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Company Incentives for Going Green? 427

Posted by Cliff
from the may-your-car-exhaust-smell-like-french-fries dept.
Greenie asks: "With fuel costs reaching record highs and more eco-friendly vehicles on the market than ever before, one has to ask, is it making a difference (yet)? NewEnough.com is an online retailer of new and surplus/wholesale motorcycle apparel based in West Texas. Recently, they posted a letter to the public on their website about how they've 'gone green,' and are offering incentives to their employees for switching to modern, fuel efficient vehicles (hybrid electric, diesel, bio-diesel...). While the specifics of their incentive program were not discussed, has anyone ever heard of larger companies offering a similar incentive program? According to Fortune.com, Wal-Mart is the largest employer in America. If Wal-Mart, McDonalds, UPS, GM, and Ford, the five companies that Fortune lists as having the most employees, all offered a similar incentive, more than 2,865,700 people would be eligible for incentive to go green. That could really start to make a difference for the environment. Now imagine the environmental benefit of every company in America making this same incentive offer..."
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Company Incentives for Going Green?

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  • Going green (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:02PM (#13867409) Homepage Journal

    If they really want to push more efficient automobiles, perhaps we could wean the American preference for the large SUV? I wrote about this some time ago here [utah.edu], talking about small car companies like Smart who really should be looking harder at the American market and employing creative marketing approaches to specific markets that would be most receptive to the small car.

    Of course a real way of going "green" would be to simply make it easier for people to telecommute. We saw a huge interest in telecommuting a couple of years ago, but since then, many corporations have cut back on telecommuting or reversed earlier policies.

    Programs to make broadband more ubiquitous and accessible would enable inexpensive video conferencing technologies (like iChat with an iSight), audio conferencing and the ability to be persistently available, which could be a bad thing for salaried employees though :-)

    • Re:Going green (Score:3, Informative)

      by liquidpele (663430)
      It's really not so much the SUV's and trucks as the auto makers being lazy and not making them fuel efficient, and they buying congressmen to leave loopholes for them so they can continue to use cheaper parts for less efficient vehicles.

      ford failes [ran.org]
      more bad stuff [truthout.org]
      difference in EPA and Consumer reports testing [consumerreports.org]
      etc etc etc
      • So the real solution is to throw out corrupt congressmen who sell their votes for money, whores and nice vacations.
      • Re:Going green (Score:5, Insightful)

        by philipgar (595691) <pcg2&lehigh,edu> on Monday October 24, 2005 @09:24PM (#13868355) Homepage
        The auto companies have no incentive to make their SUVs more fuel efficient? Are you retarded? With gas between $2.50 and $3 a gallon the auto manufacturers are starting to see the incentive. SUV's have sold poorly since gas rose in price. The reason is obvious, consumers don't like paying so much in fuel costs, and when gas is $2.50 a gallon they start to think more about getting something that is more fuel efficient.

        If you want the majority of cars sold to be extremely fuel efficient the easiest way would be to artificially increase the costs of gas through taxation. If gas were $10/gallon with no chance of lowering people would A: Drive a lot less, and B: when they purchase a new car the fuel economy would be much more important to them.

        The thing is the cost of ownership of a new car is kind of hard to judge, and depends how long people will be driving it. Assuming a 7 year ownership (beyond that it gets much more complex due to the car breaking down etc) we get a yearly cost of about (Purchase cost)/7 + yearly insurance cost + (Miles Driven/year)*(Cost of a gallon of gas)/(MPG). For many people if they actually did the math it works out that even with gas being $2.50/gallon it's cheaper not to buy a hybrid car! Wasn't there a study not too long ago showing that?

        Of course people don't really use these equations when buying a car, but many rough estimates are considered, and it's probably remarkably accurate. Of course than the category of car (how fancy, status symbol, etc) come into play as well. But even than gas prices will likely factor into the purchase (unless the person is wealthy enough that they wouldn't bat an eyelash at paying $20/gallon).

        That being said I'm completely against the whole idea of the government getting that involved with the affair. As far as companies giving incentives to employees. . . WHY the hell would they? If Walmart gave employees credits for buying hybrids they'd either have to pay their employees less, or raise prices or profits. Does that make any sense to them? I don't know what world /. thinks we're living on, but without an incentive to do this there's no reason a company would. Maybe some small operation who's owners are willing to lose profit (or their employees are willing to lose some pay) will follow this, but I can't forsee the major company's doing this. Of course the government could do this, but this essentially works into pay cuts for everybody and a benefit to those who buy the hybrids. Of course who gets helped the most by the deal .. . those who drive THE MOST!!! Those are the ones with the most incentive to get a more fuel efficient car.

        Phil
        • Re:Going green (Score:3, Informative)

          by Saanvik (155780)
          You said,

          Assuming a 7 year ownership (beyond that it gets much more complex due to the car breaking down etc) we get a yearly cost of about (Purchase cost)/7 + yearly insurance cost + (Miles Driven/year)*(Cost of a gallon of gas)/(MPG). For many people if they actually did the math it works out that even with gas being $2.50/gallon it's cheaper not to buy a hybrid car!

          Unless the insurance on a hybrid is much higher than on a non-hybrid, your math is way off.

          Honda Civic Hybrid: 49 mpg city, 51 mpg highw

          • Re:Going green (Score:3, Interesting)

            by philipgar (595691)
            First a couple flaws in your math. The government gives a tax break of $2000 . . . That doesn't equate to $2000 in your pocket. That means that if after other credits you "earned" $50,000 the goverenment is only going to tax you on $48,000. Unless you're in the 100% tax bracket that doesn't work into a $2000 savings. Plus this savings is only for this year.

            Assuming the person is paying 30% in taxes that works into a in hand cash savings of about $600.

            $4540-$600=3940, over 7 years thats a difference of
    • Re:Going green (Score:3, Insightful)

      by punxking (721508)
      If they really want to push more efficient automobiles, perhaps we could wean the American preference for the large SUV?

      Boy am I all for smaller cars and getting people to give up their SUVs (although I'm certainly not holding my breath). It's frustrating to see so many of these (ahem) "sport" vehicles that will never go off a city street and almost always have one person driving sans any passengers. What's the point? My wife and I finally gave in and bought a minivan recently, not because we needed that
      • Please indulge me and let me be an ass: Minivans are about as bad as many SUVs as far as MPG- why they get a free pass, I'll never know.
        Please- climb off your high horse- No one else needs a large vehicle, but you can justify yours... I am not trying to be a dick, but many who have big vehicles think they need one, but no one else does....
        Many people with SUVs have kids...
        Dodge Caravan: City Mileage: 19-20 mpg
        Dodge Durango: City Mileage: 14-16 mpg
        Buick Terraza: City Mileage: 17-18 mpg
        Chevy Uplander:
        • Re:Going green (Score:4, Insightful)

          by supabeast! (84658) on Monday October 24, 2005 @10:45PM (#13868723)
          "...Minivans are about as bad as many SUVs as far as MPG- why they get a free pass, I'll never know..."

          Minivans get a pass because people who drive them do so out of necessity, while most SUV buyers get them as a status symbol. When was the last time you saw someone driving around town, alone, in a Luxury-branded minivan with 20 inch magnesium wheels? The minivan is a sign of dedicated parents willing to drive a car that handles like a yacht, while an SUV is a sign of some asshole dumping money into a depreciating asset.
    • the SmartCar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:17PM (#13867504)
      Look, as much as I love the idea of the SmartCar, no way in hell am I going to be driving one on the roads around here, with all the monster SUVs on the road. I'm green, but I'm not suicidal!

      Some better ideas are coming along shortly, though. VW is coming out with their "twin-charger" engine cars (Polo & Golf, and in 2008, a Scirocco successor, possibly named the Rivo). A twin-charter Polo may get up to 69mpg - on gasoline.

      Another idea is to use an efficient diesel auto - like the TDI Volkswagens currently available in most U.S. states. The TDI Jetta & Golf can get over 45mpg (some get slightly over 50; depends on how you drive, I imagine). Since these are diesels, you can run them on biodiesel and not only get great gas mileage, but also have much-improved emissions at the same time.

      VW recently announced they're switching to common-rail diesels, so as to improve emissions.

      And all this without resorting to an overly-expensive (not that VW is cheap, mind), overly-complex, not-so-safe-for-emergency-workers hybrid.

      I'm really hoping that hydrogen injection system, H2N-Gen, actually comes to market and works as advertised. This is a device that injects hydrogen into the cylinders during combustion to enable around 97% of the fuel to be burned, thus almost eliminating emissions; should work on any internal combustion engine (gas, diesel, or natural gas). Let's hope it's also relatively affordable. "Another fine Canadian product (based on an American invention)"

      I now return you to your regularly-scheduled Slashwhining, already in progress...
      • Re:the SmartCar (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        There's lots of reasons to consider bio-diesel:
        - cleaner burning
        - more efficient, so you use less fuel, and create less CO2
        - The canola or soy oil is probably locally produced so you're not contributing to the trade deficit
        - ...or funding governments you may not want to fund.
        - The canola/soy plants used up some CO2 when they were growing, so you can argue its green-house gas neutral
        - if you're not burning petroleum you're helping delay "peak oil" and soften the blow to our economy
      • If you get a Smart, you can get around using ZERO gas. How is that you ask? Put it in the bed of my truck.
      • Re:the SmartCar (Score:5, Informative)

        by mmurphy000 (556983) on Monday October 24, 2005 @08:22PM (#13867984)
        And all this without resorting to an overly-expensive (not that VW is cheap, mind), overly-complex, not-so-safe-for-emergency-workers hybrid.

        Let's take that one at a time.

        overly-expensive

        Overly expensive compared to, what? There are plenty of car models that are more expensive than the most popular hybrids (Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid). Besides, if somebody wants to plunk down hybrid-sized money for a hybrid, that's their choice.

        overly-complex

        Overly complex compared to, what? Yes, they're different than a regular car engine. Kinda like a manual transmission is different from an automatic transmission, a catalytic converter is different from a carburetor, and an electric start is different from that godawful hand crank the Model T's used. Considering that the repair track record for the hybrids, as reported by Consumers Union and others, is pretty stellar, it's not clear how this incremental complexity is causing anyone much trouble.

        not-so-safe-for-emergency-workers

        Not as safe as, what? It's not like a tankful of gasoline is exactly the epitome of safety. Yes, there are new challenges for emergency workers. Yes, it will take time for emergency workers to be as used to hybrids as other types of cars. This is similar to emergency workers having to deal with undeployed air bags, particularly in new locations (e.g., side-curtain), and their possible accidental deployment in dealing with a wreck. Emergency workers have to adapt to new technology frequently — hybrids are just another change.

        • Re:the SmartCar (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @08:36PM (#13868084)
          >> overly-expensive
          > Overly expensive compared to, what?

          Compared to their non-hybrid versions. (for hybrids that have non-hybrid counterparts (Civic, Accord, Escape, etc.), the hybrid version is always more expensive, if not much more so.

          >> overly-complex
          > Overly complex compared to, what? Yes, they're different than a regular car engine.

          Compared to a regular car. What else would I have been referring to?

          >> not-so-safe-for-emergency-workers
          > Not as safe as, what? It's not like a tankful of gasoline is exactly the epitome of safety.

          And a hybrid has one of those as well.
          • overly-complex (Score:3, Insightful)

            by falconwolf (725481)

            Overly complex compared to, what? Yes, they're different than a regular car engine.

            Compared to a regular car. What else would I have been referring to?

            Compared to a "regular car" in what year? I had a 1976 Chevey Monti Carlo I removed the engine from, dismantled then rebuilt the engine in my yard. I did the same for a 1979 Chevey Luv truck's transmission. I wouldn't even attempt to do these on new cars in a shop. If I were to attempt to on my Saturn, I'd need special tools to do anything, forget

        • Re:the SmartCar (Score:5, Informative)

          by lucifuge31337 (529072) <daryl@introspec t . net> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @06:47AM (#13870411) Homepage
          not-so-safe-for-emergency-workers

          Not as safe as, what? It's not like a tankful of gasoline is exactly the epitome of safety. Yes, there are new challenges for emergency workers. Yes, it will take time for emergency workers to be as used to hybrids as other types of cars. This is similar to emergency workers having to deal with undeployed air bags, particularly in new locations (e.g., side-curtain), and their possible accidental deployment in dealing with a wreck. Emergency workers have to adapt to new technology frequently -- hybrids are just another change.


          First, I'd like to apologize for posting on /. and actually knowing what I'm talking about.
          Second, I've been a firefighter for 14 years (most of them volunteer), and a state (PA) certified VRT (vehicle rescue technician) for years.

          Yes, hybrids cause problems for us. When we pull up on one we have to pull our the emergency response guide for the vehicle to know where we can cut. We had to re-train on them so we don't get killed.
          That being said, I'd rather cut a hybrid apart any day than a newer Mercedes or Range Rover (and increasing other vehicles) with airbags ALL OVER THE PLACE. They're in the A posts, in the B posts, in the doors, in the roof. You name the spot, there's a pyro that has already fired, or worse yet, has not fired that you do NOT want to be cutting into. And which very likely may fire at any time after an accident (disconnecting the battery is not enough....some air bag systems take in excess of 15 minutes after being disconnected to be "safe".....15 minutes you DO NOT HAVE when you're trying to get critical patients out). It's much more hazardous than hybrids, which typically involve shutting the "ignition" off, and pulling the high voltage fuses, usually located in the trunk. The high voltage battery is typically surrounded by steel, and is typically located behing the back seat. This is an area which is very unlikely to be deformed by mechanical damage in any kind of colision other than one so sever it just rpis the whole car apart, making the whole extracation thing more of a body recovery/get out the coal shovel exercise anyway.

          So, that being said, if you want to try to protect firefighters who are performing vehicle rescues, don't get rid of airbags, don't get rid of hybrids.....SLOW THE HELL DOWN when you approach an emergency scene and GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY when we need to pass you. Oh...and don't do stupid things that make us come rescue you in the first place.
      • I'm really hoping that hydrogen injection system, H2N-Gen, actually comes to market and works as advertised. This is a device that injects hydrogen into the cylinders during combustion to enable around 97% of the fuel to be burned, thus almost eliminating emissions; should work on any internal combustion engine (gas, diesel, or natural gas).

        As I know, hydrogen embrittlement effects steel. I'm not sure how it effects cast iron, forged piston heads, rings, or valves. I tried doing a search on google about thi
    • Re:Going green (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Arandir (19206) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:20PM (#13867515) Homepage Journal
      Of course a real way of going "green" would be to simply make it easier for people to telecommute. We saw a huge interest in telecommuting a couple of years ago, but since then, many corporations have cut back on telecommuting or reversed earlier policies.

      Bingo. The idea that companies should offer incentives for "green" cars is bizarre, because there is no benefit to the company for employees having "green" cars. Companies are not in the business of pure philanthropy, neither are they social experiments. For a small company it might be possible if enough of the shareholders lean one way or another politically, but it's not viable for larger companies.

      It's one thing for a company to organize a weekend charity drive, but to actually redirect revenues towards political posturing is nuts. If the cost savings for fuel efficient cars isn't enough incentive for employees, then maybe they're not the global panacea everyone says they are.

      But telecommuting *benefits* the company, so it makes sense to encourage it for those jobs where its practical.
      • Re:Going green (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TapeCutter (624760)
        "there is no benefit to the company for employees having "green" cars."

        Society benifits so the company does too, however the benifit is not cash so it doesn't make their bottom line look good.

        "it might be possible if enough of the shareholders lean one way or another politically," Pepole from all across the political spectrum are "green", but somehow in the USA it is a "Liberal" idea.

        But I think you are right, I doubt it will take off and TFA is probably just a gimmick to advertise motorbikes.
    • Re:Going green (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Easy, just put up fuel prices. In the UK, we are paying around 90p per litre - around $6 per gallon [google.com]. If people were paying that sort of price, then they might be more keen to drive something that gets more than 20 miles per gallon.

      Ideally, this should be coupled with non-profitmaking public transport, which is exempt from fuel tax.

      • Re:Going green (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Heian-794 (834234) on Monday October 24, 2005 @08:11PM (#13867897) Homepage

        Easy, just put up fuel prices. In the UK, we are paying around 90p per litre - around $6 per gallon. If people were paying that sort of price, then they might be more keen to drive something that gets more than 20 miles per gallon.

        Ideally, this should be coupled with non-profitmaking public transport, which is exempt from fuel tax.

        "Simply" taxing fuel more won't help the average person unless those taxes go directly towards your second proposal of public transport, and these taxpayers get to weigh the costs and benefits of driving their own cars. The public transport has to be available to a significant-enough percentage of the population, otherwise the people out in the sticks are still stuck driving their cars, only now they have to pay even more for fuel.

        In a small country like England, this might be feasible, but in the US and Canada you just can't plan train and bus routes over the vast expanses of places like Wyoming. For people out there, driving is the best solution (and pollution is less of a factor in their air quality, given the lower density of cars).

        How about variable fuel taxes based on the proximity of public transportation?

    • Not so convinced about telecommuting - as someone with the option of working from home, I still go to the office almost everyday. I find it easier to work, the space is better organised (although lack of any formal office space at home obviously doesn't help), and I actually quite like getting out of the house.

      It's very useful if I'm mildly ill (and particularly good for not giving everyone else whatever I've got), waiting for a parcel or similar, but that's about it.

      I should add, I walk to work, so environ
    • Arggh- Jesus, I am sick of the "Fuel Efficient" car thing. We need to get away from the whole "I get 200 mpg so I am better than you" thing. It needs to be about total personal energy consumption. I drive a Ford F350 (I plow snow in the winter as a second job, but thats another story- get your fuel efficient car into the lot at your job when it has snowed 2 feet over night and it hasn't plowed... then tell me to get something more fuel efficient). I get about 12-15 mpg around town. But guess what? I live 2
      • Re:Going green (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)
        Translation: I've got this mother fucking hog of a vehicle, and I want to come up with some outrageous bits of hyperbole to justify me still driving the vehicle that ultimately gives Middle Eastern despots control over my country, pollutes the atmosphere and is starting to make my pocket book and the overall economy crumble.
        • Sometimes, I find it hard to express my somewhat complicated reaction to something someone else has said. And sometimes, someone else comes along and states exactly what you're thinking, only in a far more creative and poigniant fashion than you could.

          I wish I drank coffee, and had some in my mouth, so I could tell you that I spat it all over my desk. Kudos, my friend.

      • I live 2 (two) miles from my job!!! neener neener neener, I live about a mile and walk, so color me jolly green also lost 15 pounds this year so at 52 I'm weighing less than I did in High School while playing football. 2 Miles is easy bicycle range even with snow on the ground, do it because It'll make you feel better and you can still laugh at the enviro-nazi's.
        • You sir, have a better alarm clock than I do- walking would mean getting up half an hour earlier, and possibly death as there are no sidewalks and it is a 45 MPH road, and this time of year, it is dark at commuting time. I walk sometimes. Plus, walking would mean an hour less a day with my family- I won't give up an hour a day with my fam to save a couple gallons of gas a week....
          You are however welcome to give me shit, since you actually walk... I get crap from someone at work because I drive a truck and
    • Re:Going green (Score:3, Interesting)

      by happyemoticon (543015)

      If they really want to push more efficient automobiles, perhaps we could wean the American preference for the large SUV?

      Completely the right way to go. If you live in a typical geek habitat like the SF area or Seattle, you don't realize how much people in Arizona, Southern California and the midwestern states prize their SUVs. A friend of mine went to visit some distant relatives out in Phoenix and was astonished that each adult owned a minivan or a Suburban. There was only one person in the entire gath

      • Re:Going green (Score:3, Informative)

        by davesag (140186)
        If you really must drive an SUV then at least be good enough to pay for the environmental damage you are doing. I pay a monthly subscription to buy enough carbon credits to offset all of my personal greenhouse gas emissions. But I guess I should, as I am a part owner of one of the few companies in the world that retails CO2 credits to individuals. I don't drive a car unless on holidays. I live in Amsterdam and ride a bike. I don't shop at supermarkets, I go to the farmers' markets on my bike every weeke
    • Re:Going green (Score:4, Informative)

      by deacon (40533) on Monday October 24, 2005 @09:40PM (#13868424) Journal
      If they really want to push more efficient automobiles, perhaps we could wean the American preference for the large SUV?

      Let's not lose track of how we got to where we are now.

      Gov mileage quotas spelled the doom of a vehicle that many people wanted:

      The Station Wagon [google.com]

      Or the Shooting Brake [google.com] for EUians.

      Look at an SUV today: 4 doors and a tailgate/hatchback.

      Now look at those station wagon images I linked..

      Only diff is that the station wagon is 3 feet (1 meter) lower and will not roll over at the drop of a hat.

      SUVs are a seperate mileage catagory from cars, and by moving the "station-wagon" product from the car catagory to the truck catagory, automobile makers managed to provide what people wanted to buy and avoid that pesky mileage/safety regulation.

      It's a classic case of unintended consequences of regulation: A regular station wagon could be less heavy, more fuel efficient, and less likely to roll over than its replacement, the SUV. The station wagon is dead, thanks to CAFE regulation. The SUV has sprung up to replace it, since it is a "truck" and exempt.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    In fact, if you wear a green cardigan on Saint Patrick's Day, you could win a team spirit award.
  • Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by ornil (33732) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:06PM (#13867425)
    Google benefits page [google.com]: Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Incentive Program
  • by FatSean (18753) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:08PM (#13867429) Homepage Journal
    They don't care, the factories in China that produce the majority of WalMart's goods spew pollution wholesale.
    • Are there pollution taxes in the USA? If the goods had been made there, then would they have been taxed? If so, then perhaps it would be a good idea to apply pollution tax to imports as well, with a rebate if the manufacturer could prove that they had already paid pollution tax in the country of origin. Goods manufactured in countries that agreed to impose similar pollution taxes would be automatically exempt.
  • Ummm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Otter (3800) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:08PM (#13867431) Journal
    Sorry, do Wal-Mart and McDonalds really seem like companies that are likely to give hefty bonuses to their employees to buy a Prius? Good question, though...

    Meanwhile, shouldn't employees at a motorcycle leathers maker ride, uh, motorcycles? Or does "motorcycle" nowadays just mean sticking an Orange County Choppers sticker on the rear window of your SUV and going home to watch TV shows about motorcycles?

    • Or does "motorcycle" nowadays just mean sticking an Orange County Choppers sticker on the rear window of your SUV and going home to watch TV shows about motorcycles?

      Funny. Truly funny and one of the reasons I enjoy reading your posts.

    • Re:Ummm... (Score:3, Informative)

      by periol (767926)
      You can affordably retrofit a motorcycle [rqriley.com] to run on an electric engine. Your mockery aside, it is the most feasible way for an average person to green up their morning commute (not that many people will do it, but I am considering it).
    • Being a big fan of NewEnough, and having bought all my leathers from them, quit being a doofus. Do you think the folks working there wouldn't love to ride a motorcycle to work every day? Do you think, maybe, they might have to pick up a child after work, or even carpool? Also, sometimes it rains, even in Texas, and not everyone enjoy riding in the rain.

      Motorcycling is different things to different people. I know there are some mornings where I certainly wouldn't want to get on the bike; cars are simply easi
  • by Kinky Bass Junk (880011) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:08PM (#13867437)
    Maybe it would help if the Government endorsed green fuels a little more. Here in Australia, we have a Government that taxes extremely highly, but doesn't provide any incentives to green fuel companies.
  • The incentives... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drmike0099 (625308) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:09PM (#13867443)
    Wal-mart: Buy a smaller car, cuz next week we're going to start paying you less.
    McDonald's: Buy our salads and lose weight; it will cut your fuel costs by not dragging your fat butt (which you must have got at Burger King and not here) around.
    UPS: Don't take it there and waste gas yourself, pay us to.
    GM and Ford: Trade in that old, fuel-inefficient sedan for a new, advanced-fuel-utilization sport-utility vehicle. You know you want to!

    Not just to mock this, but what incentives do these companies really have for their bottom line that would inspire them to make this an issue? As a rule, top companies stay out of potentially politically-charged issues, and this is, unfortunately, one of those.
  • by fossa (212602) <.ten.xmg. .ta. .7tap.> on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:10PM (#13867448) Journal

    My father mentioned that his employer offered a rebate to employees who biked to work four days per week (I believe on the premise that biking to work to reduced parking lot crowding, but I can't remember the details).

    I know that my city offers a rebate if one purchases a water saving washing machine (I live in a dry area). It seems cities should offer a similar rebate to those who bike to work (less traffic impact, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution), or those who drive cleaner cars (less pollution). Proving one bikes/walks/etc. to work may be too difficult... Or perhaps the cost of roads is already built into vehicle registration.

    • Why should the goverment give you a gift (from other taxpayers) for a low water washing machine? It'd be better if they didn't subsidize the water to the point that it is almost free. Then your water saving washer would pay for itself, and more people would be encouraged by their own self interst into buying them.

      Stop looking for handouts for doing the right thing. Lobby to have the goverment stop keeping the price of doing the wrong thing artifically low.
    • Or perhaps the cost of roads is already built into vehicle registration.


      Ha! Not likely :-) I don't think that $100 registration fee comes anywhere NEAR covering the enormous cost of building and maintaining roads in the USA...

      I bike to work as well, for what it's worth. Ten miles round trip each day. I try to do most of my other errands by bike or metro (subway) as well.
    • It seems cities should offer a similar rebate to those who bike to work (less traffic impact, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution), or those who drive cleaner cars (less pollution).

      They already do. Most state road systems are paid for through the gasoline tax, which means that if you use less gas (either by driving a hybrid or riding a bicycle), you're automatically not getting taxed as much.
  • by rgoldste (213339) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:11PM (#13867456)
    "If Wal-Mart, McDonalds, UPS, GM, and Ford, the five companies that Fortune lists as having the most employees, all offered a similar incentive..."

    Recall that Ford and GM missed the hybrid boat big time, and are now struggling to catch up with Honda and Toyota (who are developing prototype hydrogen cars already). Further, the Ford Escape hybrid (Ford's first hybrid), while technically a hybrid, has roughly the same fuel efficiency as the standard model; the electric engine is used to better performance, not efficiency. Thus, it's not clear how much green benefit society would get from Ford employees buying Ford hybrids.

    Something tells me that Ford and GM wouldn't subsidize purchasing their competitors' cars, especially given their dire financial situation. Don't expect Ford and GM to jump on this bandwagon.
  • That would be a step in the right direction. However, the added costs of buying a hybrid car still don't outweigh the money saved on gas. Not to mention, most employees of Wal-mart and McDonalds probably don't have a lot of money to be throwing around, regardless of their view of the environment.

    So, if you could offer an incentive that would be enough to counterbalance those factors, then you might have something. Until then, saving the environment will be left to those of us who have the luxury of spend
  • Paternalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:11PM (#13867459)
    Is anyone else bothered by all these paternalistic, lead-the-unwashed-masses-by-the-hand approaches? Just give me my salary and I'll decide how I want to spend it. I'll make an exception for little things done in the name of tax efficiency though (buying bus passes for employees because it's a business tax deduction, etc), and even then only until the Flat Tax [stanford.edu] can be passed (alas, it won't be by President Bush).
    • Okay. Now do that without oxygen.
    • Re:Paternalism (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Foamy (29271)
      Just give me my salary and I'll decide how I want to spend it.

      I'm sure you'll be more than happy to go out with all your tax savings and personally do things like, oh, build interstates, build electricity distribution networks to *everyone*, research, design and implement military weapons systems, create regulations that provide clean drinking water and food products, pay for basic research and development in the Sciences, educate our citizens, police our borders, train spies and intelligence agents, make
  • Man, I got fired from my last job because of the green...
  • They have the best customer service, the best prices, and their product pages are some of the most useful I've seen. It's a company that is run by actual, real-life people, and there's a lot to be said for that.

    That said, I wonder why they didn't include the discount for those who commute to work on their (40mpg+) motorcycle? It's Texas, so that should be feasible year-round.
    • How about a discount for those that drive 5 miles instead of 25 miles? Fewer miles means more overall savings then a higher MPG.
      • How about a discount for those that drive 5 miles instead of 25 miles?

        I imagine that the discount would be designed to relocate people and their families closer to the workplace. In order for that to happen, the discount would have to be deep enough to cover the higher rent on living space that's close to job sites. Besides, now you've just replaced commuting to work with commuting to your kids' school, or is your partner staying home so that she can home-school the kids?

  • A lot more companies could go green in a different way - encourage their employees to turn off their lights and monitors when they leave (yeah, I know, ya gotta SSH/RDC, so leave the machine on...)

    This would save a lot more energy than expecting employees to buy a new car just because they get a bit of an incentive.
  • by djrogers (153854) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:15PM (#13867482)
    Basic economics - if The 5 companies you mentioned offered incentinves to their 2.7million workers, we the customers of said companies would be the ones paying for it. This is simply wealth redistribution on a corporate level, and I doubt we'll see much of it...

    Frankly, if I wanted to support 'greenism' at the cash register, I'd buy MYSELF a green fueled car. I don't really want to buy one for someone else, so I'd probably wind up looking up at companies whose prices aren't inflated by such things...

  • I've heard numerous times that it's cheaper in terms of energy to buy a used and inefficient car than to have a factory manufacture a new gree car... Thoughts?

  • For sure! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) *
    Oh hell yes, lets do! If there is an area of our private lives that the Federal, State now local government can't find a way to micromanage for us, by all means lets bully private industry into doing it instead. I'm a fscking moron who could never make a sensible decision on my own so please have someone else make it for me.

    Yea, right. The fact that crap like this makes the front page of slashdot instead of being silently deleted along with black helicopter chaser posts that I'm sure they get a hundred o
  • Because of rising gas prices, SUV popularity has dropped substantially. If companies want to improve the environment, they should invest r&d money into more energy friendly products. I don't really see the incentive to encouraging employees to "be green" for a company, since this costs money, and there's no return on the money, other than marketing your company as environmentally friendly.
    • I agree, is it even the company's best interest to pay their employees to go green? Shouldn't there be tax incentives instead? Maybe lowering the cost of state registration/title/wheel taxes for energy efficient vehicles? To me, this is pretty far out of the scope of a business. Making their own vehicles energy efficient as UPS and Fedex have done is one thing, but throwing money away to employees for this is a bad move for the bottom line. If the world wants to go green, make the cost and effort to sw
    • This is the best answer here. If something is really more efficient, it will be cheaper to operate and own in the long term. If the goverment or a company has to subsidize something, it's probably not efficient enough for the free market (ie. ethanol)
  • Greenbacks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:26PM (#13867561) Homepage Journal
    In California there's a market for "landfill credits". Corporations get landfill credits they spend when filling land with waste. They can trade their unused credits in a market. I used to work for a recycling company that was paid to haul off several shipping containers each week from Silicon Valley firms, which then traded that volume in credits for cash. Big "customers" of ours included Apple, HP, IBM, Lockheed, Bank of America. We resold and recycled all that material, redistributing technology around the Pacific Rim in partnership with our Phillipine and Australian branches. California managed its landfill expansion, corporations had a market for their participation, material got distributed more around the world, and we made a bundle. And I got to play with the craziest Frankenstein lab ever, right on the shore of the San Francisco Bay - even buying my first BMW for $300 as "salvage" - and my first SGIs and VAX, too, along with all kinds of Akihabara-grade tech mutants. The landfill market monetized the hidden costs of the product lifecycle which otherwise would be paid by everyone in pollution costs, while still making clear that "we're all in it together". When the actual costs are included in the economy, the incentives for "going Green" are simple and obvious.
  • It would be far more convenient to live for ten days at work, working sixteen hours each day, and then take twenty days off, repeating the cycle every month. One could then take twelve vacations per year.
  • There are basicly two Americas now: the red states (rednecks) and the blue states (blue noses). This isn't a state division so much as it is an urban vs. rural/suburban division. Its roots go back to the division between the original settlers of the USA who came two-three hundred years ago and the people whose ancestors immigrated here a hundred years ago.

    The reds are not going to go green - ecology - earth-friendly - global-consciousness or whatever you want to call it. They are direct d
    • There are basicly two Americas now: the red states (rednecks) and the blue states (blue noses). This isn't a state division so much as it is an urban vs. rural/suburban division. Its roots go back to the division between the original settlers of the USA who came two-three hundred years ago and the people whose ancestors immigrated here a hundred years ago.

      Im from New York. Turst me when I say that a lot of people there drive SUVs. Trust me when I say that most people drive SUVs and shop at Wal-Mart.

  • by Chalex (71702) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:36PM (#13867625) Homepage
    A number of economists agree that the simple tactic (from your intro microeconomics class) of imposing a tax on the consumption of gasoline will do a lot more social good than harm. You can read more about it at the excellent blog http://www.env-econ.net/ [env-econ.net]

    Of course, no one wants to pay even more for gasoline! Many Americans don't realize that they already pay much less than people in other parts of the world.
  • Haha... right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lewp (95638) * on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:37PM (#13867635) Journal
    Because the only thing standing in the way of the Wal-Mart "associate" with 2 kids working for minimum wage 31 hours per week or the 16 year old kid flipping burgers at McDonald's buying a US$21,000 Prius is the lack of corporate incentives. Sure both companies have their share of white collar work force, but let's keep in mind who the vast majority of the foot soldiers are.

    Unless those corporate incentives amounted to about US$20,990 I don't think so. Half these people would kill for any reliable transportation, much less some slick hybrid. Give it ten years for plenty of them to leak into the used market, then we'll talk.
  • by technoextreme (885694) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:38PM (#13867643)
    Ooo wait. They all ready have. I can get my home installed with solar cells and New York State will pick up the tab.
  • Corporations should not be doing "green" things for the sake of the environment, they should be doing it for the sake of their bottom lines. The fact is [rmi.org], increasing operating efficiency will not only reduce energy use and ultimately green house gas emissions, it can also significantly reduce operating costs and increase profit.
  • Natural Incentives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday October 24, 2005 @07:40PM (#13867660) Journal
    Why not let capitalism be the incentive?

    As fuel prices increase, everyone has an incentive to do _something_ that reduces their fuel consumption, walking, better mpg, moving home etc.

    The government should be the ones nudging the course of the economy and environment by taxing fuel and penalising pollution the right amount. For too long *some* countries in the world (no names) have been taking fuel for granted, im sorry but you just cant all spend your life driving everywhere you go in a 12 mpg truck, the economics of that lifestyle on mass are just not compatible with the worlds resources and atmosphere, your hummer is causing a deficit somewhere, and somehow that deficit needs to be collected, whether its from fuel tax, emissions ratings or whatever.

    Yeah I know in reality capitalism probably doesn't work like that, but there is definitely something wrong when I can't afford to have a car because in my country the costs are through the roof and in other countries you can't afford not to have a car because the costs are so low.
  • How about if we give up on stop-gap measures that won't do a damn thing, and we find a way to solve the energy question once and for all? I'm never going to drive in some small deathmobile. Civilization will continue to march on. And I hate all the manipulation in the "green" movement where gestures mean more than reality (e.g., on balance, recycling paper creates more pollution than it saves, but no one cares).

    There is nothing intrinsically "destroying" about using energy. The world has more than enough

  • Giving incentives to "go green" is noble, but I wonder if such incentives really make sense economically and if they really are making the right kind of difference in terms of the environment. The fact that given the choice of sticking with your current vehicle, already paid for, and switching to a hybrid or newer car involves a cost that wouldn't be recovered for something like 100,000 miles for the average car owner. Furthermore efforts such as electic or even hybrid cars, as popular as the media makes
  • Tim Hortons is basically our juggernaut, and they still encourage the purchase of disposable cups which end up littering our highways, rather then giving a discount for bringing your own cup.
  • Keep dreaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Monday October 24, 2005 @08:00PM (#13867828)
    "...if Wal-Mart, McDonalds, UPS, GM, and Ford, the five companies that Fortune lists as having the most employees, all offered a similar incentive"

    Most Wal-Mart employees are limited to fewer than 32 hours of work per week simply to avoid giving them any benefits, so I doubt they'll offer up any enviromentally friendly car benefits soon, not that most Wal-Mart employees could afford a new car on their salaries in the first place. McDonald's is even less likely to hand out benefits - especially since a large number of McDonald's employees work at franchises, and doesn't pay well enough for most of it's employees to afford a car at all. GM is on the verge of bankruptcy and slashing benefits, while Ford isn't too far behind, as they're about to announce plant closings and thousands of job cuts. UPS pays pretty well and has great benefits, but their employees generally work long hours as drivers, so UPS would do better by just using greener delivery trucks.

    This one isn't going to happen any time in the near future, and between rising health care costs and the continuing demise of American manufacturing, corporate America isn't too likely to jump on this one in the near future. What's really going to drive adoption of green products is Chinese production of them for use in China as they start dealing with the environmental impact of their population. Once China starts pumping out mass quantities of hybrid car batteries, solar cells, and fuel cells, all at dirt cheap prices, humans can enter a new age of green living.
  • interesting technology being developed in sweden.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4112926.st m [bbc.co.uk]
    (first biogas train)

    basically its using the parts even macdonalds wouldnt use.
    organic matter rots produces gas that can be used as fuel.
    if you google around for biogas and sweden.
    The EU has targets for bio fuels of around 2% off hand (uk is hoping for 0.3%)and where this technology has been developed usage is around 6%

    from what i caught of a tv article about this its possible to mix in bio fuel with your re
  • Walmart already provides their employees with incentive to use eco-friendly transportation. By paying wages at or below minimum wage, employees are compelled to rely on second-hand bicycles, hitch-hiking or jogging to work. Better-off employees sometimes even have the luxury of using local bus service, if available.
  • incentive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Martin Spamer (244245) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @04:31AM (#13870067) Homepage Journal
    2,865,700 people would be eligible for incentive to go green

    The whole idea that people should received an additional incentive or reward for doing something is a big part of the problem.

    The biological objective of greed in natural selection to asure resources to procreate. However, if the world suffers a slow energy death or fast bio-sphere collapese what future do your ofspring have ?

    Simple survival should be the only insentive people should need.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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