Monday, April 27, 2009

A nice special report on green buildings...

The Financial Times on Monday (April 27, 2009) had a good series of articles on the different mechanisms of creating green building and what policies we will take to get there. I was unable to find the special report on the web but there is a summary in an advertising review available here.

It is amazing how much can be done by doing so little. The problems we face are not technical ones but political ones. Good laws make good buildings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

greener disposability

Sun Chips a division of Frito Lays is rolling out biodegradable packaging according tho this article by Media post This may mean that plastic packaging for foods is on the way out. It'll be telling to see whether biodegradable containers will be strong enough to prove a viable alternative. I have been a big advocate of using degradable containers for refills. I'm curious to see how this experiment pans out when in 2010 Earth Day, all Sun Chips packaging will be biodegradable.

I hope it works out. I took some biodegradable plastic forks and tossed them in my backyard to disappear. They are still there. But the effort is definitely in the right place. WIll biodegradable packaging influence whether you buy it. I'm not a big fan of Sun Chips, but it's good to be able to tell other brands you want the same. Pringles are looking better all the time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The ideal refillable packaging....

I've been trying to figure out what's the ideal refillable packaging. Let's face it, a lot of our day to day purchases are consumables. And we don't need the best container every time we buy laundry detergent or juice. Today I was buying some cleaning supplies, and I was happy to find out that "Method" sold some of their products in refill packaging. It's a good value but you still have plastic. I started thinking, would it be better to sell the refills in half gallon milk packaging and pour it into the original package? Or would it make more sense to sell refills as concentrate that you mix yourself. Think about it, most cleaning products are mostly water.

So can we move to a refill economy, we do it for pre-paid phones, can we do it for other things. Some ideas for your green life:

- Buy juices as frozen concentrates
- Buy your soap in bulk containers, soft soaps often come in packaging with dispensers but you can buy refills without the dispenser.
- Pastas can be bought in bulk, but most come in paper packaging that it's hard to beat.

What else will help create a refill economy?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

At what point do you become too important to re-use

I have been noticing an interesting trend with the deteriorating economy and that's the increased use of disposables. I posted this query on my facebook status and got some interesting responses, so I'll put it here. Are you ever too important to use resusables. At my last two companies, I've noticed that individuals increasingly use disposable take away containers even if they are not taking it away. The same happens with disposable coffee cups by people each and every day.

When I ask people why they do this, the answer inevitably is that they are soooooooo busy. But really how much time does it take to wash a single coffee cup. A friend of mine at his company (highly successful Venture Capital firm) they basically made sure that reusable mugs were the default option.

Speaking of default options, what if instead of offering discounts for bringing your own mug you paid for using one. For instance Starbucks charges $1.65 for a cup of coffee, and gives a $0.10 discount for using your own cup. Why not charge $1.55 for a cup of coffee and another $0.10 for getting a disposable cup. The net economic effect would be the same from an economists point of view (same result) but the framing would be different and people do notice.

So much for rationality, let's start changing defaults.