Tag Archives: green

Building a Greener Future with Sustainable Innovations

Building a Greener Future with Sustainable Innovations

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In a world where environmental concerns are more pressing than ever, the imperative to pioneer sustainable innovations has never been clearer. While the challenge is daunting, it is also brimming with opportunities for companies, individuals, and societies to lead transformative change. This article delves deep into the concept of sustainable innovations and presents compelling case studies to inspire our collective journey toward a greener future.

What are Sustainable Innovations?

Sustainable innovations are developments that meet present societal needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet theirs. It is about designing products, services, processes, and business models that have minimal negative impacts on the environment while adding value to society and enhancing economic viability.

Why is Sustainability Essential?

  1. Environmental Preservation: Limiting the use of non-renewable resources and reducing emissions can help mitigate climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution.
  2. Economic Growth: Sustainable practices can lead to new industries, job creation, and economic resilience through energy savings, waste reduction, and efficient resource utilization.
  3. Social Responsibility: Consumers increasingly demand that companies act as responsible stewards of the planet, leading to higher brand loyalty and reputation.

Case Study 1: Tesla’s Electric Vehicle Revolution

When we talk about sustainable innovations, it is impossible to overlook Tesla’s monumental impact on the automotive industry. Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by creating compelling electric vehicles (EVs) has redefined what we thought possible.

Key Innovations:

  1. Electric Drivetrain: Tesla’s electric vehicles, powered by advanced battery technology, prove that high performance and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. With increasing ranges and decreasing costs, EVs are now a viable alternative to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles.
  2. Supercharger Network: Tesla has built an extensive global network of high-speed charging stations, addressing one of the main barriers to EV adoption — range anxiety. These stations are powered increasingly by renewable energy sources, ensuring that the shift to electric vehicles truly benefits the environment.
  3. Autonomous Driving: Tesla’s integration of autonomous driving technology aims to improve traffic efficiency, reduce accidents, and potentially lower the energy consumption associated with driving, thus contributing further to a sustainable future.

Case Study 2: Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan

Unilever, a global consumer goods giant, has demonstrated how large corporations can embed sustainability at the core of their business strategy through its Sustainable Living Plan, first launched in 2010.

Key Innovations:

  1. Sustainable Sourcing: Unilever has committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials. By doing so, it supports biodiversity, enhances soil health, and ensures the livelihoods of farmers and workers.
  2. Circular Packaging: Unilever is a leader in reducing plastic waste. Its innovations in circular packaging involve creating recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. Initiatives like the “Refill Revolution” encourage consumers to bring back reusable containers, significantly reducing single-use plastics.
  3. Carbon Reduction: The company has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2039. This includes optimizing the entire supply chain, from manufacturing to transportation. They’ve reduced emissions through energy-efficient practices, renewable energy use, and redesigning products to minimize environmental impact.

Path Forward: Embracing Sustainable Innovations

While the efforts of companies like Tesla and Unilever are inspiring, they should not be outliers but rather the norm. Here are a few ways to foster a culture of sustainable innovation:

  1. Cross-sector Collaboration: Collaboration between businesses, governments, academia, and NGOs can spur innovation. Shared knowledge and resources can amplify the impact of sustainable solutions.
  2. Consumer Awareness and Engagement: Educating consumers about the benefits and importance of sustainable products can drive demand, incentivizing businesses to innovate.
  3. Regulatory Support: Governments can play a crucial role by providing incentives for businesses to invest in sustainable practices and penalizing those that fall short.
  4. Investment in Research and Development: Continuous investment in R&D is essential for discovering breakthrough technologies and processes that drive sustainability.


The journey toward a sustainable future is long and complex, but it is undeniably the path we must take. Sustainable innovations not only mitigate environmental damage but also offer economic and societal rewards.

As thought leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and citizens, we all have roles to play in fostering and adopting sustainable innovations. Together, let’s build a greener, brighter, and more equitable future.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: misterinnovation.com

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Cars Don’t Have to Be Beige and Boring – Nobe 100

Cars Don't Have to Be Beige and Boring - Nobe 100

Estonia is known for pushing the boundaries as it tries to establish itself as a haven for innovation, and out of Estonia comes the latest in a string of interesting electric car projects. This one is super sexy for those of us that think that cars have gotten BORING. Check out the video to see what I mean.

Below you’ll find a second video that digs a little deeper into the project and provides more of an editorial.

But before you check it out you might want to investigate a bit more about what Estonia is trying to do to make itself an innovation powerhouse.

Is the design so sexy that you’ll want to lick it? I’ll leave that for you to decide, but I do like the idea of a removable battery. I’m surprised this is the first electric car that I’ve seen that touts this as a feature. I always assumed that the gas pumps at service stations would be replaced by racks of batteries eventually, but that has yet to happen and it is kind of hard for such a transition to start taking place if none of the electric car manufacturers are making cars with removable batteries. Whether or not it was necessary to go to the extreme of making the removable battery look like a nostalgic leather suitcase I’m not quite sure, but it does keep the experience consistent.

This is a crowdfunding project so if it excites you, check out their investment page.

So, only one question remains… Innovation or not?

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A Simple Idea to Save Oil

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

Here is a great marketing campaign from S-Oil in South Korea which took the challenge of finding ways to decrease oil consumption in South Korea and turned it into a marketing campaign:

In this case the solution highlighted in the video is one potential solution of many to the challenge of decreasing oil consumption, and is focused on reducing the amount of oil consumed searching for a parking spot.

The one thing I didn’t understand was why “HERE” was in English instead of Korean characters… (NOTE: I had to replace the video and the new one is in English)

But anyways…

What simple solution is hiding under your nose?

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Using Gravity to Save and Improve Lives

Using Gravity to Save and Improve Lives

I came across an IndieGogo project that is focused on building and trialing a gravity-powered power station that can serve either as a lantern or as a flexible power source that can be used to power a task light, recharge batteries, or potentially other things that users might dream up that the designers can’t yet imagine.

Check out their video from IndieGogo:

They have already raised FIVE TIMES the money they set out to raise on IndieGogo.

I found it interesting in their promotional video that initially they started with a design challenge of designing a system that would charge a light for indoor use using a solar panel, but that they decided to abandon the approach specified from the outset and pursue alternate power sources.

Also interesting from the IndieGogo project page are the following facts:

The World Bank estimates that, as a result, 780 million women and children inhale smoke which is equivalent to smoking 2 packets of cigarettes every day. 60% of adult, female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers. The fumes also cause eye infections and cataracts, but burning kerosene is also more immediately dangerous: 2.5 million people a year, in India alone, suffer severe burns from overturned kerosene lamps. Burning Kerosene also comes with a financial burden: kerosene for lighting ALONE can consume 10 to 20% of a household’s income. This burden traps people in a permanent state of subsistence living, buying cupfuls of fuel for their daily needs, as and when they can.

The burning of Kerosene for lighting also produces 244 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.

So, what do you think, a meaningful innovation or an interesting but impractical invention?

More information available on their web site here.

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An Innovation Eclipse

An Innovation EclipseThe failure of Solyndra – a United States solar energy venture backed by $535 million in federal loan guarantees drew the ire of many people concerned with the state of the federal budget deficit and the growing national debt. But was the federal government wrong to offer loan guarantees to Solyndra?

This is the question many people asked back when the failure happened, and I would be interested to hear what you think.

In a previous article I stated some of my thoughts on the role the federal government should play in the overall innovation ecosystem in the United States, and I stand by what I said in that article – An Open Letter on Innovation to President Obama.

To quote the relevant part for the discussion:

We need to take a step back and define what the role of government is in our overall innovation efforts as a country:

  1. What are the big research challenges that companies are unwilling to spend on that if pursued and conquered, would unleash a wave of innovation?
  2. How can companies and the government work together to fund and share technology that doesn’t define competition, but does accelerate productivity and global competitiveness of U.S. firms against foreign competitors?
  3. How can we restructure our tax system to reward successful American firms for taking the bigger risks that will help them continue to lead their industries in the future?
  4. How can we incent American exporters trailing foreign competitors to try and leapfrog and disrupt foreign competitors, take market share, and create jobs in this country?
  5. Should we build a deep innovation coaching capability into the Small Business Administration so that small companies can get access to innovation education?
  6. If the last wave of innovation in this country was built on the passion and ideas of foreign born entrepreneurs, should we not be doing more (not less) to encourage the world’s best to come here and study and start businesses?
  7. If we are in a war for innovation, should we not be building innovation alliances with countries in the same way we have built military alliances for centuries? More and more companies are doing this, why not countries?

You’ll notice that nowhere on this list was funding companies. This is a special skill and one that most people wouldn’t think about the government as having, especially when you take into account that identifying a potentially successful startup is not about the idea, but about identifying strong management teams that have the capability to lead a team of people to find and overcome the critical flaws in the founding idea and get the final solution to market. Funding companies isn’t something that the government should be focusing on – even when they pursue it in a portfolio approach (Solyndra represents only 2% of the Department of Energy’s committed loan guarantees).

From an outsider’s perspective the $535 million would have been better spent in discovering and transferring a platform technology to multiple companies that could then work towards getting the basic platform technology to market (funded by the private sector). Then other American entrepreneurs could have generated even more jobs by building upon it. Think about the growth in the US Economy that the platform technology of the Internet generated. It is too soon to see whether the failure of Solyndra will be a big blow or a small blow to the Obama administration’s innovation efforts, but it probably also didn’t help that last week Alan Greenspan was quoted as saying:

“Can innovation create jobs? The answer is that is not its focus,”

“Jobs are created in that process and what happens in private industry as technology decreases unit costs and especially labor costs, profits go up, companies expand and then they hire people,”

“Innovation reduces jobs, and there is no way getting around that syllogism,”

Alan Greenspan may be simplifying things here and ignoring that there are more types of innovation than cost innovation, but hey, let’s give the guy a break as innovation is not really his focus.

Also this week it emerged that Thomas Friedman has a new book coming out with Michael Mandelbaum called That Used to be Us that essentially says the United States must innovate or else. After all, we’re never going to be cheaper, so we have to better and more innovative. That leaves a huge challenge for the government of the United States.

To replace all of the debt-fueled, consumption-related jobs that will likely never come back, the United States must come together as a collection of public, private, and charitable institutions to re-train our workforce and change our mindset as a country to focus not on consumption but creation in order to generate the new jobs necessary to reduce a 9.2% unemployment rate.

But for all of the focus in the media and academia on improving the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in America, we must also introduce an equally strong focus on creating young people that are equally capable of becoming the flexible and adaptable workforce that organizations will need to continue to succeed at innovation. This includes helping reinforce the value of unplugging in our always-on society that suffers from expectations of immediate response.

All of this taken together still shows that the United States still needs a cohesive, long-term, committed innovation strategy if we are to prevent the country’s continued loss of ground to other rising economies over time. Because any innovation strategy requires long-term focus and commitment, I remain doubtful that the United States politicians will be up to the task, and very doubtful that in an era of collapsing education budgets that we will be able to train our children to be more flexible and adaptable with the requisite skills in language to translate the value of their ideas, the technical skills to create the value, and the logic to create the systems necessary to make it easier to access the value of their ideas. But we will see.

It is my belief as I have said before in my article Stop Praying for Education Reform that we must come together outside the normal school day to educate our children in the skills necessary to create the innovation capacity they will need to take our country forward through the rest of this century, and help to maintain its place near the top of the economic pyramid.

Ultimately the question is not whether the United States CAN still lead the world in innovation, but whether we have the WILL.

What do you think?

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World’s Worst Logo?

World's Worst Logo? -  Definitely Needs Updating

Every time I see this logo I cringe.

If there is one logo in the world that is definitely in desperate need of updating, it is the logo of Sherwin Williams.

My stomach turns at the site of the earth dripping with paint and the slogan “Cover the Earth” only makes it worse.

Is there anyone out there that would actually like to see the earth covered in paint?

Especially paint that looks like blood?

Sherwin Williams, I implore you, please update your logo as soon as possible to reflect the changing world we live in, where people are concerned about toxicity and where sustainability and being green are increasingly important.

If you could do it before Earth Day on April 22, 2012 that would be even better.

You may not realize the negative logo your logo is having on your business because your stock price is moving up and to the right, but imagine how much better it might be doing if you updated your image to reflect your surroundings?

Come on Sherwin Williams, you can do it!

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Innovation Comes in Many Forms

Innovation Comes in Many FormsInnovation comes in all different forms, and there is more than one way to boost profits in organizations.

Layoffs are not the only way to improve the bottom line when times get tough. Often asking the right questions can uncover new revenue sources in areas that previously had only been seen as a source of costs.

There is an article in Fast Company from 2007 when I wrote this article that talks about ways that companies are greening themselves. I highly recommend that every entrepreneur and manager read it. It’s not a hippie and granola, look at us aren’t we great type of article but instead highlights loads of different ways that organizations are becoming green. This article highlights lots of different ways that organizations are improving their bottom lines, while greening themselves at the same time.

There are many reasons why trying to make your organization more environmentally responsible has the potential to improve the bottom line:

  1. It focuses the organization on identifying and eliminating waste
  2. Creating new directions for the waste your organization produces:
    • Are our waste products of value to someone?
    • Can we recycle or otherwise use our waste products for something useful?
  3. Could we produce our products closer to our customers?
  4. Could we source our inputs closer to our factories?
  5. Could we change how we package our product to reduce the amount of raw materials needed?
  6. Could we somehow distribute our products in reusable containers?

Finally, there is no escaping the fact that becoming more environmentally responsible as an organization will either gain you additional sales now or prevent you from losing sales in the future. as the standards of government and corporate procurement departments begin to shift towards purchasing from more environmentally responsible vendors.

So, what does your organization have to gain from trying to identify areas of environmental opportunity?

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