• Filtered for sustainability

Produce….and reduce

We produce some cool stuff in our daily dealings here at MDC. But because we’re about more than just producing – we’re pretty minimalistic, so we’re also into reducing. Reducing, reusing and recycling that is.

Reuse (and let go)

Our back alley has proven to be the best example of this over the past year. Put anything of any value out there and it’s gone within a day. Put anything returnable out there, and it’s gone in 10 minutes. No joke.

Just last week, we needed to get rid of a desk, and on its way to the back alley, our tenant had a glint in his eye and decided he wanted it. So the tenant’s desk got taken to the alley. And later that night, we heard some scuffling out back, as a guy was expounding on the merits of this “amazing desk that would fit perfectly in their space”. This warms our hearts and happens regularly. In fact, within two weeks of setting the intention of wanting a new office chair, our friend decides he doesn’t want his amazing office chair anymore, and boom, ours goes out to the alley to be snapped up within 12 hours.

Reduce, then recycle:

OK, recycling is good too, but ultimately, we want to reduce our use of “stuff” in the first place. So, while we are trying to reduce our use of Ziploc bags for kids’ lunches to 2 per day, we need to find a place to put these things once they’re used. Enter those blue plastic recycling bins at Safeway or London Drugs, among other places. You can recycle your ziplocs (and other clean plastic bags) in there. Now if only they’d start charging (a lot) for plastic bags, we’d be even happier. Five cents ain’t gonna change behaviour.

Let us know your favourite 3-R’s example from your life, or your business.

Do we need more shoes?

By Wendy Riches (edited by Rod MacDonald)

This post stems from a moral dilemma I faced as I excitedly entered the Army & Navy department store for their legendary annual shoe sale.

I love shoes just as much as the next woman – I hit this sale religiously every year in search of the perfect discounted pair. But the chaos overwhelmed me this year, as copious amounts of shoes were being left in a heap on the floor, the cashier line-up grew to more than 25 deep, and I noticed women struggling to carry heavy baskets containing more than 15 pairs of shoes!

All of a sudden the dichotomy of this really hit me: 20 steps away, just outside the door, in the poorest part of Vancouver, were people who likely only have one pair of shoes, if they’re lucky. One guy said “nice shoes” to me as I was leaving (I only bought one pair), and the guilt started flooding in!

Mass media feeds us “must buy” messages prompting us to elbow our way through a store to get the latest colour shoe 50% off. And in the same breath, we are constantly reminded to save energy, promote sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint (pun unintended).

How is one to reconcile these vastly dichotomous values? Who says we can’t have more shoes?

Al Gore tells us to change our light bulbs because the polar ice caps are melting, all the while flying around the world to speaking engagements and spreading jet fuel exhaust — one of the worst environmental offenders – into the stratosphere.

I’m confused. I only bought one pair of shoes. They’re really cute. I hope that’s OK?

Solara – One of Canada’s First Renewable Energy Communities Opens to the Public

By Rod MacDonald – photos by Wendy Riches

12 noon Saturday October 10 marked the Grand Opening of Solara, a remarkably innovative, renewable energy community in Chilliwack BC. We were hired to augment Bangarang Communications and Oasis Realty, and to ensure that Solara launched on time despite an extremely tight deadline. We’re talking seven weeks start to finish when we’d typically recommend no fewer than 12.

I provided the project name and positioning line for branding, and copy for the brochure, inserts, sales centre, website, Dmail, advertising etc. Wendy did the heavy lifting. She began by providing a crucial critical path listing all the things that had to happen in order to make the deadline – who was responsible for what, when. Then she organized the Grand Opening event, bringing in caterers, live music and giveaways.

Sure enough, Solara’s Grand Opening event was a huge success. Realtors, builders and buyers rubbed shoulders with folks from CHBA-BC, the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, and Barry Penner, the British Columbia government’s Minister of the Environment. Mr Penner, along with environmental equipment suppliers and CHBA-BC’s Built Green representative, was drawn to Solara because it is one of Canada’s first renewable energy communities. The goal is to have every Solara home become a Net-Zero home, meaning annual energy consumption and carbon emissions will add up to zero.

The key component is Oasis Powerhouse technology, a three-pack of solar, wind and geothermal equipment that can reduce monthly energy bills to next to nothing.

Each home will have solar photo-voltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity, a closed-loop geothermal or solar-thermal system that provides heating and cooling, and a wind turbine that converts wind energy to electricity.

If you’d like to take a look for yourself, all this equipment is up and running at Solara. You can learn more about Solara by visiting the website: http://www.solarahomes.ca/

If you’re interested in innovative housing, here’s a link to a big competition with an entry from Simon Fraser University. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/12/solar-decathlon-the-compe_n_314790.html?slidenumber=8

Marketing communication: Sustainable solutions

I’ve always thought of marketing communications as problem solving. A client has a product, service, or perhaps a real estate project and needs to get the attention of customers, clients or buyers. Not long ago there were a handful of fairly predictable solutions we could propose. Now, with the collapse of the US real estate market and uncertainty among financial institutions combined with the decline in newspaper readership and the ubiquity of the internet, it’s a whole new world.

We’ve been working on ways for one of our clients to enhance communication between centralized management and locations spread all over Western Canada. It was no surprise for us to find that a traditional printed newsletter was the least sustainable solution as well as the most expensive. And as we expected, the most cost-effective and sustainable solution was a blog. The downside, if our client goes that route, could be a loss of control over content. Head office will post and outlying locations will comment as they see fit.

Not every company we’ve worked with in the past would be comfortable with this approach, but we think this kind of openness and honesty is what’s required to survive and hopefully thrive in the new business environment.

And speaking of a new business environment, I read today that the US stimulus package will cost more than 9 trillion dollars. According to an article on Bloomberg.com that’s enough money to pay off 90% of the home mortgages in America. Of course that’s not where the money’s going 😉

A trillion dollars is something I can not comprehend, let alone nine trillion. Mathematician John Allen Paulos says a million seconds = less than 12 days. A billion seconds = almost 32 years! And a trillion seconds = what?

If you’re looking for help with your marketing communications, click here to drop us a line.

Photo by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org