In case you’re not familiar, yerdle is an online marketplace in which people can give away things they no longer want, or lend things out they don’t use very often. It’s a classic sharing economy concept with big potential to make more efficient use of goods that would otherwise be thrown away.
Salon’s Andrew Leonard wrote a fairly scathing review of yerdle’s new credit system on the grounds that it dishonestly suggests the service is free. He further implies that yerdle is yet another PT-Barnum-style huckster start-up tech company claiming to offer something for nothing with a secret future business plan that will somehow screw people.
On the first point, Leonard is correct. Yerdle’s new credit system requires users to give away things and do other tasks in order to earn credits which can then be exchanged for goods. There’s talk of being able to buy credits with cash in the future. For all intents and purposes this means you can’t get anything “for free” on yerdle anymore – you have to do something, whether it be give away products of your own or some other action. The point is, there’s a cost even if it isn’t expressed in dollars. So, yerdle might indeed want to reconsider their use of the word “free.” But the notion that yerdle has much in common with a bait and switch tech company is unfair.
This month we focused on sustainability in the fashion and apparel industry, and explored sustainability trends in fashion throughout the lifecycle: from the cotton fields all the way to the landfill. In the expansive scope of sustainability, how do brands decide where to focus and how to prioritize? How effective are their efforts for people and the planet?
TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, took an hour or so to chat with with Paul Dillinger, Head of Product Innovation for Levi Strauss & Co and Eve Blossom, Founder of Lulan Artisans. The entire conversation can be viewed here.
As part of the kickoff to our new series on sustainability in fashion, we’ve decided to try something new: a Tweet Jam. It’s a one hour conversation with a panel of experts to which everyone is invited.
This time we’ll be teaming up with Business Fights Poverty to lead the conversation about key sustainability topics facing the fashion industry. We’ll explore sustainability trends in fashion throughout the lifecycle: from the cotton fields all the way to the landfill. In the expansive scope of sustainability, how do brands decide where to focus and how to prioritize? How effective are their efforts for people and the planet?
Got ideas for good questions? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @triplepundit. The jam will be an hour long and we’ll have a series of conversation starting questions lined up. You’re welcome to jump in any time and add your own thoughts or questions to the dialogue.
Our hashtag will be #3pChat
When: March 11, 8am Pacific Time = 4pm GMT
RSVP by sending the following tweet:
Join me March 11 to talk sustainability in fashion w/@Triplepundit @fightpoverty & experts. http://bit.ly/SustFash3pChat #3pchat
On Wednesday, Atlanta and its suburbs were brought to their knees by a minor ice storm. Thousands of people were stuck, sitting in vehicles, for as long as 20 hours. The lucky ones found refuge in schools, offices and Home Depots. CNN (based in Atlanta) has been going berserk devoting half their front page to the story with large font headlines asking “How did this happen? Who’s to blame?” … well, fundamentally, those are very easy questions to answer, and it’s not about a lack of snow plows…
The Atlanta area (the central city and many dozens of independent suburbs) has been allowed to sprawl to as much as 100 miles in diameter (almost the size of Los Angeles with a third of the population). Almost none of this sprawl is navigable without a car. Even if you wanted to walk, sidewalks are missing. Transit may technically exist but is far flung and inconvenient. One hour commutes to work are not considered all that unusual. Mix this reality with a little snow and lack of coordination and you get unspeakable gridlock. So that’s how it happened, and that’s why sprawl is to blame.
Parisian cabbies have unleashed hell on Uber cars over the last week, smashing windows and slashing tires. They see Uber as unfair competition…
One of the reasons we love the sharing economy is its ability to turn an entrenched industry on its head for the greater good. Generally the entry of a sharing economy concept into an industry means more efficient, cheaper access to a service and often new economic opportunity for enterprising individuals. It also often results in less consumption of energy or material as people “rent” goods like tools or even cars rather than owning them.
However, turning an industry on its head is not always a graceful maneuver.
Lets take taxis. Taxis are a notoriously entrenched industry in most cities. Heavily connected and governed by deeply bureaucratic rules and complicated commissions, their numbers, fares and availability are highly regulated. As a result, in many cities, getting a cab can be both expensive and difficult – and in the case of San Francisco, futile. New companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have created a secondary market for rides, powered by fast, reliable mobile technology and generally driven by independent people who simply happen to own a car and are looking to make a few bucks on the side. The result has been a huge increase in available rides at competitive prices – and a lot of upset bureaucrats and cabbies.
So are taxi drivers justified in being angry?
Despite apparent record profits, SeaWorld is in the thick of an emotional controversy about the ethics of keeping dolphins and whales in captivity for the purpose of putting on shows. It all stems from last fall’s documentary, Blackfish, which depicts the life of Tilikum, a captive orca who has killed three people over the years. The film alleges his behavior is the result of psychological trauma brought on by being in captivity and goes on to discuss many other ethical downsides to whale and dolphin shows.
Let me get my bias right out on the table – I think dolphin and orca shows are ridiculous, though I’m willing to give SeaWorld the benefit of the doubt that they have at least a modicum of conservational value somewhere buried between the roller coasters and popcorn stands. SeaWorld does make some effort to create an educational experience for visitors, but it is definitely not a zoo. Its primary mission is entertaining and making money.
However, this post is about Southwest Airlines, one of SeaWorld’s promotional partners and the latest target of attention by folks rallying to put a stop to cetacean captivity performances. The hope is that pressure on Southwest will reach SeaWorld.
For the last three years, TriplePundit has enjoyed a close partnership with Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the masterminds behind Masdar City. This year we’re kicking things off again by helping out with a blogging contest that will send one lucky writer to Abu Dhabi next month for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the World Future Energy Summit.
The theme of the contest is on ”smart cities and sustainable development” and the rules are pretty straightforward: Write a 500-600 word story addressing the following question:
“How can cities contribute to the advancement of sustainable development and address issues including water, energy and waste?”
A selection of the best of the posts will be published here on 3p and elsewhere and the lucky winner will be off to the middle east for a truly fascinating experience.
Earlier this week, in partnership with CSRWire, we convened a Twitter Chat with Sodexo for an inside look at the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability.
Our guests included:
- Sodexo’s Neil Barrett: Group Vice President, Sustainable Development
- Sodexo’s Tom Mackall: Vice President, Global Labor Relations
- John Friedman: Director, Global Corporate Responsibility Communications and contributor to CSRwire’s commentary section Talkback
Moderated by TriplePundit’s Nick Aster & CSRwire’s Editorial Director Aman Singh, Sodexo’s leaders shared their ambitions, answer questions about their commitments and seek feedback from the CR/sustainability community.
If you missed the chat, below is a storify summary of the chat you can read any time:
While in Copenhagen last week, I had a chance to talk to Novozymes’ Head of Sustainability, Claus Stig Pedersen about what “sustainability” actually means to the company. It turns out, quite a bit.
Novozymes makes enzymes. By definition, enzymes make reactions more efficient, faster, and they often reduce chemical by-products. As such, Novozymes has a good reason to integrate sustainable principals into its operations. Their strategy and thought processes are valuable for many companies to consider.
Pedersen offered me a chart (which I attempted to recreate above) that outlines the way he sees sustainability being integrated into a company. It’s pretty logical and may feel very familiar. At the most basic level, sustainability is about compliance and avoiding risk. It’s also a PR move – to keep potential critics at bay. As a company begins to understand what sustainability is really all about, financial savings start to become apparent – especially as a result of efficiencies in resource and energy use. At the highest level, sustainability begins creating new business segments, new products, and growth.
But what does it take to get to that highest level and perhaps beyond?
I’m in rainy Copenhagen this week attending Novozymes’ 2013 Household Care Sustainability Summit. As its name implies, the summit brings together sustainably-minded makers of laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and other household cleaning products. It might sound like a dry topic without a great deal of impact on the world, but when you look at the indirect effects that cleaning products have, it gets a lot more exciting.
Case in point: most 3p readers are familiar with the story of Cold Water Tide. To refresh your memory, some years back Procter and Gamble did a life cycle analysis of Tide laundry detergent and found that when it came to its energy footprint, by far the most significant component was not the manufacturing or the transportation. It was, in fact, the heating of water at people’s homes to run their washing machines. Not content to shrug their shoulders at something outside their direct control, P&G redesigned a version of Tide to work in cold water. When used this way, Tide’s energy footprint and customer’s electric bills were drastically cut.
They key to making a detergent that functions well in cold water? Enzymes.
If you’re not already familiar with the concept of “natural capital,” take a gander at the video above, which debuted this morning to open the first ever World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh. Produced by creative studio Nice and Serious for the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (and others), the video is a great way to explain the concept of “natural capital” to a wider audience. It also provided a an excellent opening to the conference now underway.
The fundamental concept is this: The best way to save the planet is to put a price tag on its resources. Doing so is the only way to get business to take stewardship of the environment seriously, and only business can save the planet (after all, it’s economic activity that started the problem!). If an acre of rain forest can be shown to be “worth” more standing up than cut down for palm oil, then it’s likely to stand. Likewise, a business can be sent a bill for damages it causes by gobbling up land, polluting, or creating other externalities.
That’s the concept anyway.
Missed our live broadcast? Check out the recording below.
From Tuesday, November 5th, with support from Edelman and Janssen, this is our LIVE broadcast to kick off the 2013 BSR conference.
Please join us tonight at 7pm pacific for a conversation about “the power of networks” to solve our sustainability challenges.
Tonight’s panel will feature:
Karen Mansen, (Communications & Public Affairs, Janssen)
Chris Librie (Senior Director – HP Sustainability Programs)
Henk Campher (SVP, Business & Social Purpose and Managing Director, Sustainability at Edelman)
Megan McFadden (Manager, Impact HUB SF)
Nick Aster (Founder, TriplePundit.com)
Join us TODAY at 9am PST/noon EST for a Twitter Chat with Yalmaz Siddiqui, Office Depot’s Senior Director, Environmental Strategy to discuss environmental transparency and its role in sustainability reporting.
Missed the chat? Check out our Storify summary below:
Rounding out our set of interviews from this year’s SXSWeco is Emma Stewart who is the head of sustainability solutions for Autodesk. We’ve long been impressed with Autodesk’s contribution to the smart or “green” building design movement so it was only logical that I ask Emma how that contribution spreads to the greater idea of smart cities.
The idea is pretty simple – take what we’ve learned about making buildings greener and more efficient, then find ways to simulate the myriad connections that exist between buildings that make up an entire city. Autodesk is working with civil engineering firms, developers, and directly with city agencies who recognize they may not have enough data to build an effective 3d model of their cities. An effective model can become a “single source of truth” on which to start making more intelligent decisions.
Learn more in the short video after the jump….
Continuing the theme of “smart cities” at SXSWeco, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk to some folks actually working to bring clean technology companies together in a city to make a smarter city and economy work. Jose Beciero is the Director of Clean Energy for The Austin Chamber of Commerce. Among his responsibilities are encouraging more diversity in the Austin technology sector by developing new clean technology startups in central Texas as well as to recruit companies to relocate to the area.
Despite Texas’ reputation as an old-school oil & gas economy, Jose’s work is well received by the greater business community who recognize the need for a more diverse energy portfolio – particularly wind and solar. In fact, in 2013, the Austin Chamber was recognized as the top cleantech chamber in the nation by Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) for its work in shaping Austin into a nucleus for the industry.
I spend a few minutes talking to Jose about what he does, as well as learning about an interesting smart grid demonstration project called “Pecan Street Inc.” Find out what it’s all about on the short video interview below….