastic is recycled.
  • 40 governments and/or major municipalities representing 25% of the world's population have BANNED the plastic bag. (California recently caved to the corporate money and kept plastic bags alive, but banning the bag will be put up for election again.)

Screen shot 2010-11-06 at 10.08.29 AM Pretty grim, eh? And the pictures were worse, such as the picture of the sun bleached bones of a former camel lying in the sand -- that was the only thing left, bones and the bushel basket size ball of plastic that the poor camel ingested earlier while raiding a garbage dump near Dubai. 

The morning sessions left me pretty disgusted with myself and my species for mucking things up so badly for all living things.

"Hope" came in the afternoon sessions, when more than one presenter named 'women' as part of the solution:

  1. Women buy 85% consumer (weekly) items that are wrapped in single use plastic packaging. 
  2. As such we have the responsibility to educate each other on the issue and then...
  3. Stop it. Just stop it. Quit buying anything with single-use plastic on it.

That's what Beth Terry is doing (seen below). Because of Beth's dedication to dropping her own consumption from the national average of about 100 pounds of consumer plastics per person per year to 3.7 pounds for her, she was asked to be part of this impressive line up that included Fabien Cousteau, Van Jones, Stacy Malkan,  Ed Begley, Arlene Blum, Suja Lowenthal,  H.E. John Dramani Mahama...  go Beth!

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As Beth pointed out, many plastic products don't have to list what is in them, it's up to the consumer to ask. If the companies don't supply the answer don't but the product. It's better to be safe than sorry, the toxin BPA is now in 9 out of 10 newborns according to another speaker, Ken Cook

Stacy Malkan, Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called for a "Girlcott" -- buying only what is good for you instead of boycotting what is bad. She went on to say that the government did get a Safe Cosmetics Act in place this year, but that isn't enough. If we want change WE have to make the first move, "Show your passion and your outrage." 

There were so many excellent speakers. I wish I could quote them all. 

Women have 54% of the electoral vote and 85% of the consumer 'vote'. If the first vote doesn't get action, use your second "voting" power and don't buy what they are selling. If you really want to make a point, blog about it.  

As for cutting back, each year an average family uses 500 plastic grocery bags. If you need a place to start, start by carrying your own bags when you shop. 

October 19, 2010

"Living Downstream" - the Documentary Every Parent Must See

My thanks to Karen Hanrahan for flagging this important film Living Downstream by scientist, Sandra Steingraber Ph.D. Screen shot 2010-10-19 at 7.39.57 AM

While we face the dangers of climate change and not enough water, this film demonstrates the issues we face in the water we have left -- even our fresh rain, falling from the sky, contains chemicals other than H2O, resting water has up to 66 chemicals.

That's not good for us or the planet. It's why we all need to understand and support sustainable standards around how our products are made throughout the supply chain. 

 

October 14, 2010

Don't Cross this Green Advertising line with Mom's

It's the "guilt" line according to a focus group conducted by Shelton Group.

Concerned Moms are most motivated by their kids, but there’s a line that marketers should NOT cross. That would be the Line of Guilt. Positive messaging about future generations worked really well. Guilt messaging – such as “you’d better change your ways today or else your kids and grandkids will pay the price” — really fell flat. It insulted them. A representative comment to one such ad: “I’ve bent over for my kids… How dare they tell me I haven’t done enough?”

What else can you do to ring the green bell of action? Concerned Moms liked "facts delivered directly" -- regular people giving real tips are what registered the best. Protecting the jobs/family and future generations also resonated well as long as it didn't cross the guilt line. 

The best part, the green market rose 41% from 2004 to 2009. Does that mean that more people want to buy green products or that more green products are simply more available to buy. Go here for the full article.

This all is terrific news for Wal Mart who announced their push for buying local and organic food. That's something that everyone can live with. 

October 10, 2010

If a Consumer Complained in a Forest about Climate Change, Would Anyone Hear Her?

The bigger question is, Would anything change because they did hear her? 

If a company takes a step towards sustainability do we applaud loudly in a blog post, or just let our dollars do the talking? Recently, a third option surfaced when Frito Lay took their compostable Sun Chip's bag off the shelves because of "customer complaints" regarding the noise.

Really? We have nothing more to do in our day than react to a crackly bag? Apparently over 44,000 did so on Facebook and that was enough for Frito Lay to back peddle.

Wow.

These postings weren't highly considered decisions, like the pro/con list that Beth Terry wrote about on Fake Plastic Fish, the Facebook posts were twitter length, gut reactions -- enough of them that Frito Lay pulled a production line. Do you have any idea how much money they must be losing to pull an entire production line?

Holy smokes, the bigger story isn't that they pulled the line regardless of its eco-friendly intentions, but that they LISTENED and then pulled the line. Yes, it was a wimpy move and no doubt will be cited as an example of packaging gone wrong in college courses and they could have turned the noise into, "the sound of doing the right thing" BUT AT LEAST THEY ARE LISTENING. For that, reason, I'm excited and have hope for a co-operative future. 

Today 350.org is holding a 10.10.10 party for Climate Change.  Climate Mama is hosting the Green Mom Carnival on the subject. While we took a step backwards for sustainability, let's take a moment to understand the new-found power in this moment.  We no longer have to go through the political system to evoke change when we have a direct connection to corporate decision makers at our fingertips. 

Think about the ramifications of that in a co-created capitalistic universe? What would you ask corporations to do to bring down Climate Change or...