Monday, June 18, 2012

Powered By The Sun

Since I began my professional career as an 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

Get Ya Motor Runnin'

I've spent all of my professional career teaching kids and grownups about their connection to the natural world.  I've tried to do this through funny videos (my 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

Plain Ol' Stupid

Recently, I stepped into the hallway of my hotel (Hampton Inn, Raleigh, NC, which by the way, was quite nice) and saw this bag of garbage.  It kinda bummed me out.  It wasn't the garbage in the hall that offended me.  It was the the CONTENTS of the bag of garbage in the hall.  The bag was filled with aluminum beer cans.  I didn't object to the beer, it was the discarded cans that bothered me.  The hotel had recycling containers!  Aluminum is one of the most easily and effectively recycled materials on the planet.  Every new aluminum can that's made from recycled materials, uses only 10% (sometimes less) of the energy required to make a new aluminum can from virgin materials.  That's a HUGE savings of energy and raw materials, and energy and raw materials savings is good for America, good for business, and good for the planet.  So NOT recycling your aluminum cans is what we Alabama folks like to call "plain ol' stupid".  The wasted beer cans in this photo represent enough energy to run your TV set for several hours.  It's the same as siphoning fuel out of your car and dumping it right down the drain.  So if this "Bonehead Barney" (I actually used a much more colorful name for him, but there were no women or children present at the time) wants another six pack of beer, here's what is going to have to happen.  The bauxite ore to make the aluminum can will have to be mined and the ore transported. It will be combined with coke, purified, melted into ingots, purified, shipped to a manufacturer of aluminum, melted, rolled, shipped again, formed into cans, shipped again, filled with beer, shipped again, where he will buy more beer.  Notice all the steps (and energy and resources) that could have been saved along the way if Barney had chosen to recycle his cans.  Had he chosen to recycle these cans, 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.