Was amazing. Funnest moment: IDEO workshop. Best speech: Yvon Chouinard. Most Awkward Moment: Calling people I know by the names of people they spend a lot of time with. Most Uplifting Moment: A textile sourcing specialist from Gap, Inc. saying he thought that an 11% increase in cotton prices could be absorbed, and not passed on to the Gap shopper. Perhaps my devious plan of ending US cotton subsidies through boycott by major end users will work, after all. (evil laugh of someone more interested in the greater good than the special interests of a few wealthy corporations)
OK,sure, they employ a lot of people. And make it so poor people can afford to buy cheap crap and food. But the social (and environmental and health) cost of doing that is enormous. So now they are finally losing market share for real:
Some choice excerpts, for those of you who think WSJ is just a tool of the conservative elite. It’s not, even under Murdoch’s ownership, so maybe you should subscribe:
Wal-Mart’s shares trade about where they were at the start of the decade, when the company produced less than half its current revenue. Shares closed yesterday up 40 cents at $44.87, and down 9.3% from the stock’s year-earlier price. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart took the extraordinary step of ratcheting down its U.S. expansion plans because its new stores were stealing too much revenue from existing ones. That wasn’t a concern in the 1980s and 1990s when Wal-Mart was regularly flattening competitors.
In some ways, Wal-Mart’s loss of clout is a reflection of a more fragmented world. Retailing is a mirror to how we live and work. Big-box stores thrived by selling highly recognizable national brands, which themselves were fed by two phenomena: the growth of mass media and freeways, which encouraged large stores in remote areas. Stores and brands together achieved scale efficiencies that allowed them to overwhelm local chain stores and regional brands.
But the Internet is transforming the retail definition of scale. The once-stunning compilation of 142,000 items found in a Wal-Mart supercenter doesn’t seem so vast alongside the millions of products available on the Internet. At the same time, the cost of creating and sustaining a national brand is rising because of media fragmentation. Niche brands, created by Internet word of mouth, are winning shelf space and sapping profits required to fund big brands’ advertising. Manufacturers such as Apple Inc. and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., lacking the retail distribution or presentation they crave, are opening their own stores. One result is that retail giants hold less sway over their customers — and over their suppliers.
Wal-Mart wasn’t able to demand big suppliers continue investing in a technology that was raising their operating costs, says Ken Rohleder, president of Rohleder Group, a Louisville, Ky., supply-chain consulting firm. “There was a time when they could have dictated anything,” he says.
and who is going to invent me a laptop where the screen bends far enough back so I can bend my knees while laying on the sofa? fragile p.o.s. first it can’t handle flying down the bumpiest part of Wilshire blvd in my bike’s trunk without extra padding, now it breaks because i just tried to bend it back a little further. bleh
gotta stop this and go to sleep so I can kick-ass at the Deloitte case competition the way I somehow didn’t kick ass at arm wrestling. I thought for sure I was so strong. people always tell me I am. but I’m not as strong as Kristen Poe, not even remotely. Oh well, it was fun anyway. It was also fun going to a career fair when I’m not desperate for a job. Just like in dating, I got a lot more attention because the neon “DESPERATE” sign wasn’t flashing over my head. I am discovering a hitherto untapped talent for making conversation, as long as I have something to talk/ask about. It’s so much easier than trying to drum up a conversation out of thin air. I think they schedule the whole job search thing early in the year for that very reason. May 2008 is too far off in the future to seem real, so we don’t get all nervous and worked up. Either that or I’m just too cocky for my own good. That was certainly the case with arm wrestling.
I had fun talking to people, asking them what their company is doing about sustainability. Some had awesome, impressive answers, some seemed to be playing catch-up. While us sustainability-minded folk can go to the Net Impact conference and essentially “preach to the choir” I think it’s also important we go to the dark side and preach to the heathens. They’re the ones who need to be converted.
I gotta say, I’m a little worried about this obsession with corn as a substitute for petroleum. Not enough of it, it has better uses, and well, if we make more, we need more water, land, etc. Sure, there’s trade-offs for everything, but I’d like to see what other plants people are innovating around…
ok, off to bed to dream of pitching the most awesome case…
Someday, we’ll probably all be getting our water from one of these, especially Arizona residents. For now, I am sooooo happy it’s only half a million bucks! That’s do-able, even for NGO’s working with developing countries. And with increased production, the cost can only go down. What’s especially cool is that the majority of the innovation award winners are doing stuff that’s either socially or environmentally redeeming, not just a bunch of useless gadgets and internet junk.
My personal 2nd favorite, because there’s nothing more evil and unbearable than fucking 2-stroke garden equipment:
“Co-winner Firefly Energy Inc., Peoria, Ill., developed a power supply that replaces the heavy lead plates in typical vehicle batteries with a carbon-graphite foam.
The result is smaller and lighter — yet can deliver as much power as more advanced and more costly technologies. Though its batteries aren’t yet on the market, Firefly has signed a deal with Sweden’s Husqvarna Group to provide batteries for the outdoor-equipment maker’s planned line of electric lawn mowers and lawn tractors. And in March Firefly received $5 million from the U.S. Army to develop a prototype for possible use in combat vehicles.”
I can’t wait to buy batteries made with carbon fiber plates instead of lead! Then I probably will turn the vibrating wedgie (Husqvarna) into an electric bike.
Full article here, if you subscribe:
This guy has ruined my once-pristine Whole Foods experience. Once upon a time, I thought I was supporting a socially responsible grocery store. No longer. The CEO’s behavior is no different than that of any self-serving, greed-based CEO in America. No surpirse there, absolute power corrupts absolutely, right?
Here’s the letter I sent to Whole Foods. Feel free to copy/paste it and send it to them too!
I will no longer shop at Whole Foods until John Mackey is fired. He must be replaced with a CEO who actually reflects the values of Whole Foods.
After reading about his unscrupulous actions regarding your nearest competitor it is clear that he does not have the level of social responsibility necessary to lead what is reputed to be the most socially responsible grocery chain.
Until Mackey is fired I will shop only at my local Co-op, Trader Joe’s, and the Farmer’s Market. Mackey is sullying the reputation of Whole Foods. Please get rid of him.
Previously Loyal and Trusting Customer,
Customer Service: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/contact/contact.html
“A fertile side-effect
States should not be in the business of pushing people to have babies. If women decide to spend their 20s clubbing rather than child-rearing, and their cash on handbags rather than nappies, that’s up to them. But the transition to a lower population can be a difficult one, and it is up to governments to ease it. Fortunately, there are a number of ways of going about it—most of which involve social changes that are desirable in themselves.”
Oh yeah!!! Global population is flattening! Perhaps eventually this could mean fewer traffic jams, eh? What they’re referring to in the above comment is how France is trying to give French women cash incentives to breed. Quel Degulas! So WHAT! if French, or any other nationality or race, become endangered species? Jeesh. Maybe then people will start to recognize that we’re really all Human, and that nationalist qualities are just a construct of the culture a person is raised in.
As a Sustainability Consultant, my challenge will be to help companies adapt to shrinking markets. I know growth is important, but at the expense of quality of living?
full article here: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=9545933
I saw this as I left the office today, down in the Arts District. It’s proud papa is Marcus from ZVO, they make these gorgeous HYBRID!!! bikes! It’s gas/electric, not gas/pushbike, so cool!!! He said it’s rumored to be capable of 60 mph, which on those tires (assuming the front tire is as skinny as that back one) must be crazy!!! I so want one. It’s the perfect antidote to my dirty little habit. Yes, the sustainability consultant has a penchant for fast and dirty high-powered race bikes with unfettered exhaust systems…
Motherfucker. Lemme at him! I’ll show that bastard what happens to scumbags who destroy the single greatest source of oxygen in this oxygen-deprived city. If I had the power, I’d reach down his throat, tear out his lungs and rip them up into tiny pieces. Then perhaps he might understand the importance of oxygen, and why we all enjoy breathing so much. I took this picture on the way home from work today. I assumed it was some careless, stupid smoker, but apparently it was some terrorist loser asshole trying to ruin it for the park and for the rest of us trying to eke out a living in this semi-arid desert. Only my flue is open, and I can smell the smoke, even though it’s blowing away from where I live. Or was an hour ago. I hate when people burn trees, and this is the THIRD fire we’ve had in Griffith Park this season, and it’s not even summer yet! Grrrr.
Here’s one of the park in happier times, after a big rainfall:
Quote from the Wall Street Journal article on his recent shareholder conference:
Buffett Fields Questions on Planned Parenthood
Mr. Buffett also defended his charitable contribution to organizations that support women’s reproductive rights, such as Planned Parenthood.
A shareholder from St. James, N.Y., who said he brought one of his five daughters to the meeting, asked Mr. Buffett to explain why he supports organizations such as Planned Parenthood. “It just doesn’t seem to jibe with the hero that I studied,” the shareholder told Mr. Buffett amid boos from the audience.
“Men set the rules for a lot of years, and I think it’s wonderful that women can make reproductive choices,” Mr. Buffett replied, as shareholders applauded and cheered.
Mr. Buffett announced in June 2006 that he would pledge some 85% of his Berkshire stake, amounting to about $44 billion at the current stock price, to five charities, the largest of which is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His Buffett Foundation, which for decades was run by Mr. Buffett’s late first wife, Susan, long supported projects that promoted women’s right to birth control and abortion, as well as population control in developing countries.
“I think it’s a terrific organization,” Mr. Buffett added, referring to Planned Parenthood. “I really think it’s too bad that for millenia, women not only in the U.S. but all over the world, have had involuntary bearing of babies.
Thank you Mr. Buffett!!! You rule!
Since I’m looking to buy a house, I’m starting to think about composting….