clear the air


Library of Green Building Products

For architects and industrial designers, finding sustainable materials to use in building projects has long been a challenge, with providers and information scattered all across the web. Ecolect, which just launched last fall, aims to provide a single, central library of sustainable materials that makes it easier for designers to be “green.”

Rhode Island-based Ecolect, which was founded by two Rhode Island School of Design graduates, hopes to save designers time and money by answering three important questions: where to find sustainable materials, what makes them sustainable, and who else is using them and how. Toward that end, the site features materials with sustainable attributes—eco paints and bamboo flooring, for example—complemented by content that stimulates discussion about sustainability. Case studies illustrate the successful use of sustainable design, and users can contribute reviews and images of materials in use. The site’s blog, meanwhile, discusses how ecology affects the world. Ad-supported Ecolect is free for users.

“We saw a unique and unmet need in the marketplace,” explains Matt Grigsby, one of the site’s cofounders. “From there, we set out to not only create the world’s first free and accessible sustainable materials library, but also build a tight-knit global community, where individuals from around the world can go to learn and connect around the issue of sustainable design.”

Grigsby won last year’s Rhode Island Innovation Awards Rising Star Innovator title for his role in developing Ecolect, and the company itself has been named a finalist in the 2008 SXSW Web Awards, the winner of which will be named next month. The trend toward sustainability isn’t going away anytime soon, so the opportunities are many in supporting and informing those who make it happen. Since the distribution of building materials varies widely by country/region, this is definitely one to set up in your own neck of the woods. Or how about applying the concept to other industries?

Website: www.ecolect.net



Eco Mums

Numbering more than 82 million in the United States alone, there’s no denying that mothers are a significant force to be reckoned with, both economically and otherwise. The EcoMom Alliance aims to tap the power of that demographic for no lesser a goal than to help fight global warming.

Launched online a few weeks ago, the California-based EcoMom Alliance hopes to inspire mothers around the globe to make lifestyle changes that will reduce their carbon footprints. Through the EcoMom Challenge, it asks mothers to take its “10 First Steps for a Sustainable Future,” including swapping traditional light bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent ones, driving less, and buying local, fair trade and organic products. Picking up on the Australian Conservation Foundation’s “Cool the Globe” initiative, the group’s One Night Off campaign encourages mothers to choose one night a week to turn off all lights, TVs, washers, dryers and other appliances. Also part of the group’s agenda are EcoMom Parties—a post-Inconvenient Truth version of the old Tupperware Parties through which members can connect, find support and share ideas. Other “edutainment” offerings from the group include blogs, podcasts and “Sustain Yourself” events for maxed-out EcoMoms.

The EcoMom Alliance is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) organization with about 9,000 members around the globe, including not just the United States but also Australia, Hungary, England, France and Brazil. It is reportedly in the process of training women to lead EcoMom events worldwide, as well as readying an official EcoMom seal of approval for commercial products.

US mothers alone control 85 percent of household spending, according to the Marketing to Moms Coalition, amounting to about USD 2.1 trillion annually. It’s hard to imagine a much better place to start enabling real change. (Related: Web community for greener living.)

Website: www.ecomomalliance.org

Simon Turner  simon@marquetteturner.com.au



Home Loans With An Eco Rebate
February 28, 2008, 8:20 am
Filed under: Australia's Challenge, Eco-Friendly Tips, Facts | Tags: , ,
A full choice of lenders and rates, plus a rebate to purchase eco-friendly products.


Nokia’s Green Mobile Phone

Nokia has unveiled ReMade, a revolutionary mobile phone made of 100% recycled materials.

The idea behind the “ReMade” concept was to see if it was possible to create a device made from nothing new. It has been designed using recycled materials that avoid the need for natural resources, reduce landfill, and allow for more energy efficient production.

It is made out of metals from recycled aluminum cans, plastics from drink bottles form the chassis, and its rubber key mats are provided by old car tyres. Inside the phone are new more environmentally friendly technologies such as printed electronics, and the graphics used on the display save energy without compromising on style.

Remade is a concept that explores potential new ideas for the future, and is part of Nokia’s ongoing work looking at how it can help people make more sustainable choices. It is designed to help inspire and stimulate discussion on how mobile devices might be made in the future.

Nokia has been leading the way in its environmental endeavours, where 65-80% of its phones can be recycled and use the latest technology to promote energy efficiency.

Simon Turner   simon@marquetteturner.com.au



Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa Wins World Travel Award

eco-lodge.jpgA boutique eco-lodge situated amongst the dense tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland was announced as the World’s Leading Eco-Lodge in the World Green Category at the 14th World Travel Awards (WTA).

The WTA is a well established and recognised travel award – ‘the Oscars’ of the industry if you will. The Daintree Eco Lodge competed in the first ever “World Green” category alongside resorts and hotels from all across the world, including Egypt and Peru. The Daintree Eco Lodge was the only Australian nominee to take home a prize.

“Eco-friendly practices are really paving the way of the future and for a green category to be finally introduced this year, I think that it goes to show that the discerning and experiential traveller is really looking for an intelligent luxury,” says Eco Lodge co-founder Cathy Maloney.

Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa

Simon Turner  simon@marquetteturner.com.au



Starbucks Giving Grounds For Your Garden

Coffee drinkers around the world are expected to consume almost 7 million tonnes of the stuff each year by 2010, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and that means a heck of a lot of spent grounds to dispose of. Rather than throw the nitrogen-rich material into landfills, Marquette Turner has learnt that global chain Starbucks has found a greener solution by giving it away to consumers with gardens.

Eco approaches may be all the rage today, but Starbucks’s Grounds for Your Garden program actually began as a grassroots initiative back in 1995. After growing steadily for almost a decade, it was officially launched in 2003, offering up free spent coffee grounds to North American customers year-round on a first come, first serve basis. Grounds are packaged in reused coffee bags and sealed with simple directions for using them in the garden or compost pile, where they can help improve soil quality.

“Coffee grounds are a valuable source of nutrition for the garden,” explains Ben Packard, director of environmental affairs for Starbucks. “Reusing coffee grounds in the garden is a great alternative to disposing this rich resource from our stores. It’s a win for gardeners and a win for Starbucks.”

Indeed, now that the spotlight is shining full-force on companies’ environmental practices, this kind of approach really is a win-win for everyone. It’s relatively low-cost and easy to implement, but it means less waste in the landfills, a benefit for consumers and their gardens, and a warm and fuzzy green image for Starbucks—definitely worth emulating!

Website: www.starbucks.com/aboutus/compost

Simon Turner  simon@marquetteturner.com.au



Top 10 Green Ideas For The Year

bin.jpgMarquette Turner are bringing to you the best new business ideas of 2007, featuring our personal favourites. This isn’t a trip down memory lane—all of these smart concepts will continue to provide entrepreneurs with plenty of opportunities in 2008. Next up, green-green-green: eco & sustainability.

  1. Wind power, still made here: Windunie (Dutch for wind union) is a collective of 230 wind turbine owners, most of whom are farmers who operate turbines as an extra source of income. All sell the energy they produce directly to consumers. Windunie’s customers can pick a specific farm they want to buy electricity from. More »
  2. Eco-friendly pack and move solution: Moving supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap and other packaging materials remain piled up in landfills long after people have settled into their new abodes. EarthFriendlyMoving has set out to change that by offering eco-friendly moving supplies available at consumer-friendly prices. EarthFriendlyMoving’s RecoPack—short for Recycled Ecological Packing Solution—containers are … More »
  3. Biodegradable milk jugs: Designed and manufactured in Britain, Greenbottle is a biodegradable milk bottle that uses a smart two-part system to aid recycling. The bottles are composed of a cardboard outer manufactured from pulped, recycled cardboard, which is lined with an inner sleeve of biodegradable plastic made from corn starch. The plastic … More »
  4. Incentive-based recycling: Going green has gotten a lot more enticing to consumers in communities served by Philadelphia-based RecycleBank. Households can earn RecycleBank Dollars, redeemable for discount coupons at select retailers, just for putting their recyclables out to be collected. But the incentives don’t stop there. It’s also great promotion and community … More »
  5. Product life story labels: Product life story labels — Dole Organic lets consumers “travel to the origin of each organic product”. By typing in a fruit sticker’s three-digit Farm Code on Dole Organic’s website, customers can find the story behind their banana. Each farm’s section on the website includes background info, shows photos of the crops and workers … More »
  6. Eco assessment for homes & businesses: Sydney-based Todae offers businesses practical advice for cutting down energy and water usage and reducing their environmental impact. For AUD 399, a Todae consultant will come to an office or store and check everything from recycling to heating and cooling systems. The business is then provided with a detailed … More »
  7. Full-service home composting: A new start-up in Bangalore, India, hopes to arm consumers with products and services to empower them toward a simple solution for reducing landfill waste: composting. The Daily Dump offers an array of decorative composting containers that can be used in the home to manage organic household waste and … More »
  8. Water ‘skin’ reduces waste: Pitched as a water skin, a new bottle created by French packaging manufacturer Sidel provides a lighter alternative to traditional PET bottles. A regular plastic half-litre water bottle weighs 13 – 16 grams. Sidel’s NoBottle weighs just 9.9 grams. According to Sidel, “Water is the largest beverage market by … More »
  9. Solar-powered trash masher: The BigBelly is a solar-powered waste container that aims to eliminate those all-too-familiar overflowing trash cans, keeping public spaces cleaner and greener. The flagship product of US-based Seahorse Power Company, BigBelly units compact trash on the spot, optimizing refuse capacity — a BigBelly holds up to five times as … More »
  10. Eco starter kits: Most of us realize there are changes we should make in our lives to become more environmentally friendly, but overcoming inertia and actually doing it can be another matter. Now a few different companies offer starter kits to help make those changes happen.

Simon Turner simon@marquetteturner.com.au