Environmental Impact, FedEx comments on Laundry Detergent

OK I admit to being a logistics guy and wrote about UPS’s sustainability report. I spent some of my early career working on Apple’s and HP’s distribution systems building new distribution capabilities, and found some of the biggest potential improvements in software systems.

FedEx has a historical perspective post regarding sustainability efforts.

History’s Lesson: Sustainability Requires Everyone in the Trenches

By Mitch Jackson on April 21, 2009

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“Our republics cannot exist long in prosperity. We require adversity and appear to possess most of the republican spirit when most depressed.” - Benjamin Rush -

Before making any judgments about this quote, let me reassure you that it has a positive aspect. Before I get to that, however, some might be asking who Benjamin Rush was. He was one of America’s lesser known Founding Fathers. He was an associate of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, and a prominent physician in his day. And, the context of the quote, from a letter to John Adams, was in reference to some of the darkest days of the American Revolution.

What’s the relevance of the quote? As the historian David Hackett Fischer wrote in Washington’s Crossing, “He (Rush) thought it was a national habit of the American people (maybe all free people) not to deal with a difficult problem until it was nearly impossible.” But, the positive aspect of this is that we do rise up and deal with problems, and eventually solve them.

That’s what is needed for the current vexing problems of the economy, energy security and the environment. Just as the nascent nation relied upon state militias to supplement those Continental soldiers in the field month after month during the Revolutionary War (sometimes to the Glorious Cause’s detriment), so, too, this nation requires everyone in the trenches to fight this action in transforming and sustaining our economy.

One of the more interesting points is FedEX discussing P&G Laundry Detergent.

I spoke at a summit some weeks back for The Economist magazine, titled The 2009 Sustainability Summit – The New Climate: Global Warming and Its Implications for Corporate Strategy. This is a big title for a big societal challenge. I was particularly struck by an innovation that could result in big environmental benefits. Procter & Gamble has done much in their sustainability efforts, even conducting life cycle analyses on their products. They found that their biggest environmental impact from energy usage was not their product manufacturing; it was not their materials, not their transportation of materials or products, not even material disposal; none of these were even close. No, it was the use of their laundry products in homes that was their biggest impact, primarily from the energy used to heat water. So, they developed Tide Cold Water. Procter & Gamble has calculated that washing laundry in cold water in every U.S. household would save 70 to 90 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year – they say this is 3% of the nation’s total household energy consumption, equating to a reduction of 34 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Oh, yes, another interesting fact is that they calculate that the average consumer would save $63 annually on their utility bills. All of these numbers are large in total. And, importantly, they’re all trending the right way – reduced energy usage and environmental impact, reduced costs for consumers, and increased product sales potential for Procter & Gamble. A “win-win-win”, which is invariably better than “win-lose” scenarios – always the result of “us versus them” strategies.

Makes you think how many of you know what are the effects of users using your data center services.

What is the environmental impact of your data center services?