Sustainability starts at the home

Many of our readers don’t need to always spend big on sustainable projects. Sometimes simple choices around the home can make a huge difference over time. While big business uses a decent proportion of the country’s energy consumption, so too do households. Interestingly in a recent survey of households in the western city of Perth, Australia, found that a staggering 91% of people incorrectly identified the components of their homes which used the most electricity. With electricity prices sky-rocketing in Australia due to the recent introduction of the carbon tax, consumers are constantly looking for cheaper ways to reduce their power consumption.

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The biggest drawer of power in the household is 9 times out of 10 the heating or cooling devices which regulate the home’s temperature.

Some households have already invested in roof and wall insulation which helps the efficiency of these temperature regulation devices but that will only get you half the way. Designing homes in hot areas in Perth is a struggle due to the scorching heat. But with careful planning and some wise doorway choices which promote the breeze, the convection currents in the home can be harnessed to allow cooler air to enter and hotter air to escape.

 

However, the 6’oclock news bulletins and their scaremongering don’t do the parents any favours when it comes to fearing for their safety. So fearful are some residents that they openly admit, they keep their doors closed at all times, sometimes sacrificing the need to get cooler air into their homes.

 

There’s a solution – it’s sustainable, it’s affordable, and now thanks to KNA Doors and their new website, it’s easier than ever. Simply pick the security door that you need, pick the frame styling and get it installed in under 1 day.

 

So we say, get out there, open your doors, let the breeze in and cool down your house the natural way, with security assured.

Coffee Roasters Leading the Way

While coffee is popular in Canada, many people don’t know how nuts Melbourne people are about coffee. Every year they hold the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE) and together with San Franciso and Tokyo it is rated one of the top hot spots in the world for all things coffee. But as we all know here, with this coffee obsession comes the cup waste problem we always keep harping on about.

But it’s not all doom and gloom my good readers. With obsession comes technological advancements and an increased willingness of consumers to care about their coffee. And this means all about their coffee, from the beans, to the roast to the packaging their are sipping out of. That’s why it comes as no surprise to find a Melbourne Micro Roaster who is ahead of the game.MMR_gov3

 

Not only do they advocate against the rise of the evil coffee pods (which are incredibly destructive to the environment), they also offer a great range of re-usable coffee cups made from recycled PET plastic (cups can be found here)

 

Great to see someone on the other side of the world keeping up the spirit of sustainability. They are proud supporters of our cause so let’s support them as well. Buy some coffee and make the world a better place.

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The Anatomy of a Sustainable solution

Define sustainability. What would it be? Since the term broke the mainstream barrier, it’s become the go-to term for marketing executives, the rally cry for environmentalists and an expletive for conservative politicians. When sustainability embodies such a multitude of meanings, how can the concept guide us toward better solutions?

In 2009, a book titled “Strategy for Sustainability – A Business Manifesto” was published by Harvard Business Press. In it, author Adam Werbach spends pages defining sustainability. To Werbach, sustainability isn’t about just environmentalism or human rights or local economies; it’s about perpetually balancing all pressures equally (I think he’s right). To steal an example from the book, let’s talk carbon emissions:

A green strategy to reduce carbon emissions could be making gasoline very expensive, and thus limiting CO2 emissions from cars. If a fill up cost $10 a gallon, we’d likely see fewer drivers on the road. But this plan has negative consequences; millions of people couldn’t afford to go to work anymore, economies would struggle with added expenses, and it would disproportionately affect the poor. In the end, the strategy isn’t sustainable.

Contrast that idea with developing renewable energy which is cheaper than coal and gasoline. Doing so would also lower carbon emissions. The plan would also lower business costs, increase the quality of life for millions, and lay the ground work for future innovations. That’s sustainable.

Sustainability Is Sexy has taken this same way of thinking to the coffee cup world, and it’s worked. But could this same way of finding a solution work elsewhere?

A follower recently shared an article with me called “Please Kill the Paper Receipt”. The article outlines the waste and environmental impact of the habit we all have. Paper receipts consume a lot of natural resources like trees, require petroleum, and emit carbon. But is killing the receipt a sustainable solution? I don’t think so. Receipts are integrated into daily life. Businesses rely on them for transactions, like returned merchandise, and the IRS requires receipts for taxes. A lot of people still rely on receipts as a tangible form of economic protection against fraud (think of your Aunt with the stuffed filing cabinet and label maker). Even though paper receipts may have an environmental cost, they also have social, cultural, and economic benefits. None of these benefits are deal breakers when it comes to a solution for paper receipts, but they do need to be considered. Whatever solution replaces the paper receipt will have to take all those perspectives into account to be sustainable.

Participate in a quick poll and share your thoughts on paper receipts hosted over at Don Forne’s Retail Software Website. And for those passionate about morphing sustainability from a concept into action, do check out Strategy for Sustainability. It’s highly recommended from our corner.

A Different Kind of Post

For the past three years, Sustainability Is Sexy has been wildly successful in it’s mission to promote eco-friendly coffee drinking. I’m personally proud of many achievements that dot it’s history, yet none of them are brighter than an event that occurred a few weeks ago. This past May, I married my long time sweetheart and found true happiness. Winston Churchill once stated that “my most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me”; and today I share the same deference for my own future.

My brand new wife and I are honeymooning abroad until August. Until then, blog posts will continue — albeit with new flavor. We’re traveling through SE Asia, and this new environment has many lessons in sustainability. I’ll share what I see.

Lastly, Sustainability Is Sexy cups are currently out of stock, and won’t be available until sometime after I return state side.

Nicko |Sustainability Is Sexy

Full Disclosure: The Power of Accounting, Reporting Software, and Carbon Transparency

(The following is a guest post by Hunter Richards, an accounting market analyst at Software Advice, which reviews project-based accounting software and other systems. This is a coffee industry-focused adaption of a previous article on carbon accounting and greenwashing which you can read here.)

Greenwash (verb, \ˈgrēn-wȯsh\) – to market a product or service by promoting a deceptive or misleading perception of environmental responsibility.

To capitalize on consumer interest in sustainability, companies have been launching major ad campaigns to promote eco-friendly products – but these claims are often misleading. General Motors, , dabbled in greenwashing in 2007 to promote its Chevrolet Volt. One commercial showed the Volt in a natural scene surrounded by starry-eyed children who delighted in the claim that it was entirely electric. But this statement bent the truth. In actuality, a gasoline engine would turn on to power the electric motor when the Volt’s batteries ran low. GM claimed that the car could still be called electric because its gas engine only supplied power to the electric motor, and not the wheels. Bending the truth with a questionable technicality is classic greenwashing. Greenwashing threatens the credibility of environmental marketing and turns green consumers into skeptics. So how can we more clearly spot greenwashers and put an end to the telling of green half-truths? Transparency is the key, and carbon accounting makes it possible.

Accounting technology might not seem at first glance like it has anything to do with environmental sustainability. But a new type of accounting software for carbon emissions could provide the standards and clear measurement methodology needed to assign a quantifiable value to a company’s environmental impact. It’s often said that to manage something, you must be able to measure it first. Just like financial accounting, the development of sophisticated carbon accounting infrastructure could improve transparency and make it more feasible for businesses to manage (and hopefully reduce) their carbon footprints. It could enhance the abilities to meet regulations more efficiently, spot eco-friendly savings opportunities, and keep customers informed about emissions. Requiring the disclosure of this information would lift the veil on companies who might otherwise be able to conceal their environmental impact. Enterprise Carbon Accounting (ECA) software is becoming the foundation of the necessary infrastructure. ECA software enables companies to utilize technology to more easily track their carbon emissions, avoiding the problems faced in the past when using cumbersome spreadsheets. When the software reaches its full potential, greenwashers will soon run out of excuses for not releasing their emissions figures.

For natural resource intensive industries like the coffee industry, ECA software can be a useful tool. Coffee businesses can use such software to measure their carbon impact continuously – as opposed to corporate social responsibility reports which do so only annually. Such software will allow companies to catch growing problems while they’re still small, and capture opportunities before competitors can.

Coffee houses stand to increase customer loyalty through ECA reporting as well. Carbon measuring software can help keep customers informed of eco-efforts being made by a business. Perhaps most importantly, ECA software can be the final nail in the coffin concerning greenwashing accusations. A coffee company which measures its environmental impact will always be able to back up environmental messaging and marketing with solid facts. Besides, a business that tracks its carbon impact on a continuous basis is less likely to commit greenwashing by accident.

For ECA software and environmental accounting adoption to drive truly green business practices by big coffee companies like Starbucks, action is needed in five main categories:

Clear government action on regulations, like increased coverage of the EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule which requires companies that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of greenhouse gases annually to disclose emissions information to the EPA. Of course, even bold expansion of this regulation will be ineffective until adequate standards are agreed upon and enforced. GAAP and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are standards for financial reporting; we need similar principles for environmental accounting to reach its full potential. The current most widely used set of international carbon accounting standards, the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, is still maturing. When a business is required to disclose its carbon footprint according to broadly accepted standards, loopholes will close and we’ll be able to see who’s truly green and who’s just greenwashing.
Adoption of carbon accounting principles and stricter requirements for disclosure of standardized corporate emissions information would provide a far-reaching and objective method with which to examine a coffee company’s environmental record. At the current time, Starbucks only has an incentive to create an impression of sustainability – without necessarily being green overall. As a result, its lackluster recycling record matters less than it should because Starbucks can cite its other environmental efforts to distract the public, such as its goal to develop a recyclable cup by 2012. Is this goal sufficient? Is 2012 too late? Carbon accounting can answer questions like these by providing a measure of the goal’s benefit. With a holistic glimpse into the company’s carbon footprint, the priority of recycling depends directly on an objective measure of environmental damage which is easily comparable with other components of the business. If the emissions produced by disposal of these paper cups is significantly more damaging than other aspects of the company’s operations – which is highly likely – then it will show up in the numbers. Starbucks will feel more immediate pressure to address the most serious environmental concerns.
Expansion of “Scope 3” emissions accounting in environmental reports would prevent under-reporting of emissions. Scope 3 emissions refer to indirect sources not owned or controlled by a company, but which are necessary to make and distribute its products. To incorporate Scope 3, businesses will need to ask their suppliers to account for their own emissions; this will spread adoption of carbon accounting throughout the supply chain, accelerating the expansion of general corporate emissions transparency. Starbucks has been able to make positive environmentalist claims in recent years; for example, the company claimed that it lessened electricity use at its owned stores by 1.7 percent in 2009, compared to the previous year. But claims like these do not tell the whole story. Starbucks should be held responsible for its less visible emissions sources. We know nothing about the overall carbon footprint of Starbucks when it neglects to mention its suppliers, who could have increased their electricity use by a larger amount to offset any other reductions. Requiring carbon disclosure with Scope 3 emissions would force Starbucks to take responsibility for every action associated with its products. If the Starbucks supply chain has destructive amounts of emissions that offset this energy reduction, then the company is guilty of greenwashing.
Understanding of green business incentives through ECA software to identify eco-friendly savings opportunities can make it cheaper to truly go green, making it unnecessary for businesses to greenwash in the first place. One example is government-provided tax incentives for using efficient transportation with lower emissions. ECA software can develop to recognize these opportunities; this will more effectively encourage businesses to take advantage of direct opportunities to simultaneously trim emissions and lower costs. By placing green transparency and legitimate environmental initiative in the best economic interests of businesses, sophisticated carbon accounting technology and standards could make a lot of progress in rendering greenwashers obsolete.
Informed consumers who demand hard numbers from standardized carbon accounting reports, while boycotting the liars, forces businesses with green marketing campaigns to prove their sincerity – after all, fully informed consumers make deception by greenwashing impossible. We should demand that Starbucks track its emissions – the company hasn’t done so for several years, and last time its emissions were not disclosed. Starbucks needs to begin tracking their emissions regularly and disclosing them. Without opening up its carbon footprint to the public, Starbucks has no incentive to sincerely and aggressively pursue a green strategy that addresses the real environmental impact of its products.

Starbucks Forty Years Later: Socially Responsible, with an Extra Shot of Sustainability

(The following is a guest post by the University of San Francisco, in partnership with University Alliance. The University of San Francisco offers higher education opportunities through online master’s certificates, including supply chain management and sustainable supply chain management. To see additional information please visit http://www.usanfranonline.com.)

Over the course of its forty-year history, Starbucks has evolved into a company that aspires to be known as much for their commitment to social responsibility as they are for the quality of their coffee. This year marks the tenth year that Starbucks has publicly reported on the progress of their responsible business practices. What began with simple initiatives, like promoting the use of recyclable cups, now extends well beyond that.

So where is Starbucks today? The company has launched several sustainability-driven initiatives, which revolve around the following four areas:

Recycling and reusable cups
Community involvement
Coffee purchasing and farmer support
Energy and water conservation

Recycling and Reusable Cups

For many Starbucks customers, the white cup with green logo is an iconic part of the Starbucks experience – but is not seen as environmentally friendly. Through the use of in-store recycling, post consumer fiber (PCF) materials use in their packaging, and discounts for customers who use travel cups, Starbucks has worked to reduce the environmental impact of their disposable cups. They have also strongly advocated for improved recycling infrastructures internally- with a goal to develop comprehensive recycling solutions for paper and plastic cups by 2012 – and through industry trade group associations.

As part of their goal to make 100 percent of their packaging reusable or recyclable by 2015, Starbucks sponsored the Betacup Challenge in 2009 and again in 2010 – a design contest held to address the massive amount of coffee cup waste generated annually.

Community Involvement

Starbucks is successful for more than just its work in the disposable paper coffee cup arena. The firm also prioritizes its involvement in communities where its stores are located, where its employees live, and where it finds its coffee beans. Starbucks seeks to develop that same environmental and community awareness in its employees, (known within Starbucks as partners). Currently, Starbucks’ goal is to mobilize employees and customers to contribute one million hours of community service per year by 2015. The business is especially dedicated toward encouraging young people to drive positive change in their communities through Starbucks Youth Action Grants and The Starbucks Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Coffee Purchasing and Farmer Support

Starbucks is committed to buying and serving coffee that is responsibly grown and ethically traded, and ensures it does by following a comprehensive set of social and environmental guidelines. These guidelines include supporting Fair Trade farmer cooperatives, promoting environmental stewardship and economic stability in the coffee industry, supporting conservation efforts with forest carbon programs, and assisting small farmers with loans.

Green Buildings and Energy and Water conservation

Starbucks opened its first LEED®-certified store in Hillsboro, Oregon, in 2005 and plans to have all new, company-owned stores built to achieve LEED® certification by 2011. Inside LEED® stores, customers will find reused and recycled elements, like cabinetry made from 90% post-industrial material and paints with lower amounts of volatile organic chemicals.

LEED®-certified stores also have features that conserve water and energy, including:

Efficient LED lighting, rather than incandescent and halogen lighting
Remote monitoring of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment to ensure efficient energy use
High-blast nozzles to clean pitchers instead of running tap water continuously
Low-flow valves throughout the store to conserve water
Starbucks as a Role Model for Other Businesses

In many ways, Starbucks has set a standard for sustainable business practices. The most daunting task in establishing a sustainable business is finding the right balance between cost and carbon footprint. Through their support of research and development, activism, and charitable contributions, Starbucks continues to drive positive changes that support environmental awareness and sustainability. They have achieved true harmony by decreasing both operating costs and environmental impact. Their innovative efforts inspire and enable other businesses to have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.

Sydney Fish Market Bonanza

This weekend Nov 1 marks the start of the Snapper season in New South Wales and indeed Victoria. Paragus Auratus otherwise known as the Southern Red Snapper is an abundant fish around Australia’s southern coastline.

 

This weekend The Sydney Arts Guide is teaming up with the Sydney Fish Market and Bagout Charters (a melbourne based fishing charter business) to teach both Melbourne and Sydney residents about the fish, its taste and how it is caught.

 

For only entry prices of only $25 ticket holders will get a guided tour which includes a short trip on the Bagout charter boat and try their hand at catching a snapper. Then ticket holders will get a full guided tour of the Sydney Fish Markets where by they will get a taste of Snapper both in raw and cooked form.
For all enquiries about this guided fishing charter and tour visit the Sydney Fish Market website or Bagout Charters website where tickets can be bought for the day.
Get out there and learn more about the fish of Australia.

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Get Fit and Help the environment

One of the most important ways you can help the environment around you is to maximise your own health and well-being. When you want to help the environment, one of the simplest ways to do this is to reduce your dependency on taxis, UBERs, cars and motorbikes and instead revert to carbon neutral forms of transport such as bikes, e-bikes and public transport.

 

Moving to more sustainable and environmentally friendly transport comes at a cost – convenience. The only way to overcome this is to use the services of a professional motivator or personal trainer. Choosing a personal trainer to help you on your environmental journey is never easy and many have contemplated the possibility of giving up all together.

The good news is that WYN Training in Melbourne offers a broad range of the personal training courses in Melbourne at their website and for many potential students government funding is also available. The courses entail a long and complex range of benefits that other course providers and RTOs do not offer. This is mainly due to  the smaller class sizes that WYN offers, placing students in a class of only 20 students at any given time. Compared with other larger competitors such as Sage or Australian Institute of Fitness, this is a substantive and large difference.

Another key focus of WYN is that they offer some of the best Cert IV Massage Course offerings here. The Certificate IV in Massage Course is a unique product allowing students to practise massage professionally upon completion. A wide range of units are covered and the career prospects for students are great upon graduation thanks to the wide and far-reaching recognition of WYN as a preferred Registered Training Organisation.

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In becoming an active part of the process of improving health and well-being, you allow yourself to help the environment, become more sustainable and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The great thing about doing this through fitness is that you get the added benefit of feeling great as well. Talk to a student coordinator today.