Saturday, September 18, 2010

Give The Gift That Gives Back: Fair Trade Gift Baskets

The InterReligious Task Force on Central America is taking orders for fair trade gift baskets which will be deliverd during the upcoming holiday season. These baskets are an innocuous way to introduce high quality fair trade goods to your family, friends, teachers, associates and clients.The gifts support small farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Click here for an order form. If you are in CTown (Cleveland) on October 9th, stop by John Carroll University to meet fair trade vendors, farmers, supporters and advocates in person at the Ohio Fair Trade Expo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Women Use Social Media to Practice Conscious Living

Tune in to "Sisterhood: The Blog Radio" on Monday, September 13th, 9pm EST to listen to a panel of amazing women discuss how they use social media to practice conscious living. Topics discussed will include, healthy living yoga, reiki, massage, holistic practices, physical fitness, spirituality, life coaching, vegetarianism, veganism and green living. Click here for additional details.

Fair Trade Fashions

Check me out with my fair trade gear - earrings, a skirt from Uganda and a comfy top from Nepal. There is a store in Cleveland called Revive, which sells nothing but fair trade goods. Merchandise includes clothing, cosmetics (including Alaffia), accessories, home goods and coffees/chocolates. I love shopping there! The selection reminds me of items I would normally find in Anthropologie, but I don't have to read labels. I have the satisfaction of knowing that a fair wage was received by the employees and women are being lifted out of poverty and gaining economic independence. I feel good about wearing these fashions, drinking this coffee and eating this chocolate.  By the way, I read that a large coffee company is looking at incorporating fair wage principles into its business model. This is why I try to shop with my conscious, because eventually big business catches wind and the practices go mainstream - improving the lives of individuals around the world. Back to the fashions.....

Made in Bali, supports gender equity and prohibits exploitation of women and children.
Top from Nepal and tiered knit skirt from Uganda.
Made in Nepal, where workers receive living wage, vacation and work in a clean, healthy environment.
Created by artisans in Gulu, Uganda. Made with style, comfort and versatility as design principles.

Federal Agencies Greening It Up: Impacts To Your Bottom Line

The White House is doing more than planting organic gardens in its efforts to green America. Agencies are incorporating solar technology, green computing, waste reduction and other sustainable business efforts in their operating models in an effort to save taxpayer dollars and reduce impacts to our planet. Soooo, how does this impact you? Beyond better returns on your mandatory investment of tax dollars and preservation of our earth's essential for living resources, if you bid on government contracts or want to bid on government contracts, you may need to "green" your business. Many agencies are now required to incorporate green products into their purchases or evaluate the sustainability efforts bidding contractors. So going green or not, could impact your bottom line.  My father was recently invited to the White House to discuss his role in the development of a community garden in the middle of a Cleveland metropolitian housing complex aka "the projects". We believe it was this particular type of project got caught the attention of his contact and earned him this invitation. So green, not greed - is good. Click here to get a leg up on how you can leverage your triple bottom line efforts and improve your chances of winning a government contract.

More Banking News: Environmental Risks Getting More Scrutiny in Finance

Though there is a loooong way to go, banks are starting to give greater weight to environmental risks in evaluating credit requests. There has always been a level of scrutiny given to certain environmental risks in real estate lending projects, primarily around the area of potential pollutants specific to the site: asbestos, toxic chemicals and other ground contaminants. In today's environment, with more groups advocating for improved corporate social responsibility, increased sensitivity of consumers to environmentally-correct choices and investors showing greater concerns for the risks inherent in specific environmental practices, banks are slowing realizing that these are issues that need to be considered in weighing the profitability of specific types of financing. Wells Fargo is the most recent U.S. bank to reduce it's exposures to companies engaging in the environmentally damaging practice of mountain top removal of coal. Read here to see if your bank is among the other large financial institutions that have taken this stance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Banks You Can Really Love: Radical Isn't It?

Usually the words radical and banking aren't used in the same sentence, so as a banker, I was intrigued when I saw this article titled "Are you ready for a radically sustainable bank?" on LinkedIn today. As you can imagine, banking is a pretty conservative profession, so radical is not a concept that would be eagerly greeted in many bank meetings. Things are slowly changing. As bankers start to realize that more customers are concerned about the environment, the local economy and human rights, some banks have begun leading using social consciousness as a driver of profits. These banks focus not only on the bottom line, but the triple bottom line - people, planets and profits. They try to be transparent in their operations, reward clients for shopping consciously and give preferential pricing to businesses that apply eco-conscious supply chain management techniques. Doing good, will beget great results - I can't wait for the IPO!