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Print media…will soon be an oxymoron


Today I happened to glance at an article that is tacked to the wall of my cubicle.  Honestly, I rarely cut out articles, but this one seemed to be so futuristic (it was the end of 2008), yet intriguingly possible, that I had to keep it. The article in question – “Five Years From Now, Media Will Be Totally Intangible” by Steve Rubel in Ad Age. (Now you too can tack a copy to your wall…and you’re welcome.) The articles begins:

I want to make a bet with you. I wager that by January 2014 almost all forms of tangible media will be either in sharp decline or completely extinct in the U.S. I am talking about not just print but all tangible forms of media — newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs, boxed software and video games.

At the time, I am not going to say that I was unaware of the technological advances that were gaining speed, but I really didn’t think that it would happen so quickly.

Since the start of 2009 (a very brief look) –

  • Hulu gained popularity.
  • Blockbuster closed over 900 stores, to date.  If you go to Blockbuster.com you can download movies (ala Netflix).
  • In 2009, Circuit City closed and Virgin Megastore ceased to exist in the US.
  • Borders is closing in 2011.

Additionally, online banking and invoices have become so popular, that the US Postal Service is considering to shorten their work week.  Do you even know how much a stamp costs nowadays?  Right…didn’t think so.

Just like the individuals who left comments to Steve Rubel’s article, I too was a bit skeptical.  Funny thing is…now it seems like 2014 is too far into the future.

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Filed under: Business, Green, Marketing, Tech, , , , , , , , , , ,

Track your fish


I don’t know about you, but when I go to the supermarket, I get overwhelmed with all of the labels associated with fish – organic, wild-caught, farmed. I’ve even seen salmon that says that it’s dyed pink or red.  Um…really??

Well, get ready for something creative and new, brought to you by the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, who debuted their new seafood brand Gulf Wild at the International Boston Seafood Show last weekend.

Key to the Gulf Wild program is a fish-tracking component that allows the buyer to “find my fish.” Each Gulf Wild fish is marked with a sequentially numbered gill tag just minutes after it is brought on board. When the catch reaches shore, the tag number is electronically recorded with the unique credentials of its fish. The information is made public via myGulfWild.com, where wholesalers, retailers and consumers can enter their tag number and confirm the species, where it was caught and information about the vessel and its captain.

Amazing, huh?

Also:

In addition, as a way to address concerns stemming from the oil spill, an independent international testing lab will routinely sample Gulf Wild seafood for oil-based contaminants.

The people have spoken…their concerns over the oil spill, coupled with an increased media focus on green/sustainability…have been heard.

Filed under: Animals, Business, Food, Green, Health, Marketing, ,

Apparel industry leaders team up, for green’s sake


Have you ever really looked at your clothes and wondered how they were made? And then go a step further… and wonder how the creation of your favorite article of clothing affected the environment?  Isn’t it strange that there aren’t any regulations on how clothes are made?  Especially since most of the apparel industry is produced globally…

Well, that’s about to change.

They call themselves the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and include

…leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic experts, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…

from companies like:

Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

The new Coalition formally debuted today, and announced that their goal is

…to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry-wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance.

The NYTimes article explains this in layman terms:

The coalition’s tool is meant to be a database of scores assigned to all the players in the life cycle of a garment — cotton growers, synthetic fabric makers, dye suppliers, textile mill owners, as well as packagers, shippers, retailers and consumers — based on a variety of social and environmental measures like water and land use, energy efficiency, waste production, chemical use, greenhouse gases and labor practices.

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland explains how this relates to the consumer,

“…This will ultimately put the power in the hands of the consumers, because the apparel industry is saying out loud, ‘We’re going to find a way to disclose to you what’s behind this purchase decision — beyond color, size and fit.’ ”

From a supply chain with no regulation, to allowing the consumer to have all of this information disclosed…is pretty awesome.

Similarly to learning how my favorite  restaurant in NYC was graded, I’m a tad nervous to learn the truth about the clothing supply chain… only because I know that what we’ll learn won’t be pretty.

Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , , ,

Is Rolls-Royce going to steal Tesla’s thunder?


On March 1, of this year, Rolls Royce is planning to debut their electric prototype at the Geneva Motor Show.

If you’ve been keeping up with the electric vehicle (EV) news, you know that currently there is only one high-end EV on the market – the Tesla Roadster.

A bit about Tesla, in their own words:

TESLA MOTORS was founded in 2003 by a group of intrepid Silicon Valley engineers who set out to prove that electric vehicles could be awesome.

THE TESLA ROADSTER hit the streets in early 2008 as a car with no equal. Two years later, over 1,500 Roadsters drive emissions-free in more than 30 countries.

I guess this was inevitable…there has been virtually no competition in the high-end EV market, until now.

Rolls-Royce said the prototype, dubbed the 102EX and based on its top-end “Phantom” model, will be put through various tests throughout 2011.

Stay tuned…

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos is scheduled to hold a press briefing in Singapore later on Monday.

Something tells me that if Rolls-Royce does in fact put an EV on the market…it’s going to be in a league of its own, the “higher high-end”.  A regular, bad-for-the-environment Phantom costs around $380K, while the Roadster costs a mere $100K.

I say “mere” in jest, as both are a tad out of my league.  Personally, I’m looking forward to the Nissan Leaf (check out my previous posting – http://bit.ly/fsrMp0).

If you’d like to join the discussion on luxury EVs, Rolls-Royce has started a blog – www.electricluxury.com.

Filed under: Automobiles, Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , ,

Banning plastic bags, everybody’s doin it


It’s only January 11th, and already 4 different locations have enacted the plastic bag ban.

Italy started off the year, banning plastic bags as of January 1st.

The government of Italy has become the first in the European Union to outlaw the use of plastic bags by all retailers, signaling a large shift in a country which uses over 20 billion bags per year (400 per person) – an amount equal to 25 percent of the total produced and used in the entire EU.

On January 5th, the great city of Brownsville (15th largest city in Texas), joined the bandwagon, and today, both Kaua’i and Maui, HI, can proudly say that they’re part of the club.

After doing a little research, it turns out that a lot of other places ban plastic bags too.

2002 – Dhaka, Bangladesh enacted the ban.

2003 – rural Alaska & South Africa joined

2005 – Eritrea & the Republic of Somalialand

2006 – Rwanda, Tanzania, & Zanzibar

2007 – Kenya & Uganda, and San Francisco, CA

2008 – China

2009 – Buenos Aires, Argentina & American Samoa

2010 – Mexico City, Mexico

Click here and here for additional locations I may have missed.

It’s interesting that the list above includes countries like Eritrea (3rd world), and China, which is the 2nd strongest GDP and has a population which accounts for 19.5% of the word’s entire population.

Something tells me that if this smorgasbord of a list can do it, so can the rest of the world.

Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , , , , , , ,

If reusable bags are bad for the environment, how should we carry our groceries?


If you’re a semi-eco-friendly individual, you probably own at least one reusable grocery bag. It’s sort of your contribution to the environment-at-large.  One small step…  Well, I am here to advise you to check the label of origin of that bag… make sure that it’s made in the USA, and not in China.

…reports from around the country have trickled in recently about reusable bags, mostly made in China, that contained potentially unsafe levels of lead.

I know what you’re thinking…what now?

Concerns have proliferated so much that Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, sent a letter on Sunday to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to investigate the issue.

I say use paper, and check to see where your reusable bag is made.  Maybe US companies will finally start noticing that outsourcing EVERYTHING has its side effects…

Cheaper labor does not equal better quality.  I’m just saying.

Filed under: Business, Green, Health, , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s your burger’s carbon FOODprint?


A popular food chain in Sweden – Max Burgers, which is second-largest to McDonald’s in its area, is taking food labeling to that next level.

Richard Bergfors, CEO of Max Burgers says

adding the carbon footprint to the chain’s menuboard was a way for the company to be honest about its affect on the environment.

According to an article in Scientific American Magazine, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report found that with regards to beef production,

…current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of “CO2-equivalent” greenhouse gases the world produces every year.

In layman’s terms:

…producing half a pound of hamburger for someone’s lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.

[A Jeep Cherokee weighs nearly 3,000 lbs… just for visual reference.]

Trying to show its customers that there are yummy alternatives to beef burgers

Max Burgers has rolled out several alternative, climate-friendly burger options, including vegetarian, falafel, and salmon burgers. Since putting carbon dioxide emission counts on the menuboard—an act that made it the first restaurant chain in the world to do so—sales of these types of menu items have gone up 20 percent.

In addition, Max Burger offsets its carbon emissions by planting trees in Africa, uses recycled packaging, and gets its electricity from wind and solar power.

Like it or not, climate change is definitely a big issue that needs to be dealt with.  I’m hoping that other countries follow Sweden’s lead.

Bra jobbat Sverige! (Good job Sweden! …thank you Google Translate).

Filed under: Business, Green, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Edible curtains… how’s that for a conversation starter?


Kyocera, the Japanese IT equipment and industrial ceramics manufacture, has come up with an interesting way to keep its buildings cool and green carbon emissions low – yes, you know it – “edible curtains” (aka ‘green curtains’)

It’s actually a really smart and obvious idea.  Planting green leafy-ness creates shade.  Shade = cool, therefore less a/c.

Kyocera first started growing Green Curtains at its Okaya Plant in Nagano Prefecture, Japan in 2007 as part of its energy conservation / global warming prevention activities, and since then they have also been adopted at other Kyocera Group locations throughout Japan. (Kyocera press release)

Turns out that Kyocera was able to confirm that

the green curtains can decrease the temperature by as much as 15 degrees C (27 degrees F).

In addition,

the green curtains are working to absorb an estimated 23,481 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which is roughly the same amount that can be absorbed by 761 cedar trees.

And

the green curtains also give workers a bounty of cucumbers, peas and bitter gourd called goya, which land on their cafeteria menus.

Pretty awesome, I dare say.

Filed under: Business, Green, World, , , , , ,

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