Category Archive for Green And Profitable Column

The Clean and Green Club, September 2017

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Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, September 2017
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Before We Get to This Month’s Tip: A Few Quick Things

Did Your Organization Spend a Bunch of Time and Money Creating a Sustainability or CSR Report to Let it Gather Dust on a Shelf?
Here’s an easy, quick, and affordable way to repurpose that content and get more mileage out of the resources you put into preparing that expensive report, without any staff time on your end. I will extract the key items and turn them into marketing points that you can use right away: http://goingbeyondsustainability.com/turn-that-nobody-reads-it-csr-report-into-a-marketing-win/  
Looking for a Job? I’ve Just Added a Job-Finding Widget
If you’re looking for a job in marketing, visit the home page of http://frugalmarketing.com. If you’re looking for a job in some other field, try the widget on the home page of http://accuratewriting.comJust Because it Would Be Cool
I need 101 more followers on Twitter to reach 10,000. Will you be one of them? Once you’ve done so, Tweet “Subscriber” to @shelhorowitz and I will follow you back.

Hear and Meet Shel
I’ll be attending Linda Hollander’s Sponsor Secrets seminar October 3-5 in Los Angeles. I did a course with Linda and she definitely knows her stuff. If you’d like to learn all about how to get companies to give you money for their own promotional purposes, visit http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=5591242

 
Want to learn how to accomplish all of your goals and become a high achiever? My friend Marc Guberti is hosting the Productivity Virtual Summit from September 18th to the 25th. I am one of over 50 speakers at the upcoming summit and would love for you to join us. 
Hurricanes, Flooding, and Climate Change, Oh My

 

My heart goes out to all those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the flooding in Bangladesh and other parts of Asia (not much in the US news but also very severe), or the out-of-control fires in the American West (a friend in Oregon told me, “the whole state is on fire. I can’t go out of my house because of the smoke.”

Every bit of research (read more)

This Month’s Tip: 4 Questions to Create Eco-Friendly Transformation, Part 3
And now, the final two questions:

3. How can I maximize impact and minimize waste?

You may have heard the term, “circular economy.” Or you might remember it from my reviews of books like Cradle To Cradle. It’s the idea that you find a use for the things you used to consider waste. So each former waste stream becomes an ingredient in another process, making something else. This could be very simple (like food waste becoming garden compost), or it could be quite complex.My favorite example is one of the complex ones: The Intervale, in the Burlington, Vermont, area of the Northeastern United States. The site includes a brewery, whose spent grain is used to grow mushrooms. The mushrooms in turn donate material to raise tilapia for restaurants. And the fish waste provides nutrients for a crop of hydroponic greens, which in turn feed the grains and hops the brewery uses to make its beer.This kind of thinking can go far beyond minimizing waste, though. We can take it a few steps further and design to make a difference in the biggest problems we face as a society. Imagine creating profitable products and services that actually turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance.Want an example? At least three companies have developed solar-powered LED lanterns that typically replace flammable, toxic, carbon-hostile kerosene. The LED lamps provide a better light that needs no fuel, does not produce toxic fumes, has no risk of setting the house on fire, reduces pollution, and leaves considerably more money in the hands of the family using the lantern—addressing health, safety, carbon footprint, and poverty all at once.4. Am I counting all the costs?

When a new technology is introduced, people often object because they see increased costs. But a closer look often reveals that they’re comparing apples and eggplants.

An example would be the nuclear power industry. Nuclear is hailed by people who don’t know better as a miracle technology that doesn’t have a significant carbon footprint and is so economical. But they’re wildly wrong. Actually, nuclear is a multiheaded hydra of a disaster.

As it happens, my first book was on why nuclear is not a viable technology, and I updated that book following the 2011 accident at Fukushima. So this is something I know quite a bit about.

Both the economics and the supposed carbon benefits of nuclear are very dubious. Because its apologists only count the costs of actually operating the nuclear power plant, the numbers appear on first glance to work. But to be fair, we have to add in all the other parts of the fuel cycle: mining the uranium, milling it, processing it into fissionable form, encasing the fuel mixture into metal-clad fuel rods, transporting it hither and yon for each of these steps, encasing those fuel rods in a massive, carbon-hostile structure of concrete and steel, storing and/or reprocessing the spent fuel rods, keeping them isolated from the environment and secure from terrorists for an unfathomable 220,000 years, friction losses in power transmission, etc. Once we do that, the economics, the carbon costs, and a bunch of other factors are a lot shakier.

Then add in the costs of a catastrophic failure every ten years or so—a very conservative estimate considering that we have experienced over 100 potentially devastating nuclear accidents in the seventy-odd years of this experiment, including two (Chernobyl and Fukushima) that made wide swaths of land unlivable for decades. More than 30 years after Chernobyl, the 1000-square-mile (2600-square-km) dead zone is still not even open to the public.

Of course, renewable energy has hidden costs too, and we need to look at those as well. Once we do, we may find that centralized wind or solar farms don’t make as much sense as distributing small solar and wind (and other renewable energy), constructing them at or near the point of use and moving away from the central power grid model.

Let’s look at counting all the costs in a different context: industrial pollution. Through the first couple of centuries of the Industrial Revolution, companies poisoned tens of thousands of toxic sites by using public air, land, or water as their private dumping ground, externalizing all those costs to the taxpayers and abutters—or so they thought. However, it’s become common practice to hold companies financially responsible for decades-old toxic dumping, even if that dumping had been legal at the time. And the cost is far higher now than it would have been to just clean it up properly in the first place.

Your business can avoid this huge and expensive headache by doing it right the first time. And as we see in question 3 above, the best way is to find a use for the stuff being dumped. Reuse or resell it instead of throwing it away-but-not-really-away.

New on the Blog
Friends Who Want to Help

No cost to listen to this year’s Global Oneness Day, October 24. The awesome speaker lineup includes Marianne Williamson, Jean Houston, Michael Lerner, Panache Desai, Matthew Fox, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Bruce Lipton, Michael Beckwith, Marci Shimoff, and many others. Another superb event from Humanity’s Team.

Order your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Find out more and order from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies directly from me). http://goingbeyondsustainability.com/guerrilla-marketing-to-heal-the-world/
 
Download a free sampler with several excerpts, the complete Table of Contents and Index, and all the endorsements.
Another Recommended BookThe Code of the Extraordinary Mind
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The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life & Succeed On Your Own Terms by Vishen Lakhiani (Rodale, 2016)

Brules. Godicle. Blissipline. These are just three of the words you’ll add to your vocabulary reading this powerful book—because Vishen Lakhiani, founder of the wildly successful personal growth site Mindvalley.com, loves to make up new words to describe his concepts.

Although I read several self-help books a year, I rarely review them here. And not since The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer, which I reviewed some time around 2006, have I been so enthusiastic about one. But Code, true to its promise, is an extraordinary book.

Starting with his note in the introduction that he’s a sponge for and codifier of learning (p. xvi), I knew I would like this book, and probably would like Lakhiani if we ever get to meet in person. I’m wired that way too; I often say I became a writer because I’m interested in almost everything.

In encouraging all his readers to become extraordinary, Lakhiani starts from the premise that all of us can make that journey. The “code of the human world…is just as hackable” as a computer program.

This is directly in line with what I teach: that the world is changed by ordinary people stepping into greatness when the door swings open. Rosa Parks was a seamstress; Lech Walesa was an electrician in a shipyard.

Lakhiani is a proponent of changing yourself first, and from there, changing the world. But I think sometimes those growths can be in parallel. For me, I found the purpose of changing the world long before I gained the life skills to make it happen—but making the commitment to the world gradually helped me find the road toward my own highest self (and I’m still on the path to get there—I see much more potential in my future and—at age 60—I’m far from done).

Lakhiani offers ten new laws to improve our physical and mental health, our relationships, financial security, and our ability to impact the world. Each law gets a chapter. He also includes many nuggets of wisdom from some of the most successful people in our time, from Richard Branson and Elon Musk to the Dalai Lama and meditation teacher Emily Fletcher.

Perhaps more importantly, starting in Chapter 1, “Change the Culturescape,” he gives you reasons to question and discard the old rules, imposed by others who don’t understand your loves or your purpose—even if these rules have been handed down through your culture for centuries What other people think you should do for a living, who they think you should marry, what they think you should eat is not your concern—all of those are matters for you to decide. You’ll need strength if the whole culture lines up against you, but you can still be true to your inner self.

But the power to choose what to believe or not to believe is a powerful gift to yourself (p. 88). And that’s one tool in understanding that your “software,” your “systems for living.” They are not static. Just like a computer, they can be upgraded. Lakhiani says he tries to upgrade at least one of his systems for living every week (p. 95). Just as we’ve learned to clean out our bodies, we can also consciously deactivate our anxieties, stress, fear, and other negative emotions that hold us back (p. 106), and emerge into disciplined bliss: “Blissipline.”

By Chapter 3, he’s talking about our ability to engineer our own consciousness, finishing the chapter on pages 63-64 with a checklist of 12 areas of life you can self-rate.

This just one of many self-help exercises scattered throughout the book. Others I particularly like are the question from parenting expert Shelly Lefkoe, “What beliefs is my child going to take away from this encounter?” (p. 77) and the “I love you” mirror exercise (pp. 181-182).

But all this is prologue. It’s necessary to go through it, so you’re ready for the really life-changing parts of the book. Parts Three and Four (chapters 6-10) need all the pre-work of the first five chapters, just as most of us first learn to crawl, then walk, before we try to do a four-minute mile.

By this time, you’re ready to really learn the tools to create the reality you want in your own life, and in the world. You’ll become an extraordinary person when you see happiness less as a goal than as an empowerment tool (p. 124); you begin to think in the future, and not in a past that holds you back, and when you stop overestimating your short-term possibilities while underestimating the long-term ones (p. 125).

To realize those possibilities, say goodbye to traditional “goal-setting.” Instead, learn to sift END goals—which you’ll actively pursue—from MEANS goals—which would lock you in to the existing limited reality (pp. 151-157).

And we haven’t even touched on some of the really life-changing pieces near the end, like the concept of “beautiful destruction (p. 192) and the Godicle Theory (pp. 196-198).

Read this book. Set some time aside to do the exercises and to drink in some of the many extra resources for readers online. And then go out there and do the amazing thing you are here to do.

Recent Interviews & Guest Articles: 

Shel’s done 24 podcasts recently, ranging from 5 minutes to a full hour. Click here to see descriptions and replay links.
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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriter…award-winning author of ten books…international speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel), his newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, has already won two awards and is endorsed by Jack Canfield and Seth Godin. Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Going Beyond Sustainability, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He’s an International Platform Association Certified Speaker and was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.
He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).
“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”
Privacy Policy: We Respect Your Privacy

We collect your information solely to let our mailing service send you the information you request. We do not share it with any outside party not involved in mailing our information to you. Of course, you may unsubscribe at any time—but we hope you’ll stick around to keep up with cool developments at the intersections of sustainability, social transformation, and keeping the planet in balance. Each issue of Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Newsletter has a how-to or thought-leadership article and a review of a recommended book. We’ve been doing an e-newsletter all the way back to 1997, and some of our readers have been with us the whole time.

The Clean and Green Club, November 2015

Having trouble reading this as e-mail? Please visit www.thecleanandgreenclub.com to read it comfortably online.
Shel Horowitz’s Clean and Green Marketing Tip, November 2015
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Do you have five minutes to help me better understand and serve your green/social change business needs? Please fill out this quick survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9NHHMQ8

Now Through the End of the Year: Print Editions of Two of Shel’s Best Books (and an award-winning novel by his wife) for Just $4.95 per Copy


Perfect holiday gifts for the entrepreneurs, managers, marketers, and business students in your life—and for your own personal library. Also great to buy in bulk and donate to your favorite educational institutions and charities.
Nobody has to know that you only paid $4.95 each (plus shipping) for these award-winning and classy books from respected publishers. Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Finalist)(Chelsea Green) retails for $22.95, and Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (Independent Publisher Magazine Groundbreaking Indie Book)(John Wiley & Sons) retails for $21.95.

My wife, award-winning novelist D. Dina Friedman, decided to join the fun and make one of her novels available at the same price (and hers is a hardback!). Playing Dad’s Song, published by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, tells the story of a boy who faces crises ranging from a school bully to the death of his father in 9/11, and finds his way back to his center through music. It’s perfect for kids aged 9-15.

Because we’ve recently taken the rights to these books back, you can have print editions of these critically acclaimed books for less than a quarter of their original prices. Sometimes, there is more power in spreading a message widely, and low prices can make that happen. Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, especially—with its message of business success through green and ethical business practices—has a role to play in changing the culture, and I want to see that change ignite.

The holidays are coming and everyone loves easy, frugal, useful gift ideas. (Note: if you’d like to be more generous, the gift of a strategic green/social change profitability consultation or copywriting project from me could be life-changing.)

Read more about these amazing books at
http://www.guerrillamarketinggoesgreen.com/ (Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green) CODE: 4.95guerrillabook
http://frugalmarketing.com/gmtoc.shtml (Grassroots Marketing). CODE: 4.95gmbook (it comes with a two-chapter update covering social media, no extra charge)
http://ddinafriedman.com/dinas-books/playing-dads-song/ (Playing Dad’s Song) CODE: 4.95pdsbook

Then visit http://shelhorowitz.com/shels-green-products-and-services/ to place your order. Make sure to use the proper coupon codes.

Note: Paperback only; ebook editions are available at the usual undiscounted price (still a great value). Quantities are limited to what we have in stock. If you’re interested in a bulk purchase, let’s talk. If you’d like your books signed and inscribed, please tell us what to say.

This Month’s Tip: Two Books That Changed My Life—And How I Seized an Opportunity
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Yes, I do have a main article for you—but not here. The article is in two parts because I want you to think about the first part, draw your conclusions, and then examine the second part. I don’t know a good format to do that in an email newsletter, so I’ve put it on my blog. You will find it very worth the trip: http://greenandprofitable.com/two-books-that-changed-my-life-and-how-i-seized-an-opportunity/ (be sure to click to the second part after you’ve read this part).

Oh, and by the way, let me know if you like going to the blog. If the feedback is good, I might do it more often.


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About Shel & This Newsletter

As a green and social change business profitability/marketing consultant and copywriteraward-winning author of ten booksinternational speaker and trainer, blogger, syndicated columnist – Shel Horowitz shows how green, ethical, and socially conscious businesses can actually be *more* profitable than your less-green, less-socially-aware competitors. His award-winning 8th book Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet was a category bestseller for at least 34 months (and is now available exclusively through Shel). Shel also helps authors/ publishers, small businesses, and organizations to market effectively, and turns unpublished writers into well-published authors.

Shel Horowitz’s consulting firm, Green And Profitable, is the first business ever to earn Green America’s rigorous Gold Certification as a leading green company. He was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began publishing his monthly newsletter all the way back in 1997, making it one of the oldest marketing e-zines (it’s changed names a few times along the way).

“As always, some of the links in this newsletter earn commissions—because I believe in the products and services enough to promote them (I get asked to endorse lots of other programs I don’t share with you, because I don’t find them worthy).”

Friends Who Want to Help


The Coming Business SHIFT That Could Change Everything

My friend Yanik Silver’s new book Evolved Enterprise impresses me a great deal. In fact, I blurbed an advance copy and got him to let me reprint one whole chapter in my own new book Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World.


I’m half-way through reading the final version, which I’ll review next month. Meanwhile, he sent this blurb:

It’s time for evolved entrepreneurs, visionary creators, and change makers to rewrite the rules of business for the 21st century.”

Imagine a whole new way for your venture to align purpose and profits, merging head and heart (and maybe even a bit of your inner child).

This is a counterintuitive blueprint to create a “baked-in” impact across your entire company by delivering an exceptional customer experience, creating a culture of fully engaged team alignment, and actually driving your bottom line!

Get Yanik Silver’s new book Evolved Enterprise here – www.EvolvedEnterprise.com

Hear and Meet Shel
I’ve been so busy getting the book done that I haven’t been booking talks lately. But that’s about to change! As the book launch draws closer, I expect to have several engagements. And remember—if you connect me with a paid speaking gig (OR a sponsor who will fund no-pay engagements), you can earn a very nice commission. Please write to me if you would like to help.

Preorder your copy of Shel’s newest book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World


Learn how the business world can profit while solving hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change (hint: they’re all based in resource conflicts). Endorsed by Chicken Soup’s Jack Canfield, business blogger and bestselling author Seth Godin, and many others. Release date is April 19, just in time for Earth Day, and you can now preorder from several major booksellers (or get autographed and inscribed copies from me). Learn all about this powerful book at http://goingbeyondsustainability.com/guerrilla-marketing-to-heal-the-world/
Another Recommended Book: Be Audacious
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Be Audacious: Inspiring Your Legacy and Living a Life That Matters, by Michael W. Leach (Graphic Arts Books, 2015)

This may turn out to be a more personal review than my usual—because I’ve been pretty much living a lot of the principles Leach espouses, for decades, and because it’s been many years since I’ve reviewed an inspirational self-help book in this space. I think the last one, many years ago, was Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer’s amazing The Success Principles.

Yes, we arrived in the same place. However, our paths to this epiphany—our experiences and our perspectives—are very different. Leach is a former athlete who faced unimaginable physical problems, including a near-death illness. He had undiagnosed learning disabilities and was slow to discover the power of reading. He’s a Montana native raised in a rural area, and at publication time, he was 35. And he writes to a generation younger than his own; much of the book uses language that resonates with teens and 20-somethings. And he’s someone who—despite his decision to break away from them—seems to expect “haters” who will dump on him for taking the road less taken, and who call him irresponsible for bypassing the traditional 9-to-5. He seems to encounter them constantly.

By contrast, I’m a whole generation older, at 58. Though I’ve lived in the country for 17 years, and in a small college town for the previous 17, I was raised in apartment buildings in the Bronx (a crowded part of crowded New York City). I was an avid reader who got through a tough childhood with the help of books. And I never found a team sport I wanted to play. When forced to play baseball, I was picked last or almost last, and exiled to the outfield where my low abilities wouldn’t do much damage.

I gave up trying to conform to other people’s expectations in my thought patterns by the time I was 13. I do conform on some of the things that don’t really matter, like what I wear and how I keep my hair—but I think the biggest strength I bring is my ability to think differently, to see both the forest and the trees, to see opportunities for my clients that arise out of completely different situations or industries.

And I’ve found that the more I’m in integrity with my life and my message, the more people respect what I’ve done already, what I’m doing, and what I hope to do: use the profit power of business to turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance. (Is that audacious enough for you, Michael Leach?)

Where we have common ground is in our dedication to preserving and improving the environment, growing out of our mutual love of nature. In our desire to think bigger and act bigger so we can have real impact on the world (a lesson it took me much longer to figure out than it did Michael). And in our adoption of the principles he lays out. To name a few:

Embrace Multiple Passions/Use the “Slash” Model
Michael’s book (his second) could be categorized as self-help/inspiration/memoir. He uses his own experience as a teaching tool throughout the book, as well as case studies from the kids he’s coached, the people he’s encountered on his speaking tours, or those he guided through the wilderness.

Michael doesn’t fit neatly into little boxes. He uses lots of slashes to join together his different parts into a “renaissance soul” (a term coined by my late friend Margaret Lobenstine to describe a Ben Franklin/Da Vinci/Oprah/Buckminster Fuller/Thomas Jefferson type who explores numerous interests and passions. He describes his own set of slashes (ranger/naturalist, fishing and wildlife guide, freelance writer, basketball coach, and founder of a nonprofit) several different ways in the book, and even breaks down the nonprofit role into “executive director/programming coordinator/chief fund-raising coordinator” (p. 178).

My set might look like this: speaker/writer/consultant/practical visionary/social change activist/community organizer/marketer. Or I could apply a completely different set of labels (parent/vegetarian foodie/traveler/student of cultures—to name a small slice of the possibilities) that would be just as accurate. But for me, it all boils down to the core mission: I help people understand that doing the right thing is an opportunity, not a sacrifice—and I model the possibility of environmentally and socially conscious life and work.

For both of us, all of these slices of ourselves are based in passion—in “permapassion,” to use a term called by Leach’s friend Scottie B. Black. I love this word’s linguistic combination of permaculture and passion. And those passions have to go beyond pure hedonism. Yes, take joy in what you do. And at the same time, keep sight of your higher purpose; channel your energies toward the passions that can change the world.

“If Your Self-Talk Isn’t Helpful, Change It” (p. 103)
While it certainly isn’t the whole story, the idea popularized in the book/movie, The Secret, that our thoughts control our destinies has some truth. If you hit yourself over the head with all the reasons you can’t do a thing, you’re not likely to get it done. But if you focus on the reasons you can accomplish what you want to, those paths have a way of opening. And if you dream those big, audacious dreams, you have a responsibility not to sabotage yourself.

Work like an Onion (p. 177), and work yourself out from the your soul to the wider community.
I might flip this one inside-out. Yes, work from the inside out, but also from the outside in. Keep going deeper and deeper until you find the inner truth.

See Happiness not as Entitlement but as Opportunity (pp. 241-242)
You can start creating happiness in others—and in yourself—by doing little good deeds, as simple as smiling or holding a door open. As you learn to think and act bigger, more exciting changes will arise.

Leach focuses a lot on adversity creating resilience. And he’s experienced a lot of adversity. That’s one path; I’ve found plenty of other ways to build resilience. Again, there are many paths.

I could say much more about this book, but this already is longer than most of my reviews. Go get it and decide for yourself.

How Do You Balance Conflicting Environmental Priorities?

What do you do when there’s no clear eco-friendly choice—when you have to balance competing claims of environmental benefit against competing harms?

In January, I spoke at the Sustainable Foods Summit in San Francisco. My challenge to the other attenders was to achieve a food system that combines the artisan quality and chemical/petroleum independence of pre-20th century food production with the massive volume and ability to feed hungry people of the 20th century Green Revolution, while achieving the distribution necessary to end hunger.

Conflicting Priorities

That sounds great, in theory. But how do we get there? And what trade-offs do we have to make along the way?

Some of the other speakers had their own ideas about the rocky road ahead, not just in food sustainability but a host of related issues. Among the many concerns they raised:

·      Is it better to switch to no-till farming, which dramatically alleviates soil erosion but is very difficult to do without herbicides—or to build up soil quality naturally through organic or biodynamic methods, and hope that the soil doesn’t blow away in the meantime?

·      What is the real benefit of using biodegradable plastics (such as compostable cutlery or packaging) if the sources of corn or potatoes for these plastics are genetically modified plants? And when food is scarce in many parts of the world, do we really want to divert cropland from food to plastic (or energy) production?

·      Which is more sustainable: a lightweight plastic bag made from virgin materials (i.e., petroleum), or a plastic clamshell using 40 times as much material, but made from recycled water bottles?

Is there a “right answer” to these kinds of questions? The answer is situational. For the wheat growers of Washington State where a foot of topsoil has disappeared in the last 40 years, the no-till method sounds pretty compelling. In a different landscape, ravaged by chemical pollution, the organic argument would probably win out.

When the Benefits Line Up

Of course, there are many situations where a clearer path exists. If all the stars align in a single direction, the choice is easy. For instance, the conference heard from dairy cooperative Organic Valley’s Theresa Marquez about the benefits of their approach: Organic farming creates richer and darker soil that is far better able to hold water and nutrients…organic cows fed a diet high in flaxseed oil produce more of the essential nutrient Omega-3 while decreasing the output of methane (a greenhouse gas linked even more heavily to global warming than carbon dioxide)—and they typically live up to three times longer than conventional-agriculture cows, which allows farms to be economically sustainable as well.

Marquez also noted that many of her member farms are planting some acreage in oilseed crops such as sunflowers, which can power a farm’s trucks and tractors, feed its livestock and generate revenues.

The Challenges We Already Meet

Other speakers provided hope for meeting those difficult challenges mentioned earlier, by showing how their organizations are already surmounting equally difficult challenges. For example, Maisie Greenawalt of Bon Appetit Management Company (a food service provider to college, corporate, and organization cafeterias) inspired attenders with stories of converting institutional food service from slop to gourmet treats with fresh ingredients, and being profitable even while allowing college students unlimited trips to the (expensive, locally sourced, naturally raised non-antibiotic-treated beef) burger bar.

Not all sustainable food initiatives are local, of course. Fair trade—which, by definition, means products are crossing international borders—was also a much-discussed. From its beginnings in coffee, fair trade has olive oil, herbs, tea, cocoa, sugar, bananas, and many others. Fair trade ensures that the farmer makes a decent livelihood and has good working conditions, and the fair trade movement is spreading into such areas as bridge loans for farmers who only get paid once a year.

And more and more companies are producing goods that are not only fairly traded but also organic, providing sustainability not only to the farmers but to consumers as well.

Big…Or Little?

While once the province of tiny little artisan firms, these products and processes are breaking out of their niches. More and more of the major players in the food industry are making shelf space or production line space for organic, natural, and fairly traded goods, and many of the smaller companies have been bought up by industry giants. While this came up frequently at the conference, questions about the roles of multinationals versus tiny independents will have to wait for another time.

Shel Horowitz, shel at greenandprofitable.com, shows you how to “reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU.” He writes the Green And Profitable/Green and Practical columns and is the primary author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).

Don’t Hide Your Light! By Shel Horowitz

The box says “100% of the electricity used to manufacture these crackers and this container come from green power sources,” and has a nice little accompanying graphic of a windmill. Just above this is a Forest Stewardship Council certification logo denoting sustainably harvested timber sources for the box.

This is a company that’s doing the right thing, right?

Wrong. Both of these logos and statements are on the bottom panel of the box, where no one can see it unless they’ve already bought the crackers—or perhaps if the prospect accidentally knocks the package off the supermarket shelf, happens to land the bottom facing up, and somehow notices the small logos while picking up the box.

In other words, the marketing benefit of their commitment is just slightly above zero.

This particular package has plenty of white space on the front panel, prime real estate that does have a heksher (Kosher certification logo) but otherwise, does very little marketing at all.

This cracker company (which I will not name publicly) is far from alone.

Another example, which I highlight as a case study in my talks, is the household paper products company, Marcal. When I ask my audiences what year they think Marcal switched to recycled paper, most of the answers tend to fall between 1985 and 2005. Occasionally someone will guess a year in the 1970s, especially if I call the company a pioneer in using recycled stock.

Not once has anyone guessed the correct answer—1950—or even the correct decade. Because, for too long, like the cracker company, Marcal kept its best marketing point hidden. Even though the company has been 100% recycled for more than 60 years, it was only in the past decade that it started incorporating this vital message into its packaging—and only since 2009 that environmental branding has become the central focus of its message to consumers.

You just have to wonder how much more toilet paper, napkins, tissues and paper towels the company would have sold if it had started bragging earlier. I know that when I first became aware of environmental concerns in the early 1970s, I would have been thrilled to find a cost-competitive brand that was also very green.

Like Marcal, the Swiss cereal company Familia has been using sustainable practices—in this case, buying grains from sustainable farms–for decades. But it was only early in 2010 that I noticed this was finally explained on its packaging.

These are three examples among hundreds.

Why do companies take the time and trouble to do good in the world, and then act like they’re embarrassed about it? Perhaps it’s a matter of corporate humility, not wanting to brag. In some cases, maybe it’s worry about being accused of greenwashing—an accusation that could definitely hurt.

In Marcal’s case, it may have started as a legitimate fear that people wouldn’t buy household paper made of other people’s castoffs, even if it was just their sterilized junkmail. In the conformist, status-conscious 1950s, it may not have been seen as a marketing strength, but as a liability.

But certainly by 1980 if not well before, what we now call Cultural Creatives were a well-established and rapidly growing marketing demographic. As far back as the 2000 publication of their book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson estimated that more than a quarter of all adults in the developed countries they studied fell into this category. A quarter of the population!

Greenwashing accusations are easily defused with one simple rule: tell the truth. As for corporate humility, it’s not doing those companies any favors. I see both a bottom-line advantage and a save-the-world benefit to trumpeting an honest green message. On the financial side, you’re able to market much more effectively to that vast market segment.

But even more to the point, you help make the world a better place. Every company that shares its green initiatives publicly shows consumers that there are sustainable alternatives, pressures competitors to also go green, and continues to generate momentum toward a better world.

Shel Horowitz, shel at greenandprofitable.com, shows you how to “reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU.” He writes the Green And Profitable/Green and Practical columns and is the primary author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).

Going Green: Private Sector Must Take Up the Slack by Shel Horowitz

Many observers in the environmental movement were dispirited by the US election results in November, with the election of several prominent climate-change deniers and the power switch in the House of Representatives.

Political reality around sustainability varies a lot with location. Western Europe has been pushing hard on green technology leadership for years, combining business and government to drive the change. From simple innovations like a light/heavy switch for toilet flushes to the complexities of generating significant power from offshore and mountaintop wind farms, Europe has made it clear that carbon reduction and energy and water conservation are priorities. China, using an approach dictated largely by government policy, has become a world leader in solar.

However, both the European and Chinese systems send out mixed messages. Europe relies far too heavily on dangerous and un-green nuclear power; China has made an even larger commitment to dirty, health-killing coal.

In many parts of Africa and Asia, NGOs and nonprofits—often more than government or private industry—are taking the lead, bringing low-cost and highly portable energy technologies in to disadvantaged villages, replacing polluting, unsafe, and carbon-spewing kerosene, wood, and charcoal with clean alternatives—decentralized to the level of a single home.

Turning back to the US: I believe the election shows that Americans can’t rely on the federal government to deal with climate change on our behalf; as business leaders and thought leaders, we have to do it ourselves. Nothing meaningful will come out of Washington for the next two gridlocked years, on climate change, going green, or many other issues.

But this doesn’t mean the work will stop. Not at all.

Individuals within companies will continue to spearhead the movement for change, and those companies will slowly turn to embrace the change. Individuals within households will continue to make better choices for themselves and their families, and the machinery of commerce will continue to make those choices ever more widely available and affordable.

First, of course, is the pioneering work done for the past several decades by companies that were founded with a strong environmental chromosome. When companies like Whole Foods or Ben & Jerry’s take steps to go more green, it’s totally in keeping with the corporate culture—the company DNA—and with the needs and desires of their customer base.

But wider change must be driven by companies considered much more mainstream. “Fringe” businesses—small innovative concerns that will grow to become the Whole Foods and Ben & Jerry’s of the future—may show us how to get there, but to really make a difference, much bigger players have to get involved.

Will this happen without government carrots? Actually, it’s happening already. Let’s take Walmart as an example. The largest retailer in the world—that sounds pretty mainstream. Founded by a conservative, pickup-driving rural American from the South (the most conservative region in the country), Walmart certainly doesn’t kowtow to tree-huggers. In fact, it’s often been criticized by environmentalists for a host of issues ranging from store siting to labor practices.

Yet in the last few years, starting with the appointment of Lee Scott as CEO and continuing past his term, Walmart has taken numerous major steps toward sustainability in both its operations and its product line. Why?

1. Walmart’s always been awesome at slashing the cost and boosting the efficiency of its logistics. So the dozens of green operations initiatives that actually save the company millions of dollars are a no-brainer. Examples range from fitting its long-haul trucks with separate temperature systems so the big diesels don’t have to run just to heat or cool the cab, to switching to LED parking lot lighting in some stores—which slashed energy consumption by 48 percent and maintenance costs by 75 percent—to saving 678,000 barrels of oil and 290,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases a year just by cutting plastic shopping bag waste by a third.

2. The company realized that bringing in green product lines (from energy-efficient lightbulbs to organic food to healthy cleaning and body care lines) opened up enormous revenue and profit potential.

In other words, the company realized it could both save a fortune and make a fortune. So what’s not to like? And this is the future of going green in the US for the next two years: companies stepping forward to do the right thing out of economic self-interest.

Of course, if the Obama administration had engaged in a massive Marshall Plan-style program to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by converting to green power sources, we might not need to ask ourselves how to move forward without the government’s help. But that’s a topic for a different column.


Shel Horowitz, shel at greenandprofitable.com, shows you how to “reach green, socially conscious consumers with marketing that has THEM calling YOU.” He writes the Green And Profitable column and is the primary author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).