Perhaps you’re wondering how rock stars can save the planet. It’s a pretty far-fetched notion — unless you know that 1% for the Planet has released an album of “40 rare and exclusive songs donated by leading artists to produce the first album dedicated to supporting the environment.” All proceeds from 1% for the Planet: The Music, Vol. 1 will be contributed to environmental organizations across the globe. You don’t hear those words — “all proceeds … will be contributed” — very often.
You might notice that we have a new badge on the upper right-hand corner of our website. It’s a link to purchase the album. Go ahead. Click on it. And get yourself a rockin’ good album that will put a smile on your face without leaving a big dent in your bank account.
You’ll get 41 songs for just $9.99! Or, buy them individually for $0.99. Here are a few of the songs you’ll find in the album:
Josh Ritter – Great Big Mind
Madi Diaz – Nothing At All
Aidan Hawken – Prodigal Son
Jackson Browne – About My Imagination (Live)
Jack Johnson/Paula Fuga – Country Road
Brandi Carlile – All That Remains
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Till Morning Comes Around
Alternate Routes – Ain’t No Secret
You can read a full list of songs at the 1% for the Planet music site. Joe and I just purchased the album and are listening to it as I write this. My toes are tapping and yours will be too …
Join 1% for the Planet
In our first year of publication, Blue Planet Green Living made a decision to join 1% for the Planet. What this means to us — and to all business members — is that we pledge to give 1% of our annual profits to an environmental charity that is also a member of the organization.
While 1% of anything doesn’t sound like much, when people and businesses band together, 1% of hundreds of businesses’ profits amounts to a whole lot of good that can be done.
If you have a business or a nonprofit organization, we urge you to join 1% for the Planet. Make a small donation to the environmental charity(ies) of your choice, and know that you, too, are helping to save the planet we all share.
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Any number of nonprofit groups are doing good work for the environment, but, to me, one of the most impressive is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). We’ve written in the past about their Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database and posted (twice) the ever-sobering EWG video 10 Americans. But those are just two of the many projects this group has sponsored.
In today’s email, I found a letter from EWG president, Ken Cook, listing several other group activities and projects that are making a real difference to the planet and to the health of the people who live here. Cook wrote to supporters to publicize the group’s activities.
Over the last several months, EWG has drawn a lot of attention to the topics you and I care about. They’ve provided critically important information to consumers and influenced the passage of legislation on issues that affect our well-being. It’s a lengthy list. The following excerpts from Cook’s letter give just a few of the highlights. To learn more, please visit the EWG website.
Here’s some of what Cook had to say:
“We’ve told decision makers what you want. . . and they’re listening.
- We caught food industry giants plotting to mislead mothers and minority parents about the hazards of bisphenol-A (BPA) and spurred grassroots pressure to find a safe alternative…
- The California State Senate passed the Toxics-Free Babies & Toddlers Act, which we sponsored, to ban BPA in children’s food products. If the State Assembly approves the bill, the largest market in the country will join Connecticut and Minnesota whose state legislatures enacted partial BPA Bans earlier this year…
- Five environmental justice leaders joined us for an extensive two-year study that tested them for 75 chemical contaminants. They took their results directly to Congress as a compelling argument for reform of the failed federal toxics law…
“We researched, reported and testified for better public policies.
- We released our third annual sunscreen report to help consumers identify safe, effective products and better understand the ingredients in sunscreen. We found that sunscreen companies are reformulating many products to be safer and more effective as a result of our three-year campaign…
“We created and shared important, useful information.
If you’re able to contribute charitable dollars this year, please consider donating to the Environmental Working Group. Your support of EWG will help make the world safer and healthier for the ones you love. And that’s the best return on investment you could ask for.
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“What we have learned from the work we’ve done in developing countries is that it doesn’t take that much to improve the lives of many people.” — Esther Duflo, the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at M.I.T., quoted in the New Yorker May 5, 2009.
An Inside Job
“Lifting people out of poverty doesn’t come from the outside in; it’s an inside-out job,” says Christine Volkmer, spokesperson for Heifer International. The organization she represents is known worldwide as having a highly effective method for helping one family at a time to not only survive, but prosper. More important, families helped by Heifer International also commit to share, passing on the benefits they have received.
“Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth,” says the NGO’s website. The organization works to accomplish this ambitious mission by providing livestock to needy people in 57 countries around the globe, including the U.S. Prior to receiving one or more animals, the recipients of a Heifer gift receive required “environmentally sound agricultural training” to prepare them to care for their living gifts. Since its founding in 1944, Heifer International has brought sustainability to more than 48 million people — and the number keeps growing as the animals reproduce.
“Every gift of an animal provides direct benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, fertilizer, as well as indirect benefits that increase family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care and school fees for children,” the website explains.
A Gift of Sustainability
Heifer International is supported by financial gifts from individuals and groups. Most gifts to the organization begin with the desire to honor a loved one. Perhaps you want to celebrate a relative’s birthday, but she’s 70 years old and doesn’t want any more knickknacks, sweaters, or flowers. Maybe she’s even told you, “Don’t get me anything. I have all I need.” If that’s the case, check out the Heifer International gift catalog. Then give her a gift she won’t have to dust or store or eat: a flock of chicks, ducks, or geese (currently US$20). Or, maybe she’d appreciate a “Knitting Basket,” a gift of two llamas and two sheep ($500 for the full gift or $50 a share).
Heifer has developed numerous packages with attractive gift options in all price ranges. When you browse the Heifer International Gift Catalog, you’ll find so many options that it may be hard to choose. You can spend as little as $10 for a share in a goat (full share: US $120) or a pig (full share: $120). Or, if your budget is more expansive, you can provide an entire “Gift Ark” ($5,000) with 15 pairs of animals to provide milk, eggs, meat, and transportation.
Isaya Shakwet, 33, is the Village Chairman of Mkuru: “Camels aren’t bad for the environment, camels eat leaves of trees and not the grass. Camels feet are different from cows- its like sponge….Before we didn’t have camels… When we get camels we are happy because they changed our life. Camels can carry a lot of luggage and goods like water and supplies. We were able to take people to the hospital by camel. … They are changing our life quite a bit because now we employ people with our safari company.”
Women in Livestock
Heifer International has created a gift specifically to benefit women. Here’s how the organization’s website describes the power of a gift to Women in Livestock Development:
Heifer International‘s goal is to end poverty. It’s a simple goal but requires serious commitment. In our effort to do this we recognize that women make up 70% of the world’s poor. Women produce 80% of developing world’s food yet own less than 1% of the earth’s land.
By focusing on women we also help struggling families and communities. Overlooked by government programs and often denied education, rural women face a cycle of poverty, hunger and despair. Without help, many toil endlessly yet watch, helpless, as death, too often steals their children.
But there is a way out. In a world where too many women feel powerless you have the power through a simple gift to help them to change their circumstances.
You can become a helpful participant by making a donation to help out the women who are looking for a way out not a hand-out. Through training from Heifer International and our model of Passing on the Gift, women and their entire communities overcome social and cultural barriers.
When women have financial security, they take care of their families and their communities. They use their resources for food, clothing, and education. They are community builders, bringing sustainability that lifts those around them out of poverty too.
Sambekie of the Ekenyawa women’s group, part of the Tanzania donkey project. Before they got the donkeys the women had to carry 40 liters of water twice a day from the local watering hole, which was several kilometers from the village. The work was extremely fatiguing. Hygiene in the village was lacking because of the water shortage. Today the donkeys carry enough water so the entire village can have water to drink, for cooking and washing clothes, and to use to bathe.
What a Small Donation Can Do
I was fascinated to read about the many and varied projects Heifer International is engaged in throughout the world. A few of them appear on this page. You can read about others at the Heifer International website.
Channel Cyuzuzo, 6, daughter of Frida Mbanda, posed with the family cow “Superbness,” which they received through a Heifer project in the Muhazi Women’s Dairy and Horticulture Development Project in Nsinda Village in the Kibungo District of Rwanda. Her mother, Frida Mbanda, 33, named the Jersey hybrid a superlative after it was placed with her family on February 12, 2007. The cow produces 14 liters of milk per day. The benefits of this yield cannot be underestimated as Frida is the mother and primary caregiver to 12 children (5 are biological, 7 are orphans of relatives of hers who were AIDS victims.)
Passing on the Gift
Poverty forces people into survival mode, Volkmer tells me, and it causes them to withdraw internally. Giving to others is out of the question when they don’t have enough for themselves or their families. But Passing on the Gift is a vital part of the Heifer International program. Each recipient must agree to give their animal’s first offspring to another needy family.
“The experience of giving to others becomes transformative internally,” Volkmer adds. “Watching the ceremony of Passing on the Gift is a powerful feeling. The whole village gets involved. Everyone is ecstatic, especially the person who is giving the animal away.”
“Other relief programs give animals to people in need, too,” says Volkmer. “But this is what’s different about our work: The animal is secondary to the heart of the work, which is to provide a long-term, sustainable solution to poverty.” And that’s exactly what happens during the Passing on the Gift ceremony.
Shama Wuji with a pig in Daxing Village, Xide County, China. “Before this project we could not afford to raise pigs. Now in less than half a year we have sold two pigs and several little pigs, which has brought about 3,000 RMB for our family.”
Find out how your gift to Heifer International can spread sustainability year after year after year.
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“We believe the answer for a better future relies on the availability of environmentally friendly products for everyone’s everyday use…. A real shift in the current situation will only occur when manufacturers worldwide understand how important it is — and how profitable it can be — to invest in new products and technologies that will improve and protect our environmental condition.” — Julio Marchi, SIP Global – The Green Foundation
BPGL spoke by phone with Julio Marchi, CEO of SIP Global – The Green Foundation. We wanted to know about SIP Global’s upcoming conference, as well as what the foundation is doing to further green products.
MARCHI: Understanding the meaning of “SIP” almost defines our whole organization. SIP stands for Solutions, Ideas, and Products. Our goal is to bring more “green” solutions, ideas, and products to the consumer market. We are here because we believe many organizations treat this idea of the environment with a lot of heart, but don’t understand the business requirements involved behind the creation of a new product (especially a green product), or the challenges involved in bringing green products to the consumer market.
I’ve been speaking with many people (inventors, green business owners, manufacturers, etc.), and the majority of them have similar impressions: They love all the ideas of other organizations, but nobody appears to have anything like our message. We are businessmen. In my other life, what I do is international business. The gentleman at my side is Mr. Bernie Chow. He has an extensive engineering and manufacturing background and is also an international business consultant. We have a lot of members and supporters all over the world: here in the USA, in Mexico, Brazil, China, and even in Europe.
We understand what it takes from product conception to development, from development to production, and from production all the way to the consumer market. What we do is to communicate with all those layers, bringing to them the means to make something great. Sometimes, we are able to assist with investment; other times, what is missing is a network of contacts. Most of the time, we provide professional services or consulting. But the most important aspect of what we do is that we talk business, getting down to the dollar amount up front and helping tweak it to make the budget work.
You have to believe me when I say that it is a real challenge for green products. For example, there are certain products in the marketplace nowadays that are green, but the questions on the business investors’ minds are, “Will they last?” “Will they succeed against other, similar, non-green products?” “Are they profitable?” Because questions like those are yet unanswered, most companies don’t have real incentive to manufacture green products. It costs too much just to develop and manufacture them, and the sales results are not easily estimated. The green market is new, and there is no previous history to be analyzed.
BPGL: What are the repercussions of that?
MARCHI: The manufacturers stick with products that are not green friendly just because they are sure to make money. This green market is something that’s still on the edge of their motivation. Everyone wants to jump into new opportunities and get there first, but the world is now different. Even the global economic chaos contributes negatively to their final decision. Investors now are saying, “Okay, it sounds like a great opportunity, but we don’t know exactly what’s going on and how risky it could be.” Then nothing happens.
What we do is jump in between those layers, interconnecting them with a very well-defined working plan, especially designed for the referenced product and its market. We bring more professionalism to the whole process and make it easy for the businesses to get funded. By the end, we also interact with the marketing promotions and sales, making sure the product gets the proper attention in the media.
BPGL: How is SIP Global able to help green businesses?
MARCHI: We are a nonprofit organization. Besides the services we offer, we also raise funds for all those strategies and requirements. We work with money that we collect. We match some funds to product design and research, but most of our budget is planned to go to the media and promotion. To finance new developments and final production, there are always other means we can use, depending on each case.
BPGL: Where do these funds come from?
MARCHI: Some will come from venture capitalists, and others will be donations from the general public or institutions. Venture capitalists can invest in some specific green projects, as they prefer. We are also working to obtain grants from the government, as they are offering it for green businesses now. However, we have very well-defined programs that allow us to join efforts with developers, manufacturers, and distributors of environmentally friendly products. Those programs have a limited business participation level involved, and we get compensated when results are achieved. This way we can reinvest the funds in other projects. There is more information on line about this.
BPGL: How do people with business ideas locate your foundation and find out about you?
MARCHI: We use the Internet and try to promote the foundation as much as possible. We have promotions going out using different technologies, and we count on support from affiliated websites. We also go on line, search for green businesses and introduce ourselves. But, nothing is better than the face-to-face approach, and for that we have the Trade Show. One of the goals of the event is to drive attention to what we’re doing. There’s no more conversation behind the computer; it’s now face to face and a place for people to go and see what’s going on. We bring all those people together, and they come in to mingle, and to create this layer of communication between those who are developing, investing, promoting, buying and selling.
BPGL: You’re connecting inventors, investors, manufacturing companies, marketers, and salespeople. That’s sounds like a unique and helpful service.
MARCHI: We’re trying to combine everyone’s efforts. We understand that at the moment, everybody is looking for every dime. However, there’s opportunity for people to make some money while still helping the environment, and we need to maximize it. I’m very motivated about green, and I love to do something that touches my heart. But I’m not an activist, I’m a businessman.
BPGL: Besides connecting people by being “another layer,” what else does SIP Global do?
MARCHI: We do certifications and qualifications, consulting, research. We deal with all the marketing campaigns requirements. We do a lot of things. Actually, we try to keep the scope simple, but when you get down to action, there is no simplicity.
I’d love to bring up many practical examples, but for several reasons I can’t disclose anything in detail at this point. However, there is one particular case I can use as an example of how the “business angle” can be an obstacle even when the invention or product is absolutely fantastic.
A gentleman has developed a new product that can cut energy costs (and consumption) with absolutely no harm to the environment, even at the disposal level. For many years, he worked hard and faced uncountable challenges to develop his invention. Then, when he was almost ready to get down to business, a big company found a similar product — not as good or as green as his — and they invested a lot of money in it (the product is on the market now, and its campaigns are worldwide).
The fact is, this big company will not drop the other product until they get their investment back with a great profit margin, even while knowing that a better one is available — so the inventor just lost the wave. It gets even worse: To guarantee the profitability of their investment, the big company is working hard in the background to slow down this inventor’s business, putting their own interests in front of his opportunities. Again, it’s a business, and in the end, it’s the dollar amount that counts [for them].
Nevertheless, we are finding new avenues for this gentleman and his product, and we will be there with him until we are sure he has succeeded!
This gentleman said, and I’m quoting him, “Julio, do you know how many organizations in the last 10 years I’ve been invited to get in, to talk, to hear, to listen to what I say?” I told him what I imagined, and he told me, “Julio, do you know how many of those organizations I still communicate with? None.”
I asked, “Why?”
“Because, they don’t have the method, they don’t understand from my point of view, what is required for me — as a new technology development — to get my product on the market. They know about the concepts, but they don’t know about the application of the business in this market. But you guys do, and that is exactly what is missing right now.”
BPGL: What other kinds of problems do green businesses face today?
MARCHI: Right now, there’s a lot of confusion about the message, about what’s green. There’s a lot of confusion about quality of products. There are many new companies just popping up with great, fantastic ideas, but with no reputation at all. Now, you might ask, How can they get any kind of finance? How can they get any kind of support? How can they promote any kind of guarantee that they will succeed? They don’t have a marketing plan. They don’t have a business strategy, because they don’t understand it. They are developers with a different mind. In this market right now, there’s a lot of confusion, a lot of miscommunication, and absolutely no networking.
I go on line, and I research every day for as long as I can. I go to Google, Yahoo, MSN, looking for all the key words. I have a huge set of notepads here, where I put my notes about every website that I visit. As far as I can see, in my own analysis, they are all promoting almost the same thing, but using completely different speeches, and that’s what scares me. If you have too many people saying the same thing in so many different ways, the listener just stops listening, and the message gets lost.
BPGL: With so much “chatter,” it begins to sound like birds chirping.
MARCHI: Absolutely. You don’t know who’s right, who’s wrong. You don’t know who’s best, who’s the worst. You don’t have any kind of comparison. You don’t have any kind of statistical support. I think everybody’s doing their jobs, but not combining efforts. So we are trying to help them network their ideas, combining efforts to get recognition and better support.
Another thing SIP Global does is “certification.” At the Trade Show, we will launch a new green seal that covers from the manufacturer level — if the manufacturer is green — through usage and all the way up to product disposal. We are creating a visual system that makes it so easy for anyone to just look at the seal and identify all those levels of preservation. We call it PROGENF: Product Guaranteed Environmentally Friendly.
I’ve been an ISO 9001 and 9002-certified agent for many years. We have supporters that used to work at UL (Underwriter Laboratories), so we know exactly how those certifications work. We need to create some kind of single and effective message for the consumer. The goals are to guarantee that green products are really GREEN and to educate the consumer about that.
BPGL: How do you plan to spread this message to the consumer? As you say, there are so many competing messages on the Internet and in the general public.
MARCHI: Wrong messages can be overcome by right approaches. One of the goals of this Trade Show, actually, is to bring in educators to discuss, “How can we promote the green idea to children and the school, so they can bring the message back home?” We cannot force an adult to simply change. I cannot just take a person of 40 or 50 years old with a lot of problems on their mind and with a lot of things to take care of day by day, and tell them that they just have to change all their concepts of life because the planet needs some green action. They will listen to the message. They’ll say, “Makes sense for me,” but they are adults, and an adult world is not that flexible. We are all adults and we all know that. It’s difficult to change our daily operational status.
But if you bring this to the children, talking about one or two projects, about ideas, about solutions, and you educate the new generations, they will also bring the message back home. We are trying to bring together some key individuals from the Department of Education here in California to discuss how they think it could be done and find out their impressions. If we don’t assure that “environmental preservation” becomes a natural behavior in our society, we will be solving old problems today and facing new problems tomorrow.
Finally, we have plans for massive institutional campaigns in the near future. Our preferred media are TV, radio and cinema.
BPGL: As I understand it, you’re also helping companies to become sustainable.
MARCHI: We’re trying to see all the opportunities and work together. There’s not a chance that you alone, myself alone, or someone else alone will do anything. We need to join efforts. We need to put our ideas on the table without being afraid that somebody else will steal them.
We ask, “What can I do to help you move forward with your project? How can we make this green and profitable, so you can invest in it, you can make some money, and you can reinvest the money in something else?” For that reason, we have the Business Incubator project. It is not enough to simply support and promote existing businesses, we also need to assure that new ones will rise and shine.
BPGL: Tell us a bit about the conference you have planned in September. Can anyone attend?
MARCHI: Not all the conferences and workshops will be open to everybody, but the Trade Show Exhibition Hall will be open to the public, to families. One of the things we want to do is show consumers that they might already have access to certain products that are environmentally friendly, but they might not know about it. Making these introductions is important. We think, if everyone can do a little bit each day, we can do a lot in a very short time.
The biggest problem we see is that green products are not on TV. They’re not on the radio. They are not on the first accessible shelves in the stores. So nobody knows they can buy green and keep the same quality and even save money. We need to make sure this changes!
GLOBAL GREEN INTERNATIONAL TRADE SHOW AND CONVENTION
Are you a green inventor? An investor? A business owner? An educator? Or an environmentally conscious consumer, trying to improve your family’s sustainability? If you fit any of these categories, SIP Global’s upcoming Trade Show has events and information targeted just for you.
What: Global Green International Trade Show and Convention
Sponsor: SIP Global – The Green Foundation
Where: Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, California
When: Sept. 2-5, 2009
The four-day event includes workshops, seminars, and an exhibition hall. Learn more about How to Exhibit on the Conference website.
Pre-registration is required for all conference events except the Exhibitors’ Hall, which will be open to the public during Exhibitors’ Hours. Cost to the general public is $10 without a Visitors Pass. But you can get a FREE Visitors Pass on the website.
- How to be Green and Still Profitable: Companies can save money and preserve the environment at the same time
- Green Education: Bringing the subject to school classrooms, stimulating youngsters to discuss the theme with their parents and bringing the environmental concept to family homes and future generations
- Building Green: An overview about new technologies and products for the building industry that are environmentally friendly and innovative
- Recycling and Reusing: A series of discussions about recycling techniques and how to extend the lives of certain products and items
- PROGENF: The definitive GREEN SEAL that will revolutionize the industry and market.
- Global Green On-line: The new approach to using the Internet to promote and sell environmentally friendly products. The Global Green On-line is working in conjunction with PROGENF to enhance the penetration of quality and competitive Solutions, Ideas and Products to the market.
- Make it GREEN, from A to Z: How PROGENF, SIP Global – The Green Foundation, some government entities, and other institutions are addressing preservation efforts on an industrial level.
- Automotive: How some inventive minds have found creative and innovative solutions to convert high consumption vehicles to eco-friendly machines.
- Energy Conservation: It is important to economize energy and minimize the need for energy generation, but it is also possible to smart utilize energy.
Check the Trade Show and Convention website for full details.
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