Monday, August 27, 2012
Monday, August 20, 2012
"Velvet Elvis" painting. It was wonderful! To a 7 year old mind... it was inconceivable that something so valuable (and I didn't even know who Elvis Presley was) could be thrown away. That passion for the planets' beauty and natural resources (sometimes known as natural capital) has never left me. It has, however taken on many professional forms for me. Recently, I've added a new professional form... Green Biz Speaker. The new keynote is called SUSTAINABLE IS ATTAINABLE and it's about transforming the relationship that consumers and businesses use the planets resources. I've really enjoyed creating it. The presentation is funny, truthful, and packed full of information that businesses can use to profit through sustainability. I really hope the "talk" takes off. Humanity could use a little help redirecting the way we use resources and I have discovered some of the answers on my journey with Elvis. More info? http://greenbizspeaker.com
Thursday, July 26, 2012
TenkSolar RAIS WAVE Photovoltaic system at my home and digital production studio in beautiful Frog Pond, Alabama. I'd saved money for this over the years and finally "pulled the trigger". It took about a month to get the entire system delivered, installed, patched in, signed off, and tested. The battery backup was a problem at first, but we worked those issues out and it seems to be working just great now. The cool thing is... on sunny days, my new array collects more energy than we use. On those beautiful sunny days, I sell my renewable/green energy back to Alabama Power Co. They do not pay very well (less than 3 cents...even at peak), but I am generating renewable power and using it and even getting to share some of it with others. Coal (a large source of global energy) is not a renewable power source. Even natural gas (as abundant as it is) is not renewable and its supply is finite. Every time a business or homeowner or consumer makes the choice to go sustainable (ie resources used are renewable or recyclable and its use does not create pollution) we're steering our global economy towards a model that WILL sustain all 7 billion folks on the planet. Today I got to walk the talk just a little bit better. Happy.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Sustainability is Good Business
4 Benefits for Your Organization
4 Benefits for Your Organization
By Steve Richerson
Going green to make green is red hot right now.
Recently businesses all over the globe have gotten into the “going green” trend and it’s paying off big for many of them. In fact, several recent studies have shown that sustainability-oriented companies have a better stock performance, lower volatility and a higher return on assets than other similar companies. In short, the “sustainable” or “green” companies are making more “green” than the companies that have not jumped on board.
You might be thinking, “That sounds great! I want some sustainability for my company. How soon can I get it shipped to me?”
Unfortunately, sustainability is not a clever new accounting software, a sparkly new app or a cool new office toy. In fact, it’s not a “thing” at all. It’s a philosophy and it’s a very powerful one.
Sustainability is a commitment (from upper management to the front line) to switch from only focusing on short term profit to something even larger and longer lasting - a focus on maximizing the health of people, the planet and profits.
As you may remember from fifth grade biological science, the planet we live on is one big interconnected biological system. So sustainability means that we use this systems’ resources (air, water, land, energy, raw materials) in a manner that will not hinder (no pollution or overuse) future generations’ ability to use these resources. With 7 billion people currently living on the planet and all of them wanting to be rich, get rich or get richer we must start use the resources we have in much smarter ways.
Sustainability is that way and business is the perfect mechanism to deliver smart resource use to the planet’s people.
There are four great reasons why you should integrate sustainability into your business. They are:
(1) Sustainability can reduce business risk. For businesses, risk is omnipresent. A sustainability approach (people, planet, profit) to business can reduce some of those risks, such as:
• Litigation –Unfortunately each and every business is at risk for lawsuits. Are you using chemicals in your business that could end up in the local air, groundwater or soil? Finding ways to eliminate the use of these materials can align your business with the environment and reduce risk.
• Cleanup – Accidents happen. By using safer or more environmentally-aligned safety measures for your business, you can eliminate the need for cleanup, and thus eliminate that cost. Brainstorming ways to eliminate accidents and subsequent cleanup costs before they even happen is smart and sustainable.
• Environmental Regulations - Environmental laws are in place to protect the public (people) and the environment (planet) from hazards. Instead of asking “how do we comply?” ask a much different question. Ask yourself, “what if there was no need for compliance?” What if we could point our company at the target of low or no waste, low or no emissions, low or no energy use? What if we exceeded the compliance standard so much that it becomes irrelevant?” No legal costs. No compliance costs. No problem. Okay… fewer problems.
(2) Sustainability can cut your costs. This is the low hanging fruit of sustainability and it’s not difficult to take on. Focusing on what you take, make and waste in your buildings, stores, fleets and manufacturing plants can be a successful sustainable strategy for both the environment and for your company. What if you could reduce your energy costs by using a sustainable resource or a more efficient process? What if you could reduce your waste disposal costs by creating less waste through recycling or pre-cycling? What if you could use less water? What if you could use the sun to pre-heat the water you need for the process? What if you could reduce your water, energy and waste?
(3) Sustainability can build your brand. You survive and thrive as a business because your customers choose to do business with you. If you lose the respect, trust or loyalty of your customers, you’re finished. Consumers today hold companies (your brand) to a much higher standard than ever before. They expect and reward companies that hold themselves responsible for the people the company affects and the planet it uses resources from. A sustainability focus allows you to make sure that you earn a profit while keeping your eyes on the positive treatment of people and the planet as well. Short-term profit margin focus only is no longer acceptable to customers and they can let the entire world know with one mouse click. The more your company acts like a decent local and global citizen, the more your customers appreciate it and the more loyal they are to your brand.
(4) Sustainability can grow your revenue. From a business perspective, this is the most fascinating area of “being green.” New products and services are developed every day, but what if business used its problem-solving skills with sustainability as a guide? Viewing the market through the business lenses of sustainability allows you to see the market in a way you’ve never seen it before and capitalize on what you see. Because it’s a paradigm shift, you may be able to see solutions that others focused only on short-term profit can’t see.
Let’s say you're in the industrial floor polisher industry and everyone in your industry is worried about the toxic/hazardous chemicals used in the process. You are less likely to see that you can solve the problem with a totally different cleaning process (using water, ionization, for instance) rather than using less toxic strategies, unless you're seeing the world through integrated sustainability lenses (reducing negative impact on planet and people). Through these lenses, our products and services take on new dimensions. We may even be able to take our core competencies and create new problem-solving products for the global market, which will lead us to long term revenue growth!
Sustainability is good business for the planet, good for the people of the planet and good for business. What is your company waiting for?
Monday, June 18, 2012
Ecological Entertainer (way back in 1984), I've wanted to use the suns energy to provide the electricity I've needed for all my creative endeavors. Thanks to advances in solar energy technology, and my ability to save some cash, it looks like that dream is about to be "made concrete". The home of Concrete Dream Incorporated - producer of green content (eco-shows & sustainability keynote talks) for the planet - will now be even greener because our energy will now be renewable (it's coming from the sun)! Isn't that amazing! Here is a photo of the freshly dug trench that will transfer the electricity captured by a TenKSolar RAIS WAVE PV system to my house. Cool huh? We begin installing the system on Friday.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
YouTube pages have been viewed over 100K times), live green magic shows, silly prop humor, ecological e-books, green magic sets (the worlds first by the way), and many, many other things. Recently I started working on a keynote/talk slideshow presentation specifically for businesses. Why business you say? First: I love entrepreneurs. They think. They work hard. They solve problems and they solve them for "cold hard stinkin' cash". Second: Because we global planetary citizens have GOT to get our global economy on a sustainable track or we're in for big trouble. The current economic path we're on is totally NOT sustainable. I'm not talking about our current American budget deficit track either (that's a very different story), I mean something much more basic and fundamental to our survival: how we USE our planet's resources. We have been able to cruise along blissfully unaware and unsustainably for all these years for two reasons; 1. low population and 2. low (per person) technological impact. Currently there are 7 billion of us knuckle-heads and each and every one of us increases/leverages our own impact through technology in exponential ways without even being aware of it. Let me back up a second. Sustainable means (1) that we don't use resources at a rate that can interfere with future generations abilities to use them. And, (2) we don't pollute the resources we have. We currently use the earth's resources as if they were infinite and as if the planet is able to absorb any amount of abuse and pollution with no ill effects for us humans. It's a nice fairy-tale to think that way, but it just ain't so. Modern global consumers seem to understand this at a very basic level and they're starting to ask businesses (all over the world) to step up and respond accordingly. And they have! Businesses that embed sustainability into their market strategy stand to benefit for these four reasons. (1) REDUCE RISK - If you start using less toxic/hazardous/harmful chemicals or materials to manufacture your product or service... you're less likely to be out of legal compliance (with constantly tightening legal restrictions) AND you're less likely to get sued for an accidental leak, explosion, or contamination. (2) CUT COSTS - Focusing on what you TAKE, MAKE, and WASTE (water, energy, waste are the easiest to start with) can be "cost savings" bi-products of being sustainable, because everytime you cut your expenditures, you've saved yourself some overhead cash AND lessened your impact on the planet. Win. Win. (3) BUILD THE BRAND - The more you act like a company that is a decent local and global citizen, the more your customers will appreciate it. You don't have to ignore profit. In fact, ignoring profit is the safest way to go out of business and we need good, healthy, sustainable businesses to keep the planetary economic system going. Profit is good. A sustainable profit is even better, it's great! (4) GROW REVENUE - This is the most fascinating part of the list! Embedding sustainability allows you to see the market in a way you cannot without it. It's like looking at the same old marketplace, but through new lenses. If you're in a specific industry, you are much less likely to create a breakthrough product that solves the customers problem in a RADICALLY new way. However, lets say that you're looking through the lenses of sustainability. Say you're in the industrial floor polisher industry and everyone in your industry is worried about the toxic/hazardous chemicals used in the process of cleaning the floors with your scrubbers. You are much less likely to see that you can solve the problem with a totally different cleaning process (using water, ionization, and a more efficient floor polisher) rather than using less toxic stuff, unless you're seeing the world through embedded sustainability lenses. Through these lenses our products and services take on new dimensions. We may even be able to take our core competencies and create new problem solving products for the market and that means revenue growth! So the road ahead looks very bright to me as long as we businesses are in willing to put sustainability at the core of how we serve our customers.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
90% (probably even more) of the energy needed to make a NEW can from an OLD can would have been saved. So the next time you drink from an aluminum can... don't be plain ol' stupid. RECYCLE THOSE ALUMINUM CANS. It's the smart thing to do.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Business solves problems. That's what it does best. It's motivated to solve problems by the promise of a "value for value" exchange. If a business can solve a problem for you, it gets money. If it solves a problem that's shared by a large group of people (ie "the consumer market"), it expects to create a profit for itself in exchange for the problem solved. This is a remarkably efficient system because businesses seek out problems to solve, and they try to do it (thanks to competition) at the lowest possible cost. But sometimes we business people can't see large market trends (changes in technology, consumer expectations or resource availability) because we are focused on solving problems, cutting costs, making quality products, sourcing materials, creating services, creating ad campaigns, managing people, making payroll, ... ie working on the "day to day" business of business. Three HUGE market trends that are effecting businesses right now, GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY, AMPED EXPECTATIONS, RESOURCE ROULETTE are almost tectonic in market impact and we businesses may not even feel the ground beneath us moving... yet. I say yet, because these three shifts are as monumental as the shift from the agricultural age to the industrial age. Yep... they are that HUGE. These three market trends are directly related to business sustainability (its ability to survive longterm) and human sustainability (the ability for humanity to survive longterm). Sustainability (as related to the planet and its systems) means to use resources in a manner that won't compromise future generations ability to use those resources. GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY, AMPED EXPECTATIONS, RESOURCE ROULETTE are three Mega-Trends that are linked "at the hip" to each other and to planetary and business sustainability as well. RESOURCE ROULETTE is the availability of resources in a global market place. It will continue to get more difficult for businesses in the coming years to make supply chain decisions or (JIT) Just In Time delivery timelines if energy costs fluctuate dramatically, if shipments of product are held up thanks to global unrest or catastrophic weather events, or resources we need for production or products dry up or become scarce. A simple example is water. Many southern states have had severe drought conditions for the past several years. This condition is echoed around the globe. CocaCola is a softdrink, its predominant ingredient is clean water. If the company that makes it can't get or doesn't have access to clean water (thanks to a drought or other some other RESOURCE ROULETTE risk factor) they can't make something as simple as can of CocaCola. Making things even more challenging for our businesses in the 21st century are the AMPED EXPECTATIONS of consumers. Not only do modern consumers want their products to be quality, affordable, and readily available, but they are now extending product expectations to the company itself. Consumers want the company and even its supply chain to responsibly treat the environment and its people. We modern consumers want it all and that "all" means the product or service must be quality made, affordable, available, and delivered by a company that is sustainable or at least attempting to improve its sustainability interface with the planet. This is a huge market change and I'm convinced it will continue to grow because global consumers have a hunch that 7 billion people can't continue to thrive doing business the way we've done business and they're demanding a change in the companies they do business with and the products that these companies produce. Consumers want "green products" and "green companies" along side all the other qualities they expect in their products. In effect they want the company to treat the planet and it's people "as if" it were the local grocer down the street (even if that company is a Global Behemoth). If you don't deliver the solution to their problem in a manner THEY consider "neighborly" (quality product, fair price, employees treated well, community considered, environment treated well) then they will go and do business with someone else who will do these things for them. This idea has always been around, but it never had any real teeth until it matched up with GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY. Wow... this is a big one. Cell phones and the internet are globally ubiquitous now and if a company isn't living up to an individual consumers expectations, the whole world can hear about it with one "click" of a "send" button. Thanks to Facebook (close to a Billion users), Twitter and the global connectivity of the "interwebs" (sic) a great deal of power has been transferred to individual consumers and boy are they using it. There are over 1 million NGO's on the planet who's sole reason for existence is to "watch" business and make sure they stay headed in the right direction. The world can know very quickly if our businesses are not meeting the expectations of the marketplace and the results can be devastating to our bottom line. If we businesses are to thrive in the 21st century, we must embed sustainability into our market strategy because it's what consumers want, and it's the path for a successful planetary economy. I'm actively working on mine. I hope you are too.
Monday, May 21, 2012
I was lucky enough to attend the Sustainable Operations Summit in New York City recently. It was held at the Hilton Hotel and the speakers were informative and very interesting. I'm very glad that I went. During one of the sessions the host (Andrew J. McKeon of Business Climate) alluded to the work done by Edwards Deming on systems theory. This sent me off on my own cloud thinking about the relationship between business and the environment - on a systems level. From the time that I was a child, I've been a very active outdoor person and intuitively understood (even when I was a little kid) that people are a part of nature. Systems theory thinking wasn't necessary for me, I "got it" very early on. While sitting there at the SOS 2012 Summit it occurred to me that the reason business has been slow to understand this basic relationship and the need for sustainable use of resources, is because they have a poor picture of the system. The illusion they hold is that business and the environment are equal systems. The thinking goes like this: they both exist free of each other, and can stand alone without influence to each other. But, if you step away from the real economy/environment system and take a wide angle view, you'll see the truth. People are actually a subsystem of businesses. Businesses are a subsystem of the economy. The economy (small pink/purple dot) is a subsystem of the environment (large green dot). Interestingly, we business folks (me included) tend to forget that the environment can exist without the economy, but the economy cannot exist without the environment. We spend so much effort, time, and thought figuring out how to make our businesses work, and chasing the bottom line (which is really important) that we forget that it can only work within a healthy natural environment. Embedded Sustainability is the way to bring these two systems back into proper alignment. Do this and the whole system wins. ###
Monday, February 13, 2012
Feb. 13, 2011
Dear Alabama House of Representatives,
Please do not support - HB 274.
Its stated intent is to support private business in Alabama, but this is not what it will do. The proposed state-law over-reaches and will harm recycling across the entire state. It may even harm the businesses who already recycle through existing municipal programs across the state.
Recycling in most communities (like mine in Franklin County) have drop off recycling locations. Our trash is hauled away by the county. This is a service we pay for, but we hold out much of our waste (aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass) to be recycled. My family and I store it at our home and then take it to a drop off location.
The way I read this bill… these drop off locations would be prevented and would leave us with no place to take our recyclables and would also require local business (all over the state) to start paying for the recycling they already enjoy. If a municipality is forced out of “drop off recycling” and out of “recycling for local businesses” the new cost of recycling will be transferred to “the backs” of local businesses.
Here’s an example. If I own a printing shop and the process of printing generates a lot of waste paper that I have been recycling through my local government, I’d now be forced to use a commercial recycler/waste hauler. This will increase my business operating costs. The effect of HB 274 would be to support one business (the Waste Hauler) at the expense of all other local businesses.
Recycling is good for Alabama.
RECYCLING IS GOOD FOR ALABAMA - Recycled raw materials save energy, resources, and cut down on the pollution required to create new things we all need and use. Every time an aluminum can or a piece of paper is wasted (sent to a landfill) it harms our rivers, streams, air, and land. That’s because each resource (which will never be reclaimed or biodegrade in the landfill) must be found somewhere else. I don’t know about you, but I love Alabama outdoors. I love being outdoors in the woods, on the river, or at the beach, and if you allow ANY law to impede/stop/slow down recycling you are doing the state a huge disservice in the name of getting “government out of the way” of business.
WASTE HAULING IS NOT RECYCLING - Please understand, waste hauling and recycling are two very different things. Waste is by its very nature… the result of an inefficient process. We Alabamians’ create 4.5 pounds of waste each and every day. We used products and services and when finished there was a lot left over. This waste must be recycled or landfilled.
CASH FOR TRASH - It can be very difficult to make money recycling and in many cases it’s less expensive for a waste hauler to dump the recycled materials into a landfill than actually collect, transport, separate, bale, sell, and then start the process all over again. There is not a lot of money to be made in recycling, but there is a lot in waste hauling and sometimes these two enterprises get confused.
LANDFILLING IS NOT RECYCLING - Government IS many times slow to act, bureaucratic, intrusive, and cumbersome, and I personally really hate ANYONE telling me what to do, or how to do it. But in this case, municipalities may be the only institutions able to deal with the wild fluctuations of price for recyclables. And even when a business can handle the market changes for it’s products it sometimes ends up dumping the recyclables in a landfill because landfilling (tipping fees included) is cheaper than actually getting the stuff recycled. Landfilling collected recyclables is not recycling.
BUSINESS IS GOOD - I fully support private business in Alabama and do not feel that government should be getting in the way of local businesses. I have been a proud Alabama business owner for over 27 years. My company Concrete Dream Inc (based in Frog Pond Alabama) produces digital & live entertainment. We are known all over the world for the world class content we create from right here in our state.
I re-read the proposed law last night and I was struck with the simple question.
Why make this a law for the entire state of Alabama?
IT’S A LOCAL SPAT - According to Rep. Kurt Wallace - HB 274 stems - from a disagreement between a local waste hauler and local municipality in south Alabama. A law that will have effects across the state because of one or two businesses disagreement with a local county commission seems an out of proportion response to me.
BUSINESS VS MUNICIPALITY - Also, being a business owner, the situation and response don’t “match” my business experience. Suppose a business came to a municipality and showed that they could run the recycling and waste hauling program more - 1. efficiently, 2. better, and 3. cheaper. Any government/municipality/organization would jump on that, because many communities are looking for ways to cut costs but keep up services and support local businesses - all at the same time. Something about this situation “feels” not exactly right to me.
VIABLE WASTE HAULING BUSINESS - Also, who gets to determine whether the waste hauling business is a viable enough business to halt all municipal drop off recycling programs? According the the draft I've seen - two local waste hauling businesses can legally prevent the municipality from recycling drop offs and recycling local business waste. If a guy with a couple of trucks claims to be in the recycling/waste hauling business... does he qualify? The wording, in the bill, is vague enough to allow two people with two trucks (and a business license) to shut down recycling in the entire region even if they cannot do it cheaper, more efficiently or effectively. Again, this seems punitive to me.
Please do not harm recycling in Alabama in your efforts to help local business.
Please write a law that helps grow business and recycling in Alabama and I will personally be your champion.
Steve Trash - 2.13.12 – 10:58am.
Here's the proposed bill as of 2.13.12
3 By Representatives Greer, Wood, Beckman, Wallace, Beech,
4 Moore (B), Barton, Long, Buttram, Rich, Johnson (K), Collins,
5 Bridges, Fincher, Chesteen, Poole, Mask, Williams (P), Brown,
6 Baker, Ball, Baughn, Roberts, Mitchell, Gaston, Weaver,
7 Sessions, Tuggle, Farley, McCutcheon, Hill, Henry, Nordgren,
8 McClendon, Williams (J), Merrill, England, Grimsley and
10 RFD: Commerce and Small Business
11 First Read: 09-FEB-12
1 136022-2:n:02/09/2012:LLR/tj LRS2012-459R1
8 SYNOPSIS: Currently a county, municipality, or solid
9 waste authority may provide commercial front-end
10 loader, roll-off, or commercial recycling
11 collection services within the county or the
12 municipality even if there are two or more private
13 solid waste providers offering those services in
14 the county.
15 This bill would prohibit a county,
16 municipality, or solid waste authority from
17 providing commercial front-end loader, roll-off, or
18 commercial recycling collection services within the
19 county or the municipality if there are two or more
20 private solid waste providers offering those
21 services in the county.
22 This bill would exempt a governmental entity
23 that provides residential solid waste and recycling
24 collection within its own jurisdiction and allow a
25 governmental entity to collect residential solid
26 waste and recycling collection within its own
1 This bill would require each county,
2 municipality, or solid waste authority in violation
3 of this act, within six months from the date of its
4 approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming
5 law, to cease its operations that are in conflict
6 with this act.
8 A BILL
9 TO BE ENTITLED
10 AN ACT
12 Relating to management of solid waste; to prohibit a
13 county, municipality, or solid waste authority from providing
14 commercial front-end loader, roll-off, or commercial recycling
15 collection services within the county or the municipality if
16 there are two or more private solid waste providers offering
17 those services in the county; to exempt a governmental entity
18 that provides residential solid waste and recycling collection
19 within its own jurisdiction and allow a governmental entity to
20 collect residential solid waste and recycling collection
21 within its own jurisdiction; and to require each county,
22 municipality, or solid waste authority in violation of this
23 act, within six months from the date of its approval by the
24 Governor, or its otherwise becoming law, to cease its
25 operations that are in conflict with this act.
26 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
1 Section 1. (a) A county, municipality, or solid
2 waste authority may not provide commercial front-end loader,
3 roll-off, or commercial recycling collection services within
4 the county or the municipality if there are two or more
5 private solid waste providers offering those services in the
7 (b) A county, municipality, or solid waste authority
8 may not cross its jurisdictional lines to provide commercial
9 front-end loader, roll-off, or commercial recycling collection
11 (c)(1) This act shall not apply to a governmental
12 entity that provides residential solid waste and recycling
13 collection within its own jurisdiction, and the governmental
14 entity may collect only residential solid waste and recycling
15 collection only within its own jurisdiction.
16 (2) A county, municipality, or solid waste authority
17 that operates a solid waste disposal facility or recycling
18 facility may not offer additional services that compete with
19 private providers within its regional planning district.
20 (d) A county, municipality, or solid waste authority
21 in violation of this act, within six months from the date of
22 its approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law,
23 shall cease its operations that are in conflict with this act.
24 Section 2. This act shall become effective on the
25 first day of the third month following its passage and
26 approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.