Companies That Do Sustainabililty Right Make it Mainstream, Not Niche


. Originally published on Businessweek.

Twenty-five years ago, sustainability was not a part of standard business discourse. Today it is—and business schools helped make that happen. But we’re reaching the natural limits of what B-schools started. Only a wave of innovation in management education will help businesses get fast enough to meet customers’ needs in a hotter, flatter, more crowded world.

The first step is to take sustainability out of its silo existence and make it part of the core business school curriculum. Sustainability can’t just be an orientation exercise, an elective course, an institute, or a specialty degree. It can’t be something that some students go deeply into, while some just get familiar with it.

Unfortunately, that’s where we are now. In management education, sustainability departments have produced lots of specialists. The knowledge those departments have accumulated should be brought into the mainstream to reach students who would never think about taking a sustainability course.

Every business school graduate knows enough about finance and accounting to be conversant on numbers, budgeting, and profit and loss—and able to apply that knowledge to routine decision-making. Today’s companies should expect managers to have the same fluency with environmental issues, making this part of the calculus when they size up problems and opportunities, price options, and make decisions.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), for example, is developing products and services that help customers meet carbon reduction goals, which becomes harder as exponentially more people use communications devices around the world. BASF (BAS:GR) insists that every employee—from the factory floor to a senior scientist office—have specific sustainability goals.

These examples are neither unusual nor extreme. MBAs who go through school thinking that concern for the environment is only for Whole Foods (WFM), Unilever (UL), and solar power companies are selling themselves and future employers short. Business schools with such views are selling their students short.

Read the full article here.

Wirtenberg teaches in the Bard College MBA in Sustainability and in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive program on applied sustainability. She is a former senior AT&T human resources executive, co-founder of Fairleigh Dickinson’s Institute for Sustainable Enterprise, and currently CEO of Transitioning to Green. Her latest book is Building a Culture for Sustainability: People, Planet, and Profits in a New Green Economy.

July 5, 2014 |

Charge your Mobile Battery with your own Body Heat


These shorts and sleeping bag charge your mobile devices

  • Smart materials in the Power Shorts use kinetic energy created by the wearer’s movements to charge mobile phones
  • Modules attached to the fabric of the Recharge Sleeping Bag capture thermal energy from a sleeper’s body to create an electric charge
  • Products have been developed by Vodafone and Southampton University

By Victoria Woollaston

Festival goers need never run out of phone battery again thanks to a new range of denim shorts and sleeping bags that use body heat and movement to generate electricity.

The Power Shorts and Recharge Sleeping Bag can charge a phone’s battery by harvesting energy from the human body using kinetic and thermoelectric technology.

The wearable phone chargers have been designed by mobile phone company Vodafone with help from the University of Southampton.

Vodafone has teamed up with the University of Southampton to create wearable phone chargers for festival goers. The Power Shorts, pictured, capture kinetic energy from the wearer’s body movements. This energy can then be used to charge mobile handsets This image explains how the Power Shorts work. They are fitted with foam-like ferroelectret smart materials which contain voids. The surfaces of these voids are permanently charged and as the size and shape of the voids in the shorts changes,when they’re squashed or deformed, a charge is produced

  • powerpocket2The Power Shorts are fitted with foam-like ferroelectret materials.
  • As the wearer moves, the shorts gather kinetic energy when these ferroelectret materials are squashed or deformed.
  • These foam-like materials contain voids.
  • The surfaces of these voids are permanently charged and exhibit piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties.
  • The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure.
  • When pressure is applied to the materials in the shorts they generate an electric charge.
  • As the size and shape of the voids in the shorts changes this creates the electricity needed to charge the phone attached to the shorts by a connector inside the Power Pocket.

The Recharge Sleeping Bag harvests thermal energy using the ‘Seebeck Effect’.

This effect creates pyroelectricity, which is the ability of certain materials to generate a temporary charge when they are heated up or cooled down.

In the case of the sleeping bag, this process monitors the change of temperature through a thermoelectric module fitted to the fabric of the bag.

Heat from the sleeper’s body flows through this module contained within a multi-layered ‘power felt’.

This felt contains polymer films and two semi conductors that generate an electric charge as they heat up.

Trials conducted by Vodafone found that a full day’s walking and dancing while wearing the shorts can provide enough energy to charge a phone for four hours.

While heat from a night in the sleeping bag is said to create 11 hours of charge.

Prof Stephen Beeby from the university said: ‘We’re exploring two specific technologies to charge the Power Pocket – thermoelectrics and kinetic energy harvesting.

‘Both represent cutting-edge research around smart fabrics and, in this case, we’re looking to integrate these into a sleeping bag and a pair of denim shorts.’

Vodafone’s Christian Cull added: ‘Our ambition was to create a practical but exciting solution to the charging-related issues experienced by many at outdoor events.

‘We hope people harness the power in their pocket to keep them chatting, texting, browsing and photographing throughout the entire festival season.’

The ‘smart fabric’ technology will be unveiled ahead of this weekend’s Isle of Wight Festival and will continue to be developed throughout the summer.


July 23, 2013 |

This is What Budget Cuts Have Done to Detroit … And It’s Freaking Awesome


excerpted from Robert Taylor for Business

Detroit is absolutely bankrupt. The city faces a cash shortfall of more than $100 million by June 30. Long-term liabilities, including pensions, exceed $14 billion. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder wants to bail out Detroit’s city government even further. Thanks to the financial situation of Detroit, emergency services like police and fire departments are being severely cut short. 911 is only taking calls during business hours. Homes have been abandoned making parts of the city look like a ghost town.

The Detroit Bus Company (DBC) is a private bus service that began last year and truly shows a stark contrast in how the market and government operates. Founded by 25-year-old Andy Didorosi, the company avoids the traditionally stuffy, cagey government buses and uses beautiful vehicles with graffiti-laden exterior designs that match the heart of the Motor City. There are no standard bus routes; a live-tracking app, a call or a text is all you need to get picked up in one of their buses run on soy-based biofuel. All the buses feature wi-fi, music, and you can even drink your own alcohol on board! The payment system is, of course, far cheaper and fairer.Comparing this company’s bus service to say, my local San Francisco MUNI transit experience, is like comparing the services of local, free-range, organic farms in the Bay Area to the Soviet bread lines.
Not surprisingly, the city government, which has no time to protect its citizens, does manage to find the time to harass peaceful citizens in this spontaneous, market order. Charles Molnar and a couple of other students from the Detroit Enterprise Academy wanted to help make benches for the city’s bus stops, where long-waits are the norm, equipped with bookshelves to hold reading material.1_photo-detroit-busDetroit Department of Transportation officials quickly said the bench was “unapproved” and had it taken down. Silly citizens, don’t you know only governments can provide these services?
The Detroit Bus Company is just one of the more visible examples of the market and voluntary human cooperation reigning in Detroit. “Food Rebels,” running local community gardens, are an alternative to Big Agriculture and government-subsidized factory farms. Private parking garages are popping up. Detroit residents are using Lockean homesteading principles to repurpose land amongst the rubble of the Fed-induced housing bubble. Community events like Biergartens and large, civic dining gatherings (with no permits or licenses!) are being organized privately. Even Detroit’s artists are beginning to reflect this anarchic, peaceful movement in their artwork.Detroit’s city government may be in shambles financially, but the citizens of Detroit are showing what happens when people are given their liberty back. For centuries, libertarians have been arguing for strict limits on state power, the benefits of private, civic society, and the bottom-up, spontaneous order that arises where free markets and voluntary interactions dominate. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so scared and sicken with political Stockholm Syndrome the next time politicos fear-monger over budgets cuts.

July 23, 2013 |

13 must-have apps for the business traveler


by Melissa Hincha-Ownby for MotherNatureNetwork

The proliferation of smartphones, and the accompanying applications, has made life a lot easier for business travelers. With hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from, though, how do you know which apps will be useful and which apps will simply clutter your phone? Over the last two years I’ve taken dozens of business trips and based on my first-hand experiences, I’ve narrowed the list down to 13 must-have apps for the business traveler.


Travel Apps

LeafMan120x1201. TripIt: TripIt was the first travel app that I downloaded because I had a hard time keeping track of both my travel accommodations and my husband’s. TripIt is a free app that creates an itinerary for your trips based on email confirmations. You forward your email confirmation to TripIt and the app creates an easy-to-use itinerary based on the trip. With one tap you can look at your flight information, hotel reservations and car rental information. No more digging through your email to find confirmation numbers.
LeafMan120x1202. PackingPro: Have you ever arrived at your destination only to discover that you forgot something important, say a pair of dress shoes? You either have to buy a new pair of shoes or wear your sneakers with your suit to the meeting. With PackingPro you will never forget another item. You can use pre-existing packing templates or create your own.
LeafMan120x1203. Fly Delta: If your airline has an app, download it and use it religiously. I typically fly on Delta Air Lines and so I have the Fly Delta app on both my iPhone and my iPad. I can change my reservations, book new flights and more right from the app.
LeafMan120x1204. Seatguru: Seatguru is a great app for business travelers who aren’t tied to a specific airline. With the app you can browse flights, locate seat maps for flights on dozens of airlines, and compare different airlines based on seat sizes, legroom and amenities.


Maps and Local Resources

LeafMan120x1205. Google Maps: When Apple removed Google Maps from the iPhone, I was one of those outspoken dissatisfied customers. Now that it is back, I’m continuing to sing its praises. I’ve never been led astray by Google Maps and so it will always have a home on my iPhone.

LeafMan120x1206. TripAdvisor: TripAdvisor is a comprehensive travel app. You can search for hotels and restaurants near you, browse the forums for input from other readers, find fun things to do in the area in the event you have free time and so much more.

LeafMan120x1207. Yelp: I’ve been a fan of Yelp for years. I use it to find restaurants when I travel and for the most part, I’ve agreed with the site’s recommendations. If I’m unsure of a suggestion, I’ll cross-reference the ratings with TripAdvisor.


Productivity and Utilities

LeafMan120x1208. Google Drive: I was far from impressed when the Google Drive app was originally released. Now that I can edit spreadsheets and documents, I’m sold on the app. The biggest benefit of Google Drive, in my opinion, is that the documents are stored in the cloud. Documents I worked on at home are available to me on the road, regardless of my location.

LeafMan120x1209. Flashlight: My toes are thankful for the flashlight app. When you’re in a dark and unfamiliar hotel room and have to use the restroom in the middle of the night, you run the risk of jamming your toe into a piece of furniture or the wall. This one little free app has prevented many injuries.

LeafMan120x12010. Compass: I’m the kind of girl that always wants to know where I’m at and if I don’t know which way north is, I don’t know where I’m at. I don’t just use this when I’m off hiking in Yellowstone; I use the compass when I’m in the middle of a metropolitan area. This app may not make an appearance on most must-have business traveler app lists but it is on mine.

LeafMan120x12011. The Weather Channel: If you’re traveling to Denver in February you want to know whether it is going to snow or rain. If you’re on a Route 66 road trip in Tornado Alley, you want to know if there are going to be thunderstorms. With The Weather Channel app you can keep on top of the weather and plan accordingly.

LeafMan120x12012. Translate: I have only used the translate app a handful of times over the past few years but when I needed a quick and dirty translation, it came in handy. Translate probably isn’t the best app for international travelers but it is good enough to help get a message across when you run into someone who doesn’t speak English.

LeafMan120x12013. Skype: When I’m on the road for business I can still help my children with homework thanks to Skype and Facetime. Facetime is device-specific but Skype can be used cross-platform, which makes it a must-have app for business travelers who want to keep in touch with family back home.

If you travel for business, what are your favorite mobile apps?
July 19, 2013 |

The Anti-Wood Woody

Woody Harrelson on the beach

Photo from, Image source unknown. Please contact us if you know the artist.

By Kimbriel Dean for Igniteme

Woody Harrelson was my first crush.

As a kid, all it took was a cute face and a big smile to make my heart flutter. As a naïve, sweet but not-so-bright bartender on Cheers, Woody was right up my pre-teen alley. Today, it takes brains, passion and heart to win me over. (Though a cute face and a big smile certainly don’t hurt!). Once again, I have a crush on Woody Harrelson, for all the right reasons this time around.In this day and age, we form opinions of celebrities based, in large part, on their lives outside of work. Whether or not that’s fair to them (I don’t think it is right for us to judge based on what we see in the media), it may be a good thing for the future of our world. Celebrities know how we expect them to behave with the money we give them in the form of movie tickets and music downloads. We know there are plenty of celebrities who pay lip service to their cause of choice, but some of them appear to live their word with integrity. I get the impression that Woody is a man who is disciplined and passionate when it comes to his beliefs.

We love Woody Harrelson because he works for social and environmental justice. We appreciate him because he’s fighting the good fight for causes we believe in, and his fame and fortune make him a powerhouse that we can count on to effect real change. To say thank you to Woody for the important work he’s doing, we thought we’d take a moment to honor the ideas, causes and products we’ve heard him talk about lately.

1. Healthy food. You may have heard him talk about food. As shown by today’s news headline about the 22 Indian school children who died after eating a free lunch tainted with insecticide, this issue is of critical importance to the health of humans, the earth and all creatures who share this spinning rock with us. Woody Harrelson has been an outspoken advocate for clean, organic food for years. In 2012, he was named PETA’s sexiest vegetarian. For the past few years, he and his family have lived in a solar-powered sustainable community in Maui where biodynamic farmers grow food for the locals.

2. Healthy planet. Have you heard of Woody’s new venture, Step Forward Paper? He is selling a new kind of paper that only uses 20% wood. The other 80% is made from leftover wheat products, which makes it a much more sustainable choice compared to your average paper. Plus, the wheat paper is compostable. Woody has long been known for his hard-core environmental activism. He walked on the wild side when he scaled the Golden Gate bridge with Earth First! to hang a banner that read, “”Hurwitz, aren’t ancient redwoods more precious than gold?” in protest of Maxxam Inc/PALCO CEO Charles Hurwitz, who once stated, “He who has the gold, makes the rules.”

3. Positive priorities. If you haven’t seen the short video, “Thoughts From Within” by Woody, watch it. He calls us to pay attention to the things that matter in life and asks us to unite for the cause of a better world.

When I lived in incredibly wealthy Montecito, California, I interviewed for a nanny job. The young girl who was to be my boss posed an interesting challenge to her father, who was the one making the hiring decision. She told him something to the effect of, “It’s all well and good that these interviewees are nice to us. But why don’t we have them spend time in the stables and the kitchen and ask the workers how they were treated?”

I was blown away by the wisdom held by this very young girl. She knew that it’s not how we act when we’re in the spotlight that’s important; we are defined by the way we act in those moments when the world isn’t watching. Celebrities have more freedom than most of us to act in any way they please, on and off camera. That’s precisely why it’s so impressive when they live the beliefs they claim to hold.

It seems to me that Woody Harrelson is an excellent example of a celebrity who isn’t just performing when he talks about causes. I think he sets a great example for all of us through his 24/7 commitment to the ideals he believes in.

Woody is a leader worth watching as we move into the new paradigm. He knows where we’re heading, and he has the power and resources to get us there faster.

Do you resonate with Woody Harrelson’s brand of activism? Please tell us what you think in the comments section below!

- See more at:

July 18, 2013 |
Vantage Theme, business directory software, powered by WordPress.