Environment Forum

Finalists named for “Nobel of Sustainability”



If the Nobel society had an award for sustainability, it would resemble the Katerva awards, a new international prize for the most promising ideas and efforts to advance the planet toward sustainability.

Minus the money.

Katerva, the new UK-based charity, today announced winners for 10 individual categories, who are now shortlisted for a single grand prize to be awarded in New York on Dec. 7.

Awards are for “game-changers and industry breakers; ideas that leap efficiency, lifestyle, consumption and action bounds ahead of current thinking,” their website says.

It’s the result of a year of vigorous review involving a network of “spotters” and organizations around the world that nominated more than 150 programs and ideas for the honor. Nominees were required to be ongoing, active and capable of scaling up.

The 2011 winners in their individual categories are:

Behavioral Change


Activist organization founded by Bill McKibben to mitigate the climate crisis through online campaigns, grassroots organizing and mass public actions by volunteers in 188 countries.

Video Q + A with sustainability expert Matthew Kiernan

Did you know companies could negotiate lower interest rates by convincing their lenders it pays to be sustainable?

Implementing a sustainability strategy can mean stronger sales, stronger cash flow and reductions in costs, says Dr. Matthew Kiernan, founder and chief executive of Inflection Point Capital Management and author of Investing in a Sustainable World.

Companies must take the lead in telling their financiers how an improvement in environmental performance can bolster their bottom lines, he told the Green Employers 2010 Conference in Toronto this week.

Top 10 trends in sustainable business


– Giselle Weybrect is author of The Sustainable MBA: The Manager’s Guide to Green Business. Any views expressed  are her own. –

Sustainability is taking the business world by storm. It seems that every day a new company is getting on board in an incredible range of different ways. While some are still only approaching it on a very superficial level, plenty of others are really taking sustainability seriously, exploring what it does and can mean to their business, their suppliers, their employees, their customers and the role that they can plan in strengthening society and the environment while also running an increasingly successful business.

Here are ten interesting trends happening right now around the world in sustainable business.

Blue business washes in

Adam Werbach poses at the University Club of Toronto, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener

Adam Werbach poses at the University Club of Toronto, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener

Green is good and blue is better.

Keeping a business sustainable – or blue – goes beyond philanthropic nods to the environment. It needs to be a core business goal, says Adam Werbach, creator of Wal-Mart’s sustainability program and chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi S, the sustainability wing of the marketing and consultancy company.

Blue innovation embraces the social, cultural, and economic aspects of business along with green issues like protecting our last wild places and reducing carbon emissions.

Designers must serve as environmental visionaries

– Natalia Allen is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and Parsons Designer of the Year. She is founder and creative director of Design FuturistSM, a brain trust and design lab specializing in the development of sustainable, innovative fashion and textiles for client such as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Quiksilver. The views expressed are her own. –

Designers have a tremendous amount of power, and responsibility, in fostering human health and creating a sustainable global economy. Most consumer products such as electronics are hazardous to human health. They contain plastics and heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, which can cause serious adverse health effects, especially in children. Present education does not provide designers with the necessary insight and skills to practice sustainably.

There is a void in understanding how to build consumer products that are truly sustainable. Many universities and public policies address the sustainability challenge by promoting recycling and the use of recycled materials. However, recycling only prolongs the life of some materials. Recycling does not prevent materials from becoming toxic waste. Presently, each time a product is recycled it looses value and quality.

Newsweek’s Green Rankings: Perception meets reality

Three Greenpeace activists wearing bio-hazard suits, hold old laptops and wear face masks depicting Hewlett-Packard (HP) Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd during a protest outside the computer company's China headquarters in Beijing June 25, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Newsweek, encroaching on territory usually mined by activist groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, has unveiled its innaugural NEWSWEEK Green Rankings, which ranks the 500 biggest U.S. companies based on their “actual environmental performance, policies, and reputation.”

The magazine pointed out that compiling such a list was a challenge “because comparing environmental performance across industries is a bit like analyzing whether Tiger Woods or LeBron James is the world’s greatest athlete—there’s an inevitable apples-and-oranges element.”

Still, it believes it’s system makes sense. To come up with the greenest company, the magazine assigned each a “Green Score” that was then compared to the average score of the collective group. You can find out more about Newsweek’s methodology here. But, in terms of weighting, Impact and Policies were each given 45 percent and Reputation received 10 percent.

from Shop Talk:

Molson Coors-sponsored survey finds water pollution key concern

molsoncoorsWhat is the latest and most important environmental concern these days? Global warming? Disappearing ice caps and rain forests? Reliance on non-renewable energy?

Wrong. According to a new survey sponsored by Molson Coors Brewing Co, water pollution ranked No. 1, followed by fresh water shortages, depletion of natural resources, air pollution and loss of animal and plant species.

The survey was commissioned by Circle of Blue, a nonprofit affiliate of the Pacific Institute, a water and climate think tank. It polled people in 15 countries, including the United States, Mexico, China and India, about their views on water issues including sustainability, management and conservation.

Sailing around the world on sunlight

    Nearly 500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan led the first expedition to sail around the world. With wind and sails, the journey was certainly a green one.

    Now a Swiss engineer wants to match the feat — with a catamaran called “Planet Solar,” powered entirely on the sun’s energy.


    It’s a clean-tech adventure designed by Raphael Domjan to promote solar power, energy efficiency and sustainable mobility. Domjan calls it “the path towards a lasting world.”

from Shop Talk:

House-made WHAT?

tapwater"Sparkling or still?"
Remember when that question, asked with a certain downward gaze, would make you feel like a tactless tightwad for requesting tap? Did you try to lessen the shame with a smile and a clever nickname, like "I'll have 'New York's Finest'"?
Restaurants and hotels across the country are blurring the lines between these choices, as they stop serving bottled water due to a perception that it is environmentally unfriendly. Critics object to the waste left behind by the plastic and glass bottles, as well as the fuel and other natural resources used to manufacture and ship the bottles all over the world.
"In the world of trying to live in a more green, sustainable environment, I think water is the most obvious, simple thing that we can do," said Joseph Bastianich, a business partner of Mario Batali and co-owner of restaurants including Babbo, Lupa, Esca and Del Posto.
Bastianich told Reuters he is in the process of phasing out water across all his restaurants, following in the footsteps of other environmentally-conscious restaurants like Alice Waters' Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.
bottled-waterIn its place, Bastianich is installing filters made by Natura Water, which purify a restaurant's tap water and allow users to get still, sparkling or room temperature tap water. The restaurants can adjust the amount of carbonation, allowing them to tout the water as made in-house.
The Natura system, which comes with reusable water bottles for serving, can be rented for about $400 a month. 
Company founder Marco De Plano, whose customers also include L.A.'s  Ciudad, San Francisco's Foreign Cinema and certain Four Seasons hotels, said that with prices of high-end bottled water bubbling as high as $10, high-traffic locations can recoup their losses quickly.
"When we started this a year ago, everybody was talking about the green aspect," De Plano said. 
Bastianich says a liter of Natura water costs him about 50 cents and sells for about $4. That profit margin is slimmer than before, when he would pay about 80 cents for a liter of premium bottled mineral water and sell it for up to $9. 
"We think the loss of margin is an investment that's very worthwhile making," Bastianich said. 

The sacrifice to margins would lessen as sales of house-made water increase.

As the backlash against bottled water heats up across the country a host of local governments have cut bottled water out of their budgets.  Virginia, Illinois and New York are among the states that have banned buying bottled water with state funds.

(Photos: Reuters\Eric Thayer)