My 2014 Sustainability Moment of Optimism

Raz Godelnik
| Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Keith Weed speaking at TED@Unilever

Looking backwards at 2014 I can find plenty of events that made me more optimistic. At the same time I can also find plenty of events that made me more pessimistic.

I’m probably not the only one in this space having these mixed feelings, but at the end of day I’d rather stay optimistic (how otherwise can you drive change?), which is why I’d like to share with you the most optimistic moment I had in 2014 when it comes to sustainability.

Now, let’s be clear – when I talk about optimism, I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand or daydreaming about a utopian future, but about a very realistic “hopefulness and confidence about the future,” which is exactly what I found in September at TED@Unilever.

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California Law Banning Confinement Crates Takes Effect In 2015

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 31st, 2014 | 2 Comments

caged hensIf hens realized the better conditions that Proposition 2, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, ushers in for them they would be holding celebrations. In 2008 California voters passed Proposition 2 requires egg-laying hens in California to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their wings. In 2010 California lawmakers passed AB 1437 which requires all shell eggs sold in California to comply with Proposition 2, acts as a virtual ban on egg factory cages. California voters approved Proposition 2 by 63.5 percent. At the time the ballot initiative received more votes than any other in American history.

Proposition 2 extends to other farm animals. As the law states, “a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents such animal from: lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs.” A covered animal includes “any pig during pregnancy, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen who is kept on a farm.” That means sow gestation crates, a small space pregnant pigs are confined in, are banned in California as of January 1. Veal crates, a small space calves are housed in, are also banned.

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10 Ways Politics Shaped the Environment in 2014

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Environment_and_SilverLakeRPU_JonathunderThe environment and the effects of climate change were at the center of legislative debate in many countries this year. The release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 draft treatise on global warming helped center legislators’ attention on the task at hand, but some countries still opted for the wait-and-see approach over regulatory fixes.

Here in the U.S., the response was equally inconsistent, thanks in part to a hearty push-back from the oil and gas sector and the gold-rush boom of the fracking industry in several states. But in those areas where climate change, dwindling resources or water issues were a concern, legislative options often took center stage.

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Report: Energy Industry Spent $721 Million on Midterm Elections

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ourmoderndilemma_AndrewHartIf there’s one number that says all you need to know about the influence of the energy industry on the nation’s political discourse and direction, it’s $721 million.

A ThinkProgress report last week on the 2014 midterm election cycle found that after adding up direct contributions to individuals and political groups, including spending on TV ads and lobbying, the energy industry spent more than $721 million, citing an analysis from the Center for American Progress.

Not to put too fine a point on it: That huge amount of campaign spending buys a huge amount of influence in Congress. It helped elect fossil fuel-friendly candidates who will set the anti-environment agenda of the next Congress, which will be controlled by Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

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O3b Aims to Offer Real Broadband to the World’s ‘Other 3 Billion’

| Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

O3b sat launch-1Global, real-time communications would not be possible were it not for the 1,200-odd satellites orbiting the earth. By extension, globalization of culture, markets and the assembly of global businesses may well not have proceeded nearly as fast or to the degree it has were it not for satellite technology.

There were 1,235 satellites serving various purposes – from amateur radio to astrophysics – in various types of Earth orbit as of July 2014, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists’ database. Over half – 639 – are for communications. The majority of communications satellites – or comsats – are in geostationary orbit, moving at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation at fixed points along the equator, some 22,238 miles above our planet’s surface.

We can add four more satellites to the roster of comsats orbiting Earth: Aiming to provide broadband Internet access to the “other 3 billion” human inhabitants that still lack high-speed voice and data network communications, “next-generation network” provider O3b Networks on Dec. 18 celebrated the successful launch of four comsats into medium-Earth orbit (MEO). That brings the number of satellites O3b has put into MEO in the past five months to eight. O3b’s globe-spanning constellation of communications satellites now totals 12.

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Climate Change is Impacting the Flavor and Quality of Wine

RP Siegel | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 4 Comments

4933018843_675a73551f_zIt has been a challenge at times to get well-heeled and sometimes highly influential people to care about climate change. After all, having a great deal of money can serve to insulate someone from problems that afflict those less fortunate. Food prices going up, for example, not that big a deal. Coastal areas flooding out, go somewhere else for vacation. Many of those at the top of the heap are finding that business-as-usual is working very well for them, thank you very much. Besides, they might have significant investments in industries that could be threatened by changing to a more sustainable model

Perhaps, what is needed to get their attention is something that hits closer to home. Here is an item in England’s The Telegraph that might fit the bill: Apparently, rising temperatures in areas like France, Italy and Spain are affecting the flavor of certain wines. The grapes that are used in the production of certain wines, like pinot noir, are growing more quickly than before.

What that means, according to Kimberly Nicholas, a wine industry consultant, is that “as the atmosphere warms, the desired ratio of acid to sugar occurs earlier in the season.” That challenges the vineyards to deduce the ideal time to pick the grapes.   Ms. Nicholas, an associate professor of sustainability science at Lund University in Sweden, warned that vineyards are finding it difficult to know the perfect moment to pick the grapes in order to retain a wine’s signature taste. The grapes may no longer produce the unique flavors that wine fanciers have come to associate with their favorite reds and whites.

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Why is Waste-to-Energy So Confusing for Americans?

Bard College MBA | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 5 Comments

recycling symbolBy Martin Lemos

The numbers are still being crunched, but early figures suggest that every second a large number of Americans will turn to their colleagues and ask: “Does this get recycled?”

Bafflement characterizes our individual and collective thinking on waste. Environmental campaigns in the U.S. succeeded in increasing recycling rates from 10 percent in the 1980s to nearly 40 percent today, but no unified program emerged to address the remaining trash.

Americans now dispose of nearly half a ton of waste every year. Consumers choose where to source their food, but relatively few of us are conscious wasters. A compost bin in the backyard and diligent recycling are rare. The global response is just as disastrous. As a result, 270,000 tons of plastic is currently floating in our oceans, according to recent reports.

Our cluelessness as to what happens after the waste bag is placed on the curb is nowhere more evident than in the fuzzy logic of our waste-to-energy (WTE) debate.

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Coming in 2015: Aftershocks of the Market Basket Revolution

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This year’s battle over the fate of a supermarket chain is emblematic of the dilemma that will continue to face American businesses in 2015: extracting maximum value for shareholders or reinvesting in workers’ long-term value.

By Toni Johnson

A stunning joint worker-executive action brought thousands to the street to rally for more than 10 straight weeks in 2014 — not for better pay or benefits, but to reinstate ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas to the New England supermarket chain Market Basket.

The move was another incident of a bitter, decades-long feud with his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas over control of their grandfather’s company. The saga could easily be named a “Tale of Two Arthurs.” More importantly, it could herald a new chapter in a wider battle over low-income worker treatment in corporate America that will continue to resonate in 2015.

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5 Top Tips for Business Leaders in 2015: Why It’s Now Time to Take a Back Seat

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

5306149864_7629de9528_mBy Debbie Fletcher

New year, new start. That should be the motto for your business as you take a back seat for 2015 and delegate to your capable staff. This leaves you more time to search for new team leaders to help you out with the important tasks as well as get yourself organized schedule wise (personally I’ve had a lot of success with Exec-Appointments, but we all have our favorite sources).

If you’re wondering what you should be focusing your time and attention on for 2015, then take a look at these top tips.

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A Year in CSR: The Top 10 Trends of 2014

3p Contributor | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment

2014By Alison DaSilva

2014 was a landmark year for corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the past 365 days we saw more than 2.4 million people willingly douse themselves in ice-cold water, a football stadium-sized clothing recycling effort, ketchup turned into cars and ugly vegetables take the main stage.

Companies took CSR efforts to the next level and consumers responded with enthusiasm and participation. As the year comes to a close, Cone Communications has evaluated a year’s-worth of CSR tracking to share the top 10 trends of 2014. 

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Brazil’s Natura Cosmetics Now the World’s Largest B Corp

Leon Kaye | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Natura, B Corp, B corporations, Brazil, cosmetics, Leon Kaye, sustainability, social enterprise, impact economy, Leon Kaye, Guilherme Leal

Natura is a $3B cosmetics enterprise

The B Corp movement continues its momentum, with almost 1,200 certified B corporations spread across 37 nations. Earlier this year the first electricity utility achieved B Corp certification. And last week the “Impact Economy” organization scored its first publicly owned company and largest addition to date: Natura, the second largest cosmetics manufacturer in Brazil with revenues around $US3 billion annually.

Natura, founded in 1969, has always beaten taken a different drum compared to its competitors within the cosmetics sector. The company’s products are generally based on native Brazilian flora, provided such plants can be harvested in a sustainable manner as required by the company’s “bioprospecting” policy. The same products have long been encased in packaging made from recycled or at least recyclable materials. Natura is also a founding member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade and has been praised for including everyday women in its advertising campaigns instead of supermodels. This new B Corp certification will not only burnish Natura’s reputation in the marketplace, but will have more far reaching effects as well.

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Beijing’s “Airpocalypse” Offers Dismal View of Life in Megacities

| Monday December 29th, 2014 | 5 Comments

BJ air pollution-thumb-500x333-9230 Laissez-faire capitalists would have us believe that “free,” unregulated markets and the relentless pursuit of economic growth are the best means of enhancing overall quality of life for the world’s 7-plus billion people [update]. Others note that every system has, and needs, governing rules and that given the authority by their populaces, governments need to provide an essential counterbalance to unbridled greed and the pursuit of monetary and material wealth by individuals and organizations.

Aiming to move beyond GDP as a measure of a society’s overall economic performance, the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) factors social and natural, as well as produced, capital into the equation. Results of the second biennial Inclusive Wealth Report revealed stark differences in 140 nations’ economic performance over the decade to 2012 as measured by GDP and the IWI.

Economic abstractions aside, living conditions and quality of life in megacities around the world offer a stark vision of just where unbridled industrialization, ideas of ‘laissez-faire’ economics and the relentless pursuit of GDP growth lead. It’s not a pretty, or encouraging, picture. As The Guardian’s Ian Wainwright recently reported from Beijing, air and other environmental pollution in this capital city of some 21 million has made it “almost uninhabitable.”

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Australia’s ANZ: The World’s Most Sustainable and Cycling-Friendly Bank?

Leon Kaye | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Melbourne, cycling, bicycling, ANZ, NAB, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Dow Jones Sustainability Index, bicycle racks, Docklands, public transportation, Leon Kaye, Australia

Cyclists have ample space to store their bikes at ANZ offices

Judging from many of the comments floating around the internet, bicycling blogs and on Reddit, Melbourne does not have the most bicycling-friendly reputation. But cycling to work is catching on, in part because the state of Victoria requires new buildings to have bicycle racks and showering facilities. Plus the weather is mild most of the year. One bank accepting bicycling whole heartedly is ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group). The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) has already named ANZ as the most sustainable bank in the world on a regular basis: naming it the globe’s most cycling-friendly bank would hardly be a stretch.

Just check out the reaction on Reddit to one unnamed employee’s photos of the bicycling facilities at his ANZ office in Melbourne’s downtown on the Paris end of Collins Street.

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Unique Sustainability-Focused Service Gives Alpine Competitive Advantage

| Monday December 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a three-part series on sustainably-focused innovation at Alpine Waste & Recycling. In case you missed it, you can read the first part here

Alpine ASR 1 smallBy Graham Russell

Part 1 of this series showed how Alpine Waste & Recycling used sustainability thinking to establish a position as a sustainability leader in the market. Here, we show how Alpine built upon its initial success to develop a sustainability-focused service product that is unique in the waste industry.

Alpine’s experience, like that of many other companies that have embarked on a serious sustainability-based strategy, is that sustainability builds on itself with new ideas emerging from existing successful initiatives. In Alpine’s case, as the market began to understand that sustainability was a key element in the company’s customer service message and a key point of differentiation from its competitors, the company’s leadership realized that it needed to continue to consciously broaden its range of sustainability-focused services to build on the success of earlier services and sustain momentum in its marketing strategy.

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New Teachers: How to Make Your CV Stand Out

3p Contributor | Monday December 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

6276586123_7bfaf2c318_zBy Debbie Fletcher

Your CV is probably the first thing a potential employer will see, so it needs to be good. If you can make a great first impression from your CV, then it’s going to give you more of a chance to get to the interview stage. Let’s say you’ve found a great job over at EduStaff, take some time to look through these tips to make sure you send over a winning CV.

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