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.