I found this article raising the challenges facing carbon labeling interesting. Basically the point being, calculating the carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing and transportation of product sounds like a really great way for users to make informed decisions about the products they choose. But given the huge and extremely complex (and expensive) task of standardising the way these kind of calculations are made, it seems unlikely that it will catch on.
Of course, the challenge we face with reducing our own footprint is that it is such an abstract concept to grasp. When you are a regular smoker for example, it's not long before you start wheezing and coughing and feeling like they might actually be some truth in the messages that tell you cigarettes are killing you. Maybe the promise of extreme weather, political and financial instability may have not been enough to get people to alter their lifestyles. But now we're actually seeing some of these things happening around us, maybe we'll start to see some change in the way people consume?
I just read about this fantastic initiative.
I remember thinking about this when I was in Kenya last year. You can drive for miles and miles along dusty roads to communities without even the most basic amenities, yet you are never more than a few miles from the nearest bottle of Coca Cola. It must be the most efficient distribution network on the face of the planet - so why not use it to do distribute some good?
"It's a tragic fact of life today that one in five African children die before their fifth birthday from simple causes like dehydration from diarrhea. Basic medicines could save those children's lives, yet no means has been found to make them readily available. A new grassroots project, however, aims to tap into the formidable distribution network of none other than Coca-Cola to get life-saving medicines to the children who need them.
The ColaLife project aims to distribute oral re-hydration salts and educational materials to people in developing countries through a partnership with Coca-Cola by which its distributors carry medicine in addition to soft drinks. The concept actually dates back 20 years, when its originator—Simon Berry, who was then an aid worker in Zambia—was struck by the realization that one could buy a Coke virtually anywhere on the planet, yet medicine was hard to come by. He proposed designating one compartment in every 10 Coke crates as "the life saving" compartment to transport medicines. His idea fell on deaf ears back then, but today the power of social networking is giving it new life."
Specifically, Berry's ColaLife project has tapped the power of Facebook and other social networking tools to amass a group of more than 6,000 supporters, garner widespread media coverage and—at least as important—get the attention of Coca-Cola.
Berry has since met with high-ranking officials at the company, and talks are under way to push the idea further. Meanwhile, ColaLife groups have been added on Google and Flickr, and a YouTube video was created earlier this month to promote the project's submission to Google’s Project 10^100 initiative.
Currently, ColaLife is seeking an NGO to participate in the project as well.
The web is facilitating social change in ways that simply weren't possible before, uniting like-minded activists and gathering support from around the globe. Will Coca-Cola jump in with both feet? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, one to watch—and learn from."
This article from PSFK caught my eye. It's interesting to me as it raises some interesting questions about how we consume. There are god knows how many 'green' or 'ethical' fashion brands around these days but actually maybe what really need to do is completely re-think the whole thing.
As I am currently developing some thoughts around the whole notion of repair and how we might 'brand' them, I found the story both inspiring and also a signal that I'm onto something...maybe.
Some peoples idea of green is very odd. Take 'green' diary for example. Why, when we computer software solves so many of these tasks so brilliantly, would anyone want to buy a paper brick full of adverts? Dont get me wrong, I support the initiative of collecting this information and making it accessible for people but why couldn't it be done smarter. All the info. is there. It just needs turning into pixels.
Lying in bed with tonsillitis the last few days I have digested more than my fair share of news. What an odd few days it's been. The world's financial markets have kept me entertained with banks disappearing overnight and share prices falling. There's been a lot of doom and gloom here in Denmark too. For example, yesterday I watched Danish Investor Morten Lund being interviewed about the collapse of the newspaper Nyhedsavisen. Having made millions as a 'serial entrepreneur' Lund now faces personal bankruptcy.
Personally, I value the times in my life when things haven't gone according to plan. For example, the job that caused me the most difficulties inspired a new direction for my career. The difficult times I've faced as a parent, have helped me develop as an individual. There's always something positive you can take from a bad situation.
The general prognosis seems to be that this recession will be a long and drawn out affair and it looks like it will provide us with plenty of opportunities for reflection. There'll be a great many challenges in the years ahead and in a strange sort of way, I relish them. As Napoleon said, "adversity is the midwife of genius."
Its no secret that I'm completely nuts about bikes. I love riding them and when I'm not riding them I like taking them to bits and putting them back together again. One of the fantastic things about living here in Copenhagen is that it is arguably the best city in the world for cycling around. I stumbled across this blog which is packed full of interesting bike related stories.
This post about IKEA introducing the free use of bikes and matching trailers caught my eye. Again, a great example of IKEA showing they know how to market themselves in more interesting ways than the traditional poster campaign.
I've been following the Danish campaign 'Sluk Lyset' (turn out the lights) with interest. The campaign has been running here in the weeks up to the event itself although I'm not sure how visible it has been to 'ordinary people'. (I don't count myself as ordinary as I have an unhealthy interest in advertising communication, so I'm probably looking harder that most)
Having been in and looked around the official site I see that 3,730 people registered there, but their Facebook group was far more impressive with 13,863 members! This says something about the efficiency of the Facebook format.
The campaign was headed by a burning panda which popped up in various places around town. They made some quite nice little projections and filmed them. They also stenciled some funky burning panda graphics around town for good measure.
I took a little drive through central Copenhagen on Saturday to check see how dark it was and whether Danes were entering into the spirit of it. (I know it's not really in the spirit of the event but I was on my way to pick up my son from a friends)
It wasn't that dark, I have to say. It seemed to me that largely, the event itself wasn't a huge success. People just didn't switch off.
So what are we left with? If people can't be bothered to join in for an hour, were does that leave us? Did this event do enough to raise awareness? Will it prompt the kind of changes we need to make to avoid catastrophic climate change? Well, it's a start. And it's good that someone is doing something but personally, I'm doubtful. Don't get me wrong, I really really really think it's great that something happened. I just want people to wake up and get a bit more angry about it.
Big changes. Now. That's what needs to happen. Maybe a bit of Alarmism would be a good thing?