Here is a review of some pop ecobusiness stories that include a widely diverging summary of products and novel applications of cleantech. This list ranges from responsible products like affordable solar lights, to Raw Food’s kale chips. Other stories covered include electric cars powering buildings, a Stanford Professor talking about renewable energy on Letterman, and a climate change activists recording the fastest ever trip to the south pole. There is even a story about a fair trade shoemaker and another about a wind energy company that was fined for causing bird deaths. Without further ado here is Ecowatch’s Brandon Baker’s list of seven EcoBusiness stories for 2013.
1. Brad’s Raw Foods Founder Shares How His Kale Chips Landed on 7,000 Store Shelves
Brad Gruno’s homemade kale chips were the talk of farmers markets in Bucks County, PA by 2009. Four years later, his gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) products are available at Whole Foods, Kroger and local retailers across the country. His Brad’s Raw Made Easy also hit shelves today. Read our Q&A with him here.
2. Oliberté Becomes World’s First Fair Trade USA Certified Shoemaker
“Becoming the world’s first Fair Trade Certified footwear manufacturing factory was a rigorous process, but we did it because we believe this partnership will make us better as a company and employer,” company founder Tal Dehtiar said of his Addis Ababa, Ethiopia factory that needed to meet 255 standards and requirements.
“Our goal is to be a voice for ethical manufacturing so that factory workers around the world can provide a better life for themselves and their families.”
3. ‘World’s Most Affordable’ Solar Light
Nokero’s lights are aimed at eliminating kerosene as a lighting source for the impoverished.
We write a bunch about deploying solar panels on the roofs of homes and offices all over, but how about solar as a solution for people who rely on kerosene for light or for those who don’t have light at all?
“I’ve met people in Africa and Asia who walk for miles to spend significant income on kerosene fuel for light,” said Nokero CEO Steve Katsaros, whose company is short for “no kersosene.” “Prices fluctuate wildly, and are often controlled by cabal, so people don’t know what the kerosene will cost. They also know it’s dangerous and even deadly to burn this dirty fuel in their house, but they don’t think they have another option.”
Now, they do, beginning at $6, thanks to the Denver, CO-based company.
4. Climate Change Activist Shatters World Record for Fastest Trip to South Pole
How could such an amazing feat not make this list?
Just last week, Parker Liautaud completed the fastest-ever unsupported walk from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole. The 19-year-old is also the youngest person to ever reach the North and South Poles.
The 2013 Willis Resilience Expedition—traveled with veteran explorer Doug Stoup to shine a brighter light on climate change advocacy—took 18 days, four hours and 43 minutes. The duo skied about 315 miles for up to 12 hours a day at an average pace of 17.4 miles per day while lugging sleds that weighed in excess of 176 pounds. Read more about it here.
5. Wind Energy Company Fined $1 Million in First-Ever Settlement Over Bird Deaths Caused by Turbines
This doesn’t fit the feel-good vibe of the rest of this list, but it is the same story that prompted an online user to say “somebody needs to watch EcoWatch,” so there’s that.
There is nothing good about bird deaths or fines, but the story did spark some thoughtful discussion about how much we’re willing to pay for renewable energy. On one side, groups like the American Bird Conservancy proclaimed that “wind energy is not green if it is killing hundreds of thousands of birds,” while utilities and wind power organizations were left to play defense. Where do you stand? If you weren’t one of hundreds who opined on this topic last month, feel free to do so now.
6. Can Electric Cars Power Buildings? One Automaker Says Yes
Nissan recently finished a field test to see if a new system could power an office building from the LEAF electric vehicle’s battery.
Cars powering buildings? I’m not sure about you, but I certainly didn’t see that one coming. Nissan did, though, and spent some time this summer testing the concept in Japan.
“The results have led to approximately a 2.5-percent reduction of electrical power use during peak hours,” according to a Nissan statement.
Though the estimate was based on average Tokyo Electric Power Co. rates, the power use would equate to annual savings of nearly $5,000 U.S. dollars or 500,000 in Japanese yen.
I’m sure property owners in the U.S. would sign up for that.
7. Stanford Professor on Letterman: Powering Entire World on Renewable Energy No Problem
It wasn’t what Professor Mark Jacobson was saying—if you’re an advocate of renewable energy, you hear this kind of talk on a daily basis—as much as it was the platform. Solar and wind energy simply don’t get the late-night limelight.
David Letterman helped change that in October by inviting the best renewable power spokesman you could have hoped for—an academic who had co-written a 100-percent renewables plan for Scientific American four years earlier.
GMO’s Top Sustainability and Green Economy Stories of 2013
GMO’s Top Energy Stories of 2013
GMO’s Top Climate Change Stories of 2013
GMO’s Top Political Stories of 2013
GMO’s Top Green School Stories of 2013
GMO’s Top Sustainability, Science and Weather Stories of 2012
GMO’s Top Environmental Communications Stories of 2012
GMO’s Top Environmental Politics Stories of 2012
GMO’s Top Education Stories of 2012
GMO’s Top Business Stories of 2011
GMO’s Top Government Stories of 2011
GMO’s Top People Power Stories of 2011
GMO’s Top Resources Stories of 2011
GMO’s Top Stories of 2011: Schools, EVs, Weather, ISO, Deaths (Anderson & Jobs)