Category Archives for "Better Products"

Tesla’s Greatest Achievement (and it’s not a car)

Tesla's Greatest Achievement

Elon Musk just unveiled his master plan for Tesla, which if he can pull off will change the face of transport and energy production forever.

In his own overview it looks like this:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
    And…
  4. Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.

He then goes on to explain how he intends for Tesla to provide a single integrated solution to generate and store power for both home and transport, as well as develop a fleet of more commercial vehicles such as trucks and public transport. In addition to this Tesla owners will be able to turn their cars into a self driving Uber style service, while Tesla will provide it’s own self driving taxi fleet in densely populated areas.

The result of all this will be to minimize the need for people to even own a private car, and to become energetically self sufficient using renewable (solar) energy.

It shows an incredible level of planning and patience, and goes to show just how committed Telsa are to changing our dependance on fossil fuels. I don’t think there is a company on earth that can come close to this level of vision, or of being so close to pulling it off.

Elon Musk from TeslaIt frustrates me when I see report after report comparing Tesla to other car manufacturers, or comparing Elon Musk to other business owners with their limited thinking and financially driven motives.

Many people do not take the time to consider that Elon actually risked every penny of an already very healthy personal fortune to make this vision a reality. (Many wealthy individuals risk money, but rarely everything they own.)

Then Elon made Tesla’s patents for EV technology available to the competition, something that is almost never done in business. (To be fair Volvo did make the patent to the seat belt open for all to use in the name of public safety.) Why would a car manufacturer looking to ‘compete’ in the traditional commercial sense of business do anything like this? Because the real goal is not to sell cars, it is stop us burning fossil fuels.

Even if Tesla were to fail as a car company, level one of the mission looks set to succeed. Almost every car manufacturer is now producing, or developing, EVs. And Norway have already committed to banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025.

Of course Tesla want to succeed financially too. But not so Elon can stroke his ego, or buy a bigger car (or Space Rocket), but because they need the cash to keep driving the vision forward. To keep evolving technology, and most importantly, pushing other companies to be better.

Are Tesla perfect? Of course not, no one is. But do they shi* on the competition from a great height – hell yes. Not because their Model S has been repeatedly voted the best car ever made. This only accounts for a few points of difference. They beat everyone else hands down because they have almost single handedly redefined the automotive industry, and are set to do the same for the production of electricity. And they do it not because it will make them more money, but because it is the right thing to do.

Tesla is just 13 years old. It is remarkable what it has achieved in its short history. I look forward to seeing what it can achieve in the next 13 years. But I think it’s greatest achievement will not be what it ever produces itself, even though this is revolutionary and well deserving of many awards. No, I think it’s greatest achievement is the influence it has on changing the course of its competitors, and ultimately the reduction of CO2 production. The impact of this is almost immeasurable.

So next time you see some narrow minded, money fixated reporter dissing Tesla, give them a slap from me. And tell them to wake up and see what is perhaps one of the largest industrial miracles unfolding in front of them. If they can pull off one hundredth of an impressive feat, maybe then they can be worthy to criticize.

Patagonia Makes Surfing Greener (again)

Patagonia green wetsuit

Surfing is one of those sports that makes you feel more connected to nature than almost any other. Despite it being fairly minimalistic, sadly the tools of the trade are far from eco-friendly. However, Patagonia have just come up with a solution to make the negative environmental impact from surfing just that little bit less…

They have developed a new material to replace neoprene, the foundation of most wetsuits for the past several decades.

Neoprene is made from a petrochemical product, and so is not exactly what you might call sustainable. Patagonia have been working for a while to increase the greenness of their wetsuits, but they had not found a way to replace neoprene completely.

Yulex wetsuit from PatagoniaOne obvious choice was to use natural latex, but the most common forms of latex comes from the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is unfortunately not certified as a sustainable crop by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Most of it is grown on land cleared by slash and burn farming methods.

Working with Yulex, they have developed a neoprene alternative using the guayule rubber, sourced from Guatemalan fair trade rubber tappers. As of this season all Patagonia’s wetsuits will be made using this new Yulex rubber.

And the best news? It performs better than the old neoprene version. A better quality wetsuit that is better for the environment, now that’s what I call progress.

Patagonia are not trying to be better than everyone else to out sell them. Instead they are trying to influence and encourage everyone to copy them. Hopefully within a short time we will see a new standard being set throughout the industry.

Patagonia are quick to point out this is not a truly green wetsuit. There are other parts to the wetsuit that are still made from petrochemicals, along with a degree of embodied energy of course. However, it is a big step in the right direction, and they continue to make further progress, and to make your time in the water a green experience.

Learning To Define Value Based Goals

Value Based Goals

Almost every business guru will teach you to define your goals. Far fewer talk about your values. Yet we can enjoy a greater feeling of achievement when our goals that have been set, and achieved in alignment with, our values. (Value Based Goals.)

There is usually more than one route to achieving your goals. And the more general your goals are, the more ways there will be to achieve them.

For example, if your goal is to make $1 million, there are almost limitless ways in which this can be done. However, the moment you define a set of values you are most likely going to eliminate many of these possibilities.

This is actually a very good thing. It may feel like you are reducing your options, and it may be a little extra work up front, but doing so will keep you more focused and excited about your path to achieving this goal.

I have met countless people who claim they care about the world, or want to do good, but first they just need to make enough money so they can afford to do so.

It is precisely this false logic that has lead to the global deteriation that we can see around us. I have met many people who have achieved significant wealth, yet their financial goals keep moving. They can never reach the finish line as it just keeps getting further away. And over time many of their original core values have increasingly been consciously, or subconsciously, compromised.

My suggestion to you is this… start by clearly defining your values, then define your goals and action steps based on these values. A few examples might be:

  • To take care of, and provide for, my family
  • To conduct my business with integrity
  • To seek solutions that allow my business to operate in the most environmentally sustainable way possible
  • To ensure that all people involved with my business, directly or indirectly, are not harmed, abused, or taken advantage of in any way
  • To create a product or service that improves on existing competition
  • To leave the world a better place for my being here
  • To give back and share my success with others
  • To treat others the way I believe they would want to, and deserve to, be treated
  • To avoid living a life driven by greed
  • To live with awareness and consciousness of my environment and the people whose lives I touch
  • To be honest with myself and others

Of course, these are just a few suggestions to get you started. You need to define your own set of values that are meaningful and congruent to yourself.

When you surround yourself by a particular group of people, it is all too common for your principles to begin to change. This is why it is important to always refer back to your values list, and check whether those you are spending time with also reflect these values.

Check the presentation I made for a more ideas on how to design a better business (if you have not already done so).

When people ask you what you do for a living, when you explain to your kids how you make money, and when you look back on your life, do you want to be proud of what you have achieved?

Goals and valuesMy guess is yes. Just about every person I have ever spoken to feels this way. Yet most are secretly not as proud of their achievements (or their methods of achievement) as they would like to be.

This feeling does not change itself. Start today by setting a clear list of values, and make the decision to start living by them.

When your values become challenged, which they will, look for alternative solutions to get the same end result without sacrificing them. There is usually a way, it is often just a matter of being patient and looking hard enough.

Sometimes you may need to be creative. For example, If you currently drive as part of your business, and you can’t afford to go electric, commit to planting ten trees for every 10,000 kms of driving.

There are many various estimates, but each year approximately ten trees can balance the CO2 from up to 20,000km of driving. If you donate to a charity such as www.trees.org, they will plant ten trees for just $1.

A simple commitment to donating $1 to a charity such as this for every 10,000 km can help offset, and give back double, to your transportation CO2 emissions.

This is obviously a simple and low cost example. But once you start looking for solutions you often find there are many simple answers that can help make sure your business, and your life, lives up to your Value Based Goals.

The Evolution Of Civilized Business (not there yet!)

evolution of a civilized business

There was a time, not so long back, when it was socially acceptable to run a business using slaves. Then we became a little more civilized.

We entered a period where child labour and poor working conditions were acceptable. Then we became a little more civilized.

For a while it was acceptable to pay very low salaries, and give no time off. Then we became a little more civilized.

Now we live in an evolving world where business used to only need worry about all the above if it is was directly involved. Now however, it is becoming increasing more important to ensure that their supply chain meet these criteria too.

However, once we achieve a point where businesses have met these criteria, from the sourcing of raw materials to the end consumer, does this make business civilized?

I would argue we still have a way to go…

As Jacque Fresco points out, we do not yet live in a civilized world. If we did there would be no need for police, prisons, and unemployment centers. There would be no war, no poverty, and no starvation. We may be more civilized than many of our ancestors, but a lighter shade of black does not make it white.

How many businesses currently operate by taking business away from someone else, often without providing a better product or quality of service? We would not think of doing this to a good friend, but so long as we are not friends with the ‘competition’, then it is considered acceptable. Even if we have more than enough for ourselves, and we might put our competitor out of business (leaving his family, and his staff’s families, to go without).

How many businesses destroy the planet more than they need to, simply to add a little more profit to the bottom line?

How many businesses actively seek to try and create more sustainable ways to operate, especially when there are no financial gains to be had?

No, the way we conduct business today is not civilized. We have a long way to go. But like with each shift of business consciousness before, there are those who lead the way before the masses follow; and eventually a new acceptable standard is set.

My call to you is this: Be one of those few. Stand up and dare to be different. Start a revolution in thinking and attitudes, and help take us another step closer to becoming a civilized world.

7 Ways To Make Your Website And Email More Eco Friendly

Green hosting

The internet is estimated to have close to, or slightly exceed, (depending on the estimate) the CO2 impact of air travel. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but websites are not eco friendly. And nor is email.

Here are a couple stats for you…

  • A typical website produces 0.2gs of CO2 for EVERY second you look at it.
  • Each email produces approx 4g of CO2 (up to 50g if it contains a large attachment)
  • Every internet search you do produces between 0.2 and 7g of CO2
  • The amount of data we are using is estimated to have tripled between 2012 and 2017
  • 5g of CO2 is around the same amount as driving your car 10 meters (33ft).

It is for these reasons SocialpreneurTV is hosted with a green hosting provider. In fact we chose the greenest possible solution, GreenGeeks.

Green HostingAt GreenGeeks they actually run on 300% renewable power. That means if you host with them their data centers will help offset some of the other CO2 produced by ISPs and end users, each time someone visits your site. Now that’s pretty cool.

There are other companies that claim to be 100%, or even 120% ‘powered by renewables’, however they are not really covering the majority of your websites carbon footprint.

Let me explain…

The hosting company produces close to 25% of a websites footprint, the site visitors computer makes up just over 50%, and the rest is in the networks in between. By going with a ‘300% green’ website you are able to cover your websites hosting, the data transfer across networks, and even some of the site visitors computer usage.

Here are a list of 7 ways you can make your business’s internet presence greener…

  1. Move your hosting to GreenGeeks. (Yes, that is an affiliate link. If you do move I would love it if you used it, so as to help fund this site.)
  2. Ensure your site uses the correct sized images and image compression. This reduces total data transfer, and is considered good practice anyway.
  3. Use a CDN network that caches your large files. Again this speeds up your site, and reduces total data transfer.
  4. If you are on WordPress (or your CMS has a similar option) make sure you are using cache and image optimization plugins. Same benefits as above.
  5. Remove old emails that are unresponsive from mailing lists. Once more, good practice. It will increase your open rates, and lower your CO2 imprint.
  6. Unsubscribe from all email lists you really don’t need to be on. This will save you time and slow global warming.
  7. Do not CC, BC or reply to all unless you need to. This is bad practice anyway, as it often just wastes people’s time.

Most of these ideas are very easy to implement, and make a difference. Especially the first suggestion of moving host. This actually only takes a few minutes. GreenGeeks do all the hard work and will transfer your existing site to their servers for free. (They also have some of the most competitive pricing.)

Most of the other suggestions are not only free, they also help improve your website conversions (by increasing speed), email effectiveness (as well as reducing mailing costs), and improve your productivity.

Take a few moments now to implement a couple changes that will make your business that much better, and greener.

Impact of the internet on CO2 Levels

Pig Poop Paves The Way?

pig manure asphalt

I may have just got a wiff of the future… pig poop pavements!

I love solutions that can help kill two birds with one stone, which is exactly what North Carolina A&T State University have done with their piggy poop asphalt.

Researchers at the university have discovered that pig manure contains oils similar to that of petroleum. While the grade of the oil is too low for producing an efficient gasoline, it is just fine for using as a binder in asphalt.

This helps us deal with both the environmental issues of sourcing crude oil, and helps us deal with the huge environmental issue of farm waste (at least from swine farming).

The great news is that not only is it more environmentally friendly, it is also cheaper. (Just US$0.56/gallon to produce.)

Ellie Fini, lead researcher and assistant professor of civil engineering, told Gizmag “It is different from petroleum refinery, which distills crude oil to produce mainly fuel and leave the residue for asphalt. Here we produce bio-adhesive from breaking bio-mass molecular structure and re-synthesizing the bio-adhesive structure. Bio-adhesive is lower in cost, requires less heat for mixing and compaction, and is more durable.”

The tests have already passed the US Department of Transportation requirements, including a simulation of trucks making 20,000 passes over it.

No need to worry about the smell either. The smelly part to pig poop is removed during the processing, and the remaining dry matter can also be used as a fertilizer. Now that’s got to be better than a pile of toxic waste.

This is a great example of a process that helps close the loop, by making one man’s waste another man’s gold. It can help farmers reduce their waste management costs, and even provide them with an additional stream of income.

Globally we produce around 43 billion gallons of pig manure every year. That’s enough to contribute significantly to the expansion and upkeep of our roads.

For long term sustainability we need to reduce farming period. But so long as we continue farming, then the more we can do to reduce the environmental impact the better. Especially when we can reduce our dependence on nonrenewable resources at the same time.

Check out the video below from the National Science Foundation for a clearer, errr, picture of the poop situation…

Bacteria Turns CO2 Into Fuel

With all the media madness it is easy to miss the really important news. This appears to be the case for many people I have spoken to, who did not see this incredible breakthrough…

A bacteria that can turn CO2 into fuelAs reported in Phys.org, Daniel Nocera, a Harvard Chemist, managed to engineer a bacteria that ‘ate’ CO2 and hydrogen. The bacteria, Ralston Eutropha, could be engineered to excrete a range of alcohols, including isopropanol.

Now I have to say, I am no fan of genetic engineering, but in this case the benefits well may justify the risk. We are in a dire situation, and need to mop up as much CO2 as possible. Alcohols can make very clean burning fuels, and would be carbon neutral if sourced from such a bacteria.

Obviously we would not clean up the CO2 if we kept burning all the alcohol it produced (as it would be released back into the atmosphere upon burning). However it would be a big step in the right direction. The bacteria are also capable of creating biomass which can also be burned (or help lock up CO2). And it does so at a rate of over 10% efficiency (compared to mosts plants lowely 1% efficiency).

Nocera hopes to see his creation helping provide fuel to poorer communities, such as in India. While this would be great to see happen, personally I would like to see it become available throughout the world.

The potential to remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, and produce cheap fuels locally (without the need for lengthy transportation) is something that the world desperately needs. Fingers crossed this happens sooner rather than later!

Ideas For Sustainability In Business From Kathmandu

kathmandu sustainability

I have just finished interviewing Ollie Milliner, the Sustainability Coordinator for Kathmandu (an outdoor adventure clothing chain with stores in NZ, Australia, and the UK). Yes, they have a full time position for such a role.

I had contacted him as research I am conducting for my next book, but wanted to share what I discovered with you here first…

The first point he made was simply, that in his opinion, companies like Kathmandu have to have a sustainability program. The PR risk is too great not to.

This is, in many ways, good news. It means public perception is changing and starting to put pressure on bigger businesses to do the right thing. In Kathmandu’s case, the fact that the CEO is also passionate about sustainability, means their efforts are more than just a token gesture.

Far more than just a PR stunt or risk management, they are working to overhaul their entire business. Ollie identified four key areas for the company’s sustainability objectives.

  1. Human Rights: Here core objectives include looking after the wellbeing of their staff, and the staff of companies further up the supply chain.Kathmandu work with a range of companies (directly and indirectly) from the production of the raw materials, to the manufacturing and transportation of their products. It is important that all people involved in this supply chain be treated fairly, and are not subject to dangerous working condition, or forms of abuse. If anyone in the supply chain is caught breaking their strict ethical policies, Kathmandu will work with that company to try and change their practices. Only if they see no progress will they end the relationship with that supplier.

    While they remain a customer they can influence change. If they simply dropped the contract they would lose their ability to help those people being wronged.

    As Ollie pointed out, when you look after the wellbeing of the people, many of the other issues take care of themselves. Environmental issues are automatically addressed, as they are integral to human health and safety. Product quality also improves because people take pride in their work when they feel they are being cared for, which helps minimize waste.

  2. Product Stewardship: For a company to become more sustainable it must of course source its materials in sustainable and ethical ways. For Kathmandu this includes using sustainable and organic cotton, responsibly sourced down, and even using recycled plastic bottles to make their clothing.At present they have not quite reached their goal for 100% sustainably sourced materials, but they are working hard to reach this objective.  For example, 100% of their cotton will be sourced from sustainable farms by 2020.

    Another objective is to make products longer lasting to avoid the need to replace them as often. This is counter to many companies who design their products for ‘planned obsolescence’ (intentionally making them fall apart quickly, so you need to replace them sooner and buy more). To reduce the environmental impact of their products, Kathmandu understand this industry practice must stop.Even if products are made from sustainable resources, they still contain embodied energy through the manufacturing, packaging, transportation, and storage processes. Reducing the frequency with which products need to be replaced dramatically reduces overall impact.

  3. Environmental Footprint: Making products last longer is just the start in reducing their environmental impact. Other initiatives include a zero waste objective and reducing its carbon footprint.To avoid waste ending up in landfill sites, Kathmandu have a threefold approach… Firstly eliminate unnecessary packaging, or other waste, from within the system wherever possible. Secondly to reuse or repair as much as possible. Finally to recycle everything else.One way they are reducing their carbon footprint is by upgrading stores to become more energy efficient, and use recycled materials wherever possible.

    I visited their newly built head office and store in Christchurch NZ. Here they have used recycled concrete and wood for most of its construction, are using only LED bulbs, and have designed the entire building to be energy efficient.

  4. Community Engagement: Kathmandu do not see themselves as separate from the rest of the world. They understand they are a part of it.This has led to a range of programs and sponsorships to give back, and become more involved with the community.This includes various wildlife efforts, sponsoring the Outward bound program, and assisting in the devastating earthquake in their namesake, Kathmandu city.

One of the aspects that impressed me most about their sustainability initiatives was their level of transparency. They understand, and are the first to admit, they are not perfect. But, they have a plan to fix that. They realize for that for long term financial success they must embrace sustainability in all senses of the word.

I believe it is companies like Kathmandu that set an example to others. Sustainability and profitability do not always need to be in conflict with each other. With the right attitude and a clear plan, companies big and small can move in the right direction, making the world a better place.

With this in mind the Sustainable Apparel Coalition created the Higgs Index, a free self assessment tool. It enables clothing and footwear companies to assess their level of impact, and help them identify areas for improvement.

For a more detailed understanding of how company wide change is possible, I highly recommend checking out the Kathmandu Sustainability Report. I for one, am now that much happier to call myself a Kathmandu customer.

Why LED Bulbs Are Soooo Much Better

LED Bulb

LED bulbs are perhaps the simplest way any business (or home) can become more sustainable overnight. They are cheaper to run, last way longer, and are now just about as cheap to buy as any other bulb – if you know where to look.

Most decisions in life require compromise, but LEDs may well be one of the few that don’t.

Take a look at this chart…

LED Bulb Comparison Chart

Bulb Comparison Chart

A typical power bill is made up of 20-30% in lighting cost alone. An LED bulb is around 25% cheaper to run than a traditional incandescent. This means you could cut your monthly power bill by up to 15 or 20% (depending on the type of bulb you currently use).

Much of this efficiency is based on the LED’s ability to convert electricity into light. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are notorious for getting insanely hot, and while CFLs (compact fluorescents) are better, they are still not great. This heat is, in lighting terms, wasted energy. It can also be dangerous.

Hot bulbs are one of the leading causes of domestic fires. By converting to LED bulbs this wasted heat and increased fire risk are both dramatically reduced.

However, the real benefit comes from the frequency with which the bulbs need replacing. This has a threefold benefit.

  1. Cost. Each time you need to buy a new bulb it costs money. An incandescent bulb will need replacing 15-20 times more often than an LED bulb. Even a long lasting CFL will need replacing twice as often. This means when comparing the raw cost of bulbs, you need to calculate the cost per year of each option. When you do this, LEDs are the clear winner.
  2. Time. Each time a bulb needs replacing you need to factor the time buying and changing the bulbs. This may not feel a lot, but in a larger business with many lights this can add up.
  3. Embodied energy. This is really the most important factor. Each bulb needs raw materials, manufacturing, storage, and transportation to reach you. Every step requires energy. The fewer bulbs you need, the less embodied energy is wasted (making them better for the environment).

save money with LEDsOkay, so what about compact fluorescents? According to the chart above they look similar to LEDs.

They certainly use less energy, and last much longer than traditional bulbs. But they still don’t really hold a proverbial candle to an LED bulb.

Some estimates actually put the energy efficiency of LEDs at around 50% better than CFLs. (Much larger than the small difference in the chart.) But there is more…

CFLs contain mercury, a highly toxic metal. CFLs also burn out quicker if switched on and off regularly. Not such a problem in an office, but not great for a toilet.

The main issue with CFLs (and standard fluorescents) is the flicker effect. The light from them is not as stable as you may think. Most people can’t consciously see this flickering, but it has been shown to increase stress and trigger headaches. This can reduce health and productivity within the workplace, and that is a major cost which is difficult to calculate.

Some LEDs do flicker too, so be careful. It depends on how good they are at converting AC to DC to create an even current. You don’t need to worry about the technical details, just look for bulbs that are advertised as flicker free.

To clear a little more misunderstanding about LEDs…

You do not need any special fittings. There are now LED bulbs to fit most fitting types. This includes screw in, bayonet, halogen, spots, fluorescent fittings, etc.

Also the low wattage you see on LEDs just means they use less energy. This is a good thing. Check the chart above to calculate the approximate LED wattage you will need to match a comparable standard bulb.

You can also get LEDs for outdoor lighting, growing plants, your car, flashlights and a range of other uses. There are even some that you can control the colour of the bulb. This is perfect for creating flexible mood lighting, or reducing the blue spectrum of the light in the evenings to help you sleep better.

And the cost?

LEDs have been around for some time now, and their cost has been falling steadily. Even so, many stores are still charging way more than they need.

Try looking on Amazon for very affordable options. They are often as cheap as regular bulbs, especially if you are buying a few at a time (this set work out at just over $2/bulb).

If you want a sure way to reduce operation costs, reduce maintenance costs, and help the environment, then it’s time to go LED.

How To Eliminate Plastic Bags (And Increase Profit)

wasted plastic bags

I was recently having coffee with a very smart man by the name of James Wilson. Our conversations often revolve around finding practical solutions to reducing climate change and minimizing waste. This day was no different.

We began to discuss the topic of plastic bags, and in particular, our own hypocritical actions regarding their use.

We, like many shoppers, use plastic bags. And we, like most who pause for thought, don’t like the waste they produce. And like most, we know we should use reusable cloth bags. But the truth is we have not formed a good habit and simply forget.

pile of plastic bagsWith over 1 trillion plastic bags used globally every year (that’s over 2 million every minute) something needs to be done.

Some cities, and even some countries have banned their use. Shoppers survive just fine. They have been shown to adapt very quickly. However, this requires some very forward thinking on behalf of the local councils or governments.

A supermarket owner who wants to do the right thing is caught in a dilemma. Shoppers expect plastic bags. If the supermarket stops providing them, then the owner fears customers will see them as a cheap or inconvenient store, and go elsewhere.

James came up with a really simple solution… have a bag exchange system.

The idea would be for the supermarket to provide reusable bags. Each time you need one you leave a deposit for each bag you take, and use as many as required for that particular shopping trip.

The next time you return, and like us, you forget your bags, simply put another deposit down and take more.

After a while, you end up with a pile of these bags overflowing from your draw. Only this time it is a draw full of reusable bags, not plastic ones. So you empty your draw and take the bags back to the supermarket to refund your deposit.

This way you never need worry about forgetting a bag, or having enough. You can do your shopping a little more guilt free, and no longer be faced with the moral dilemma of having to throw away a heap of plastic bags as you can no longer fit them in your bag storage space.

For the business, it can be a great marketing angle. People love the opportunity to do the right thing, especially when it is without compromise. It also avoids the need for buying endless plastic bags. Even better it encourages customers to come back.

The business may still choose to have plastic bags as an option, perhaps for customers just passing through town. But overall this simple idea could reduce a huge amount of waste, and all the embodied energy this waste contains.

If you are a business that can use this concept then give it a try and let me know how it worked out for you.

hemp shopping bagIf not consider introducing this idea to your local supermarkets, or even politicians. If we can make this concept standard practice we will be one step closer to a sustainable future. (Especially if the bags are made out of locally produced organic hemp!)

There is, of course, a great potential business in this idea for some savvy socialpreneur to create these bags, then market the concept (and their bags) to supermarkets. Given the number of supermarkets globally, this could be quite a lucrative business.

I am sure there must be some stores out there already using this idea, so if you know of any please do let me know. But for the purpose of this post, kudos to James for such a simple solution to a very big problem.

Oh, and if you are thinking ‘just use paper bags’, think again…

In some research paper bags are actually worse than plastic (from a climate change perspective). Paper is not as environmentally friendly as you may think. It still requires processing and transportation, and a paper bag requires around six times the amount of raw material to make compared to plastic. (It is not as strong, so it needs to be thicker).

The real issue with paper bags though is when they end up on landfill instead of recycling, which sadly remains the reality for the majority of them. When they decompose in this environment they give off methane, which is around 26x worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.