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Home Depot Ups the Ante on Green Labeling April 17, 2007

Posted by Jordi in environment, Retail, sustainable development.

Does the success of deep environment-human change hinge on winning the hearts (do they have nay?) and minds of the Fortune 500?   Here is another example of corporations finding two kinds of green.

Home Depot to Display an Environmental Label – New York Times
The initiative — which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain’s sales — would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans.

I am curious to see what this does to pricing and also cost structure for Home Depot.


A Perfect Mess April 1, 2007

Posted by Brian Mulligan in environment, Workplaces.

I came across a book review in my search for interesting topic for a blog. I’m probably going to read this book, but thought the review for the book seems awesome for somebody who loves to be messy.

The title of the article is “Why Clean Up Your Desk? Delight in Disorder Instead.”

The article explains a lot about the book and how it is very similar to “The Tipping Point” and “Blink.” Basically, the book praises being messy. They use an example of a messy desk.

They say that it’s a great way to stay organized. The most important stuff is on the top and can be easily accessed in a time of need. The less important papers will make their way to the bottom of the stack. They also use Los Angeles as another example in the article.

They say that an unplanned city like LA makes it easier for people to access the most important establishments and restaurants. They also claim that it takes more time to be neat versus being messy and it may not be worth cleaning up all the time.

Do you think that its worth it? Do you like to be messy or neat? How does this effect an organization and it’s morals?

Alternative Workspaces March 20, 2007

Posted by Stacey Swift in environment, Internet, Technology, work-family balance, Workplaces.

The invention of the Internet made working from the home a possibility for many employees. Technology such as telephones, laptops, fax machines, and even web-cams helped to make home offices a great alternative for many people. Whether its being home with the kids or working on a different coast, people no longer need to leave their home in order to conduct business. Recently, people are discovering the advantages of “alternative work-spaces” rather than isolating yourself in a home office. Darius Roberts is a 27 year old starting a company that prefers to work out of a coffee shop rather than his apartment. Those who work at home often complain of loneliness and lack of a social network. With access to wireless and coffee and the opportunity to meet other developers he finds the coffee shop to be a productive “office.” In addition to informal work spaces such as coffee shops, more structured communal work spaces have been introduced. Roberts found a flyer for the Hat Factory, a community office space that offers a communal kitchen, a desk, private meeting room, and a lounge for just $10 a day or $170 a month. He says this encourages more meaningful connections than just a coffee shop. It is a great place for entrepreneurs to share not only resources but also ideas and network.

co-working facilities help fill the social needs people have as well—either informally, by simply bringing together a group of people with similar interests, or formally, through networking events, holiday parties, and even softball leagues.

Last week in class we discussed social networks. The use of technology has broken down many social networks, eliminating a lot of the personal interaction that used to be necessary. Do you think working from home is a good option? People do have social needs, does working from home destroy these social networks, or is being able to conference call to an office a sufficient alternative? I think as long as a certain level of personal interaction is maintained working from home can be a great alternative, especially for those with children. Additionally, for those who feel lonely at home or are just starting up a business I think the use of community offices is a great way to create social networks. People who would otherwise be working in isolation can share their ideas with others in similar situations. How much social interaction does one need to work?

Attention Shoppers: Carbon Offsets in Aisle 6 March 19, 2007

Posted by Kira in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, environment.

As I write this blog, I am looking out onto the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and I can’t help but think about businesses that disrespect the earth and the effect that has on the environment.  I have written a few posts on business and the environment because it is of interest to me.  On Wednesday, March 7th the New York Times published a special section called “The Business of Green.”  I found the article titled “Attention Shoppers: Carbon Offsets in Aisle 6” of interest because some of the companies mentioned were discussed in our class. 

            Many companies have spent millions of dollars putting their money where their consumers’ mouths are and are taking pride in their environmental changes, but have consumers put their own money where their mouths are?  Consumers want businesses to go green, yet they are not going green themselves.  How much responsibility should be split between the corporation and the consumer?

            Companies such as Whole Foods and Travelocity are charging more money and are giving that money to places such as the Renewable Choice Energy or to the Conservation Fund.  The idea is that the mark-up that consumers are paying goes to offset their share of carbon emissions.  Companies have taken responsibility for the design, manufacturing, and disposal of their products and are offering consumers a convenient way to offset the climate implications of their usage.  However, is this too easy for consumers?  Is simply writing a check enough?   Doe this assuage their guilt for not changing their behaviors such as turning down the thermostat, car pooling, or weatherproofing their homes?  

            Dell, a company we have been discussing over the course of the semester, has been buying renewable energy and offering free recycling of computers.  Soon Dell will have a program whereby customers can pay an extra $2 for a notebook or $6 for a desktop that will be given to the Conservation Fund and the Carbonfund.  These organizations will use the funds to plant trees that absorb carbon dioxide and offset the emissions that their computers are generating.  Will paying an extra few dollars create consumers becoming lax about cutting real carbon reductions like driving and flying?  

I think that charging extra for products in order to offset emissions is both good and bad.  It is good because the majority of people find change difficult or are simply too lazy to abide by the changes that will reduce emissions, so this is better than nothing at all.  On the other hand, it will also enable consumers not to make other reductions that will help the environment substantially more than just offsetting the emissions.  However, this may show Congress that people care enough and that they will pay extra for “green” and that might speed up the development of alternate energy sources.  It is definitely a tough call.

I think the bottom line is if consumers really cared about the environment they would be switching to florescent light bulbs and hybrid cars.  Consumers need to take responsibility for the emissions they create and take action.  I am impressed with corporations that are going beyond their design, manufacturing, and disposal responsibilities to help consumers help the environment.  It is a two way street between the corporation and the consumer- the corporations have done their part of going green but the consumers really haven’t. 

These types of programs may become a huge competitive advantage for companies like Dell.  Consumers may feel better buying products knowing that they are helping the environment in some way.  I am interested to see how Dell and other companies will go about implementing and marketing this kind of program in the near future.     

Walmart An Environmentalist? March 19, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, environment, monopoly, Public Interest.

This is actually dated two months back, but it’s relatively new news to me. Apparently Walmart is trying to clean their image up as a unmitigated, corporate evil into.. an environmentalist leader. In the works are the plans to become the largest user of solar energy. More than a year ago, Mr. Scott, the company’s chief executive, began reaching out to some of environmental groups, telling them that Wal-Mart, long regarded as an environmental offender,

Wanted to become a leader on issues like fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

Walmart is trying to put energy efficient light bulbs into 100 million homes. These bulbs use 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants, and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb. The only problem is that these bulbs are eight times as expensive as a regular light bulb, and it also gives off a harsher light. As of today, only six percent of American households use these energy efficient bulbs.

Walmart is such a powerful company that it has a lot of say in what it wants to happen. General Electric expressed their concern regarding these light bulbs and told Walmart to take this revolution slowly. Walmart’s buyer responded, “We are going there. You decide if you are coming with us.” Not a lot of companies can get away with being so snippy to General Electric, the second largest company, but Walmart got its way and are now a strong advocate of these energy efficient bulbs. It is even working with Yahoo and Google to see how they can help promote these bulbs.

How do you feel about this situation? Is this an effort to improve Wal-Mart’s appeal to the more affluent consumers the chain must win over to keep growing in the United States or is this a genuine attempt to help our environment?

I believe Walmart is trying to promote its image, but at the same time helping out our ecosystem. They cannot possibly be making much profit off these energy efficient bulbs, but they are pushing for its success anyways. It is their first step in taking a positive direction.

Going Green in New Orleans March 6, 2007

Posted by Lady in allances, Business-Society Issues, environment.
1 comment so far

Keeping along this “going green” topic, I recently read an article titled, “Going Green in New Orleans” that displayed how many installation companies are donating solar systems to some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. The victims were selected through a lottery pool. On my initial reading of this article, I had nothing but a positive response to the efforts of the installation companies. While many efforts have been made to restoreNew Orleans, this is by far one of the largest efforts being made. In my opinion, it’s like going beyond the call of duty.

But after I pondered this situation even more, I began to question the motives of these installation companies. Is it simply part of their “culture” to promote the use of solar energy because it is good for the Earth? Or was their act of jumping at an opportunity to help with the relief efforts simply the result of business interests?

One of the victims who had received the solar system expressed her gratitude in the article and also said that her neighbors might even be jealous of her. Might the existence of the solar systems in the Lower 9th Ward serve as a type of advertising for these installation companies? Might more residents in New Orleans create an increased demand for these solar systems? Did these installation companies think about these possibilities as they decided to get involved in the relief efforts of New Orleans? In my opinion, I don’t think that they made this move only with the motive of helping the Hurricane victims. I think they saw the direct advantage that they could gain with promoting this “going green” campaign.

I know it may seem like a stretch of the imagination but I just wanted to display how organizations may indirectly use this “going green” campaign as a competitive advantage in their industry. So my question is: Even if this was their motive, doesn’t everyone benefit from the cause? Or might this be a shameless attempt to take advantage of the victims of New Orleans. Is there anything wrong with this?

Going Green March 5, 2007

Posted by Kira in allances, Business-Society Issues, environment.
1 comment so far

The more companies are recognized as being responsible corporate citizens, the more they will profit financially and the better chance they will have to survive in the future. With all of the recent discussions on global warming, some companies are taking steps to make sure that they are perceived as environmentally responsible. Just as companies need to adapt their products to changing consumer tastes, they now must adapt to their customers changing wants and needs for a safer environment.

I just read an article in BusinessWeek that states that corporations are building alliances with environmentalist groups in order to be considered as more environmentally responsible. This is contributing positively to the businesses bottom line and to their public image. Just as a business has its own culture inside the organization, it also operates in a culture that exists on a broader scale. Right now, the culture in which businesses operate is going green.

Companies have fought being environmentally friendly for so long and that is a major reason why we face global warming to the extent that we do today. By allying with environmentalist groups, companies are strategically aligning with their former enemies. This is a smart business move because now companies can use being environmentally friendly as a competitive advantage. This will also allow companies to build their reputation which is very important. Every business wants to be first to market. If companies use this as a competitive advantage then other companies will eventually follow suit and hopefully all businesses will be safer for the environment.

I never thought of the idea of businesses aligning with activist groups. I always think of business alliances or mergers as between two companies that produce products for profits. In the short-term, companies will probably lose money since they have to change their means of production to be safer for the environment. However, these initial expenses will be offset due to savings realized by going green. For example, windows that cost more today will hold in the heat better and reduce heating costs later on.

Over time, companies that are environmentally friendly and are supported by environmentalist groups will be more competitive. As a customer I would be more inclined to support and invest in a company that is going green. As an employee, I would rather work at a corporation that was green rather than one that was harmful to the environment. Therefore, corporations that are green will be able to attract and retain a more loyal and more productive workforce. Hopefully, other companies will catch on and do the same.


What do you think of the strategy of allying with an activist group? How do you think an alliance like this would be implemented? Do you think that companies could use “going green” as a long and/or short-term competitive advantage?