Ford Helps Their Customers Buy Emission Offsets

When companies announce a plan to get X percent of their energy from wind, solar, or other reneable energy source, it most likely means that they will do it by buying energy credits.

However, the public might perceive these announcements to imply a different story– that a huge number of solar panels were ordered and placed on the roofs of all the company’s buildings. Not likely. Realistically, the company will probably use energy that was generated via fossil fuels.

The disconnect between the two pictures might be upsetting but purchasing energy credits is theoretically the most efficient way for companies to do this.

It looks like Ford is bringing a similar model to all its drivers– CNN reports that the auto company has partnered with Terapass so that “Drivers can pay clean energy firms to remove the same amount of pollution cars create.”

Ford Motor Co. said it will give consumers concerned about harmful greenhouse emissions an opportunity to invest in clean energy projects via a new Web Site that will calculate suggested investments based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced while driving.

I think this is a great idea and it gives all those guilty SUV drivers an easy option to help the environment. Its much easier than trading up for a Prius. The model isn’t perfect though– the NY Times says the model has shortcomings:

Although TerraPass certainly works on a free-market principle, it’s lacking the element of naked self-interest that would drive a truly global change. A more exact parallel to the cap-and-trade system would be one in which drivers who saved fuel by moseying down a 60 miles-per-hour lane could accrue electronic passes they could sell the next morning on eBay to whoever needed to dart to work or the airport that morning at 70 m.p.h. The market for environmental righteousness may be growing, but surely not as fast as the market for speed.

Directionally, we’re headed in the right direction and that’s great by me.

Related Links:
- Coase theorem
- Energy Credits

Barefoot College– Bunker Roy Fights Poverty By Using Entrepreneurship

Barefoot College

Barefoot College was started in 1972 to help teach local Indian communities how to solve mass poverty. The organization has recently generated some buzz and Fast Company covers it in their most recent issue. (The article should be accessible to the public in a few weeks)

An Indian named Bunker Roy, 60, whose Tilonia-based group, the Barefoot College, has spent 30 years empowering India’s rural poor to innovate their way out of poverty.

Barefoot College students, “washouts, copouts, and dropouts,” as Roy fondly calls them, learn skills ranging from midwifery to computer programming, solar engineering to rainwater harvesting. There is no required curriculum, no deadline for graduation, no degree awarded. The school, which includes stipends for all students, is supported by the income generated by offering such services to villages all over India.

Roy recently received some press when he slammed the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals as a “recipe for disaster” doomed to “be achieved only on paper.” That probably didn’t win Roy too many political friends but his model has won a lot of believers, and he recently received a $615,000 Skoll Foundation grant to seed Barefoot College all over the world.

It’s a scalable, community-based model of development managed from the bottom up by the poor themselves–a decentralized alternative to the Millennium Villages launched in Kenya and Ethiopia by Sachs’s Earth Institute at Columbia University. The big difference is, it costs at least $250,000 to set up each Millennium Village… Last year, with just $100,000, [Roy] brought 10 Afghans to India to train at the Barefoot College for six months and bought 120 solar units to power five villages.

Getting Rid of Your Old PC In A Responsible Way

Got my laptop back so I will be back to regularly posting (after a 2 week hiatus).

So this post will conclude my series on  computer related posts.  (See my prior posts: The Truth (and Dangers) of Computer Recycling, and TechSoup Stock- Connecting Nonprofits With Technology Product Donations from Leading Providers)

This final post (in this series) points to a pretty useful article on Cnet’s News.com that provides instructions on how to trash your pc in an eco-friendly way.

It’s done in a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format and provides some pretty good answers to some great questions.
Most of you might not be ready to trash a computer right now, but when you are, surf back over here and find out how to do it in a responsible manner!

The Truth (And Dangers) of Computer Recycling

Good news: I got my laptop back.  Bad news: It was still broken so I had to ship it back.

Anyhow, on the topic of computers– I wanted to post about this Salon.com article that gives us some insight into computer recycling.  What should be a great and environmentally friendly practice is oftentimes not environmentally healthy, and a dangerous health hazard to many third world workers involved in the practice.

More than 50 percent of our recycled computers are shipped overseas, where their toxic components are polluting poor communities. Meanwhile, U.S. laws are a mess, and industry and Congress are resisting efforts to stem “the effluent of the affluent.”

I’ve blogged about some success stories in recycling (see Recycling Old Cell Phones); however, there seems to be many occasions where these programs do more harm than good.

TechSoup Stock- Connecting Nonprofits With Technology Product Donations from Leading Providers

My laptop is in the shop right now so this week has been very inconvenient for me. The last few days have reminded me of how much I’ve come to depend on technology.

This is actually a good segue into a discussion about resources available for nonprofits that are in the planning stages of building their organizational infrastructure. Check out the resources available at TechSoup Stock,

“an online product donation service that connects nonprofits with technology product donations from more than twenty leading providers. All products are available either for donation, or for prices that are deeply discounted just for nonprofits.”

A little thin on hardware but they have a pretty strong selection of person and enterprise software. Some of those refurbished Thinkpads would be a great replacement for my recent loss though.