Clean-Tech Post-It Note

As a fan of design and sustainability, I keep a post-it note on my daily planner of interesting product designs that help reduce impact on the environment. The list has recently begun to tear and is now in three pieces… so there’s no better time to share these interesting tid-bits before my post-it needs to be recycled:

  • Levi’s Green Jeans and Waterless Jeans: Not only is the fabric organic, but so are the other components. In fact, the entire garment-making process is organic.
  • Scott Toilet Paper: The company announces the first tubeless toilet paper role – when it’s gone, it’s gone. Read more.
  • Kindvines: An Arizona wine brand that uses a 100% reusable glass bottle. Read more.
  • Method Household Cleaners: A product that’s cool design form meets function. Read more.
  • Burt’s Bees: A company that speaks the truth – natural products that are actually natural. Read more.
  • Tau Speakers: If you think that waste paper cannot be recycled into electrical devices, then you are in for a surprise. Read more.

We are always posting cool new designs on Twitter. Check it out and share with us.

Traveling Green – Behavior Might Trump Destination

I sleep in a hotel at least two nights each week. To get to my regular hotel, I drive two hours plus, and roughly once each month I travel to more distant national and international destinations.

My room, two nights per week

Despite this carbon-intensive lifestyle, I make efforts to minimize my impact. Sadly, I’m bucking the trend, according to two Virginia Tech students whose study, “Guests’ green habits slip during hotel stays”, notes that “consumers who engage in environmentally friendly behavior at home behave differently when staying at a hotel.”

Aside from driving a five-year-old Toyota Prius, I have developed numerous hotel habits that help minimize my impact. A brief search on “green traveling” revealed no obvious online resource to point to — most green travel tips are focused not on the traveler, but on the destinations. Here are a few tips for greening up your travel, whether your destination is green or not. I make a practice of each of these, and none of them makes traveling any more difficult. [Read more…]

New Office + Green Choices

Within the past year, we’ve been pushing the limits of our current space, squeezing more and more team members into a small footprint. Naturally, we started the search for a new office.

We’re days away from moving into our new space at 134 Rumford Avenue in Newton. This is the first space where we’re designing a custom build-out – a huge step for the company. As we are a creative and public relations firm, we needed the space to be functional, yet unique and full of character. Much of this is achieved through the exposed ceiling and beams, our flooring selections, high-sheen concrete, funky carpeting in work areas, and rubber flooring in the conference room. We’re proud to be using rubber made from 100% recycled tires that normally would be thrown away.

Keep an eye out for photos revealing the new space scheduled to be completed next month.

You Are Dumb

We enjoyed this simple yet brilliant video as part of Smart Car‘s “Against Dumb” campaign. The sharp animation and smart script paint a picture of society’s need to consume.

At HB, we strive to work with our clean-tech clients in order to craft strategies and messages that move away from consumption, and towards a lifestyle of reduction and necessity.

FORE!-ward Thinking

As a golf enthusiast, I’ve always been intrigued with the unrealistic thought of designing my own course. Everyone’s second-favorite Justin (Timberlake) has done exactly that – and put Mirimichi on the map as the most eco-friendly course in the world.

Purchasing his hometown course in Memphis for less than $1 million, Timberlake and his family have put over $20 million back into the property. Using sustainable strategies, Timberlake has turned a struggling golf course into an incredible facility, becoming the first course in the country to attain Audubon Classic Sanctuary certification, amongst other prestigious achievements as a result of the course’s use of natural resources, recycled energy, and friendly chemicals.

Fulfilling your creativity through design without infringing upon Mother Nature? It’s simply par for the course at Mirimichi.

Kites: More than a Child's Toy

Did you ever imagine a kite, the toy you played with as a child, might be a source of energy? My memory of a kite as a child was trying to get the kite to remain in the air for at least 30 seconds before it came crashing to the ground.

Some experts estimate that the total wind energy available for harvest is significantly greater than the current amount of energy required by everyone in the world. The number becomes much greater if you include high altitude wind energy, which is far beyond the reach of wind turbines, which have a reach of about 300 feet. The higher reach, the more wind that is present, which means more power. Researchers are looking at ways to trap this wind energy.

How about kites as a way to capture this energy? Researchers are working on creating kite turbines that create surprising amounts of clean, renewable energy. Nothing definitive yet, but a fascinating — and hopeful — idea.

Learn more by checking out this video.

1 Billion Pounds of E-Waste

Does your basement look like a high-tech salvage shop? The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as three-quarters of the computers sold in the US are piled in garages and closets.

So, how do you dispose of your old computer properly? And, where does your computer go when you recycle it? Watch out! Your computer might show up on a Best Buy billboard.

Best Buy has begun a creative marketing campaign to announce its new recycling initiative. The company’s goal is to collect one billion pounds of e-waste over the next five years. The program will allow individuals to bring electronics, regardless of where they were purchased, to Best Buy stores. Consumers that trade-in their electronics can receive gift cards for future purchases. As a way to announce its easy recycling program, Best Buy has plastered a giant billboard in Times Square with old electronics.

According to the US EPA, about 1.9 million tons of hazardous e-waste ended up in US landfills in 2005, but most e-waste sadly ends up in Africa and Asia. Only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled. Best Buy hopes that consumers will see it as a responsible retailer and therefore will prefer to shop in its stores. Frankly, it’s not just the retailers and manufacturers that need to be more responsible – it is all about consumers.

Sipping Wine, Helping our Planet

In need for a relaxing vacation? I have just the place! A week ago, I returned from a trip of rest and relaxation in Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and San Francisco. My time at the vineyards was spent sipping wine and picnicking with delicious warm pesto bread, rosemary cheese, a creamy sheep cheese, fresh apricots and of course, chocolate.

While driving with the windows down over rolling hills of grape vines, I began to take note of the advancements in science and technology that the vineyards have incorporated.

One particular vineyard I visited, Grgich Hills Cellar, has an impressive commitment to sustainability and biodynamic farming. Installed on the rooftop are waterproof solar panels that generate 150kw of clean energy on a daily basis. The winery only needs 120kw, so the winery receives rebates for the additional energy generated. The winery saves about $70,000 a year!

The biodynamic farming technique at Grgich relies on natural cycles of the earth and cosmos, as well as natural farming techniques over artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The winery uses a mixture of dried horsetails and chamomile as an alternative to harmful sprays. The difference between biodynamic and organic farming is that biodynamic recognizes cosmic forces and uses them to enhance and balance the vine growth. Biodynamic farming treats the Earth as a living organism.

The outcome is a winery that acts as a large, pulsing, self-contained, self-sustaining eco-system.

If you have the opportunity, make a trip to Grgich and taste the highly praised Chardonnay with a buttery and subtle oak flavor. Or, as founder Mike Grgich describes the oak taste, “layers of  bouquet, complexity, and a little bit of extra joy to the finished product.”

If you have been to the area and have some preferred spots – or noticed your own use of sustainable agriculture or energy usage, please feel free to comment and tell us about it.

Will cleantech clusters help? New England charges ahead

David Hochschild, VP of external relations at Solaria, in his acceptance speech for the Sierra Club‘s first Sierra Club San Francisco Chapter Trail-Blazer award, mentioned that in 2009 “Germany, a country with 1/3 the population of the United States, 40% less annual sunlight, installed six times more solar power than the United States.” He continues to note how we should be leading, not following, in this area.

Interestingly, Shawn Lesser, the president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, writes in an article published on the CleanTech Group’s Web site that cleantech clusters are turning out to be a powerful means to promoting regional innovation and investment in clean technology. He rates the Top 10 such cleantech clusters, and includes the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) as #2, sandwiched between leader Austria Eco World Styria and #3 Finnish Cleantech Cluster. Knowing how much more committed European nations are to clean energy, we should be proud of NECEC being near the top of this list.

Interestingly a February 8 Ernst & Young press release places New England as the third leading region for cleantech venture capital investment in the US, at $283.7 million for 2009 and behind only Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area.

If we divided the US by region, would certain regions end up in worldwide leadership positions when it comes to investing in, developing and deploying clean(er) energy solutions? As a member of NECEC and other organizations working towards similar goals, we will do our part to make it happen!

Cheesy, Gooey Pizza

greenbox

I am a sucker for great packaging; it definitely influences my decisions. I am amazed when I come across packaging that is clever and useful. The GreenBox is a pizza box made from 100 percent recycled material that breaks down into serving plates and a storage container for leftover pizza. GreenBox produces varieties of five different sizes and has four patents pending, including containers for coffee, doughnuts and wings.

Check out this video on how the box works.