Today, August 19, 2014 is World Humanitarian Day. A day designated to honor those who dedicate their lives to humanity’s betterment, most especially those whom have lost their lives for the cause. According to WorldHumanitarianDay.org,
“World Humanitarian Day falls on August 19, the day in 2003 when 22 aid workers were killed in a bombing at the UN headquarters in Baghdad. It’s a day to commemorate all people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world.”
Today, we say, “thank you”; today, we say, “how can we help?”; today, we say “enough’s enough!” Be brave and compassionate. People all over the world need your help in more ways than one. Many need financial help, many need shelter, many are starving and need food, many are persecuted for their own beliefs or race and need relief. Relief – a word most of us take for granted. I’m not talking about relief on your lunch break, or relief the school semester is over. I’m talking about a good restful relief, where a person’s turmoil and persecution is no longer in the picture (whether it be temporary or permanent).
With crises in countries ranging from China to Myanmar to Nigeria to Ukraine, humanitarian relief is stretched thin. The country of Haiti has been brought to ruins as a result of a major earthquake several years ago; and is still working tirelessly to pull themselves together, on top of fighting poverty, violence, and disease. In Iraq and Israel, Christians of all ages are being exiled from their homes, persecuted, and brutally murdered for not converting to Islam. Turkey has been kind enough to take in these refugees, but now needs humanitarian aid to help them provide for these displaced peoples. Famine, persecution, poverty, violence, and disease are just a few of the main problems humanitarians are trying to combat.
Humanitarian is defined as: 1) Having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people; and 2) Involved in improving people’s lives and reducing suffering. It is important to protect these people who are going out risking their lives for other’s health and wellness. Thankfully, the World Health Organization (WHO) finds “protecting those who care for the sick and vulnerable in the world’s most difficult circumstances is one of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community.” Yet, even WHO cannot provide the protection humanitarians need on a regular basis. Today honors those who go out in the face of danger for the other man, to give him the chance at a better life.
There are thousands and thousands of these humanitarians around the world, and yet still we need more. There are so many ways you can help!
Give Financially: For example, UNICEF offers proven, low-cost preventative care to children around the world regardless of income, ethnicity, or location. Donate here.
Get Involved: There are government agencies, non-profits, volunteer organizations, shelters, churches, and many more groups you can be a part of and help make a difference in someone’s life. Check out MeetUp.com, and see if there are any groups in your area helping others in need.
Health-workers and humanitarians around the world are constantly facing danger. Helping groups of people who are involved, sometimes involuntarily, with conflict and violence often leads to new enemies. All around the world, health care workers are being targeted for helping those in need. Countries such as South Sudan, Iraq, and Syria are posting of such attacks. The World Health Organization, WHO, is calling for a stop to this madness. “Doctors, nurses and other health workers must be allowed to carry out their life-saving humanitarian work free of threat of violence and insecurity,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
According to WHO’s article (August 18, 2014) “World Humanitarian Day: WHO calls for protection of health workers in conflicts, disasters”, emergencies and need across the globe is increasing daily. The author writes,
On tomorrow’s World Humanitarian Day, celebrated every 19 August, WHO will draw attention to the continued trend of attacks on health-care workers, hospitals, clinics and ambulances in Syria, Gaza, Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and other areas.
Threats and harassment of health workers in west African countries have also been a worrying element of the Ebola virus disease outbreak. These professionals are taking personal risks to provide critical medical care, but have been threatened, shunned and stigmatized.
“Doctors, nurses and other health workers must be allowed to carry out their life-saving humanitarian work free of threat of violence and insecurity,” says Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Dr Richard Brennan, Director of WHO’s Department of Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response, adds: “Assaults on health workers and facilities seriously affect access to health care, depriving patients of treatment and interrupting measures to prevent and control contagious diseases. WHO has a specific mandate to protect the human right to health, especially for people affected by humanitarian emergencies.”
While the adverse impacts of attacks on health care have been well documented in conflicts such as Syria and South Sudan, Gaza, health workers are also being prevented from carrying out their essential work outside of war-zones. In Pakistan and Nigeria, polio vaccinators, most of them female, have been specifically targeted.
As part of its lead role in coordinating the health response to international emergencies, WHO is working with partners to better document, prevent and respond to such incidents. Protecting those who care for the sick and vulnerable in the world’s most difficult circumstances is one of the most pressing responsibilities of the international community.
Elon Musk is a man of vision. As CEO and CTO of SpaceX, founder of SolarCity and CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, he has launched technology, exploration and transportation into the stratosphere. His latest plans for a massive TESLA factory that would revamp the global supply chain for lithium-ion batteries and then sharply reduce their cost, is equally ambitious, but he still does not have an official location for this Gigafactory.
California was not even on the radar, as rumor had it the Reno, Nevada area was the frontrunner to land this factory that promises to employ up to 6,500 people – in fact, excavation of a proposed site has already been completed. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were also frontrunners in the event negotiations.
But suddenly California is making the charge to woo Tesla Motors. According to the Los Angeles Times, California lawmakers would exempt Tesla, Panasonic and other potential partners from some of the state’s environmental regulations in order to move the Gigafactory forward. Democrats and Republicans are working with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office to pass legislation that would reduce the factory’s cost by as much as 10 percent.
Key to the Gigafactory establishing roots in California would be a rollback of some of the regulations that comprise the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Revered by environmentalists as much as it is reviled by business groups, CEQA, signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan more than 40 years ago, has produced a massive body of environmental regulations that would overwhelm even the most seasoned environmental or business lawyer.
What do you think? Would you welcome a Tesla Factory in your State? Community? Let us know your thoughts.
As a new media outlet, the mission of GreenBusinesses.com is to showcase what eco-friendly businesses are doing right. Studies show their products and services are paying off in new and scalable ways. See how green can work for you by checking out these forward-looking business models. We’d love to hear your comments below.
Incentives to go green have moved way beyond lowering utility bills.
“Cost savings are evolving into revenue generation,” says Lauren Kelley Koopman, a director for PwC’s Sustainable Business Solutions practice. “Sustainability is next-generation business thinking because it creates value, attracts customers, retains employees and improves capital and funding.”
In 2012, an Office Depot tracking poll found 61 percent of small businesses were trying to go greener, while 70 percent anticipated going green over the next two years.
If you’re still on the fence, consider how these four companies are energizing their bottom lines.
Launched in 2004 near Albany, Georgia, Enviro-Log manufactures fire logs made from the waxed cardboard boxes that transport produce. The wax is food-grade safe, so the logs burn cleaner than wood, emitting 30 percent less greenhouse gases, 80 percent less carbon dioxide and 86 percent less creosote, while still producing 50 percent more heat per pound. Enviro-Log hauls away the boxes from supermarkets and restaurants for free, whereas garbage haulers typically charge $126 per ton.
“We began by marketing the green attributes of recycling and recovery of waxed products,” says founder Ross McRoy. This is significant, as more than 600,000 tons of the water-insoluble waxed boxes wind up in landfills each year.
But he found that people wouldn’t pay a premium for green without personal benefits. Enviro-Log refocused on informational marketing and education. “If you provide green with value, people will pay for it,” says McRoy. By 2008, the market had shifted in his direction.
Now the nation’s third-largest producer of manufactured fire logs, Enviro-Log has annual revenue of $8 million to $10 million. McRoy is considering a second plant and managing his company’s growth. “The challenge is matching raw materials to sales and business strategy,” he says.
Reinventing the Roost
Jesse Laflamme, now 35, didn’t expect to be down on the farm again after graduating in 2000 from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. “My parents didn’t encourage me to come back,” he says. “They didn’t feel there was a future.”
Founded by Laflamme’s grandfather, the 200-acre egg farm — now called Pete and Gerry’s Organics — was being muscled out by big agribusiness producers. Such operations, says Laflamme, typically cram 150,000 caged chickens into the same amount of space his family uses to house 15,000 cage-free hens.
Encouraged by his wife, Sandra, who grew up outside Philadelphia, Laflamme took over. “We started by making the transition to local eggs, identifying who we were,” he says. “That evolved to organic.” Consumer demand for regionally sourced, higher-priced organic foods hatched growth.
Today, Pete and Gerry’s, located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, is a regional powerhouse, distributing “certified humane” organic eggs up and down the East Coast. “For the past 13 years, we’ve had compound annual growth of 35 percent, with revenue north of $50 million,” says Laflamme, “although the nature of agriculture means gross margins are pretty narrow.” He also works to support family farms by partnering with 40 or so neighbors, some of whom switched to egg production after the success of Pete and Gerry’s.
The light bulb went on in July 2008, says David Edmondson, co-founder of eRecyclingCorps. “We got right on it. We knew it was a big idea.”
Edmondson, who’s also been CEO of RadioShack, was then running an online consignment business based in Dallas. A staffer had picked up an older cellphone for resale and, annoyed, Edmondson complained it had retailed for $29.99 and had zilch value. But the staffer knew the model was fetching $80 on eBay.
That was the stunning business model in a nutshell: Wireless carriers subsidize new mobiles to encourage contracts. Amazingly, says Edmondson, “wireless phones depreciate to unsubsidized new value.”
Now booming, eRecyclingCorps refurbishes old mobiles to sell in developing countries or, if irreparable, in bulk to recyclers. Since 2009, the company has collected 10 million retired devices. Revenues hit “several hundred million in 2012, double the growth of 2011,” says Edmondson.
About 130 million phones are retired each year in the U.S. as consumers upgrade. “Three years down the road, those devices are worth $300 apiece unsubsidized, retaining $100 billion of value,” says Edmondson. Cleverly, eRecyclingCorps forges deals with carriers — to date, five of the top seven — to offer customers immediate trade-in credit at points of purchase, usually about $98. No need to stuff envelopes or wait for rebates.
“It’s ridiculous and a shame that we in the developed world discard the devices, making an environmental problem,” says Edmondson. “Getting a phone in a Third World country is a life-changing event. We want buying a wireless phone to be like a car. You buy a new car and the old car stays behind and has another life.”
While most online content enterprises are teetering on the fiscal cliff, Mother Nature Network (MNN), an online social responsibility news site headquartered in Atlanta, reeled in $6 million in 2012, averaging 4 million unique visitors a month. So far, it looks like 2013 could double that.
Co-founded in 2009 by Joel Babbit, a veteran ad agency executive, and Rolling Stones keyboardist and eco-activist Chuck Leavell, MNN covered only environmental news when it launched. “There was a huge void of information,” says Babbit. As interest in green has grown, MNN expanded into wellness, food, home, family, travel, technology and more. “We’re focused on the responsible consumer market that’s connected by a set of shared values,” says Babbit.
Shrewdly, MNN sells sponsorships, not advertising. Companies like Walmart, Allstate and Delta pay $300,000 a year for “100 percent share of voice on each of the 12 content categories. For instance, Mercedes-Benz gets 10,000 pages [of green technology transportation] for 24/7, 365 days of marketing,” says Babbit. “It’s tremendously effective.”
Not long ago, the triple bottom line — people, profit and planet — was considered hopelessly idealistic. Nowadays, instead of greed, it seems green is good.
Joanna L. Krotz writes about small-business marketing and management issues. She is the co-author of “Microsoft Small Business Kit” and runs Muse2Muse Productions, a New York City-based custom content provider.
A controversial viral video featuring an F-word-filled tirade against the Gulf oil spill from the mouths of 4-year-olds to grandmothers is raising both eyebrows and funds this week as it gains momentum in a bold campaign to raise money for Gulf wildlife rescue and environmental charities.
The no-holds-barred video features a cross section of people wearing a black T-shirt that reads “UNF–K THE GULF” and unleashing on BP, the federal government and the whole mess in a way that millions of people wish our leaders would.
Sick of yelling at the TV in frustration over the Gulf spill, environmental activists Luke Montgomery and Nate Guidas produced the video as a way to channel their “f–king righteous anger with all that is going on and not going on in the Gulf into something positive.” They put out a casting call on Craigslist for people upset over the oil spill, cast the best in the video, and created the website www.UnF–kTheGulf.com.
“It’s both therapeutic and funny to see people go off in an F-bomb-laced tirade about the spill,” Montgomery said. “There’s a lot of anger out there and people need to vent about the destruction but we also need to have a laugh at the expense of those responsible.”
The “UnF–kTheGulf” video has received more than 20,000 views in one week and raised more than $5,000 in funds through T-shirt sales, exceeding organizers’ expectations and rapidly circulating on social media. This unconventional charity fundraising campaign allows the public vote on how the funds are spent. For each $13 shirt, $5 is donated directly to four Gulf wildlife rescue and environmental charities.
Montgomery and Guidas report receiving hundreds of positive email responses, several complaints, and dozens of requests for uncensored versions of the T-shirt.
In response to the controversy of using such raw language, Montgomery said it is a calculated tactic to get noticed and thereby raise more funds to assist in the Gulf recovery. The organization did recently tame their Twitter name to a censored version, however, to encourage more people to share.
“This is a heinous crime against the environment, people’s livelihood and the ecosystem’s ability to support life,” Montgomery said. “People realize that the really offensive thing is the oil spill, not the word.”
UnF–kTheGulf will soon launch a week-long Facebook and Twitter “F-Bomb-a-Thon” campaign of status updates geared toward building buzz and raising at least $25,000 for the cause. The F-Bomb-a-Thon will run from July 26-August 1.