Category Archives: Environment

The rise of grease

Was at Parisoma’s  Clean Tech demo night last week and was delighted that the first table I came across was the folks from Skip to Renew. They are making high quality lubricants from plants and algae. As the Sales Director Josiah explained, when you have metal on metal, you need a lubricant.

At first I was a bit skeptical on the performance aspects, and so I grilled him on that. The product they have on the market is for bike chains, Re:cyclist, and not only will it outperform what everyone considers the best product out there, but it’s also cheaper, 100% non-toxic, and it comes from plants. Cool!

They have more products in the works, including a plant-based grease that can be used in places like farm machinery or factories. Josiah said that the product smells much like vegetables–so much better than your typical grease. Personally I’m looking forward to their spray on lubricant product, so that I have a non-peteroleum alternative to WD-40.

From a business point of view, Skip to Renew has opportunities in two very different arenas, consumer and industrial. One would almost want to take the company and split it into two, and have different teams to go after each opportunity, because the sales cycle and influencers will be so very different.

Apparently the competitor that REI carries is actually a mix of vegetable oil and synthetic oil, and so isn’t 100% natural. I want a choice! Technically as a long-term member of REI, which is a co-op, I’m also part owner. We’ll see how much sway I have. 🙂 Conveniently, I will be at a bike maintenance workshop (did I say core life skill?) on Saturday at REI San Carlos.

Carbon reduction is a team effort

What happens to old carpet?

I just finished reading Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, by the founder of Interface, a flooring company. Through many years of focus and innovation, Interface has made many advancements in their business in order to cut costs and greatly reduce their environmental impact. Along the way they’ve had to closely study what their impact was in the first place.

One of their findings surprised me. On page 164 in the “Circle of Influence” chapter Anderson writes:

When you examine the total carbon footprint of one square yard of our carpet, you quickly discover that Interface is directly responsible for only 10 to 20 percent of it; everyone else, from the user, the installer, the distributor, all the way back to the wells and mines, contributes the overwhelming 80 to 90 person.

Thus even if one player, in this case Interface, does a fantastic job on their 20 percent, there is another 80 percent in the rest of the system. This clearly points to the importance of engaging industry partners in efforts to understand, manage, and reduce carbon footprint.

Although it may be easier to initially kick off an effort internal to a company, eventually the discussion need to branch to larger groups of players. If you’re Wal-Mart, then you can throw a party about carbon footprint and everyone shows up.

But even for smaller players, such as Interface, there are opportunities to show their suppliers what is possible, to use buying power to only work with like-minded suppliers (which they did), and in general to get a larger conversation going about the carbon footprint, and pollution, in their industry.

I wonder about the engagement of consumers, caring about where their carpets are coming from. Speaking of which, I’m at the local library, and if I’m not mistaken, a quick look at the floor tells me they are using an Interface “Entropy” carpet. Now that’s got me wondering where the wood for the slatted ceiling came from.