A Week In Review - Sustainability
Friday, November 6, 2009

Local (DC - Maryland - Virginia)

D.C. - The Answer to Your Burning Recycling Questions

As a D.C. resident and someone involved in the sustainability sector, I'm constantly asked if D.C. actually recycles.  The City Paper does the dirty work to follow the paper trail in the cover story - Together Forever. The article does a good job at illuminating the complexities of enforcement and the loop holes in the private contractor system.  Both as a resident of the city, and a business owner with experience in dealing with landlords and their need to negotiate with their haulers, its true, recycling in D.C. is more complicated than one could imagine.  With out a doubt, the business model needs to be there for haulers, however, one item that is missing in all of this is that landfill costs are going to increase over the long-haul, and it would be better to decrease the volume in the waste stream to avoid the long term consequences of having too much trash volume and not enough disposal capacity, let alone the environmental impact externalities that come with waste management.   Short term costs are always first and foremost, but the city might want to consider the long term costs of not performing enforcement and better waste stream engagement.


Baltimore/Maryland - 9th Most Toxic City/Top 10 in Sustainability

Forbes announced their listing of most toxic U.S. cities this past week, and Baltimore did the best by showing up as the 9th most toxic city in the United States. However, the more interesting fact is the number of cities listed in the top 10 most toxic that also showed up in the top 10 most sustainable in SustainLane's 2008 US City Sustainability Rankings. Portland, Oregon (10th most toxic, 1st in sustainability), Chicago (3rd most toxic, 4th most sustainable), Philadelphia (5th most most toxic, 8th most sustainable), and Baltimore (9th most toxic, 10th most sustainable).  I was most impressed to see that, with a history as a heavy industrial port, Seattle may be doing the best in the top sustainability cities, ranking 3rd in sustainability and as the 36th most toxic city in America.  So that should settle the dispute between Seattle and Portland.


The Green Economy is Coming - Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) & Climate Legislation

With healthcare bipartisanship in question and climate change legislation playing second fiddle, a number of legislators have been moving to push through meaningful legislation prior to the Copenhagen conference in December. Sen John Kerry (D-Mass.) stepped to the podium with an Independent and a Republican to introduce new climate legislation the same day Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) moved the bill she co-authored with Kerry.  The Boxer-Kerry bill vote was labeled as "ignoring the GOP" as the 11-1 vote in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee involved 7 republicans not participating on the vote. 

The news that has been making its way through out the internet keys in on the remarks by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the joint press conference with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as they offered a new bi-partisan option.

I'd offer that the video of Graham "rebuking Republicans" is not so much a rebuke of Republicans, even though it sounds nice as a headline.  Instead, it may be evidence of a way to explain that climate change solutions are also economic solutions. The reality is that the new energy economy is part of the solution portfolio to our domestic and global economic challenges.   Interestingly, this messaging framework, posed by many multi-stakeholder groups working on clean energy during the last ten years, is now starting to get national recognition, as the Washington Post's David A. Fahrenthold outlined this week in the article, Environmental groups at odds over new tack in climate fight.


Global Business

Nike Announces the Latest "Considered" Line Products

I'm sure Nike's announcement this week about its Considered product line wasn't because of a little post-it note from an on-line customer service representative saying, "comment from D.C. customer, - "bring back the considered line".  But considering my live chat message with a Nike representative was one of the first times I'd made a suggestion to a massive corporation based on my consumer preferences, I'd like to think so. Kudos to Nike for implementing my suggestion so fast! 

What one needs to consider is that just like WalMart's ability to shift the global supply chain toward sustainability, Nike has made some incredible moves to incorporate sustainability into their product lines and their corporate environment.   Ignoring everything else, the last pair of Nike Considered trail running shoes I owned, took me hundreds of miles by foot (not car) and allowed me to get out and run tens of miles of trails over a two year period.  I'm glad to see the Considered line surviving during the economic downturn.

Article originally appeared on New Media & Social Innovation (http://thomwallace.com/).
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