3p Contributor: Jen Boynton

Jen keeps things running around here as Editor in Chief. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School.

She's an expert in social media for CSR and stakeholder engagement and, in her spare time, teaches courses in sustainability reporting certified by the Global Reporting Initiative.

Sometimes her lap becomes a ground zero for the battle between her computer and her cat. Who will win?

 

She can be reached at jen at triplepundit dot com or on twitter @jenboynton

Recent Articles

How Collaboration Creates Fair Trade from Farm-to-Shelf

| Monday February 11th, 2013 | 0 Comments

This is part of a series on “The Future of Fair Trade,” written in collaboration with Fair Trade USA. A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. To follow along with the rest of the series, click here.

 

fair trade shopperWe’ve all heard the stories about horrible working conditions in factories and on farms overseas. But, for the average consumer overwhelmed with a multitude of options in the grocery store (not to mention balancing work, childcare, home maintenance, family, friends, and personal health), doing something about it can feel impossible. Choosing Fair Trade products is one easy way for consumers to use their dollars to vote for positive change. And they are. Studies have shown that consumers say that they’re willing to pay more for fair trade – 5-10 percent more on average (the gap between self-reported behavior and actual behavior notwithstanding).

Fair Trade empowers farmers and workers to fight poverty through trade. Here’s how it works: Fair Trade certified farmers can earn a higher price per pound for their produce and other agricultural products, meaning more money for community development and family basics like food and education. But, to become certified, a farm or farmer must comply with social, labor and environmental standards set forth by the certifier. That’s not all. Fair Trade is a true triple bottom line approach with benefits for corporate interests as well.

We at TriplePundit call Fair Trade a win-win-win. But there’s a lot of work still to be done. Despite its successes, the Fair Trade movement reaches less than 1 percent of of the 2 billion people living in poverty around the world. How can groups that are passionate about making change work together to solve an intricate and complicated problem that spans the globe?

Fair Trade USA is taking a collaborative approach to facilitating change. The group recently convened a day-long, multi-stakeholder meeting of groups that are committed to using markets to improve the lives of impoverished communities. Each of the groups in attendance is working individually to tackle a small component of a staggeringly large and complicated problem, but by teaming up, they can allocate resources more efficiently. The meeting included 37 leaders from 20 organizations spanning the supply chain: farmers’ rights groups, NGOs, foundations and companies that procure fair trade products. The group included the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI), the Skoll Foundation, Fundación Avina and, of course, Fair Trade USA. Bill Clinton also made an appearance.

To find out more, I spoke with Mary Jo Cook, Fair Trade USA’s Chief Impact Officer. Cook shared her view of the benefits of taking the time to do some inter-agency collaboration – in short, “Collaboration is the fastest path to launching more Fair Trade products, increasing percentage of goods that are Fair Trade, and increasing education efforts to promote fair trade to consumers.”

Talk is easy. I was curious to hear about the tangible benefits that emerged from the meeting.

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Spotlight on the Sharing Economy: Q&A with HUB Bay Area

| Friday February 8th, 2013 | 0 Comments

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TheHub_SocialInnovation_FWMany of the companies that supported our Indiegogo campaign are active participants in the sharing economy and we wanted to hear more about their companies and perspective on the sharing economy. We’ve asked each company to answer the same questions and we’ll be rolling out the answers over the course of the series.

What’s your name?

Jeffrey Shiau – Shepherd, Storyteller – HUB Cities and HUB Bay Area

What does your company do?

HUB Bay Area is a community of people collaborating for a better world. The HUB creates spaces that inspire, connect, and empower people to realize enterprising ideas for sustainable impact.

HUB Cities is a platform-building program that leads the North America HUB roll-out & creates strategic partnerships that increase the value proposition of HUB membership & the entrepreneurial opportunity to found new HUBs.

SOCAP is an annual event series that connects leading global innovators – investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs – to build this market at the intersection of money and meaning.

When were you founded and how big are you?

HUB Berkeley opened its doors September 2009, with HUB San Francisco opening its doors less than a year later in May 2010. The HUB Bay Area community currently has 1,000 members. The Global HUB community stretches across every continent with over 5,000 members collaborating in over 30 locations.

How do you define the sharing economy?

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Spotlight on the Sharing Economy: Q&A with Park at my House

| Friday February 1st, 2013 | 0 Comments

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park at my houseWhat’s your name?
Alex Stephany – I’m the Chief Operating Officer at ParkatmyHouse.com

What does your company do?
We help people rent out their private parking spaces to drivers. By using our service, would-be parkers avoid over-priced, scarce parking on streets or in parking lots.

When were you founded and how big are you?
We were founded in 2006. We now have over 200,000 users, making us the biggest company in P2P parking globally.

How do you define the sharing economy?
The sharing economy is win-win neighborly transactions…at scale!

How does your company contribute to the rise of the sharing economy?
We are one of the biggest collaborative consumption businesses in the UK and we tackle a day-to-day problem by educating people about the obvious solution – sharing resources.

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How Patagonia, Levi Strauss Connect with Consumers Through Sustainability

| Wednesday January 30th, 2013 | 0 Comments

levis-patagoniaLast week the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco hosted a headliner for sustainable business enthusiasts: Chip Bergh, CEO, Levi Strauss & Co. and Rick Ridgeway, VP of Environmental Affairs at Patagonia in conversation with Greg Dalton, Founder of Climate One. The subject of the talk was Clean Clothes – What lies ahead for product labeling and making the $200 billion U.S. clothing industry more sustainable?

Both Patagonia and Levi Strauss boast impressive, sector-leading environmental initiatives to lower their industry’s impact. However, it turns out that both companies’ green stories are tightly interwoven with their customer engagement.

Levi Strauss and Patagonia engage with consumers on sustainability issues and incorporate their feedback into future iterations of their sustainability programs. Through this customer engagement each company has found the key to ensuring that that sustainability initiatives boost the bottom line. Here’s how they do it.

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This Year’s Detroit Auto Show Concept Car: Bikes

| Saturday January 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Prius ParleeAmid the shiny cars, people with dusters keeping the cars impeccably shiny, and shiny women, a few items were on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit that would hold any crusty old environmentalist’s attention. Bikes. Not just any old, embarrassing can’t-get-your-ass-up-a-hill electric bikes. A shiny, highly-engineered bike.

The Prius Parlee asks, “What if the Prius were a bicycle?” Toyota didn’t take on this challenge on their own – they teamed up with Parlee Cycles to design the bike of the future.

The Parlee’s frame is carbon fiber – which keeps things light and easy to move around. Its brakes are molded into the fork to increase aerodynamics. It’s even got a built-in dock for a smartphone to track speed, cadence and heart rate. Bike enthusiasts know that all of that is mostly available now if you have the money to spend.

The last feature is not available on the market – perhaps for good reason.

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35 Female CSR Leaders You’ve (Possibly) Never Heard Of

| Thursday January 17th, 2013 | 37 Comments
These women perform proverbial miracles inside their companies every day. Do you recognize them?

These women perform proverbial miracles inside their companies every day. Do you recognize them?

Men still dominate CSR, at least at the higher levels. GreenBiz’s 2011 salary survey found that two-thirds of VP of Sustainability roles at large organizations are held by men – and it will surprise few readers to find that there was a 20 percent pay gap between men and women at the highest levels of sustainability.

Yet, the connection between gender diversity and CSR runs deep. Study after research study has found that simply having an executive team with gender diversity is highly correlated with having a strong CSR performance – even when those women aren’t working in CSR.

And of course, despite the statistics, we’ve come across a number of inspirational women slowly but steadily inspiring sustainable change. Here are 35 of them. To keep things reasonable we limited ourselves to CSR leaders within organizations – those women cranking out the CSR strategy and CSR reports who you don’t get to hear from very often. We also threw in a few thought leaders to round out the list. There are many more, of course. You should probably give these ladies a raise!

In alphabetical order and without further ado…

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Spotlight on the Sharing Economy: Q&A with uSwapia

| Thursday January 17th, 2013 | 1 Comment

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uswapia-logo-RGBMany of the companies that supported our Indiegogo campaign are active participants in the sharing economy and we wanted to hear more about their companies and perspective on the sharing economy. We’ve asked each company to answer the same questions and we’ll be rolling out the answers over the course of the series.

What’s your name?
Kevin Clark. I’m the Founder and CEO of uSwapia.com.

What does your company do?
uSwapia is an online platform that facilitates the swapping of different services and artisan goods. We shift the traditional barter or trade from being a 1-to-1 exchange between two people, to a system that allows individuals to share what they have and get what they need with any other member, regardless of whether each party is interested in the other’s offered goods.

When were you founded and how big are you?
What started as a collaboration of thoughts and ideas became incorporated in the beginning of 2012 as uSwapia, LLC. Beta testing launched last November. Currently, I’m the only full-time member, but I have a team of amazing designers and programmers working alongside me in the spirit of sharing.

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Ford Doubles Down on Small Business Owners

| Thursday January 17th, 2013 | 0 Comments
The Ford Atlas Concept Truck drops from the ceiling while construction men look on (presumably in awe)

The Ford Atlas Concept Truck drops from the ceiling while construction men look on (presumably in awe)

After a few years dedicated to launching and promoting compact cars, Ford has turned its focus to the other side of the spectrum: vehicles to get the job done. Especially if that job involves hauling stuff or people.

While you’re probably more likely to find news about super efficient small cars on TriplePundit, there is no denying that there are certain jobs that require a bigger vehicle.

Ford has been the leader in commercial vehicle sales for 36 years, with its popular F150 truck. On Tuesday at the annual North American International Auto show in Detroit – the automaker announced that it is betting big on the commercial market in 2014 with the launch of the Transit family (a van and wagon) and the Ford Atlas – a new truck.

Commercial vehicles (like trucks, cargo vans and chassis cabs) represent 29 percent of global industry sales, a huge opportunity. This market is also projected to grow 28 percent by 2017 in Asia and the U.S. Many of those buyers are contractors, farmers, store-owners construction workers and plumbers – folks that need to do a lot of hauling as a part of their jobs. Small business owners make big business for Ford.

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We Did It!

| Thursday December 6th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Crowdfunding is all the rage these days  - companies large and small are turning to the crowd to finance  campaigns for everything from product pre-sales to capital investments in new equipment. With banks loan availability at an all-time low, the crowd is becoming the next big source for modest funding for companies that don’t want (or don’t qualify for) VC funding.

However, the crowdfunding campaigns that make the news and cause would-be campaigners to start drooling are the ones that raise thousands of dollars and race past their funding goals. When you peel back the curtain, there are thousands of campaigns that fail to raise anything close to the stated goal. These campaigners may have lacked a clear rationale for their ask, overestimated the size and commitment of their network, or simply had bad ideas.

When we first discussed a crowdfunded campaign to finance a series on the Rise of the Sharing Economy, we were apprehensive. We didn’t want to be the sustainable business equivalent of this Portlandia sketch. In the end, we figured give it a shot – after all, it made for a pretty good proof of concept for the series.

We’re pleased to announce that we exceeded our goal of $25,000! We’re tremendously thankful to everyone who kicked in and shared the campaign page – especially corporate sponsors like Wheelz, HUB Bay Area, Skeo, Saatchi & Saatchi S, uSwapia, Munchery, ISOS Group, EcoSupply, TrustCloud, Collaborative Consumption, hylo, and  Profit Through Ethics. We needed every bit of help to get there.

Most excitingly, we’ll now be able to deliver a media event in January – a series on the Rise of the Sharing Economy. One of the best things about the campaign was that it throughout the whole month, we were able to emerse ourselves in the sharing economy and we have a ton of great stories to tell and angles to explore. A portion of the funds will also go to support the day-to-day operations of the site and bring you all that fresh content every day.

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A Brief Demonstration of the Sharing Economy in Action

| Tuesday November 20th, 2012 | 0 Comments

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By now you’ve probably heard about our campaign to report on the Rise of the Sharing Economy. Last week, we explained why we decided to try crowdfunding.

We’re still getting questions about what the sharing economy is and how you use it. Nick Aster went undercover to show you how it works:

If you like what you see, please consider kicking in a few bucks to support future coverage.

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Why We’re Trying Crowdfunding

| Saturday November 17th, 2012 | 4 Comments

If you’d like to support us, please click here to be directed to our campaign on Indiegogo.

When people hear that I help run TriplePundit, the first question they always ask me is “how the heck do you do it?”

It’s true, funding for high-quality discourse is hard to come by. But at the same time, interest in joining the conversation on sustainability in business is exploding. We know we’re doing something right, even if we are not becoming internet millionaires.

Luckily enough, we run pretty lean without the trappings that are killing old media like office space and printed publications (and, on the downside, pensions and health insurance and other benefits of a bygone era). The explosion of online media and the passion of our contributors mean that our costs are just a small proportion those a newspaper or magazine with a similar sized readership might face. The popularity of blogging means that high-quality blog posts from experienced professionals cost a fraction of what they once did (sometimes to the dismay of our writers).

But there are still costs. We have staff and writers and design and coding to do. The truth is that this pile of 0s and 1s represents the livelihood of several people and the passions of dozens if not hundreds of contributors. How do we meet our obligations and grow the business -and the conversation – at the same time?

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Global Sharing Day – November 14th

| Tuesday November 13th, 2012 | 3 Comments

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Remember that old expression, “He who dies with the most toys, wins?”

The people of Compare and Share are challenging outdated wisdom with Global Sharing Day. They say it’s going to be the Greatest Share On Earth – one hour where sharers around the world unite by actively sharing something of their choice between the hours of 1pm & 2pm (local time) on 14th November. Sounds pretty cool and easy, right? There’s even a meetup group to tie it all together.

If people share and the internet isn’t there to record it?

It didn’t happen, obviously. Compare and Share wants to hear about what you did for Global sharing day. Tweet it to them @peoplewhoshare, hashtag #globalsharingday.

I need inspiration!

At lunch, grab a cookie to share with a co-worker.

Or consider buying a sweet, sharing-based perk on Indiegogo. You’ll get a chance to boost the sharing economy, try out a cool new company’s sharing-based experiences and support online journalism at the same time. Perks start at a buck!

[Image credit: Compare and Share]

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Biofuel Production Gets a Bit More Efficient

| Wednesday October 31st, 2012 | 0 Comments

Novozymes just announced the release of a new enzyme which will increase the efficiency of biofuel production – leading to greater ethanol yields. The enzyme, called Avantec, will allow biofuel producers to get 2.5 percent more ethanol out of their corn inputs. That might not sound like a lot, but it scales well. The typical ethanol plant uses around 900,000 tons of corn, producing 100 million gallons of ethanol. With this new product, producers can use 22,500 fewer tons of corn to achieve the same output – or squeeze out 2.5 million additional gallons of ethanol for the same input. Ethanol futures were up to $2.413/gallon yesterday – making the potential value of the increased efficiency over $6 million. Not too shabby.

3p Publisher Nick Aster gets the full story from Peder Holk Nielsen of Novozymes:

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What Kind of First Impression Does Your Company Make?

| Thursday October 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Interviewees put a lot of effort into getting ready for their job interviews – up to and including asking the internet for advice about their outfits. You look great, honey!

A friend got a callback for a job he applied for nine months ago with a tech start-up. He’s now happily employed elsewhere, but I encouraged him to take the phone interview anyway. After all, job interviews are a great way to get a sense for how your skills measure up in the marketplace. What transpired gave him such a shockingly bad first impression that I just had to share it.

Even in a down economy with high unemployment, all prospective employees should be treated well. Think about it: They are individuals in your field who have a high level of interest in your company. They cared enough about your company to consider working for you – and they were a close enough fit that you invited them in for a one-on-one meeting. That makes them prime stakeholders. During the interview you have a chance to turn them into champions or detractors – whether or not they end up being successful candidates for your open position.

Beyond your reputation in your industry, it’s also important to remember that employee engagement starts with the interview. Prospective employees will be judging your employee engagement by those crucial first interactions. What kind of message are you sending?

Back to our candidate for worst first impression of the year.

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Why Choose Fair Trade?

| Monday October 15th, 2012 | 1 Comment

In honor of Fair Trade Month, our friends at Fair Trade USA asked us to share this great infographic about what happens when you choose the Fair Trade Certified label.

 

Click to enlarge, or go here to view the dynamic version. If you like what you see, take the Fair Trade pledge here.

 

Click to enlarge, or go here to view the dynamic version. If you like what you see, take the Fair Trade pledge here.

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