Thursday, March 04, 2010

Stirring It Up and London Fire

Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World by Gary Hirshberg
Stonyfield yogurt tries to be environmentally friendly. The story of the company would make for a nice business school case study. However, its not enough for a book. So, the author did some web surfing and called on a few friends to fill in details about other companies. (He even has a positive section on Wal-Mart, that he acknowledges came straight from the website.)

This book is 'pop-environmentalism' at its best. It will probably be fairly popular with "green" crowd. After all, it reads like a "who's who" of green companies. However, if your not in to the whole green thing, then you're probably not going to pick up the book anyway.

Which, is somewhat of a shame. Many of the most reasonable "green" things mentioned make basic sense for any business. Paying suppliers a sustainable rate over the long term may cost a little bit more. However, it helps keep the suppliers in business and keeps quality high - which can help cut costs and increase revenue. Reducing and eliminating waste is not as noticable as recycling - however, it provides the greatest monetary benefit.

At times the book even casts blows at "fake greenery" - things that have a green reputation, that really aren't that great. However, the blows tend to be rather soft. The hard blows are saved for the government farm program.

Overall, there is not a whole lot here that could not be obtained from browsing a few websites. The book is fairly well put together, and a quick read. The history of Stonyfield and their "marketing" takes up only about a quarter of the book, with the rest about other companies. While most of the Stonyfield content is at the front, some of the story is told throughout the book, making you read it all to get the full story. Maybe the b-school case study would be better after all.

Neil Hanson: The Great Fire of London
My favorite part was the description of how fires worked and spread. The story of the actual fire started pretty much with the day of the fire and ended with a Frenchman being hanged for it. The brief sections before barely give us a before and after picture. The actual fire story is based heavily on original journals and at time starts to feel like reading a jorunal.

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