I found this article raising the challenges facing carbon labeling interesting. Basically the point being, calculating the carbon emissions associated with the manufacturing and transportation of product sounds like a really great way for users to make informed decisions about the products they choose. But given the huge and extremely complex (and expensive) task of standardising the way these kind of calculations are made, it seems unlikely that it will catch on.
Of course, the challenge we face with reducing our own footprint is that it is such an abstract concept to grasp. When you are a regular smoker for example, it's not long before you start wheezing and coughing and feeling like they might actually be some truth in the messages that tell you cigarettes are killing you. Maybe the promise of extreme weather, political and financial instability may have not been enough to get people to alter their lifestyles. But now we're actually seeing some of these things happening around us, maybe we'll start to see some change in the way people consume?
Lying in bed with tonsillitis the last few days I have digested more than my fair share of news. What an odd few days it's been. The world's financial markets have kept me entertained with banks disappearing overnight and share prices falling. There's been a lot of doom and gloom here in Denmark too. For example, yesterday I watched Danish Investor Morten Lund being interviewed about the collapse of the newspaper Nyhedsavisen. Having made millions as a 'serial entrepreneur' Lund now faces personal bankruptcy.
Personally, I value the times in my life when things haven't gone according to plan. For example, the job that caused me the most difficulties inspired a new direction for my career. The difficult times I've faced as a parent, have helped me develop as an individual. There's always something positive you can take from a bad situation.
The general prognosis seems to be that this recession will be a long and drawn out affair and it looks like it will provide us with plenty of opportunities for reflection. There'll be a great many challenges in the years ahead and in a strange sort of way, I relish them. As Napoleon said, "adversity is the midwife of genius."
This post from Russell Davies really captured my imagination.
The whole idea of the world becoming a place were we might need to re-learn a lot of forgotten skills seems a little daunting. In this era built on cheap-oil we've become so used to the idea that if something doesn't work, you simply replace it. Clearly, this mentality simply isn't going to see us through. At some point we're going to run out of options and start re-thinking the way we consume. I think Russell is right in pointing this out. I too have had a nagging feeling about this.
I have had similar feelings about the skills I'm going to be able to pass on to my kids. I can repair a puncture though! That's about it.
However, when I'm feeling depressed about my lack of skills in this area I try and look at it from another point of view.
The kind of enormous change we're talking about here will also require thinkers - ideas. Although I do believe things might get pretty rough and necessity will replace aspiration in many cases, I do not believe people will instantly forget about brands. They'll still want brand experiences and they still identify themselves with interesting concepts. How, for example could you make it cool to repair your television or sofa? Might it become more of a statement not to buy something in the first place and how might we brand this?
Russell, has previously blogged and talked about delivering brand experiences without delivering a product. I can see there's lots of scope for really exciting stuff here.
Actually, the sort of challenges that lie ahead of us represent a brilliant opportunity for people like us.
We have the opportunity to be radical. We have in fact the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and re-design life and the role brands have. Now there's a creative brief.
I am feeling better about my poor carpentry skills already.
IKEA in Holland have devised a way to get people enthusing about re-decorating their homes with one eye on their bank balance. They organised a furniture swap. I think it says all the right things about IKEA. By initiating such a scheme they're being practical, creative, modern, ethical, and interesting all at the same time! Another example of brand building with out a 30 second TV commercial in sight. Or put simply, doing rather than saying. I love it.
The message this year on World Aids Day is that HIV and Aids sufferers still have to contend with ignorance and prejudice every day if their lives. We brought this message to the streets of Copenhagen this afternoon with a special event. It's always great to work with people who care passionately about the work they do and the staff at Aids Fondet (The Danish Aids charity) really are committed to their cause. The girl in the bubble endured freezing temperatures and the odd drunk, who insisted on kicking the ball, to get across their important message. The event also managed to make national news, which is great for everyone involved.
He's promising free copies to bloggers who link to this post but I'm plugging John Grant's new book regardless.
I was lucky enough to read through an early draft and I can tell you it's packed full of useful stuff if you're interested in how green issues can be used as a platform for communication and innovation. (everyone should be) I'd love to have gone along to the launch party tonight but I don't think it would hae been that environmentally responsible. Instead, I'll have a glass of wine tonight and read through a few pages.
This week sees the launch of our nationwide campaign from the Danish Road Safety Council intended to get Danish road users, primarily males between 25-49, to slow down.
The speed campaign follows a pitch earlier in the year for the business, which The Aid Agency won ahead of Uncle Grey, Robert/Boisen and Likeminded and Lowe.
The campaign includes a television commercial featuring a Police Accident Investigator who, with the help of computer animation, talks us through the reconstruction of a typical accident as it happens. During the fact packed film he explains the various factors, which could have contributed to the accident, finally pinpointing excessive speed as the decisive factor in the driver’s death.
“Research shows us that Danes find it acceptable to drive just a little over the speed limit. It’s often this small difference in speed that can be the difference between life and death in a crash. In fact most drivers do not perceive speed as important factor at all,” said Niels Heilberg of The Agency.
“We also know that this target group responds far better to facts than to emotionally based communication. Our job was to present a rational and persuasive argument.”
The 'TAKE OFF 10' campaign will also be backed up with regional activities including roadside posters and the placement of wrecked cars in urban centres across Denmark, where members of the public themselves are invited to step into the role of Accident Investigator and challenged to find the decisive factor in the crash.
The film was directed by Fredrik Calinggard through film production company Far From Hollywood. The event concept was a collaboration between PS Communication and The Aid Agency.
He's a really charismatic guy who I met at a seminar on CSR inspired innovation a week or two ago. He had a whole lot of interesting and inspiring stuff to tell me about their organisation.
We had a long and interesting chat.
At The Aid Agency we talk to businesses a lot about having a purpose beyond profit. A 'point' if you like. MyC4 is the perfect example of this. They're driven people. They know were they are going and they know why they are going there.
Anyway, more about MyC4 the brand another time. Hopefully we're going to do something together. (are you kidding, I'm going to make it my personal mission to work with these guys)
This post is actually a call to action.
Their aim is to eradicate poverty through business before 2015 and they're going to do that with you investing your money in developing world businesses. Significantly, they're not asking you for a 'free' loan. In fact, you can't 'donate' a loan. There's a minimum return rate of 2%, which has sparked a lively debate within the MyC4 community.
Another exciting aspect to this is the possibilities which arise when the community start to discuss stuff that crops up. Tim told me really inspiring story about a restaurant business. The owner appealed to the community for suggestions for names. What she got back wasn't just the name but logo suggestions and all kinds of related feedback. I find this fascinating. The potential for the investment of resources in this manner seems limitless.
Anyway, back to the job in hand. I urge you to take a look around. (it's still in beta right now) and maybe you could become a 'builder' too.
To paraphrase Sir Bob at Live Aid. 'Give them your f******g money' or maybe that should be 'Give yourself some f******g money (whilst doing some good)' Doesn't have the same headline-grabbing ring to it but it makes more sense.
A while ago environmentalist blogger Mark Ontkush pointed out that a white computer screen, for example an empty word document or Google's famous minimalist home page uses considerably more energy than a black one. (roughly speaking 74 watts as opposed to 59 watts depending on what kind of screen your using)
He worked out that when you look at the number of hits a page like Google gets every day, a small change could make a big difference. According to his calculations this could be around 750 mega watts a year. (sounds like a lot eh?)
You can read Mark's account of the whole story here.
Anyway, in response a whole load of black versions of the google site popped up.