Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014

Happy Earth Day Everyone! 
The Blue Marble as seen from Apollo 17

Here are 10 Environmental Victories to encourage Earth Day celebrations the world over. And speaking of Earth Day, I'm currently taking an independent study course which focuses on Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability as it pertains to Business. Sustainability, after all, is the path which led me to pursue an MBA. 

From my perspective this is not a paradox but a natural progression. As exemplified in an article I read for class, Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World by Stuart L. Hart, the most effective strategy to bring about sustainable solutions is rooted in business. My summary of the article is as follows:

Summary of Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World by Stuart L. Hart

The great challenge and opportunity of our time is to create a ‘Sustainable Global Economy,’ i.e. an economy which supports the planet indefinitely. As it stands now, we are meeting our needs by destroying the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Hart calls corporations “the only organizations with the resources, the technology, the global reach, and, ultimately, the motivation to achieve sustainability.”

‘Worlds in Collision’ is the summary view that Hart explains as the interdependence and soon to be colliding forces which create the major social and environmental problems we are now facing; the Market Economy, the Survival Economy, and Nature’s Economy. The resulting challenges include climate change, pollution, resource depletion, poverty, and inequality. 

The Market Economy consists of commerce in developing nations and emerging economies alike. Some 17% (1 billion) of the world’s population falls within this affluent group and accounts for more than 75% of the world’s resources, leaving large ecological footprints. The Survival Economy includes the traditional, subsistence way of life in rural areas of developing countries. The approximately 3 billion people in this group meet their basic needs directly from nature. 90% of future population growth is expected to come from the Survival Economy. Nature’s Economy consists of the natural systems and resources that support the Market and Survival Economies, including renewable and nonrenewable resources. 

Environmental burden is a function of population, affluence (consumption), and technology. But while population and consumption are societal issues, “technology is the business of business.” Further asserting Business’s role, Hart states “the responsibility for ensuring a sustainable world falls largely on the shoulders of the world’s enterprises, the economic engines of the future.”

Three stages of environmental strategy for a sustainable world include: Pollution Prevention (minimizing or eliminating waste before it is created); Product Stewardship (minimizing not only pollution from manufacturing but all environmental impacts associated with the full life cycle of a product); and Clean Technology (replacing existing product and process technologies with new, cleaner ones).

A sustainability vision is a plan for those companies striving to carry out the three stages of environmental strategy, directing how products, services, and processes will evolve while illuminating new competencies that will be required. Corporations can lead the way by helping to shape public policy and driving change in consumer’s behavior. Hart concludes that it makes good business sense for corporations to pursue strategies for a sustainable world.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summersweet Clethra

Summersweet Clethra has induced me end my blogging hiatus. Passing by a massing of this shrub yesterday, I was caught off guard by the fabulous scent. Dr. Dirr describes it as “delightfully fragrant.” It’s not a scent that is overpowering, but rather one of which you can’t seem to get enough.

Summersweet Clethra (Clethra alnifolia) is a large summer-blooming shrub that grows 3-8’ high and 4-6’ wide. The fragrant blooms are not terribly showy but will last 4 weeks or more. This plant is “tremendously pest free” and will do well in sun or shade and wet soils. Fall color is also a “worthwhile attribute.”

The pictured shrub is the ‘Ruby Spice’ variety which is a lovely soft pink. Bees, butterflies, and a variety of insects love this native plant. If you have an informal shrub border with some space, use this plant. And in other garden news, the American Plums are ripening!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

my new job: Lawn Technician

On account of my ever decreasing discretionary funds, I have fired my lawn guy and hired myself. For the cost of approximately one month of lawn care, I have purchased a 16” reel lawn mower to use throughout the season. The Greenworks brand is well-reviewed and the 16” size seems perfect for me, at about 26 pounds.

The only maintenance I foresee is sharpening the blades, which many online have called an “enjoyable activity.” While this will be a new time commitment on my part, I will be burning more calories and reducing my carbon footprint. (Previous lawn maintenance technician used a gas-powered riding lawn mower and gas-guzzling trimmer.) I particularly enjoy that Greenworks has categorized their reel mowers as "human" powered on their website. 

Thanks to Amazon, I will have my new human-powered mower this week. And should the weather be enjoyable Saturday, I will have a go at cutting my lawn myself! (Among other needed landscape chores.) I cannot wait for spring, happy gardening ya’ll!