U.S. Paper Recycling Rates Hit New High
Mar. 29, 2010

recycled paperNEW YORK, NY — Paper recovery and recycling continues to grow more rapidly than even industry experts can predict, continuing a trend we've reported in our State of Green Business report for the past three years.

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), an industry association that tracks paper use, released its 2009 figures for paper recovery and recycling, and found that a record-high 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered last year for recycling.

The achievement marks the continuation of big leaps in the percentage of paper recovered, even as the overall amount of paper used declines. By surpassing 60 percent recovery, the AF&PA has surpassed its goal three years early.

"Recycling is one of America's great environmental success stories and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this arena," AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman said in a statement. "Today's announcement is a testament to the work of the industry and the commitment of millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work on a daily basis."

The early achievement of the recovery goal is another ongoing trend in paper recovery. As we wrote in the State of Green Business report this year:
Don't Put Your Business at Risk
Mar. 22, 2010

Embrace Sustainability or Put Your Business at RiskThe concept behind sustainability is as simple as it is compelling: resources may only be used at a rate at which they can be replenished.

When most people see the word "resources," they think immediately of natural resources. But in order to thrive businesses actually need three types of resources: environmental (e.g., natural resources), social (including employees, customers and general societal goodwill) and economic (money).

In fact, these three factors comprise a common definition of business sustainability: increasing short- and long-term profitability by holistically managing economic, social and environmental risks and opportunities.

This definition is relevant both in times of recession and economic growth because the main drivers of sustainability don't change. The three factors have been the drivers of business success since mankind has been engaged in business endeavors. While sustainability may seem to run counter to the profit-maximizing doctrine of running a company, this concept of creating sustainable business processes is increasingly seen as a key to long-term success. 

Organizations can work toward sustainability in many ways, but to be truly effective sustainability initiatives cannot stand alone. They must transform the organization as a whole. This takes individual and coordinated efforts from many segments of a company.

Read entire article at GreenBiz.com
Nike's Sustainability Journey: 15 Years and Going
Mar. 15, 2010

Nike's Sustainability Journey: 15 Years and Going StrongWhen Nike first began incorporating sustainability into its business practices, the risks and opportunities we grappled with seemed distant -- indeed, even non-existent to most businesses.

There was no "best practices" path to follow. So out of necessity and using our culture of innovation we experimented with different approaches, invited a few select partners to join with us, and hoped that our passion and ability to innovate would carry us forward.

Fifteen years later, the risks and opportunities that businesses face from environmental and social challenges are more obvious than ever. We are surrounded by strong signals and data on the far-reaching impacts of climate change, population growth and resource scarcity.  Adding to the complexity is the increasingly globalized economy that has us making and selling products in all corners of the world.
With the release of its new report, "The 21st Century Corporation: Roadmap for Sustainability," Ceres is paving the way for all companies to embark on a sustainability journey, but are not sure where to start. The report also provides a clear compass for companies like Nike, who have been on this journey for a while, to check their bearings and progress.

Read the entire article GreenBiz.com
Tired of Tweeting? Online Forums May Be The Answer
Mar. 12, 2010

tired of twitterWhile advertising executives desperately search for the best ways to target audiences through Facebook and Twitter, there’s another social media format that is proving to be a highly effective tool for reaching consumers. According to a new white paper released from PostRelease, “If the Holy Grail of marketing is a band of self-motivated enthusiasts proactively recommending your product, then the Grail’s secret location could very well be the world of online forums.”

As opposed to tweets and status updates, in which they are intrusive at best, pointed product conversations are often the very forces that drive online forum discussions. Rather than sharing with the world what you had for lunch today, consumers in forums post such targeted questions as, “What should I look for in a laptop?” and “Can someone recommend the best sleeping bags?”

“In other words, forums are a communicator’s dream—the ultimate way to target,” said Justin Choi, president of PostRelease, which happens to be in the business of online forum advertising. PostRelease enables companies to insert clearly labeled sponsored posts as relevant content into targeted online forum discussions, using a unique hybrid approach to make forums useful to advertisers, marketers and public relations specialists.

The paper provides data supporting the case that forums are the most effective channel for reaching highly influential consumers. Forrester Research reports that 28 percent of U.S. consumers read online forums—making it the second most popular online activity, second only to watching video.

The paper also examines the following:

•    How forums work—their structure, and current advertising opportunities
•    What makes forum users such word-of-mouth powerhouses for a brand
•    Why participating in forum discussions can boost SEO rankings, with posts that continue to drive traffic indefinitely—increasing by an average of 100 percent one year after a paid campaign has ended
•    The importance of transparency and of following the rules and guidelines when participating in a forum community
•    How to be effective in forums by dispensing useful information, not promotional messages

“But it’s not as simple as just jumping in and starting to participate in the forum conversations,” said Choi. “There are challenges, rules and best practices that agencies and brands should be aware of. The purpose of this paper is to help demystify the world of online forums and give them their due as one of the best ways to reach consumers already predisposed to be interested in what you say.”

Contact Us to learn more about Forums

Source: Web Site Magazine

Hosting a Great Green Wedding
Mar. 08, 2010

host a green wedding1. Go Local

Using local vendors cuts down on the miles that your wedding essentials must travel and puts money back into the local economy. Purchase food from farmers’ markets, and seek out great regional wines and brews for your celebration.

2. Use Seasonal Flowers

“Buying [flower arrangements] in season means they’re going to be fresher...and you will also usually save money,” says Kate Harrison, author of The Green Bride Guide (Sourcebooks). Purchase organic flowers to avoid pesticides and artificial scents. If you’re set on a specific type of flower, only buy a limited amount.

3. Plant Your Centerpieces

Peace lilies are easy to grow and act as wonderful air purifiers. Other centerpiece ideas include pots planted with herbs like mint and rosemary or glass jars filled with candles and fruit. If you’d still like flower centerpieces, fill jars with locally grown flowers, advises Melissa Hart, who hosted her green wedding in Oregon in 2007.

4. Give Practical Wedding Favors

Avoid the waste of kitschy wedding charms by creating edible favors filled with Fair Trade-certified chocolates, colorful candies or fresh fruit. Or, bypass the wedding favors altogether by making a donation in your guests’ honor.

“We donated to The National Audubon Society and E Magazine,” says Laura Ruggeri, whose green wedding was held last May in New York. “Both nonprofits provided us with magazines, which were given to our guests with a thank-you note.”

5. Encourage Low-Impact Clothing

Wedding wear is often so occasion-specific that it’s only worn once. Keep your bridal party and the environment happy by allowing for some flexibility. “I asked our wedding party to wear a dress or tie in a certain color palette [so they could] wear something from their existing wardrobe rather than buying new,” says Mary Supley Foxworth, whose green wedding was held in Virginia in 2004. “I loved the result!”

6. Make an Invitation Statement

E-vites are the greenest route for wedding invitations, but other light-impact options include invitations made with recycled paper, organic cotton or tree-free options like bamboo and hemp printed with vegetable-based inks.

“We had family members who objected to not receiving a physical invitation as a keepsake, so we ordered recycled paper invitations and skipped the reply cards, asking guests to RSVP via e-mail or phone instead,” says Stacey Kenny, who hosted her green wedding in New York this past April.

7. Buy Gently Used Items

There are plenty of wedding reuse sites like Weddingbee and BravoBride, as well as traditional resale sites like Ebay and Craigslist. Bride$hare, a social networking site, is another great resource for brides.

“I bought a pair of Vera Wang shoes for $50 on eBay,” says Harrison, “and resold them for $50. This kind of recycling allows you to enjoy a luxury item with minimal environmental or financial impact.”

8. Choose a Greener Dress

Wedding dresses can use up to 16 yards of fabric, typically made from petroleum products and bleached with toxic chemicals. In addition to vintage, thrift and consignment shops, sites like Gently Used Bridal can help you find the ideal dress. There are also hemp, organic cotton or even bamboo wedding gowns available. And after the wedding, consider donating your dress to a good cause like Brides Against Breast Cancer.

9. Give Back Through Gift Registry

These days, lots of couples are getting married in their late 20s and 30s, which means many have all the kitchenware they need. The I Do Foundation allows for a range of charity registry options, including donating 10% of purchases to a charity, creating a charity registry and offsetting your wedding’s carbon footprint.

10. Ditch the Diamonds

Diamonds are forever, but so are their negative social and environmental impacts. Consider rings made with a moonstone, pearl or piece of sea glass. Some jewelers also use wood to create handcrafted, inexpensive wedding bands that can be inlaid with gems. And check the craft site Etsy for eco-minded jewelry artists.

Source: E Magazine
5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Social Media
Mar. 01, 2010

5 Ways to Grow Your Local Business with Social MediaLet’s face it; most small businesses do the bulk of their business locally. So, the thought of gaining access to Facebook’s 300 trillion users (may be more by now) isn’t that relevant or useful.

However, if those local businesses could use some of the new powerful online tools and platforms to gain access to the 200-300 social media users in their town, now that might just make some sense.

There are many ways to filter, sort, aggregate and otherwise take advantage of social media tools that can specifically benefit even the smallest neighborhood oriented business.

Below are five things any local business can do to get more business using social media tools

1) Start a Local Group Online

Most social network platforms offer some form of group creation. Any member has the ability to start a group around a niche or pretty much any topic – including a local topic. Sites such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Slideshare all allow members to create and manage groups.

For example here’s a local independent merchant group in Austin, TX using a Flickr Group to promote it’s “Keep Austin Weird” slogan.

This Boston Networking Group on LinkedIn was founded by Jeff Popin, owner of BostonEventGuide.com. With over 3,000 members, there’s a pretty good bet this group serves as a conduit for Popin’s main business locally.

2) Find and Network with Local Bloggers

Using tools such as Placeblogger, outside.in, Bloglines you can locate bloggers in your community that might have an interest in writing about your business or industry or actively linking to your blog.

Networking with relevant bloggers locally, commenting on their blog posts, and maybe even contributing a post is a great way to create additional local exposure. Don’t forget to seek out and add blogs from traditional media publications locally as well. Most radio, TV and news journalists have been asked to write a blog as part of their job, these can be great local social media contacts if you take the time to build relationships though their blogs.

Read entire article