Monday, March 31, 2008

San Francisco Join's Earth Hour — WWF's Global Energy Saving Promotion

When we leave our offices after a long day of greening the promotional world, we shut down our computers and turn out the lights. The evening ritual is really pretty easy, and it makes our monthly energy bills a little more bearable.

Many of our neighbors downtown have opted to maintain a tradition of leaving their offices illuminated at night. San Francisco's glowing skyline makes for a romantic view, but it's largely unnecessary and the power plants that keep those pretty lights shining produce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

This weekend San Francisco was among 35 major cities worldwide to participate in Earth Hour, a worldwide campaign sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to highlight the threat of climate change. This great grassroots program encouraged individual households, corporations and government offices to go dark for at least an hour. According to WWF officials, up to 10 million people participated. Lights were dimmed from the Golden Gate Bridge (see inset), to the Sydney Opera House, to Rome's Colosseum, to Buddhist Temples in Thailand.

During the event here in San Francisco, more than 6,000 free compact flourescent lightbulbs were given away to promote the importance of energy efficiency. Nice little swag tie-in. Eco-conscious Bay Area based search engine, Google, found a way to promte Earth Hour to millions of visitors worldwide. All day long, Google users encountered reverse type against a black background and these words: "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn."

Some were skeptical about the effectiveness of an event encouraging people to turn out their lights for an hour. Indeed, the energy savings is a drop in the bucket. But the event is a wonderful way to get people involved and raise awareness about the links of excess energy usage to producing greenhouse gases. Besides, sometmes it's fun to be in the dark. We applaud the WWF and all participants for a world class sustainable promotion that created a great vibe, generated buzz, and didn't require any cheap plastic giveaways.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Recycled Circuit Board Products

Hidden inside our computers are components of brilliantly colored shapes and intricate patterns. Saved from the landfill and given a second life, these pieces reveal a beauty that would otherwise go unnoticed. Here's the work of a local artist that creates wonderful circuit board jewelry and keychains from a variety of computer components. We've also sourced dozens of cool and useful recycled circuit board items including business card holders, coasters, luggage tags, mousepads, clip boards, journal covers, and more.

Despite progress made over the last few years, computer related waste remains a global and local problem. Turning that waste into useful products is one way to solve the challenge. To find more recycled circuit board products, check here. To learn more about the broader issue of trashing your PC in an eco-friendly way, go here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Reebok Fined $1 Million For Toxic Promotional Bracelet that Resulted in Child's Death

Despite high-profile recalls and more and more alarmingly toxic products making their way into the consumer marketplace, some promotional marketers still choose to avoid scrutinizing the sometimes dangerous materials used in producing custom branded merchandise.

In an altogether avoidable tragedy, athletic shoe and apparel giant Reebok agreed last week to pay a $1 million fine for distributing a promotional charm bracelet which resulted in the death of a four-year-old boy from Minneapolis. The fine is the largest ever paid for a violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It sheds light on the dangers of the many cheaply produced promotional products distributed in the United States without proper testing or consideration of the damage they can cause humans and the environment. The charm bracelet (pictured above), was distributed as a free gift with the purchase of Reebok children's footwear. It included a heart-shaped pendent containing toxic levels of lead which was swallowed by the boy. The death resulted in a recall of 510,000 of the Chinese-made pendants that were distributed worldwide beginning in May 2004. Reebok denied violating federal law when it signed the agreement last week.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Elite Athletes Creating a "Green Power" Movement

The Sustainability movement has been growing among elite athletes who desire a clean, non-toxic environment in which to compete — and stay healthy. Look for a cool sustainable schwag campaign to make a statement about climate change at the notoriously polluted site of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Tonight our friends at threw a fun, festive and super green St. Paddy's Day extravaganza to advance their mission of building global environmental consciousness through sports at the Beijing Olympics and beyond. Founded by an amazing group of world class athletes and headed by former Stanford soccer star, Natalie Spilger, GreenLaces is non-profit working to establish a unified international presence for sustainability through its website and a growing lineup of supporters. Their plan is to use the iconic power and spirit of great athletes and international competition to promote the importance of a united global fight against climate change.

Exactly 40 years ago the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos created an international stir when they raised their gloved fists in a black power salute during their medal ceremony for the 200 meter dash. For the 2008 Olympics, we may see another gesture from athletes uniting around another critical social issue -- global warming.

GreenLaces will be distributing thousands of specially-designed shoe laces made of recycled plastic soda bottles. Athletes and patrons will wear them as a show of support. At the Greenlaces Party at Temple NightClub in San Francisco's SOMA, the most popular way to wear green laces was on the wrist. World class athletes are being recruited to incorporate GreenLaces on their footwear. While perhaps not quite as dramatic as the black power salute, the fashion and promotional possibilities are endless.

We are proud to support and help the Greenlaces cause, and urge you to check our to learn more and join the movement. Whether you're an stellar athlete or a certified couch potato, it's time we all unite and promote Green Power to the people!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Walmart CEO: "We Are Not Green"

It's clear that Walmart has made significant green strides over the past several years. However, during this week's ECO:nomics Conference in Santa Barbara, California, CEO Lee Scott Jr. discussed his company's greening efforts. During his address, Scott covered how the retail giant is trying to reduce its carbon footprint, but he also noted that Walmart has more work to do on the issue. Scott also made it clear that the waste reducing, energy conserving steps taken by Wal-Mart are business decisions.

“We are not green,” he told conference attendees.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Scott spoke about Wal-Mart’s efforts to reduce, cardboard, packaging and the amount of plastic in bottled water. However…

The impetus for the company in doing all this isn’t just to please environmentalists, he said, but more to save money.“ It really is about how you take cost out, which is waste,” he said. The savings by taking out wasted material helps keep prices low for Wal-Mart’s customers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck. Indeed, Mr. Scott – in remarks to reporters after his talk – said the current economic slump is prodding Wal-Mart even more to undertake its waste-reduction program. “When is a better time?,” he said.