Remember this year’s Chipotle Mexican Grill ad “Back to the Start” that captured hearts and minds around the issue of factory farming? As a serious burrito aficionado, there is something comforting about walking up to that big glass counter, steam rising seductively off the tortilla heater, and knowing that you are about to chow down on an overflowing mass filled with ingredients that the proprietor has made a concerted effort to source thoughtfully from farms with sustainable, humane practices.
While the company is transparent about the challenges and improvements needed to further their sustainability path, Chipotle still holds strong as the only national chain that touts an official local sourcing program. Putting even more money where their mouth is, Chipotle met their goal of doubling the amount of produce purchased from local farms.
“It’s a good time to be a female entrepreneur,” says Caitin Berens of Inc. Indeed, women-owned businesses have grown by over 54 percent since 1997 at a rate 1.5 times that of the national average, according to a recent American Express OPEN study. Nearly one third of all businesses (or 8.3 million) are now female-owned. The education, health care and social assistance, as well as arts, entertainment and recreation sectors in particular have seen the fastest growth in the number of women-owned businesses in the past decade.
The study shows the South reigning victorious over this budding trend, with the fastest growth rates of women-owned businesses in Georgia at 95 percent growth, North Carolina at 83 percent, and Mississippi and Texas at 75 percent. The only exception to these higher growth rates is Nevada at 92 percent growth, while Alaska, Iowa, West Virginia, Kansas and Ohio come in last. More specifically, the Washington DC metropolitan area ranks number one with the most concentrated growth in the number and economic contributions of women-owned firms, followed by San Antonio and Houston, Texas.
International beverage icon Coca-Cola Enterprises recently released their seventh Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) report entitled, “How can a drink build a more sustainable tomorrow?” The report details accomplishments, challenges and future goals in their seven CRS areas of focus which include energy and climate change, sustainable packaging and recycling, water stewardship, product portfolio, community, active healthy living, and workplace. The report covers operations implemented by 13,250 employees in Great Britain, France, Monaco, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden as well as offices in the United States.
So how does the mega soft drink heavyweight, which serves over 170 million consumers, literally respond to the report’s title question? CEO John Brock answers, “We’re learning that the answer is a journey not a destination. We’ll continue to embed CRS into our organization, in everything we do. We’ll follow our plan to meet the goals we’ve set and we’ll work with others to innovate when we don’t know all the answers. In this, our first CRS Report since its launch, we hope to show you how we are already delivering for today and inspiring for tomorrow.”
The report highlights the company’s strides on climate change as follows:
What do you get when put a baker, an outdoor industry executive and a farmer together in the same room? A diverse crowd of sustainability gurus honored by the White House this month with the Champions of Change Award for their efforts in the category of Corporate Environmental Sustainability. April is the month to recognize companies, organizations and individuals whose mission is to advance holistic sustainability practices in their community, business or organizational structure.
Colgate-Palmolive is Giving the World Reasons to Smile, with the release of their sustainability objectives for 2015. The reported areas of focus are: promoting health, contributing to communities, saving water, and reducing climate and environmental impact.
As a corporation which does business in over 200 countries, is worth $15.6 billion and is the maker of numerous household name products in oral, home, personal and pet care, these benchmarks are likely to set some CSR standards the industry. In fact, on environmental and social impact performance, GoodGuide gives the company a scientific rating of 6.3, a score 33.3 percent higher than the average rating for all companies.
The company also plans to “increase the sustainability profile in Colgate products.” What that means in green-speak is a pledge to decrease water consumption by 40 percent and energy consumption by 20 percent in the manufacturing process. From 2002 to 2010, Colgate managed to lower water usage by 44 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent, and wastewater loading by 31 percent.
A transatlantic organic equivalence arrangement has been negotiated between representatives from the US Department of Agriculture and EU Agriculture and Regional Development department, allowing for more market access of organic products certified under both the EU and US organic standards. This means that although these sets of standards do contain certain variances, the US National Organic Program (NOP) will be recognized as organic in the EU and vice versa, the EU Organic Program will be acknowledged as organic in the US.
In honor of the release of Trendwatch 2012, we’ll be rolling out posts about sustainability and economic recovery. You can find them here all week, or read the whole set here. Please also join us for a free webinar on February 29th where we’ll be discussing the role of sustainability in economic recovery.
“Sharing is caring,” or at least that is what they teach you in kindergarten. With the advent of such service platforms as Craigslist, Netflix and ZipCar, one might say that tech and social entrepreneurs took this lesson to a whole new level. But the idea of sharing the commons for the common good is nothing new. Community development resource-sharing initiatives like bike coops, food banks, book exchanges, clothing swaps, tool trades and community gardens have been around for decades.
So while the internet didn’t reinvent the wheel here, social networking tools make bartering, sharing, swapping and renting out our own goods more widely acceptable and accessible. Now start-ups can harness these alternative resource-distributing communities using supporting technology, making “people power” a real game changer financially, environmentally and socially.
Green is the new red this Valentine’s Day, or so say the results of Timberland’s Eco-Love Survey released this week, revealing that 77 percent of people regard eco-consciousness as an appealing trait in a potential mate, while 50 percent of Americans are attracted to those who practice eco-friendly behavior around the house such as conserving water, recycling and turning off the lights. The online poll surveyed over 1000 men and women 18 years of age or older and was conducted in January 2012, just in time to provide those searching singles out there with some environmentally-sound dating advice for this year’s Lover’s Day.
We have teamed up with Abbott to produce an article series on the future of corporate philanthropy. Please read the rest of the series here.
These days, donating a portion of one’s own savings or company dollars to charity is to look at philanthropy in its most primitive form. Now, the big players of Silicon Valley are applying their venture capital, social ingenuity and tech savvy to the task of rebooting philanthropy.
There is an impression among some, however, that this next generation of social media innovators and tech luminaries isn’t doing enough, at least not in the traditional sense. That’s what founder of Limited Brands, who donates 10 percent of his own personal time and income to charity, Leslie H. Wexner, tells the New York Times, “Society can’t wait. It’s sad there are so many entrepreneurs, business successes and venture capitalists who give no thought to society.”
As standards become more well-defined and consumers demand more transparency, companies are increasingly in need of the skills to, first of all, begin that difficult process toward the ever-evolving “sustainable” business. But for those already on that path, an understanding of how to report and communicate their successes and hurdles is becoming essential as well. That’s where Colleen Kramer of Springleaf Strategies, a Raleigh-based marketing and sustainability consulting firm, comes in.
The sustainability movement is making waves in North Carolina, at least that’s the impression one might have gotten from the budding enthusiasm at yesterday’s GreenNC: Building for a Sustainable Future in Durham, North Carolina.
Mayor Bill Bell opened up the conference by bragging about his Bull City, which has become a hub for social and environmental entrepreneurship, a model post-industrial town that has risen from the ashes and is witnessing its rebirth amidst repurposed historic tobacco warehouses and textile mills. Bell observed that with the recent climate talks in South Africa, it’s important to remember that the US is one of the world’s highest emitters of greenhouse gases. Bell pronounced, “We’ve got to begin locally,” which is why the city of Durham set the ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
While it seems logical that many restaurants have already begun to reap the benefits of installing onsite worm composting operations, airports may not be the first place people would think of to have such systems in place. The Charlotte Douglas International Airport will change that fact when they open a $1.1 million recycling center in February 2012, to include a vermicomposting system that will use 300 pounds of worms to chow down on up to two tons of airport patron waste per day.
Charlotte Douglas Airport Director Jerry Orr explains to the Charlotte Observer, “When you can do something that is good for the environment and make it self-sustaining, that strikes me as something we should pursue.”
Chickpea enthusiasts might be pleased to learn that this super food has the potential to start showing up in many more products. That’s because PepsiCo recently partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Food Program (WFP) to institute Enterprise EthioPEA, a program with simultaneous goals of dramatically raising Ethiopia’s chickpea production and providing the country with superior economic as well as food security.
CEO Indra Nooyi plans to see PepsiCo’s budget for “healthy” products rise from the current $10 billion up to $30 billion by 2020 Considering the chickpea’s nutritional value, (it’s low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol and sodium), bringing more chickpeas into the product line make sense for the company, especially to guarantee a secure source of Ethiopian chickpeas for their Sabra hummus, owned by both PepsiCo and Strauss Group Ltd.
While the UN estimates there are approximately 250 million child laborers worldwide, some might be alarmed to know that 400,000 of those children are working on U.S. farms. Filmmaker U. Roberto Romano was even surprised himself, revealing to the Ecologist, “I, like many people, thought this was a problem that affected brown skin children in the rest of the world. I didn’t expect to find it here in [the US] with children that were American citizens.” Romano took a year to follow three migrant worker families and their children, Zulema Lopez (12), Perla Sanchez (14) and Victor Huapilla (16) all over the U.S. in an attempt shed light on their difficult lives in the new investigative documentary film “The Harvest.”
This month News One rated New Orleans the country’s #1 “worst food desert,” while Travel + Leisure simultaneously put the Big Easy at the top of their list of “America’s Best Cities for Foodies.” Marianne Cufone, Executive Director of Recirculating Farms Coalition, a group that promotes local community-based food initiatives, notes that such a paradox is occurring in many cities across the U.S., “While restaurants serve a wide array of exciting, enticing dishes, much of the local community struggles to find affordable, healthy food.”