Sunday, April 27, 2008

Supply Chain Footprint

Patagonia has a new, refreshingly honest feature on their site. It details the supply chain for several of their products. It maps the progression of the products from raw material to finished good. What makes me say "refreshingly honest" is that it's not just a highlight of what they do well. The do point out for example that the Synchilla vest, though it's made from recycled materials, travels a great distance throughout North America and much of that by truck. They even offer a total amount of carbon emitted to get the product from origin to distribution. Seeing how much traveling a product does should emphasize to everyone to buy locally produced products*, especially if reducing your own carbon footprint is a major emphasis.

* Note that I try to purchase as locally as possible for the Green Business Networking events. I'll take recommendations for good regional wine, since what I've been getting comes from California (even though it's essentially the store brand from Earth Fare.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More on Greening Supply Chain

We're back from another trip to Chicago where we saw a few Prius taxis, which is an idea that just simply makes financial sense given how much taxis stop and go. What also seems to be making sense for large companies like Clorox is introducing green products, like Green Works. I don't know how truly green it is given that it's a product made by Clorox, but people are buying it. In reading an article this morning about Clorox and their supply chain issues, this quote shows a good reason for the increase in green products: "From internal surveys, the company knows its customers will pay 10 to 15 percent more for greener products." Clearly it makes financial sense to sell a product that is more green. However, the article makes a point that getting the supplies to make the green products is a challenge. Clorox bought Burt's Bees not too long ago, and it has been having problems scaling up the business, which traditionally used many small suppliers. What this tells me is that there is plenty of opportunity for start ups to produce the raw and component materials for this boom in green products. Large consumer product companies like Clorox, GE, etc. need to get materials in large quantities in order to get their products to market. This means that either companies producing the raw materials now need to scale up (hopefully in a sustainable manner) or other start ups can enter the market and help fulfill the large companies' demand.

Friday, April 18, 2008

526 Extension Alternative

We were at the Charleston Green Drinks event last week where we saw a presentation by the Coastal Conservation League on an alternative to the 526 extension. I thought what they presented was a great example of the need to provide an alternative to the undesirable action. They clearly understood that 526 was intended to solve a problem, but that it was an inefficient solution - not just undesirable environmentally. If we're going to convince businesses and governments not to do thing that destroy the environment we have to have better alternatives for them to consider.

Do check out the website and see the designs they have. They are very aesthetically pleasing. But more importantly and more relevant to this blog, is that I think the redesign, particularly the one for Savannah Highway, would be good for business. The redesign would create back roads off of Savannah Highway to allow local residents to get to and from local businesses without ever having to enter Savannah Highway. That should improve traffic flow to these business and thus would hopefully improve patronage of them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sustainable Business Venturing Class

This may be a little late, but if you're a student at the College of Charleston (or know one) and you're still looking for classes for fall, consider the new class I'm teaching. Here is a course description and list of learning objectives:

MGMT 360-002: Sustainable Business (Venturing)

Fall-12358 – Hansen, T/H 1:40

Course Description

This course approaches environmental problems as entrepreneurial opportunities and sees entrepreneurs as influential in creating social and economic change. This course will help students recognize opportunities to create new businesses that move us towards a more sustainable economy. Industry sectors with strong representation the Lowcountry with a high need and/or possibility for improvement in environmental sustainability will be a particular focus. Students will learn about these sectors through speakers, case studies and industry research. Students will also learn about the business case for sustainability and about creating value for all of an organization’s stakeholders. Students will work in teams to develop a well-defined sustainable new business concept.

Outcomes & learning objectives:

  • Understanding of the importance of sustainability/ impact of business on the environment
  • Understanding of consideration of value creation for all stakeholders
  • Knowledge of locally-represented sectors of sustainable business
  • Ability to recognize sustainable business opportunities
  • Development of a well-defined sustainable new business concept
  • Four written reports, with accompanying presentations: sector report, market research, existing sustainable business, team final business concepts (will include updates of first two)
  • Graduate students will conduct a review of the sustainable entrepreneurship literature

Monday, April 14, 2008

Investment in Green Tech

I've been reading a few articles lately about the increasing volumes of venture capital money flowing into green tech ventures. John Doerr has been the central character in just about everyone one of them. This morning I read about a speech he gave this weekend at MIT. One quote I found interesting is "There's too much money chasing too few good ventures, despite the size of this problem." In that speech and other articles, like this one in Fast Company, Doerr describes the green tech sector as bigger than the Internet. The problem is that while the problems being addressed by green tech are considerably large and have enormous market potential, they will take considerably longer to materialize compared to Internet companies. Hopefully investors will have the stomachs to hold on long enough to see the returns and we won't experience a collapse similar to the dot-com bubble.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Upcoming Events

Just a reminder that the next event will be this coming Monday. Same time, same place (4:30-7:00 at the Tate Center). The focus will be on green building, but you are all free to discuss whatever you want of course.

Also this Sunday will be the Eat, Drink and Be Green event. It will take place from 4:00 to 8:00 at Patriot's Point. Proceeds benefit green initiatives at the College of Charleston. While there are plenty of green events going on this month, this one's unique in the fact that it's been organized as a class project. I hope you all will come out and give a little support to the College (and of course stop by Margaret's Ecolibrio jewelry booth).

My apologies to Jason and Green Drinks for not promoting the event this week. It was an interesting one with a presentation by CCL regarding the 526 extension. I'll have more to say about it in a future blog (once I'm caught up with grading), particularly what I think it means for local businesses.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Plastic Bottle Recycling

A student provided a link with information about plastic recycling today and I found it quite interesting so I thought I'd share. You can see plastic bottle recycling rates. Rates have been going down. However they're going down only in percent of sales. That is, the actual amount of plastic bottle recycling is going up, but the sales of plastic bottles is going up even faster, as this image shows. What I find surprising is that rates were at about 1/3 just a decade ago (but are now down below 1/4). A comparison with Sweden's rates is also interesting. Clearly something happened in Sweden in 1995. Something happened here too. Per capita waste started shooting up in 1995 - about the time bottled water started catching on. There is plenty more information about other container recycling, have fun with it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Party for a Purpose

Update: The event is postponed until Wednesday, April 16th. Same time and place, though there will be a backup plan to hold it in the Stern Center ballroom in case it's raining again.

If you're around the College of Charleston campus tomorrow (Thursday) check out an event going on: Party for a Purpose. It will run from 12 - 5 in the Stern Center garden. There will be entertainment and vendors (including my wife's EcoLibrio jewelry) and perhaps a few speeches, including one potentially from yours truly. The event is being organized by Green Team Entertainment, which is run by Adam Chase, a Green Business Networking regular.

Here are the details:
On Thursday, April 3, 2008, from 12pm to 5pm Green Team Entertainment will host Party for a Purpose at the College of Charleston. With the help of students and staff we have determined some of the key issues faced by the school and will be using this first event to raise awareness about those issues while offering practical solutions. Local artists and musicians will be joining the cause providing entertainment and interactive art projects to engage students and attendees. Go Green coffee shop, Kronic Coffee, of James Island, will be providing food and drink which will be served on biodegradable plastic-ware, which will be composted by our Green Team Entertainment clean up crew. For more information or to get involved, you can email us: