Archive for January, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Making Lemonade

We are starting a new tradition called Thankful Thursday. Each week, we will post on someone or something that we are particularly grateful for, including mentors, inspiring green business owners, and clients. The intent is to pause and reflect on the wealth that is always present. Comments are welcome!

To start off, today I want to write about my husband, Peter Garver.

If I really let fly, this post is likely to be long enough to read until next Thursday! Instead, I will keep it to this one topic. Two days ago, Peter was mugged in broad daylight while walking near his office. It’s a hip complex of restored old mills, now offices, Starbucks, a wine store, and a Whole Foods. Not exactly a high-crime area.

Peter is 6′-4″, so is not used to feeling threatened in any setting. Two guys tackled him from behind, and before he knew it he was face-down on the pavement being subjected to some rather brutal treatment. They took his wallet, but thankfully left his car keys and cellphone.

Besides the keys and the phone, what else is there to be thankful for in this dismal story?

1. Peter suffered injuries that required a trip to the ER (the ambulance was overkill, but adds to the story). Thankfully, he needed only three stitches in his elbow and a tiny staple in his scalp (ouch!). Given that we live in Baltimore (home of “The Wire“), this could have been so much worse.

2. He immediately understood how lucky he is and has spent very little, if any, time dwelling on his anger. He has kept the perspective that we live a rather charmed life in a city that has too many areas where people feel unsafe all the time.

3. He has instead channeled his anger and sadness to working with our City Council representative to get a security camera installed in this somewhat isolated stretch of walkway. This will ripple forth and be of benefit throughout our community.

4. The outpouring of sympathy and support from neighbors, friends, and colleagues has been phenomenal. These connections are always there; we just don’t often take the time to really feel and acknowledge them.

5. Peter opened himself to receiving the care and attention of many people. He even went for some bodywork, to clear out the energy and help to heal pulled muscles, bumps and bruises. In our culture, needing help is taken to be a sign of weakness that can be very uncomfortable. I have seen nothing but grace and humility from him.

6. Last (and best!), he demonstrates over and over the magic of a sense of humor. From his first, twinkle-eyed comment to me to the occasional black-humor quip, Peter has performed his own special brand of alchemy on this terrible event.

I hope these reflections trigger something in you that you are thankful for, whether in your personal life or business. If you are so moved, I’d love to read your comments.

10 Ways to Love a Starbucks Cup

photo by: JulieI’m not a regular at Starbucks, but will confess a certain weakness for the occasional Grande Decaf Soy Latte. (Although I always feel a bit silly ordering.) As I sipped one last week, the writing on the side of the cup intrigued me. I love this for so many reasons. Let me elaborate here:

1. The bold message, “YOU,” immediately creates a bond between me, the customer, and what could easily be perceived as a giant, faceless corporation.

2. It has some very specific information for me: that Starbucks bought 228 million pounds of responsible grown, ethically traded coffee last year. That sounds like a LOT of coffee, doesn’t it?

3. They didn’t stop with the big, impressive number. They put it in context: that’s 65% of all the coffee they bought. Measuring like this probably means they have a real handle on their other environmental impacts as well.

4. And, they tell me they are working with farmers to make it 100%. NOW, I’m really impressed. Both with their audacious goal and with the fact that they see it as a cooperative venture. Without the farmers they’d have a hard time making coffee.

5. They also say they are “using our size for good.” Feel the power in that statement? Business as a tool for positive change – has a wonderful ring to it, doesn’t it? Before you start thinking, “Yes, but it’s Starbucks, for goodness sakes!” remember that ANY business – yours included – is potentially a powerful transformational tool.

6. The message, “you make it all possible,” reinforces what must be an authentic core value of their business. Without the customer, it’s all pretty irrelevant, isn’t it? Take a moment and think of all the clients and customers you’ve interacted with over the past five years. Didn’t they literally make it possible for you to live your purpose through your business?

7. They include a logo that says, “partnering with Conservation International,” which should not be overlooked here. It’s still fairly unusual for a large, for-profit business to partner with an NGO, but that’s where this is all headed. Cooperation is key. Remember, “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.”

8. The idea of using a utilitarian part of one’s business – the humble coffee cup – to convey such important information is also brilliant and not to be overlooked. What are you overlooking in your business that could instead be bringing an inspiring core message to your customers?

9. They close with a way to go even deeper. “Find out what else you can do at,” which allows the curious customer to learn more about their environmental initiatives. On that site (yes, I went there!), you can download their “Global Responsibility Report,” see their 2015 goals and learn about everything from store designs to community involvement.

10. Does Starbucks know their market? They seem to be doing an admirable job keeping up with their customers’ values, and reminding us of it whenever we buy from them. Truth be told, as much as I love this cup, I’m still far more likely to go to my locally-owned coffee shop (that also serves fair-trade coffee). For those times when I fall off the wagon and succumb to Starbucks, at least I know I’m “making it all possible” for them to use their business as a tool for good in the world.

My Blog is Carbon Neutral!

photo by: Julie

The other day, I received an email invitation to participate in a campaign called, “My blog is carbon neutral.” I’m aware of the arguments pro and con for carbon offsets, and chose not to get too riled up about it. I just think it’s a fun idea, so — I’m in! Here is some information from the sponsor’s website. . . .

How much carbon dioxide does a blog create?

According to a study by Alexander Wissner-Gross, PhD, physicist at Harvard University and environmental activist, an average website causes about 0.02g (0,0008oz.) of carbon dioxide for each visit. Assuming an average blog gets 15,000 visits a month, it has yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 3,6kg (8lb.). This can mainly be tracked back to the immense energy usage from (mainframe) computers, servers, and their cooling systems.

How much carbon dioxide does a tree absorb?

Unfortunately, no precise answer is possible. The carbon dioxide absorption of a tree can differ a lot. The amount of carbon dioxide that a tree can absorb depends on the type of tree, light exposure, length of the vegetation period, latitude, water balance, and the soil conditions.

There are many different calculations for the saving potential of a tree. The assumed values vary between 10 and 30kg (20 and 70lb.) for a tree each year. It is certain however, that in its first two to three years a tree absorbs relatively little carbon dioxide. In the growth phase following this, the absorption rate increases rapidly. During this time, the tree safes a considerable amount of carbon dioxide. The absorption rate decrease again from the age of 18.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) assumes a yearly absorption of one tree of approximately 10kg (20lb.) carbon dioxide emissions. “Make it green”, the environmental programme of kaufDA, is using a yearly absorption value of 5kg (11lb.) for its “My blog is carbon neutral” initiative. This is a very conservative calculation, ensuring that the neutralisation of each blog is achieved.

How and where are the trees planted?

The trees are planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California by “Arbor Day Foundation” the US partner for the “My blog is carbon neutral” initiative. “Arbor Day Foundation” is a non-profit conservation and education organization with the goal helping reforest 5,500 acres of Plumas National Forest with 792,000 trees.

Want to get your blog signed up?

Head on over to their website and check out the instructions. It’s really easy!