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Monday, October 13, 2008

Renewable Energy News From Maria Energia - Maria Energia Book Review: Big Green Purse


Renewable Energy News

Renewable Energy News From Maria Energia - Maria Energia Book Review: Big Green Purse

Posted by renew on October 10th, 2008 at 11:56am

Maria Energia Book Review: Big Green Purse
Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World is a good manual for consumers looking to make sustainable changes to their lifestyles. We can change CFLs, tell our legislators to encourage renewables, but we also have to take on the responsibility of supporting those businesses and products that align with our green values.

Women should take on a lot of that responsibility. According to author Diane MacEachern, women spend 85 cents of every dollar in the marketplace. And our green choices are taking effect:

We’ve already make organic food the fastest-growing sector in the food industry. We’ve turned ‘natural’ personal care products into a booming business, too…But we have to do more.

Big Green Purse is a huge book and rather daunting, but I found it helpful to use it as a manual rather than a book to read from cover to cover. The chapters are organized into areas like cosmetics and personal care products, cars/transportation, food, cleaning supplies, clothing, electronics, toys, clothes and home. After explaining the risks/benefits of particular items (PVC kids toys vs safer alternatives), the book lists where the readers can buy sustainable items, including websites and organizations to check out for more information. The chapters are self-contained and allow you to quickly research the greenness of your next car purchase or grocery trip.

Big Green Purse asks its readers to pledge to shift $1,000 of our annual spending to green products. If a million of us do that, we’d have a $1 billion effect on the marketplace. This could mean moving $10 a week of your grocery bill to locally grown or organic foods, or recycled paper towels, or CFLs. The point is, a little bit can go a long way. But that means we all have to commit to a little bit and ensure that our pocketbooks follow our values.

Clean Energy Observations from the Field
Last week I participated in a “Businesses Going Green” panel discussion hosted by the St. Paul (MN) Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Program. On the panel with me wereJamey Flannery, LEED-certified architect with Flannery Construction and Jamison Randall of Latuff Brothers Auto Body. I represented my employer, Tunheim Partners.

There were about 40-50 people in attendance and we made for a diverse panel: Jamey the architect and Jamison the auto body salesman talked about the nuts and bolts of sustainable business practices. Jamey discussed the increase of LEED-certified buildings in Minnesota and Jamison touted the ways the businesses could make surprising gains in both green practices and profits. His shop, Latuff Brothers, was recently honored with Governor Pawlenty’s pollution prevention award for their switch to less toxic auto body practices and increase in energy efficiency. I, being proficient in neither drawing nor mechanics, was the communications/marketing compliment to the group.

What stuck me most was that the audience was clearly ready and willing to make their employers or businesses green, even if just in a small way. Indeed, some had already started with less paper use, recycling, or more efficient lighting. But others were overwhelmed at the huge amount of information on how to go green, what makes the most impact, and what makes the most economic sense. One woman asked about the silver bullet for going green: “I recycle, I have mostly CFLs, but what the one thing I’m missing that could really make an impact? and that’s easy? and that’s not very expensive?”

That’s the million dollar question. But there’s not an answer to it and that’s the tough part of this whole clean energy problem.

There’s no silver bullet, I explained. Instead we have to think about solutions as silver BBs - there are lots of things to do and they all add up to a solution. But the point is that you have to get started with some change - whether that’s getting an energy audit for your home, taking the bus or organizing for better local, state, and national policies. And then you have to keep going and making changes so you don’t get complacent.

The drive I saw in this group is indicative of the larger trend of Americans taking more steps to shrink their carbon footprint. This is due partly to a concern for global warming and also because of high energy prices. An ABC News/Planet Green/Stanford University poll found that 70 percent of Americans are cutting their emissions and saving on energy bills by driving less or being more efficient with their energy use.

While high energy costs aren’t always a good thing, it is changing consumer behavior. We must continue to push forward with smart energy policies that reward efficiency and innovation in clean technologies and renewables so that this change doesn’t continue out of economic hardship but because it’s the smartest, most profitable way to do business.

Blog Day 2008 (One Day Late)
Blog Day 2008
Yesterday was Blog Day, an annual event during which bloggers post about other bloggers in an effort to introduce them to their readers. These recommended blogs may be outside the host blogger’s interest area or have a different point of view, but the point is to get the word out about five other blogs and explain why you like them.

A hearty “Thank you!” goes out to Tim at Ecopolitology for listing Maria Energia on its Blog Day list. Here are my five blogs for you, dear readers, to check out:

1. The Sietch Blog. Shane Jordan’s blog is all about energy and going green with a good sprinkle of politics. The posts are extremely thoughtful, thorough, and often include news I don’t find elsewhere in the blogosphere. The Sietch also uses a fair amount of video posts, which I just personally enjoy.

2. Joel Makower’s Two Steps Forward blog. Makower is a world-renowned green business guru. While he may not need my little link love, he is one of the few and best bloggers discussing green communications and marketing trends. As a strategic communications/public relations professional, Makower’s blog is on my “must read” list.

3. McCain Blogette. John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, writes about “musings and pop culture on the political trail.” While Meghan does post tons of photos from her father’s campaign rallies, her writings so far have been nonpolitical and instead focused on the stories of people she meets on the campaign trail and throughout her world travels. The posts are interesting, funny and succinct. I guess this blog falls into my “blogs with a different point of political view” category but she’s got me coming back again and again to read it.

4. New Energy and Fuel. Brian Westenhaus’ blog falls into the Straight Talk Express category in my mind. His humor, frankness and incredible detail (oh, the graphs!) of new energy and fuel technologies make for a more technical and very important read.

5. Housekept. This is a new blog on my radar. Blogger Mark Holterhaus is a social media wiz, lives in my neighborhood and is really into eating sustainably. He offers tasty recipes and other musing on eating healthy and locally.

Renewable Energy News From Maria Energia - Maria Energia Book Review: Big Green Purse

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