Archive for October, 2009

Composting 101

October 30, 2009

compostingDid you know that yard and kitchen waste make up almost 30 percent of the waste stream in the United States?

Removing compostable materials from our garbage cans can significantly reduce landfill space and also has excellent benefits for the health of your garden. Backyard composting has experienced a dramatic rise in popularity in recent years, as more and more people have discovered the environmental and economic benefits of composting (and that it’s not as difficult as it sounds!)

Basic Steps for Successful Composting:

  • Identify a location convenient to the garden and the source of your raw materials
  • Select an open bin or enclosed container  for compost materials
  • Layer a selection of “green” and “brown” materials to balance the moisture content – an ideal blend is approximately 4 parts of browns to one part greens
  • Maximize your compost efforts by turning the heap every few days using a garden fork
  • “Cook” for several weeks
  • Use the composted material in your garden for mulch, potting soil and more!

Typical “green” materials include fresh grass clippings, weeds or leftover kitchen scraps. Typical “brown” materials include dried leaves and grass. Don’t add meat, fish, animal fats, ashes or paper.

You can also purchase compost activators or try vermiculture, which is composting with the aid of worms, to improve the effectiveness and speed of your composting process. But adding a shovel-full of good garden soil will also do the trick. To learn more, visit www.howtocompost.org. Happy composting!

The Yin and Yang of CSR Reporting

October 29, 2009

The following is an excerpt from my recent article on greenbiz.com.

Crafting an effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) report is both an art and a science. A blend of facts and feelings. An amalgamation of quantitative and qualitative parts assembled into a more complete whole.

When corporate social responsibility reports first emerged, they were packaged as a “feel good” communications tool for showcasing a company’s community relations, environmental or volunteer activities. There was no industry-accepted, gold standard for what constituted a well-written or comprehensive report. Companies were free to come up with their own recipe and approach.

Now, in the age of limitless information, businesses are facing mounting pressure to not just understand their corporate environmental “footprint,” but to provide an honest and accurate snapshot of that footprint to people outside the organization.

It’s no longer sufficient to make vague statements that hint at goals to reduce a company’s environmental impact. Investors, regulators, consumers and even some corporate leaders (including Walmart) are demanding an elevated level of transparency regarding exactly what those businesses are doing to reduce their impact, and are pressing for more quantitative data to substantiate progress in their stated focus areas.

CSR-related metrics are now used to compare a company’s performance to other organizations, or to track a company’s performance over time. With the emergence of the Global Reporting Initiative’s G3 reporting guidelines and other NGOs like the Carbon Disclosure Project, businesses are under the gun to provide verifiable, quantitative data about the size of their environmental, economic and social imprint.

Most businesses are comfortable with the process of collecting and verifying financial data, but few are well-equipped or have a methodology for aggregating accurate CSR data. In particular, companies just starting their reporting journey may struggle with how to measure and communicate their performance, due to a lack of understanding of the metrics material to their industry or stakeholder interests.

So what factors should a company consider when developing its CSR reporting strategy?

To read my entire article visit:

http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2009/10/22/yin-and-yang-csr-reporting