Jan 16

Our not-so-green world

Green is today’s gold. At least in American marketing circles. Every company touts its carbon-neutralRecycled_desk
goals, its green-friendly products and services and its commitment to protect the environment for future generations.

And, surveys will come along to support such thinking. CNN just released one taken of recent college graduates who overwhelmingly said they’d prefer working for a green-friendly company. Duh. Who’s going to say they’d like to work for some manufacturer purposely poisoning our air, land and water?

Yet, at the same time, one wonders how long the green hype will continue? For example, another survey just released by Nielsen showed that American shoppers couldn’t care less about patronizing grocery stores that provide ‘recyclable bags and packaging. Much more important were ‘good value,’ ‘better selection of high quality brands and products’ and, get this, ‘easy parking.’ Ouch. Talk about priorities.

And, then there’s Africa. Having just visited several countries on the ‘dark continent,’ I can confirm that green/sustainability efforts are non-existent. Cars and factories spew all sorts of toxic gases into the sky, and forests, grasslands and other natural resources continue to be trampled down and abused at will.

Last, but not least, there’s the looming recession. Going green is a ‘smart, socially-conscious’ business move when the economy’s booming. One wonders, though, how many CEOs will stay the course when their boards and shareholders squeeze them even harder for improved quarterly profits.

So, color me ‘yellow’ for cautious when it comes to green’s long-term future. It’s a great idea but one, I’m afraid, that will take a back seat as more pressing realities come to the forefront.

Oct 25

I don’t like Green Meanies

Everywhere I turn, I see, hear and read about ‘going green.’ Whether it’s my neighbors buying hybrid cars,Gogreen
major Fortune 500 companies announcing huge sustainability efforts or big PR firms declaring their workplaces will be carbon neutral by 2009, it seems like everyone’s jumping on the environmental sensitivity bandwagon.

And, that’s cool. It’s a noble effort to be sure. But, is it a futile one as well? Auden Schendler, who Time Magazine anointed just last year as a ‘climate crusader’ thinks so. He laments in a current BusinessWeek profile, "How do you really green your company? It’s almost f***ing impossible."

It seems that no matter what any of us do, it will have very little, if any, meaningful impact on reducing global carbon emissions. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Or course not.  But, the ‘doing well by doing right’ corporate mantra du jour, is apparently just that in many cases: a mantra du jour.

According to BusinessWeek, some companies are already abandoning their green efforts because they don’t provide an immediate return. CEOs, pressured by Wall Street to produce quarter-to-quarter results, simply can’t wait seven years to show an ROI (which is understandable).

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Jul 03

Making a difference

Fresh from defeating his dad in two straight games of one-on-one basketball, Chris ‘Repman, Jr.’ Cody was tooling along Middletown-Lincroft Road yesterday when his car pulled up behind a town garbage truck, painted green and covered with various pro-environment slogans.

Stenciled across the truck’s rear were the words, ‘Making a difference.’ That’s when Chris, noticing the acrid smoke and pungent odors spewing forth from various parts of the vehicle, noted, ‘Yeah, they’re making a difference all right. A difference for the worse.’

I’m always amazed when an organization says one thing, but does another. The fast food chains are a great example of this sort of double talk: their slogans boast about fresh, fast, delicious food, but we all know their calorie and fat-laden lard is adding inches to America’s collective waistline every day.

The best way to keep these organization’s honest is to post complaints on their web sites or ‘out’ them in blogs like this. Hopefully, together, we’ll be making a difference.

May 30

Better late than never

Humming along on its way to oblivion, the General Motors Corporation has finally awakened to the Green movement and announced it would be hiring hundreds of engineers and producing scores of new Hummer_2 models that would be environmentally friendly by 2010.

GM has been stuck in idle for years as an inbred management team allowed Toyota and other foreign competitors to zoom past the once mighty monolith.

Despite finally waking up, GM will continue to lag behind its competitors. Why? Because, while they may have finally stumbled onto the Green trend, GM has yet to produce the kind of quality automobiles that Americans want. So, thanks for becoming eco-friendly, GM. Now, see what you can do about building decent cars.

Jan 05

It’s simply not cool to be this warm

When I leased my way cool Z3 convertible in August, I never imagined tooling to the local Lincroft Dunkin’ Donuts with the top down on January 5th. But that’s what I did this morning.

How cool is that? Answer: it’s not.

Whether it’s the jet steam, the El Nino effect or global warming, something is seriously amiss withGlobalwarming5  our environment. Duffers are golfing in Chicago, flowers are blooming in New Jersey and women are wearing flip-flops on NYC streets.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE this weather. But, at what price? Having just rented and viewed Al Gore’s "An Inconvenient Truth," I have a totally new perspective on, and appreciation of, global warming.

I realize that other parts of the country, particularly the Plains states and the Northwest, have been hard hit by foul weather, but c’mon. Based upon what I’ve seen and heard, Denver may have more snow right now than the polar ice caps.

What scares me is the continuing inertia from Washington, DC. As is usually the case, Congress doesn’t seem to be able to get its act together in terms of passing new, smart and comprehensive energy and environmental standards. Sure, individual corporations are doing their part, but mostly because they see sustainability as a smart business move and not an investment in our children’s future.

It’s a real conundrum. On the one hand, we revel in record-setting temperatures. On the other, we know that, deep down, something is rotten in Denmark (and everywhere else for that matter). There’s a meltdown in effect and if we don’t start taking it more seriously, the implications will be apocalyptic.

So, here’s hoping the President’s state of the union address will suggest new legislation and that the Democratic-controlled Congress will agree on some of the measures good old Al Gore has been advocating for years. If nothing else, the smarter politicians (oxymoron?) should realize that advocating for the environment is no longer considered "dangerous and wacky." The proof is everywhere. And, if the more cautious pols want to "test the waters," all they have to do is put the top down on their convertibles and cruise over to the local coffee shop.