Greenwash: To improve the public image of a corporation by funding environmental initiatives and public relations.
Here and now, EcoGeek asks an uncomfortable question: Is greenwashing a bad thing? When BP changed their name to Beyond Petroleum and began to spend twice as much money than any other energy company on renewables should we call them greenwashers and disparage their progress, or should we thank them. There is no doubt that public relations spurred BP in its rebranding. And, yes, the company still does awful dirty things (especially in Alaska) but we at EcoGeek are strong believers in the principle of multiple causes.
To say BP overhauled their brand, their mission and restructured their entire corporation solely for public relations is far too simple-minded. Greenwashing has multiple causes. Among them are public relations, long-term and short-term economics and concern for the environment. That's right, I said it, Concern for the environment. As much as the corporate world seems cash-crazed and heartless, there are still people running these things. And, occasionally, people care.
Wal-Mart just went through a green-up with pep-talks from Al Gore and audits from the Rocky Mountain Institute. This is the kind of thing that will make some folks hop up and down and scream "Greenwashers!" But, the truth is, when Wal-Mart puts compact fluorescent lightbulbs on sale, the world notices. They're doing it because it's making them money, it's saving them money, it's increasing brand loyalty and, maybe, because the Waltons come from a long line of traditional (hook and bullet) conservationists.
When call Wal-Mart and BP greenwashers, we punish them for doing the right things. When they're guilty, which they often are, we need to rub their faces in it. But when they change the way their companies operate and, thus, change the world, we have to say thanks. We have to shake their hands and print their press releases because, otherwise, they'll have one less reason to green-up. And we want them to have as many reasons as possible.
Why do we even discuss
personal electric cars when we could be talking about personal electric BLIMPS!
SkyYacht, a corporation consisting of two amazing EcoGeeks
who cite their motivation as "Pure Fun,
" has created a blimp for one or two passengers with electric propulsion. Imagine flying to work in your own personal air-ship with nothing in your ears but the sound of the breeze and the birds. On their website, I found an elegant summation
of the SkyYacht's capabilities, "no other aircraft can accomplish the seemingly straightforward task of picking off the top-most leaf from a particular tree." Now, not necessarily the nicest thing to do to a tree but, nonetheless, an amazing achievement.
The SkyYacht isn't completely environmentally friendly. It's a hot-air blimp and so must burn propane to fill with hot air, but it's certainly more efficient than any other form of personal air travel, and probably more efficient than most cars. Don't expect to be going too fast though, it has a top speed of 12 mph (and don't try and go anywhere if the wind is blowing faster than that).
While it might not be particularly suitable for commuter travel, it could be an excellent resource for aerial photography, and, with the ability to touch down lighter than a feather and just as silent, it would be ideally suited for monitoring environmentally sensitive areas.
Hat's off to "pure fun" and the Sky Yacht team.
Via Make: and Engadget
There's a lot of discussion about the $100 laptop these days. I hate
to be a party pooper, but I'll sell you any number of laptops for
$100. No, they won't be multi-colored or extra-durable or have hand
cranks and I can't guarantee that the battery will function, but the
garages and store-rooms of America are littered with laptops that have
double digit price tags. The question is, what do we do with them?
Howard Fosdick has some ideas. His article at Desktop Linux "Reincarnating
a discarded laptop with Linux," gives a step by step guide to creating
your own $100 laptop. It does everything a computer should, though
it'll be low on power and you'll be hard up to find a way to connect to
a high-speed internet. But, largely, old laptops can be very useful.
And, if you're using Free Open Source Software, all it takes is time.
And with new laptop versions of Linux and Fosdick's guide, it doesn't
even need to take very much time.
the heart of "Megawatt Valley" in the UK, the Climate Change Action
threatening to close down Drax power station this August. Their
reason? Drax is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK
throwing 20.8 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Their
course of action? Er...Camping?
Whilst Drax is the biggest, it is also the most efficient coal
fired station in Europe, which leads me to question the group's motives. If
they're goal is to close power plants maybe they should start
with some older, smaller, more inneficient plants that are nearing the
end of their lifespan anyway.
The camp offers to raise awareness
of global warming, climate change and the impact that big carbon
emitters are having on our environment.
I appreciate the camp's sentiments - their
case is very valid... but the question remains "How Are They Going To
Shut Down Drax?" Expect a full report of whether they achieved
their aims and how it was done early September - don't touch that dial!
The camp will be wholly powered by renewable energy, the
logistics of renewably lighting and powering the enterprise may turn
out to be the most powerful part of the camp. As such, there are
opportunities for EcoGeeks to get involved, they will very likely need
your expertise. So if you are tech-savvy and fancy a week in Yorkshire,
get in touch with the camp organizers at :