3p Contributor: Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist with a passion for storytelling and sustainability. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Earth911, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands and the Daily Meal.

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian with an interest in climate resilience, clean tech and food justice. You can contact her at mary@triplepundit.com or @mary_mazzoni on Twitter.

Recent Articles

3p Weekend Photo Gallery: Tour the Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 31st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Volkswagen's Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany houses more than 600 works of art -- some even on the sides of its buildings.

Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany houses more than 600 works of art — some even on the sides of its buildings.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

When it came time to buy my first car, my dad and I drove down to the used car dealership, and we wound up buying the first one we saw. Here in the states, this is a fairly common occurrence. ‘See it, like it, drive it, buy it’ is the typical car-buying process for millions of Americans, myself included.

So, you can imagine my surprise as I sat down to lunch last week at the Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg and learned that buying a new car often takes months for Europeans. Forget picking one out and driving it off the lot. Across the pond, most families work directly with an automaker to customize every aspect of their new ride. They then wait weeks for their custom vehicle to be produced.

After all that waiting, many European drivers crave a bit of pomp and circumstance when they pick up their new car. That’s why thousands of car-buyers journey here to Wolfsburg every year. They often make a weekend of it — staying at the Ritz-Carlton, touring the stunning countryside and visiting the Autostadt, Volkswwagen‘s theme park and educational center that focuses on “people, cars and what moves them.” During their stay, buyers head to the Car Towers, the world’s largest delivery center, to pick up their ride (picture an enormous vending machine — but filled with cars).

But car-buyers aren’t the only people who visit the Autostadt. In fact, the park attracts around 2 million visitors each year — more than 29 million since the official opening in 2000 — making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany. I had a chance to tour the park, which sits on the site of an old industrial complex and puts the automaker’s efficient and sustainable design on display. Click through for the virtual tour to catch an glimpse for yourself.

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The Business Guide to Talking About Carbon

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

8211403515_09f016001a_zCarbon offsetting gained international awareness back in 1997 with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, which sanctioned offsets as a way for governments and companies to meet their greenhouse gas emission targets.

After a few years, offsets gained something of a stigma in the environmental community. Thoughts drifted to wealthy celebrities using offsets to justify weekly use of private jets or Coldplay’s infamous mango tree debacle, and critics were quick to bemoan offsets as an easy pathway to greenwashing or a half-hearted attempt to quell eco-guilt. But the market has changed drastically in the past 17 years.

“I know you mentioned in an article about the Coldplay thing, and that’s the ugly elephant in the room that nobody likes to talk about who’s in this industry,” Nancy Bsales, manager of carbon solutions for TerraPass, said with a laugh in a recent interview. “But over the years the transparency and the quality of offsets has improved tremendously. There are so many strong standards out there that a company or an industry can be very confident that what they’re doing is real.”

Rather than a bandage tasked with covering up environmental indiscretions in one fell swoop, today’s carbon market actually offers a deeper fix. “On a corporate level, when companies look at [offsets], they look at them as a way to bridge the gap,” Bsales continued. Even for companies that are on top of their game as far as efficiency and utilizing new technologies, emissions are still created, she noted, and that’s where offsets come in.

“So what do you do with what’s left? And that’s when you take into account the market-based tools of renewable energy credits or carbon offsets,” Bsales said. “And then the real approach is supposed to be: On a yearly basis [companies] are supposed to become so much better at efficiencies and technologies that [they] need less and less offsets. That is the true goal that we want everyone to look at.”

Despite these changes in the marketplace, some companies may hesitate to incorporate offset decisions into their sustainability communications — whether it’s because they’re new to sustainability or simply worried of being nailed for greenwashing. We sat down with Bsales to get her top tips for sharing your offset decisions effectively — and making them a highlight rather than an afterthought in your sustainability communications.

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Photo Gallery: How e-Golf Batteries Are Made

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday October 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Christian Buhlmann (center), Volkswagen Product Communications, shows a cut-away model of a completed e-Golf battery to a group of journalists at Volkswagen's battery plant in Braunschweig, Germany.

Christian Buhlmann (center), Volkswagen Product Communications, shows a cut-away model of a completed e-Golf battery to a group of journalists at Volkswagen’s battery plant in Braunschweig, Germany.

Last month, I was lucky enough to be one of the first Americans to hop behind the wheel of the 2015 e-Golf, Volkswagen’s first fully-electric vehicle for the North American market. The car offers a smooth ride and a good deal of pep, with a best-in-class torque of 199 foot-pounds (the standard torque measure).

Its 24.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is no slouch either, providing 70 to 90 miles of range on a single charge. Like the e-Golf’s electric motor and transmission, the battery was developed in-house and is made at Volkswagen’s manufacturing facility in Braunschweig, Germany.

The Braunschweig plant, the oldest in operation for Volkswagen Group, has been manufacturing conventional batteries for more than 75 years. Eighteen months ago, it began producing batteries for the automaker’s first electric vehicle, the E-Up! (available in European markets only). Earlier this year, Braunschweig added batteries for the European and North American e-Golf models to its portfolio, and it’s now the only plant to churn out batteries for Volkwagen’s two electric vehicles.

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Interview: Todd Taylor on Darden’s ‘Restaurants of the Future’

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

olive garden It’s no secret that restaurants run on slim profit margins, and restaurants with tight budgets and minimal resources often put sustainability on the back burner. This often comes at a high cost to the environment – including unnecessary energy and water use, as well as exorbitant amounts of waste sent to local landfills.

Responding to these issues, Darden Restaurants, the Fortune 500 restaurant giant known for brands like Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, has made a commitment to reduce the physical footprint and amount of resources used at its more than 1,500 restaurants across the country.

The restaurant chain has already begun constructing new restaurants using the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Whether a location is LEED certified or not, Darden’s commitment is carried through to its restaurant design elements, which include LED lighting, low-flow sinks, water efficient landscaping, energy management systems and more. Darden also recently launched restaurant Sustainability Teams — self-selected, passionate employees tasked with keeping the company steadfast in its conservation goals.

Darden has set out to utilize innovative technology in all corners of its restaurants, appropriately dubbed ‘restaurants of the future.’ Keeping an eye on the latest technology and the needs of its seven distinct restaurant chains — which also include Seasons 52, the Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House — Darden now utilizes sustainable technologies that were not available even a decade ago, such as water-efficient pasta cookers, recyclable carpet, automatic light dimmers and organic recycling processes, the company said.

I sat down with Todd Taylor, vice president of design for Darden Restaurants, to find out what these ‘restaurants of the future’ look like — and how the company hopes to expand the concept moving forward.

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Ford Edges Closer to ‘Growing’ Its Own Car Parts

Mary Mazzoni
| Monday October 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Is that popcorn? Nope, it's a batch of freshly made soy-based foam. Ford now uses this bio-based material in every vehicle sold in North America.

Is that popcorn? Nope, it’s a batch of freshly made soy-based foam. Ford now uses this bio-based material in every vehicle sold in North America.

Researchers at Ford Motor Co. have been working to replace petroleum-based plastic with renewable alternatives for nearly 15 years. Back in 2000, Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader for sustainable materials at Ford Research, and her team devised a chemical formula to replace petroleum-based automotive foam with foam made from soybean oil.

It wasn’t always easy. As Mielewski explained to a group of journalists in the research lab last week, the first soy-based foam the team tested was “the most miserable, stinky, terrible foam ever. It smelled like burnt popcorn.”

But, she continued, the team had plenty of time to perfect the formula. Why? To put it bluntly: because the rest of the company wasn’t expecting much anyway.

“Way back in 2000, people said: ‘Why the heck do you want to do this? Petroleum is cheap; we’ve been doing it for 50 years with the petroleum-based chemicals. Why would we want to change it?'” Mielewski recalled that she and her colleague Ellen Lee were “thrown out of every conference room in the whole company.”

As the researchers continued their work, it often seemed as if the department wouldn’t live to see the results. But, in the innovative spirit of his great-grandfather, Executive Chairman Bill Ford wouldn’t hear of it. “Every time the project was about to be shut down due to resource constraints, we would hear from behind the scenes that Bill Ford met with somebody and that we were going to keep going,” Mielewski said.

Finally, after years in the laboratory, the team’s hard work paid off. In 2007, Mielewski, Lee and their colleagues completed a soy-based foam that met every specification Ford had in place for its automotive foam. “That’s when the magic sort of happened for us: Oil went from $40 a barrel to over $160 a barrel,” Mielewski continued with a smile. “The phones started ringing off the hook, and they said, ‘You know that really crappy idea? That’s a good idea.'”

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3p Weekend: 5 Things Employers Need to Know About Millennials

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Want to learn more? Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST / Noon EST for a special Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Click here for more info.

Business MeetingWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by leadership strategist Erica Dhawan75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. We all know millennials love their smartphones and are more likely to shun car-centric suburban life in favor of big cities — but those aren’t the only things that make this generation tick.

If employers are looking to attract and retain top talent, they’d be wise to learn these five things about millennials.

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The Mustang Gets an EcoBoost for Its 50th Birthday

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

2014-10-14 14.44.29I’ve always wanted a Ford Mustang. As a youngster, I often daydreamed about cruising down the highway with the top down and the wind in my hair. Many a homeroom game of MASH ended in disappointment — not because I got stuck living in a shack or married to a boy who pushed me down at recess, but because the luck of the draw left me with something other than a Mustang.

I never would have guessed that the first time I’d sit behind the wheel of my dream car would be as an environmental journalist — about to punch the pedal of the most fuel efficient Mustang ever made.

For the model’s 50th birthday, the folks at Ford Motor Co. decided to do things a bit differently by launching the first Mustang with EcoBoost. Available with both manual and automatic transmissions, the EcoBoost model promises 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Now, before you get too excited, I’m not talking about the V8 version — or even the V6. The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost comes equipped with a 4-cylinder engine. But at 2.3 liters and 310 horsepower, it still has a good deal of pep. The 320 pound-feet of torque doesn’t hurt performance either. In fact, the EcoBoost produces more horsepower and torque than the Mustang GT engines did just 10 years ago.

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Sustainable Seafood at SXSW Eco: A Tale of Two Fisheries

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

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From left to right: Hoyt Peckham, Cheryl Dahle, Brian Caouette and moderator Meg Busse, community centered designer for Context Partners.

Ocean health issues took center stage at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference in Austin, Texas last week. On the second day of the conference, renowned oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle, who you may also know as the founder of Mission Blue, gave a keynote speech on her vision for more sustainable seas. Her speech was one of the most buzzed-about at the conference, and the subject definitely hit home.

The following day, a group of sustainable seafood experts assembled for a panel discussion on how networks are the future of fish. What do they mean by ‘networks,’ you ask? To put it simply: 200 million people directly or indirectly depend on fishing for their livelihoods, many in developing countries. In nations where infrastructure  is limited and regulations lax — and cost-effective, sustainable solutions are not readily available — fishermen often choose unsustainable and even illegal catch methods in order to make a living.

For these fishermen, the only networks they know for catching and selling their fish are unsustainable. This contributes to the rampant overfishing of our oceans and the opacity of the seafood supply chain. But introducing more sustainable networks to fishermen and fishing communities around the world just may help solve the problem.

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After the Climate Summit: The U.N.’s Way Forward

Mary Mazzoni
| Monday October 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

Triple Pundit was one of hundreds of organizations to attend the annual SXSW Eco conference in Austin last week. This post is part of our ongoing coverage.

If you’re anything like me, it was tough to step away from the computer during Climate Week NYC. Like so many others, I scrolled tirelessly through Twitter during the People’s Climate March, which drew more than 400,000 supporters from all over the world in a hopeful foreshadowing of things to come. Then it was quickly on to live feeds of the United Nations Climate Summit, a historic gathering that promised to pave the way to a more sustainable future.

But last week as I strolled through the Austin Convention Center at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference, I overheard murmurings that the march and summit had disappeared from news feeds as quickly as they arrived — that the media had all but forgotten the momentum supporters worked so hard to build.

Of course, just because a subject vanishes from the 24-hour news cycle doesn’t mean it loses its footing at the forefront of the public agenda. For activists, supporters and, yes, even world leaders, the U.N. Climate Summit is still very much a hot topic. As a group of sustainability professionals, nonprofit leaders and reporters filed into a U.N. panel discussion at SXSW Eco, it was clear the summit still mattered a great deal to us. We all had one question on our minds: What happens next?

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8 Companies Working to Eliminate Hunger

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

a-mission-of-bread-and-hope-lgWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

Thursday, Oct. 16, is World Food Day — an annual day of action against hunger. Commemorating the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada, WFD asks people to come together in their commitment to eradicate hunger in their lifetimes.

An estimated 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger — a startling statistic that underscores the importance of action on the issue. While spreading awareness on World Food Day is great, it takes year-round action to secure real change. With that in mind, this week we’re tipping our hats to eight companies that are working to eliminate hunger worldwide.

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Seen and Heard at SXSW Eco: Day 2

Mary Mazzoni
| Wednesday October 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

An enthusiastic Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, gives her keynote presentation "Sustainable Seas: The Vision and the Reality" at the 2014 SXSW Eco Conference.

An enthusiastic Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, gives her keynote presentation at the 2014 SXSW Eco conference.

The SXSW Eco conference is flying by, and Day 2 is already behind us. The day was filled with startup demos and inspirational sessions — not to mention the SXSW Eco Awards and our Twitter chat with HP (if you missed it, you can catch a recap here).

In a whirlwind lineup of events, panelists discussed everything from sustainable seafood and reducing waste to urban mobility and protecting the honeybee population. At Triple Pundit’s happy hour event last night, we asked folks to share their key takeaways from the day. The responses were as diverse as they are.

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Seen and Heard at SXSW Eco: Day 1

Mary Mazzoni
| Tuesday October 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

Atmosphere at the 2014 SXSW Eco Conference. Photo by Rebecca Hedges Lyon.Day 1 of the SXSW Eco conference has come and gone, and attendees are busy chatting about their favorite takeaways, memorable moments and lessons learned.

On Day 1, social impact startups went on display, exhibitioners hosted hundreds at their booths, and panelists discussed everything from sustainable agriculture and creating climate wealth to solving global problems through creative design. But what attendees seem to enjoy the most is the community at SXSW Eco — where a group of like-minded individuals across multiple sectors can collaborate.

We took a walk around the Austin Convention Center and asked folks to share their thoughts.

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3p Weekend Preview: An Early Look at SXSW Eco 2014

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Coming to SXSWEco? Join Triple Pundit for a Happy Hour event from 6-8 p.m. on October 7. RSVP here.

Park decor at SXSW Eco 2013.

Park decor at SXSW Eco 2013.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

We don’t know about you, but the 3p team is getting pretty excited to attend the SXSW Eco conference in Austin next week. So excited, in fact, that we already have our daily schedules planned and ready to go! Here are 10 panels, parties and events we can’t wait to check out. 

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Brazilian Startup Solidarium Connects Artisans with the Global Marketplace

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday October 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests for a Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Follow along at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST.

Tiago Dalvi (far right), founder and CEO of Solidarium, began with a big dream -- and he's already touched the lives of more than 15,000 people in his native Brazil.

Tiago Dalvi (far right), founder and CEO of Solidarium, began with a big dream — and he’s already touched the lives of more than 15,000 people in his native Brazil.

Brazilian native Tiago Dalvi had big dreams from the start. He was accepted into business school at the tender age of 16, where he first noticed his talent for sales. While Dalvi loved talking to customers and devising new ways to sell a product, he didn’t want to sell just anything. Rather than peddling the standards like cars or appliances, he wanted to sell something that made a difference.

A few years later, he started working with an NGO called Entrepreneurial Alliance in Brazil. He soon realized that a large percentage of its partner entrepreneurs were artisans, many of whom lived below the poverty line. Most made quality goods for competitive prices, but they didn’t know how to sell their products.

“Most of these artisans used to live in a local bubble,” Dalvi told Triple Pundit in a recent interview. “They sell their product in their community and in street fairs, but they have no idea how to sell their products outside of these communities.”

The young businessman saw an opportunity to use his penchant for sales to make people’s lives better by connecting artisans with the resources they need to sell their products to a wider customer base. Armed with a bright idea and a passion for the cause, the then 20-year-old entrepreneur began approaching small retail shops in Brazilian cities, where owners were even more receptive than he’d hoped.

“We actually realized that the other end [retailers and consumers] really wanted to purchase those kind of products but had no idea where to find them. So, there was no company bridging that market,” he remembered.

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3p Weekend: Top 10 Sustainable U.S. Breweries

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday September 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Love sustainable beer? Join Triple Pundit as we take our ‘Stories & Beer’ series on the road! It all starts in Philadelphia on Sept. 30, where we’ll discuss the B Corp movement and “measuring positive impact.” Then, it’s on to New York City on Oct. 2 for a chat about sustainable fashion and water conservation. We’ll wrap things up with a happy hour event at SXSW Eco in Austin on Oct. 7. Hope to see you there! 

Among its many sustainability initiatives, New Belgium Brewing is a known supporter of cycling as a way to reduce carbon emissions. It provides bike-to-work incentives for employees and hosts the ever-popular Tour de Fat cycling event each year.

Among its many sustainability initiatives, New Belgium Brewing is a big supporter of cycling. It provides bike-to-work incentives for employees and hosts the ever-popular Tour de Fat cycling event each year.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re bound to be feeling a little thirsty. To help you choose a sustainable sip for tonight’s happy hour, this week we’re rounding up 10 of the most sustainable breweries in the U.S. So, grab a cold one, and rest easy knowing it had little to no impact on our planet.

1. New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium is widely regarded as one of the most sustainable breweries in the nation. Taking a holistic approach to sustainability, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery uses science-based metrics to track environmental performance.

New Belgium is currently diverting 99.9 percent of its waste from landfills and has reduced water use per barrel of beer to 3.5:1 (averages range from 6:1 to 10:1). The company is also a partner in the Brewers for Clean Water campaign and has donated close to half a million dollars to restore local waterways. The brewery also takes a “high-involvement” approach when it comes to its community, hosting events and give-back initiatives to help support the people that love its beer. The fact that it’s 100 percent employee-owned doesn’t hurt either.

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