Honey bees pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US.  For that we should have a lot of gratitude for apis mellifera.

However, as some of you know, they have been dying in droves.

In a recent posting from the Quartz blog (recommended), they say “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) … has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying…

“When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight (agricultural) chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.”

We’re not an agricultural blog, nor a chemical blog, nor a (purely) business blog.  But we do want to help people connect the dots between sustainability issues (such as biological diversity and species loss) to the day-to-day operations of business (such as farming), and the projects (such as research projects to investigate this, or the launch of a new pesticide).

We think that unfortunate statistics like this should (excuse the pun) sting a little bit, and serve as an aid to understanding these connections.  Think of it as “b-school’.





Cultural Shift and Project Pivot Points


Management of sustainable development is not a business task that can be delegated to one team or one individual: it involves a strategic and cultural shift for most organizations, says Neil Rotheroe. sector manager for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at certification body NQA.

It needs to be driven by senior management in order to fulfill its true purpose of achieving a rounded approach to management for sustainable development, for the business, for its stakeholders and for the environment.

Business leaders are becoming more aware of the impact their actions are having on society. People have lost and are losing their jobs because of bad management and this is affecting society in a big way.

As project managers, what role do we have in this shift?  To find out, we humbly suggest that you read Chapter 16 in the book by Gilbert Silvius and Jennifer Tharp.  EarthPM happens to have (blush) written that particular chapter, entitled, “Project Manager as a Pivot Point for Implementing Sustainability in an Enterprise”.   You can find the book here.  As we say there, without putting too much pressure on us, we as project managers really play a key role in this cultural shift, located as we are at the junction of strategy and operations.

Read the full story, extracted from the excellent source, here.

And remember to read it keeping in mind your potential role in this shift!



Efficient projects, SMARTER project work


Today, we present a guest post from blogger Roger Gallager

It evokes the SMARTER principle we first proposed in Green Project Management (C) 2010, CRC Press.

SMARTER is made up of the usual SMART objectives:

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound

and our addition of

Environmentally Responsible.  Now, take it away, Roger:


Can Working Efficiently Save the Planet?

Roger Gallager
“Work harder” has been replaced by “work smarter” in the past few years. Depleting resources have inspired companies and offices to maximize productivity while going green. Efficiency has become a key concern in the office to make most of the limited supply. But, can the steps taken by the companies really help the planet? Here are a few smart ways that can increase productivity while making Mother Nature happy.

Going Paperless

Do you still remember how things were done in the 80s and early 90s? You have to hunt down different people to sign tons of paperwork just to communicate with the other team across the hall. Not only is it very inefficient, offices often produce a large amount of paper trash. With the birth of the Cloud, paperless is no longer just a possibility, but a reality. Companies, such as Google, are now taking huge steps in going paperless.


Cloud applications make office communication easier and real time. No need to worry about burying yourself in paperwork as online applications, such as Google Drive or Zoho, already streamline processes in the office. Now more than ever, it is way easier to talk to the production team or the human resources department without setting your foot out the door. Not only you and your team can get to finish tasks efficiently, you are also helping the planet.

Change Your Schedule

Working 9-5 every single week day can be boring. Your creative process may start early in the day and you just spend the rest of the afternoon daydreaming. Or you may spend the first half of your day waking yourself up and start your tasks later. In both cases, your productivity is cut in half which can be critical for your team. Every one of us has different productivity rhythms. Some are morning larks, while others can work late through the night.


Mix things up with your schedule to refresh yourself. You may ask your boss to give you one day of the week to work at home. By relieving yourself of the usual structured day, you can give your mind a breather and take on tasks from a different angle. In the end, you reduce commute time, increase productivity, and the office gets to save on expenses and resources at least once a week. Studies show that a four-day workweek reduces your office’s carbon footprint.

On The Move

Ever dreamt of working in a restaurant with your laptop while sipping coffee? It may no longer be as impossible as you think. Upgrading to laptops or tablets frees you from your cubicle and enables creative thinking. By going mobile, teams can work in their own personal spaces and engage in creative processes. By taking advantage of paperless workflow and mobile devices, it makes it easier to manage projects as assigning tasks and monitoring are done real time, increasing team productivity.


You also save energy consumption by unplugging from the power source. Appliances, such as desktop computers, still use energy even in hibernate mode, also known as “phantom power”. The unused power contributes to the electricity bill and a huge environmental culprit. Laptops and tablets only require power sources when you’re running out of battery, eliminating constant energy usage.


Being smart on how you and your team work can increase productivity and efficiency. Also, using as little resources as possible saves the company a lot of money while doing their part in helping the planet.


What’s the road to Hell paved with, again?



…it’s not asphalt

…it’s not tar

…it’s …it’s “good intentions”.

Interesting that our partner site – People, Planet, Profits, and Projects – is carrying a post about how greenwashing, or at least efforts which are only mildly aimed at true sustainability, sometimes hit the mark, despite their (lack of good) intentions.

This got us thinking about one of those infamous 2 x 2 management matrices in which we look at intention and effectiveness.  Turns out that the P@W post about greenwashing is in one corner of a brand new 2×2 matrix, and this post is at the diagonal opposite of that same matrix.

So first, let’s introduce you to EarthPM’s brand new “paved with good intentions” chart.


In the P@W post, Dave discusses the lower right (or southeast) quadrant.  An initiative which is questionable at best, perhaps marginally green-wash-y, has some effectiveness.  Read the story to learn more about this corner.

Today’s post here at EarthPM is about the upper left (or northwest) quadrant.  Here, all good intentions aside, sometimes these efforts fail to produce the desired effect.

We draw your attention to this article, “Out Of Sorts“, from the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine by Barbara Moran.  In it, Barbara reviews the success – or lack thereof – of some recycling programs, and asks whether the “big blue bins” are really making a difference of any kind.  Or at least, it’s a bit embarrassing for Boston’s program, with our diversion rate, the percentage of waste that is recycled, at 30%, compared to Seattle (for example) which is at 55%.

Since we are more about Project Management then about ‘recycling’ per se, we won’t go into the detail of the article, but we will provide you with a great chart called “A Deeper Dive” that shows what you can do about recycling to improve YOUR effectiveness at your office or home.  A chunk of the chart is provided below:


What we would like to do is to encourage you to have a look at the ‘sustainability’ initiatives in your life – your work and your personal life, that is – and think about where they fit in our handy matrix.  What are you doing that may not have had sustainability as an original goal, but it seems to somehow be getting at that objective?  Where may you have ‘sustainable’ objectives but you’re actually creating more waste?  It’s a pretty nifty thinking tool and it’s worth applying.

Let us know if you have any ‘aha’ moments.

And by the way, stay off of that -ahem- damn road.