Don’t get left behind in the renewable energy race!


solar

It probably wasn’t hard to guess that my White Paper would be about something related to the environment or sustainability. This time, I am writing about renewable forms of energy with a specific emphasis on solar power. I am projecting big changes in the following years to a nationwide switch to renewable energy. Probably by the time we are all settling down and deciding on our first house to purchase, we will be considering more than just location and square footage. Hopefully by then, it will be the norm to purchase a house that runs on solar energy or perhaps geothermal or something else of a similar sort.

My paper touches upon the problems associated with global climate change and why the switch to renewable energy is so important for the future of not only our country, but also our planet. The age of fossil fuels is coming to an end, while the era of renewable energy is starting to gain a foothold in the energy sector. If you wish to learn more about all the benefits that solar power offers, then I suggest you read my paper. It’s never a bad thing to stay in the loop about all the current advances in the technology that will inevitably become the backbone of our future.

I recommend that solar energy should be incentivized in order for the technology to compete directly with fossil fuel energy. Both state and local governments have the power to implement this technology in their regions and should act upon this opportunity early on in the race to get to the top of the rapidly growing renewable energy industry. In conclusion, a transition to solar power is good business for companies, allows for long-term savings for residents, strengthens the economy, and helps decrease the effects of global climate change.

The floating town of Beach Haven


April 22, 2023

Dear Diary,

Sorry I haven’t written in you for 10 years. I’ve just been so busy. You wouldn’t believe how much everything has changed since the last time I wrote an entry! Let me fill you in on the major details up until now…

Well, first-off, after I went to Colorado for those two years post graduation, I decided to come back to Beach Haven to run the family business. (Surprisingly, as much as everything has changed on the island, people still come here and buy fudge and chowder). So, pretty much as soon as I got home, all hell broke loose. There have been 12 major super-storm hurricanes since Sandy that have done their best to destroy this island. And on top of that, the polar ice caps decided it was a convenient time to melt completely. We were living at sea level before. Now sea level is 20 feet higher than it used to be. Crazy, I know! You must be thinking, how I could possibly still be living in this town? The best way to answer that question is for you to picture Venice, Italy.

To combat the rising water, we decided to convert Beach Haven into a “floating city” with canals for streets. In reality, the houses aren’t floating; they are built up extremely high on stones and wood piles, similar to the way Venice is constructed. But sadly, not all the houses could be raised in time, and in more of the residential areas, you can only see the tops of chimneys and roofs. Sort of freaky…

The fun part is that I get to drive my motorboat to work every day. Luckily we have figured out a replacement for oil in boat engines and they all now run on salt water. Why didn’t we think of that before!? I tie my boat up right off of my front porch, which is very convenient. Some people have even made boat garages to keep their boats safer and out of most of the elements.  And if it’s a nice day, I’ll take the paddle board or kayak to work.

Sort of what view from front door looks like

Sort of what view from front door looks like

And the businesses are now open full-time all year round, not just in the summer. Instead of tourists coming here for the beach, they now come here to stay in the floating town and take tours of the canals and old areas with the sunken houses. And now we sell the chowder and fudge, not only in the shops, but also using our boat venders that anchor on the sides of the high-traffic canals.

Now back to the present- today is a big day for the family. The fudge shop is celebrating its 70th year anniversary and we are getting the whole family together with the employees to celebrate. Action News is even coming this afternoon to film a story about the shops’ adaptation and ability to survive the rising water.

shameless plug

shameless plug

Now that things have been settling down and I’m no longer worried about being washed away by the sea, I’ve finally been able to start relaxing. I’m a little sad that I can’t ride my bike around anymore but I have heard this rumor that the town is going to extend the sidewalk (floating dock) out another 4 feet to add a bike lane. That would be perfect! Well, I have to go now. Thanks for listening. I hope I’ll write another entry again but this time sooner than 2033!

Meg “actually really hoping this doesn’t happen to my town” Maschal

How a Reduction in Food Waste Can Save the Planet


“Currently, more than 48 million Americans live in households that struggle to get enough to eat, while the amount of food thrown out in the United States every year is enough to fill the Rose Bowl to its brim. Redistributing only 2 percent of food waste would end hunger in the United States.”

-Jonathan Bloom

 

American society is currently plagued by the idea that it is necessary to offer oversized portions of food. I first became aware of the alarming issues that coincide with food waste in America during my time as a member of the Bucknell Dining Sustainability Club. As Sustainability Ambassadors, we are tasked with the job of trying to make Bucknell dining more environmentally friendly. We encourage dining services to work with the local food producers and have them offer more organic options to students. We have been responsible for changes such as the switch to a tray-less cafeteria, and recently, this year, have been working with Jonathon Bloom, the author of American Wasteland. Last semester, he gave a speech to the student body about the problems of food waste, and together with our club, we performed a waste audit in the cafeteria. We collected 93 pounds of food waste during a 2-hour collection period, and just last week collected 55 pounds for our second follow-up waste audit. Bloom was there to educate students about these issues and spoke about disturbing statistics such as the estimate that 25% of all the food Americans bring into their homes, goes to waste.

bucknell food waste

Food waste is a problem for 3 main reasons: ethics, the environment, and economics. The ethical issue is the injustice that so many people in this country are going hungry while such a large proportion of food is going to waste. The environmental dilemma behind this waste concerns all of the natural resources that are intensively used in food production. Large amounts of water and gas are wasted when we have produced large amounts of food that will never be eaten. Finally, economics is the last main reason that we need to be worried about food waste. A significant expense is incurred by agricultural producers, consumers, restaurants, and stores on foods that end up in the landfill.

Now, the next question is what we can do to solve this problem. Personally, as consumers we have a few options to make a lasting impact. We can focus on smart shopping by planning meals and making lists about what we actually need to purchase. We can limit our portion sizes and increase our knowledge of food. We can also volunteer at food recovery programs that redistribute extra food to people in need. In addition, Bloom often challenges the people he meets to buy 25% less food than usual at their next trip to the grocery store. On a larger scale, Bloom suggests that the best way to prevent food waste is to ban organic waste from being accepted at landfills. He says that this would make people think twice about how much food they are buying and would promote better ways of using food purchases. This ban tactic has successfully been implemented in other countries, as well. To save the world we need to put a conscious effort into what we consume. The reduction of food waste can ultimately protect the environment, fight hunger, and save money.

Wal-Mart Can Do Better Than This


How many people walk into Wal-Mart and just look up and around amazed at how vast the entire store is? How many people have gotten lost in a Wal-Mart store or at least separated for a period of time from those they came in with? How many people have gone to a Wal-Mart and actually gotten their workout in for the day because of how much they aimlessly walked around? How many people have come out of Wal-Mart and couldn’t find anything they wanted and came home with everything they didn’t need?

Basically, everyone has heard of Wal-Mart. Some may have heard of its impressive supply chain management, while to most others, Wal-Mart is simply known for its everyday low prices and huge assortment of inventory, providing its customers with practically everything they could possibly need. The main problem to consider here is how many Wal-Mart employees leave the store after their shift satisfied with their job?

Wal-Mart’s corporate culture is built around the idea of cutting costs to provide its customers with the low prices that they expect. The employees, however, are becoming victims to this low-cost strategy. Minimum wage is hardly enough to support one person, let alone a family. It seems as if the corporate structure of Wal-Mart is doing everything it can to keep its employees below the poverty line. Wal-Mart labor protests have arisen in the last year and were aimed at pressing Wal-Mart to increase wages, stop cutting workers’ hours, and to treat employees with respect (Greenhouse). The disgruntled Wal-Mart employees just wanted better working conditions and better wages. And these protesters did not all come from the same Wal-Mart store or even the same state, they came from over 28 stores and 12 different states (Greenhouse). Wal-Mart’s business strategy is designed to keep its employees helpless; a practice that hardly seems to be the least bit ethical. The employees of Wal-Mart deserve to have decent pay and the company’s hindering of this basic right is unethical.

Besides offering low wages to Wal-Mart employees, gender bias is present in the company’s corporate culture. Women earn even less and are often treated with less respect than their male coworkers. Barbara Ehrenreich states in her book, Nickel and Dimed, “I feel oppressed, too, by the mandatory gentility of Wal-Mart culture. This is ladies’ and are all ‘ladies’ here, forbidden, by storewide rule, to raise our voices or cuss. Give me a few weeks of this and I’ll femme out entirely, my stride will be reduced to a mince, I’ll start tucking my head down to one side” (Ehrenreich 156). In her book, Ehrenreich described the oppression that she felt during her time at Wal-Mart. She ended up actually having to quit because she could not afford to work there anymore, her pay not being enough to sustain her living in even a very cheap motel. Her conclusions are consistent with other evidence that comment upon the low wages and long hours that encompass the Wal-Mart working environment.

In the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. case, many Wal-Mart employees banded together to voice their grievances to the Supreme Court. These women were seeking compensation and recognition of the gender discrimination that occurs within their working environment. Unfortunately, the case was thrown out due to a technicality. The plaintiff’s lawyers had improperly sued under a part of the class-action rules that was not primarily concerned with monetary claims (Liptak). In the end, the court did not actually make a decision for whether or not Wal-Mart had in fact discriminated against the women. One of the dissenting justices even stated that there definitely was evidence that gender bias was an element of Wal-Mart’s corporate culture (Liptak). Women filled 70% of the hourly jobs and only 33% held managerial positions. The company uses a centralized personnel policy that allows for subjective decisions by local managers. These practices often give way to the problem of stereotypes swaying personnel choices and this makes decisions about compensation and promotion vulnerable to gender bias (Liptak).

Dr. Richard Drogin, a statistician and professor, has compiled a statistical analysis in regards to the Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. litigation. His analysis of Wal-Mart employees shows that the women employees are concentrated in the lower paying jobs, are paid less than men in the same job, and are less likely than men to advance to management positions (Drogin 46). Despite the fact that women have more seniority, have lower turnover rates, and have higher performance rating in most jobs, these gender disparities still persist (Drogin 46). Drogin shows that these disparities in the difference in earnings, pay rates, and promotion rates are statistically significant. For example, look at this graph of the average earnings of men in comparison to the earnings of women (Drogin 12).

gender graph

The evidence from the above graph should speak for itself in regards to the gender bias that is clearly a part of the Wal-Mart working environment. Overall, in 2001, women earned about $5,200 less than men, on average (Drogin 12). Within the hourly workforce, women earned about $1,100 less than men and the disparity is even greater among management positions, as clearly displayed in the graph. That year, women earned about $14,500 less among management employees at Wal-Mart (Drogin 12). Not only are women disproportionately working in the lower paid jobs within the stores, but they are also earning less than the men who are holding the same job (Drogin 12). This alarming information brings to light a significant ethics debate.

If Wal-Mart had an official policy of practicing deontological ethics as a part of its corporate structure then there is no way that it would be able to treat its employees the way the company currently does. Deontologists base their decisions about what is right on broad, abstract ethical principles or values such as honesty, fairness, rights, and respect for human beings (Trevino & Nelson 42). Gender bias within Wal-Mart stores would be against the core values of the company. If there was a disparity, then that would simply be ethically wrong and would need to be immediately remedied. Wal-Mart managers taking a deontological approach would insist on having a fair and honest practice when considering which employees to promote and wouldn’t let stereotypes or personal bias affect their decisions. These managers would have a duty to uphold fairness and honesty throughout their work. For those deontologists that focus on rights more than duties, values, or principles, they would make sure that all Wal-Mart employees had access to the basic rights of healthcare and that these employees would have the chance to live above the poverty line. Ehrenreich states in Nickel and Dimed that, “there’s something wrong when you’re not paid enough to buy a Wal-Mart shirt, a clearanced Wal-Mart shirt with a stain on it. ‘I hear you,’ she says, and admits Wal-Mart isn’t working for her either, if the goal is to make a living” (Ehrenreich 181). Wal-Mart should employ a system of deontological ethics to govern its behavior in order to eliminate these types of problems where Wal-Mart employees themselves can’t afford the items in the stores. Performing good ethics and treating employees with respect is absolutely essential for effective business practice (Trevino & Nelson 3).

Wayne F. Cascio describes in his journal article, “Decency Means More than ‘Always Low Prices’: A Comparison of Costco to Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club,” that practicing bad ethics correlates to bad business. He critiques the way Wal-Mart conducts business especially regarding the company’s employment practices, relationships with suppliers, and the company’s impacts on local economies. Wal-Mart’s obsessive focus on the single core value of always having low prices is not a particularly sound business decision. Costco, in comparison, is able to hold down costs but also pay higher wages. Costco stresses the importance of being good to your employees and uses the high wage strategy to ensure long-term success. Paying workers higher wages reduces turnover, increases productivity, and is just overall good business (Cascio). The key stakeholders of consumers, workers, and shareholders all benefit from a cost-leadership strategy. In comparison to this approach, Ehrenriech describes one of her Wal-Mart coworkers and says that, “In her view, Wal-Mart would rather just keep hiring new people than treating the ones it has decently (Ehrenreich 184). Wal-Mart’s decision to pay low wages to its employees is simply bad business. The turnover rate, loss of production, and overall feeling of employee dissatisfaction with their job is something that Wal-Mart really needs to improve upon if the company wishes to remain competitive and stay out of negative media attention in the future.

In conclusion, I believe Wal-Mart needs to reassess the strategy the company is using to govern its people management procedures. Deontological ethics should be at the root of this new business strategy that will determine what decisions are to be made in the future. Ehrenreich states, “In orientation, we learned that the store’s success depends entirely on us, the associates, in fact, our bright blue vests bear the statement ‘At Wal-Mart, our people make the difference.’ Underneath those vests though, there are real-life charity cases, maybe even shelter-dwellers” (Ehrenreich 175). Currently, I do not believe that Wal-Mart truly stands by its claim that “our people make the difference.” If Wal-Mart employees really were that treasured by the company, then they would be compensated better and wouldn’t be treated as poorly. Higher wages (equally distributed between male and female employees) would lead to an increase in productivity, a lower turnover rate, and positive growth for the company. The satisfaction of Wal-Mart’s employees should become top priority and is an overall good business strategy.

Works Cited

Cascio, W. (2006, August). Decency Means More than “Always Low Prices”: A Comparison of Costco to

Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club. Academy of Management Perspectives, 20(3), p26.  Retrieved from Ebsco Host.

Drogin, R. (2003, February). Statistical Analysis of Gender Patterns in Wal-Mart Workforce. Drogin, Kakigi & Associates.

Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.

Greenhouse, Steven. “Wal-Mart Labor Protests Grow, Organizers Say.” New York Times. 18 March 2013. Web. 9 October 2012.

Liptak, Adam. “Justices Rule for Wal-Mart in Class-Action Bias Case.” New York Times. 20 June 2011. Web 5 March 2013.

Trevino & Nelson. (1999). Managing Business Ethics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Do you think your photos and posts are private?


Facebook, along with other social networking sites, have changed the face of privacy. We live in a world where “stalking” is now an acceptable norm. Nothing is private anymore. Your conversations are available to anyone in the world from the moment they are posted. It is my belief (perhaps paranoid) that once a picture is posted on the internet, even if for just a short period of time before it is deleted or “untagged” then the picture can be traced back to you in some way. Also, if someone really wanted to access all of your Facebook account without restrictions, I bet there is a way to get around the standard blocking security technique.

Facebook is watching you alert be careful of what you post

Today is a world dominated by the concept of instant gratification. If I can’t reach someone via text, my next option is to call them. Then if that fails, I will text again, and then proceed to write a Facebook message. One of these methods usually works. Only a few of my of my friends are so bad at keeping track of their phones that I have to resort to all of those methods at once. But why do I feel like I need a reply immediately? Why can’t I be content with waiting around for a response? Technology has changed our generation. Our impatience is only growing worse as the years go by.

With Facebook gone, I would be the most upset about losing all of my pictures. I have switched computers over the years and have had my laptop crash. Some of my pictures aren’t backed up anywhere besides on Facebook. To adapt to the tragedy of losing most of the pictures, I guess I would have to salvage as many photos as I could find and turn to printing out hard copies of each one. It would be back to an era of scrapbooking and non-virtual photo albums.

We would also have to adapt the ways in which we socially interact with each other. We would have to put more effort into keeping in touch with long-distance friends. I guess this will help you determine who your real friends are compared to your inflated list of Facebook friends.

Challenge for anyone who reads this: Take a look at your list of Facebook friends. If you wouldn’t even write a simple “happy birthday ___” to them on their Facebook Timeline on their birthday then are they worth keeping on your friends list?

We are using more than we have…


How many people walk down the academic quad at sunset and take the time to watch as the final rays dance across the Appalachians in the distance? or How many people walk down that same path with their heads lowered into their phones, absorbed in their texting just trying to get to the next place as quickly as possible?

Alf Siewers, at the 10am Sustainability as Concept panel, described the situation above. So many people are wrapped up in the notion that they have to get to the next place, to the next location, as quickly as possible. We are losing sight of the beauty that surrounds us, and this fast-pace lifestyle is damaging to our society and our environment. He argued the point that loss of sustainability today is correlated to a loss of meaningfulness. Our current unsustainable approach to living on this Earth can be blamed upon a failure of imagination on our part.

This panel addressed the concept of sustainability in general and also in the context of the business world. But what really is sustainable development? Well, for the most part, the term means that it is development that focuses on having enough for future generations. Sustainable development is meant to reach a balance between resources used and resources regenerated. It is divided up into three different spheres: environmental, social, and economic, in which these spheres have some overlap. The basic goal for sustainable development is to live well within our means.

sustainability-pic

Professor Hendry then spoke about her experience with sustainability within organizations. Just over that last 10 years, she has witnessed firsthand the changes that companies are making to not only be more efficient with their resources but also to transition to “greener” practices. Patagonia, along with other major companies, make it their mission to focus on sustainability and to make a product that lasts. Sustainability matters, plain and simple. The businesses that come to realize this early on, become more efficient, save money, and contribute back to the world in a positive way. Stripping the planet of its natural resources is a path that we will not be able to travel on for too long. Change is happening, but is it happening fast enough?