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What’s All the Biz Buzz about the Dolls with No Makeup?

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Brat-zdollzThere is no shortage of articles, books and videos about ‘How to Go Viral,” but what do you do when your little hobby turns into a an instant viral sensation? Sonia, from Tasmania, loved dolls as a kid and now, as an adult, discovered the pleasure of recycling old, discarded dolls and giving them a natural makeover. In that fertile soil of playful creativity and simple frugality, a seedling of a company grew. Tree Change Dolls had only 12 dolls, but a few clever photos and a healthy dose of shares resulted in a viral forest.

Sonia started out by de-glamourizing some used Bratz dolls (removed their makeup) and turned to her knitting genius mother to create some the simple custom fashions. This little kitchen table hobby soon turned into an internet maelstrom of cheers for this lone mum from down-under who accomplished what the big dollmakers like MGA Entertainment (makers of the hyper-sexualized Bratz dolls) seem to have missed. Girls love dolls that actually look like real people. Watch this well-done video that may just set the doll kingdom on its tiny plastic head. Best of luck to Sonia and her new company, Tree Change Dolls as she grows a business that makes a difference.

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March 1, 2015 |

It’s Not Just About Money Anymore – Top 100 Sustainable Companies List

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G100Corporate Knights Top 100 Sustainable Companies List

Corporate Knights is a business advisory company based in Toronto Ontario Canada.  Since 2005 they have published a top 100 global sustainable company ranking list which has grown more popular over the years.  Last month the new list (for which the judging starts each October 1st) was published.  The USA took the top two spots and a total of twenty USA companies made the top 100 list.   Twelve Canadian companies made the list with Tim Horton’s being the highest ranked at slot 11.

USA Companies in the Top 100

Rank / Company Name / Industry

1 Biogen Idec – Biotechnology

2 Allergan – Pharmaceuticals

18 Johnson & Johnson – Pharmaceuticals

26 Coca-Cola Enterprises – Beverages

38 Sigma-Aldrich – Chemicals

47 Ecolab – Chemicals

49 General Mills – Food Products

53 Agilent Technologies – Life Sciences Tools & Services

56 Intel – Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment

61 Adobe Systems – Software

65 Hess – Oil. Gas & Consumable Fuels

69 Cisco Systems – Communications Equipment

71 Johnson Controls – Auto Components

72 Colgate-Palmolive – Household Products

74 General Electric – Industrial Conglomerates

77 Campbell Soup – Food Products

83 Varian Medical Systems – Health Care Equipment & Supplies

89 Baker Hughes – Energy Equipment & Services

97 Prologis – Real Estate Investment Trusts

99 EMC – Technology Hardware, Storage & Peripherals

 

Canadian Companies in the Top 100

Rank / Company Name / Industry

11 Tim Hortons – Hotels Restaurants & Leisure

29 Teck Resources – Metals & Mining

37 TELUS – Diversified Telecommunication

57 Bombardier – Aerospace & Defense

64 Enbridge – Oil. Gas & Consumable Fuels

67 Sun Life Financial – Insurance

76 The Toronto-Dominion Bank – Banks

85 Celestica – Electronic Equip., Instruments

86 Bank of Montreal – Banks

90 Encana – Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels

 

The way companies are evaluated is a series of elimination phases and then rankings based on common key performance indicators in three main categories:

  1. Resource Management – Energy Productivity, Carbon Productivity, Water Productivity and Waste Productivity
  2. Financial Management – Innovation Capacity, Percentage Tax Paid, CEO to Average Employee Pay and Pension Fund Status
  3. Employee Management – Safety Performance, Employee Turnover and Leadership Diversity

 

ckWinter15_v11FINAL-30

Once the rankings are done it is a boon to the winners and they have the bragging rights for another year.  In top spot this year is US biotechnology company Biogen Idec, and in second place is US Pharmaceutical giant, Allergen.  The Canadian restaurant chain “Tim Horton’s” came in 11th in the rankings mainly due to its great score on recycling.

As each year goes by and the urgency of our global situation becomes more and more obvious – challenges and competitions like this are great ways to get companies thinking in terms of global sustainability – it helps foster a long term point of view for strategy makers.  The more widespread this knowledge becomes, the more the public will start expecting all the companies they interact with to comply with the standards being developed and set by opinion makers like Corporate Knights.  It is the difference between working for sustainability as opposed to working for profit only.  Soon the profitability of a company will be inextricably linked to its ability to meet the criteria set by sustainability reviews.  The list is mostly focused on the industries that impact the environment in their day to day operations but is open to all.  For all companies that want to be relevant businesses in the future – their challenge is to find ways to contribute to the sustainability of our planet.  Profit is no longer the only yardstick of success.

View the Full List Here.

February 23, 2015 |

Move Over George Jetson – it’s the Apple iCar!

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George_Jetson_Car_GreenBusinessesSince Valentine’s Day online news has been exploding around the rumor of an Apple iCar in the works.  The first breaking of the story came from the Wall Street Journal with the inspiring headline “Apple Gears Up to Challenge Tesla in Electric Cars”.   The article goes on to cite several interesting tidbits surrounding a secret R&D project called “Titan” lead by respected Apple VP Steve Zadesky, such as:

  • Steve has recently traveled to Austria to meet with car manufacturers
  • Steve has been given permission by Apple CEO, Tim Cook, to build a 1000 person team to work on his car project.
  • Sources say that he has been recruiting people internally from different departments within Apple as well as poaching talent from the likes of Tesla that have automotive expertise.
  • An unsolicited email sent from an “Apple Employee” to Business Insider about Vehicle Development stated “”Apple’s latest project is too exciting to pass up,” …..”I think it will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”

Other online reports are more skeptical about the reality of an actual iCar appearing on the market in the near future.   Tim Bajarin, a business analyst with Creative Strategies asserts that Apple wants to own the dashboard of every vehicle – not build its own car.

“If Apple was going to make a car, it would be 10 times easier to just buy Tesla,” Bajarin says. “But Apple doesn’t want a single-branded experience. It wants Apple in many, many cars.”

This makes more sense given Apple’s track record of success with sleek, branded, and accessible consumer electronic products.  Carplay is emerging as the most likely new Apple gadget contender with regards to cars.  Announced in early 2014, Carplay is already out in new Ferraris and expected to be launched on several new automobiles from various car companies in the near future.  Carplay is an entertainment console for your car that integrates voice control, navigation, music, and mobile phone features in a removable dock on your dashboard.

There is no doubt that an Apple system would be a compelling add-on feature for car dealers.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group says “An Apple cockpit in an Audi or Toyota would become a value differentiator.”

As we all know – it takes years for an idea to travel from concept to commercial release in the automobile industry, but let’s have fun imagining the iCar anyways!   Apple definitely has the resources and the creative talent to make something really cool that could disrupt the automobile market and would make George Jetson proud!

February 20, 2015 |

Find Anything on Google, Except Maybe Their Large Carbon Footprint

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footprint-green-businessesGoogle has been a carbon neutral company for seven years, and every year around this time they calculate and publish their carbon footprint so they can make sure to offset it completely. Today Google updated the Google Green website with their 2013 carbon footprint so we can see it for ourselves. They also made another announcement relevant to green businesses, communities and our environment. In ironic contradiction to the old song, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” the search giant announced that it will put a 82MW solar power plant on top of an old oil and gas field in Kern County, Calif.

“There’s something a little poetic about creating a renewable resource on land that once creaked with oil wells,” said Google. “Over the years, this particular site in California has gone from 30 oil wells to five as it was exhausted of profitable fossil fuel reserves. The land sat for some time and today we’re ready to spiff things up.”

The new deal with SunEdison will generate enough energy to power 10,000 homes. It may not be a paradise, but does mark the 5th major green investment in the Golden State. This raises the number of renewable energy investments made by Google to 17 since 2010. Total Google Green Business bucks amount to more than $1.5 billion. “We’re continually looking for newer, bigger and better projects that help us create a clean energy future,” the company said. “The more than $1.5bn we’ve brought to these projects to date not only helps provide renewable energy to the grid and to the public, but as they perform, they allow us to invest in more renewable energy projects. This cycle makes financial sense for Google and our partners while supporting construction jobs in local communities and clean energy for the planet we share.”

“Talking about sustainability is a popular marketing tool, but Google has made renewable energy and environmental protection part of both its corporate identity and its operations in a way that is unique in corporate America.“ – Associated Press

Google-solar-investment

September 10, 2014 |

What’s Good for the Environment can be Great for Business

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I enjoy learning about how I can help the environment and staying up to date on which green businesses are playing a role in this revolution. My understanding of why everyone needs to contribute to this solution continues to branch out in many new directions as well. From reducing to reusing to recycling, this century’s eco-friendly innovators have helped pave the way for a growing awareness about environmental concerns that is sweeping the globe. Here are some examples of how green businesses are helping create a cleaner and safer environment.

Plastic Reduction

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Advinylize repurposes vinyl from billboards.

The most basic way people can start helping clean up the environment is bringing their own bags to the grocery store. Instead of choosing between paper and plastic bags, both of which create a strain on the environment, bringing your own cloth bag is reusable, reducing the need to cut down trees and drill for oil, which is where plastic products come from. Several U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and Honolulu now ban plastic bags. Here are some companies that offer reusable grocery bags:

 

Greener Buildings

green_building-1PG&E confirms on its website that green certification can boost a company’s economic value. The utility company reports there has been a gr owing trend in recent years among businesses–particularly retail outlets and hotels–to gain LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). These green businesses are accomplishing several goals at once, by lowering energy costs due to consuming less energy, consuming less water, reducing the amount of maintenance and lowering greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional commercial buildings. A recent Harris poll found that 64 percent of adults prefer to patronize establishments with green certification.

 

Solar Energy

I’ve been fascinated with solar energy for decades, but it has only really been in the past decade that solar has entered mainstream consciousness. One of the companies paving the way is Apple, which is building solar farms for its data centers. Google has also invested millions of dollars in helping develop solar plants. Germany announced in June, 2014 that 51 percent of its energy now comes from solar power, setting a global milestone. The world’s top producer of silicon solar panels is Suntech from China, according to ExploringGreenTechnology.com. The solar manufacturer now has a presence in 80 countries and even launched a U.S. factory in Arizona in 2010. Other leading solar manufacturers that are paving the way toward harnessing energy from the sun are:

  • First Solar
  • Sharp Solar
  • Yingli Green Energy
  • SolarCity
  • Sun Power

 

Electric Cars

BMW-i3-electric-carAt one time in the late 1990s it appeared that the electric car was dead. It was criticized for its slow speed and inability to travel long distances without recharging. Tesla, however, has changed all that. In fact, the electric car maker’s Model S can travel over 200 miles before recharging and can go just as fast as conventional cars, without polluting the environment. In 2013 the Model S achieved the highest ratings of any automobile in history from Consumer Reports Magazine (scoring 99 out of 100). While it is a high priced luxury electric car for early adopters, more affordable electric cars that also run on lithium batteries include the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Tesla is a company started by Elon Musk, who also founded the home solar installer SolarCity, which additionally builds charging stations for electric cars. This company has developed an innovative business model that integrates electric cars with solar homes as charging stations. Swiss bank UBS recently predicted that utilities will eventually become backup power sources to solar energy.

UBS-solar-payback

September 9, 2014 |
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