Archive for January, 2013

Audi goes Green

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
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The video above is a commercial for Audi that was premiered for the 2010 Superbowl. They chose the infamously expensive Superbowl commercial time slot to showcase their Audi A3 TDI – a clean diesel vehicle and “Green Car of the Year” (awarded by Green Car Journal).

The reason I like this commercial is because right from the first few seconds, I was engaged. They spun the traditionally serious topics of eco-friendliness and sustainability into one that was over exaggerated but hilarious. Although they brought sustainability to an extreme level, they definitely got the message across and I understood that the central theme of the commercial was sustainability. However, the viewers were never presented with the product until the last few seconds of the commercial. So the message and theme were clear, but the product that was being advertised wasn’t. But, I think overall the message will stick and Audi will have a positive image with regards to their “clean” vehicles because the dramatics and exaggeration of the commercial is what consumers will remember.

The Restaurant Industry can be Sustainable too

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Arthur Potts-Dawson's Sustainable Acorn House Restaurant

In a TED talks video from 2010, Chef Arthur Potts-Dawson describes the restaurant industry as “pretty much the most wasteful industry in the world”. This surprised me because food is produced to be consumed, I thought wasteful industries had more to do with machinery or industries that generate production. According to him, for every calorie of food consumed today, 10 calories are taken to produce it. He uses the example of the potato, whose 8 forms of production is similar to all vegetables and other foods. Energy is used used within each stage of the potato’s life: planting, growing and nurturing, harvesting, distribution, sold and bought, and delivered to retailers/chefs, prepared and cook, and finally waste as the last stage: waste of time, space, energy, and waste of waste. To lessen the harsh impact of food as inputs, restauranteurs can focus on eliminating waste and energy through any or all stages of production.

Potts-Dawson then explains the sustainable efforts he has put into place in his personal restaurant. Not only does eliminating waste in food production contribute to saving energy, but many sustainable alternatives can be bought or re-used in the construction and maintenance of the restaurant itself. His restaurant uses sustainable and recyclable floor, recycled and recyclable chairs, forestry-commisioned tables, reused cushions, sustainable energy (powered by wind), and the best part: a menu that lets customers choose the volume of food they want to consume. So simple, yet so genius and practical that food waste is minimized.

Finally, he stresses the fact that it is impossible to eliminate waste – there will always be waste. The goal for his restaurant, Acorn House, and the goal for all restaurants alike should be to minimize waste. Composting is easy, requires little effort, and can go a long way – even for his small restaurant, the business still generates over 70kgs of compost each week!

Here is a link to the blog post with the video:

Sustainable Cities: Role Models for the Rest of the World

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Bike Parking Lot in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Living in Sweden for the past four months really opened my eyes to a different culture and way of life. During my travels, I also visited other cities working on their sustainability. Scandinavia has been recognized for their efforts in promoting a sustainable lifestyle and culture, and the Nordic countries are among the top sustainable cities. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the amount of people that ride bikes! Amsterdam in The Netherlands had massive parking lots for bikes, and in Copenhagen in Denmark, I saw many people biking all over the cities in the blizzard-like conditions! Maybe it was easier for locals in these cities to bike because of the flat landscape, but it is now apart of the culture there – often I saw more people riding bikes than cars on the road. Other notable sustainable efforts include Swedish-brand H&M’s organic clothing initiative, escalators that don’t move until stepped on by people, and the Arlanda Express – the quickest, most eco-friendly way of getting from the Arlanda airport to the Stockholm city centre.

Eco-friendly Arlanda Express in Stockholm

Perhaps one of the reasons sustainability is emphasized in everyday life for the Swedes is because Sweden, along with Norway and Denmark, are a few of the most expensive cities to live in the world. While I was there, I was very conscious about recycling and my garbage waste because of the high prices. For example, plastic bags at the grocery store were 2 kronor, which is equivalent to approximately $0.30! So whenever I did grocery shopping, I always remembered to bring my own bags, not only because it is more environmentally friendly, but also because I would save a lot of money! The same goes for returning empty cans such as pop cans. Returning a can would give you 1 kronor, or $0.15 – that’s triple the $0.05 recycling fee in Canada! These higher prices give further incentive to practice a sustainable lifestyle.

When it comes to the world’s top sustainable cities, according to Grist it was exciting to see Vancouver as number 5. It was more interesting to me that I have visited 7 of the top 8 “greenest” cities in the world!! Here’s the list of the top 15, according to them:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland
  2. Portland, Oregon, U.S.
  3. Curitiba, Brazil
  4. Malmo, Sweden
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. London, England
  8. San Francisco, California, U.S.
  9. Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador
  10. Sydney, Australia
  11.  Barcelona, Spain
  12. Bogota, Columbia
  13. Bangkok, Thailand
  14. Kampala, Uganda
  15. Austin, Texas, U.S.


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