Thursday, February 26, 2009
Kellogg’s is trialing new eco-friendlier packaging
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- For the next few months, Kellogg's is trialing new, shorter, cereal box packaging that is made with fewer materials and designed to take up less space.
The six-month test of the new boxes started in late January and includes all 12-ounce versions of Kellogg's cereals. The smaller and deeper boxes are being tested out at select Wal-Mart and Kroger stores in suburban Detroit.
On average, the boxes use about 8 percent fewer materials. "By decreasing the amount of air in the interior bag, we were able to reduce the package size without decreasing the amount of food," said John Ferro, director of commercialization for Kellogg Company.
Kellogg's also says that due to the redesign, more boxes can be packed in truck shipments, the boxes take up less shelf space for retailers, and they also take up less pantry space for consumers.
The company will gather feedback from consumers and retailers and see if anticipated efficiencies due to the new design pan out before determining what it's next steps with the packaging will be.
U.K. Kellogg's cereal boxes - photo CC license by dan taylor
A grumpy old man ponders the past
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola
As I approach my 73rd birthday, I’ve been thinking about my children and grandchildren and what lies ahead for them. We trumpet the enormous scientific advances and technological innovations of the 20th century, but is the world a better place than when I was born?
Reflecting on what we leave to our grandchildren, I have to answer with a resounding no! Yes, things have changed a lot in my lifetime, sometimes for the better. When I was born, there were no transoceanic phone lines, organ transplants, jet planes, satellites, television, oral contraceptives, photocopiers, CDs, computers, antibiotics, cellphones… Today we have seasonal fruits and vegetables year-round, 24-hour television channels, and bottled water shipped halfway around the world.
And stuff! My god, the stuff we can buy. We can choose from more than 200 brands of breakfast cereals, and last year’s cellphones not only seem old-fashioned, they’re designed to be thrown away. Pills not only offer relief from the horror of erectile dysfunction, but they can now be taken daily to make us ready for action at all times. This is progress?
How quaint my childhood seems today. On hearing me talk about what we didn’t have back then, children stare in amazement that anyone can remember such a primitive way of life. “What did you do?” they ask, struggling to imagine a world without television, computers, or cellphones. Yes, mine was an ancient civilization, now extinct.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate many of the advances. When I was a teenager in the 1950s, I developed pneumonia and was near death when the doctor gave me a shot of penicillin. The next day, I was out of bed running around. It was truly a miracle drug. My first portable computer in the 1980s allowed me to write and send my columns to the Globe and Mail from all over the world. And when my children went away to university in the 1990s, I could stay in touch by email.
Yes, our world now provides a cornucopia of wondrous consumer goods. But at what cost? When I was a child, back doors would open at 5:30 or 6 o’
clock as parents called kids for supper. We were out playing in grassy fields, ditches, or creeks. We drank from rivers and lakes and caught and ate fish, all without worrying about what chemicals might be in them. When I was a child, the oceans were still rich with marine life, places like the Amazon and Congo were still unexplored ecosystems, and nuclear weapons and the arms race were still to come.
When I was born in 1936, just over two billion people lived on the Earth. The population has tripled since then. Each of us now carries dozens of toxic chemicals embedded within us, cancer has become the biggest killer, and we have poisoned our air, water, and soil. The human rush to exploit resources or take over territory has devastated terrestrial and marine plants and animals.
Yes, we leave to our children and grandchildren a world of technological marvels and personal hyperconsumption, but at the expense of community, species diversity, and clean air, water, and soil. I don’t remember feeling deprived or bored as a child. My friends were neighbours and our surroundings were rich with biological treasures for us to discover and explore. Almost all of our food was locally grown without the aid of chemicals. And growing up, we were attuned to the impact of weather and climate; we looked forward to the seasons and the changes they brought.
Have I become a grumpy old man who sees only the past as wonderful and decries the modern? I don’t think so, but I mourn the passing of a time when community and neighbours were a vital part of social and economic life, a time when nature was still rich. I know we can’t change the past, but together we can create a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. We know where the problems lie, and science offers many solutions. Now it’s time for action. If I’ve learned one lesson in my 73 years, it’s that everyone, including those in government and business, must pitch in if we want to change things for the better.
Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
Ontario gets in on the clean, green energy act
By David Suzuki with Faisal Moola
The word sustainability gets bandied about a lot, but what does it mean?
It means living within the productive capacity of the biosphere. We survive because our most fundamental needs – clean water, fresh air, soil, energy from the sun (through photosynthesis), and resources like trees, fish, and so on – can be replenished by nature as long as we don’t exceed its ability to replace them. Nonrenewable resources like metals must be used carefully and recycled because, no matter how plentiful they are, they will be depleted.
The current economic difficulties, a deepening ecological crisis, and energy problems provide an opportunity to radically reassess our current status and direction. Energy especially provides a chance to rethink our course. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable, which means that once we use them they’re gone and won’t be replenished within humankind’s existence. The major sources of gas and oil are in politically volatile areas like Russia, Africa, and the Middle East. And the rate at which we are burning fossil fuels exceeds the biosphere's capacity to reabsorb the carbon. Nuclear fuels are also nonrenewable, and their use in nuclear power plants generates radioactive wastes that will have to be stored for millennia. The global threat of terrorism adds to the dangers of this energy source.
Energy sustainability demands that we shift from dependence on nonrenewables to renewables like solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave, and biomass. Energy efficiency and conservation will be important parts of that shift. It’s an inescapable fact. And so, will we continue to deplete the nonrenewables and face the disastrous consequences of climate change and radioactive waste, or will we embark on a crash program to get onto renewables? The choice seems clear.
It’s no surprise that many of the advances in clean energy – technological and economic – have come from areas that don’t have many fossil-fuel deposits, and that some of the roadblocks have been from areas with large fossil-fuel reserves. Canada is among the latter. We have large supplies of uranium, coal, and oil (albeit the dirtiest oil) in our tar sands.
Given that our governments are elected for four- or five-year terms, it’
s almost forgivable that those in power often focus on what we already have over what we could be developing. But “almost” doesn’t mean it is forgivable. These people are elected to represent our interests, and it certainly isn’t in our interests to continue to rely on diminishing supplies of polluting fossil fuels for energy or for economic growth. [...]
Take David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
Obama plans massive railroad expansion
The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail, most of which was added in the final closed-door bargaining at the instigation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
It’s a sum that far surpasses anything before attempted in the United States — and more is coming. Administration officials told Politico that when Obama outlines his 2010 budget next week, it will ask for $1 billion more for high-speed rail in each of the next five years.
Yet for all the high stakes, the pieces didn’t fall into place until the end of deliberations on the recovery bill. And the way in which they did is revealing of the often late-breaking decisions — and politics — that shaped the final package.
As a candidate for president, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of “rebuilding America.” Campaigning in Indiana, he talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation.
“The time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation connecting all these cities,” he said. “And think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America.”
A Great Time for Freecycle
I love free stuff. When I was a kid, I remember reading a book that taught children how to write letters to companies who would send you free stickers, candy and other goodies in the mail. My parents were big believers in spending money wisely and probably encouraged the buying of that book.
Looking back now, I thank my lucky stars that my parents' influence, and that book that taught me to expect rewards from persuasive-writing, did not make me a penny-pinching con artist. Instead, I am a thrifty shopper and a conservation-minded individual who appreciates a good bargain and sustainable products.
Which is why I really think everyone should know about the Freecycle network. It is a valuable consumer alternative you should try out for yourself. In this economic climate, it may be a really smart thing to do.
is a non-profit organization whose mission is to "build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces wastes, saves precious resources and eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."
Read the full article on Simplegreenaction.ca
No foam, vanilla soy, fair-trade latte
As a parent of two young children, coffee is an important part of my day. Lattes, espressos, mochaccinos, hot or iced - I drink it all.
Whether I brew it at home or buy a cup from my local coffeehouse, I always insist on java that is fair-trade, shade-grown, and organic.
Fair-trade basically means paying a fair price to the farmers who grow the coffee beans.* In turn, the farmers can then live a good life by being able to pay their children's school fees, put food on their tables, access quality health care, and the like.
When people's basic needs are met, they are then more likely to care about their environment, leading them to sustainable agricultural practices like growing coffee without clearing the land of its trees and not using agrochemicals like synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Read the full article on Simplegreenaction.ca
The dangers of carbon neutral
By Christopher Sewell
It’s time to take a step back from the hype and take a look at what it really means to be carbon neutral, says Christopher Sewell, CEO of The Gaia Partnership.
Engaging a carbon auditor (definitely a species that is not on the endangered list) to take a look at your books and have a stroll around your company is a very fashionable exercise these days. The result is a report that shows the shoe size of your carbon footprint.
Now that you are enlightened as to the contribution you are making to world pollution and global warming, you can walk around any given corner and run into a gaggle of carbon off-setters who will magically change your CO2 into a majestic stand of whispering casuarinas. All for the price of just a few pieces of gold.
You can even get down and dirty by planting your own trees. Turning the first sod is always a great photo opportunity for the company’s next newsletter. Then you and the rest of the corporate team can then rush out and celebrate the metamorphosis of your company into a lean, green, planet saving machine.
Now before you all start, I love a good old tree. They play an essential role in protecting water tables, reducing soil erosion, provided natural habitat for the diverse living entities that have the misfortune to share the planet with us, and oh yes, also help absorb some of the pollution you are spewing out.
However, to become a truly green company requires a little more thought than that. And your customers are wising up to this fact quickly. It is not enough to just measure and offset to claim ‘carbon neutrality’. The carbon neutral sign swinging gently in the warming breeze does not actually reduce your CO2 contribution to the planet’s woes.
Measurement should be used to give you a benchmark to help plan reduction strategies. Would you be so quick to claim ‘Pollution Neutral’ on the company
website? Embedding reduction policies into your business plan and every aspect of your daily production will make the real difference.
And guess what? Running a greener business will save you money. Read the Walker’s Chips case study from The Carbon Trust in the UK. An environmental audit saved the company not only 9200 tonnes of CO2 but £1,200,000 in the first year. And not one mention of carbon neutrality or offsetting.
By understanding the high and low environmental impact areas within your business you can embed a meaningful policy deep into every link of your company’s supply chain. Thus ensuring long-term sustainability and avoid being placed in the swelling bucket of green-washers. Pollution reduction targets must be realistic, measurable and incremental year on year.
Then and only then are you ready to find a credible partner to identify the most appropriate carbon offset strategy with robust, traceable and government-approved carbon offsets. If this happens to mean planting some trees, so be it. If you then feel it is the correct marketing policy to claim carbon neutrality, again that is your choice.
At least the sign will be a lot more solid and be better prepared to withstand any cynical wind that may blow your way. Finally when you are labouring your way through the latest tender document with its increasing growing list of environmental requirements you can, with confidence, add a lot more substance to your answers.
Or bugger the planet and continue to just measure and offset. To bastardise a well-known metaphor for the charlatans guide to running a ‘carbon neutral’ company “just pay peanuts and keep polluting the monkeys.”
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Alternative Channel TV is launching China Europa TV
For the 2009 China Europa business convention, Alternative Channel TV is launching China Europa TV
a new web TV for sustainable urban development. Available in English, French and Chinese, this web 2.0 platform offers reports on urban sustainable development, energy, automotive, waste and water.
Produced as a web 2.0 video platform, www.china-europa.tv
is an interactive and participative web based TV, which enables Internet users to post their videos related to urban sustainable development. Citizens, responsible corporations and non-profit organizations can publish their videos and post comments on other users’ videos, to create a community discussion around the cities of tomorrow.
Your videos will be published within 48 hours, after validation of our editorial team. Viral communication tools are also available to enable users to send video-links to other websites, to their contact lists or, simply, to share their videos on social networks like Facebook.
With the aim of magnifying the debate around sustainable urban development, China-Europa.tv offers an exclusive program of reports about the sustainable development of cities throughout China and Europe.
Reports in China
Panjin, black oil & white rice
The circular economy of TEDA
Sichuan rebuilds its biodigesters
Chongqing, the vertical city
European standards for Shanghai's incinerator
Reports in Europe
Hammarby Sjöstad, the eco-friendly district in Stockholm
Internet users will also be able to vote for the best film produced for the 1st China-Europa short-film competition, the theme being “Utopias and urban reality”. The best movie Award will be given on April 2nd in Le Havre, France.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Tar Sands Film Festival in Ottawa during President Obama’s visit
Tar Sands Film Festival
During President Obama’s visit to Ottawa on February 19, Sierra Club Canada is presenting the Tar Sands Film Festival
with films about the tar sands and the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Canada is trying to sell dirty tar sands oil as a solution to U.S. energy needs -- our message is "Don't Buy It!"
Featuring the Ottawa premiere of “One River, Two Shores: Reflections on the Mackenzie Gas Project,” with film producer France Benoit from Yellowknife. There will be two screenings
of this film, in English and French.
Other films include “Tar Sands: The Selling of Canada,” “Water is Life” and “The Dark Side of the Boom: Canada’s Mordor.”
: Thursday, February 19, 2009 -- 4 - 10pm
: Alumni Theatre, Jock Turcot University Centre,
85 University St., University of Ottawa, Ottawa ON
COST: Free admission
, so why would you miss it?!
View the film festival schedule
online for more details.
For more info visit Sierraclub.ca
Newsletter: How can Google Earth and Facebook be good tools toward achieving sustainability?
|| It’s time to take a deep look at the world’s oceans|
We humans are air-breathing landlubbers, and that shapes the way we see and treat the world. We don’t think much about what’s underwater or underground. So we’ve been dumping garbage into the oceans and taking what we want from them for years without considering the consequences. We’ve never had to look at any of it – until now, said David Suzuki. Discover why.
Become a fan of Alternative Channel on Facebook and read our daily blog.
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& Join our group!
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, please contact Joanie Bergeron Poudrier
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Population and natural resources: managing pressure
Jean-Michel Severino (French Development Agency)
“Demographic growth, industrialisation and the increase of demand resulting from higher living standards is exerting growing pressure on the world’s natural resources. The effects of climate change are also showing their first impacts on some of the regions of the world that are least equipped to manage them. How can these pressures be handled on the long run? What role can public policies play to tackle this rising challenge?”
Read more: http://www.ideas4development.org
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Finding love on Facebook can lead to sustainable projects, read Silvia and Vincenzo’s story
By Joanie Bergeron Poudrier
Silvia and Vicenzo, as many young couples these days, met on the social networks MySpace and Facebook.
But their story is slightly different, or should I say more inspiring, than any other I’ve heard before. After two months of virtual communication, they decided to leave everything behind and finally met each other.
Their meeting was eye-opening. They had so much in common that they developed a shared project: to promote Africa through different eyes. This is when Tourists 4 Development was born.
You can follow Vincenzo and Silvia on Alternative Channel TV
throughout their journey in Africa as they visit some amazing places. Along the way, they’ll visit some incredible sites where few tourists have ever set foot before.
Highlights of their Burundi trip
In the village of Busekera they stayed with the Batwa pygmies.
They went to the Rusizi Natural Reserve where they met Director of the Institute for the Conservation of the Environment.
They met locals who started an eco-friendly business, where they make jewelries made out of a vegetal-ivory that comes from a tree.
In Gitega, they met with the instigator of an Avocado oil project, which uses unconsumed avocado to make oil. This project was put in place to eradicate malnutrition among children of the city.
Highlights of their Kenyan adventure
They started their journey in the Kenyan Savanna by staying at the local owned II Ngwesi Community Lodge in Laikipia.
They discuss with Maasai locals explaining the real benefits they get from ecotourism in Kenya, and it is not a lot that goes back to the community compared to what goes to the tourism agencies.
They stayed at the Turtle Bay Beach Club in Watamu and discovered how the hotel is involved in community and conservation project; such as collecting beach sandals left on the beach to make toys for the local children.
To watch all their videos visit Tourist 4 Development's profile
on Alternative Channel TV.
1st Picture- Silvia (far left) and Vincenzo with their production crew in Africa.
2nd Picture-Maasai, Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
Essential’s ideas for Valentine’s
What's the most romantic and environmentally friendly thing you can do on February 14? Well….
For the intellectually romantic couple:
Poetry got a bad rap at Obama's inauguration thanks to that surprisingly average poem that followed the President's swearing-in oath. This Valentine's Day, discover heart-on-their-sleeve writers by browsing through the stacks at a used bookstore. Look for something a little steamy and then read passages to each other in your best professorial imitation.
For the comfortably-coupled or single:
Let local foodies cook you and your favorite person (or two) a meal you won't forget. Make a reservation at a restaurant that cooks with locally farmed produces and vegetables, organic meats and serves wine from the region.
To read the entire article visit Simplegreenaction.ca
Canadians Meet the Challenge of One Million Acts of Green!
CBC, Cisco and green-minded Canadians nationwide proudly announce that One Million Acts of Green (OMAoG) has reached its goal of 1,000,000 acts of green registered online at www.onemillionactsofgreen.com
Participants from coast-to-coast and from all walks of life have clearly embraced the program, pushing the campaign to its ultimate milestone in less than four months. Elementary and high schools, universities, municipalities, businesses and even local coffee shops have demonstrated their commitment, challenged each other to ‘go green’ and collectively achieved our goal.
With the support and enthusiasm of Canadians nationwide, One Million Acts of Green will continue the challenge to see how high we can go! Keep logging your green acts, challenge co-workers, friends and family. With participants from over 50 countries, challenge your friends from abroad to meet Canada’s stellar results.
Who’s the Greenest?
OMAoG’s “greenest” provinces are: Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia
The top 12 groups, in order of most acts committed are: Trent University, Dalhousie University, City of Airdrie, Bishop Strachan School, Havergal College, BMO Financial Group, MTS Allstream, Town of Okotoks, Hamilton’s Delta Secondary School, Cisco Canada, Acadia University and North Bay, Ontario.
To participate visit www.onemillionactsofgreen.com
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to shelter the dirtiest oil from global warming
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to shelter the dirtiest oil on earth from global warming regulation. Today, an international network of environmental groups is launching a cross-border campaign Obama2canada.com
. urging President Barack Obama to stand strong on his new energy economy agenda and reject such entreaties.
Why: Well… Producing oil from tar sands emits three times the global warming pollution as conventional oil, requires excessive amounts of energy and fresh water, and destroys huge swaths of boreal forest, the last, largest intact forest left on the planet.
More info : Oilsandswatch.org
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