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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Correction

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A brief correction… In my October 11 post about the Wal-Mart Sustainability Summit, I mistakenly said that the SC Johnson company had withdrawn one of its products from the marketplace due to environmental concerns. The product in question is actually made by another manufacturer with no relationship to SC Johnson.

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Find the Founder

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Author: the Inkslinger

We’re heading down into Thanksgiving here. Folks are departing for distant shores and points well known. There’s a quiet descending upon the scene and a calm that doesn’t come often enough if you ask me. It’s a good time to tie up loose ends, one of which is this round-up of Jeffrey’s recent media appearances…

Jeffrey got a double shot of love from Ad Age magazine recently. A video segment featured a clip of his speech at last week’s Idea Conference in New York City. And he made the mag’s Marketing 50, a look at “fifty sharp ideas and the visionaries who saw them through.” (We’re on page 5.)

An excerpt from the recent book Marketing That Matters featuring Jeffrey and Seventh Gen’s transparency efforts appeared on Article Dashboard last week.

Wrapping things up is this great Wall Street Journal podcast in which Jeffrey talks about daily life at Seventh Generation and all the things that make us a company that’s a bit different than most.

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Power Shifting

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Author: the Inkslinger

Recently Capital Hill was taken over by students from around the country who don’t want to inherit a world crippled by climate change. Change-It ’06 alumni Jackie Sargent was there and she’s sent us this dispatch from the front lines…

From Nov 2-5, nearly 6,000 students from every state in the nation attended Powershift, the largest national youth summit on global warming, which was held at the University of Maryland, College Park. Students attended workshops and panels and learned all about environmental initiatives and how to make their campus/city/state/nation a more sustainable one.

There were speakers such as Ralph Nader and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On the last day, students went to the Capitol for a rally and more than eleven hundred students visited their local state representatives to talk about what matters most to them – the environment, social justice, and a better world for all.

Alright, that's the background. Now for my story…

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Energy for Dummies, Part II: Special Congressional Edition

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Author: the Inkslinger

I’ve been sitting here fuming all afternoon about the information that Congress is actually considering taking renewable energy tax credits and utility mandates out of the 2007 energy bill. (And boy is my dog sick of listening to me....) But I’ve realized I should have capped my previous post with some information about what we can do to convince our elected representatives that this is a remarkably, shall we politely say, foolhardy course of sad inaction. So go here and help. Deliver a letter. Make a call. Send an e-mail. Put the pressure on. Because in 2007 it would be the absolute height of unmitigated insanity to have an energy bill that doesn’t include renewables let alone focus on them.

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Energy for Dummies

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a question: Why do we even talk about fossil fuels anymore? Why do we care? Seriously. Why do we wring our hands over the price of oil? Why do we destroy entire mountain ecosystems in a fool’s errand for coal? For that matter, why do we keep irradiating ourselves with fissionable materials? Why do we give even so much as the time of day to any source of energy that involves splitting atoms or carbon-loading the atmosphere when the entire country and most of the rest of the world could do everything it needs to without depositing so much as a single thimble of anything into the air?

I have to ask because I absolutely do not get it. At all. I am utterly baffled. Truly. I’m constantly reading about incredible and incredibly workable ideas to generate power without pollution. Big, here-now, ready-to-go, here-you-are solutions that could do it all. Like Concentrated Solar Power, which could power 90% of the entire world, provide all the drinking water it could want, and here at home keep the U.S. lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids from now until the end of time using a patch of desert scrub just 92 miles square. Right here. Right now. Today. No more oil. No more OPEC. No more emissions. No more carbon. No more apocalypse. End of story.

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Big Green Myth

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I was extremely disappointed to read Ben Elgin’s cover story in the October 29th issue of BusinessWeek magazine. The article, “Little Green Lies,” wrongly suggests that profits and environmental initiatives don’t mix and that companies cannot hope to be both successful and sustainable.

This myth has long been discredited, and my dismay at finding it still being given credence was so great that I fired off a letter to the editor, a portion of which has just been published on the Opinion page in the magazine’s November 12th issue. Here’s the complete version:

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Selling Salvation

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Author: the Inkslinger

Under the headline “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats,” an article in Tuesday’s Washington Post talked about what the Democratic candidates are saying about the climate crisis and posited that their general we-gotta-do-something-serious-but-it-ain’t-gonna-be-cheap-or-easy-or-fun campaign statements may be harmful to their electoral prospects.

Democrats' boldness, however, could carry a political price. The eventual GOP presidential nominee is almost certain to attack Democrats over the huge costs associated with limiting emissions. "They will come at this hard," said John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and sees an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases as necessary.

Podesta may be right, but if Democrats think it’ll be a hard to campaign on a platform of climate crisis action wait ‘til they see life in a world whose candidates dare to do nothing. They don’t know from hard. And they seem to be unwilling to tap into the general sentiment out among the voters, which is that we’re all mostly ready to deal with this climate thing.

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Numerecology

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Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of enviro fact finding on the radar this week in the form of two major reports and several public opinion surveys that point to a coming crossroads that’s fast approaching. Does humanity blow right through the intersection and run off the rails? Or do we make the right turn and drive into a new era of sustainability? That, dear Yorick, is the question...

The International Energy Agency published it’s annual summary of the global energy situation this week. The World Energy Outlook looks at the state of things around the world and is not so sanguine about what it finds. The burgeoning economies of China and India are getting as hungry for energy as ours is, and we all know what’s happened here where 4% of the world’s population has somehow and against all odds found a way to produce 25% of its greenhouse gases. Think about what happens when 33% of the world’s population develops a similar appetite. That’s essentially what the IEA does here, and believe me when I say this is not a story to read to the kids at bedtime. There’s a scary monster under the bed, and it’s called Inaction…

Meanwhile, just days earlier, the United Nations Environment Programme releasesd its Global Environment Outlook. It’s another tough read and not because it uses big words or is written in Flemish. Rather, it’s a fairly unflinching look at what the environment is up against and the many ways humans need to back off a bit. Still, unlike the IEA report, whose authors probably leapt off the nearest building ledge as soon as they shut off the printer, the U.N. maintains some level of optimism that we can do what has to be done. It’s not like we have no idea how to defeat this beast called unsustainability and have no other option but to hide quivering in caves. The knowledge we need is there. The question in the U.N.’s view is does humanity have the collective cahones to use it and can we summon the will to do what it takes to make the new paradigm it would create work?

Several new surveys suggest that we do and can.

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Trending Upward

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Author: the Inkslinger

A new article from Fast Company is a good look at all the different kinds of environmental thinking now popping up on corporate radar screens all over the place. It’s notable for several reasons. For one, while some of these changes may not seem like much on the surface, they’re part of something I don’t think we’ve seen before: a deep overhaul of all kinds of wasteful systems that have been begging for meaningful change for years.

Add up all these “ways to go green” and you start to actually see what we’ve been looking for: the beginnings of a systemic response to the climate crisis and other ills born of unsustainability. Businesses are suddenly thinking in ways quite new to them and looking at all areas of their operations for ways to do better and be cleaner.

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