A version of this piece was originally published on the CSR Reporting Blog.
By Elaine Cohen
A version of this piece was originally published on the CSR Reporting Blog.
By Elaine Cohen
As consumers hit the stores this holiday season, REI is reminding them to vote with their dollars. Pointing to its own recent success in packaging waste reduction, the company argues that choosing an environmentally friendly product in a sustainable package sends a strong message to manufacturers in the final weeks of the year.
The outdoor apparel brand made headlines last month for cutting energy use at its data center by 93 percent, but it’s also making strides in sustainable package design. TriplePundit pinpointed REI as a packaging trailblazer back in 2011, and key innovations have since helped the brand reduce consumer packaging by 36 percent – designing out more than 1.4 million pounds of waste, the company said.Click to continue reading »
By Robert Fenn
Back in 2006, David Cameron was leader of the opposition, committed to ensuring the blue party would be recognized as green. Cameron aimed to underline this commitment to the environment during the year with a trip to the Arctic, a drive in a Gee-Wiz, eco-friendly electric car and – finally – a memorable ride to work by bicycle.
The bike ride somewhat backfired when it emerged Cameron’s shoes and paperwork followed in a car behind. Yet while this took the shine off his green credentials, after becoming Prime Minster he took the bold step of announcing in May 2010 that he wanted the coalition administration to be recognized as “the greenest government ever.”
The cracks emerge
Since then, the jury’s out on whether Cameron’s ambition has been realized. However, certainly things haven’t been helped by a recent story from The Sun newspaper claiming a senior Tory spokesman told them that the Prime Minister said “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.”
The fear for anyone already bought into the idea of running a responsible, green business is that the momentum in bringing sustainability to the mainstream will be lost. This is not helped by Chancellor George Osbourne’s previous comments in September where he said that he didn’t want Britain to be a world-leader in fighting climate change. The question is – will negativity trickle down the public sector supply chain, swiftly followed by the private sector? With less pressure on businesses to be green, the typical fears behind implementing a sustainability initiative include it being ‘too expensive’ or ‘too much hassle’ could rear their heads once more, despite being disproven in numerous studies.Click to continue reading »
Big Muddy Workshop, Inc. is a landscape architecture and green infrastructure design services firm in Omaha, NE. This small but highly successful company has embraced the principles of sustainable business, not only in the way it uses resources, both natural and human, but also to shape the range of services it provides.
John Royster, CEO and majority owner, says he was “born into sustainability.” Educated in natural resource management, early in his career he worked in both a large international architecture firm and a smaller regional landscape architecture firm. He enjoyed the work but felt that neither had the systems in place to encourage staff to be fully engaged in sustainability. Accordingly he founded BMW in 1990.
BMW’s mission was established to protect our remaining significant natural areas, restore disturbed lands, and preserve historic and cultural resources, encouraging public awareness of and access to these special spaces. Royster recognized that this values-driven mission would require the firm to be very environmentally and socially responsible. But he also understood that this would be possible only if he established and maintained a financially sustainable business model for his young company. He has been zealous in eliminating every nickel of unproductive cost and makes no apology for squeezing every drop of benefit out of its assets, human resources included.
The result is a company which has successfully integrated the financial, environmental and social elements of sustainable practices into a resilient business model that has prospered for 23 years, establishing a strong competitive position in its regional market.Click to continue reading »
Every Wednesday, TriplePundit founder Nick Aster will take 45 minutes or so to chat with an interesting leader in the sustainable business movement. These chats are broadcast on our Google+ channel and embedded via YouTube right here on 3p.
Haris Alibasic directs the City of Grand Rapids’ Office of Energy and Sustainability, and manages the state and federal legislative affairs for the City. For countless city governments, energy efficiency has become the cornerstone of their sustainability efforts. Through the careful development of an effective energy-focused sustainability master plan, the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan has become one of the greenest communities in the United States.
The process of embedding sustainability in all levels of the local government in Grand Rapids was a long one. Several elements contributed to the achievement of the City’s sustainability efforts under Haris Alibasic’s leadership, including: operational improvements using Lean principles; planning stages for renewable energy goals; community partnerships in pursuit of sustainability; empowering employees to champion targets; and measuring progress through reporting.
On Wednesday, December 11th, Nick Aster spoke with Haris about how Grand Rapids has become recognized as a sustainability leader amongst U.S. cities. If you missed the conversation, you can view it on our YouTube channel or directly below, here:Click to continue reading »
Companies are realizing that there is both an internal price and an opportunity when it comes to carbon pollution.
An odd juxtaposition, perhaps, but a white paper from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) North America makes the point that once a company establishes an “internal carbon price,” it can be used as an incentive and a core strategic planning tool.Click to continue reading »
Three years ago Adam Davidson, Planet Money’s co-founder, had an idea: let’s make a T-shirt. His idea wasn’t to diversify Planet Money, NPR’s podcast and blog covering the global economy into a new business, but to tell the story behind the T-shirt’s creation.
What’s so interesting about T-shirts? Davidson, who was inspired by Pietra Rivoli’s book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy explained that T-shirt turns out to be a great lens through which to view the world economy. “Every T-shirt you wear tells the story of the economy we all live in.”
Three years later Davidson’s idea became a reality, with a series of podcasts on NPR documenting the T-shirt’s journey from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta through the different manufacturing phases in Indonesia, Colombia and Bangladesh all the way back to the U.S in a container.
This series provides some important insights on the world economy, globalization, trade and consumption. Here I’d like to focus on the 4 lessons in sustainability I found most interesting in this series:
Click to continue reading »
“Made in America” labels aren’t exactly a common sight these days. Check the tag on the shirt or pants you are wearing, and chances are it will read “Made in… [China], [Bangladesh], [Vietnam] or…” Well, you get the point. Your flashy new iPhone 5S? Before you even opened the box, it already was more well-traveled than you are.
More than 97 percent of apparel and 98 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made overseas, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association. Contrast this with the 1960s, when around 95 percent of apparel worn in the U.S. was made at home.
But most American consumers want to buy American. Given a choice between a product made in the U.S. and an identical one made abroad, 78 percent of Americans would rather buy the American product, according to a February 2013 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
Why? In the same survey, more than 80 percent cited retaining manufacturing jobs and keeping American manufacturing strong in the global economy as very important reasons for buying American. Roughly 60 percent claimed concern about the use of child workers or other cheap labor overseas, or stated that American-made goods were of higher quality.Click to continue reading »
Michael Dell is a huge champion of entrepreneurship. He should know: his entrepreneurship made him billions so he is also an example of what economists and academia are saying about economic recovery: entrepreneurship is the way economies around the globe will rebound. Entrepreneurs create jobs, innovate products, processes and services, and promote cross-border trade. All of which boost economies.
Public companies make decisions based on hard facts, not intuition. Decisions take time. Entrepreneurs, like Dell, take risks based on their gut feel. They are laser-focused on customers, nimbly responding to their changing needs. Now that the company is private, once again, Dell has the freedom to guide his company based on his gut. His gut is telling him to support entrepreneurs in a big way. Of course, it’s not just world economies that will benefit; Dell the company will, too.
The value of entrepreneurs to our communities has been emphasized in both public policy and private corporate action. Think American Jobs Act, StartUp America, American Express Small Business Saturday, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, among others.
“For Dell, supporting entrepreneurs isn’t just a business strategy, but a corporate philosophy.” said Ingrid Vanderveldt, entrepreneur-in-residence at Dell. The company is addressing really important problems — the need for jobs, innovation and cross-border trade – in a way that gives other entrepreneurs the advantage of the company’s expertise and that will grow Dell’s business. A win-win for everyone.
For the past year and half, the company has supported high potential entrepreneurs with technology and with those all-important other elements of success: money, knowledge, and connections. The suite of services called Dell Center for Entrepreneurs is intended for startups that need help scaling.Click to continue reading »
By Richard Eidlin
Voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives and social enterprises are essential, but are not game changers by themselves. In addition, we need laws and regulations that guide our economy toward sound, long-term decision-making, with full recognition of social and environmental externalities. As business leaders, we can and must support policy changes to help make the economy more sustainable.
A sustainable economy will depend on a sustainable workforce, one that is educated, adequately compensated and valued humanely. Here are three important policies that will help – and specific actions you can take.
Monsanto is a company whose name is not without controversy in sustainability circles. Nevertheless, the sustainability efforts of Monsanto are one of our favorite late-night debates here at TriplePundit HQ. We may disagree on some fronts, but there is no denying that feeding the residents of our increasingly populated planet will be a big challenge, especially in a warming, water-constrained world. As one of the biggest players in agriculture, Monsanto deserves a seat at the sustainability table to share their perspective.
Novozymes, on the other hand, is a company with the deepest of sustainability credentials – the company even uses integrated reporting to ensure that sustainability performance and financial performance are judged simultaneously; the company even ties sustainability performance to financial compensation. Will this new partnership improve Monsanto’s sustainability credentials? What about the effect on Novozymes’? Let’s take a look.Click to continue reading »
It’s that time again! Join TriplePundit readers worldwide as we team up with CSRWire once again for an hour-long twitter chat. This time we’ll talk with Sodexo for an inside look at the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Our guests will include:
Moderated by TriplePundit’s Nick Aster & CSRwire’s Editorial Director Aman Singh, Sodexo’s leaders will share their ambitions, answer questions about their commitments and seek feedback from the CR/sustainability community.
FOLLOW ALONG HERE:Click to continue reading »
Wilmar International, the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, announced a new set of sustainability measures designed to eliminate some of the most environmentally-destructive practices involved in palm oil production. According to details on the new agreement published by Reuters, the Singapore-based food products supplier and its subsidiaries promised to avoid any additional destruction of rainforest land or peatland — an important source of carbon sequestration. The company also stated that they will better protect worker’s rights and communities where they operate.
Palm oil is used in a wide array of food and non-food consumer products, and is an especially common ingredient in processed, packaged food. Some experts estimate that one in two products on supermarket shelves contain palm oil. But even if you read the tiny label on that pack of potato chips, you might never know if it contains palm oil or not since manufacturers are often label palm oil as “vegetable oil.” About one-third of the world’s vegetable oil is made from processed palm oil according to GreenPalm, a sustainability certificate trading platform for palm oil and its derivatives.Click to continue reading »
CSR reports are enormous undertakings. They are months in the making, involve high-level strategic planning, and require complex logistical coordination. Companies spend valuable time and resources putting reports together. Yet broach “reporting” with many CSR executives, and their eyes float off into the distance and a fleeting smile wipes across their face.
Ask these executives, “Who’s reading your CSR Report?” Well, hardly anyone…
More and more companies are producing CSR reports. Most have yet to figure out how reports fit into an overall corporate strategy that strengthens the brand, and operational alignment. Consequently, they are content with the mere act of reporting and their reports often lack vision and imagination.
I believe that with a little creativity, companies can create CSR reports that attract, engage and inspire a broad audience of stakeholders and consumers. Below are six communication tips to help your company create a report that more people will read and share.Click to continue reading »
By Dr. Deborah Rigling Gallagher, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
Teaching sustainable business strategy in a multidisciplinary school of the environment is filled with challenges. A large portion of students are young, committed environmentalists who come straight from their undergraduate studies. These master of environmental management (MEM) students are mission-oriented; they seek to create change from within business. They know about fisheries collapsing, the water cycle, how greenhouse gases are created and the importance of protecting biodiversity hotspots. Some are skeptical of the triple bottom line perspective’s focus on financial metrics. I love that they dress for class as if they might be invited to go backpacking on a moment’s notice. Another group of students travel across campus from the business school to take environment-focused elective courses, like urban ecology, air pollution policy and my course in sustainable business strategy. These MBA students know what it is like to work within business organizations, to meet strict deadlines and to be part of a project group. They work hard and play hard and are proficient multi-taskers. I am so jealous of their ability to make amazing PowerPoint presentations.
One challenge in teaching these groups together is to protect MEM students’ environmental ideals while honoring MBA students’ inclinations to steer outcomes focused squarely on economic efficiency. Another challenge is to understand the gaps in knowledge on each side of the classroom. MEMs need to learn about SWOT analysis and the importance of supply chains. MBAs must consider that regulators and community members are stakeholders to be respected, as is the earth itself. Both groups benefit from a focus on systems thinking and understanding environmental impacts over the lifecycle of products and services.Click to continue reading »