Saturday, 26 February 2011

"Cradle to Cradle" : A biomimetic approach to the design of products that calls for radical changes for corporations and brands

In Cradle to Cradle, authors McDonough and Braungart argue that the conflict between industry and the environment is not an indictment of commerce but an outgrowth of purely opportunistic design.C2C is a biomimetic approach to the design of systems. It models human industry on nature's processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms. It suggests that industry must protect and enrich ecosystems and nature's biological metabolism while also maintaining safe, productive technical metabolism for the high-quality use and circulation of organic and synthetic materials The design of products and manufacturing systems growing out of the Industrial Revolution reflected the spirit of the day-and yielded a host of unintended yet tragic consequences. It calls for a radical change in industry: a switch from a cradle-to-grave pattern to a cradle-to-cradle pattern. It suggests that the "reduce reuse recycle" methods perpetuate this cradle-to-grave strategy, and that more changes need to be made. The book discourages down-cycling, but rather encourages the manufacture of products with the goal of up-cycling in mind. This vision of up-cycling is based on a system of "lifecycle development" initiated by Braungart and colleagues at the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency in the 1990s: after products have reached the end of their useful life, they become either "biological nutrients" or "technical nutrients". Biological nutrients are materials that can re-enter the environment. Technical nutrients are materials that remain within closed-loop industrial cycles. The book itself is a physical symbol of the changes to come. It is printed on a synthetic 'paper,' made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, designed to look and feel like top quality paper while also being waterproof and rugged. And the book can be easily recycled in localities with systems to collect polypropylene, like that in yogurt containers. This 'treeless' book points the way toward the day when synthetic books, like many other products, can be used, recycled, and used again without losing any material quality—in cradle to cradle cycles. See also a video with Williams McDonough at TED.

The European Year of Volunteering 2011 : Make a difference

The European Year of Volunteering 2011 is both a celebration and a challenge. It is a celebration of the commitment of millions of people in Europe who work in their communities during their free time without being paid – for example in schools, hospitals, and sports clubs, protecting the environment, providing social services and helping people in other countries. Their efforts and those of the many thousands of volunteering organisations make a huge difference to our lives in countless ways. The world would be much worse off without volunteers! The EYV is also a challenge to the three-quarters of the European population who do not do any volunteering. Learn more how to make a difference here.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Income inequality and the global crisis

Michael Kumhof, Deputy Division Chief, Modeling Unit, Research Department, IMF and Romain Rancière, Associate Professor of Economics at Paris School of Economics are apocalyptic regarding the origins of the financial crisis in a recent article (06/02/2011, VoxEU) and are fully supporting now the ideas and similar findings and forecasts of Costas Kataras as described in his latest book “Nice Capitalism” (2008). The two authors are saying that “ of the many origins of the global crisis, one that has received comparatively little attention is income inequality. This column provides a theoretical framework for understanding the connection between inequality, leverage and financial crises. It shows how rising inequality in a climate of rising consumption can lead poorer households to increase their leverage, thereby making a crisis more likely. The US has experienced two major economic crises during the last century – 1929 and 2008. There is an ongoing debate as to whether both crises share similar origins and features (Eichengreen and O’Rourke 2010). Reinhart and Rogoff (2009) provide and even broader comparison. One issue that has not attracted much attention is the impact of inequality on the likelihood of crises. In recent work (Kumhof and Ranciere 2010) we focus on two remarkable similarities between the two pre-crisis eras. Both were characterised by a sharp increase in income inequality, and by a similarly sharp increase in household debt leverage. We also propose a theoretical explanation for the linkage between income inequality, high and growing debt leverage, financial fragility, and ultimately financial crises”. “Nice Capitalism” is a truly prophetic book . You can now download for free here or to order from Amazon.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A list of the world’s most sustainable companies for 2010

Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media company, released its seventh-annual list of the world’s most sustainable companies. Corporate Knights worked with a research firm to winnow down its list of publicly traded companies from 3,000 to 300, based on financial performance and other criteria. Then the Corporate Knights research group worked with two different asset management firms to evaluate those 300 companies based on 10 environmental, social and governance performance metrics, including energy productivity, waste productivity and CEO-to-average-worker pay ratio. An eleventh indicator was added for “transparency.” The Nordic countries (Norway, Denmark, Finland) placed especially well in the rankings having 7 out of the top 20 companies. The United Kingdom failed to place a company in the Top 20 of the list. A complete list at Forbes .The list's most sustainable company comes from the oil and gas industry--a counterintuitive pick. The Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil leads the list, thanks in part to improvements in its water productivity. Rounding out the top 10 list are Johnson & Johnson, Danish biotech company Novozymes, Nokia , Belgian tech company Umicore, Intel , AstraZeneca , Credit Agricole, Norwegian financial services company Storebrand, and Danske Bank.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Turn chaos into opportunity

EXPLOITING CHAOS by Jeremy Gutsche is an award-winning, bestselling, magazine-style book about 150 ways to spark innovation during times of change. Disney, CNN, MTV, Hyatt, Microsoft, Apple, Fortune, GE, and Hewlett-Packard. Each of these companies were created during periods of chaos. Their proven strategies will help your company to thrive in chaos, suggests Gutsche .

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Great Sites For Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability

‘Must Have’ sites on CSR, the best blogs , websites with excellent resources, links, media, tools, news, people to follow on twitter who will ensure you know everything there is to know about CSR and Sustainability, and much more in this interesting blog