Best of The Panelist


Scotts Miracle-Gro, the stodgy, 139-year old lawn chemicals company that has annual revenues of $2.7 billion and an approximate 59% share in the plant food market, has decided it needs to place a lawsuit against TerraCycle, a three-year old, $1.5-million start-up that is not even profitable. Cited reasons include that TerraCycle's packaging is too similar and that TerraCycle is falsely claiming that its products are superior to its competitors, including Scotts.

Congress is considering moving funding from Big Oil to alternative energy. Right now, one of the ways Big Oil builds on its record profits is to enjoy billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies from the U.S. government. However, with gas prices rising, and the summer rally finally underway with crude oil prices, some on Capitol Hill feel that the free ride for Big Oil has gone on long enough.

Unilever, the Dutch conglomerate owner of Ben and Jerry's, has been a value (and disappointing stock) lately. Recently the stock has been moving up with the rest of Europe, causing us to revisit the exit points for our positions. With Unilever, this means a price above a p/e of 22 and where the Euro is about as high as it will probably go for the next year or so. We feel comfortable profiting from this stock because, even though Ben and Jerry is now owned by a big European Corporation instead of furry Vermonters, the company hasn't lost touch with their peacenik roots.The Sierra Club has environmental cachet, which it deserves as a mutual fund that uses vigorous screening criteria in order to ensure that the companies included are mostly environmentally friendly, but with Sierra Club's exorbitant fees, you might be better off looking into no-load mutual funds that have a good number of the same companies that are part of the Sierra Club Stock Fund.

"Do well by doing good" is the slogan of SRI money manager Parnassus Investments and is becoming a catch phrase in the industry. Successfully integrating sustainability practices within a company's business practices can simultaneously increase revenue and reduce operating costs, hence increasing the bottom line, but can sustainability actually be used as a crutch to spur innovation?

Why is there such thing as credit card debt and the morning after pill and the tobacco industry? It's because we, as a society, do not have the resolve to stop a problem before it affects us. Citing an article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times Magazine, as well as a recent article about the ecochic overhype in New York Magazine, we ponder whether Americans are ever going to compromise our comfort, convenience or bottom line, as individuals or as a country, for the sake of the environment.