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.