An Ecotourism Adventure in Ecuador

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 | 1 Comment

ecotourismMy family has embarked on a month-long trip in Ecuador. With two young children by our side, we set out to gain insight into the culture and natural wonders. On the first leg of our journey, we arrived in the Mindo. Although a mere 45 miles west of Quito, it is a world apart.

On the western slopes of the Andes, this town is perched in a cloud forest and is near the Mindo-Nambillo Ecological Reserve. It is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, known for its 500 species of birds, 40 species butterflies and 170 species of orchids. Lacking a road to Quito until the 1950s, the area was quite isolated until relatively recently. I was curious to see examples of ecotourism in this area, which previously was primarily dependent on dairy farming.

In the last couple of decades, the town has transformed into a tourist attraction, with numerous tour operators offering canopy excursions, horseback riding, birdwatching, nature walks and tubing trips. One of the most impressive examples of ecotourism I’ve encountered thus far is Hostal Jardin del Descanso.

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Good Cloth: Going Beyond Fair Trade in Fashion

Leon Kaye | Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 | 0 Comments
Good cloth, fashion, fashion industry, fair trade, social enterprise, Leon Kaye, Stephanie Hepburn, Liz Alig, Elizabeth Roney, Tschoup Industires, Patti Dunn, New Orleans

The Flap Pack by Tschop Industries

The textile and garment industries have long left one of the largest footprints on the globe. While more companies have pledged to source more sustainable raw materials and pay “living wages,” some say overall these efforts are a few Band-Aids on what worldwide accounts for a massively gaping wound. One company, Good Cloth, is trying to challenge the fashion industry by working with small artisan producers around the world while still focusing on quality and design.

Based in New Orleans, the company was founded by Stephanie Hepburn, a journalist and writer who has written extensively on human trafficking. The company says each of its collections are produced in small quantities, made with locally-sourced materials, and manufactured in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. The finished products, available for men, women and children, range from the “ethnic look” to what you would find off the rack in a department store. And, considering the costs big-name labels insist we pay for something made by someone making pitiful wages, the prices are overall fair and competitive. Shoppers can also choose their products based on the values most important to them. If searching for a bag, for example, they can choose if they want a U.S.-made, recycled or “Trade not Aid” product.

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The Most Common CV and Resume Mistakes Part 4: Responsibilities Not Achievements

3p Contributor | Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series detailing common CV and resume mistakes. In case you missed them, check out parts one, two and three.

6228420376_a422b6d591_oBy Shannon Houde

When you’re putting together your CV, do you find yourself going back over your old job descriptions, copying and pasting the functions, tasks and responsibilities you had in previous roles?

We’ve all done it, and most people still do. The truth is, these details tell a hiring manager practically nothing about you, but lots about the role as described in your contract. It leaves the reader with nada, zip, zilch about who you are, what value you added to the company, or why anyone should make the effort to pick up the phone and call you in for an interview.

If you’re female, it’s even more likely that you’re underselling yourself. Anyone who’s casually glanced at the back cover of “Lean In” is aware that women often pitch low when it comes to their career achievements. Research also shows that men tend to overestimate past performance about 15 percent more than women do. The reasons for this are complex, but the solution — you’ll be glad to hear — is simple, and it works for both sexes. The big secret? It’s all about language.

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Sodexo: 419,317 Reasons to Report on Sustainability

Elaine Cohen
Elaine Cohen | Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 | 5 Comments

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on the CSR-Reporting blog

sodexo 2014 coverAt Sodexo, every employee counts, and the company aims to engage every employee in the organization’s corporate responsibility efforts. Sodexo is a great example of where the reporting process has become an empowering element of corporate practice, rather than just a document to show to external stakeholders at the end of the annual cycle.

Sodexo is one of the largest companies in the world by employee headcount (the 18th largest private employer), with 419,317 people on board at the end of fiscal-year 2014, working across more than 33,200 sites. More than 95 percent of Sodexo employees are in daily contact with clients and serve 75 million consumers in 80 countries each day. Sodexo provides “Quality of Life services,” which include diversified outsourcing services, benefits and reward services, and personal and home services — adding value to the work and well-being of people in a wide variety of organizations from offices to hospitals to universities and more. In this size and scale of organization, implementing a global strategy is complex and not without a range of unique challenges, especially when most of the sites your employees operate from belong to clients.

Sodexo’s reporting reflects this size and scale. Headquartered in France, Sodexo publishes an annual integrated report (Registration Document) that conforms to the French Grenelle II disclosure requirements and also includes just about everything everyone might want to know. And yet, it remains accessible and interesting to read (all 372 pages … well, almost all). Aside from financials and Grenelle II, the Registration Document references GRI G4 guidelines, ISO 26000 standard and United Nations Global Compact principles, bringing everything together in a single content index.

What makes this report fascinating, however, is the way sustainability is embedded as part of the core approach as well as a business discipline that is managed and led right from the tone at the top.

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Unilever Zero-Waste Program Saves Over $225 Million While Creating Jobs

Leon Kaye | Monday February 2nd, 2015 | 2 Comments
Unilever, zero waste, waste diversion, recycling, composting, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Lipton, Dubai, Leon Kaye, France, biogas, Middle East, extended producer responsibility

Unilever has reduced packaging and eliminated waste–now what are the next steps?

Launched in 2010, Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan has pledged to double the company’s growth while reducing its environmental and social impacts across its operations and supply chain. Zero waste has been one pillar of the CPG giant’s plan. The company has made steady improvements in just a few years, and last week it announced that all of its factories have achieved the company’s goal of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill.

According to Unilever, its waste diversion efforts have resulted in €200 million (US$225 million) in savings while boosting social enterprise projects and jobs. The ways in which Unilever has avoided pitching garbage are almost as diverse as the company’s product line.

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Report: Food Industry Needs to Take Responsibility for Its Packaging Waste

Alexis Petru
| Monday February 2nd, 2015 | 2 Comments

Starbucks Coffee CupsNearly a third of the United States’ solid waste stream is product packaging – Capri Sun drink pouches, Starbucks coffee cups or  Arrowhead water bottles – according to nonprofits As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). But Americans only recycle an estimated 51 percent of these packaging materials, the organizations say, and less than 14 percent of all plastic packaging – the fastest-growing type of product packaging.

And leading companies in the fast food, beverage and consumer goods/grocery industries are falling short when it comes to addressing the environmental impacts of their packaging, the two groups say, releasing their findings in a joint report last week.

The study, Waste and Opportunity 2015: Environmental Progress and Challenges in Food, Beverage and Consumer Goods Packaging, reviews the packaging practices and policies of 47 major companies and evaluates them by four standards: reducing waste at the source of the packaging (using reusable packaging or choosing packaging with less material), using recycled-content material, designing packaging for recyclability, and supporting recycling collection efforts for packaging materials.

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Patagonia: The Incomparable Authentic Brand

Marc Stoiber
Marc Stoiber | Monday February 2nd, 2015 | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is a recurring series of excerpts from Marc Stoiber‘s new book, “Didn’t See It Coming.” 

After a visit to Patagonia's headquarters in Ventura, California, one special employee stuck out. He not only represented the brand, but also underscored how important engaged employees are to a sustainable company.

After a visit to Patagonia’s headquarters in Ventura, California, one special employee stuck out. He not only represented the brand, but also underscored how important engaged employees are to an authentic company.

A few years back, I attended a conscious capitalism brainstorm at the Ventura, California, headquarters of Patagonia.

Patagonia is an incredible company. Founded by Yvon Chouinard as a means to supply himself and his “dirtbag climber” friends with quality equipment, it has grown into a global brand without sacrificing its environmental, design, quality or ethical business ideals.

As part of my visit, I did a tour and met some of the employees. I have never come across a more enthusiastic, intelligent, genuine, committed bunch. These guys were off the proverbial charts. I was awed. I felt envious. I began to suspect some kind of smart and happy juice in the water supply.

Even in that group of cheerful overachievers, one person stood out. Chipper Bell, our guide for the company tour.

Chipper bore more than a passing resemblance to the dude in “The Big Lebowski,” from his insanely laid-back demeanor and Jeff Bridges looks to his cartoon California accent.

As he toured us through the company, however, it became apparent there was more to Chipper than met the eye.

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Seattle Shames Residents Who Ignore Composting Law

Leon Kaye | Monday February 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment
Seattle, composting, composting law, food waste, waste diversion, recycling, Leon Kaye

Seattle is betting enforced composting will boost the city’s recycling rate

With as much as 40 percent of all food in the U.S. going to waste, municipalities are struggling to divert garbage from landfills and increase their recycling of waste. True, retailers and restaurants could do more to prevent food from going into the trash — though local regulations often get in the way of donating food to those who really need it. But composting is the most effective option, which would at least return some of these nutrients into the local environment. Otherwise those leftovers would just sit in a landfill, emitting the potent greenhouse gas, methane, into the atmosphere.

In order to boost municipal composting, the city of Seattle is trying a strong-armed tactic to increase food waste recycling in the city of 650,000.

Last September, Seattle’s city council passed an ordinance banning food from all residential and commercial garbage. The composting law went into effect Jan. 1, and full enforcement starts on July 1. In the meantime, residents caught with more than 10 percent of their garbage can full of food waste will score a bright red tag on their trash bins warning them they are violating the city’s composting law.

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4 Reasons a National Methane Policy is Good for Business

3p Contributor | Monday February 2nd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on the Environmental Defense Fund’s EDF Voices blog.

5489838302_945ce92780_zBy Ben N. Ratner

After months of anticipation, the Obama administration last month released its new methane emissions strategy – a plan that opens up new opportunities for industry writ large, and especially for operators that want to cut waste and get ahead.

The centerpiece of the strategy are imminent rules that will help us meet a new national goal to reduce harmful methane pollution from oil and natural gas operations by 45 percent by 2025.

But the rules also bring direct industry benefits. Here are four reasons the new methane emissions strategy is a boon, rather than bane, for America’s $1.2-trillion oil and gas sector.

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3p Weekend: The Best (Cause Marketing) Super Bowl Ads of All Time

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Before you bust out the snacks this Sunday, you may want to reach for a tissue, because you're about to feel things.

Before you bust out the snacks on Sunday, you may want to reach for a tissue, because you’re about to feel things.

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.

The perennial frenzy over Super Bowl ads is upon us. As we gear up for the biggest game of the year, it always seems like half the viewers are more excited about the commercials than anything else. So, before we turn on our TVs this Sunday, let’s take a moment to recognize companies that used their million-dollar ad spots for something bigger than themselves. Grab a tissue, you may need it.

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Keurig Helps Farmers Cope with ‘Coffee Rust’

| Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments

Keurig Green Mountain leads the effort to support small coffee farmersLa Roya – to an untrained ear those words almost sound like a new blend of premium coffee. Far from it.

“The rust” is shorthand for coffee leaf rust or Hemileia vastatrix, a devastating fungus that attacks coffee plants and often threatens the plants’ survival.

Fungal spores first show on an infected plant as yellowish-brown spots on the underside of coffee leaves, eventually turning rust-colored red. As the disease progresses, infected leaves fall off the plant. If left untreated, the fungus chokes off the plant by leaving it unable to photosynthesize.

First discovered in East Africa in 1861, coffee leaf rust destroyed the crop on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and is credited as one of the reasons the British drink tea. The disease soon spread to Southeast Asia and coffee-growing regions in south, central and western Africa. La Roya finally reached the western hemisphere in 1970, when an outbreak was discovered in Bahia, Brazil. Coffee leaf rust is now found in every coffee-growing region in the world.

Despite its global spread, coffee rust has typically been manageable and controllable, if still a serious nuisance. When treated quickly, otherwise healthy plants in good soil can survive the disease. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of State considers the current outbreak of La Roya as the worst ever seen in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Losses have topped $1 billion, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and forcing many to abandon the coffee-farming life altogether in search of a better life elsewhere.

“In some years it’s worse than others and in some geographies it’s worse than others,” says Lindsey Bolger, VP of coffee sourcing and excellence for Keurig Green Mountain. “We have seen an entire population of coffee obliterated, truly destroyed and wiped out by this particular disease.” Never has the disease been “quite as impactful in terms of coffee production and coffee farmer livelihood.”

Over the last couple of years, coffee rust has threatened the livelihoods of up to 14 million people. What is different this time? Why has leaf rust taken such a toll on an entire coffee growing region?

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MillerCoors Adds Solar Power to the Brew

RP Siegel | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Beer -sunMillerCoors has been working to reduce the impact of its operations from the start. Formed six years ago as a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors, the company focuses on critical areas like water, energy consumption and emissions.

In its 2014 sustainability report, MillerCoors shows a greenhouse gas reduction of 15 percent over the previous year, and a reduction in energy consumption of 15.6 percent. Since 2009, the company has reduced the energy required to produce beer from 162 megajoules per hectoliter of beer to 123 MJ/hl. This year, it aims to reduce that number by an additional 15 percent. (For those not up on your conversions: A hectoliter is about 26 gallons, or a little less than two kegs of beer.)

The company is now a step closer to its energy goals with the announcement of a 3.2-megawatt solar array completed at its Irwindale, California, brewery.

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Photo Essay: A Look Inside Ontario, Canada’s Coal-to-Biomass Power Plant Conversion

3p Contributor | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 2 Comments

2 copyInformation provided by Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI)

Kicking the coal habit isn’t easy, but as Ontario, Canada has learned — the air is cleaner when it’s done. With the closing of the Thunder Bay Generating Station earlier this year, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal as a source of electricity generation.

“Getting off coal is the single largest climate change initiative undertaken in North America and is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road,” observed Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli. “We celebrate a cleaner future for our children and grandchildren while embracing the environmental benefits that our cleaner energy sources will bring.”

A big part of transitioning away from coal is renovating power plants that were once coal-fired. One recent milestone: Ontario households recently began using energy generated by North America’s largest power plant fueled completely by biomass. Formerly a coal-burning facility in existence for more than 50 years, it is now a source of clean energy.

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Oregon Company Wants to Turn Recycled Water Into Beer

Leon Kaye | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Clean water services, Portland, Oregon, recycled water, beer, Leon Kaye, Department of Environmental Quality, sewage water

Would you drink beer made from recycled sewage water?

Would you drink a beer knowing it was made out of recycled sewage water? An Oregon company, Clean Water Services, wants to do exactly that and is petitioning the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to allow reuse of recycled water in alcoholic beverages.

The proposal kills two birds with one stone: Meet the growing demand for beer nationally and globally while dealing with the ongoing threat of water scarcity. As more municipalities struggle with providing water for their citizens, more government officials and citizens are getting over the “ick factor” of drinking water that in a past life may have been flushed down the toilet. San Diego has already given the green light to a long-term plan that will source a third of the city’s drinking water from recycled sources by 2035. Singapore, rich in just about every metric but lacking reliable supplies of water, has been recycling water for over a decade.

Meanwhile the popularity of microbrews on the domestic front, while the middle class has grown overseas, has translated to an increase in beer sales. If we as a society will continue to enjoy the products water makes possible, we will have to be open to new sources of water. And that includes water that has gone down the drain.

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Tate Gallery Forced to Disclose Amount of BP Sponsorship

Leon Kaye | Friday January 30th, 2015 | 0 Comments
BP, Tate Gallery, Platform, United Kingdom, London, oil and gas, climate change, human rights, arts sponsorship, Leon Kaye

The Tate Modern-BP sponsorship has landed the London museum in hot water.

Should art institutions take money from oil companies? A core of activists in London have answered with an emphatic, “No.” And they won a recent victory when the Tate Gallery in London was ordered by a court to disclose the amount of money the museum received from BP between 1990 to 2006. It turned out that BP’s annual contribution during those years was an average of £225,000 (US$340,000). Critics sneered at BP and the Tate, pointing out that it was barely distinguishable in the museum’s overall budget while the oil and gas giant received tons of exposure for its annual donation.

The disclosure, after a three-year legal fight, highlights the ongoing controversy over whether museums and cultural institutions should accept money from oil companies. Activist organizations such as Platform insist such grants such as those made by BP give these companies credibility that is largely undeserved. Then there is the other point of view, voiced by those including Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones, who downplays any benefits companies such as BP score by sponsoring the arts. During the Deepwater Horizon crisis, which was also during a time the arts were facing budget cuts throughout the United Kingdom, Jones defended galleries such as the Tate, writing, “If they can get money from Satan himself, they should take it.”

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