Wal-Mart green electronics

EcoGeek reports: “Wal-Mart has announced that its electronic suppliers will have to fill out scorecards indicating the environmental impact of its products”.

It’s voluntary and un-scrutinized, but it’s a start. It would be cool if the manufacturers, or Wal-Mart, published the results on the web – though I doubt we’ll see that, except maybe from the ones that perform well…

WWF is hiring (again)

WWF is looking for an Online Communications Manager.

For the observant, yes. That is indeed my job.

I’ve taken up a position with Digital Eskimo (check out this YouTube video to find out a bit about my new workplace), and I’ll be starting there first week of May.

There are a number of reasons why I’ve made the leap, which I might expand on later. Suffice to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at WWF, and that I’m looking forward to tackling my new role 🙂

So, if anyone knows anyone (other than me) who might be suitable for the role – let ’em know 😉

Virgin carbon offsets

Well, I missed the news yesterday – but it seems that Virgin must have been listening 😉 They’re now offering carbon offsets for their flights. Noice!

More on the news – I do hope other airlines follow suit, but in the meantime this will impact my decision when booking airfares. I currently offset my flights using Climate Friendly – but this makes it easier (and by the looks of things is also cheaper).

Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to have been integrated into their online booking system (I did every step but pay) – but I’m sure it’s not far away…

I think it was a very wise step to get the “Greenhouse Friendly” accreditation. In one fell swoop they remove any ambiguity about the validity of their efforts.

You know, I was just thinking about offsets this morning. I, like others I know, are waiting for the greenwash, with companies scrambling to go “carbon neutral” by doing nothing more than using offsets.

Although I don’t agree with this method of doing things, one thought I had was that at least a lot of money and investment will go into renewable energy infrastructure development. I don’t think it would take long for the existing investments to “run out” of capacity, therefore driving the business case for more renewable capacity.

Then again, maybe I’m just idealistic…

Future is man made (Redux)

After a few months of development (and many months of thinking and strategising) I’m proud to announce the launch of the new Future is man made website.

From the blurb on the home page:

This site … is a place where people can share their ideas for living sustainably. We hope the tips and stories here will be useful for you and that you will share your ideas here too.

As part of the team at WWF, I very much hope that the site will become a hub of activity from folks around Australia can share their stories, tips and experiences to make it easier to live more sustainably.

To kick things off, and as part of the Earth Hour promotional activity, the site has a “60 things you can do in the dark” competition – submit your ideas for a chance to win a Nokia 3250 mobile phone and Planet Earth DVD.

I could go into more details about the strategy, development and details, but really, I’d just prefer to point and let y’all decide if you like it or not 🙂 Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment here, or through the site’s contact form.

Big props to Digital Eskimo who were fantastic to work with to get the site up and running. It’s been a blast working with them on the project – muchos kudos guys 🙂

Incandescent ban

Ban the bulb

Seems like Malcolm Turnbull is considering banning incandescent light bulbs (more at news.com.au).

I think this is a great move that will not only benefit the environment, but will also reduce the cost of the bulbs as sales volume increases. (I also love the fact it’s front page news, and the top news item on Google News today. Brilliant!)

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great image that compares the two types of bulbs. What I love about the picture is that it compares the cost of 6 incandescent bulbs with one CFL – which is a much fairer cost comparison as the life of a CFL is much longer.

At a total cost of more than 6 times, and CO2 emissions of roughly the same proportion, the incandescents simply don’t stack up.

Of course, there’s no need to wait for government intervention – you can get CFLs on the shelf today.

(I also hope that CFL manufacturers ditch the plastic blister packs (which are annoying to open) and replace them with more conventional and easier to handle packaging…)

A couple of further thoughts – I agree with some of the comments I’ve read that it doesn’t take a lot of political will to do what Turnbull is suggesting. And that a lot more is needed. But it’s a great first step.

To put the announcement into perspective. From what I understand, lighting accounts for between 5% and 10% of all household emissions. That means that more than 90% of a households emissions still need to be addressed. Still a 5-7% gain in efficiency in a household is a big step forward and should be supported.

Hot water, which Turnbull is reportedly also targeting for efficiency measures, accounts for around 25-30%, which will have an even bigger impact.

Ultimately, however, the energy industry needs an overhaul to make the big difference required. As I’ve stated before, energy efficiency will play a big part in allowing that to happen.

(Image thanks to Lighter Footstep)

Local Cooling

Evan points to a Windows-based power management app, Local Cooling. Apart from providing some useful settings, it shows the theoretical energy savings and also “phones home” to show the aggregate saving of all Local Cooling users.

Great idea! Nice work – plus I learnt these little factoids (I’m yet to verify):

More than 30 billion kilowatt-hours of energy is wasted because many of us simply forget to shut down our computers when we’re not using them. If we could just improve the efficiency of how we use our PCs, the savings in energy costs would be over $3 billion dollars! The CO2 emissions from just 15 computers are equivalent in energy terms to the gas consumption used by one car.

Earth Hour

On Friday, WWF, Fairfax and the City of Sydney announced an event called Earth Hour. The basic premise is that on March 31, all Sydney-ites are encouraged to turn their lights off for one hour between 7.30 and 8.30pm as a statement of action relating to climate change.

I’ve been reading some of the reaction in blogland and three themes seem to emerge: 1. that the time of year is wrong; 2. that big events like this don’t achieve much; or 3. that those damn greenies just want us to go back to the stone-ages (i.e. live in darkness).

On point 1 – it is true that there is a fine window on March 31 for the night to come in after 7.30pm – but there were many, many factors at play in deciding the date, and March 31 was the best fit given all those things (mother nature, of course, does play the most important role in choice of time – the impact will be greatly reduced if it’s not actually dark).

On point 2 – the point of the event is to help people understand the link between energy use and global warming, and that their actions, collectively, can make a big difference. Commentators are right to point out that 1 hour is not going to see a huge difference in energy consumption. But the event is not the end in itself – it is a means to an end, and it is in that sense that the team at WWF (myself included) hope for success. Will the event achieve that? Who knows. But we’re certainly working towards it.

On point 3 – if they actually listened to what we have to say, they wouldn’t be saying this 😉 It’s not about going without – it’s about being smarter in how we use energy, and not wasting it. Regular readers of this blog will know what I think about it. But I doubt the naysayers are regular readers of this blog 😉

Please consider signing up for the initiative if you haven’t already to show your support for an alternative, sustainable, future.

I’d be delighted to hear your feedback (good or bad) – any questions I’ll try to answer as best I can…