Local Orbit Makes Local Produce Easy to Buy and Sell in Detroit

September 26, 2011 by  
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Locally grown food is the rage these days, with more and more consumers clearly concerned about where their food is coming from. There is an increasing demand for farm produce and growing need to connect directly with producers. But sometimes it’s not always easy to get local food. What do you do if you want locally grown produce, but cannot visit week-day farmer markets? Local Orbit is a new way to buy food and other local goods direct from producers in your community, if you live in the greater Detroit area. Erika Block is the founder of Local Orbit, an Ann Arbor, MI-based tech startup that facilitates the distribution of local, sustainably farmed food and expects to roll Local Orbit out to many more markets nationwide by 2012 – 2013. How Does Local Orbit Work? Each week, sellers update their inventory. Buyers shop online. Within a 24-hour period, sellers deliver their orders to hub sites, which aggregate and pack orders for individual buyers. Buyers either pick up their orders or have them delivered. Wholesale orders that meet basic minimum quantities are delivered directly to the buyer. Local Orbit makes a small, flat-rate percentage on each sale, similar to selling on eBay or Amazon Marketplace. There is no fee for buyers to shop or for sellers to list. Sellers know the fee percentage upfront and work that into their listing price, so there are no hidden charges for anyone. That’s it. Local Orbit is trying to relink the food chain to make local food widely available and easy to buy.  Local Orbit for Buyers, Image Credit, Local Orbit Local Orbit for Sellers: Image Credit, Local Orbit Why did Local Orbit Come About? Local Orbit has evolved after couple of years of conversations with all stakeholders helping to bring ‘local’ into mainstream -farmers, food producers, chefs, eaters and people working to solve food distribution challenges. The need arose from obvious disconnected markets and inefficient communications. Independent food producers are struggling to build sustainable businesses and provide really good food for their customers. They need distribution and marketing support Producers/ Farmers Sell Well Local Orbit’s online tools provide a “back office in a box” for food hubs, entrepreneurs, farmers markets, coops, institutions and community organizations working to increase local and regional food distribution. Producers get help with all the tools to tell their stories and efficiently manage direct sales.  Market coordinators get customized web sites with e-commerce, payment processing, inventory management, marketing, logistics and customer service. Buyers Score Local and Fresh Produce Buyers get convenient, streamlined purchasing and a direct, traceable supply chain. They have easier access to food that is produced locally and are spending their dollars on local farmers and businesses. Erica Block are working to make local, sustainably produced food widely available and easy to buy -for everyone and was recently chosen as a 2011 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow . Kudos Erica!

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Local Orbit Makes Local Produce Easy to Buy and Sell in Detroit

The method method: A Cleaner Clean, Design + Innovation and Just Plain Weird

September 23, 2011 by  
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Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, method co-founders, Image courtesy: method Flashback to the year 2000:   Eric’s wondering why cleaning products are so poorly designed, and Adam’s dreaming of green cleaners that actually work and aren’t stinky. Together, these two childhood friends come up with an idea to revolutionize the cleaning world with stylish, eco-friendly products made with non-toxic ingredients that clean like heck and smell like heaven. 2001: method is born, and the Eric and Adam we are talking about are Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, childhood friends and co-founders of method. Fast forward to 2011: In 10 years, method has grown into a $150 million brand — a brand synonymous with green, good and successful. It was ranked the 7th fastest growing company in America by Inc. Magazine in 2006 and the 16th most innovative company in the world by Fast Company. How did method, in 10 years, turn the cleaning business industry upside down, redefine cleaners and set new standards for cleaning supplies? Eric and Adam reveal their successes are tied to their 7 obsessions! They talk about the method story in a book they released this week called ‘The method method’ (an excellent read that is both humorous and gripping). They call these core strategies “obsessions” because they realize that unless you are obsessed about your business values and practices, they could fade away as your business grows. Eric spoke exclusively to Ecopreneurist on the book and these obsessions that make method. Why did they get into the cleaning products business? Eric says “In advertising, I was always trained to look at cultural-shifts in consumer behavior where larger brands are not delivering and we realized this was the right place to be. We asked ourselves, what we could do differently and saw tremendous opportunity in this industry”. Tip: There is wonderful opportunity in well-established industry sectors, where environmental aspects or as Eric says, “cultural shifts” in consumer behavior are not addressed by larger establishments. This is a place small business owners can make a difference. Eric then spoke about partnerships and how the diversity in education and work between the co-founders actually laid a strong foundation for their business model. Eric’s background in advertising and design coupled with Adam’s experience with sustainability and engineering helped method become method. Eric says this partnership was “essential”. He goes on to add, “Our backgrounds were so different, that it helped us find new ways of collaborating, bring about a combination of design + function, that is unique to method. Without Adam, method would have been all life-style design and not much green. Without me, method would have been another drab green cleaner.” Tip: Collaborating with diverse professionals may actually add a unique USP to your product or service, especially in green business where many symbiotic relationships already exist and thrive. As Eric looks back on the 10 years, he says, “Locking down our obsessions and making them integral to our company was very important. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to adhere to these values.” One of method’s “obsessions” was to create a “culture club” or “branding from the inside out”. Eric says, “Creating and maintaining cultures continues to be the hardest value to upkeep. It’s always in motion and changing. Our goal is to create a culture that would inspire us to do our best work while enriching our lives.” He also has two pieces of advice for budding eco-entrepreneurs. One: Starting out a company that is just “green” is not enough these days. Take a product or service and add “green” to it by “disrupting the world of business as-usual.” Two: Emphasize the human connection associated with your product or service. “It’s hard to encourage people to adopt good only on the basis that its good for the planet. To make a lasting impression, bring out the connection that benefits their home, health and daily lives.” So after a glorious 10 years, what is in store for the next decade at method? Eric is thrilled with the excellent foundation that has been created. He says, “The cleaning industry is very dirty- so there is still lots to clean up. We want to continue to grow into newer markets and countries while educating consumers. And of course continue to innovate to stay ahead.” Ahem to that and an even more glorious decade ahead.

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The method method: A Cleaner Clean, Design + Innovation and Just Plain Weird

Moving Planet: What Are You Doing to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels?

September 22, 2011 by  
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Moving Planet, 24th September 2011 will be a day of action against climate change- a day to put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels. Moving Planet is an international day of action planned by 350.org . It is intended to build support for moving the planet away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable transportation. On September 24, 2011 participants from over 175 countries will hold events aimed at solving the climate change crisis by eliminating our global dependence on fossil fuels. What is the Goal of the Day? The goal is to get moving beyond fossil fuels—both symbolically by pouring into the streets in the thousands on foot, bicycle and other means of sustainable movement, and politically by bringing powerful demands to our leaders that day to move beyond fossil fuels to a 350 ppm world. Mobilizing for individual and community solutions will continue to be important— but one of the main goals for Moving Planet is to demand government action, especially in places where governments are stalling on climate action despite the overwhelming urgency of the science.  The Moving Planet is not just about sustainable actions- but also about delivering a clear list of demands. Science-based policies to get us back to 350 ppm. A rapid, just transition to zero carbon emissions. A mobilization of funding for a fair transition to a 350 ppm world. Lifting the rights of people over the rights of polluters.  What is a 350 ppm World? The ideology behind 350.org’s campaign is the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. By now—the planet has about 392 parts per million CO 2  – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year. Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet.  350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO 2  in our atmosphere. Why Focus on Moving Away from Fossil Fuels? The global fossil fuel infrastructure is a threat to our future everywhere, polluting our oceans, our land, our communities, our air, and our children’s lungs. It’s corrupting our politics with over $600 billion in subsidies globally, and hundreds of millions in campaign contributions in the United States in the last 10 years. The continued burning of coal and oil is what will tip climate change into climate catastrophe – getting off fossil fuels is the number one thing we need to do to get below 350ppm. Fossil fuels connect to many issues—sustainable agriculture, transportation, and water to name a few. What is Everyone Doing and What Action Can You Take to Join In? Some of the events happening include- Students in the Dominican Republic are painting the first bike lanes in Santo Domingo. Hundreds in Ukraine will be “flash-dancing” in the main square of Kiev. A massive parade is planned in Egypt , where participants will wear blue clothing to form a giant human Nile river. Hundreds of Parisians will unite to form an image of a wind-turbine. In New York , a giant bike ride calling for climate action will end at the United Nations General Assembly. You can find an event happening in your area or start your own!

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Moving Planet: What Are You Doing to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels?

How On-Demand 3D Printing Could Cut Waste, Increase Efficiency (Video)

October 23, 2010 by  
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Image: Tech Clarity There are a lot of great ideas floating around Poptech this year — I’ve already covered plenty of them . But I also wanted to highlight something that isn’t strictly or necessarily green, yet that could end up having some interesting implications on supply ..

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How On-Demand 3D Printing Could Cut Waste, Increase Efficiency (Video)

First Look at Imogen Heap’s Crowd-Sourced Nature Documentary (Video)

October 23, 2010 by  
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Imogen Heap at Poptech 2010.

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First Look at Imogen Heap’s Crowd-Sourced Nature Documentary (Video)

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