Green energy is a focus of companies wanting to save money and reap the many benefits of a federal Energy Star rating. In fact, what the U.S. and other advanced countries like Japan are doing is sharing information and tools that anyone can use. Perhaps you’ve read about the benefits of energy efficient data centers, but there is always more to learn. Virtualization offers one strategy for decreasing the number of computer servers needed to maintain your company’s data functions.
Whether you're an individual, company or foundation, making a significant contribution, you can get a good idea of an organization's vitality and prospects for success by taking a look at who's on the board.
Jeff Klein, CEO of Cause Alliance Marketing, recently posted a story indicating why he thinks Michael Moore’s new film “Capitalism: A Love Story” leaves out an important chapter. He writes: “While some capitalists work on Wall Street, and some of those Wall Street capitalists focus on money and their personal wealth at the exclusion of nearly all other things, many other capitalists build and run companies that focus on creating value for more than just themselves. Many of the capitalists on Wall Street invest in companies for reasons beyond their own self-interest and are actively participating in the emergence of Conscious Capitalism.”
Being the author of several books on purpose-driven companies myself, I am familiar with the territory and can certainly appreciate where Klein is coming from. Still, even the most enlightened corporate responsibility professional has to acknowledge that, alongside the Whole Foods and Honest Teas of the world, there are the Citigroups and Halliburtons. Which companies control the most wealth? We cannot ignore the truths that Moore dramatizes, because they will not dissipate on their own.
Strategic communication for business will be critical as President Obama ushers in a new green vision for America and the world
“Let’s be the generation that finally frees America from the tyranny of oil. We can harness homegrown, alternative fuels like ethanol and spur the production of more fuel-efficient cars. We can set up a system for capping greenhouse gases. We can turn this crisis of global warming into a moment of opportunity for innovation, and job creation, and an incentive for businesses that will serve as a model for the world.”
The why and where are the trickier parts of buying local, though the conundrum doesn’t end there.
WHO should buy local?
You, of course. You and your wallet have control over the success of local. Because of all the advantages of buying local, your purchases benefit you and your community. You buy local because you care about the local economy and the place you live in.
On the flipside, I’m reminded of the song chorus, “If everybody looked the same, we’d be tired of looking at each other.” Would we get tired of local if everybody were buying it, the same way mass production makes everything look blandly alike? With economic diversity, which entails better product choice, as a major argument for buying local, this may not happen. Yet by doing just one thing, buying local in this case, you may be undermining the diversity principle of sustainability.
Similarly, just as hybrid owners drive more, you may think buying local takes care of your commitment to sustainability. Though your commitment to buying local may be admirable, buying local is but one piece of a big, complex picture. It also is a matter of prioritizing your sustainable pursuits and how buying local ranks on your list.
WHEN to buy local?
All the time, as the proponents of buying local would have it. If it’s not available locally at the time you need it, like with seasonal produce, you shouldn’t buy it.
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods that organizations use to manage their impact on the natural environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a website of helpful information about BMPs (EPA.gov/ne/assistance/univ/bmpcatalog.html). These practices are useful for owners of small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). One publication by Harvard University and the EPA’s New England Division illustrates the value of BMPs.
In their last Business News update, Rivermark Community Credit Union encourages me to consider how my purchases support local businesses and to buy local. Of course, buying local features prominently in sustainable marketing, so my credit union calling to buy local got me thinking. Why is buying local good? Just what is local? Are there any rules to buying local? I decided to take a closer look.
(As with everything, buying local can be argued both ways, and while I lean strongly in favor of buying local, I can’t overlook its shortcomings. Hence 5W+1H over two posts.)
WHY buy local?
There are essentially three arguments for buying local. First, buying local means more money stays and circulates in your community, supporting jobs and tax revenue. According to one Oregon economist, a “dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent 6 to 15 times before it leaves the community. From $1, you create $5 to $14 in value within that community. Spend $1 at a national chain store, and 80% leaves town immediately.” I’ve seen variations of these statements circulating in my community.
Of course, when national chains locate their stores in your community, they employ local people and do business with local suppliers or vendors. Which they do on a much bigger scale than your neighborhood store. So while your dollar may not be circulated as much when you buy chain, some spillover from chain activity definitely exists. Nevertheless, local does seem to hold the advantage here.
Business for Social Responsibility (“The Business of a Better World”) does valuable work with business around social and environmental issues. It’s helped organize efforts to get global companies to take responsibility for the rights of workers in their supply chains, particularly in poor countries.
So what will BSR do about its 2009 conference, the premiere event on the corporate-responsibility circuit, now scheduled for the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero in San Francisco?