This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.


Clorox Aims to Show that 'Green Works': Can a major consumer packaged goods company with a name indelibly associated with household bleach become a leading light in the green marketplace? That's the hope of Clorox

Clorox Aims to Show that 'Green Works'

Can a major consumer packaged goods company with a name indelibly associated with household bleach become a leading light in the green marketplace? That's the hope of Clorox, the Oakland-based company, which this week is launching its first new brand in twenty years: Green Works, a line of cleaning products that are, in the company's words, "at least 99 percent natural" — made from coconuts and lemon oil, formulated to be biodegradable and non-allergenic, packaged in recyclable bottles, and not tested on animals. The initial launch includes five products: an all-purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, a toilet bowl cleaner, a dilutable cleaner, and a bathroom cleaner.

It's an intriguing moment. Green Works enters the marketplace with a near perfect storm of market conditions: growing mainstream consumer demand for green products that don't require compromise or sacrifice; significant interest from Wal-Mart and other big retailers in pushing greener products to the masses; a product that seems competitive with the leading green brands; and endorsement from Big Green.

That last item comes in the form of an "alliance," just announced, with the Sierra Club, which has endorsed Green Works and whose logo will appear on Green Works labels starting around Earth Day. Sierra Club will receive an unspecified financial payment. Sierra Club doesn't often endorse products, especially ones from big companies. The last one I can recall was Ford's Mercury Mariner Hybrid SUV, back in 2005.

The idea of Clorox as a green leader may strike some as odd. The company is known mostly for its flagship product, Clorox Bleach, which is seen by some as a stain from an environmental perspective, though the company says the product is misunderstood and safe. (Green Works products do not contain bleach.) Household bleach, it explains, is a water-based solution containing six percent sodium hypochlorite, whose chemical symbol, NaOCl, is essentially table salt (sodium chloride, or NaCl) with a molecule of oxygen. That is, bleach comes from, and degrades into, salt. (You wouldn't want to drink it, but you wouldn't want to eat a cup of salt, either.) Moreover, the company points out, bleach's disinfectant properties are essential to public health — endorsed by the World Health Organization and others.

Some environmentalists warn against using bleach, pointing out that it is toxic and corrosive and can create suspected carcinogens in the water supply. Suffice to say, Clorox refutes this. "The bleach cycle — from production to use to environmental fate — is simple and sustainable," it maintains.

So, can The Clorox Company become a green brand leader? I spent some time last summer talking with the company about Green Works, part of a small consulting project. I was asked to help Clorox think through how it was positioning both Green Works and the company itself in advance of the product launch. I met with the Green Works brand and marketing managers, as well as the company's corporate responsibility staff — a relatively new function there.

What I found was that the company — whose brands include Glad, Formula 409, Liquid-Plumr, S.O.S. Pads, Kingsford charcoal, Ever Clean kitty litter, Brita water filters, Hidden Valley salad dressings and, as of about ten weeks ago, Burt's Bees personal care products — had a relatively blank slate from an environmental perspective. It did not have any significant  skeletons. It enjoyed a solid compliance record, has joined several voluntary programs to reduce waste and emissions, and has received modest recognition for its performance. Except for concerns about bleach, it has been largely off activists' radar. From an environmental perspective, it was neither a leader nor a laggard.

Under CEO Don Knauss, who joined the company in 2006 from Coca-Cola, Clorox began to recognize that environmental and social sustainability are of growing importance for the company. By the time I showed up in July, Clorox had undertaken efforts to reduce its packaging and had begun to inventory its carbon footprint across its North America operations. (Among other things, the company is working to make the Green Works manufacturing process carbon neutral.)

Green Works seems to have potential to be a breakthrough brand — a line of cleaners competitive, environmentally speaking, with the leading green brands like Seventh Generation and Method, effective enough to wear the Clorox label, priced less than other green cleaners, and enjoying widespread distribution; Wal-Mart, for one, will be featuring the products in its stores. If one of the goals of the green consumer revolution is to get brand leaders to create greener products at affordable prices, this seems a significant step in the right direction.

Green Works' roots go back about three years, when a small group of individuals within the company began investigating the green-cleaning market and conducted market research. Through a market-segmentation exercise, they identified a slice of the consumer market they dubbed "Chemical Avoiding Naturalists," consumers who wanted greener cleaners but felt the incumbent products didn't work well, came from brands they didn't know or trust, were too expensive, and weren't always available where they shopped. These are the folks who want strong, effective cleaners, but worry about their health effects — the ones who say, "Let's open the windows and send the kids outside — we're going to clean now!"

As the team developed and tested products with real consumers, they recognized they had a potential hit. "We were actually in a perfect position as a company," Jessica Buttimer, Green Works' director of marketing, told me last fall. "We have the Clorox brand. We have these distribution channels and great relationship with Wal-Mart. We have the science to make an efficacious product. And we have the scale to charge just a 20 percent premium, not a 100 percent premium." Moreover, Buttimer and her team found that consumers trusted the Clorox brand and the fact that a greener cleaner was coming from a company they'd known for years.

But the kicker was that the product actually did what it was supposed to do. "We did blind testing versus the market leaders," says Buttimer. "We were at parity or better in performance, which as a chemical company, you can imagine, was a huge surprise — that these things, with 99% or more natural ingredients, work as well as Lysol, 409, and Pine-Sol."

Time will tell whether Green Works will be a game-changer — whether it will make green cleaning more affordable and accessible to the masses. But the potential is there. Clorox doesn't launch a new brand unless it sees a $100 million or greater market opportunity.

But there's a potentially bigger story here. Clorox — a 95-year-old, relatively stodgy company — seems to have discovered its green gene. CEO Knauss has identified sustainability as one of three core consumer trends with which he wants to align Clorox products. The combination of Green Works, Burt's Bees, and Brita give it a toehold in that market space, a foundation on which it can build more offerings. Already, additions to the Green Works line are being planned.

All of which has invigorated the company, says Buttimer, a thirtysomething mother of two who has become the corporate face of Green Works. "I can't keep my calendar clear of associate marketing managers, our entry-level positioning and marketing people, asking, 'How do I work on this project?' Or people coming to me and announcing, 'My parents are members of Sierra Club.' Everyone wants to be involved."

Moreover, she adds, "What's really exciting is that we're building knowledge and confidence within the rest of the company that we can do the same things with a lot of our other product lines."

A green Clorox? Anything's possible.


Ultimate Green Machine on the way? It emerges that a new addition to the Bimmer family lineup may be a dedicated "green" line of vehicles focused on high fuel economy and lower emissions

Thanks to Colin


Ultimate Green Machine on the way?
Posted by Kevin Massy Post a comment

(Credit: BMW)

As we told you last September, BMW has been kicking around the idea of a fourth brand (in addition to MINI, Rolls Royce, and BMW) for a while. This week it emerges that this new addition to the Bimmer family lineup may be a dedicated "green" line of vehicles focused on high fuel economy and lower emissions. If so, the strategy would certainly make sense as it will enable BMW to meet tough environmental requirements without sacrificing too much of its performance-related DNA. BMW is one of a number of premium European brands likely to suffer most at the hands of recent U.S.--and proposed European--legislation to toughen emissions standards and fuel economy.

Last month's passage of legislation requiring increased fleet-wide fuel economy standards to an average of 35mpg by 2020 in the US was followed by confirmation from the European Commission that it had adopted a legislation proposal for emissions and fuel efficiency that requires all new cars to achieve a fleet average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer (as a point of comparison, the BMW 335i, by no means the biggest car in BMW's lineup, has a carbon output of 173 to 235 g/km and an average fuel economy of 20 mpg). According to the EC proposal, manufacturers can team up with other companies to meet the emissions target if they are unable to do so on their own, but it looks like BMW is considering building itself an in-house eco-brand to achieve this. The news is the latest in a series of examples we've seen of performance- and luxury European brands scrambling for a green solution, from Porsche's Cayenne and Panamera hybrids to Ferrari's Bio Fuel F430 and Mercedes' S300 Bluetec Hybrid.


World oil demand to peak before supply: World oil production may peak in the coming years, but it will be because of a decline in demand for petroleum rather than constraint on supply, a BP economist said on Wednesday.

From: Reuters
Published January 17, 2008 05:49 AM

World oil demand to peak before supply: BP

By Alex Lawler

LONDON (Reuters) - World oil production may peak in the coming years, but it will be because of a decline in demand for petroleum rather than constraint on supply, a BP economist said on Wednesday.

The comments come in the wake of remarks from other industry officials who in recent months have questioned mainstream supply forecasts, suggesting a peak in output may be closer than the industry has previously admitted.

"I believe there is a realistic possibility that world oil production will peak within the next generation as a result of peaking demand," BP Special Economic Advisor Peter Davies told a meeting at parliament organized by a group of lawmakers looking into peak oil.


A rally in oil prices, which hit a record high above $100 a barrel earlier this month, is leading to growing interest in peak oil -- the view that supply has reached, or will soon reach, a high point and then fall.

London-based BP, the world's third-largest fully publicly traded oil company by market value, dismisses the view that there is a problem with the amount of oil left in the ground.

Statistics complied by BP show the world has proven oil reserves of 1.2 trillion barrels, enough to sustain current output for 40 years.

Rather, Davies said environmental regulations, including efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, could cause consumers to move away from oil.

"I think we will run out of demand before we run out of supply," he said. "There's a distinct possibility that global oil consumption could peak as a result of climate policies."

The BP economist said there were also concerns whether there is enough investment. Many major producing countries ban foreign investment in their oilfields or allow it on terms the oil firms deem uncompetitive.

"An imminent peak in oil production is not likely," Davies said. "Valid concerns remain over investment, especially in resource-rich regions."

Davies said it was possible to boost world oil production to 100 million barrels per day, a rate senior figures, such as the chief executive of French oil company Total, have questioned in recent months.

The world is expected to need more than 100 million bpd of oil later this century, according to forecasts from the International Energy Agency and others, up from around 86 million bpd now.

"I believe 100 million barrels per day is achievable," Davies said. "This is achievable in resource terms but it does come down to how much investment is going to take place."

(Reporting by Alex Lawler; editing by Marguerita Choy)

Oil Supply to Peak Sooner Than Thought, Says BP Scientist


Nov. 7—World oil production is likely to peak in the next decade, much earlier than many international forecasts, a senior BP executive has told The Business.

BP exploration consultant Francis Harper said he estimated the world's total original usable oil resources — the amount of oil before drilling began — at about 2.4 trillion barrels of oil. This is considerably less than the 3 trillion assumed by bullish commentators such as the US government's Geological Survey. This points to oil production peaking between 2010 and 2020.

His comments are a rare entry by a global oil company into the debate on the life of global oil supplies. If true, it would mean demand outstripping supply much earlier than energy projections by ExxonMobil and Shell. BP does not officially supply projections.

The International Energy Agency, the industry watchdog, expects oil demand to continue to rise until 2030. It assumes production will rise to meet demand.

Harper will argue at a London conference this week that production would start to slow in non-Opec members, concentrating the cartel's power.

He said: "When the world peaks isn't the critical thing. What's more salient is when non-Opec oil peaks, then you'll have the control of marginal production passed back to a progressively smaller group of countries."

He added that oil companies' public positions on the issue masked debate within them. "There are people in BP who happen to be economists and so happen to think there's no problem, and there are people in BP who are geologists who are saying it's getting hard to find."

Harper's prediction is higher than the 2 trillion posited by doom-sayers like Colin Campbell. Harper said: "I'm more conservative than Exxon Mobil with regard to future oil resources, but I'm not Colin Campbell."

Seth Kleinman at PFC Energy said oil companies had held back from such statements. "There's a certain degree of hesitancy for oil companies to go on the record and say, 'we are doing well with oil prices where they are now, but 10 years down the road things actually look pretty dire'."

To see more of The Business, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to© 2004, The Business, London. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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2007. Copyright Environmental News Network

California Flood Risks Are 'Disaster Waiting To Happen,' Say Engineers: A new report identifies the area between the Sacramento and San Joaquin river floodplains as facing significant risk of floods that could lead to extensive loss of life and billions of dollars in damages

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California Flood Risks Are 'Disaster Waiting To Happen,' Say Engineers

Past flooding in California. A new report identifies the area between the Sacramento and San Joaquin river floodplains as facing significant risk of floods that could lead to extensive loss of life and billions of dollars in damages. (Credit: Dave Gatley/FEMA)

ScienceDaily (Jan. 22, 2008) — While flooding in California's Central Valley is "the next big disaster waiting to happen," water-related infrastructure issues confront almost every community across the country, according to engineers at the University of Maryland's Clark School of Engineering in separate reports to California officials and in the journal Science.

An independent review panel chaired by Clark School Research Professor of Civil Engineering Gerald E. Galloway said the area between the Sacramento and San Joaquin river floodplains faces significant risk of floods that could lead to extensive loss of life and billions of dollars in damages. The panel's report, "A California Challenge: Flooding in the Central Valley," was commissioned by California's Department of Water Resources.

The panel pointed out that many of the area's levees, constructed over the past 150 years to protect communities and property in the Central Valley, were poorly built or placed on inadequate foundations. Climate change may increase the likelihood of floods and their resulting destruction. The panel recommends that state and local officials take swift action to reduce the risk to people and the environment.

The comprehensive flood-risk abatement strategy the panel recommends focuses on land-use planning and integration with other basin water management activities.

"The challenges that California faces are widespread across the nation," Galloway said. "The recent failure of a levee in a Nevada irrigation canal points out growing infrastructure problems."

Another civil engineering researcher from the Clark School, Dr. Lewis "Ed" Link, also served on the California panel.

"I believe the State of California is taking a very enlightened approach to difficult issues," Link said. "Supporting this study is a good example, as is their examination of risk for the entire Central Valley. They are looking strategically at measures that can create long-term solutions, a model for others to follow."

Galloway is also co-author of an article in the January 18, 2008 issue of Science -- "Aging Infrastructure and Ecosystem Restoration" -- which calls for the targeted decommissioning of deteriorated and obsolete infrastructure in order to support the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

"As we move forward with infrastructure enhancement, we must consider how, in the process of carrying out these activities, we can restore and enhance the natural and beneficial functions of the floodplain, which can at the same time reduce flood losses," Galloway said.

Link and Galloway were prominent figures in the review of the levee system around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. Link served as director of the federal government's Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, which evaluated the hurricane protection system around New Orleans. Galloway is a former brigadier general with the Army Corps of Engineers and has been part of the State of Louisiana review team looking at long-term plans for restoration of the Gulf Coast.

Adapted from materials provided by University of Maryland.

Corporations team up to cut supply chain emissions: Cadbury Schweppes, Dell, Nestle, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble and Tesco are amongst the companies in the scheme, called the Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC)

Thanks to Lloyd

Corporations team up to cut supply chain emissions
Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:29am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Eleven of the world's largest companies are teaming up to see how they can work with thousands of their suppliers to curb greenhouse gas emissions, a green consultancy said on Sunday.

Cadbury Schweppes, Dell, Nestle, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble and Tesco are amongst the companies in the scheme, called the Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration (SCLC).

The venture is being coordinated by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a UK-based non-profit organization that helps companies and investors to cooperate on fighting climate change.

"Multinationals are seeking to understand where the emissions are lying in their supply chain and what risks and opportunities from climate change will be presented," Paul Simpson, chief operating officer for CDP, told Reuters.

In the scheme's pilot phase, until the end of March 2008, each organization has selected 50 suppliers to work with, CDP said in a statement.

"We believe that partnerships between companies, suppliers, stakeholders and customers are critical to making a real difference in protecting the Earth," Tod Arbogast, computer maker Dell's director of sustainable business, said in a statement.

The Carbon Disclosure Project will publish a report after the first phase, recommending a standardized approach to emissions cuts and highlighting areas to be targeted.

The CDP will expand the scheme in its second phase, starting in May 2008, to include up to 2,000 suppliers from each participating organization. More major companies will be invited to join in the second phase.

"When it comes to making changes in their supply chains, the purchasing organizations have a great deal of leverage over their suppliers," Simpson added.

To read the CDP's SCLC questionnaire or for further analysis on the carbon markets, log on to

(Reporting by Michael Szabo; Editing by Anthony Barker)

Global Climate Change - Heinz Center report on Adaptation: a report exploring adaptation planning resources available both in the United States and internationally.

Thanks to Jim for forwarding the report

 Dennis Ojima/Anne Hummer  
Tel: (202) 737-6307     Fax: (202) 737-6410 or

For immediate release: Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Survey of Climate Change Adaptation Planning

Washington, D.C. Today the Heinz Center released "A Survey of Climate Change Adaptation Planning," a report exploring adaptation planning resources available both in the United States and internationally.

Report CoverIn the decades to come, adaptation planning will be critical as city, state and regional planners face significant challenges posed by the impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise.

The report summarizes ongoing efforts to deal with those challenges. Eight existing adaptation plans and 18 adaptation planning efforts with a wide variety of impact areas are reviewed.

The report's lead author, Bill Perkins, said, "Ideally the survey will be useful for both planners and academics in the adaptation community." Mr. Perkins, a Global Change Fellow at the Heinz Center in summer 2007, is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University.   

"We hope this report encourages information-sharing within the adaptation community," said Dr. Dennis Ojima, Senior Scholar with the Heinz Center's Global Change Program.  Dr. Ojima added that the Heinz Center looks forward to working with planners in cities, counties and states as they make critical decisions for the future.

To read the report in its entirety please click here.

The Heinz Center, established in 1995 in memory of Senator John Heinz, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution dedicated to improving the scientific and economic basis for environmental policy and to developing innovative solutions to environmental problems.

HP Publishes New Guidelines for Supply Sustainability

HP Publishes New Guidelines for Supply Sustainability

hp-publishes-new-4711.jpgHP has announced the publication of guidelines designed to help multinational companies achieve sustainability throughout their supply lines. The guidelines are based on a report ,about the impact multinationals can have on the standards in their supply chains, written with the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency.The guidelines follow a study of HP's working practices, on-site assessments of 15 suppliers in Eastern Europe, and the organization and assessment of capability-building activities. According to HP, by following these guidelines, multinationals will be able to better equip their suppliers to effectively compete in the global market while improving environmental standards. "There is a clear link between companies with strong ethics and good performance," said Carsten Ingersley of DCCA.

EL can't seem to find a copy of the report to link to - but below is the full executive summary provided with the press release:Executive summary

This report presents findings from a project carried out by the Danish Commerce and Companies Agency during the period June 2006 to January 2008. The objective of the project has been to develop guidelines on how multinational companies (MNCs) can target small and medium-sized (SME) suppliers in their sustainable supply chain management.

The guidelines have been developed on the basis of findings from 1) a study of the sustainable supply chain management practices of the multinational information technology corporation Hewlett-Packard (HP), 2) on-site assessments of the social and environmental practices of SME suppliers in HP's supply chain in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, and 3) capability-building activities aimed at the SME suppliers.

Main findings from HP's sustainable supply chain management practices
• HP's approach to sustainable supply chain management can be characterised as stakeholder-oriented, pro-active and collaborative.
• In a widely outsourced manufacturing environment, HP has a high focus on ensuring that their suppliers are meeting certain social and environmental requirements.
• HP has co-developed a supplier code of conduct, the Electronic Industry Code of Conduct (EICC), launched in 2004, based on the assumption that social and environmental concerns of suppliers are addressed most effectively on an industry-wide basis.
• With the overall aim of cascading requirements down the supply chain, HP launched its Supply Chain Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) program in 2003. The program includes preliminary risk assessments, supplier self-assessment, on-site audits and capability-building activities.
• Internally, HP's supplier relationship managers (SRMs) are in charge of managing suppliers - a responsibility that includes evaluation of social and environmental performance. HP acknowledges that stronger involvement and commitment of SRMs is important for passing on requirements to suppliers.
• HP's experience from suppliers in Central and Eastern Europe is that most suppliers comply with legal requirements. HP experiences that management systems are often lacking or inadequate, and emphasises that 'living' a management system is more important than having a certified management system.

Main findings from the SME suppliers' social and environmental practices
• In general, the SMEs have acceptable social and environmental standards. The main problems encountered primarily relate to inadequate management system processes and inadequate health & safety standards, particularly in terms of occupational safety, emergency preparedness and response, and ergonomics.
• The majority of the companies demonstrate a reactive approach to social and environmental responsibility. Legal requirements are the primary driver for engaging in social and environmental initiatives. Management systems within the areas of environment and health & safety are the most predominant examples of social and environmental initiatives that go beyond legal requirements. Management systems are typically implemented upon request from customers.
• There is no clear evidence that the companies with certified management systems consistently have more adequate processes for identifying and mitigating risks and ensuring continual improvement than those companies, whose management systems are not certified.
• All companies are confronted with social and environmental codes of conduct from customers. The companies generally feel that they are capable of complying with the code of conduct requirements, since the vast majority of requirements relate to local legislation.
• The companies' management teams often fail to communicate the requirements to the workforce and suppliers.
• The companies' customers typically do not carry out social and environmental audits.
• The companies are of the opinion that the most useful assistance from large customers is input to the correction of inadequate processes and explanations of the business benefits of improving the processes.
• The main challenges related to working with social and environmental issues are allocation of sufficient financial and human resources as well as time.
• Awareness and experience is generally quite low regarding potential links between social and environmental improvements and improved business indicators (the business case).

Main findings from the capability-building activities
• Capability-building activities included in the project have taken the form of training workshops and exchange-of-experience workshops. The workshops have been successful in raising awareness among the participating SMEs.
• The workshops have revealed that the outcome of capability-building activities largely depends on the organisers' ability to achieve full commitment of the SMEs towards the capability-building activities; to organise practical training and workshops targeting the needs of the individual participants; to ensure participation of relevant SME personnel; and to engage participants in active dialogue.
• Some of the most proactive SMEs, who have integrated social and environmental concerns into strategy and business operations, have acted as role models during the workshops by inspiring the other SMEs as well as their own customers.

Guidelines for multinational companies
Based on the findings from the study of HP, on-site assessments of SME suppliers, and organisation of capability-building activities, the following guidelines are proposed:

MNCs can encourage SME suppliers to implement more adequate management systems by emphasising that:
• it is important to integrate the management systems into existing operations
• if integrated into business operations and strategy, social and environmental management systems may yield a sound business case
• a management system certificate in itself does not guarantee that a management system is adequately integrated into the organisation
• it is often easier to implement social and environmental management systems in advance rather than after external stakeholders require it

MNCs can emphasise their high priority to social and environmental responsibility by:
• following up their written requirements with social and environmental audits
• following up on the SMEs' correction of non-conformance issues identified during audits

MNCs can maintain momentum towards social and environmental responsibility at SME suppliers by:
• engaging in continuous dialogue - e.g. using audits as a platform - ¬and providing guidance on how to correct deficiencies
• ensuring that their own personnel in charge of supplier relations are sufficiently aware of and committed to the SMEs' social and environmental performance
• ensuring that the SMEs' direct customers (in case SMEs are placed beyond 1st tier of the supply chain) are committed and equipped with relevant knowledge
• encouraging internal dialogue between management and workers within the SMEs, based on the assumption that workers are typically more receptive towards new routines and tasks if they have been involved in the implementation of new initiatives

MNCs can reduce the amount of codes of conduct passed onto the SME suppliers and increase their overall leverage vis-à-vis SME suppliers by:
• engaging in industry-wide initiatives with joint codes of conduct - and possibly joint audits as well - thereby presenting their common suppliers with only one set of requirements to prioritise

MNCs can increase SME suppliers' benefits of capability-building activities by:
• setting up the activities in collaboration with external organisations with expertise within social and environmental issues, how these issues intersect with business, and relevant legal and cultural aspects, which the MNCs themselves usually do not have in-house
• organising the activities in a form and around topics which are highly relevant to SMEs, thereby ensuring the SMEs' commitment and active participation
• ensuring that the SMEs are represented by participants who have a certain leverage within their own organisation, are knowledgeable about their organisation's social and environmental activities and priorities, and are able and willing to share their own experiences