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Martin Luther King’s dream tragically remains a dream



Today’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s seminal speech in Washington is a timely reminder of the lack of progress in racial equality globally. What racism overtly failed to achieve through instruments of state (disfranchisement and segregation), it has covertly achieved through unspoken prejudice, convention and economics.

As a white person, I have to check my privilege writing abut this, but the data on racial equality at home and globally should outrage everyone, regardless of their ethnicity. As Martin Luther King put it, “Many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realise that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.” states that in the US in 2010, “Non-white families earned about half of what white families earned in 1989. This closed to 70% in 2007 and slipped back to 65% in 2010.

But the gap in assets runs much wider. White families claim about six times the net-worth of non-white families, a gap that has changed little over the past generation. The gap in median home value, for white and non-white homeowners, narrowed through the housing boom.

In 2007, the median non-white-owned house held 90% of the value that the typical white-owned house held. But the crash saw a sharper decline in both non-white housing value and non-white rates of homeownership. In 2010, the median primary residence for all non-white families, not just homeowners, had about half the value of the homes of white families.”

Meanwhile, the UK’s own Institute for Race Relations states, “Throughout the UK, people from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are much more likely to be in poverty (with an income of less than 60% of the median household income) than white British people. In 2010, nearly three-quarters of 7-year-old Pakistani and Bangladeshi children and just over half of those black children of the same age were living in poverty.

About one in four white 7-year-olds were classed as living in poverty. In 2009, the Wealth and Assets Survey revealed that the ‘average white household’ had roughly £221,000 in assets, black Caribbean households had about £76,000, Bangladeshi households £21,000 and black African households £15,000. BME groups are also more likely to experience homelessness. In Wolverhampton, for example, in 2011, 26% of the population were from a BME community, but these same communities made up about 40% of the homeless cases seen by the local authority.”

Globally, reports that “the richest 0.5% of global adults hold well over a third of the world’s wealth.” Forbes lists the number of billionaires by region. Africa has 13 (Egypt dominates with seven) and Asia has 399 (161 in ‘communist’ China/Hong Kong). Conversely, North America has 462 (the US accounts for 442) and Europe 403 (Russia has 110). Fifty-nine per cent of those billionaires are white. Only 0.6% are black.

According to the World Wealth Report in 2010, the US and Europe have the highest number of high net-worth individuals (people worth more than $1m) and ultra-high net-worths ($30m+). Africa has the fewest.

The World Bank shows that the richest regions measured in GDP per head are the predominantly white North America, Oceania and Europe, and the poorest, predictably, Asia, Africa and Antarctica (lots of impoverished penguins, I guess). North America’s GDP per head is 21 times that of Africa’s. The US (North America’s richest per head) is 118 times more prosperous per head than the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa’s poorest).

Of course, we all know that Africa is poor and that America and Europe are rich. But inequality is bad, even for the rich, as clearly articulated in chart after chart in The Spirit Level.

Endless plans, commissions and reports on racial inequality have done little to address the inequity. If you are from a BME community in wealthy America or Europe, or live in a predominantly non-white country, your life chances are significantly diminished. How many Nobel prize winners, entrepreneurs, scientists, authors, educators and healers are we losing simply because they come from these countries and communities? Being brilliant has everything to do with opportunity created by the accident of living in a wealthy, healthy location, and nothing to do with the colour of your skin.

Noah Webster, American editor and writer (1758-1843), once said, “The causes which destroyed the ancient republics were numerous; but in Rome, one principal cause was the vast inequality of fortunes.” That the US was reported to have greater inequality than Ancient Rome is deeply worrying. That one of the clearest indicators of poverty in 2013 is still the colour of your skin, rather than the content of your character, is genuinely shameful.

Martin Luther King’s dream is tragically far from becoming a reality.

Further reading:

On this day in 1963: Martin Luther King Jr delivers seminal ‘I have a dream’ speech

‘There are no moral or ethical considerations when investing’

Making the dream of ethical investment a reality

Transparency, simplicity and honesty is urgently needed in investment

Capitalism 2.0 in the advent of the growing income gap

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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