The Selling and Embedding of a Sustainable Culture

March 11th, 2014 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

How do we inspire and change our society? How do we blend the silos of education, civic, non-profit, and business? Higher Education is going through eco-revolution pains with the cost and the relevance to today’s world being questioned. On top of it, open-source and free education such as Kahn Academy are creating alternate ways to learn. Then there’s that sustainability thing…

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 1.44.14 PMIf you want to see who is doing it right, go to Chico, CA which is where you’ll find CSU Chico. Chico State mainstreams sustainability thinking into over 200 classes and once a year hosts the largest, student run sustainability conference in the US. Just in case students forget why they chose Chico State, banners citing the campus values of sustainability, diversity, engagement… line the walkways. Cool. It was nice to see values that promote community instead of a leader-take-all notion.

What’s really impressive is that Chico State is starting to measure the impact of their sustainability training – post graduation – are the values and skills learned during class sticking? Kudos to them for taking this step.

Last week’s 9th “This Way to Sustainability” conference had  over 1500 attending with nearly 100 speakers. But the TWTS homepage is more than a once a year thing, you’ll also find all the sustainable actions which the campus tracks.  Check out what is being done in conjunction with the City of Chico.

Former scrap, now door latch at Chico State

Former scrap, now door latch at Chico State

And it’s not just the eco side of things you’ll notice. Chico and Chico State embrace the arts providing travelers with an unexpected aesthetic experience that extends from campus onto the store shelves.


Chico's hardware store, displays a rainbow of mixers.

Chico’s hardware store, displays a rainbow of mixers.


Mosaic benches celebrating  Chico's more colorful past and people surround the downtown.

Mosaic benches celebrating Chico’s more colorful past and people surround the downtown.

Solar Panels on Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. parking lot

Solar Panels on Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. parking lot








Once in Chico, a trip to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is required even if it wasn’t sponsoring the conference. Its owner, Ken Grossman, grew up in the area and works to intersect his business with other local companies. The beef on their menu, for example, comes from Niman Ranch which also supplied their grass fed meat for the conference lunch and that’s just the beginning… SNB’s Sustainability Coordinator, Cheri Chastain has been part of many improvements:

  • Solar Panels over the parking lot
  • Permeable pavement to let the rain soak in
  • The installation of HotRot and in-vessel composter that turns 400-600 pounds of food waste into compost.
  • SNB Placed #32 out of 3000 companies to have employees bike to work for five months.
  • SNB was the only company ever to receive the Platinum Zero Waste Certification from the US Zero Waste Business Council (Whole Foods has a bronze)
  • This year it’s working for a 6% water reduction across the company
  • Cisterns collect rain water for landscape and toilets.
  • Re-establishing a forest and using local timber for a new facility near Mills River, SC
  • and much more…*

It’s incredible to hear all the innovations that Chico State and others are doing to co-create a culture of sustainability, and it doesn’t stop there – just south of town Butte College is grid positive with 10,000 solar panels producing more energy than they can use.

For the students and the townies, being sustainable isn’t weird, it’s just another Monday.

Cheers to you all for showing us the way to sustainability.


*Fun Facts taken from Upgraded Living

First things first…

January 29th, 2014 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 11.55.40 AMLet’s say you are home enjoying a gluten-free sandwich with a an organic apple and your smoke alarm goes off.

What do you do first:

1. Finish your lunch because you’ll need the energy to put out the fire?

2. Put out the fire, then return to your lunch?

3. Call your PR team to spin the story on who started the fire and how it wasn’t your fault and keep eating?

For most the choice is simple, PUT OUT THE FIRE. When it comes to global warming and climate change, however, the choice among those with the most power is to do nothing, call the spin doctors, or worse (choice #4) throw more fuel on the fire.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama stated that “Climate Change is a fact” and that he wants to make this year a year of action. Then, he also said that all energy options are on the table. What the what? Doing nothing different will increase CO2 in the atmosphere. Promoting any energy that isn’t renewal energy is increasing the problem; which includes using up the fossil fuels already extracted.

I don’t get it, if climate change is real due to the earth getting hotter, how is the decision to use any type of fossil fuel energy a smart action?  Will President Obama end up being the Pipeline President? We haven’t seen any real movement to the contrary so far. If he’s trying to sell us on actions, then the actions have to speak louder than his words.

First things first.


Have a Perfect Holiday

December 20th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 8.30.10 AM


More of this stunning work can be found here.

2013 Solar Decathlon – 10 Cool Factors

October 7th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »


The national competition for the best solar home design under $250,000 is happening this week in Irvine, CA taking advantage of its non-stop sun. I’ve been there twice and will go back again before it closes down next Sunday. There is too much to see in one day.

The solar homes designs have advanced way past the “what if…” demo stage and into very livable and stable structures. Go to the video page to tour each abode if you can’t attend in person.

While the opening day(s) were filled with heat and grit due to the Santa Ana winds, the extreme conditions only proved how solid these structures are – not one solar panel ripped off during some gusts that were clocked at 90 mph in some places and 40-60 mph was the norm.

On the second day the wind drifted back to a refreshing 10-15 mph breeze, but the heat index was still crested 95 degrees with 10% humidity.  You would think under those conditions that packing a bunch of touring bodies inside a box wouldn’t be pleasant, but the opposite was true — each home had such excellent air flow that you couldn’t wait to get inside.

Below are the top 10 takeaways as determined during a post tour dinner.  (More pictures can be found on the site.)

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 10.47.44 AM1. Solar is very affordable TODAY and has many creative options to shade the home or become the roofing for outside living space. Solar shingles were also widely used opening up more design options. Part of the competition was to see how much energy your home generated and also used. Check here to see how much power is being generated.




Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 10.48.41 AM2. Sun activated shades
 will automatically moderate the home’s heating/cooling — as the sun hits them, they bend and turn to let the sun in or keep it out.





Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 10.49.04 AM3. Exterior walls – acting as trees providing instant shade for the home or outside space, places to grow food, or as a way to soften up the box-like home.  It’s a great way for close-in urbanites to enjoy the outside without being in their neighbor’s space.




IMG_33594. Transitional furniture and spaces – one piece, many functions. I loved the under-the-counter table that is a snack bar when pushed in or seating for 10 when pulled out. Or murphy beds (seen everywhere in the homes) providing more square feet of living inbetween guests or daily life.




Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 11.46.07 AM5. CORE “Start home” Stanford University took on the challenge of how to mass produce the technology that these home use and creating a “core” housing for utilities much like a car manufacturer has one mechanical base with different car designs on top. Custom built structures are built around it. Go here for a demo.




IMG_33606. Interactive art - Stanford went beyond the challenge and created wall art that moved in reaction to the home’s energy use. You could look at the ipad read out on the wall, or learn to understand what the art looks like when the home is in its happy place… that piece of art signifies how far this competition has come from making/saving energy and water to having enough creativity left to come up with this level of thinking.



Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 10.46.52 AM7. Open showers in a Zen-like water room vs. a tub. First, showers (can) use less water than a filled tub, second it opens up the room visually instead of losing the 18-20 square feet that a tub/shower combo eats up, and lastly it’s ADA compliant. Aging in place is increased when a home is ADA compliant by design instead of being retrofitted later. Add the solar tube natural lighting and live plants that benefit from gray water recycling and morning shower mist and you get a room that turns heads.


8. Pre-heated water (no picture) push a button and wait 30 seconds and then turn on the tap instead of wasting 3-4 gallons down the drain while you’re waiting for the warm water to arrive.

9. Less is more - Make the Kitchen/livingroom/study one, big activity room. By making it cross-functional, it will be a space you can “live in” not just visit when the guests come over.

10. High ceilings are a must for additional light, air flow, and to feel less constricted in smaller square footage. Lighting from two different directions adds dynamic of movement throughout the day ever-changing the feel of the space keeping it interesting and inviting.

This competition is truly ECO-lutionary in its thinking and practicality.

I would love to live in one of these homes and make my own energy for my home and car. If we each produced the energy that these homes are able to generate, think of how LITTLE oil we would have to use… Of course that’s exactly why Big Oil companies are fueling the Climate Change denier conversation, what they are selling has nothing to do with denying Climate Change and everything about them losing their profit margins to those who have embraced ECO-lutionary thinking and can grow their own food and fuel.

Kudos to the winning teams that are showcasing their final projects at the Solar Decathlon. Kudos to the US Gov for keeping this event open during the shutdown. Dodo’s to the deniers who can’t think their way off the bar stools they occupy and be part of the innovation that will drive the next economy. When groups of college students can produce this kind of advancements, what’s holding back mainstream business? Where’s their top 10 advancement list?

UPDATE: For more info on the impact of Solar Energy go to Solar Heating and Cooling Could Save $61B, Create 50,250 Jobs By 2050 - See more at:

Make Your Next Infographic Interactive for Higher Readership

July 25th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Trying to convert old energy processes over to new ones is the ultimate challenge of our time. Just selling the idea of dumping oil from our portfolios often sets off the red and blue states into a heated debate.

Then along comes the best infographic ever…

Check this out by, use the up/down/arrows to separate issues or the right arrow to see how we could “advance.” It’s a fabulous tool for teachers and eco-sellers trying to communicate the complexity of this issue while selling the dream of a better way.

We don’t need no stinkin’ tar sands…

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 7.49.22 AM


It all starts in California…

April 29th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

Keep your eye on the new laws that will change the way we position products and companies in California. It does give you hope while nothing changes in DC.


Two of CAW’s highest priority bills are in Assembly Natural Resources today at 1:30 p.m.

These two bills would expand recycling of beverage containers, yard debris and food waste. This will significantly reduce the amount of material ending up in landfills, and the resulting GHG emissions. They will help create jobs and boost the economy, as well as helping California reach its recycling goal of 75% by 2020.

•    AB 1001 (Gordon) will expand California’s hugely successful Beverage Container Recycling Law (the Bottle Bill) by increasing the recycling of all beverage containers regardless of material type. It will close loopholes and inconsistencies, while increasing clarity and enforcement of current rules to support California businesses, jobs and recycling.

•    AB 323 (Chesbro) requires businesses that generate a lot of food scraps or yard debris to sign up for recycling of this material. In addition, the bill will finally eliminate state policies that have become perverse incentives for landfilling organic waste that should be returned to the soil.

Also in ANR today are two bills introduced by Assembly Member Susan Eggman that further CAW’s goal of supporting in-state recycling processing and manufacturing infrastructure. AB 1021 will provide sales tax exemptions on equipment purchases for businesses that process or utilize recycled feedstock. AB 1023 will provide incentives for waste reduction, recycling, composting and recycled content manufacturing projects.

CAW supports AB 521 (Hueso and Stone), which is a producer responsibility measure that would address plastic marine pollution. CAW opposes AB 1337 (Allen), which would preempt local ordinances on plastic bags, and prohibit local governments from passing new ordinances related to single-use plastic bags.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen SB 405 (Padilla) plastic bags, SB 529 (Leno) fast food packaging, and SB 254 (Hancock and Correa) pass out of Senate EQ with 5-3, 5-3 and 6-0 votes, respectively.  They are in Senate Appropriations today.

Two Assembly bills AB 513 (Frazier) tires, and AB 1022 (Eggman) CRT glass, both passed out of Assembly Natural Resources with bipartisan support and are on their way to Assembly Appropriations.


Share or Die…

April 29th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

That’s what the email implied for a new book by the same title — Share or Die… so I’m sharing!!!

The book underscores the new “sale” that isn’t a sale of goods as much as a sale of self every time you share. True to its word, you can go here and download a copy for free or buy the book and have the proceeds go to Sharable, a non-profit.

The Share or Die title is somewhat misleading as the content is curated from younger people giving their first hand accounts of what economic survival means to them. “Sharing” is one way to survive.

Sharing is gaining traction as the anti-consumer movement takes hold, but if people are sharing, then they aren’t buying and if they aren’t buying, what will Wall Street do? And – what will the 20-something generation do for a career?  Co-ops may be an answer vs. working for a big corporation.

Sharing changes the entire selling proposition from dollars to reciprocal currency. Reciprocal currency doesn’t just appear in your pocket,  you have to add to your emotional bank day by day with every social transaction. It makes you stop and think, if you lost your job tomorrow what are you willing to share to help you survive? Why aren’t you doing it already?

Happy Earth Home Day

April 20th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling 1 comment »

“No planet was harmed in the making of this building.” Nancy Mintie, Exec. Director, Uncommon Good

What a great way to start off Earth Day weekend at a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the earth-safe structure with social justice embedded into its walls. It’s a tangible reminder of vision and values of Uncommon Good – fostering idealism in education, medicine and the environment.

It took two years to complete the new building using techniques used 500 years ago and creating something that will function with very little water, energy, or effort for the next 500.

Many in the sustainable world still can’t get their head around “social justice” and the green movement. This project built in social justice by:

  • Hiring local labor (keeping the dollars local).
  • Hiring those who normally wouldn’t have a chance to work.
  • Educating volunteers on sustainable practices.
  • Building a structure by the community FOR the community, bag-by-bag, plant-by-plant.
  • The UnCommon Good  mission works with urban farming to feed the local population.
  • The structure has about a 500 year warranty…

Other high points:

  • A parking lot with solar panel generates to generate enough clean power to offset the Green House Gases created during the production of the panels.
  • Back-up cooling is provided by a solar-powered geo-thermal system bringing 60 degree air through the ground and into the rooms.
  • A gray water system keeps the newly planted native plants growing until they are established.

With so many positives, what needed to be sold? Everything! From the need of a new shelter, to the concept by CEDG-Design (sandbag buildings aren’t exactly the norm), to the location, to the regulators and checkpoints that would be needed on something this different. There was no lack of red tape with so many untried processors in the middle of an urban setting that didn’t fit standard building codes. And yet, two years later, here it stood.

Stop by for a visit and become part of the less is more movement.

Happy Earth Day!

“Live simply, so that all may simply live.”

St, Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) Foundress of the Sisters of Charity, USA, Speech given in the Diocese of Baltimore


Hurley’s H2O Campaign

April 4th, 2013 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

I live in Orange County where water is a big topic mostly because it’s so close and so surfable. Just under the surface, however, is the other water topic — the lack of it.

Hurley Water

Hurley, the purveyors of all things cool to surf, swim, or sun in — has made it their mission to improve the water coming into contact with those who buy their products. Their H2O campaign wins on all fronts for creating public awareness to save, clean, and use water wisely. By doing so we’ll preserve what we all love the most about Orange County – the ocean.

Last weekend I attended a four hour TALK session held at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. (That’s the place where the swallows return in smaller and smaller numbers each year.) I was interested in hearing more about the usual eco-water issues – how low it’s becoming in this desert region that depends on the Colorado River for the majority of its fresh water.

The glass half full approach.

Rather than focus on less water coming into the region, they focused on preserving what we do have. The resulting H2O campaign is brilliant, in color and delivery. Kudos.

First the color, it’s the blue of a day filled with promise and an ocean that never ends. Happy. Joyful. Energetic.

Second, the direct tie in with the Hurley “H” logo. A bigger brand would shun the idea of messing with the sacred, but Hurley went for it.

Third, the full-frontal public engagement with no excuses. This isn’t your Mad Men campaign — it’s heartfelt, authentic, and necessary. Lots of eco-campaigns strap on a green mission, this one connects and resonates deeply with the OC population that identifies itself as a surfer even if they’ve never been on a board.

Taking it to the streets.

The TALK day brought in speakers who spoke on the school water education programs, city planning, grease capture at restaurants, no-water landscapes, water filters… and then there was “the water shed.” I love a good double entendre, especially in advertising as it engages your brain over and over.  This one made smile in delight.

The Water Shed

The Water Shed is a mini-demo house on wheels. It folds up for transportation to the latest weekend event at the beach or school and unfolds to welcome participants to the reality of the energy it takes to move water in California – not find water, move water.

Moving water around the state takes up a big chunk of our energy resources. It’s not sitting on the surface like in Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes; Southern California sees rain once every six months – maybe.

Inside the water shed you use your own energy to pump a quart of water and then you get to choose where you want to use that water — for your lawn, a shower, or maybe water food you can eat… Suddenly, using native plants as a landscape instead of high-maintenance, water-sucking grass is looking like a great option.

Collateral that keeps on giving.

I’m not sure which came first, The Ecology Center or the Hurley H2O campaign, they are so inner twined — the Hurley logo isn’t stamped all over the center’s website, but that brilliant blue is the accent color on the site and on signage which is an active enough reminder of the Hurley presence.

I’ve seen a ton of collateral material over the 35 years I’ve been in marketing, but two things stood out more than the color – the monster pamphlet/poster and the “inside” of the T-shirt.

Can you call it a pamphlet when it’s 12″ by 18″? And look what happens when you take out the staples and reassemble. Will you ever forget that one (blue) steak takes 1200 gallons of water to produce again?

The shirt had a secret to tell, too. Once I had it home I noticed that there was more than just a size tag printed on the inside neck, but a whole story about the shirt which took 1 gallon of water to make vs. 500 gallons most T-shirts use.

The shirt became a live reminder of what is possible. Just like the super-sized steak, I’ll never put on a t-shirt again and not wonder how many gallons of water it took to produce. It made me go the next step and check out their manufacturing approach for their full clothing line.

Lastly, Hurley carries its intentions and brand to other shores with their clean water program; if a country doesn’t have clean water to drink, a filter with a five gallon bucket can provide it for up to 10 years. If you have to bring a gift to a host, bring one that can keep them alive.

Awareness is the first step.

As any seasoned marketer knows, awareness is the first step to a sale. If people don’t know what’s possible, they can’t buy it when they need it. Hurley with The Ecology Center, the Water Shed, the public school program, and the global Water program makes people aware of the water problem first, provides solutions next, and oh-by-the-way, we make cool clothes worn by Californian’s top trend setters – surfers.

Hurley understands what butters their bread — a clean ocean brings happy customers who want to be near it and wear their clothes. But they also have their priorities in the proper order of People and Planet and then Profit.

This is what Ecolutionary Selling looks like.

Do what you can with what you know…

November 30th, 2012 by Ecolutionary Selling No comments »

I went to see “Chasing Ice” this week to see and feel what it’s like to be next to an glacier while it’s calving off a slice of ice the size of Manhattan. If you can’t make it to the big screen, here’s the You Tube version.

It will give you an idea of what those in Qatar are tackling this week, and you’ll feel powerless as well… what can one person do. As the photographer, James Balog said,”I did what I could with what I know how to do.”

You’ll have to click on the link, the video won’t embed into this blog for some reason.