Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coping with Conferences

If any are of value I'll post 'em individually, but this email sums up what I (and I presume all in the world of 'green') now face by way of info exchange:

I’m writing to inform you of five recently launched conferences on corporate responsibility to add to your diary.

1) ‘Employee engagement for a sustainable business’
- How to get your workforce 100% Committed to sustainability..............and turn actions into profit
- 3-4 December, London.

2) The Climate Change Summit 2008
- Manage the risks, create new products and get you message across to consumers
- 12-13 February, London.

3) The Global Reporting Summit
- Celebrating best practice and assessing the landscape of CR reporting around the globe.
- 3–4 March, Berlin.

4) Global Anti-corruption, Compliance and Ethics USA 2008
- How to effectively develop and manage your corporate compliance and ethics programs
- 14-15 April, Chicago. Contact

5) The Responsible Business Summit
- Europe’s largest corporate responsibility conference returns for a 7th year
- 13-14 May, London.

That's just one conference outfit's worth. How many folk shunting around the world and how much cost?

I simply boggles the mind.

I know 'we' have to communicate and meet to negotiate, but this really is becoming a very expensive (which few outside lobbyists, corporates and Gov/LA types on per diems can afford) bandwagon, which makes one wonder just how well the average person in their rice paddy is really gaining any benefit.

Here's one I made earlier... but can't any more

Saw this and had to pitch in: Package designers need to innovate

Tell me about it! Ignoring for now the immense opportunities presented by green-friendly second use design, even with those that show promise 'as is' I can testify to the woeful nature of most.

Look at those pictures above. I loved that Maltesers one, and we made several great things out of it.

Now what do we have? Some 'thing' that's just like every other jar. The new Target chewing gum is the only sphere I can find to play with now. And don't get me on Smarties!

I know it's all about shelf space and stuff, but if not to make life a bit more interesting, or to save the planet, can these guys not at least try and stand out a bit within the design constraints? They might even sell more.

It will give me a lot more source materials to adapt, too.

Free. Useful. Planet saving. And uncontroversial

With all the current fun & games surrounding what gets sent our kids with what baggage in terms of press furore and 'teacher's guides', I'm happy to share one that just makes sense.

Yesterday my boys came back with a free copy of our area's O/S map.

We had a gander together, and I am sure many walks will ensue. Obesity offset and a bit of planet appreciated, even saved, too.

And a nifty bit of marketing inspired as well. Now, with twins I have two, so we can either do a swappsies or make a bit of munny.

Were it that others could be so straightforward

No wonder there's such a rush to be seen as 'green'

I'm not what you might call a fan of surveys generally; I could never understand how a sample of '450 people interviewed on the Manchester city centre streets' can be seen as truly representative of the population as a whole.

This survey, reported in CRM Today, however, takes in 7,500 consumers in 17 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. OK, still not exactly representative, but far more likely to produce results that are to some degree realistic.

Now what's really interesting are some of the results:-

"Nearly nine out of 10 consumers worldwide said they would switch to energy providers that offer products and services that help reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions"

Now that's some response!

"Nine out of 10 of all respondents said they would have a negative perception of any energy provider that is not taking concrete action to address climate change."


"nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents said they would be willing to pay a higher price — a premium of 11 percent, on average — for products and services that produce lower greenhouse gas emissions."

Wow, a majority of consumers are willing to pay more?!!

Now I think I'm beginning to understand just why so many businesses are rushing to air their 'green' credentials.

I just hope that the consumer can rapidly learn to distinguish between the genuinely 'green', the 'greenwash' and the totally 'green bullsh*t'.

Bums on seats. Heads in hands?

Greenpeace tears into retail 'eco-villains'

I can't be sure (there have been a lot recently in different guises), but this would be the fourth 'survey' of green goodness/badosity this week.

And what are we, the public to make of this?

At this rate we'll need to go to about 20 different outlets to get the best option of each shopping list need.

In the old days that would have been the shops in the street. However this would seem to indicate a 'green-crawl' to do the weekly shopping.

And whilst in some ways understandable, does not replying warrant an 'F'? I am unsure that not subjecting oneself to a body's 'cooperate or else' 'survey' paints the surveyor in the best light either.

I fear a battle looms, and the consumer and planet again will be the main losers.

Guardian - Sainsbury's aims to regain green ground from rivals - I'm sure they mean to 'be' the most 'yadayadagreen' retailer, not 'seen to be'...;) That would be, well, it just wouldn't wash.

Every little helps!

I had to re-read this twice and then recheck the date to make sure that it wasn't April fool's day. But no, it appears to be genuine. The article, from PendleToday, reports on Tesco's plan to use the canal system for transporting wine shipments from Liverpool to Manchester.

"The pioneering move will cut carbon emissions by 80%, according to the supermarket giant."

(I assume that means in comparison to the equivalent emissions by heavy lorries. )

"A company statement said 50 lorries will be off the road each week, which is claimed will save 1.1 million kilometres of heavy lorry journeys on British roads."

Well, I have to say that I'm initially impressed by this little initiative; let's hope that it might be a kick-start point from which others start to reassess the potential for commercial utilisation of Britain's canal network.

I wonder if they're going to look at using the horse drawn power option too?

REPAIR - Housecall


A picture based repair terms/advice site with multi-language capability. What's not to like?

In their words:

Housecall allows customers, staff, and third parties like family members to make repair requests over the Internet. With the help of simple drawings and clear options, it gives them the power to make a specific request that you can immediately turn into an order to a contractor.

Credit to Springwise for the share, plus these other, similar sites, which I'll get to...soon.

And what baggage will Sir be checking in?

Students to be given own minister

It seems we have a 'Universities Secretary', which I didn't know about. And what does the Minister for Education (not) do in all this that we need this extra layer of taxpayer-funded departmental deadweight?

I have created a new category - GLOAT, which stands for Government bloat

'Going green's divine, but, forgive me, just' is less fine.'



However, and I take a deep breathe as I write this, we need to walk the line between what is just plain 'wrong' (I mean ethically and morally if not factually) and allowing what's necessary to encourage better (and, one hopes, better and better...) behaviour towards a practical ideal.

If one accepts (as I do) the current necessity in a consumer driven ('scuse pun) world (with time poor demands on income earners and/or social pressures) for, say, a car, I need to know whose 'pollute' less so I may either applaud or make a purchase.

As you say, how that gets conveyed adequately, especially in a competitive framework, is key.

A shame that so few in 'marketing' seem to see it as anything other than a quick fix, at least in how it all gets conveyed to squeeze the silliest extra pantone shade of green out of any claim.

'To go green is divine, but, forgive me, just green...'er's less fine.'

ps: For now at least, you get a very irritating pop-up form Conqueror that has a rather fun doodle mouse thing, which in turn leads to a competition. I'm not sure if it is worth the effort as there seems to be no money, but then profile can be worth more.

Also I do note a lot is on carbon offsetting, and in light of the main piece that is... interesting.

Playing the playing field

BBC Environment reporters

Many issues have cropped up in the blogosphere lately, but more than usual surrounding Al Gore's legal and Nobel adventures, especially at at time of increased concern (if not at the level of our Government, it seems) in matters MWCC. Of course things have turned nasty, and now we are seeing the people who play the person and not the ball in turn being played. All very disconcerting. However, sometimes it is worth knowing more about those who would (and indeed are often paid) be trusted to serve us objective, informed facts. I just caution against missing the wood for the trees.

It is of course preferable to have those who share scientific news with us, especially where journalistically challenging, to be as qualified as possible. However to an extent I find this a slight red herring, and by playing the person we ignore not just the ball but the playing field.

In matters of Global Warming, climate change, MMCC or man-worsened climate change, from Mr. Gore to the IPCC to Bjorn Lomborg to... [it's a long list] there are a bunch of folk who either are, or quote, scientists who I presume have told them stuff. And I can honestly say that black could still equally be white in matters green from what I see served.

For sure a trusted reporter with the skill sets should be able to cut to the quick, but if the agenda surrounding him/her/them is not too keen on personal integrity (which all too easily can become subjective opinion), then it really matters little what the mouthpiece is. It's more who decides to stick 'em up there and what they get told, or choose to mouth.

I don't think he could have been trusted as an expert on much more than Spitfires (if he was more qualified I apologise to his memory), but I certainly hung on every fact that Raymond Baxter came out with as much as those from James Burke on Tomorrow's World. Because I trusted the system and the programme. Of course, I now wonder what I may have been spun even back then.

I have 2/3 of a vet degree (sheep breathe easier) and a Civ. Eng (Hons), but in the sound bite culture of today... so what? I still would prefer to see pols challenged by a Paxman... so long as he is well, and objectively, briefed.

And speaking of pols in this context, is it not amazing that we are lead at Cabinet level by folk who often get rotated in matters of months between amazingly diverse and complex areas of expertise. How many posts did Dr. (of what?) Reid hold?

But I totally agree with the basic critique in this case. Mr. Harrabin seems incapable of even getting basic facts straight, let alone challenging scientific matters of interpretation adequately.

Weekly Spin- An Ethical Look at Fake News - Not about e-stuff, but it serves here. And illustrates the pretty pickle 'we' face with what we are served... at every level. Both us, the audience, but also the time-poor, cash-strapped journos.

You get served up a nifty, packaged 'story' from a PR, so why not just run it? Well, it may not be the whole story, that's why. And even if it is something 'good', by not looking yourself at the back story you serve your audience as ill as you do the interests of the PR machine well.

Which is why I took recent 'stories' about 'surveys', which manged to put Tesco top and last (well, of 5) in some green ranking with all the salt I could stomach. This is good stuff:

"Press releases don't dwell on controversies and never explain the other sides of an issue," he stated. "They are not interested in other points of view."

Presenting promotional material as "news" has two effects: it undermines news quality, while enhancing the impact of the PR message. "Ask any public relations professional and they will tell you they want their story in television, radio and print news ... because it is more credible. Period. If we [journalists] do a story about it, the public is much more likely to believe it."

"The average viewer does not have a way of understanding whether this is fake, phony, or real." News viewers, he said, "are sophisticated and unsophisticated at the same time. They understand a lot about when they're being manipulated. But if you see a video news release -- a piece that looks like every other network or syndicated package -- on your local television station and it's introduced by your trusted local anchors, you're going to believe that that information is from a legitimate -- read, 'independent' -- news operation that's done its fact checking and has balanced its piece."