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?
I just read about this fantastic initiative.
I remember thinking about this when I was in Kenya last year. You can drive for miles and miles along dusty roads to communities without even the most basic amenities, yet you are never more than a few miles from the nearest bottle of Coca Cola. It must be the most efficient distribution network on the face of the planet - so why not use it to do distribute some good?
"It's a tragic fact of life today that one in five African children die before their fifth birthday from simple causes like dehydration from diarrhea. Basic medicines could save those children's lives, yet no means has been found to make them readily available. A new grassroots project, however, aims to tap into the formidable distribution network of none other than Coca-Cola to get life-saving medicines to the children who need them.
The ColaLife project aims to distribute oral re-hydration salts and educational materials to people in developing countries through a partnership with Coca-Cola by which its distributors carry medicine in addition to soft drinks. The concept actually dates back 20 years, when its originator—Simon Berry, who was then an aid worker in Zambia—was struck by the realization that one could buy a Coke virtually anywhere on the planet, yet medicine was hard to come by. He proposed designating one compartment in every 10 Coke crates as "the life saving" compartment to transport medicines. His idea fell on deaf ears back then, but today the power of social networking is giving it new life."
Specifically, Berry's ColaLife project has tapped the power of Facebook and other social networking tools to amass a group of more than 6,000 supporters, garner widespread media coverage and—at least as important—get the attention of Coca-Cola.
Berry has since met with high-ranking officials at the company, and talks are under way to push the idea further. Meanwhile, ColaLife groups have been added on Google and Flickr, and a YouTube video was created earlier this month to promote the project's submission to Google’s Project 10^100 initiative.
Currently, ColaLife is seeking an NGO to participate in the project as well.
The web is facilitating social change in ways that simply weren't possible before, uniting like-minded activists and gathering support from around the globe. Will Coca-Cola jump in with both feet? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, one to watch—and learn from."
I've been following the Danish campaign 'Sluk Lyset' (turn out the lights) with interest. The campaign has been running here in the weeks up to the event itself although I'm not sure how visible it has been to 'ordinary people'. (I don't count myself as ordinary as I have an unhealthy interest in advertising communication, so I'm probably looking harder that most)
Having been in and looked around the official site I see that 3,730 people registered there, but their Facebook group was far more impressive with 13,863 members! This says something about the efficiency of the Facebook format.
The campaign was headed by a burning panda which popped up in various places around town. They made some quite nice little projections and filmed them. They also stenciled some funky burning panda graphics around town for good measure.
I took a little drive through central Copenhagen on Saturday to check see how dark it was and whether Danes were entering into the spirit of it. (I know it's not really in the spirit of the event but I was on my way to pick up my son from a friends)
It wasn't that dark, I have to say. It seemed to me that largely, the event itself wasn't a huge success. People just didn't switch off.
So what are we left with? If people can't be bothered to join in for an hour, were does that leave us? Did this event do enough to raise awareness? Will it prompt the kind of changes we need to make to avoid catastrophic climate change? Well, it's a start. And it's good that someone is doing something but personally, I'm doubtful. Don't get me wrong, I really really really think it's great that something happened. I just want people to wake up and get a bit more angry about it.
Big changes. Now. That's what needs to happen. Maybe a bit of Alarmism would be a good thing?
[English summary: The Danish Government has funded a project, where microloans are given to marginalized Danish citizens with entrepreneurial dreams. Great way to take them seriously and to develop social services. We hope for a next step: an actual social lending site for Danish/European marginalized entrepreneurs - peer-to-peer, not just government-to-clients!]
De er vant til at blive skubbet rundt i systemet, at skulle svare på
intime spørgsmål fra alverdens sagsbehandlere, at blive talt om og til
i stedet for med, at være samfundets fejl. De hedder socialt udsatte,
matchgruppe 5, hjemløse, marginaliserede, førtidspensionister.
bliver de anerkendt som individer med drømme, der kan virkeliggøres. I
hvert tilfælde i et nyt projekt hos Socialt Udviklingscenter SUS, hvor 15 "socialt udsatte" får adgang til mikrolån til deres egen iværksætterdrøm. Det er et pilotprojekt støttet af Socialministeriet.
Det får mig til at tænke to ting (og en helt masse flere, men det bliver nok lidt rodet ;)):
Jeg håber virkelig, at SUS vil være gode til at kommunikere
projekterfaringerne til en bred vifte af stakeholders. SUS har
tidligere lavet nogle ret geniale projekter indenfor brugerdreven
social innovation, som de bare ikke har fortalt så mange om.
Innovation uden spredning er så ærgerligt.
2. Det ville være umådelig interessant at se samme mikrolånsidé ført ud i en social lending
community, hvor private mennesker kunne låne til danske (evt.
skandinaviske eller europæiske) socialt udsatte, sådan som danske MyC4 og amerikanske Kiva gør det muligt at låne til fattige i den 3. verden. Eller som engelske Zopa eller amerikanske Prosper gør det i et mere peer-to-peer forbrugerorienteret univers.
hermed en newbizz idé: En social lending community for socialt udsatte
og andre med iværksætterdrømme, som ikke kan gå i banken eller til
investorer for at få deres drømme finansieret. Snup den før din
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.
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.