Friday, November 14, 2008
Coca Cola is on the green path!
By Greenbiz.com Staff
Days after releasing its environmental performance data in its 2007/2008 Sustainability Report, Coca-Cola unveiled new targets for reducing water use and greenhouse gas emissions. The company plans to improve water efficiency 20 percent by 2012, relative to a 2004 baseline. It intends to grow its business, but not the system-wide carbon emissions related to its manufacturing, as well as reduce the absolute emissions from its manufacturing facilities located in developed countries 5 percent by 2015.
That's the equivalent of more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In a business-as-usual scenario. Coca-Cola predicts its manufacturing-related emissions would top 7 million metric tons by 2015.
Since the company expects to grow its business, its absolute water consumption will inevitably increase. Its water efficiency goal is expected to avoid some 50 billion liters of water through 2012. To help it achieve this, Coca-Cola extended its partnership with World Wildlife Fund. Begun in 2007 with $20 million in funding through 2010, the partnership will now run through 2012 with an additional $3.75 million in funding.
The two organizations collaborated to create a water efficiency tool kit for bottling plants distributed to operators throughout the company as part of the company's overarching goal of becoming water neutral. Coca-Cola said it's also working with WWF to foster sustainable agriculture to help its supply chain ease water impacts, beginning with sugarcane crops.
The company will identify two additional commodities to target in 2009. The two groups also will team to conserve freshwater resources in regions that include Mekong, Danube and waterways in the Southeastern U.S.
The company is not without its critics...To read more visit ClimateBiz.com
By Alternative Channel's contributor Cody Larocque
The internet has lead to a massive rise in e-commerce, and with it a boom in the green market place. Just think, in the space of a few years the amount of green producers all over the globe has increased exponentially. With the internet we can now connect all of them to the rest of the world instead of keeping them isolated within there local areas or countries for that matter.
Green e-commerce can reduce green house gas emissions by limiting the amount of vehicles on the road. Imagine if you will, instead of thousands of trucks and cars stalking the roads in search for or transporting these goods and services we could load them onto railway cars thus limiting the amount of trucks on the road. Then distribute them through a use of a local area distributor and collective shipping; similar to the way that the postal service delivers mail or packages. Hopefully one day we may even ship using alternatives fuels in these trucks and trains.
Though there have been great strides shipping greener, there are some ways that you can do to reduce the waste of both energy and resources. Firstly, the simplest and most obvious is to order from a company or producer that lives in the same geographic region as you, if you live on the east coast order from there, rather than the west coast. Secondly buying in bulk while not glamorous can certainly reduce both your shipping costs and the use or packaging the companies may also have deals on shipping in bulk as well.
Thirdly try to choose ground shipping over air or rush delivery, because they amount of fuel which planes use as we all know is astronomical. One last tip that most of us would never think to ask about is in the comments space for shipping, ask for used packaging, the old boxes and packing material that's just lying around can serve your needs just as well as the new stuff.
There is a great assortment of online companies and stores out there, ranging all the way from baby and mother to lawn and garden, I encourage you next time your on the net, instead of crashing on Facebook, head over and search up some online green stores.
Photo by: Chris Breeze, Courtesy of Flickr.com
British Columbia has an identity crisis
By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola
If you live in or have visited British Columbia recently, you'll have noticed a campaign to sell the province as "The Best Place on Earth". The government has spent tens of millions of dollars branding the province, and the tag-line for its PR campaign appears to be everywhere: on television and radio, on billboards, bus shelters, licence plates, and just about everywhere else you look. And as we enter the home stretch to the 2010 Olympics hosted by B.C., the campaign is reaching a fevered pitch.
Those of us who live among the towering mountains, old-growth forests, and pristine lakes and rivers feel we deserve these bragging rights on occasion (especially in mid-February, when folks in Vancouver can go jogging on the beach while people in the rest of the nation are freezing their butts off). And ecologists tell us that B.C. is blessed with an exceptional diversity of wildlife and wilderness, on par with some of the greatest places on the planet, such as the Serengeti and the Great Barrier Reef.
My home province is Canada's richest region biologically – home to 76 per cent of our nation's bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish, 60 per cent of its evergreen trees, and thousands of other animals and plants. More than 3,800 species are found here, and many of these, such as mountain goat and mountain caribou, live mostly – or only – in the province and nowhere else on the planet. For others, such as the trumpeter swan and sandhill crane, B.C. is a critical wintering ground or stopover in winged migrations that extend over thousands of kilometres.
Most remarkably, unlike most places in North America, B.C. still has all of the large and charismatic megafauna that were present at the time of European settlement, including grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars. Indeed, British Columbia is now the last safe haven for most of the large animals left on the continent. For example, grizzlies still roam, feed, and breed throughout much of the province, whereas in California, this majestic bruin is now only found as an image on the state's flag, having long been eliminated from the wild.
B.C. has a rich legacy to protect, yet the experts tell us that we are squandering our unique biological inheritance. Earlier this year, scientists revealed that more than four dozen species have disappeared from the province, and the casualty list is growing. A further 1,600 species (43 per cent of all the plants and animals thought to exist in the province) are also in decline and are perhaps facing a similar fate unless action is taken.
These statistics are not just an abstract tally. To the contrary, many residents and visitors to the province have personally experienced these plants and animals in nature – perhaps seen a grizzly bear while on a camping trip, or hooked a salmon on one of our pristine rivers, or been dazzled by a pod of orcas while kayaking. You don't even have to go far from populated areas: the remaining patches of Canada's most endangered forest ecosystem, the Garry oak savannah, can be found in downtown Victoria!
Given the biodiversity crisis that is unfolding in my home province, I'm shocked that the government can claim we're the "best place on earth". We lag behind virtually every other place in North America in providing legal protection for our wildlife. B.C. stands out in Canada for not having an endangered species law, while smaller provinces such as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have gone to great lengths to legally protect endangered species and their habitat. Even developing countries, such as Mexico, Costa Rica, and "the glorious nation" of Kazakhstan (to quote Borat) have a leg up on us, with endangered species laws on the books.
I'm proud of my province, and like most residents and visitors to British Columbia, I want to make sure that the natural heritage that we're blessed with is protected for my children and grandchildren to enjoy. However, in light of the government's ad campaign, I think the province needs an identity check. The government needs to reconcile its efforts to brand this province on the basis of its natural wonders with our true identity as one of the "last places on earth" without an endangered species law to protect the very things that make my home great.
Take David Suzuki's Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org
The coal hard truth at play in Ontario
The battle over new nuclear and green energy is heating up. One of those battlegrounds is a tiny village, home to North America's largest coal-fired hydro station.
By WorkCabin.ca Staff
What the nuclear heck is going on in Ontario? A lot of people are asking that very question. One minute, Bruce Power, a private company which already operates an existing nuclear power plant in the province, announces the first steps in what could lead to a new nuclear power plant being built 90 minutes south of Toronto. The next minute, the provincial government issues a release distances itself from the plan.
So what's really going on? Well, it likely has everything to do with how Ontario plans to replace one of North America's most infamous coal-fired generating stations. Ontario's Liberals have promised to close all coal-fired generating stations in the province by 2014. That includes the Nanticoke Generating Station, long a target of environmentalists fighting dirty emissions. Trouble is, Ontario's government hasn't announced what it will replace the Nanticoke station with. That's key because the Nanticoke hydro plant produces enough electricity to power millions of homes. It's also the starting point for a major power transmission corridor that feeds that electricity to major urban areas. The province simply can't abandon that power transmission corridor and build a new plant and comparable hydro line network elsewhere -- at least, not anywhere near the vast new development-restricted Greenbelt area of southern Ontario.
The future of electricity generation in Ontario is very much under the microscope. The Ontario Energy Board is holding hearings on the province's proposed 20-year hydro plan. The outcome will determine whether Ontario will emphasize nuclear, renewables or a combination of both. The Pembina Institute and a coalition of environmental groups are calling on the province to not replace aging nuclear facilities or build new nuclear plants such as the one proposed in Nanticoke. Instead, they want an emphasis on green energy. The groups point to a recent survey which showed two thirds of Ontarians prefer to see aging nuclear stations replaced with renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, rather than new nuclear reactors. Ontario has said that renewable energy sources will help replace coal-fired generation in Ontario, but a specific plan for Nanticoke has not been made.
Enter Bruce Power and its proposed nuclear reactor for an 800-acre site. The company has begun an environmental assessment – a federally required step – before a licence to build a nuclear plant can be issued. If successful, a nuclear plant could be generating electricity by 2018. The Nanticoke area, a tiny village next to a large industrial park on the shore of Lake Erie, and its two main counties have been growing nervous ever since the Liberals pledged to close the existing hydro generating station. They're worried about the potential to lose hundreds of jobs, taxes and spinoffs if the coal-fired station in their isolated rural area is closed in 2014 and nothing replaces it. Two municipal councils, and Federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley are backing Bruce Power's bid to build a nuclear station in Nanticoke.
The provincial government quickly countered Bruce Power's recent announcement saying it "has not encouraged or solicited a proposal to build a nuclear generating station in the Haldimand-Norfolk region." The province said Bruce Power's "course of action is speculative."
Bruce Power, also eyeing potential nuclear power startups in Alberta and Saskatchewan, says it will also study building what it calls a 'clean energy hub' involving wind, solar and hydrogen energy in Nanticoke.
Could this be the eventual solution for what the province has in store to replace the coal-fired Nanticoke Generating Station site?
Here is the shocking reality in Ontario: Unless enough new hydro generation – whatever the energy source is -- comes on stream in the near future, hydro demand will surpass supply once the province's coal-fired hydro plants are shut down in 2014. If that happens, Ontario may be forced to do what it has in the past to meet demand: buy power from the United States produced by, you guessed it, coal-fired hydro plants.
So, will Ontario eventually endorse Bruce Power's bid for a new nuclear power plant on the shore of Lake Erie, less than 90 minutes from the major urban areas of Niagara and Toronto? Possibly. The government hasn't exactly said no -- if you read between the lines.
One thing is for certain: Ontario needs a significant power generation strategy for Nanticoke, purely because of the vast hydro transmission corridor. And Bruce Power thinks it has the power and now the plan to address it – even if the Ontario government isn't quite ready to acknowledge it.
is Canada's green outpost for green jobs
PHOTO SOURCE: Nanticoke Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation
Green or Greenwash?
By Alternative Channel's contributor Jackson Kern
A guide to help you understand greenwashing.
Any guide to help you paint your lifestyle a slightly deeper shade of green would be incomplete without reference to the dangerous phenomenon of "greenwashing". This guide can be helpful to you in understanding the term, identifying instances of it, and, of course, shunning those who would practice it.
Even more deplorable than enterprises which rapaciously and unapologetically downgrade our physical environment are those which seek to give their organizations a green lining by employing disingenuous public relations. As cited by the SourceWatch online encyclopedia, greenwash is the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government, a politician or even a non-government organization to create a pro-environmental image".
So, how can one identify suspicions of greenwash? Here is a brief roundup of strategies that can be used so that you don't fall prey.
A strong first step is to investigate the green policy changes, and to check them for externalities and hidden trade-offs. When an entity engages in "green" marketing, some aspect of its production and distribution processes is modified in a way which is intended to reduce waste. But what are the indirect effects of that change? It is the net result that is the indicator of a policy's true green color. To give an (unresolved) example, there is a push for elimination of paper usage in favor of increased reliance on electronic communication media. But remember that these electronic media have great energy needs.
A second effective practice is to follow the money trail. This means in both directions. Investigate which political parties and causes companies are contributing to. And on the incoming finances, question who a firm's investors are. Remember that there are always vested interests.
Check for policy consistency in time and space. Many corporations now operate across wide swathes of geography, and their marketing messages are often tailored to local audiences. This can be an effective test of their genuineness.
Be wary of vagueness and ambiguity in green advertising. If it is unfathomable to you, that is probably because it doesn't hold water. Such ambiguous advertising is particularly prone to have hidden external effects.
A final approach is to look into the company or entity's past. Be on the lookout for those skeletons in the closet. In so doing, one can also effectively test a company's receptiveness to public inquiry, another indicator of their openness and honesty.
These steps can help you to identify those firms which are embracing the sustainability endeavor, and to separate them from the posers in the pack.
Friday, November 07, 2008
The Three R’s of GRRReen
By Jackson Kern
A guide to what goes on behind the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle.
The catch phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle" was popularized early on in the green movement, and today we are all familiar with its use. It became commonly invoked by those going green (or by those who aspired to do so) as a lightweight guiding philosophy whose delightful R's allowed it to roll agreeably off of the tongue.
However this frivolous treatment of the phrase shrouds a more profound meaning beneath. What many who allow the phrase to roll so freely fail to realize is that beyond its pleasing audible qualities, it is in fact a statement of an important waste hierarchy.
The waste that comes as a byproduct of our production processes is, we believe, an inevitable reality. Waste must be controlled and dealt with as best it can; it is an unfortunate but ever-present reality of which we can never be truly ridded, much like a childhood scar.
So how best to manage and control this waste? The answer is given by the three R's, in decreasing order of preference.
The best strategy of all is to simply reduce waste volumes altogether. The first step in this approach is to identify those areas of consumption which generate excessive waste. The issue of packaging is a prime example. If you have ever purchased something and then had to cut through thick panels of fused plastic to access the small object suspended between, you know this. However the real key to reducing waste in a way that is sustainable in the long term is, of course, to reduce our levels of consumption. Yes, this means buy less stuff!
To reuse is the next step down in the hierarchy. Reusing is inferior to reducing because it does not carry the same power to lower total waste levels in future generations. The mentality of reusing could be used to justify the purchase of items whose use would otherwise be foregone entirely. Reusing is, nonetheless, an effective way to keep present waste levels in check.
To recycle is the final step in the hierarchy. While recycling clearly is preferred to landfill disposal, it is inferior to reusing. This is because recycling, unlike the simple taking of an object and employment of it to another purpose, requires large quantities of energy whose expenditure would otherwise be conserved.
The issue of waste management poses one of the great burdens to our environment. Equipped with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions—and perhaps take your waste to the next level in the hierarchy.
Montreal is finally walking the green talk!
By Alternative Channel's Joanie Bergeron Poudrier
Montreal's eco-bike system BIXI made it in the top 50 Best inventions 2008 by Time Magazine!
TIME magazine came out with a list of its 50 Best Inventions of 2008 and Montreal's Public Bike System (aka Bixi for BIcycle taXI) ranked as their 19th best of the year.
When the city of Montreal built its Public Bike System, nicknamed Bixi, the designers packed in all the technology they could find, in a desperate attempt to out-engineer human iniquity. The modular bike-rack stations are Web-enabled and solar-powered.
The bicycles are designed with tons of sealed components to resist the savage beatings they will undoubtedly receive, and they're equipped with RFID tags so they're easily trackable. BIXI makes the bike a form of urban transportation all on its own.
Urban and practical. Economical and ecological. For everyone, every day. Montreal is finally riding the green talk!
Created for short trips, the fee structure is intended to encourage frequent trips that don't take long.
You have to be a member to use the system, but for each usage, the first 30 minutes of use are always free.
No more questions! For shopping, getting to work or just visiting friends, bike it with BIXI!
For more info visit: www.bixi.ca
The answer is blowin’ in the wind!
By David Suzuki and Faisal Moola
Energy underpins everything we do. Human societies have become increasingly complex, requiring ever larger-scale sources of continuous energy. Now, energy fuels not only our activities but our economies as well. If we don't choose our energy sources wisely, we can do more harm than good.
Non-renewable energy sources such as fossil and nuclear fuels are not sustainable and have also taught us that technological advances often come at great cost. These fuels can never be a long-term solution because they will run out. They also create emissions that pollute our air, water, and soil, and contribute to global warming or long-term radioactive-waste problems.
Renewable energy sources will not run out, and they don't cause the same kinds of environmental problems as non-renewable sources. But that doesn't mean we should adopt renewable energy without any forethought. Biofuels can create problems if fuel production comes at the expense of food production. And wind power, if not properly planned and sited, can harm birds and bats (although Danish studies of 10,000 bird kills revealed that almost all died in collisions with buildings, cars, and wires; only 10 were killed by windmills).
Alternative energy sources are absolutely necessary. Global warming will kill birds and bats, as well as other species, in much greater numbers than wind power. We just need good planning to ensure that our energy production is balanced with ecological concerns. And we need to believe in our ability to develop solutions.
During three decades of producing the TV program The Nature of Things, we've often encountered difficulties while filming in exotic locations. Back when we worked with film, we always took a lighting person with us. I dreaded working with one lighting guy because whenever he was faced with a demanding challenge, he'd respond, "It can't be done." We'd have to cajole him until we accomplished the task, but it drained the crew's morale and wore us down.
Another lighting person would respond, "Well, this is a tough one, but let's give it a try." I can't remember ever giving up because it really was impossible.
The mental attitude that underlies the way we approach any challenge is a huge part of how well we deal with it, and it applies at national and global levels as well. For more than 20 years, leading scientists have warned us that the dangers of runaway global warming are so great that we cannot continue along the same path. Yet the response (usually led by the fossil-fuel industry) has been "It's junk science" or "It's too expensive; it'll destroy the economy," or "It's impossible to meet the reduction targets." These kinds of reactions demoralize or paralyze society.
Compare those comments on the challenge of climate change with the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1. These events galvanized the nation into action. There was no outrage over the scale of effort needed or the economic burden. There was a sense of solidarity of purpose, to win the war or to beat the Russians to the moon. Throwing everything at winning led to all kinds of unexpected bonuses: the American economy blazed out of the Depression, while the race to the moon resulted in the Internet, 24-hour-a-day news channels, GPS, and cell phones. Making a commitment to resolve a serious crisis generates opportunities and creates jobs.
Already, renewable-energy technologies are creating employment and giving economies a boost around the world. Countries like Denmark and Germany started shifting to renewable energy sources after the OPEC oil embargo in the 1970s. Today, Denmark obtains 20 per cent of its energy from wind power and is aiming at 50 per cent by 2020. Germany obtains 14 per cent of its energy from wind, is the major exporter of wind technology, and has created more than 82,000 jobs in the wind sector, and more than 200,000 total renewable-energy jobs. Wind power has become the country's fastest-growing job creator over the past three decades.
Even the U.S. Energy Department has concluded that wind power could become the source of one fifth of that nation's power by 2030, and other studies have shown that wind, solar, and biofuel energy could create five million U.S. jobs by 2030.
The problem with making major inroads on the climate challenge is not a lack of solutions; it is a lack of will. As we saw with our lighting technicians, our attitude toward what confronts us will have a huge impact on how we achieve results.
Take David Suzuki's Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.
It’s going to be a battle of Smart vs. IQ
By WorkCabin.ca Staff
With so much emphasize on hybrid and plug-in vehicles these, it's been easy to overlook another emerging trend in cars: the super subcompact.
The price of hybrid vehicles is still out of reach for many consumers (although that price point is falling lower with each passing year), and the price of the plug-in Chevrolet Volt coming in 2010 is expected to surpass $40,000CDN. So going the mini subcompact route may become more viable option in the immediate future for drivers concerned about fuel economy and low emissions. Expect several automakers to roll out super mini cars in the coming years.
That means the Smart car is finally about to get some competition. German automaker Daimler AG's super mini Smart car has been a familiar urban site on Canadian roads for several years. In fact, in North America it has basically been the it car in the mini car segment. In Canada alone, more than 3,000 Smart cars have been sold this year, a 46 per cent sales increase over the previous year. The Smart car is the only non-hybrid car in Canada to qualify for the federal government's full $2,000 ecoAuto rebate that brings the base cost of the car down to about $13,000 CDN.
But expect this vehicle segment to get a lot more attention now that Toyota, the world's No. 1 manufacturer of hybrid vehicles including the famed Prius, has launched its first mini subcompact car. Toyota's three-metre long IQ, already named best concept car of 2007 by Car magazine, is expected to make its North American debut at the Los Angeles car show this month, albeit it under Toyota's niche small-car brand Scion. The four-seater (yes, that's right, a four-seater!) travels 54 miles on a gallon of gas and is anticipated to cost less than $15,000US. Oh, and back to those four seats, for a minute. The world's smallest four-seat car is possible thanks to a flattened gas tank and no spare tire (better make sure you have a phone number for your road assistance service handy).
On Nov. 20, the IQ will go on sale in Japan where sales are expected to hit 2,500 vehicles per month. The car will go on sale in Europe in 2009.
Toyota has not announced when or if the IQ will be available in Canada, but odds are the car will end up in showrooms at some point because Canadians have already demonstrated a Smart (pun intended) fascination with low-emission super subcompacts.
WorkCabin.ca is Canada's green outpost for green jobs
PHOTO SOURCE: Toyota
By Alternative Channel's Contributor Cody Larocque
With all of the bad news concerning the state of the North American economy, one cannot help but wonder if a simpler way of life would help to alleviate the dramatic situation. A lifestyle change may be in order if conditions get worse. That is where the tenants of Simple Living can come to your aid. This lifestyle can do more for you then just saving you money.
Thought the adherents to Simple living may practice it for many reasons such as; spirituality, health, increased time with family and friends all the way to anti-consumerism and social justice. The movement can take many forms not only related to abstaining from worldly or classically trivial activities such as the old adage of "wine women and song" though ascetic practices are common not every person practicing voluntary simplicity is an ascetic. The universal adage for the movement is along the lines of "a outwardly a more simple life, inwardly a richer life"
Approaches to a "Simple life" can very greatly. Some participants simply choose to their need to purchase goods and service there by significantly reduce there need to sell there time for money (work). With this extra time the individual will often choose to enrich there life via building closer personal ties to friends and family, but some may also choose to pursue cultural or artistic endeavours. The "Green" factor of Simple living comes to the forefront when it tackles the issue of consumerism, specifically hyper- consumerism, which is the act by which an individual or individual places the act of making money and purchasing goods as the highest values and conduit to happiness in life, whether the choice is conscious or not.
The offshoots of hyper-consumerism are in fact tied directly to the issue of sustainable development. If individuals constantly scrounge and hustle for more and more, with a continued "the grass is greener" mentality, then as we all know there will not be any grass left. Simple living aims at combating the claims that happiness rests in objects by protesting valiantly that it rests in each of us through our connection to one another and the planet.
Photo by: Katie@! Courtesy of Flickr.com
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Newsletter: From environmental clothing company to sustainable construction, Alternative Channel covers it all!
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Interviews with the winners of the 2008 Holcim Awards North America are now online!
Watch the interviews conducted by Alternative Channel with the winners of the 2008 Holcim Awards for region North America
Don't miss the interview with Gold winner Christopher J. Collins, Excecutive Director of Solar One Green Energy. Chris Collins won the Holcim Awards Gold 2008 for his project Solar 2 Green Energy, Arts and Education Center
, New York, USA.
Follow this link
to watch the interview.
Have a look at the interview with Silver winner Liz Ogbu, designer based in San Francisco. Miss Ogbu won the Holcim Awards Silver 2008 for her project Self-contained day labor station
, San Francisco, USA.
Follow this link
to watch the interview.
Watch the interview with Bronze winners John Gunn, scientist from Laurentian University and Jeff Laberge, architect. They both won the Holcim Awards Bronze 2008 for their project Living with Lakes Center for freshwater restoration and research,
Follow this link
to watch the interview.