You might think common urban complaints in the major cities of Western Europe might be about the state of the roads, or property prices. But there’s increasingly a more serious complaint: not being able to breathe. Cities might be efficient machines for living, but when we collectively burn gas to heat our homes and then collectively sit in traffic every morning, we’re making our machines unliveable.
Despite global progress made on lowering emissions, cities from London to Beijing to São Paulo have atmospheres that are so polluted that residents are often warned not to leave their homes unless they have to. To combat the problem, three European cities–London, Paris, and Barcelona–and their mayors are pursuing radical policies to cut traffic, often to the deep chagrin of the cities’ drivers, but at great benefit to their citizens’ lungs.
“Use by” labels on food in the US are to be simplified after the food industry agreed to restrict what can be put on packaging. For decades confusion over the meaning of the words and dates on food packaging has been a leading cause of household food waste. The sheer variety of terms – best by, best before, sell by, use by, use or freeze by, to name a few – is boggling.
Tesla’s Kauai solar power facility is officially open for business, with a 13 MW SolarCity solar farm installation providing power to a Powerpack storage facility with 52 MWh of total capacity. The beauty of the new facility, in terms of the specific needs of the sun-soaked island in the Pacific, is that it can capture energy from the sun during peak daytime production hours, and then keep that power ready for peak consumption hours at night.
Tesla’s new solar facility in Kauai isn’t going to completely reduce its dependence on fossil fuels — the island will still rely on diesel shipped in to provide some of its power requirements. But the new facility will offset some of that use of dirty burning fuel, reducing overall usage of fossil fuels for power needs by around 1.6 million gallons per year.
Across the world, myriad efforts are underway to make energy systems cleaner, smarter, and more efficient. But it’s hard to get a sense of the total size of those efforts, as they are spread across so many different industries and regions. Navigant Research reports on the growth and size of both the national and global advanced energy industries from 2011 through 2016, and there are some very interesting findings:
Here’s an article by our very ownProfessor Stuart L. Hart in which he writes about the Jungian concept of enantiodromia and tells us what business must do going forward.
Hart stresses that the majority of corporate growth (and later, profits) comes from new strategic initiatives rather than from the continuing development and improvement of existing businesses.
We must refocus our attention on new, transformational strategic moves (or initiatives).Rather than chasing the fantasy of rating entire corporations as to their “sustainability,” let us instead shift the “unit of analysis” and spend more time understanding (and driving) the Green Leap – new strategic initiatives within corporations focused on leapfrog, clean technology and disruptive new business models that serve and lift the poor.
This post was written by Margaret Arzon, SEMBA ’17
“It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness. I think that’s where movements are started.”
– Shawn Heinrichs
Growing up I would not touch anything that even resembled a vegetable. My Puerto-Rican and Cuban roots offered daily dishes of fried meat or chicken with rice and beans. At 21, I stopped eating meat for health reasons which slowly transformed into ethical concerns. Three years later, I read a book called “Vegan Freak” which revealed to me the atrocities and environmental havoc of not just the meat industry, but dairy and eggs as well. Sometimes once you know something, there is no degree of feigning ignorance that could turn you away from the truth. I immediately eliminated all animal products from my life, including eggs, dairy, wool and leather. People around me told me I was silly, expressed concern for a lack of protein and gave disapproving looks with my lunch plate filled with just veggies. However, I knew the only way to save our dying planet was to stop pillaging that which is not ours to take.
Only 2 percent of the 78 million tons of plastic used each year for packaging is actually recycled. The remaining 98 percent finds its way into landfills, incineration plants and the environment. New innovations and initiatives from across the U.S. and Canada, however, are offering new solutions to tackle the ever-growing plastics problem.
Part of the problem lies within product composition: Currently, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) — which comprise the majority of the world’s plastics — cannot be repurposed together. But Geoffrey Coates, professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Tisch University, and a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota may have found a solution.
When Google decided to shift to 100% renewable energy, it worked directly with wind and solar farms to sign deals. A new U.K.-based startup called Squeaky lets small businesses easily do the same thing at a smaller scale—business owners can choose a wind farm to support, and then start buying renewable electricity at the same price they were paying for energy from fossil fuels.
The rapid growth of independent renewable generators, driven by the falling cost of wind and solar, makes a platform like Squeaky possible.
North Face and Patagonia are both wrestling with a consequential paradox, one that is central to contemporary consumerism: we want to feel morally good about the things we buy. And both companies have been phenomenally successful because they have crafted an image that is about more than just being ethical and environmentally friendly, but about nature, adventure, exploration – ideas more grandiose than simply selling you a jacket, taking your money and trying not to harm the earth too much along the way. But the paradox is that by presenting themselves this way, they are selling a lot more jackets. In other words, both companies are selling stuff in part by looking like they’re not trying too hard to sell stuff, which helps them sell more stuff – and fills the world with more and more stuff.