MSF petition

Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) is running a petition asking pharmaceutical company Novartis to drop a law suit against the Indian government. The case would result in affordable versions of Novartis drugs to become unavailable.

Pharmaceutical company Novartis is taking the Indian government to court. If the company wins, millions of people across the globe could have their sources of affordable medicines dry up.

If you can spare a minute please consider adding your name.

Cost/opportunity – the sustainability equation

I’m a believer in the idea that sustainability doesn’t have to mean increased costs. Particularly in business “extra cost” is raised as a roadblock to making sustainable choices.

If we focus on the costs of doing what we currently do, but more sustainably, often this is the case. But if we instead focus on the opportunities that being more sustainable presents, then perhaps we can turn that equation around.

Treehugger has a brief article on Bags from Keen Shoes which is a great example/case study.

They have managed to recycle much of their excess material – which previously would have been considered waste – into bags. And they’re looking to raise the amount of recycled material in the bags from 40% to 100%.

Branson

I wonder – if Richard Branson is splashing all this money around to reduce climate change, why doesn’t his airline have an “offset this flight” button when you book a flight?

People that want it can get it easily when they’re booking the flight. People that don’t simply uncheck the box.

Ang had a similar idea for insurance companies. Insurers are well aware of the risks of climate change. If they have a retail arm that insures cars, they have most of the information they need to provide offsets. All they’d need to add to the bill is a check-box and the distance traveled during the billing period (e.g. the last year). Send in the bill with your cheque and you’re done – or provide an online payment service.

They could outsource the fulfillment to an existing carbon offsets provider (like Climate Friendly).

Two simple things that would help effectively reduce emissions.

Remarkable Prius

Seth Godin often talks about aiming for “remarkable” – I found this little tidbit over at Treehugger that exemplifies this.

Toyota in the US has had waiting lists for Prius’ for some time, with demand outstripping Toyota’s ability to build the vehicles. Given this, I found it quite extroadinary that:

… starting in April, Toyota will be showcasing the Prius in its first advertising campaign since the hybrid was introduced to the U.S. in 2000.

In other words, the Prius has literally been selling itself without the fancy advertising campaigns usually afforded new car releases. It’s all be word of mouth and PR. A remarkable product indeed.

I’ve seen ads for the Prius in Australia – but if this is true in the US, it seems quite extraordinary…

Trademark madness

Oxfam Australia: Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark specialty coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated $116 million annually: “Starbucks opposes Ethiopia’s plan to trademark specialty coffee names that could bring farmers an estimated $116 million annually”

Ethiopia attempts to trademark the names of its renowned specialty coffees that giant’s like Starbucks use to get premium prices in their stores. Starbucks intervenes and blocks the application. These names belong to the people of Ethiopa – Starbucks has no right.

I hope that Oxfam puts together a good online action for this – I’m sure they’d get a lot of support.

Irrepressible

I posted this to del.icio.us, but I just realised that I haven’t re-added my feed to the sidebar as a result of template mangling to get archives working properly.

Amnesty International have launched a great campaign site highlighting internet censorship and repression around the world. It’s an easy-to-use site with a couple of ways to quickly get involved in the campaign.

ActNow! website launch

Part of the reason I was in Melbourne yesterday was to attend the launch of the ActNow! website.

The website was created by the Inspire Foundation as a means for young people to express their views and have a say on the issues that are important to them.

WWF-Australia is one of the many, many partner organisations (101 at the time of writing) providing actions and information for the site. So far we only have one action up there, but more are in the works.

Some friends of mine at Massive Interactive had a big part to play in developing the site. It looks great and there’s lots of cool features for both the people acting, and for those of us providing information and support. Worth checking out even if you’re not a youngen’ 😉

It was also great to talk to the team behind it. The development of the site has very much been driven by young people volunteering their time. It’s clear that the team at Inspire have learnt a lot, and some of the things we chatted about last night were applicable to anyone encouraging people to act on issues. I’ll hopefully be able to catch up with them soon to learn more.

Update: Leisa, one of the team who worked on the project, has a great write-up on the site and the development process. So does Damian.

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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is affordable and achievable

WWF-Australia: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is affordable and achievable.

One of the common “myths” propagated by vested interests and the government is that we can’t afford to reduce our emissions because it would cost too much and damage the economy.

Now, AGL aren’t the cleanest kids on the block – they ranked number 9 of 14 in the last electricity watch scorecard. And yet even they acknowledge that it is doable.

We seem to be close to a tipping point (if it’s not already been reached) in the media and business sphere’s approach to climate change (aka global warming). Lets hope that the talk turns into action.

Personal action (i.e. switching to Green Power) is only one part of the solution. Business and government do need to step in to create the systemic changes required to radically reduce our CO2 emissions.

Huge Impact of Reducing Packaging

More on the whole “small changes amplified” meme. The EcoStreet Blog reports on the positive impact Nature’s Path’s decision reduce packaging by 10% (emphasis theirs).

Nature’s Path produce a range of organic breakfast cereals in Canada. They claim to always have been concerned about their use of packaging. So much so, they offer bulk packs of most of their cereals and always use recycled cardboard. They have furthered their commitment by resizing the boxes of their core products which will reduce the packaging by 10%.

Reducing our package size by 10% lessens our yearly impact upon the earth by saving over 700,000 gallons of water, 500,000 KWh of energy, and 75 tons of paperboard

I can guarantee that the hidden message here is that they also save lots of $$ in the process. It’s a pretty simple equation – reducing consumption reduces costs. Nice one…