A survey conducted in March and April 2011 by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) with support of Georgia-Pacific Professional was recently released, assessing restaurant recycling habits and consumer demand for and perception of restaurant recycling programs. The resulting report entitled Recycling for All the Right Returns: Meeting Demands of Consumers, Nature – and Restaurants’ Bottom Lines surveyed 500 U.S. restaurants and 1,100 consumers, using a sample of consumers and restaurant owners and operators that was nationally representative.
Farmville, the widely used Facebook game, is moving players’ hands off the computer keyboard and into some real, non-virtual dirt this summer. On June 13, Farmville’s top winning competitors will have the opportunity to travel to Farmville, VA and plant a real fruit orchard. The creation of this new orchard is to acknowledge the branded integration partnership between Zynga (the number one game developer for social networks and creator of Farmville) and the Dreyer’s Fruit Bars brand.
Sharyn Martinez, one of the distinguished Farmville players who will get to plant fruit trees in Virginia, commented on the upcoming trip, “Being from Los Angeles, I thought the only way I’d get to plant an orchard was on my beautiful virtual farm! But now, thanks to Dreyer’s Fruit Bars and Zynga, I am getting ready to dig in and plant fruit trees in the real town of Farmville.”
Next time you’re at the grocery store aisle picking out eggs, you might need to think twice before assuming one organic brand is interchangeable with another. According to the Cornucopia Institute (CI), a non-profit which promotes economic justice for family scale farming, all organic eggs are not alike. They recently released the report Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.
The report contains an Organic Egg Scorecard that rates 70 name brand as well as additional private label organic egg producers based on 22 factors that the organization deems critical to the typical organic consumer. The main rating criteria include outdoor access, outdoor management, indoor quality of life and welfare, and organic principles of farm interdependence and ecological sustainability.
Kraft Foods, the packaged food and snack giant — which includes such household brand names as Oreos, Triscuits, Ritz, LU, Maxwell House, Kool-Aid, Chips Ahoy, Jell-O, Cadbury products, Oscar Meyer, Nabisco, & Kraft macaroni and cheese products – announced this month that they will be increasing sustainability goals for the 2010-2015 period. In addition to their prior sustainability focus areas of energy, carbon dioxide, water, waste and packaging reduction, the company will add transportation and agricultural commodities to measurable fields.
Objectives highlighted for the 2010-2015 timeframe include:
The European Union’s fisheries commissioner, Maria Damanaki, revealed new plans to pay fishermen to catch plastic trash in order to solve the simultaneously detrimental issues of decreasing fish stocks and the buildup of plastic debris in European fishing waters. A pilot project will begin this month in the Mediterranean whereby fishermen will be given the proper net equipment to collect accumulated plastic detritus that is impacting marine life and then have it be recycled.
Damanaki commented on the issue in her blog, “I understand the scale of the problem as well as the outrage of citizens at dirty beaches, at plastic bags found in deepwater Mediterranean canyons, at plastic particles ingested by marine mammals. Preserving the Mediterranean Sea is not only a matter of environmental sustainability. It is also a matter of considerable economic and social implications.”
Ever wonder what happens to all those lobster shells after seafood processors de-shell them before packaging? Millions of lobster shells end up in the landfill each year, while only a small portion become seafood garden compost or lobster meal, an additive in animal feed. A few innovative academics and businesspeople took on this waste stream challenge and figured out how to create a sundry of value-added products.
Chemical and biological engineering professor David Neivandt at the University of Maine is currently making prototypes for a biodegradable golf ball comprised of ground up lobster shells. It is estimated that 300 million golf balls are thrown away or lost in the United States annually and that golf balls take 100 to 1,000 years to decompose naturally, meaning this biodegradable golf ball could tackle two big waste streams at once.
With today’s launch of Starbucks’ tenth annual Global Responsibility Report for 2010, Ben Packard spoke with me about what the company has accomplished this year and what challenges lie ahead in achieving their environmental stewardship, community involvement and ethical sourcing targets. To view the interactive report, visit: http://www.starbucks.com/responsibility
Lesley Lammers: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. I was hoping you could start out by telling readers a little bit about what led you to work on sustainability at Starbucks and give a sense of what your current position as Vice President of Global Responsibility entails?
One decade ago Clif Bar & Company made a commitment to be sustainable and today has proven to continuously raise the bar for fellow entrepreneurs on what it means to be a sustainable business. From the outside, it appears as though Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford, Clif Bar’s co-CEOs, and their innovative staff have thought about sustainability from the environmental, social and financial perspective. Erickson recently commented on this occasion, “We hope others can learn from our experience, that bringing sustainability into all parts of the business does not need to be predicated on profitability. Even amid tough times, we had a bigger vision for the kind of company we wanted to be and the impact we wanted to have on the world around us.”
City dwellers who spend their daily lives surrounded by a concrete and steel jungle often yearn for something that resembles nature and can bring them back to earth amidst their urban environment. This is where Habitat Horticulture Living Walls + Design decided to step in. The landscape architecture company’s core belief is that “plants provide essential nourishment and vitality to our environment and the well-being of our community” as well as “bring greenery into urban spaces and into the everyday lives of city inhabitants.”
In the spirit of pro-activism and guerilla gardening (gardening without permission), seed bombs are usually thrown into vacant, blighted lots under the cover of night, but with their growing popularity perhaps folks will start tossing them around on their morning walk with the dog. Seed bombs have traditionally been made with rich soil, a few seeds that don’t need to much help to grow, and some sort of compostable outer shell such as clay or newspaper. They are used as change agents to revitalize abandoned, unloved urban areas that might benefit from some greenery. You simply soak the bomb in water to activate the seeds inside, chuck it into a lot that needs some TLC, let the casing biodegrade, and watch the plant grow.
The Urban Farming Guys are a group of self-proclaimed “revolutionaries” made up of 20 families who decided to move from suburbia to the inner-city of Kansas City, MO to start a community urban farm and sustainable living experiment. The families all bought houses within a five block radius of one another, aiming to provide food to their neighborhood at an affordable price, reduce crime, create jobs, alleviate poverty and restore dignity to what is considered to be one of the most blighted neighborhoods in the city.
In the past, the Dervaes family of the Dervaes Institute has been in the national media spotlight, often portrayed as one of the leaders of the urban homesteading movement. Referring to their project as the Path to Freedom, the Dervaes are known for turning their one-tenth of an acre property in Pasadena, CA into multiple sustainability initiatives that include growing fruits and vegetables, animal husbandry, water reclamation, solar installations, and beekeeping. However, recent controversy has brought them under scrutiny for trademarking words that describe a lifestyle which has come to be associated with community-building and the open sharing of knowledge – urban homesteading.
The battle for urban backyard goats has proven itself to be a bigger challenge than that of the urban chicken, because — no pun intended — goats are a whole different animal. Often seen as more of a disturbance, goats’ larger size, noisiness, stench, and impressive ability to chew through just about anything haven’t exactly won them the same popularity of their smaller, fresh egg producing, seemingly more manageable counterparts.
Blair and Ben Ripple began Big Tree Farms back in June 2000 on a humble one eighth of an acre, which has expanded to ten acres where now over 80 varieties of crops are sustainably grown all year round in the pristine, mountainous central highlands of Bali. Picture lush green rolling terraced hills of 30 year old cacao and coffee plants, vanilla orchids enveloping Dapdap trees, and passion fruit temptingly dangling from vines for the taking. Hidden amidst the shade trees you will find a plethora of organic fruits and vegetables including such tasty heirlooms as French Chantenay carrots, D’avignon radishes, Pennsylvania Brandywine tomatoes and Italian Chioggia beets.
Forward thinking Marlow & Sons is putting a new twist on what it means for a restaurant to ‘go green’, hoping to give customers an experience (and product) that will leave them with a lasting respect for the animal they have just consumed. Not only do diners have the option of ordering grass-fed pork and beef off the menu raised on local New York farms, but they can also bring home leather bags, pouches, belts, footballs, and medicine balls made from the hide of those same house-butchered pigs and cows.