Food Crisis

I am currently enrolled in a business and public policy course for my MBA studies.  I have a research project due in the middle of November, in which I am supposed to focus on The Food Crisis.  “What food crisis?” you may ask. The instructor has left the assignment wide open, and we can choose any aspect of a current food crisis in the world.

The assignment is as follows:

  • Research the full context of the problem
  • Look at the historical situations which posed similar issues and policy challenges
  • Identify all of the stakeholders and list their concerns, values, and desired solutions to the problem
  • Conduct two personal interviews with stakeholders in the situation
  • Write a policy paper, recommending a policy-making process for the federal government (or any other countries government) that incorporates the shared values of all stakeholders

I have a couple ideas for the paper, but I have not settled on any specific crisis.  If you are reading this blog post and would like to give me an idea for this paper, or point me toward a stakeholder willing to be interviewed, feel free to leave a comment.




Nike Turns Your Old Shoe Into A Court

Since the Reuse-A-Shoe program started in 1990, Nike has recycled more than “21 million pairs of athletic shoes toward more than 265 sport surfaces; giving thousands of young people access to new playgrounds and athletic facilities around the world.”

Nike will take your old athletic shoes–they don’t have to be Nike–and they will grind them up into three separate materials–rubber, foam, and fabric.

Nike partners with industry-leading surfacing companies to integrate these materials into athletic surfaces such as basketball courts, tennis courts, and playground surfaces.  This product is called “Nike Grind.” Nike’s goal is to “incorporate an average of 10% to 20% Nike Grind by weight” into these surfaces.

The following list shows approximately how many pairs of recycled athletic shoes generally go into making each surface:
• Outdoor basketball court: 2,500 pairs
• Outdoor tennis court:2,500 pairs
• Full Field or soccer pitch: 50,000 – 75,000 pairs*
• Mini soccer field: 10,000-20,000 pairs
• Running track: 75,000 pairs*
• Playground: 2,500 pairs
• Indoor basketball court: 2,500 pairs
• Indoor synthetic basketball court: 2,500 pairs

* In the case of full-size fields and tracks, which use mostly Nike Grind from footwear manufacturing scrap material, the average use is equivalent to the rubber from about 50,000-75,000 pairs of shoes.

The Reuse-A-Shoe program is a part of the Nike Let Me Play commitment. Drop-off locations can be found on the Reuse-A-Shoe web page.

Uncork the Wine and Drop the Punt

Treehugger reported today about two ways Fetzer Vinyards is attempting to make itself more sustainable for the future.  The post details how Fetzer will start releasing some of its white wines with screw-tops instead of corks, and how it will start dropping the “punt” to create flat bottoms on its wine bottles.

Fetzer is moving to the screw-tops on some of its white wines to lower the costs associated to cork taint.  According to the report, Fetzer currently loses around 10% of its stock to cork taint.  By making this decision, Fetzer will be fighting an uphill marketing battle.  The company will have to educate the public about the reasons for the change, while fighting against the negative perception that screw-tops are reserved for cheap wine.

The punt is the portion of the wine bottle base where the glass pushes back up into the center of the bottle.  The punt adds material and weight to the bottle, and by lowering this area of the bottle to make the bottom flat, Fetzer will reduce the bottle weight by 11%.  The punt aids pouring, but removing it will not affect the taste of the wine in the bottle. Fetzer has not finished the lifecycle analysis to determine long-term savings from the new bottle design.

Fetzer bottles are made from 100% recycled glass, and the company produces 80% of the electricity it uses with on site solar panels.

I personally recommend the Fetzer Valley Oaks Gewurztraminer.

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Exclusive Preview Excerpt

I posted last week on my excitement for Thomas Friedman’s new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded.  I received a comment notifying me that Thomas Friedman’s publisher is giving away the free audiobook of The World is Flat in anticipation of the release of his new book in September.  In addition to the audiobook, the publisher has posted an exclusive audio preview excerpt from chapter nine of the new book.

To download the mp3s, including the exclusive audio excerpt of Hot, Flat, and Crowded, go to between now and August 11, 2008.

I listened to the excerpt, and from what I heard, I am excited for the full book.  Friedman highlights the difference between the current symbolic green movement and a truly systemic solution that would require “transformational green legislation.”

One of my favorite quotes from the excerpt is:

I am starting to believe that there actually can be too much publicity when it comes to climate change, especially when it reaches the fashion world. Seriously, if I read the word ‘eco-chic’ one more time, I’ll jab my eye out with my biodegradable pen. I just fear that as soon as all of the magazines get these green issues out of the way, they’ll feel like it’s out of their system, over and done with, like any other trend.

Click here for a video of Thomas Friedman talking about his new book at the Energy Efficiency Forum 2008.

I plan to blog more once I get my own copy of the book in September.