Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Interview with Dinesh, a Viv Biz Club Founder

Hey Everyone!
Dinesh, my cousin, and fellow Viv Biz Club founder was recently interviewed by Eric Gati. Eric runs a lifestyle design blog called My 4 Hour Work Week.
In the interview, Dinesh shares thoughts on: how Viv started, our successes (and failures), where we’re headed, the green movement, and taking the entrepreneurial plunge.

Dinesh speaking at a green event in SF
If you have a chance, definitely check it out!

Friday, June 25, 2010

We Want to Write a Case Study… on You!

We’ve gotten some great growth in our Viv member base over the past few months.
We have Viv businesses in over 30 states(!!) across the country and we’re working with a really wide range of fantastic organizations as well: restaurants, schools, churches, non-profits, start-ups, frozen yogurt shops, bars, breweries, catering companies, the list goes on.
Some of y’all have told us that we’re saving you a lot of money. Some of y’all have told us that we’re saving you a WHOLE LOT of money.

We want to profile your organization.

We’re looking for a few fantastic organizations who would like to get a Viv profile up on our site. We’d highlight your business, who you are, what you do, where you are… and we’d showcase some of the eco-friendly changes the Viv Biz Club has been able to help you make along with the money we’ve helped you save.
If you’re interested in a Viv profile and having us write-up a case study on your business, drop us a line at Partners@VivBizClub.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Biodegradable Food Packaging in the News

Over the past year, a variety of big players in the food & beverage space have been taking strides forward to reduce their food packaging footprint.
We try to stay up to date on the space and thought we’d share some of the more important moves (+ a link to the articles) for ya’ll:
  • A strong step in the right direction for the Subway rival… but still steps to go. Quiznos Introduces Better, “Greener” Packaging (via TriplePundit) – “Quiznos sandwich chain has made what looks like decent progress on many of their different types of packaging. Being a critical optimist, I’m happy to see the new effort, but want to raise a few questions as well…”
  • One of the most sustainable breweries in the country, letting us know why we need more composting facilities. New Belgium Goes with 50% Recycled Cups for Sponsored Events … (via Environmental Leader) – “In practice, New Belgium Brewery has sold most of its beverages at events in compostable cups, but waste diversion through composting is not available at all events. That has meant the brewer had to use traditional plastic cups at times…”
  • One of the biggest moves to compostables yet by a fast food chain! Burgerville Adds Compostable Cups and Lids to Menu (via TriplePundit) – “Fast food chain, Burgerville, recently announced it is switching to commercially compostable cups and lids as part of its goal to divert 85 percent of the company’s waste stream from landfills. Burgerville is the first fast food chain …”
  • Hasn’t happened yet, but pretty cool, and I sure hope that McDonalds execs have seen this by now. Student Designs Biodegradable Packaging for McDonald’s | Inhabitat … – “Fast food packaging takes up a hefty chunk of our landfill space while effectively clear-cutting our forests. The golden arch proprietors dole out over 2…”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Compostable Cold Spoons

Product Highlight: 6″ Compostable Cold Spoon (~$6 cheaper / case)

World Centric has released a new 6″ compostable cold spoon made from 100% PLA (derived from corn). We’re recommending this option for any businesses that need a spoon strictly for cold foods (e.g., frozen yogurt, gelato, ice cream, cold salad bars).
Key details are as follows:
  • Viv Price / Case of 1,000 spoons = $34.56 (standard spoon = $40.20)
  • Item # = SP-CS-WH
  • Strictly for cold foods < 120 degrees F
  • Looks and feels the same as the standard 6″ spoon
  • For any current Viv members, the spoon is available for purchase from from World Centric. For any potential new Viv members, be sure to join Viv first so that we can pass along our 20% off discount code.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rooftop Pods: Seeds For Solution Part II

While the concept of a rooftop garden (which I recently blogged about) may have been intriguing to you, we have discovered some new technology via EcoGeek that is even more exciting. An alternative concept has been developed by Natalie Jeremijenko, an aerospace engineer and environmental health professor at New York University. Her rooftop pod designs minimize the potential weight added to the building roof with rooftop gardens, transferring the load onto load bearing walls. The steel stilts on her structure distribute the structure’s weight to the building’s load-bearing walls. And the farms weigh less because they grown in hydroponic, soil free trays.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk.
The curved shape of the structure optimizes sun exposure and doesn’t require moving parts or grow lights, unlike many greenhouse designs. To attain a streamlined shape which fares well on windy rooftops, Jeremijenko’s design incorporates a skin of Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) stretched over curved ribs of steel. EFTE is a tough, translucent polymer, which is used to cover stadiums and other big spaces.
Most interestingly, the greenhouse is linked to the building below, sharing energy, air, and water. The plants absorb carbon dioxide and increase the oxygen content in air, and some species can filter other harmful gases, such as formaldehyde as well. Besides the air, the farms would also recycle and purify gray water, which is wastewater from sinks, bathtubs and drinking fountains.
The average cost of this technology is not yet available but to find out more on this emerging invention, check out:http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/infrastructure/future-urban-rooftop-agriculture.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The BP Oil Spill is My Fault

I read this New York Times op-ed recently and decided this was a must re-blog.
In it, Thomas Friedman shares a letter to the editor written by his friend, Mark Mykleby. Here’s a quick blurb from the letter. The whole article is available here.
“This isn’t BP’s or Transocean’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s my fault. I’m the one to blame and I’m sorry. It’s my fault because I haven’t digested the world’s in-your-face hints that maybe I ought to think about the future and change the unsustainable way I live my life”… “If we want to end our oil addiction, we, as citizens, need to pony up: bike to work, plant a garden, do something. So again, the oil spill is my fault. I’m sorry. I haven’t done my part. Now I have to convince my wife to give up her S.U.V. Mark Mykleby.”
Well said, and a big cheers to all our members who’ve decided that they’re going to start taking small sustainable steps forward – thanks for doing your part.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Practice What You Preach – At Least That’s How We Feel Here at Viv

Viv was founded with a pre-existing passion for being eco-friendly and saving the environment (one compostable cup at a time!). But we certainly have made our own lifestyle changes. We believe that with great knowledge comes great responsibility (social responsibility that is…) and in turn have changed the way we operate on a daily basis. These are quick and easy steps we have taken and that can be implemented into any office or home:
1. Reuse everything! From boxes, to jars, to office paper! I think it is pretty common to re-use paper and boxes, but we are innovative with our jar use. At home, we like to use glass jars to store pens, markers, and scissors. They even serve as a home for our budding avocado plant! Recently at a restaurant in SF, I discovered another use for these jars—they can be used as glasses. You can even decorate them to add your own personal touch (our decorations involve Viv stickers, of course). Check out this website for ideas on how to effectively recycle unusual materials ranging from clock parts to meat packaging!
2. Set up a composting system. It doesn’t smell any worse than your trash can, I promise. The only downfall: you may catch an unprecedented “composting” cold/flu (if you can’t tell, this happened to me once while taking out a pretty gnarly batch of compost….but I can’t say that it’s a common occurrence).
There are a couple different options for composting systems at home:
(a)   Vokashi’s Bokashi. We recently featured an article on this easy and alternative way of composting. Vokashi is based on the process of food recycling known as Bokashi. Bokashi in Japanese refers to the process of fermenting organic matter. The method uses anaerobic fermentation to ‘pickle’ organic matter in an airtight container with a bran that is inoculated with effective microorganisms. Read our article here.
(b)  Vermicomposting. a.k.a worm composting. Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn organic wastes into very high quality compost. This is probably the best way of composting kitchen wastes. Adding small amounts of wet kitchen scraps to a large compost pile in the garden day by day can disrupt any decomposition process so that the compost is never really done. But it works just fine with vermicomposting. Take a look at this video for a demonstration on how to set up your very own home or office vermicomposting system: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cixwGZg2YV8.
(c)   KinetiCompost. It’s the fastest, simplest, most eco-friendly way to create nutrient-rich compost for your home or business. Just put your compostable materials in KinetiCompost’s rotomolded barrel, pop on the lid, and let mother nature do what she would normally do—at ten times the speed! KinetiCompost is made of durable, 100% recycled plastic and steel and is eco-friendly itself. The technology behind the KinetiCompost is very simple–a gearbox (such as the one found in a power drill) is located behind the rotating windmill, creating a 200:1 gear ratio so that for every 200 rotations of the windmill, the compost barrel completes one full rotation. Now rather than turning your compost every few days, you can let the already existing breeze keep your compost in constant rotation, which translates to faster compost production and a healthier garden. Being a new development, prices and more information about this product are not available yet. Stay tuned for more information as we discover it!
3. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. I would say we go to pretty extreme measures to recycle things here at Viv. Sometimes I even find myself rummaging through the trash to recycle things that others simply throw away. We also recycle old ink cartridges, light bulbs, and electronics. We could probably be more efficient with this though…usually one of us leaves these items in highly visible locations around the house or office, hoping that the other will take initiative and recycle it at the nearest possible location! For more information on how to properly recycle items, check out Viv’s Recycling Guide.
4. Paper Towels without the Paper. We have eliminated the use of paper towels completely from our office and home. This has reduced the amount of waste we produce significantly! Try it and see how it works for you.
5. Power. We have begun turning off all the lights behind us as well as unplugging any chargers or appliances when we aren’t using them—our energy bill has gotten a lot smaller! We are currently testing the “Smart Strip” out in our home. The power strip features advanced circuitry that not only offers excellent power surge protection and line noise filtering, but is actually able to ‘sense’ the flow of electrical current through the strip’s control outlet. Because of this unique ability, the Smart Strip can turn off selected equipment when it’s not in use, creating benefits that no other power strip on the market today can offer. Find more information here.
6. Take-Out Savvy. When we take our food to go, we make sure to return any items we may not need such as brown paper bags, plastic bags, forks, and napkins. We like to think we make a small influence on people through leading by action. We recently wrote about a campaign called TakeOutWithOut–read more here.
7. Walk the Talk. We don’t own a car; to get around, we use a zipcar, walk, or ride our bikes! Here are ten reasons why you should give up your car—and they don’t include just saving the environment: http://hubpages.com/hub/10-Reasons-to-Give-Up-Owning-a-Car.
8. Green Cleaning. We use eco-friendly cleaning products (ie dish soap, method dishwasher tablets, and hand soap). Look here for more information on how to make your own non-toxic cleaning kit for the home.
9. Green Games. Arul was recently shopping for a new basketball–he found the perfect one. Not only is it the color green, but it is made up of recycled materials as well! Read more about Wilson’s Rebound “Green” Recycled Rubber Basketball here.
Those are some of the small changes we have made around the house and office but any and all suggestions are welcome! We would love to hear some of the things you do at home or at work to make your footprint smaller so tweet us @doyouviv or leave us a comment here!