Despite UPS headquarters being 20 years old, the company just announced that it has become the first in the package delivery and logistics industry to gain LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. UPS submitted the building for review in May 2011 (shortly after the appointment of Chief Sustainability Officer Scott Wicker) and says it’s the first of many to be assessed for certification.
“Our plan is to assess all new facilities and some existing facilities to see if they qualify for LEED,” Wicker said in a press release.
So how, as a 20-year-old building, was it actually accomplished?
Last month, Shaw’s Supermarkets, owned by SUPERVALU, launched a sustainable seafood program in partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Both ensure that the seafood Shaw’s sells is globally certified and locally verified by these two leading sustainable seafood organizations. These verifications provide consumers with the confidence of knowing that we are buying seafood from not only sustainable fisheries, but local ones as well. Every piece of fish that Shaw’s now sells is traceable back to its source and is received fresh on a daily basis.
Shaw’s says they are the first New England retailer to sell their seafood certified by the MSC, which is an independent, non-profit organization who has developed strict standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. MSC’s standards meet the world’s toughest best practice guidelines and are helping to transform seafood markets around the world. Their distinctive, blue ecolabel makes it easy for consumers to spot at Shaw’s right at the seafood counter.
Last month I had the opportunity to visit Savannah Bee Company, a company that I have been following for a number of years– I was eager to check it out in person. Founded in 2002 by Ted Dennard, aka “Fearless Leader” amongst the team, Savannah Bee Company is so much more than just selling honey and beeswax.
Dennard sees bees as role models for living in harmony with the environment. He grew up on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia and was first introduced to beekeeping at 12 years old. Through his various stages of life – high school, college – he always had bees at his side. Even through the Peace Corps he taught beekeeping to village farmers in South America. And while it seemed as though Dennard’s interest in bees was just a hobby, he enthusiastically traveled the world to research and watch them “making medicinal manuka honey in New Zealand, rubber honey in Vietnam, logwood honey in Jamaica, heather honey in Ireland, and the famous tilleul lavender honey of France,” his bio states.
“Until recently, it seemed more like fate than a business plan. I never wanted to do this for the money because I never thought I could make any,” Dennard says.
The Thoughtful Bread Company, an “eco-bakery” located in South West England, has an old-school way of doing things. The business has very strong environmentally friendly initiatives and, according to one of its owners, Duncan Glendinning, the Company is England’s first fully sustainable bakery. He says it is part of a generation of ethical businesses that concentrate on sustainability, rather than solely on the bottom line.
Glendinning says that markers of success for The Thoughtful Bread Company are not money or turnover, but good feedback from customers. And apparently it’s pretty darn good because he nearly sells out of bread just after lunch.
Ingredients from The Thoughtful Bread Company are sourced within a 40-mile radius whenever possible and flavors vary depending on the season. The company also minimize machinery within their facility to help reduce day-to-day impact on the environment.
It’s that time of the year for planting seeds! And while you can find your cukes, tomatoes and beans at your local nursery or hardware store, it’s a little more difficult to find heirloom varieties. Step into The Living Seed Company, a small California business that offers high-quality seeds that grow to be flavorful and nutritious. Each of the seed varieties is 100% open-pollinated, organic or grown on small natural farms, non-GMO, untreated and vigorous.
Owned by Matthew Hoffman and Nancy Astrid Lindo, the seed varieties they have selected are rare and beautiful and they’ve searched far and wide to find them. Have you ever heard of Bloomsdale Lonstanding Spinach? We haven’t either, but apparently it’s delicious in omelets, soups, dips and pizza.
A few years ago, Whole Foods announced a Premium Body Care standard for personal products. The seal was slapped on over 1,200 body care products to assist consumers in purchasing the very best. Last year, the company announced that by June 1, 2011, a third-party certification would be required for personal care products and cosmetics that make an “organic” claim. They also issued packaging standards for their suppliers. And now, Whole Foods is taking it one step further yet again, diving into the world of household cleaners.
Just a few weeks ago we wrote about sustainable palm oil in the food business. It seems that with growing consumer awareness, the industry is under pressure and under a microscope. But food companies aren’t the only ones who are guilty of using palm oil. In fact, it’s also widely used in cosmetics and personal care products such as lipsticks, soaps, and shampoos. The reason? It’s a low-cost alternative.
Many smaller personal care companies have made the move towards the use of sustainable palm oil. Now one of the biggest beauty companies in the world, Avon Products, Inc., is making the industry’s biggest move to support sustainable palm oil production. Called The Palm Oil Promise, this company-wide global commitment is launching for Earth Day. Now while we usually cringe at the PR buzzwords “launching for Earth Day,” it was nice to hear that this commitment is actually part of a bigger program that Avon has launched called 2011 Hello Green Tomorrow.
About two months ago I received a phone call from my 6-year-old niece, asking me if I wanted to buy Girl Scout Cookies. Two words that have become associated with these popular cookies quickly came to mind: palm oil. But how could I resist? Not only would my niece not understand, but I do admit that I have been in love with Samoas since I sold Girl Scout Cookies. I caved and bought a few boxes.
It was after I received my cookies that I read an inspiring story about two young Girl Scouts who were determined to make a difference after they found out that their cookies contained unsustainable palm oil. As many know, palm oil production is the major cause of deforestation of rainforests. The shock came for young Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen was when they found out that the clearing of rainforests threatens the survival of orangutans.
Now there are advocates out there who are major proponents of sustainable palm oil, such as McDonald’s, but there are also major companies such as Burger King and HSBC that have both made big strides in no longer supporting Indonesian producers. So why are the Girl Scouts and their baking company, Little Brownie Bakers, still including the ingredient in their cookies? Madison and Rhiannon set out to find out and make a difference.
In celebration of Earth Month, Whole Foods announced last week that they will be presenting a traveling Do Something Reel Film Festival, which will touch down in 70 cities across the U.S. during April. Launching this upcoming Friday, the collection of six films will focus on food, environmental issues and everyday people with a vision of making a world of difference.
“Through our Whole Foods Market Do Something Reel Film Festival we want to raise awareness of environmental and food issues, and support filmmakers who are creating films that inspire people to question the impact our choices have on our health, body and environment,” Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, said in a press release.
Since I started working in the sustainable industry, I’ve believed that targeting a young audience can be beneficial on many levels. Not only are they our next generation of voters, but they also have a huge influence on their parents and of course their friends and siblings as well. So when I read about MTV’s new blog, called Act, I was thrilled to know that it was giving its young viewers a way to make a difference.
MTV Act reports about social issues around the globe, but by taking it one step further each post allows its readers to, well, act on issues that they are concerned about. For example, Sammi “Sweetheart” (from “Jersey Shore”) is rallying her fans to donate to Soles4Souls, a non-profit that collects shoes and then in turn gives them to those in need around the world. Sammi’s goal is to donate to a total of 50,000 kids and young readers can either donate online or through a text message.
As consumers begin to search more and more for shopping deals through popular websites such as Groupon and Rue LaLa, one thing is quite clear – today consumers are all looking for ways to save money. So, consider a website that not only has daily deals from local businesses, but which ensures the businesses are sustainable-operated…
The lucky folks in Los Angeles now have GatherGreen, a company that prides themselves on sending their subscribers unbeatable deals on local greed goods and green services. By pre-negotiating with businesses, GatherGreen is able to get deals if it can guarantee the businesses a minimum number of purchases. Basically it works similar to Groupon: if GatherGreen has enough buyers for a deal, then everyone benefits.
Recent green businesses included in GatherGreen’s deals range from restaurants, to vegan tattoo shops, to acupuncture treatments, to wine bars. What we also like is that GatherGreen shares the scoop on what make these businesses green and what they do to ensure that our future generations thrive and prosper. Also included is what the best offerings are and what people in-the-know are saying.
A few days ago FedEx Corp. unveiled its Enterprise Data Center-West (EDC-W), located in Colorado Springs, CO, making it the company’s first environmentally sustainable data center. With this grand opening, this now makes EDC-W among the most energy efficient data centers in the U.S. and FedEx hopes the center will become a model of sustainability and efficiency for all data centers in the future.
Typically when we think of buildings being built green, we think mostly of the materials used in addition to use of natural light, green roofs, construction waste, etc. However, when it comes to data centers, apparently a major challenge is to efficiently maintain the amount of energy used for a consistently cool temperature for the computing environment.
Anvil Knitwear is known for their sustainable apparel which is made from a variety of fibers and blends such as certified organic cotton, transitional cotton, recycled cotton, and recycled PET bottles. The company announced a few days ago that it has joined the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative, becoming the first U.S.-based apparel manufacturer to do so.
The partnership is being overseen by the Aid by Trade Foundation, an organization that “aims to reduce poverty and promote economic development through market-based incentives.” The CmiA objective is to promote sales of sustainably grown cotton from Africa, which fits in well with Anvil’s social and environmental priorities.
Anvil is the largest consumer of U.S. organic cotton so this new partnership is yet another source of sustainable fiber for Anvil, which ties into the company’s evolving sustainable fiber strategy.
Ladies, let’s face it. Many of us have bras in our drawer that just simply don’t fit correctly, that we’ve hardly worn, or that we just plain don’t like anymore. We can’t throw them away because they were so darn expensive, so they just sit in our drawer taking up room. So why not clean out and put them to good use by recycling them?
While we’ve heard of recycling just about everything possible, bras have thus far been off the table. Entrepreneur Elaine Birks-Mitchell now introduces us to her business called the Bra Recyclers, a for-profit textile recycling company focused on doing their part to recycle and reuse unnecessarily textiles that end up in landfills.
In 2002, The Home Depot created The Home Depot Foundation which supports non-profit organizations that are “dedicated to creating and preserving healthy and affordable homes as the cornerstone of sustainable communities.” Since its formation, the foundation has granted a whopping $190 million to nonprofit organizations and has supported the development of more than 95,000 homes, planted more than 1.2 million trees, and built or refurbished more than 1,875 playgrounds, parks and greenspaces.
Under The Home Depot Foundation umbrella, the Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI) was formed in 2009, which is working with cities across the country to assist in the planning and implementation of local sustainability strategies.