Archive for May, 2009

Commuting Solution: Bike or Walk To Work

Today is National Bike/Walk To Work Day. In many states and cities across the US and Canada, the entire week has been dedicated to getting people out of their cars and onto their feet or bicycles. Actions speak louder than words and seeing an increase of bicyclists on the road this morning no doubt made people passing them in their cars think twice. Maybe the motorists won’t start leaving their car at home but they might consider biking on the weekends instead of taking the Sunday drive. 

I have been biking with my family every Saturday and Sunday for the past month, so donning my gear and heading to work this morning was not much of a stretch. And the fact that I was not hauling an additional 100 pounds (Jessa + Will + bike carrier) made the 10 mile ride even easier.  

The idea of trading car keys and gasoline for a helmet and a workout is nothing new. The first Bike To Work Day was organized in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists. They have been around since the late 1800s, when as the story goes, over 100,000 bicycling enthusiasts began championing for paved roads. Evidently the horse and buggies of the time created terrible ruts in the gravel and dirt roads, which “wheelmen”, as bicyclers were called back then, found intolerable. The League claims it was instrumental in convincing the government to pave our nation’s roads. 

On the weekends we enjoy leisurely rides on back roads. Most of them are paved but because I am on a mountain bike, I don’t mind if they are not. This morning I was happy to be biking on pavement as I made my way along Rt. 4 from Durham to Portsmouth, NH.

Today’s ride was not leisurely, although I had fun. It was a statement to myself, my company, my community, and my nation that the changes we make in our individual lives will resonate throughout the world. I believe that corporations are the one who in the end will save our plant from global warming but if each of us does what we can to pursue a sustainable life, we will influence the world in our own way.

Categories: Transportation

The Four Ps of Green Advantage: Planning

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a fantastic report, Capturing the Green Advantage For Consumer Companies, on January 20, 2009. They conducted a global survey in 2008, with smaller, follow up assessments in October 2008 and January 2009, that clearly show green consumerism remains strong even as the world deals with a continued economic downturn. The authors suggest that increasing sustainability should be an enterprise wide initiative rather than just focused on one product line or single item. They outline four steps that companies should take when preparing to roll out sustainably across their business.

BCG’s Four Ps of Green Advantage are: Planning, Processes, Products, and Promotion. This blog post will focus on Planning.

When I was growing up, my father made me keep a weekly schedule of things I needed to do and important dates I should not forget. I used it for sports,  school work, and chores.  At the time I thought it was torture to plan out my week and then review it each Sunday night with my dad. Now I thank him for showing me the value of planning ones course and how it greatly increases ones chances for success. The BCG report outlines two planning steps that I would like to discuss further.

Embedding Green Targets and Resources Into Corporate Strategy

The idea of including targets is incredibly important. Without something to strive for, direction is lost and momentum fades. The goals should be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. They should be transparent, documented and available to the general public, as well as followed up upon. Nothing is worse than the fanfare of an exciting “green” announcement followed by its slow decline into obscurity. A sustainability report is the ideal mechanism for announcing your targets and publishing your progress toward meeting them.

I recommend creating an environmental mission statement as a way to define your goals and help plan your next steps. When my company wondered what to do next after the low hanging fruit that initially moved us in a sustainable direction was gone, we went back to our guide, our main resource, our friend, and our ally, our environmental mission statement. For more on this wonderful tool, please check out my blog, A Green Road Map for Executives: Begin with an Environmental Mission.
Planning For and Capitalizing On Changes On The Horizon

We all know the saying that change is inevitable. The sustainability movement has been gaining steam for at least the past twenty years. Between 1990 and 2009, the organic food industry saw its sales rise from $1 billion to $30 billion. Green consumer studies like BCG’s show that in almost every sector of the economy, from socially responsible investing and LEED building to green travel and energy generation, consumers are looking for sustainable options.

The trend toward a sustainable future is clear and we are still in the infancy of the move toward a new, clean and green world wide economy. Almost everything we currently consume needs to be produced in a more sustainable manner. The possibilities for change seem limitless. During the Industrial Revolution change seemed to be taking place at a much more rapid pace that just before or after this time period. We now find ourselves at the beginning of what some have said will be the greatest wealth producing era in human history. I have faith that the change will touch all societies, regardless of ethnicity or class, and help the world rise to meet a new era.