Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guaranteed market for renewables in China

What could it do for renewables if our governments mandated a market like China is doing?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Go GREEN this year for the Holidays!

You can still decorate with other festive Holiday colors such as red, white, silver, and gold if you’d like. I don’t mean you should surround yourself in only a green hue nor do I mean you should spend excessive amounts of green. Instead, I’m hoping all of us holiday enthusiasts can think of creative ways to be less wasteful and more environmentally conscious this year.

I’ve come up with a few relatively easy and creative ways to rethink our traditional holiday habits. It’s just a start, but I hope it encourages us all to remember Mother Nature as we celebrate the Season of Giving.

· Purchase a recyclable reusable mug for the coffee or tea lover in your family, especially for the one who frequently purchases their caffeinated beverages on the go.
· Stuff the student’s stocking with eco-friendly school supplies such as pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, folders, and binders made from recycled and recyclable materials.
· Dress the fashion queen with some hip and trendy clothing made from all natural fibers that are made at shops that respect the environment and its employees.
· Treat someone’s feet to a new pair of shoes or slippers made from either all natural and/or recycled materials.
· Buy the book worms you know a “like new” slightly used copy of their favorite readings from a local bookstore. Better yet, unless you are personally attached, give away your books to those you feel will most enjoy them.
· Restock the beauty queen’s supply of makeup and other cosmetics or toiletries with environmentally friendly products.
· Purchase (or make) the pooches you know and love a new bed, blanket, toys, or treats using all natural materials or ingredients.

· Instead of wrapping paper, use a decorative or personalized (monogrammed) blanket or towel to wrap a gift. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon that can be saved and reused for another gift or purpose.
· Instead of paper or plastic gift bags, put someone’s present in a reusable bag of some sort: tote bag, grocery bag, duffel bag, etc.
· Pack the school supplies in an eco-friendly backpack.
· Place the books in a personalized book tote bag.
· Put the cosmetics in a travel makeup bag.
· Pack clothing items in a piece of luggage or duffel bag.
· Choose a decorative basket or bowl to load up someone’s gifts and goodies.
· Place a new set of towels, sheets, etc inside a nice laundry hamper.
· Use a large mixing bowl or popcorn bowl as the basis for a gift
· Pick out an oversized tub made from recycled plastic to fill with toys or pet gifts. The tub can then be used to store the toys in the future.
· Use a trash can or mop bucket to fill with house or car cleaning needs. Buy environmentally cleaning products as well as a recycled can or bucket if possible.
· Choose decorative storage containers such as canisters for coffee or tea or jars for cookies or dog treats.
· And if you prefer regular wrapping paper, choose a recycled paper product. And try to use string, bows, and tags that can saved and reused.

And just because you rethink your gifts and wrapping this year doesn’t mean those giving you gifts will. Try to be an example this year, by saving or recycling what excess holiday trash you can. Save trashed wrapping paper to insulate the next fragile gift you wrap. Save what bows and ribbons you can. Take the time to separate recyclables from trash and be sure to encourage your friends and families to do the same. The Holidays can still be merry and fun without so much excess waste. As an eco supporter, do your part to be conscious and creative during the holidays and then use the festive get togethers as times to be the example of what being green really means. Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ethical Consumerism as Opportunity

Ethical consumerism is the practice of consumers deliberately purchasing goods or products produced “responsibly” so they eliminate or reduce environmental and/or social harm. Each time someone purchases a product, he or she is not only supporting the proliferation of that product, but all that goes into the creation of that product. Each product is considered a vote – for inhumane working conditions or fair trade, for further environmental degradation or conservation. Ethical consumerism appears to be on the rise; one can find evidence at any grocery store. A wider availability of organic produce, fair-trade coffee, and free range eggs are some obvious examples. Many products tout their eco-friendly characteristics – how they were made, ingredients, packaging, and so on. Providing information to the consumer is a great opportunity for businesses to market their product. Of course, many companies disingenously market their products to look like something they're not, as with “greenwashing.” This can make it difficult for preferences to be shown for genuine products. Seeking certification is one way for genuine progressive companies to stand above the rest. Fairtrade, the Organic Trade Association, the Forest Stewardship Council, and Cradle to Cradle certification are just a small sampling of different certification programs various companies can apply to that may boost their marketability and image. The standards and benefits of various programs are debatable, but in the days of information overload, they seem a step in the right direction.

For more information on ethical consumerism, see Ethical Consumer, a U.K. - based magazine that provides free buyers' guides and information.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Solar Heated Hot Tubs!

Looking for a hot tub? Consider a solar tub!

Using the sun to create hot water for pools and hot tubs is now a reality. “With the increased efficiency of solar vacuum tubes, heating hot tubs has become more and more popular using solar. The basic principle of a solar hot tub is to use the solar collectors during the day to heat the tub." Solar powered hot tubs use tube pressurized collector panels. In these panels, water is heated by the sun and then transferred to the hot tub by a 12-volt water pump, which also runs on solar power.

Traditional water heaters and especially pool heaters are bulky, require regular maintenance, and are quite expensive to operate and service. Modern solar water heaters are better than traditional hot water heaters, because they are smaller in size and more efficient to operate. Ultimately, solar water heating offers more efficiency and long term savings.

From an environmental standpoint, many are interested in solar water heaters simply to utilize the sun’s energy. There is a large movement of consumers looking to take advantage of money saving solar technology. And for many green consumers, solar water heating is a major step to reduce your carbon footprint.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Geothermal Heating

Many people spend hundreds of dollars a year on heating and air conditioning for their homes. Especially people that live in places where temperatures get below freezing. Traditional heating methods include gas furnaces, oil furnaces, electric furnaces, and hot water heating systems. All of these methods use a lot of energy and cost a lot of money. In today's world there is a trend toward "going green" and conserving energy. Can this ideology be applied to heating our homes? Yes it can!! Geothermal energy provides people with a cheaper, more energy efficient alternative. Geothermal energy comes from the heat of our planet which has been there since its formation. A geothermal heat pump allows us to capture heat even from cold ground. Since there is no energy conversion necesarry, thermal efficiency is high. I got to witness this great idea when my family rented a mountain house in PA over Thanksgiving. The house was architecturally beautiful and I never would have guessed that there was an alternative energy heating system. It felt as warm and comfortable as any home with modern technology. Hopefully, geothermal energy will become more popular in the near future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Liquid Wood

With the growing price of crude oil and concerns over the safety of everyday products it is no surprise that new alternatives are being explored in the world of plastics. Plastics are petroleum based and are linked to  heavy metals and softeners known as phthalates which is cause for concern when it is being used for everything from food containers to baby toys. Plastics are also non-renewable and some are not recyclable leading to greater amounts of trash that remain in a landfill forever. When burned, plastics release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. A growing alternative to petroleum based plastics is a bio-plastic called Arboform.

Arboform is a non-toxic bio-plastic composed of wood pulp based lignin, which can be mixed with other natural fibers along with wax to make a strong waterproof plastic alternative. Lignin, is an idyllic raw material because tens of millions of tons are often discarded as a byproduct of the papermaking process. Most commonly, lignin is separated from the cellulose and hemicellulose used to make high quality paper, by means of a sulfite or sulfate pulping process. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Germany have found a way to was to use high-pressure hydrolysis (with nothing more than water, high temperature and high pressure) to yield water insoluble lignin that does not need to be separated out by chemical means. With scares about the safety of children's toys Arboform seems like a perfect alternative being lower in chemicals and able to retain its stability even against saliva. When under high pressure conditions, Arboform can be injected into molds and behave just like plastic. Its versatility and renewability makes Arboform a very attractive prospect to manufacturers. When the life of the product is over it can be broken down and recycled as filler or can be burned just like wood without any additional toxic fumes.
This technology is relatively new in the United States but Arboform could be a real solution to reducing dependence on oil. Since the raw materials are renewable and can be grown in the country, the security of the resource is exponentially greater than that of crude oil. Paper manufacturing companies could easily incorporate the production of Arboform along with their products making them more efficient and allowing them to earn greater profits from their raw materials. Arboform is attractive to health conscious consumers that demand non-toxic products for themselves and their families. Even though it is more popular in Europe manufacturers hope that with the green movement Arboform will gain popularity in the U.S. More testing is needed for the safety of the product but overall the outlook is very positive.

By: Stephanie Berry
MSNBC "A greener alternative to plastics: liquid wood" By: Bryn Nelson

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Will Hydrogen be the Fuel of the Future?

For decades byproducts of petroleum have fueled our industries and vehicles. Though the burning of these fuels has been the backbone of our economy they have had an adverse effect on our environment. As the fear of global warming rises; governments, entrepreneurs, and industries are spending millions to find what will replace oil byproducts. Hydrogen, one of the most abundant elements on earth, has become one of the fuels to challenge oil’s supremacy, but will it be the fuel to power the green revolution?
There are many pros to hydrogen fuel cells. In the fuel cells hydrogen is mixed with oxygen to create electricity to power a vehicle. Fuel cell vehicles emit no noxious gases; the byproducts of a fuel cell are water vapor and heat. The abundance of hydrogen makes it a perfect substitute from oil, which is a finite resource. Hydrogen can also be produced in large quantities domestically by using water from the great lakes, lessening our dependence on foreign sources of energy and creating jobs that cannot be outsourced. Currently hydrogen fuel is also being used in a variety of prototype vehicles from cars, buses, airplanes, rockets, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Even with all of hydrogen’s benefits there are some major problems with hydrogen.
A major problem with hydrogen is that it does not occur naturally by itself in nature. Hydrogen is usually bonded to other elements due to the fact that it only has one electron that orbits its atomic structure. Hydrogen can be separated from water by using electrolysis, but this method is very expensive and power intensive. Most hydrogen now is processed from natural gas because of the high cost of the separation process. Another problem is the cost of the fuel cell within the car. Even though fuel cells have been in use for over fifteen years engineers have not found an innovative way to make fuel cells cheaper. These high cost make the hydrogen powered car to expensive for most consumers and not cost effective for companies to mass produce. At the present time there are only a few hydrogen fueling stations scattered around the country and for hydrogen to overtake gasoline a distribution system has to be built which would cost billions and would take decades to build and get running efficiently to satisfy the consumer s fuel needs.
Besides the problems that hydrogen has the industry has fierce competitors like electric cars and plug in hybrids that seemed poised to knock hydrogen down the list for alternatives. In 2009 US energy secretary Steven Chu eliminated public funding for hydrogen fuel cell research, but Congress rejected the idea and approved 300 million to continue research on hydrogen fuel cells. There are some in Congress that think that hydrogen will be the vital to repowering how America will travel in the future. As for an entrepreneur wanting to get in the hydrogen fuel cell industry it seems that without drastic innovation to bring down cost and the political will to start building distribution infrastructure, hydrogen fuel will not be the fuel to replace oil.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green Patent Acceleration

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced it will be starting a program to accelerate the review of clean technology patents. Under the current system, patents going through the USPTO can take over 40 months to be passed. This places a great burden on the spread of new technology throughout our country because people do not want to release their technology to the market until it is protected by patents. By accelerating the patent process, this gives America the potential to have an increased spread of clean technologys which have the ability to aid green ventures in all realms of the economy. In addition, compared to economic stimulus, this is a relatively low cost way of moving towards making America more competitive in the clean tech race.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Energy in South Carolina

Last week, I was reading Clean Tech Revolution and discovered that Austin Energy is the nation's leader in selling green power. Curious to see how they pulled this off, I logged on to Austin Energy's website, and found that they offer a Greenchoice energy program in which their customers pay an additional 2.05 cents per kilowatt hour to be supplied with local, clean energy. This made me wonder, does South Carolina have a program like this set up? The answer is yes they have a program, but not an identical one. As of April 2008, SCE&G, Duke Energy Corp., and Progress Energy Inc. are all offering to sell green energy to their 1.3 million South Carolina customers.

So why have South Carolina’s programs not been as successful as Austin Energy, who’s Greenchoice program often has a waiting list? The answer may lie in the fact that South Carolina’s energy companies charge a 4 cent premium for green energy while Austin Energy only charges a 2 cent premium. Also, Austin Energy offers a 5 year green energy contract. This binding agreement is popular because many customers believe that it will save them money in the long run, as regular energy prices continue to rise. If South Carolina energy companies enacted similar programs, demand for green energy would rise, as would local green energy production. Currently, South Carolina’s energy companies are supplied with green energy from several landfill methane projects and one solar project. If demand for green energy rises as much as it has in Austin (up 400million kwh since 2007), South Carolina would see a large amount of growth in the green energy industry, especially wind and solar. This would create more jobs in South Carolina, and put this state on the map as a mecca for green energy production.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Greener miles traveled

It is holiday season and many of us will be traveling to see family and friends in the upcoming weeks. For some like myself, that means flying. Flying is convenient and if you're going outside of the North American Continent, it is the only feasible option.

In a time when most of us are concerned with greenhouse gases, it is important to make notice that air transportation accounts for 3.5% of global annual emissions. And although that number may not seem that significant, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculates that number will jump to almost 15% by 2050. Emissions from airplanes are of greater concern because of their elevation. There hasn't been much research done to understand how long those emissions remain in the atmosphere, and how quickly they have an effect on global climate change (regular emissions are calculated to last up to 300 years in the atmosphere, scary isn't it?). What if airplanes could harvest their own emissions and use carbon sinks to deposit them? It wouldn't be a long-term solution but it could help reduce emissions in the short-term.

On the positive side, there are indications that some development is taking place to reduce emissions. NASA is working on lighter materials and engines. Some researchers are attempting to create bio jet fuel to reduce the emissions from oil based jet fuels. Is it time for creativity to take place and a completely new and efficient design of airplane to take place? One that uses the natural world for inspiration (bio mimicry).

To all I wish Safe and if possible Green travels!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Solar-Powered Recording Studios

**Click on picture for website link**

After perusing this blog, the Off The Grid party and Green Salons articles caught my eye and they got me thinking of other studios and services that could adopt a sustainable spin. The notion of green recording studios came to my mind as a fun and interesting industry that could reduce their carbon footprint while simultaneously providing premium recording services to musical artists. I came across a professional recording studio located in the UK that is apparently the first or one of the first fully solar-powered professional recording studio in the UK. The studio "was built using recycled materials where this was possible, and the electronics right down to the air conditioning is adapted to managing with a low energy demand". The studio manager commented that the sound quality is very high and the efficient use of alternative energy is always a plus! I feel that the arts/culture scene is a demographic that has a potentially high interest in sustainability and this also stems back to the Off The Grid party - using alternative energy to "fuel" a musical industry
Ian Amundson

Organic Cotton

Today, I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt, neither of which are made from organic cotton. The environmental implications of my simple jeans and a t-shirt are much more significant than I imagined. According to the November 2009 US Cotton Market Monthly Economic Letter, the United States will produce 19.2 million pounds of cotton t his year alone. The world’s cotton production is about 120 million pounds. Of all of the cotton in the United States, 3.2 million pounds are organically grown. The 16 million pounds of cotton that is not grown organically in the United States are full of pesticides. 10 percent of the world’s pesticide use is just for cotton, and 25 percent of the world’s insecticides are sprayed on cotton fields. That means right now I’m wearing roughly one pound of chemicals just from a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

Some of the sprays used on cotton are among the most toxic in the world and have been linked to immune issues, birth defects and reproductive disorders. The insecticides and pesticides used on “traditional” cotton crops are not the only environmental concern. The majority of the world’s cotton is still picked by hand. Any harmful effects caused by the insecticides and pesticides directly affect those harvesting the cotton. The chemicals seep into the soil, also possibly effecting water supply. Cottonseed oil is also a common ingredient in baked goods and salad dressings. We all come into contact with the contaminants in cotton. Irrigation for cotton is also extensive, as cotton uses the most water of all agricultural crops. Organic cotton farmers, besides helping the environment, also produce arguably a better product. Organic cotton fabrics are softer and better for the skin. Also, smaller organic farmers supply a less expensive product as they do not have to buy copious amounts of pesticides and insecticides.

The demand for organic cotton has increased along with its popularity. Patagonia, among other brands and smaller boutiques are incorporating organic cotton clothing into their lines. Patagonia, after researching where their cotton originated, made the switch to using only organic cotton for their clothing, “[Organic] methods support biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, improve the quality of soil and often use less water. Growing organically takes more time, requires more knowledge and skill, and, for now, costs more. But it's worth it.”

Buy Local

This week in Charleston was Buy Local, Be Local week, November 30th- December 6th. Some of the events included "Eat Local Night", "Holiday Stroll", and "Buy Local, Be Local Bash". The campaign is a grassroots campaign designed to educate residents the think more local when they make purchases. There are a lot of opportunities around Charleston to buy local and support the local businesses that keep the community unique. The campaign wants to increase market share to independent, locally owned businesses by increasing awareness about the benefits of choosing local. The campaign has made it easier to identify the local businesses with the Lowcountry Local First logo window decal.
Lowcountry Local First "is committed to building a network of small businesses that allows all business owners to participate on the same level. Retail, manufacturing and agricultural businesses will unite with the same mission - to promote and preserve their local economy through the promotion of their goods and services."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Off the Grid Party

I have recently made friends with a few local DJ's in town and we have come up with the idea to throw an OFF THE GRID party at the beginning of 2010. What we want to do is build at least 3 bikes that would be hooked up to all of the DJ equipment via batteries that will power everything. At the party the fans will be able to participate by peddling during the party and to keep peoples interest we plan on having a projector set up with racing backgrounds behind the cyclers so that it looks and feels like you are in a bike race while the music is playing. Right now we are still in the building and planning process. We have gotten all of the watt information from the equipment and see that we will need to create roughly 1500-2000 watts of power to keep everything going. Right now we are looking for sponsors or anyone who would want to help and take part in the planning process. We need to find a warehouse in or near downtown where we can throw the party. We would love any bike donations and are planning to use marine batteries to store the energy created by the bikes. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback on this idea and feel like we can make it happen! Right now if anyone would like to donate, sponsor or help in any way you can contact me on this blog or through!
Nicole Seyle

Green Salon

**picture courtesy of; click on their picture to go to site**

As the semester progressed I began thinking of ideas that would interest me and at the same time enhance the green movement. The other day while I was at the hair salon I overhead some hair stylist discussing a green salon so I began doing research on the idea. It turns out there are many "green"salons worldwide. The products used in these salons are organic products and the furniture is recyclable. You can locate a green spa/salon near you at: Green salons include products such as organic shampoo, organic nail polish, recyclable furniture and materials, plastic material, etc. I found this idea to be quite interesting being such a girly girl. If there was a green salon near I would definitely support it because after all they are contributing to your carbon You can also visit to see a real green salon. Some of their green updates include:
  • Reclaimed wood when rebuilding each station
  • All paper goods were printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink.
  • Styling chairs were upholstered in Eco-friendly PVC-free material.
  • Low VOC paint was used to paint every surface inside the building.
  • Cotton denim insulation was used wherever new insulation was needed.
  • Use Energy Star appliances
  • Use earth-friendly cleaning products.
  • Use Davine products; Davines is a company that produce products with all natural ingredients. They also only use renewable energy sources in their laboratories. For more information on their products visit:

The Green Roof Wave has hit Charleston!

GRO (Green Roof Outfitters) is based in the Charleston area and services any and all who are interested in green roofing. There are many locations throughout the U.S. but it is nice to know that we have one right here in Charleston as well! Through this company even a Wal Mart in America now has a green roof! GRO provides the following services to its customers: consultation on scope of green roof project, provide cost estimation, propagation of vegetated modules, delivery to site (if needed), installation (if needed), 1 year warranty & maintenance included, and an ongoing maintenance plan (if needed). The GRO Modular green roof system can assist a building in achieving over 50% of the points needed to attain LEED Certification! The LEED Credits associated with GRO include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy &atmosphere, materials & resources, and innovation & design process. They are even helping to organize an environmentally friendly 5K race in Mt. Pleasant! The race is called Catch the Leprechaun 5K and it takes place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at the Memorial Waterfront Park. There will be Irish music, a great post race party, a pot of gold for the winners and there will even be a Leprechaun, and if you finish before the Leprechaun you win a prize! Be sure to check out GRO and the race details at

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Buy American"

After watching the “Story of Stuff” video and reading the Cradle to Cradle book, I was interested in learning more about how buying “stuff” impacts our environment and our economy. I found a very interesting article about the stimulus bill and new clean technology. With the downturn in our economy the government passed a stimulus bill to encourage people to buy more, which would boost our economy. What many people do not know is that in that stimulus bill was a “Buy American” regulation. This regulation states that everything must be bought in America using the stimulus money. While buying locally does help the environment and economy, the “Buy American” regulation has some very bad consequences for the implementation and progression of “energy-saving building technology.” Not only are companies not able to produce energy-efficient technologies (due to the fact that most circuits and parts are built overseas), but also it is possible for trade partners to retaliate and “90% of the world's consumers live outside of the United States, which remains one of the world's three largest exporter.” While the environmental benefits of a “Buy American” regulation are obvious, the fact that it takes away from advances in clean technologies and causes economic problems shows that the “Buy American” plan is not working. Instead of a large corporate “Buy American” regulation, the government should take this opportunity to help local governments provide information about buying locally in their communities, which would be more beneficial.

For more information visit the web site:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marketing "Green" to Consumers

The sustainable marketplace is growing exponentially each year but a large proportion of consumers still do not believe in the value of going green. Issues such as higher prices and long-term return of investment dissuade mainstream consumers from becoming “green”. In order to convey the value of a green product or service, marketers must exhibit both the direct and indirect impact of purchasing a green product. For example, organic foods are becoming more and more popular due to consumers understanding of the health and environmental benefits. The key to successfully marketing a green product is to educate the consumer so they may understand their the impact of buying a green product versus a traditional product. Whole Foods is a great example of this strategy. Educational displays are placed beside their products, to provide customers an understanding of why their price is higher and the direct and indirect benefits. As a result, Whole Foods has been highly successful. The focus for marketing green in the future is to engage customers to use their dollars in positive change beyond their immediate and local context.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eco-Unit Army
Right here is Charleston is the Eco-Unit Army, a home improvement green business. They go around advertising their service of refurnishing homes to virtually cut down utility costs up to 40%. That should be enough to capture someone right there, but what they do is even more fascinating. They do projects such as window coating, green fiber insulation and rain water collection systems on new and old houses. The workers are highly skilled in working on old houses to keep the antique culture of Charleston while making them energy star "green" certified.
They also know how to market themselves well which I feel like is a huge issue in the green industry. They know that stating that their service will give your house a competitive advantage will draw people in. Last year at the green fair my sorority participated in marketing their service to the public, we had over 200 people sign up for more information and so far they have improved homes in the entire Charleston area including Isle of Palms. Marketing their product to the right target market in the most appealing way makes a huge difference and the fact that they have an advantage with knowledge of the historic houses sets them apart from the rest.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Fast Food Frontier

Have you ever driven through a McDonald’s at 3 in the morning after a night out at the bars? I have. And that’s what got me thinking.

Time after time, we Americans are told that we’re obese. That our country keeps growing by the minute. Instead of an insult, I’ll take that as a compliment! Our technology is growing. Our industries are growing. Our movement towards sustainability and green is growing.

But, what if we cut out the burgers at 3 in the morning and cut down energy use at the same time? We could become a country that shrinks in size and grows in green. My suggestion is this: cut out the 24 hour services that use energy around the clock and cut back on eating after dark. But really, that’s not feasible for this country. Our answer? Develop a product like POWERleap.

POWERleap is a flooring system that creates energy when pressure is applied. Put these flooring systems in McDonald’s restaurants across the nation and people start creating the energy used to make their burgers. Store the energy generated by foot traffic during the day and use it to keep the drive-through running at night. It’s the perfect solution for a horrible habit.

But wait that’s not all! What if we turned the McDonald’s into a local fast food joint? Well then we could have healthy, locally grown food at 3 in the morning instead of a fat, greasy hamburger. Burgerville is doing just that, with its 39 restaurants currently running in the Pacific Northwest. Although it costs a little bit more, the benefit is the healthier feeling of knowing what you just ate was locally grown and good for you!

So, add the POWERleap with the Burgerville and the 24 hour service that McDonald’s provides and what do we get? A less obese country? Not quite. But what we do get is a more sustainable service that we have grown to love.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The American Clean Energy and Security Act

Attention Charleston Green Business Community:

Just under the national political radar looms an opportunity to finally pass comprehensive Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation.

The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009-2010 will be debated and voted upon immediately after the final decision regarding the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Bill. This is a call to action for the Green Business community to educate themselves and speak out with their opinions in support for this legislation.

Current Supporters say the ACES act will:

"* Put America back to work
* Transition the U.S. to clean, affordable energy
* Make us safer as we lessen our dependence on foreign oil
* Help America regain the mantle of leadership as the international community negotiates a global climate treaty later this year"


Current critics claim:

"The Kerry-Boxer bill could mean a huge new energy tax on farmers, truckers, small businesses and America’s families and imperil millions of U.S. jobs."

Senator Lindsey Graham has decided to contribute bi-partisan support to the ACES act and is currently under extreme pressure from special interests to reverse his decision. Please take the time to educate yourself about the stipulations of the ACES act and join me and other concerned voters by writing a letter to senator Graham. As members of the Green Business Community and citizens of the World it is our responsibility to voice our support for this bill and share our opinions about how it could be better for the American people.

The bill will provide the right mix of Federal incentives to support growing green businesses and facilitate the creation of clean energy and sustainability focused jobs. Trade negotiations with nations that fail to respect the environmental concerns of this age will ensure that U.S businesses are not put at risk by these new policies. Most importantly, the new energy resources explored by this bill will drastically reduce our country's reliance on foreign petroleum products and help regain energy independence for the United States of America.

I have created a facebook group to facilitate open discussion and share opinions. Search for Support Clean Energy Legislation on facebook to join. Our members, with help from RePower South Carolina, intend to host several events to rally other concerned citizens to this cause. We will host sessions to share ideas and letter writing events to get legitimate arguments on to the senator's desk.

If you would like to help our efforts or contribute in any way, please contact me, Benjamin Gordon. You can find my contact information on the facebook group and explore the links and discussions being held on the subject. For more detailed info, a brief summary and open discussion of the ACES act can be found on my blog at

Thank you for your interest in helping to fight for successful Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation. Make your voice heard and help turn the pages of history for a brighter 21st century!

Benjamin D. Gordon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Outdoor Education as a Business Opportunity

We have had various discussions this past semester in Ecopreneurship about the realm of education and the importance of informing the general public on issues concerning the environment. As the world of eco friendly business expands it is important to consider this environmental education of our future generation. No matter what goods or services a “green” business provides, its success depends on environmentally conscious individuals at every level. This past summer I had the incredible opportunity to work at the Green River Preserve summer camp for “young naturalists”. The camp sits on 3,400 acres of pristine wilderness and teaches kids the importance of respecting our environment, living sustainably and understanding the interconnectedness of all life. The program director has taken this model and implemented it into the local schools in the area along with other environmental leaders. A program called Muddy Sneakers has come about due to his vision and is currently found in 18 schools around the district. Muddy Sneakers uses values and practices, like that of the Green River Preserve, to get kids outdoors and help them understand our intimate connection to the natural world.
Programs like Muddy Sneakers are beginning to pop up all over the country and for good reason. The understanding our society is beginning to have about our effect on the environment is causing a “green revolution” to sweep the nation. The business world is being affected just as much any other area of society. In my opinion green business should not only provide eco-friendly products but should also work to support the environmental education system that is beginning to develop in the US and around the world. This would aid green businesses in two ways. One, with more support from local businesses, education programs like Muddy Sneakers could continue to do the great work they do while receiving more financial support from local green business owners. Green businesses could improve their reputation, their networking and their advertising market by helping support communities with strong environmental education programs.
Secondly, the more financial aid green businesses can provide to environmental education systems the greater the amount of people those systems will be able to educate. With more environmentally conscious citizens, come more potential customers for green businesses. The benefit could go both ways. Green Businesses are constantly in need of more public relations and a larger customer base. Environmental education programs are constantly in need of financial support and interest from their local communities. Green businesses, no matter what their product line may be, need to start seeing these areas of education as business opportunities in order to help out our future generations.

For more information on the recent news of Muddy Sneakers, please check out:

America Recycles Day

America Recycles Day (ARD), is coming up soon! This November 15th, is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products.

This will be the 12th year that millions of Americans have pledged to increase their recycling habits at home and work and to buy products made with recycled materials. The ARD supports local communities and raises awareness by educating citizens about the benefits of recycling. Volunteer America Recycles Day coordinators are positioned throughout the country and work to organize recycling awareness events in their schools and communities.

“The purpose of America Recycles Day is to continue to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling and encourage more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment.”

By taking the pledge you promise to:

-Find out what materials you can and cannot recycle in your community.

-Lead by example in your neighborhood by recycling

-Email your elected officials to ask them to increase funding for your community’s recycling program

-Tell 5 friends that recycling is the easiest thing they can do to slow global warming.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Food: The New Frontier of Citywide Recycling

According to the US Department of Agriculture Americans throw away more than 25% of the food we prepare which amounts to 96 billion pounds of waste each year or 12% of the total waste generated by the country.

Composting is an extremely effective way to eliminate some of this addition to the waste stream. Compost, the rich, earthy result of nature’s own recycling process, transforms ordinary food scraps into a highly effective soil enricher, can prevent soil erosion and actually cleans pollutants from the earth.

Most cities currently have recycling programs to reduce the waste of plastics, glass and aluminum. Some cities are taking this a step further and are adding citywide composting to their recycling programs. San Francisco and Toronto were the first two North American cities to start large scale composting programs, but many cities like New York, Chicago, Ottawa, Denver and Minneapolis are currently working towards implementing similar programs.

The San Francisco program provides green bins for food waste to be placed in. The waste in these bins is collected (along with the garbage and recycling) and shipped to 3 local organic farms where the decaying process is sped up by oxygen and the resulting product is used as fertilizer. These organic farms then sell their products to locals in theory creating a closed loop system.

Could something like this work in Charleston???

The average South Carolinian generates 6.4 pounds of trash a day, which is 1.8 pounds more than the national average. The Charleston recycling program requires little or no effort (you don’t even have to sort your recyclables!), yet only about 30% of Charlestonians recycle. Also Charleston County does not accept many kinds of plastics. Laziness (both by citizens and the County) is the word that comes to mind when I think of recycling in Charleston. In my opinion it will take a long time and a big change of outlook for any kind of composting program to be established in Charleston, although it could make a big difference here with the large amount of waste we South Carolinians produce.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

EPA's Greening Your Products

Hello, fellow Charleston Green Business supporters! I just wanted to share a document with you that I ran across while surfing the Internet.

In February 2002, the EPA released a very educational document entitled “Greening Your Products: Good for the environment, good for your bottom line”. In the paper, they give reasons why introducing green products can be more profitable. The authors provide thoughts on identifying, producing, and marketing green products.

They also provide many useful links, diagrams, and environmental program descriptions that may aid in a green businessperson’s product/service conceptualization. The article also supplies several case studies that set the ecopreneurial mind in motion.

Whether you already have or are considering launching a green business, this publication is definitely worth your perusal.

The full document (a great source of reference) can be viewed and downloaded at:

Green Roofs

I posted pictures of green roofs in Norway last year. Turns out those are rather popular (one of the major links in to the blog from Google searches). Today the Post and Courier has a story on green roofs. Of course it's not about roofs in Charleston. Some of my students a year and a half ago looked into the possibility of getting a green roof business going here and the initial response was rather negative - most people had no idea what one was or why they would want it. Maybe today's article will help on both counts. Can the green roof wave hit Charleston?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

EcoSwims: Using swimming to raise money for good causes

I partnered with Charleston Waterkeeper, a non profit organization dedicated to protecting Charleston’s waterways, and Barrier Island Ecothon, a local multisport racing company, to conduct open water swim clinics starting this Fall.  These EcoSwims take place every Friday at station 29 on Sullivan’s Island with a suggested donation of $10.  My experience in coaching around the country, collegiate swimming, and Ironman distance triathlon is utilized by those who want to improve their swimming skills, get over their fear of the water, or just come out for a beautiful sunset swim. 

I am thrilled at the results: it is a winning situation for each entity involved.  CWK benefits from the generated revenue, publicity, and increased involvement in the waterways, which enhances the embodiment of ‘owning’ our waterways.  BIE benefits from the generated revenue, publicity, and increased involvement in training clinics for its’ adventure races.  The participants receive great training and confidence in the water.  I benefit from knowing that my skills are being used to generate funds for two great organizations, share my love of the water, and increase awareness about open water swimming.  I initiated this collaboration in an effort to develop a culture of open water swimming in the Lowcountry much like the supportive swimming network I experienced while living in San Francisco.

For more information on these swims please view the following websites:




South Carolina Bioenergy Summit tomorrow

Clemson is hosting a summit, primarily on switchgrass, all day tomorrow in Florence. Info at
Featuring Presentations on:
- Impacts of Climate Change Legislation on Biomass Demand
and Production
- Bioenergy Research in South Carolina
- Emerging Biomass Industries
- The SC Switchgrass Initiative
- Biomass Opportunities for Limited Resource Farms

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Environmental Consulting Marketplace just launched a site for consultants and those looking for consultants.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Funding a Green Business

I gave a talk on funding green businesses at the Green Business Expo last week. This week there is an article on the topic from a VC perspective. Some of it mirrors what I talked about:
AC: You outline 5 types of investment capital in a business: self-funding, friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalists, and traditional lenders. Which strategy is most appropriate for seed stage, early stage and late stage companies?

BK: Seed stage is really just an idea and a business plan. Early stage is when you have a product or service ready to handle sales and customers. Late stage is when you are up and running, you've got customers, and are further along in generating revenue. Most venture capitalists are early and late stage investors because seed stage deals carry greater risk to the investor. For these seed and early stage companies, self-funding, friends and family, and angel investors are the best bets.
But it does get more into the VC perspective than I discussed.

One key lesson - get out there, start the business and focus on generating revenue. You're not going to get much investment without proven sales.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Follow up on Auto Bailout Post

Last year when the Detroit automakers went to Washington to ask for a bailout I wrote a blog post suggesting that rather than bail out businesses that don't seem to want to change the government should look to help entrepreneurial car companies. With the kind of money the automakers were asking for I suggested that these start ups, like Tesla Motors, could buy some of the closed auto plants. Now it looks like energy companies are doing just that, according to a story over at Bnet.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Next Networking Event

Join us next week for this fall's first Green Business Networking event. We will meet Sep 10th from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm on the second floor of the Tate Center (enter through the Beatty Center, 5 Liberty Street). Our hope for the monthly event is to bring together a variety of knowledge, skills, motivation, and expertise to share ideas about helping businesses be more environmentally-friendly, starting new sustainable businesses, finding employees/employment and generating general networking contacts here in Charleston and the Lowcountry. Come out and meet like-minded representatives from local businesses and organizations plus CofC students, alumni, staff and faculty. If you know anyone that might be interested, please feel free to pass this along to them, or just bring them with you.
Also, join us on LinkedIn, The group was set up to allow the networking to continue virtually in between our monthly events. Please feel encouraged to join the group and share what you are doing, ask or answer questions about green business or share interesting news articles.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wal-Mart's Move Towards a Sustainability Index

In case you haven't heard about it yet, Wal-Mart is embarking on a project to develop a sustainability index for its suppliers. At this point they are just gathering data and are far from having an index. The article link says Wal-Mart plans to make the index available to the public. They have a webcast of the meeting available on their site. This index should eventually have a huge impact on supply chain. As I've told my students, if you want to run a sustainable company, you need to ensure that members of your supply chain have sustainability in mind as well. As a start up or small company, you don't have a lot of power to influence your suppliers to change their ways and you might not have a lot of options to move to another supplier. But if you do, your best bet is to follow larger companies that are moving towards sustainability and use their suppliers.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Check out this video to see how people can help a local business be more green.

charleston carrotmob represent. from Justin Nathanson on Vimeo.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Buying Local

I've been a strong supporter of buying local for a long time. It's not only the right thing to do generally (help your neighbors) and economically (keeps money flowing through the local economy, which will eventually come back to you in some way) but also environmentally. Whenever we buy something it has to be transported from its source. For many products that means traveling over oceans. All that travel of course burns fuel. The Buy Local movement has been picking up here in Charleston and ended up in the paper yesterday. If you are a local business, be sure to join Lowcountry Local First. They are a great organization (we do have a lot of those around here). The major project they have going on now is the 10% shift, which is discussed in the article and on their website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I recently attended the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC), the premier conference for entrepreneurship research. I attended a couple of paper sessions on social entrepreneurship, but there was only one on sustainable- or eco-preneurship. Academically, there seems to be a greater interest in the sociatel than the environmental business. In fact, over the last few years nearly every time there is a paper or session on sustainable business/entrepreneurship, it is always tied with social business/entrepreneurship (and usually ends up being secondary). While I realize the triple bottom line does often represent sustainable views I wonder if sustainable business/entrepreneurship can ever stand on its own. The issue may be that sustainable business is just what many of think of as the way all business should be, but social enterprises are a distinct subset. So I pose the question to those of you that consider yourself ecopreneurs - is there a social aspect to your business philosophy and if so is it equal to, less than or greater than the environmental aspect?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Purchasing New Computer Equipment

If your business (or you personally) is in need of upgrading and expanding your computers, I recommend checking EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) from the Green Electronics Council. I recently was in the market to buy a new laptop and wanted to get the most environmentally benign (let's face it, electronics are far from "environmentally-friendly") laptop I could reasonably afford. Over a couple of days searching the Internet, the best resource I found was EPEAT. What is good about the site is that you can search for various specifications that you are looking for, not just environmental impact, but things like screen size too.

The program rates equipment on "23 required criteria and 28 optional criteria" and groups them into Gold, Silver and Bronze ratings. All three ratings include meeting all required criteria. The optional criteria is used for differentiating Gold, Silver and Bronze. The categories of criteria are broad and include things like elimination/reduction of sensitive material, packaging, end of life, corporate responsibility, packaging and Energy Star. (The information seems to be submitted by the manufacturers.)

What I decided to do was look through all the laptops reported to have no environmentally sensitive materials (lead, cadmium, mercury, etc.) using the search by optional criteria. I also wanted a decent size laptop - 15" or greater. There weren't a lot of options. One was MacBook Pro, which are quite pricey. There were some Dell, Sony and Lenovo that were there mainly due to having an LED backlit screen. I settled on a Asus N50V. I'm quite happy with it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green IT for Dummies

Ran across this guide from HP. Don't know if is any good, but it is electronic, only 28 pages and it is free. Here is what the site says:

HP has launched a limited edition "Green IT for Dummies" pocket book as an introduction to help organizations go green. The guide is intended to give organizations simple and straight-forward ideas on how to reduce the environmental impact of IT systems and harness the power of IT to reduce the wider environmental impacts of climate change in society.

The guide, produced independently by research and analysis firm Freeform Dynamics, provides guidance for where to start in greening an organization and maps out a pragmatic, yet comprehensive course of action ranked according to expense and difficulty of implementation.

Is your organization ready to embrace and implement an IT-powered green strategy?

Register for your complimentary copy of HP's Green IT for Dummies Limited Edition by answering two simple questions here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Been a While

So it's been a while since I last posted. But even though there have been no new posts, there are still visits to this blog every day. So there must be some interest. Therefore, I will resume posting, especially since classes are over with and I actually have some of this thing they call "free time."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Green Business Networking event

Join us next Tuesday for this spring's first Green Business Networking event. We will meet January 27th from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm on the second floor of the Tate Center (enter through the Beatty Center, 5 Liberty Street). For this event we're going to continue what we started last fall. While we're networking I'll have brainstorming sheets available around the Tate Center for collecting ideas on how businesses can be more green. This of course fits with our hope for the monthly event to bring together a variety of knowledge, skills, motivation, and expertise to share ideas about helping businesses be more environmentally-friendly, starting new sustainable businesses, finding employees/employment and generating general networking contacts here in Charleston and the Lowcountry. With the wide range of people that attend, we should be able to come up with a ton of ideas.
Additionally, the deadline for the logo contest is just a few days away. Please submit your entry by January 23rd. The logo should try to incorporate the three basic themes: green/environment/sustainability/eco-friendly; business/entrepreneurship/innovation; and networking/socializing/sharing ideas. The winner will receive a lunch downtown and will be revealed at the January event.
Come out and meet like-minded representatives from local businesses and organizations plus CofC students, alumni, staff and faculty and add your thoughts for improving business. If you know anyone that might be interested, please feel free to pass this along to them, or just bring them with you.