Archive for category: Sustainability

How to Enforce Sustainable Behavior?

Plastic casings collected in front of our beach cabana

[Update to this post: The non-profit organization, As You Sow ( has issued a report calling for U.S. companies who use product packaging to be responsible for the post-consumer recycling of that packaging. Click here for a link to their report.]

The family and I spent last week at New Smyrna Beach, our favorite Atlantic Coast shoreline. Beautiful sand, sunny weather (after Tropical Storm Debby made her way through), occasional shells and, probably because of the storm, uncrowded conditions. We go there every year, and other families come from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and farther points to enjoy themselves in the sun and sand. Of course, it was the week before the Fourth of July holiday, so almost every night someone was shooting off fireworks on the beach, which brings me to write this post.

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Creative Office Sustainability?

Like many of you out there, I’m trying my best to have a sustainability consciousness around the office.  I put all my junk mail, opened envelopes, printed cover sheets and read magazines in the paper recycling bin.  I try not to print out documents just to review them, although I must confess that I lose that battle frequently.  I brought my biking water bottle from home so I can reduce the number of times I throw away a plastic cup each day.  Food trash goes in the food trash can.  Since my office has floor to ceiling windows, I can turn off the lights in my office for a good part of the day (of course my fellow co-workers think I must be sick!).  But last week, I received a package in the U.S. mail that showed me I am not being very creative in finding new ways to be sustainable.

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The End of Holiday Cards: Long Live Sustainable Holiday Greetings

The 2011 holiday season is almost over, and I have to say that I received many less paper cards this year than ever before.  My informal survey of displayed paper cards in offices at my law firm, and in offices that I visited in December, confirmed to me that more and more businesses have stopped sending paper holiday cards.  Maybe (probably) it is a cost-cutting measure.  Indeed, trimming expenses has been a major focus of many businesses in 2011.  But it is also a sustainability measure.

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The Long Road to Sustainability

Despite the wealth of news across the United States touting electric vehicles, renewable energy projects, new LEED-certified and zero-energy buildings, and sustainable business practices, the hard truth is that a transformation to a sustainable United States will take a long, long time and a “sustained” effort through multiple generations of leadership. That is the lesson offered by Germany, as described in a well-written article recently appearing on the Energy Bulletin written by Ralph Buehler, Arne Jungjohann, Melissa Keeley and Michael Mehling. As they describe Germany’s success, they note that it has been a 40 year journey where “all levels of government … have retooled policies to promote growth that is more environmentally sustainable.”

There are fundamental differences between Germany and the United

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Philadelphia Gets Sustainability Right

Here’s a simple recipe for success:  Start with a worthy, important goal – an audacious goal, one that can inspire others to get behind it. A goal that is clear, so you know when you have reached it.  A goal that has … a time deadline. Next, involve others in discussion and planning how that audacious goal might be achieved. Have that group create a number of smaller, intermediate goals that create small successes and build momentum. Next, regularly report to stakeholders exactly where you are on the road to achievement, whether good or bad. Along the way, keep the communication lines open so that all stakeholders see action. Inspire. Repeat.

While this might sound like simple common-sense advice from a self-help book on success and goals (and it could be), it is actually my quick overview of a bold plan put in place by Michael A. Nutter, the visionary Mayor of Philadelphia.  His goal: turn Philadelphia into “the greenest city in America by 2015”.  Beginning with his 2008 inaugural address, he created incredible energy around this goal, and based on their self-reporting, the City of Brotherly Love appears to be well on its way toward becoming that city.

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