Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Companies want sustainable business but finding it hard to implement.

The sustainability learning center in Toronto, Ontario has a vested interest in advancing businesses and organizations implementation of sustainable applications and the feedback they are getting is positive but a new approach needs to be taken to be fully embraced. This article was posted on Sustainability Learning Center blog by Kathryn Cooper.

Global CEOs say “complexity of implementation” is greatest barrier to business sustainability

Global CEO
Global CEOs report that greatest barrier to business sustainability is the complexity of implementation.
In the New Era of Sustainability study, released June, 2010, 93 percent of 766 global CEOs agreed that sustainability is critical to the future success of their companies. In fact, 80 percent of them reported the global economic downturn accelerated their conviction to embrace sustainability practices. But they also lamented that “complexity of implementation across functions” was their most significant barrier to implementing an integrated, company-wide approach to Sustainability. Of particular issue was the challenge of establishing a consistent, companywide approach across large and increasingly complex supply chains and subsidiaries. Clearly, the journey from sustainability strategy to implementation is not all that easy. Fast forward to August, 2010, another study, Demand for ISO 14001 adoption in the global supply chain notes that environmental preferences and pressures of customers in environmentally conscious markets are more likely to encourage domestic and foreign suppliers to adopt ISO 14001.
To read full article click on link above.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

History of Thrift Week

Thrift Week sounds great to me and I believe we need to get back to the hard core basics of living within our means and community.

I decided to look into Thrift Week and find out what happened to it and led to it's demise.
Here's what I found.

Thrift week began pre World War 1 in 1961
"National Thrift Week" and sponsored primarily by the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.), the campaign became an annual celebration. National thrift Week began each year on January 17 the American apostle of thrifts' birthday, Benjamin Franklin. Expanding in the 1920's Thrift week gained supporters from over 50 groups including the Boy and Girl Scouts, Bankers, Farm Mortgage groups, Advertising Clubs, The US Postal Service and The Red Cross.

National Thrift Week was celebrated daily by specific principles and encouraged action each day.
Slogan, "For Success and Happiness."  

Monday: Have a Bank Account Day
Tuesday: Invest Safely Day
Wednesday; Carry Life Insurance Day 

Thursday: Keep a Budget Day
Friday: Pay Bills Promptly Day
Saturday: Own Your Home Day
Sunday: Share with Others Day.

Share with others Day was expanded into three pie charts:
“Mr. Tightwad’s Dollar,”
“Mr. Spendthrift’s Dollar,” 
“Mr. Thrifty’s Dollar.”
Mr. Tightwad and Mr. Spendthrift pie only allotted 1 percent to giving, Mr. Thrifty allotted 10 percent because he had more to give.

These principles were meant to cultivate responsible consumerism and civic progress. Rather than self-denial, the goal was self-control. The word, "thrift," finds its root in the phrase "to thrive".
Thrift is thriving because, in the end, the thrifty person will have more resources than the spendthrift—which thrift leaders believed was important not only for one’s personal flourishing, but for societal flourishing as well. 

Finally, thrift is thriving because thrift is not only wise use of money,  “intelligent use of health, time, and property of all kinds, including money.” In a school educational guide called "Thrift and Conservation"  thrift educators boasted that in 1917, schoolchildren in Los Angeles cultivated 90 vacant city lots, and more than 14,000 tended 900 acres of home gardens. As a result, they said, “Children are trained in habits of industry and thrift, and the spirit of cooperation is developed.” For these thrift educators, conserving natural resources was an intrinsic part of the thrift ethic: Because we hold all our resources in trust, the school guide noted, “it is our duty to guard our trust faithfully and to pass it on as little impaired by our use of it as possible.”

Special  events, parades, programs were the rage within budget but slowly fizzled out with more wars, economic downturns and cultural changes and lack of sponsorship until it completely disappeared in 1966. Arguably, thrift was replaced for the next forty years by consumerism and easy credit and our reversion back to thrift is one out of necessity.

How about starting our own thrift movement, emphasizing hard work, wise use of money, generosity, and conservation? As we work our way out of this Recession, the advice from nearly a century ago rings just as true for today: “Get the thrift habit.”Spending as we have seen does not necessarily stimulate the economy, as we are experiencing today.

Taking control back into our own hands and responsibility and out of investment bankers and speculation investors will go a long way to create sound communities and healthy solid/paid for homes and reduce waste everywhere.

Wasteful Numbers

What ever happened to Yankee frugality? Straightening bent nails, saving string.
Is Thrift Week, a holiday which began on Ben Franklin's birthday even on the calendar anymore? When did it disappear? 

"Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship," said he. That leak is not so small anymore.

We disapproved of frippery, definition according to
  1. Pretentious, showy finery.
  2. Pretentious elegance; ostentation.
  3. Something trivial or nonessential.
We couldn't imagine wasting money on ourselves, made do or did without. It took a mighty effort to make us what we are today. 

Today in the USA:
Americans toss:
  • 106,000 aluminum cans every 30 seconds. (Enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet every three months—and aluminum represents less than 1 percent of our solid waste stream).
  • 2 million plastic beverage bottles every 5 minutes
  • 426,000 cell phones every day
  • 14 % of the food we buy at the store

Americans use:
  • 1.14 million brown paper supermarket bags each hour
  • 60,000 plastic bags we use every 5 seconds
  • US airline flights distributed 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours
  • 15 million sheets of office paper every 5 minutes
  • 170,000 Energizer batteries produced every 15 minutes

The average American uses more energy between the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and dinner on January 2 than the average, Tanzanian consumes in a year.

Time to rethink hyper-consumerism and get back in touch with what really matters.