3M, ForestEthics Bury Hatchet, Save Forests

| Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments

3M Forestry-Cropped

In a significant turn of events, 3M announced yesterday that it is launching a new paper and wood pulp sourcing policy designed to trace virgin wood fiber and ensure it is coming from renewable sources.

Along with improving its public image and reputation for social and environmental responsibility, the new pulp and paper sourcing policy brings an end to a running, decades-long confrontation with prominent environmental NGOs, including ForestEthics, Greenpeace and The Forest Trust.

ForestEthics has been after 3M to make a change to its pulp sourcing for nearly a decade. According to the NGO, production, distribution and sales of 3M products, including Scotch tape and Post-it-Notes, contribute to deforestation around the world.

At the root of the NGO’s concern was 3M’s lack of recycled content and its use of SFI-certified pulp. SFI is considered by many to be an inferior certification standard as compared to the popular FSC. ForestEthics has been joined by other prominent environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, in protesting the office supply giant. 

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Is Whole Foods Unethical for Selling Tilapia Raised by Prison Labor?

Leon Kaye | Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Prison labor, whole foods, the Colorado Correctional Industries, Colorado, tilapia, corporate social responsibility, Leon Kaye, transparency

Not wearing orange: Farmed tilapia from Colorado prisons helps keep Whole Foods in the black.

A Pacific Standard Magazine article that highlights the farming of tilapia by prison labor, some of which ends up in Whole Foods, is inspiring or infuriating depending on your point of view.

Some commentators describe the company’s sourcing of fish from a Colorado prison as rife with ethical issues. Whole Foods, meanwhile, has long touted its “something great” tilapia but is cagey about where they source it. The retailer may want to reword that page with its ringer, “No other national grocery store or fish market has standards like these.” Meanwhile, a company representative told another publication that the amount of prison-raised tilapia available at the company’s stores is “not a large part of the seafood we sell.”

Obviously critics are not going to be satisfied with that attempt at linguistic gymnastics. Note how Whole Foods mentioned seafood and not tilapia itself. But there are few regulations at any level of government that requires Whole Foods, or any company, to disclose that its products are the result of prison labor. From a business perspective, why would they? A sign spiked in the ice at the Whole Foods’ seafood section mentioning the practice would give most customers the vision that their fish was splayed and gutted by the likes of Pensatucky and Crazy Eyes from “Orange is the New Black” — who, for their efforts, make 11 cents an hour on the fictional show.

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Why We Need a Different Approach to Bridge the Digital and Energy Divide in SSA.

3p Contributor | Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments

BY Chad Maxwell

I was recently in Bonconto, Senegal and I met with 12 commune Mayors, representing over 200,000 people without electricity or Internet.

Globally, 1.2 billion people live without access to electricity with nearly half of them, 600 million people residing in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In 2012 the UN General Assembly declared access to the Internet a Universal Human Right, yet only 12% are connected in SSA today.

Imagine your life today without electricity or doing business without a computer or the Internet. How do we expect to spur economic and rural development when children are attending schools without lights, computers or access to the greatest information source the world has ever known, the Internet?

Everyone talks about micro-grids, but the reality is that 70% of the population of SSA still lives without electricity. This is not because the technology doesn’t exist or that we don’t know how to build and install it. It is because energy providers have not found a way to profitably connect them to the grid. This does not mean that those without electricity do not desire the basics of electricity, such as lights at night or a charged cell phone, it is just that they cannot afford luxury electricity and mass consumption, which is required to make large village level grids profitable. They not only can’t afford the cost of luxury electricity; they can’t afford the appliances required to consume this electricity like washers, driers, dish washers, multiple lights, fans, air conditioners, computers, TV’s, etc…

Personal renewable energy devices and cell phone coverage is rapidly advancing and fundamentally changing people’s access to energy, light and connecting. There are several organizations focused on Internet access or laptops in schools.   But the reality is that most of these efforts are singularly focused in their approach to solving key issue and reliant on corporate KPIs or donor funding.

The challenge goes deeper than just access, as it must be affordable access and sustainable. A donated computer to a school doesn’t ensure that it is charged and updated, or that the operator is trained. A micro-grid doesn’t pay for a vaccine refrigerator or the monthly electricity bill. You need to look no further than urban electrified areas, where often times you still have 50% of the population without electricity, or more challenging still are rural electrified areas, where people can’t afford or won’t pay for the $30 connection fee, much less the monthly minimum connection bill. They would rather spend a dollar here and a dollar there. Consequently, often time’s rural electrification becomes a single pole with a dead-end electrical line, and nobody connected.

Thus, we need a new approach to deliver energy, connectivity and their associated benefits in an affordable fashion.  We need to unlock the power of shared resources, and enable e-Everything!

This is where start-up DABADDO, a step-change, for-profit, shared value company is trying to make an impact.

They take a systemic approach to solving both the digital and energy divide for limited/off-grid communities by focusing on solutions to meet the energy, technology and connectivity needs of people living at or just above the poverty level at a price they can afford. As an example, none of their services cost more than $1.00, with a price range starting from $0.10 for a rechargeable light at night (replacing dangerous candles, kerosene and throw away batteries) to $0.90 cents for a computer and 1 hour of airtime.

3P_Girl with BraidsTheir Connectivity Centers, are powered by renewable energy. This supports lights, 11 computers and Internet & wifi equipment, recharging station for battery devices, rented rechargeable lights and batteries, fans, projector, water purification, refrigerator, and general point of sale. Their footprint also allows room for SME’s to construct locations within the 400sq meter facility to benefit from access to electricity and the Internet. This provides most of the electrical items required to cover the basics at a village level, without yet directly creating a grid.

They strive to implement a two-phased development process: First – they build solar powered Connectivity Centers that focus on the basics (non-grid connecting). Second- they promote the modular addition of solar energy (micro-grid) expansion to meet individual and business energy demands one location at a time, to ensure power generation meets demands ability to pay for services.

You can learn more about DABADDO’s approach by checking out their Kickstarter Campaign here: http://tinyurl.com/dabaddo-KS

This approach of providing the basics and a point of convergence for businesses and organizations enables shared services and resources with government and NGO’s focused on rural development, e and mLearning, eHealth and eGovernment documents.

Simple examples: a private entity with an internet connection and a computer facilitating a tele-doctor visit via a Skype call for less than a $1.00 paid in part by the patient and an NGO or Minister of Health program providing a doctor. A daily group of students and teachers having access to computers, the Internet, and a projector, without the school needing to install or maintain any infrastructure supported by a community, NGO or Government program.

At the end of the day, there is an enormous supply demand gap to bridge the digital and energy divide, and plenty of room for multiple models, but thinking systemically is the key to sustainability. As I was told by a commune Mayor from Linkering, Senegal, “We need you more than you need us and faster than you can get here!” Let’s leverage each other’s strengths and work together!

Dabaddo 5 Year-Small

Chad Maxwell is the Founder of DABADDO (www.dabaddo.com). He has 20 years of experience and leadership in the fields of development, consulting, and sustainable agriculture, in Africa with a range of engagements from Peace Corps to Niman Ranch to BHP Billiton. He is an entrepreneur with record of success and challenge. Big picture focused on making life better for the masses by addressing needs and finding solutions. You can reach him at chadmaxwell@dabaddo.com Image credits: Chad Maxwell and Maurice Kupfer

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McDonald’s To Source Antibiotic-Free Chicken in the U.S.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments

chicken mcnuggetsAntimicrobial drugs make modern life possible. People don’t have to die from diseases that were once a death sentence thanks to antimicrobial drugs, which include antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals.

However, the routine use of antibiotics in livestock has contributed to the increase of antimicrobial resistance. But one fast food company, perhaps the best known, wants to do something about it. On Wednesday, McDonald’s announced that it will only source chicken raised without antibiotics for its U.S. restaurants by March 2017.

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Why Metrics Matter When It Comes to Impact Investing

3p Contributor | Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Unreasonable.is.

3715569167_7e978e8319_zBy Jed Emerson

Since at least the early ‘90s, those involved in the generation of ‘more than money’ have been on a quest to capture the right balance between documentation of impact and claims to fame. For me personally, I have been a reluctant crusader in this quest for coming on 30 years. As a social worker in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, operating a multi-service center for homeless youth, justification of our funding was often tied to service counts. And yet, while our program served large numbers of youth, we often found financial support for those youth tied to annualized government contracts and lump-sum foundation grants directed to other programs. These funds did not follow performance, but were allocated on the basis of what I called a dance of deceit set to the music of politics, perception and persuasion.

Some years later, as founding director of the nation’s second venture philanthropy fund, I led the team that in 2000[1] introduced what I believe was the first formalized methodology to track SROI — Social Return on Investment. Prior to that, I remember hearing foundation and social investors alike state, “We invest for Social Returns!” Yet when queried as to how, exactly, they tracked such returns they would laugh, saying, “Oh, no! It’s a metaphor—we don’t actually track social returns!”

I never did understand this.

A traditional investor would never place funds in a venture that did not have capacity to track financial performance and, ultimately, financial return. How then was it okay to place funds in social enterprises (whether for-profit or nonprofit) in the absence of reporting systems tracking the extra-financial value creation of that investment? Why bother calling ourselves social entrepreneurs and impact investors if we could not in some way document, differentiate and assess this added level of value creation?

Over past years, as I’ve both participated in and observed the evolution of metrics and impact reporting discussions and practice, I’ve come to realize the “metrics challenge” is something of a myth. It is a myth in both senses of the term in that on the one hand it is the Big Foot of impact investing—widely known yet seldom seen—and, on the other hand, pursuit of the next level of “metrics” is the Holy Grail of our professional quest, a story that has critical meaning, value and importance in our lives.

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Forget Hillary Clinton 2016: Vote Jessica Alba For President

3p Contributor | Friday March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Jessica Alba at Comic Con

Jessica Alba at Comic Con.

By Josh Caplan

With President Barack Obama entering the second half of his final term, the road to the White House is well underway. Despite no official announcement from any candidate, seasoned politicos and fresh-faced newcomers, from Hillary Clinton to Rand Paul, are gearing up for the race. But until 2016, what can members of civil society at large do to bring about positive and sustainable change?

With each and every purchase made, we can vote every day for social entrepreneurs like actress Jessica Alba of The Honest Company, the wildly successful nontoxic consumer goods company.

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Ford’s Parking Spotter Could Keep You From the Endless Hunt

RP Siegel | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

ParkingSpotter_01If you’re a car company and you want to do something to help reduce carbon emissions, what do you do? You start by making your cars more efficient by bringing on new technology, like hybrid powertrains. Then you incorporate electric cars, and possibly fuel cells and, of course, clean up your own internal operations. Happily, most car companies today are doing all of those things, to one degree or another.

All of these are on the critical path, with many more improvements in the pipeline. Are there any other stones left unturned in the search for improvement? Ford thinks so.

The company recently announced that it’s teaming up with Georgia Tech to develop a Parking Spotter app. As the name suggests, this app will help users locate a parking spot more quickly and directly. Sounds helpful, but will it have an impact?

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Renewables Mandate in Colorado Survives Rollback Attempt

Hannah Miller | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Pie chart of energy sources in CO

Still a long ways to go — but renewables are up 15 percent in 10 years in Colorado.

On Monday, the Colorado state legislature voted down a challenge to the state’s successful and popular Renewable Energy Standard, originally passed as the first of its kind in the country in 2004 by statewide ballot initiative.

Originally mandating that utilities and rural co-ops generate 15 percent of their power from renewables, the standard has since been expanded by state legislators twice. The most recent expansion raised the bar to 30 percent for city utilities and 20 percent for rural electric cooperatives, which serve a sizable chunk of the state — more than 600,000 customers.

A recent poll showed that 76 percent of Coloradans support pro-renewable candidates, so it’s unclear which Coloradans bill sponsor Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) has been talking to when he says he thinks “we’ve done enough.”

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Artisanal Mining: “Many Stakeholders, But No Winners”

3p Contributor | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments
"This work is harder than you imagine my friend," this small-scale Colombian miner told photographer Alejandro Arango in 2010.

“This work is harder than you imagine my friend,” this small-scale Colombian miner told photographer Alejandro Arango in 2010.

By Paul Klein

“They live thinking the future is this afternoon,” said Juan Pablo Duque in describing the lives of artisanal and small-scale miners in Colombia.

Duque, senior vice president of Equilibria and formerly the CEO of Four Points Mining, has seen how artisanal and small-scale miners live and work first-hand. According to Duque, there are virtually no safety procedures, working conditions are extremely dangerous and serious accidents are frequent. “It’s very often that you hear about a mine that crashed down and killed many miners, and it was an informal mine,” he says. “It also happens in South Africa. It happens in Nicaragua and in many other parts of the world.”

Globally, approximately 100 million people – including miners and their families – depend on illegal and informal mining, compared with about 7 million in large-scale industrial mining, according to the 2002 Global Report on Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining produced by the International Institute for Environment and Development

Tragedies such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh have put a spotlight on unacceptable working conditions for garment workers in developing countries. In response, initiatives such as the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety have the potential to improve the lives of workers and their families. However, the dangerous conditions in which artisanal and small-scale miners work remains largely invisible outside of the mining industry.

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The Latest and Loudest DC Lobby Force: Pizza

Leon Kaye | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Pizza, American Pizza Community, USDA, FDA, Dominos, obesity, Leon Kaye, school lunches, public relations, lobbying

The message is clear–do not mess with pizza

Pizza is definitely more American than apple pie, judging by all the restaurants and take-out joints you pass by during your commute. From your favorite corner eatery to the behemoths like Domino’s and Little Ceasar’s, pizza is part of the United States’ food, landscape and culture. Every day at least 40 million Americans eat pizza; one in four boys and teenagers consume at least a slice daily. All that fat and carbs on average provide at least one quarter of that American’s caloric intake, and one-third of the recommended amount of sodium. But pizza also provides one-third of a daily supply of calcium and half a day’s intake of lycopene.

Therein you have the foundation of a food fight with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on one side, against what first sounds like a benign organization, the American Pizza Community (APC). But the latter has become a formidable lobbying group that is fighting school lunch and calorie disclosure regulations tooth and nail.

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5 Best Latin American Cities for Startups

| Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

dafiti_dealHaving grown rapidly to become “Latin America’s leading e-commerce site,” Dafiti is touting five of the region’s major cities as hubs for launching new Internet-driven businesses.

Buenos Aires (Argentina), Medellín (Colombia), Monterrey (Mexico), São Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile) are becoming viable alternatives to the likes of Silicon Valley and counterparts in Europe, the company said.

Expanding from its initial base in São Paulo, Dafiti has launched e-commerce brands and businesses in all four of the other Latin American cities on the list. “The entrepreneurial scene has improved significantly in Latin America in the past decade and is emerging as as a strong competitor to its American and European counterparts,” Dafiti stated in a recent press release. “Entrepreneurs from all over the world are flocking to the continent to benefit from a number of brilliant funding programs and networking opportunities.”

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The Sharing Economy Comes to Facility Management

3p Contributor | Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

13903385550_39f7316982_zBy Kim Tjoa

Our society is changing. ‘Us’ is becoming the new ‘me.’ Access to items is becoming more important than actually possessing them. We are in the midst of a transition to a circular, sharing economy in which we make more efficient use of everything we already have. We are now looking to share, lend/borrow and exchange anything and everything.

The development to a sharing economy presents a huge chance for procurement and facility professionals. Why should we stay focused on buying while everybody else is sharing? Why not explore the possibility of sharing underutilized company assets (equipment, services, real estate and personnel) to save money or generate additional income?

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Startup Uses Biomimicry to Create High-Performance Metal Alloys

| Thursday March 5th, 2015 | 0 Comments

ModumetalUsed widely in nature, lamination – the deposition of fine layers of materials on top of one another – has long been known as a means of manufacturing stronger, more durable and longer lasting metals. Founded in 2006, Seattle’s Modumetal is applying the process of lamination at nano-scale, enabling engineers to design and fabricate metals with superior performance characteristics and at lower cost than conventional methods.

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Ford Announces E-Bikes for Urban Commutes

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ford_e-bike_1

The 2015 Mobile World Congress, which kicked off yesterday, has already dropped a few bombshells. The impending breakup of Google+, Ikea’s new wireless charging lamp displays and the (presumably) must-have facial recognition-blocking glasses from AVG are all the talk at the moment. Oh, and let’s not forget Twitter’s tiff with ISIS, which has threatened Twitter’s employees for blocking its account.

But few gizmos seem as user-friendly as Ford‘s two e-bike prototypes, which are designed to almost read the minds of their riders. After years of testing, Ford on Monday unveiled the MoDe:Me and the MoDe:Pro, both of which are designed to work with the Apple iPhone6. The Me version is designed for the bike commuter, while the Pro is for couriers and others who use their bikes for work and need carrying capacity.

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New Partnership Promises Biodegradable Microbeads

Leon Kaye | Wednesday March 4th, 2015 | 1 Comment
PHAs, microbeads, Metabolix, Honeywell, personal care products, Leon Kaye, plastic, polyhydroxyalkanoate, bioplastics, biodegradable

Is there a future in biodegradable microbeads? Honeywell and Metabolix believe so.

Microbeads were one of the great recent innovations in the personal care industry. We were told that they were fantastic for dental health and exfoliation (no manky loofahs stinking up the shower). They also inspired beauty tips backed up by brilliant marketing but not necessarily science.

Then the science started to kick in, and it was not pretty: Those microbeads, often less than 1 millimeter in size, were not necessarily filtered out by wastewater facilities. Instead, they ended up in streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. Along the way, they have a knack for picking up pesticides and other toxins, and then becoming eaten by small creatures. If those tiny creatures did not starve to death because their digestive systems were clogged with plastic, then they were eaten by bigger creatures, then even larger creatures and then, eventually, humans, who thought they only ordered fish for dinner but had a good chance of also ingesting a small dose of microbeads.

The problem with microbeads reached a point where Illinois banned them from personal care products last year after research suggested the Great Lakes were rife with this plastic pollution. California and New York have passed similar bans, and similar legislation is underway in Ohio, Michigan and New Jersey. But a partnership between the bioplastics firm Metabolix and Honeywell, announced yesterday, could find a solution to the pesky microbead dilemma that in turn could benefit consumers, companies and the environment.

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