Sunday, December 7, 2008

"Making Money While Going Green"

I've just listened to a podcast by Gary Hirshberg, founder of the environmentally-friendly yogurt producer Stonyfield Farms; this business is profitable while being committed to measurable, sustainable production, and this talk is remarkable because he is so enthusiastic and he gives so many details, both facts about how they run their business and stories about making such an endeavor successful. His book looks as interesting and informative as this talk, so I've got to get a copy!

Here are the facts I'd like to remember:

  • Before Stonyfield he worked with New Alchemy, where he found we could support 10 people on 1/10 of an acre using solar power and no fossil fuels. (3:30 into podcast)
  • Yoplait is about 14% net revenue bottom-line and Stonyfield is about 13%, but their gross margins are 10 points behind. (I don't know what those mean; must learn.) (6:45 into podcast)
  • They have their own climate footprint methodology, and they look through their P&L to improve it and save money.
  • For our sewage, we typically "dilute with enough water, add oxygen, [and] agitate"; they built an "anaerobic "facility to handle their waste and generate energy and they'll have a net payback of $4-5 million. (11:00 into podcast)
  • With smarter sugar production, they have better soil, water quality, yields, worker health, and wildlife in the area, and now the cost of their sugar is equal to conventional sugar. (13:50 into podcast)
  • Discussed how UPS saved $10 million (per year?) by only making right turns in their trucks.
  • Great stories about advertising and building the business: building loyalty by adopting out cows and thanking and giving out free samples to commuters (18:00-21:00 into podcast)
  • They have their own scoring, where they're only 63% but trying to do better... like IBM who is at 70%. (I'm guessing this is the Climate Counts campaign.) (26:40 into podcast)
  • At birth, we have 287 chemicals in our blood, 188 of which are (or may be) carcinogenic.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Celebrating the two-month anniversary of our financial sector bailout with a status report

Today is the two-month anniversary of the huge emergency bailout that was absolutely critical to avoid imminent catastrophe. However, they have not even used half of it yet, and they have spent the first half mostly in places other than where promised. (And when I say "where promised", I mean "where the law directs".)

As much as I am disappointed by widespread support for government overreach, it is good to hear widespread applause when Cody Willard pointed out the flaws in this whole bailout mess. The best and most informative part is the 2 minutes from 3:30-5:30: "Last weekend we we sent more money to Citigroup, one company, than the entire budget for food stamps in this country every year." I've never heard of Cody before today, but it looks like he is worth watching: in a recent post, he points out how our current government "destroys the rule of law". Very true. And I hope that understanding is spreading.