Showing posts with label green. Show all posts
Showing posts with label green. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

the real environmentalists

Back in May, 2007 in my economic green post, I explained that I believe that being green must be economic, otherwise motivation of the masses is lost. Over the past few months I have slowly become aware of something that is going on right now, that I believe falls into this category.

As many readers know I religiously shop at warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale. The thing with Costco is that their products are addictive. Over the years we have begun to buy more and more household goods from Costco. What makes their products addictive is that they are such high quality for such a fair price. Once you start buying the product, you are basically hooked because you won't compromise by buying an inferior product for, heaven forbid, a higher price. Two such examples in our home are Kirkland White Kitchen Garbage Bags with Drawstring and Kirkland Liquid Gel Dish washing Detergent.

Being addicted to using these two products, and considering how many times our kitchen garbage fills up and the number of times our dishes need washing, you can imagine how many times I handle these products. Combined I probably handle the products thousands of times per year, so subconsciously I've become quite used to the physical feel of the garbage bags and the plastic jugs. I really like these white garbage bags with a red drawstring. They never break, are a good size, and tie up nicely. The dish washing detergent works really well and is much less expensive than anything I've seen anywhere else.

In recent months something has happened. First it was the kitchen bags. As I pulled the bag from it's fresh roll in the bathroom closet it felt different in my hands. The bag was noticeably thinner. Was it just my imagination? They still worked great. A few weeks later I pulled two new huge jugs of dish washing detergent off the shelf at the Ancaster, Ontario Costco and instantly I noticed it; the pressure I exerted on the jug caused my fingers to push the plastic in further than normal. The jug was much thinner than it previously was.

It is reasonable to assume that the time a product design change decision is made at a consumer products company's boardroom table until the product gets to the consumer is likely about 6 months to 1 year. It is a lengthy process to design, test, manufacture, and market a new product. These two products are both made up in part with petro chemicals. The bags contain resin and the jugs other petro chemical-based polymers. They are both nasty items that will take years to decompose in landfills. The price of many commodities including oil really took off roughly around February, 2007. The innovative minds at these consumer product companies were likely called to force in the name of cutting costs and saving margins. "Make it thinner" demands the Clorox Co. (CLX) executive! They're all environmentalists, aren't they?

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Monday, July 28, 2008

more economic green

Being Green Must Be Economic, Otherwise Motivation Of The Masses Is Lost!

Looks like Toronto Dominion Bank (TD), my largest single stock holding, is doing some business that I'd have to classify as fitting into my 'economic green' theme that I blogged about back in May. The company's Green Wheel™ program rewards those who own or lease a hybrid vehicle by offering a five to ten per cent discount on auto insurance premiums. While most research that I have seen still shows the pay back period when buying a hybrid vehicle to be too long to make economic sense, this insurance initiative is a step in the right direction; not to mention good marketing and PR for TD.

"At TD Insurance, we're listening to consumers who want environmentally-friendly products - and leading with programs that reward green behaviour," says Jean-Francois Tougas, Vice President, TD Insurance. "With TD's Green Wheel discount, saving the environment and saving money can go hand in hand."

Saturday, May 3, 2008

economic green

Over the last year I have noticed a sizable shift in the general public's movement toward environmentalism. Friends, family, community, media, whether it be local, national, or international, seem to really be shifting to a more green approach to life. While I am certain that much of this is just posturing in response to Al Gore or high gas prices, there has seems to be a marked change in every day exposure to everything green. What a noble and worthwhile endeavour, but can saving the planet be accomplished?

While normally I tend to stick to issues relating to personal finance, stocks, and the market on this blog; I believe the answer here lies in a related realm. I think this one simple fact seems to be forgotten by many policy makers, green activists, and other environmentally concerned...

Being Green Must Be Economic, Otherwise Motivation Of The Masses Is Lost!

Here are a few examples of what I am getting at:
  • Ontario's The Beer Store, which interestingly is actually owned by Labatt, Molson, and Sleemans, runs what is probably the best example of 'Economic Green' I can think of. The Beer Store's returnable bottle system claims a re-use rate of 99% for regular beer bottles. Each bottle is typically used 12 to 15 times. I wonder how many bottles would make it back to the store or find their way into blue boxes if customers could not receive the $0.10/bottle that The Beer Store doles out? What a fabulous success story of environmentalism. So that Heineken that we all drank to celebrate the moneygardener's one year birthday could have been swigged on by 14 people before toasted to Walgreens and Household Savings Rates, that's about as green as it gets. All of this because most people won't turn down an easy dime.
  • The City of Woodstock, Ontario's garbage collection program has residents paying $1.25 to purchase a tag that they affix to each of their weekly garbage bags in order to have them picked up at the curb. This is 'Economic Green' at its best. Every city should implement such a program and perhaps we'll all use the first 'R' more often (REDUCE). Don't charge me a flat fee for collection inside property taxes, instead a pay-per-use system like this is true green motivation.
In summary, it's ridiculous to think the masses will recycle, reduce, re-use, and use less carbon out of the goodness of their hearts. Green Must Be A Win:Win Proposition, Or It Will Never Work!