Marc Gunther's blog

Marc Gunther is a veteran journalistspeaker, and writer whose focus is business and sustainability.

Marc is editor at large of Guardian Sustainable Business US and a contributor at FORTUNEmagazine. He’s also a husband and father, a lover of the outdoors and a marathon runner.

Marc is the author or co-author of four books, including Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business (Crown 2004). For a complete bio, click here.

A skilled moderator and speaker, Marc has appeared before corporate audiences and at numerous conferences. He is the creator and co-chair of Brainstorm Green, FORTUNE’s annual conference on business and the environment.

Some Reason for Optimism on Climate Change

Not since the ill-fated UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 has there been as much optimism as there is now about curbing the risks of climate change. Government negotiators converged this week in Lima, Peru, to lay the foundation for a possible global climate agreement next year in Paris. Veteran reporter Andrew Revkin has a typically ...

Patagonia’s CEO, marching for climate action

Recently, I had lunch with Mary Wenzel, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo who directs the bank’s environmental projects. The bank’s efforts are laudable–it intends to provide $30 billion of financing by 2020 to business opportunities that protect the environment, it’s making its offices more efficient, it’s a big-time supporter of a nonprofit called Grid

...

A Smarter Approach to Biofuels

The US biofuels industry has not covered itself in glory. It has consumed billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars, as much if not more from investors and in return delivered economic and environmental benefits that are murky at best, at least according to its critics.

You’ll hear a different story ...

The End of Garbage

In nature, nothing goes to waste. The excrement of one species (forgive me if you are reading over breakfast) becomes food for another.

Why can’t we design the industrial economy to be like nature?

This isn’t a new idea. During the American Revolution, iron pots were melted down to make armaments. I take notes with a pen made out of recycled bottles. The gospel of “natural capitalism” or “cradle to cradle” has been spread by  such pioneering...

Feeding the Hungry at Panera Bread

Not by coincidence, I’m blogging today from a Panera Bread cafe near my home in Bethesda, MD. The atmosphere is pleasant, the people are friendly, the wi-fi is reliable and the food is pretty good. (I have a weak spot for the shortbread cookies.) But, as I learned recently, there’s more to this company than meets the eye of a casual visitor.

...

A schism over Fair Trade

Paul Rice is a man on a mission.

The 51-year-old president and CEO of Fair Trade USA, who has led the group since 1998, says he wants the practice of Fair Trade to become bigger, engaging more consumers and helping more farmers around the world. To that end, Fair Trade USA last year quit the international Fairtrade Labelling Organizations, or FLO, an international...

B the change you want to see

Is shareholder capitalism broken?

Few would argue that it’s working well. Business as usual has us on a path to climate catastrophe. The housing/banking industry collapse threw the world into recession. We’ve seen Fukushima, the BP oil spill, the Massey coal mine deaths. Growing income inequality has become a persistent worry.

The conventional response to all that – indeed, the one that I share – is that smarter (though not more) regulation is needed. But a growing number of business people say the problems go deeper. 

...

Greener chemicals from Genomatica

You’ve got oil in your bedroom closet. Well, not exactly oil, but products that made from petrochemicals like Spandex. Spandex can be found in swimsuits, socks, intimate apparel, sportswear, ski pants and biking gear, among other things.

Christophe Shilling, an entrepreneur with a PhD in bioengineering, aims to change that–with the help of renewable crops and genetically modified bugs. He’s the founder and CEO of a company...

PepsiCo, sexism and “diversity”

This is PepsiCo’s SoBe brand, showcasing the actress Ashley Greene and her “zero inhibitions” in a painted-on swimsuit, as part of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit extravaganza. What better way, after all, to promote Sobe’s  “zero calorie” flavors than with a babe wearing zero clothes on your corporate website and on You Tube videos, which have attracted more than 500,000 views?

And then there is the photo, from the page about Our Commitment to Diversity on the PepsiCo website, which goes on at some length about the company’s efforts to foster a workplace of caring and candor and where everyone is treated with respect. As best as I can tell, all the PepsiCo employees in this photo appear to fully clothed, although it’s possible that some wise guy in the back isn’t wearing pants.

The company says:

Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for our business. We’ve made it our commitment to make diversity and inclusion a way of life at PepsiCo….In fact, we view diversity as a key to our future.

And:

PepsiCo has been nationally recognized as one of the top places for women and minorities to work. We were one of the first companies to begin hiring minorities in professional positions, as far back as the 1940s. We were the first Fortune 500 company to have an African-American vice president.

The company also says that its

Multi-year strategic plans for diversity are developed with the  same vigor and goal-setting process as other business issues.

The technology that could save the planet

What if the technology we need to curb climate change turns out to be not a solar panel, smart grid or electric car battery but social media powered by cellphones, laptops and online networks like Facebook?

As I prepare to leave today for the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, I’m struck by–actually, flooded, overwhelmed, swamped and dizzied by–the sheer volume of user-generated content coming out of Copenhagen, much of it created by people in their 20s and 30s. Groups like 350.org and the Youth Climate...

My red, white and blue (and green) marathon

Today was a special day for me. I completed the 34th running of the Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2-mile run through the streets of Washington and Arlington, Va., with a finish at a famed statue of Iwo Jima known as the Marine Corps War Memorial. I’ve run 17 marathons, but the Marine Corps has a unique place in my heart because it was the first marathon that I ran, back in 1994.

Two things struck me about today’s race. The first is that the MCM made a significant effort to “go green.” Marathons are, inevitably, messy affairs and they generate enormous amounts of trash. An estimated 850,000 (!) paper cups are needed to stock the water and Powerade stops to keep 21,000 runners well hydrated. Add to that 26,000 Clif shots, 25,000 bag of sports beans, 10,000 sliced oranges—well, you get the idea. Lots of garbage, much of it unavoidable.

The MCM says its goal this year was to cut the trash in half, and produce less than a pound of landfill waste per runner. Sponsor Aquafina set up recycling kiosks near the start and finish line. Race waste, including cups, is composted. And, in an experiment, the race bibs given out at a fun run for kids were made of recycled post-consumer and wildflower seeds. The young runners can plant their bibs and enjoy growing Black-Eyed Susans along with the satisfaction of being green. MCM also collected used running shoes at its expos, for donation to people who need them.

Hyatt (still) should be ashamed

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?

You’ve heard about Hyatt’s labor problems by now, haven’t you? Last month...

BSR’s Aron Cramer: What’s changed since the meltdown?

"This week’s guest post comes from Aron Cramer, the president and CEO of BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. Aron’s a great guy, BSR’s an important organization, and its annual conference is a must for people like me who want to keep up with the goings-on in corporate responsibility. Aron’s worked closely with FORTUNE 500...

Nothing blue about this airline

Imagine. An airline people actually like to fly. A low-fare carrier that provides friendly service as well as such amenities as leather seats, live TV, XM radio and unlimited snacks. That’s JetBlue. JetBlue also makes money. That alone makes it an anomaly in the dismal airline business.

Those friendly flight attendants, ticket-takers, reservations agents, grounds personnel and pilots (at least a couple who I met) are, as it happens, the key to the success of JetBlue. That was my takeaway after spending some time with the company and its people for a story about JetBlue and its CEO, Dave Barger, that I wrote in the current issue of FORTUNE. It’s part of my year-long series for the magazine on FORTUNE 500 companies.

Here’s how it begins:

Welcome aboard,” says the CEO of JetBlue Airways. “I’m Dave. It’s a first-name-basis airline. My door is open.”

It’s a steamy Florida morning, and Dave Barger, a 51-year-old airline-industry lifer, is addressing a new class of about 160 students at JetBlue University, the airline’s training center next to Orlando’s airport.

In a few days, after a brief history of the airline (it was originally going to be called Taxi), a thorough immersion in its core values (safety, integrity, caring, passion, and fun), a sobering analysis of industry economics (including the meaning of VFR, CASM, and BELF), and mundane sessions on uniforms and employee benefits, these new crew members will go to work as ticket takers, baggage handlers, and ground crew at some of the 56 airports served by JetBlue (JBLU).

Subscribe to RSS - Marc Gunther's blog