Two Northwest cities amongst five fittest in the country
March 12, 2011, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Representing the Pacific Northwest yet again, Seattle, WA and Portland, OR are among the five fittest cities in the United States, according to Planet Green.

Portland, coming in as the fifth most fit city in the country, has an obesity rate of 23.9%, but has a regular exercise rate of 82.3%.  Seattle, the fourth most fit city, has an obesity rate of 22.8% and a regular exercise rate of 81.9%.

Being amongst the fittest cities in the country means that Portland and Seattle practice sustainability on a regular basis.  Whether it’s by riding bikes and walking to destinations, or a greater use of public transportation, the Pacific Northwest is well-represented.


Staples Office Paper Carrying Rainforest Alliance Seal
March 12, 2011, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Staples is leading the way.  A new brad of their office paper will be the first to carry the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Seal. The paper will be supplied by Domtar Corporation, which produces the EarthChoice line of office papers, which are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC).

The new Domtar EarthChoice Office Paper is available to Staples Advantage and customers in the U.S. It is a 20 lb. box for everyday printing on inkjet and laser printers.

The Rainforest Alliance has certified to FSC standards more than 65 million hectares (155 million acres) of forestland in 70 countries around the world since 1989.  The Rainforest Alliance helps meet the increasing demand for responsibly harvested forest products, by encouraging better on-the-ground forestry practices.  Through their practices, the rights and welfare of workers are protected.

Excellent move on Staples’ part.  This is a groundbreaking movement, as Staples is making a push to encourage its customers to purchase sustainable paper.  Kudos to Staples for partnering with Domtar Corporation.

Heineken World Bottle?
March 12, 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Alfred Heineken had an epiphany while on a world tour of the Heineken factories. While on the Caribbean island of Curacao in 1960, Heineken saw many bottles littering the beach due to the fact that the island had no means of returning the bottles to the bottling plants from which they originated. He was also concerned with the lack of affordable building materials and the inadequate living conditions plaguing Curacao’s lower-class. Envisioning a solution for these problems, he found a dutch architect John Habraken to design what he called “a brick that holds beer.”

For the next few years, the Heineken WOBO went through a design process. Some of the early designs were of interlocking and self-aligning bottles. The idea sprung from the thought that the need for mortar would add complexity and expense to the bottle wall’s simplicity and affordability. Some designs proved to be effective building materials but too heavy and slow-forming to be economically produced. Other designs were rejected by Heineken based on aesthetic preferences. In the end, the bottle that was selected was a compromise between the previous designs.

The bottle was designed to be interlocking, laid horizontally and bonded with cement mortar with a silicon additive. A 10 ft x 10 ft shack would take approximately 1,000 bottles to build. In 1963, 100,000 WOBO’s were produced in two sizes, 350 and 500 mm. This size difference was necessary in order to bond the bottles when building a wall, in the same way as a half brick is necessary when building with bricks.Unfortunately most of them are destroyed and no bottles are left. They have become very rare and, for some, a collectors item.

The thought of a corporation taking the initiative to create bottles for their products that can interlock to create something usable is incredible.  I applaud Heineken and his thoughts for a reusable / sustainable product.  Not only could the public enjoy a nice, refreshing beverage, but they can then use the bottles to create much needed structures.  If companies such as PepsiCo could follow Heineken’s lead, the possibilities could be endless.

Top Sustainable Travel Destinations
March 12, 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When traveling, it would be nice for travelers to think about planning sustainable vacations.  The following are some of the most sustainable travel destinations, according to Planet Green.

The most sustainable destination is Botswana, which is best known for its savannas teeming with wildlife. Botswana is a top destination for nature lovers looking to go on safari. With lush vegetation in the Okavango Delta in the north to the deserts down south, the country has a variety of habitats and wildlife ready to explore. With a growing number of eco-tourism groups, there is ample opportunity to explore the many national parks and nature reserves by boat, four-wheeling or backpacking.

The second most sustainable travel spot is Belize, where snorkelers and scuba divers love the numerous underwater adventures waiting for them in Belize. “Visitors have the opportunity to view the Mesoamerican Reef, the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, complete with chances to view the elusive whale shark and other rare fish species.” To help protect the reef and support sustainable fishing, local fishermen have formed a preservation group called the Friends of Nature which has already helped sustain grouper and snapper populations. For those looking to get on land, the area is also home to a tropical forest and several Mayan ruins.

And the third most sustainable destination are the Galapagos Islands.  Located off the coast of South America, this UNESCO Biosphere is home to many rare species of birds, reptiles and sea life. “With over 95 percent of the islands protected, eco-tours to this region insist on minimal impact to the sensitive eco-systems. Visitors can swim alongside penguins and sea lions or go on a hike to a volcano, many of which are still active.”

The simple thought of traveling to areas where you can practice sustainability while vacationing is such an incredible idea, that until I had read this article, I had never even truly thought of.  To be able to travel to a country where you can entertain yourself while saving the resources of the area is the ideal situation, in my opinion.  Next time I go on vacation, or perhaps my honeymoon, I’ll travel to Belize or sustainable destination.

Green House Comes to Life
March 12, 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Architect David Hansen’s Garden House has been completed.  The 2,000 square foot house, including 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, was furnished with many Ultra-Green features.  The Garden House is located in St. George, Utah, within St. George’s Residential City Center District.  The site was chosen for its proximity to the downtown area, the large shade-providing trees for protection from the summer sun, and its solar access to the southeastern sun.

“The home is configured and plumbed to support a future on-site photovoltaic system and or Solar Hot Water collection and is eligible to participate in the cities Sun Smart Green energy program.  The home has been carefully designed from the ground up to take “passive” advantage of available on-site solar, shading, and ventilation and natural lighting opportunities. Building overhangs, skylights, windows, insulation and mass walls have been orchestrated for maximum performance.”
The green features of this house are remarkable.  They include Energy Star windows and kitchen appliances, renewable wall and ceiling materials, renewable bamboo cabinets, an energy-efficient LED lighting system, tank-less gas water heating system, large wall design and exposed floors to assist with heating and cooling, and recycled composite countertops.  Other neat sustainable aspects of the house are the on-site retention of stormwater, the rainwater collection and storage system, and an in-house recycling center.

For images of this amazingly sustainable house, click here.

Why does change make leaders nervous?
March 12, 2011, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We live in a time where change is all around us.  Many of us like to think that we face more change than ever before, but is this actually true?  Globalization, technological innovation, and social media all have a strong impact on societies and organizations.  And while companies are facing a lot of changes, what is the reason behind these changes causing uncertainty, disruption, and at times, temporary chaos?  Is this truly worse than ever before?

Change has always been and will always be around us.  Our entire lives revolve around continuous change.  We experience it on a daily basis, as no two days are the exact same.  Our friendships, romantic relationships, colleagues, customers, everything.  They all change over time.

So why do leaders perceive the changes of today as more complex and difficult than the changes they faced before?  One large part of the answer has to do with the evolution of technology.  The technological evolution creates an exponential growth in our lives.  With the impact of technological progress, its consequences and rewards are enormous.  With the growth of technology, companies, their leaders and employees, must adjust and react in much shorter periods of time than in the past.

We need to change our mentality toward change.  As long as we view change as a burden, it will be such.  But rather, we need to take change as a challenging learning experience.  Change hasn’t become a more complex concept, but rather the amount of time we have to take it in and adapt to it has decreased.

Change has become a mainstay of business reality and will always be around.  In regards to sustainability, the challenge for leaders is to change their own tactics so they can lead change successfully.  Just talking about change will not do anything.  Leaders must change their actions for true change to take place.

Platinum Dirt: Vintage Auto Fashion
March 12, 2011, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Platinum Dirt, created by designer Dustin Page and business partner Aaron Parrish, are creating jackets and handbags from reclaimed vintage auto upholstery from genuine leather interior taken from old BMW, Cadillacs, Mercedes, Jaguar and more.  One car becomes one jacket, “where once the car is retired from the road forever, it is reincarnated as a VIN Jacket.  Each jacket tells its own rich history, exudes its own character, and commands the stage with a VIN plate embedded on the chest.”

Complete with hood ornament zipper pull, VIN breast plate, and uniquely patterned interior lining, these jackets have a very distinct edge. Reusing leather stripped from vintage cars makes the jackets green, environmentally friendly, and ensures that our landfills will be that much lighter.

Environmentally conscious while upholding that rough, “don’t mess with me” exterior, the VIN jackets are specifically designed for the progressive and fashion forward crowd. Simply put, Page sums up the Platinum Dirt line with this philosophy: “I’m not into copycat designs. If everyone is going right, I want to go left. Trends aren’t set by those who follow them. I’m not really paying close attention to what others are doing; it’s in my peripheral only.”

What a concept!  To take the leather off of a vehicle that would simply end up in a junkyard or a landfill, and create a product that can be used on a daily basis is just, WOW!  If I can find a VIN Jacket at a price the typical college student can afford, you better believe that I’ll be sporting one, wearing the old Cadillac hood ornament zipper pull with pride, knowing that the jacket I purchased didn’t make it to the landfill.