Archive for November, 2009
Shot over a two day period last March, Collapse centres around the theories and ideas of a man named Michael Ruppert, a former member of the LAPD turned investigative journalist, author and nation wide lecturer. Ruppert essentially outlines the various ways in which he believes the world’s total economic collapse is not only possible but inevitable.
Directed by documentary filmmaker Chris Smith, the film consists mostly of Ruppert speaking about the dangers of peak oil and the looming catastrophe that declining oil reserves could bring.
“The power of ‘Collapse’ is that Ruppert never sounds like a crackpot,” Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman wrote after the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere in September. “You may want to dispute him, but more than that you’ll want to hear him, because what he says—right or wrong, prophecy or paranoia—takes up residence in your mind.”
Collapse is in firm company with hardline leftist “crisis of capitalism” conspiracies. Might be worth a look for entertainment value, in any case.
Due to its luxurious softness, smooth hand, flowing drape and easy price – bamboo has gained entry into the apparel and fashion industry. It’s being touted as the latest and hottest sustainable eco fabric but some are starting to question this.
There’s no denying that bamboo is wonderfully beneficial for the planet. It does not require the use of chemical pesticides, requires very little water to grown and it does not require replanting after harvesting because its vast root network continually sprouts new shoots. It’s not until we begin to look at the manufacturing processes that the “eco friendly” luster is tarnished due to the use of heavy chemicals, many of which are toxic.
Bamboo is pulped using traditional kraft pulping technology which is notoriously toxic. The bamboo fibre is ground up and treated with chemicals that turn it into a liquid pulp. The liquid is then pressed through a spinneret. The extruded streams of liquid harden into fibers that are then woven together to make bamboo fabric. Rendering bamboo from a plant to a yarn involves a chemical process – the same process that is being used for conventional rayon and viscose which are a ‘regenerated cellulose fiber’s made by man. This process is highly polluting and involves carbon disulfide emissions. Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage and it has been linked to neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturing facilities.
The Federal Trade Commission recently sued four small bamboo-clothing manufacturers earlier this year, citing them for false labeling. The companies had used language such as “natural,” “biodegradable,” and “antimicrobial.” The FTC said, “Bamboo fabric isn’t natural since it’s a textile developed by chemists.” The agency also stated that the biodegradable and antimicrobial qualities of the plant don’t survive the manufacturing process. The FTC released the following article based on their findings – “Have You Been Bamboozled by Bamboo Fabrics?”.
CRAILAR Advanced Materials provides an alternative to the pollution caused by traditional cellulose pulping for the textile market. The CRAILAR pulping process is a much gentler process when compared to Kraft pulping and produces a pure cellulose with properties that exceed those of the best pulps on the market. The processing chemicals used, while not certified organic, are almost completely recycled. In fact, over 95% of the chemicals we use are recycled and reused while the balance is consumed during the process. Unlike many of the so-called eco fibers (bamboo and soy for example) which rely on dirty technology to process them, our patented CRAILAR Advanced Materials process is not only gentle on the fibre itself, but is also a much cleaner and sustainable approach to regenerated cellulose yarn.
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Last nights Clean Tech Open Awards Gala was a wrap up to a year long clean technology business competition that is designed to showcase the boldest clean technology ideas, the most ambitious entrepreneurs and the brightest, most engaged investors, venture capitalists and prospective technology customers. Gala attendees, included Google green energy czar Bill Weihl and famed venture capitalist Vinod Khosla.
The world’s largest cleantech business competition and mentorship program, is expanding across the United States, and its ideas competition went global this year, with cleantech companies from 87 countries.
Yesterdays gala brought together finalists from three Cleantech Open regions – California, Pacific Northwest, and Rocky Mountain. Finalists got a chance to make a five-minute pitch for a green technology, product or marketing campaign in front of a crowd of 3,000 investors, entrepreneurs, and companies. Gala attendees voted for their top picks via text message to determine the winner.
The National Prize was awarded to EcoFactor. Winning a grand prize of $250,000, $100,000 of which is seed money, EcoFactor entered in the smart grid category, with a personalized residential energy management solution for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The Clean Tech Open is an organization of leading entrepreneurs, academics, investors and companies, working together to find, fund and further leading edge ideas that address today’s most pressing environmental and economic challenges.
Since it’s inception in 2006, over 100 promising teams have availed themselves through the companies hands on workforce development, nurturing and funding programs. In it’s first three years, Clean Tech Open alumni has raised over $130M in private capital, over 80% remain economically viable today and over 500 new clean technology jobs have been created.
Recently named by US News as one of America’s Best Leaders 2009, Yvon Chouinard is a passionate rocker climber, surfer, kayaker, fly fisherman and writer but is most noted for his environmental activism and the clothing and gear company Patagonia.
One must ask, what makes a great leader? Well, according to US News, they judge based on the following criteria; Set Direction (25%), Cultivates a Culture of Growth (25%) and Achieves Results (50%).
Chouinard is not your typical executive as he is known to ignore the bottom line and refers to fellow business leaders as “corpses in suits”. He leads his own brand of MBA (Management by Absence) and it’s proven effective.
His first business was born, in 1957, out of discontent over the quality of climbing hardware. He taught himself blacksmithing and began forging his own equipment. Soon he was able to support himself by selling equipment to climbers from the back of his car. By the 1970’s, his company grew to be was the largest domestic supplier of climbing equipment, and it began to dawn on Chouinard that he had become, by default, a businessman. Along the way, Chouinard had the idea of making climbing knickers and double-seated shorts out of heavy corduroy. By 1973, an expanded clothing line grew popular enough to warrant its own label, and Patagonia was born.
Chouinard decided to blur the lines between work, play and family so employees could have flextime to surf when the waves were good or take care of a sick child. Patagonia made the “best-company-to-work-for” lists. In 1984 he opened an on site cafeteria offering healthy, almost vegetarian food and started an on-site child care at headquarters – this led to an average of 900 applicants for every job opening. In 1986, he committed the company to “tithing” for environmental activism by donating 1% of sales or 10% of profits, whichever was greater.
Some Patagonia philosophies include:
Change – Chouinard writes in regards to the corporate world and in the environment, “Only those businesses operating with a sense of urgency … constantly evolving, open to diversity and new ways of doing things, are going to be here 100 years from now.”
Environment – Despite being a self-professed pessimist about the fate of the planet, Chouinard writes that the cure for the end-of-the-world blues is action. Patagonia’s lofty goals in this area include: Lead an examined life; clean up our own act; do our penance; support civil democracy; influence other companies.
By walking the talk, Patagonia has done very well. Chouinard claims that every time Patagonia has elected to do the right thing for the environment (i.e. switching to organic cotton and using recycled plastic soft-drink bottles as raw material for jackets), even when it costs twice as much, it’s turned out to be more profitable.
By pioneering these processes, Patagonia hopes to continue to convince other companies that green business is good business. Already, Chouinard writes, large companies such as Nike, Levi’s, Gap and Walmart buy organic cotton to blend in with their industrial cotton to support the organic movement without pricing themselves out of their markets.
Some of Chouinard’s most noteable accomplishments are;
Be sure to grab a copy of Chouinard’s biography, Let My People Go Surfing, on your next trip to the bookstore or library.
In 2008, Al Gore presented a speech that his team called “an unprecedented challenge to policy makers and entrepreneurs”. It challenged America to obtain 100% of it’s power from clean energy sources within 10 years.
To encourage and help lead America through this change the organization Repower America was created and in just over one year they’ve signed up over 2 million members.
Just last week they unveiled a new campaign designed to demonstrate broad national consensus for action on clean energy and climate – the Repower Wall. Using an innovative, multimedia approach, business, faith, military, science and environmental leaders join thousands of grassroots supporters to add your voice.
“The Repower Wall shows once and for all that Americans support immediate action to build a clean energy future and solve the climate crisis,” said Alliance for Climate Protection President and CEO Maggie L. Fox. “Americans from all walks of life are joining the call to share their resolve to move America forward. As they do and the numbers and voices swell to a wave that will break and show our leaders that we are past ready for a clean energy future.”
Already, over 12 000 individuals and several major corporations such as Nike, Gap, Inc. and Starbucks have shared their voice accompanied by their photo (or logo).
The campaign has attracted a wave of messages from workers, business executives, military veterans, faith leaders, elected officials, entertainers, activists and people from across the country, demonstrating the deep and broad support for swift action on climate change and a transition to a new 21st century clean energy economy.
Hemp is one the most environmentally friendly bast fibers in the world requiring no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers and very little water to grow and it can be grown in a wide range of geographical areas. Hemp exhibits up to eight times the tensile strength of cotton, and fabrics made from hemp are more insulating, absorbent and more durable.
Cleantech venture continued it’s recovery in Q3 of 2009. The Q3 2009 total is up a further 10 percent compared to the previous quarter but down 42 percent compared to Q3 of 2008. Not only has the sector maintained the momentum it picked up in the second fiscal quarter of this year, it has emerged as the No. 1 sector in the U.S. venture investing overall. According to Cleantech Group – 27 percent of venture capital funds invested in the second quarter of 2009 went to cleantech companies – up from 3 percent at the beginning of 2004.
The greater part of investments (61 percent) were directed to companies that are currently shipping products – compared to just 37 percent for the same period in 2008. According to Eric Wesoff’s (Greentech Media) tally, venture capital investments totaled $1.9 billion in 112 deals. Of that, solar, biofuels and other fuels made up nearly $1.1 billion and 46 deals – once again dominating the scene.
“Continuing growth in cleantech investment in the third quarter reflects investor confidence in the commercialization of clean technologies,” says Joseph A. Muscat, Ernst & Young Americas director of cleantech. “The diversity in this quarter’s investment activity, in terms of the technologies receiving investment and the participating investors, illustrate the potential to create value through the development of a low-carbon economy.”
To read more about the rise in cleantech investments, click here.