Sustainability Subgroup

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Yahoo Discussion Forum


Past Leads:



  • TBD

Possible Topic: 1. Comparing 'eating local' vs. 'eating from everywhere' in terms of sustainability. Which uses less energy? Which uses less energy per food unit? Which produces less pollution and impact upon the environment? How do these answers pertain to environmental and societal sustainability?


  • June 7, 2007. This meeting will focus on organic foods and farming along with understanding the quantification of sustainable aspects of organic foods. Are organic foods healthier than conventionally grown foods? Do they use less energy to produce?

Mason Arnold of Greenling discussed what it takes to be qualified as an organic product. The organic standards were discussed and agreed upon after over 10 years of debate at the federal government level.

Carey King discussed the energy that goes into conventional vs. organic farming. Because the organic definition does not account for direct energy usage (i.e. diesel fuel, electricity for pumping water, etc.), the energy usage is not very different but organic farming does use between 5%-10% less energy if fossil fuel based fertilizers and pesticides are not used. Interestingly, an indigenous farm where machinery is not used involves approximately 1100 hrs/hectare of human labor versus only 10 hrs/hectare for using machinery. That is a 100-Fold difference in leisure time! Now we can see how many other industries have resulted from machinization and people moving from the agriculture industry into all other industries. That, and including the fertilizer fossil fuel input, shows how pivotal fossil fuels are to industrialized farming practices.

Carey's slide show is available on the Yahoo Group website for the Sustainability Subgroup. See Files Page-Sustainability Subgroup, or contact Carey at

  • March 29, 2007 - Meeting discussed focus of group and viewed movie on Cuba's solution to an 'imposed' oil crisis.

The movie we viewed is described at:

See March 29 Meeting Minutes



  • AustinEV - Local chapter of the Electric Auto Association (convert your own car to electric!)


  • Rocky Mountain Institute - Consulting "do tank" organization for efficient and low impact business practices with economic gain
  • Natural Capital - General info on how to minimize impact of business upon natural resources
  • LEED site by USGBC - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, site of the U.S. Green Building Council
  • No Impact Man Blog - Site of a NYC writer who is trying to 'walk the walk' and minimize his environmental impact ... and then write about it (so yes, he's a writer, so it's like research for his arranged book deal)





This subgroup is for Bootstrappers to discuss businesses, or business ideas, to engage in markets based upon sustainability. The particular interest is in businesses, or ideas, for increasing energy efficiency, decreasing resource usage, and decreasing energy usage. This is often difficult for bootstrappers considering the large scale of the largest energy users (manufacturing, utilities, etc.), but perhaps there are opportunites to provide services that minimize the ecological and energy footprints of businesses.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is how we derive our food, fiber, feed, fuel and fertilizer from the landbase. By using renewable energy supplies, energy efficiency, and embedded energy reduction, as well as re-configuring supply chains to use less energy, we find ways to maintain and restore the Earth such that it can in turn maintain and restore us.

Who should come?

Individuals and companies involved or interested in permaculture, green building, renewable energy and fuels, energy efficiency, composting, organics, local food, transportation, triple bottom line, water conservation, etc.. They all drive towards the same goal. What can we learn from each other? How can we work better together to bring attention to the marketplace for sustainability products and services? Can businesses cooperate/partner to create new markets/services (if deemed needed) that value conserving resources instead of exploiting them? Can we organize?

What do we want to do?

We want to explore how the disruption of price increases in energy and all its ramifications will make it possible for people to start or grow a business. How do people make cash flows to support a living/business while making our communities more sustainable? Ecosystem service markets are a start. Can we do that within Bootstrap? Can we create a Lloyd’s of London for sustainability?


It must be more than speakers or policy, if that. It has to be about exchanging ideas and growth, either personal, professional or business. If it doesn’t facilitate growth, it is more likely to be abandoned. Bootstrap boards of could be formed to operate in a more confidential manner, and for bouncing ideas around or for getting opinions on your business strategy(s). The group could bring more awareness to the challenges and resources of the community. Realistic short-term actions are the desired result derived from informed discussions.

Possible business questions:

"Can bootstrappers find a way to promote, or base a business upon what is called natural capitalism - valuing the services of nature and minimizing consumption while maximizing service to a custmer?"

"What can bootstrappers do in the area of ecosystem service markets?"

Examples of this approach include:

  1. 'cradle to cradle' design in the consumer product industry
  2. providing cooling/heating services instead of just selling HVAC systems.

If you have more ideas for discussion about sustainability, and how bootstrappers can make an impact, feel free to present them. We may also choose to meet with the Green or environmental subgroups as these ideas are inherently interlinked.