Collecting Discarded Plastic (and Data) For That T-Shirt

3p Contributor | Monday August 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment

[Image Credit: Jovan Julien,]

Thread fabric at a collection center in Haiti.
Image Credit: Jovan Julien,

By Gina Faiola

Sure, that shirt you’re wearing may be designed from 100 percent post-consumer plastic, and perhaps you know that it took about 10 or 15 soda bottles to make its fabric, but do you know what country those bottles came from? Do you know how they got recycled or who picked them up? Are you curious about the impact your T-shirt purchase has on supporting the livelihood of the person who collected those bottles? Thread, a Pittsburgh-based B-Corp, is betting that you want to know, and is poised to provide that information when you purchase a product made from its recycled polyester fabric.

Founded in a lightbulb moment following a trip to Haiti — where founder Ian Rosenberger saw widespread underemployment, unsafe living conditions and discarded plastic bottles strewn across streets and beaches –Thread was conceived to take that plastic from “ground to good.” Fast forward three years, and the company is in partnership with Ramase Lajan — an Executives Without Borders NGO program, the name of which translates to “picking up money” in Haitian Creole. Currently, Thread operates in Honduras and Haiti, supporting 225 full-time jobs and 3,000 income-generating opportunities within the collection centers and recycling facilities where the bottles are washed, processed and turned into “flake,” the preliminary plastic material necessary for recycled polyester fabric production.

Each recycling center operates as a nonprofit private entrepreneurship model, and according to Kelsey Halling, Thread’s director of community development, collection center owners who received start-up capital were chosen as well-respected pillars of the community. This helped in overcoming initial community stigma for the dirty work of discarded plastic collection. “There is much less shame now, and plastic isn’t on the streets as much anymore. There’s other waste that gets built up, but plastic doesn’t lie around anymore because people know it’s valuable,” Halling said. 

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Where’s the Community Accountability in Impact Investing?

3p Contributor | Monday August 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

Morgan Stanley By Morgan Simon

The concept of impact investment — which has the explicit purpose of supporting economic and community development — is receiving a growing amount of attention from an increasingly diverse set of financial players. This emerging trend is one of the most exciting, and potentially problematic, trends I’ve seen over the last decade. As with any new field, impact investing raises consequential questions and issues with the answers and intended results remaining up for grabs.

Let’s consider the following questions to start:

  1. How is impact being defined, and by whom?
  2. How are strategic opportunities being identified and defined, and by whom? How will impact capital be deployed, with what objectives, and toward what ends?
  3. Under what conditions shall profits be made from impact investment? Who should govern the agreements about use and distribution of the profits?
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Linq Edges Vegas (Slightly) Closer to Sustainability

| Monday August 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments
A stroll on the Las Vegas Linq is downright pleasant.

A stroll on the Las Vegas Linq is downright pleasant.

Whether by foot or by car, if you’ve ever tried to navigate the Las Vegas strip you’ve likely found it difficult at best.  The wide swath of gridlocked roadway surrounded by dangerously narrow sidewalks and confusing pathways is enough to challenge even sober pedestrians.  The fact that most casinos’ entrances are designed grandly for cars only makes matters worse when the vast majority of people are trying to walk, or at least stumble, to the next casino.  It’s apparent that there has never been much thought put into ways of connecting casinos nor much thought put into the idea that people might want to walk in Las Vegas in a vaguely pleasant environment.  Pedestrian bridges have helped but seem to be slapped together as afterthoughts.

Good urban planning that prioritizes a safe and pleasant pedestrian environment is a key tenet of sustainability, and could do wonders for the Las Vegas strip.  There’s a long way to go, but Caesar’s new Linq development is a step in the right direction.

Video below!

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3p Twitter Chats: Top 10 Tweets of Substance

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday August 15th, 2014 | 3 Comments

3p-tweet-jam 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.

Let’s be honest: It’s Friday afternoon, and you’ll probably spend half of your post-lunch day on social media anyhow. So, why not learn something in the process? Some complain that Twitter is just wasted time and that nothing of substance can be said in 140 characters, but these 10 quotes from our Twitter chats prove them wrong. Read, get inspired and RT away!

All the tweets here are from recent chats that we’ve organized with various collaborators and sponsors, to see full synopses of these chats, visit our main Twitter chat page here.

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Pepsi Bets Cashew Juice Can Change the Game

Leon Kaye | Friday August 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments
PepsiCo, cashew fruit, cashew apples, cashews, India, Brazil, Maharashtra, Clinton Foundation, farming, sustainable agriculture, Leon Kaye

Cashew fruit: The next big thing?

When you stock up on cashews at your favorite store, those fatty and delicious nuts have long left behind heaps of agricultural waste. But that waste, in the form of fruit attached to the nut often called a cashew apple (or cashew fruit), is full of nutrients, especially vitamin C. Cashew fruit also has plenty of other potential uses — meat substitute, animal feed and even booze among them.

Now PepsiCo is working with farmers in India to source cashew apples and use the crop as an ingredient in its products. The long-term result for Pepsi could be the next coconut water, pomegranate juice or hazelnut milk — and in the words of one of the $66 billion snack and beverage giant’s newer slogans, could “change the game” in the beverage industry.

Pepsi launched a project earlier this year in Maharashtra, India to source the cashew fruit. In a partnership with the Clinton Foundation, the program will work with small farmers to improve their farming techniques, increase yields and therefore, boost incomes for farmers and their families. This is nothing new for Pepsi: The company has launched similar sustainable agriculture programs with chickpea farmers in Ethiopia and sunflower growers in Mexico.

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Q&A with the New Head of GRI, Michael Meehan

Elaine Cohen
Elaine Cohen | Friday August 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

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

Earlier this summer, the Global Reporting Initiative welcomed a new chief executive, Michael Meehan.

Earlier this summer, the Global Reporting Initiative welcomed a new chief executive, Michael Meehan.

Earlier this summer, the Global Reporting Initiative welcomed a new chief executive, Michael Meehan.

Certainly, he has a strong legacy left by Ernst Ligteringen, who did a sterling job leading GRI in the face of many challenges over the past 12 years. After chatting with Michael, I am left with optimism that he knows how to embrace the value that GRI has created and will skillfully navigate new themes in the zeitgeist of sustainable development and sustainability disclosure.

It’s a complex map, and the sort of practical entrepreneurial spirit, driven by clarity of vision and collaborative orientation that Michael Meehan brings, seems to be the right mix.

As Michael takes up his role, I am sure the word strategy will feature quite a lot in the first few weeks and months. Everyone will want to know what his priorities are, goals, targets, new ways of doing things, more of this, less of that, new broom and all that. I expect there will be quite a few who have some advice and recommendations, seeing a new chief as a new opportunity to get some things straight and promote an agenda.

Allen White was top-speed off the mark in an open letter to MM published in the Guardian (I always wondered about the point of open letters … seems a bit oxymoron-ish to me) in which he lays down his priorities for the new boss. I expect there will be plenty more open, closed and ajar letters that attempt to influence the new boy on the block as he scans the landscape. However, for me, what’s more important than giving Michael Meehan my views about where he should lead GRI is understanding who he is. I am interested in knowing more about what’s important to Michael and what motivates him, because that will influence what he does at GRI.

I was privileged to have some time to chat with Michael on the phone … and am pleased to be able to share a bit about his thinking.

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The Importance of Gender Diversity in the Solar Technology Workforce

3p Contributor | Friday August 15th, 2014 | 2 Comments

5250475208_643d3ed1a3_zBy Audrey Clark

Gender equality is a value that we take for granted these days. It is often mentioned that there can be a bias against women in math and science fields, but there’s little discussion as to why that’s an issue. If women don’t take an interest in science and technology, who’s really losing out?

Well, the truth is, it’s the companies, the industry, and – in the case of solar technology – everyone who cares about the environment who are missing out on valuable workers who can bring more to the table. Here are some reasons for encouraging women to pursue careers in solar technology.

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Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark Twitter Chat Follow-Up

Marissa Rosen
| Friday August 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments


Five years ago, Kimberly-Clark and Greenpeace established a framework to work toward long-term solutions to conserve forest resources. On their “wood” anniversary, they hosted a first-of-its-kind Twitter chat at #ForestSolutions to discuss how they worked past their tensions towards a productive and meaningful partnership. 

The event was facilitated by TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, and Journalist and Social Media Facilitator, Aman Singh.

The chat’s distinguished leaders included:

  • Peggy Ward (@PeggyatKC), Kimberly-Clark’s sustainability strategy leader for North America consumer tissue
  • Richard Brooks (@RBGreenpeace), forest campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Canada
  • Rolf Skar (@RolfSkarGP), forest campaign director for Greenpeace USA

The hour-long Twitter chat addressed many questions raised by our participants, but time was still too short! Here are your remaining questions, answered by the panelists themselves.

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Shrugging Off the Libertarian Fantasy

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday August 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lake Erie algal bloom_michiganseagrantHow does one counter the libertarian idea that unfettered markets coupled with minimum government can actually work?

The Libertarian Party’s slogan, “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom,” sounds attractive, but only in a specious and simplistic way. As I see it, the Libertarian world view is basically stuck in the fantasy-science fiction world of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

Rand, along with Nathaniel Branden, also wrote “The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism,” a 1964 collection of essays and papers that has virtually nothing useful to offer regarding today’s climate of rising economic inequality and environmental danger — except that the one-percent has taken the virtue of selfishness to heart.

The Nobel laureate, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently offered a counterpoint to a long New York Times Magazine article by Robert Draper that profiled young Libertarians — basically, people who combine free-market economics with permissive social views — and asked whether we might be heading for a “libertarian moment.”

Krugman’s answer? “Probably not. Polling suggests that young Americans tend, if anything, to be more supportive of the case for a bigger government than their elders.”

Then he asks a different and more important question, especially for fans of Sen. Rand Paul: Is libertarian economics at all realistic?

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Sacred Business Beyond Capitalism

3p Contributor | Friday August 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

breakthrough2By Giles Hutchins

Sacred business may sound like an oxymoron, but when you look at the word origins it becomes clear that the phrase doesn’t have to be.

The word sacred derives from the Old French word ‘sacrer’ which originates from the Latin ‘sacer’ meaning dedicated, holy or reverence.  Reverence means deep respect, deep admiration or deep affection – to love, venerate, cherish and respect.

St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace takes sacred to mean the reverence for life.

The word business comes from the Old English ‘bissinesse’ which means diligence and also a state of being busy. Also related is commerce, which originates from the Latin ‘commercium’  – com (collective) and merx (merchandise), the exchange of goods, services, intellect or social intercourse. Also related is profit, which originates from the Latin ‘profectus’ which means to make progress and ‘proficere’ which means to advance.

Capitalism is a particular economic and political approach which relies upon private ownership, capital accumulation and wage labor for profit and return on investment. It is now the dominant business paradigm in the West. Yet it is not what business is essentially about even though this prevalent logic might influence daily exchanges and interrelations whether in the West or beyond.

Capitalism is only a particular manifestation of the way business may be conducted. In fact, some may view it as a corruption of business, which undermines economic and social resilience. Its ideology spawns from an inherent corruption sown deep within the mind-set of modernity; a control-based abstract rationalism that defines ‘things’ as separate from their lived-in context with relationships as nothing more than self-maximizing power-plays, where one ‘thing’ benefits only at the expense of the other.  It is what the anthropologist and cyberneticist Gregory Bateson insightfully understood as the ‘original corruption’ which pits us against Nature in an evolutionary cul-de-sac of selfish ascendance.

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PR Firms Take a Stand on Climate Change

RP Siegel | Thursday August 14th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Public relationsPublic relations (PR) is a powerful but unseen force in our society. Companies hire PR firms to make them look as good as possible. When the companies do something they are proud of, they do everything they can to make sure everyone hears about it (including, sometimes contacting reporters like us). When the companies do things that are not so great, they “spin” the news to make it sound harmless. PR firms make their money from fees paid by their clients and have typically been value-neutral, meaning that they promote whatever their clients want them to promote.

So it’s a pretty big deal when a number of the largest PR firms come out, in response to surveys administered by the Guardian and the Climate Investigations Centre, and collectively announce that they will no longer represent firms that want to spread messages denying the reality of man’s role in climate disruption. Among these firms are: WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100 and Finn Partners.

Weber Shandwick spokeswoman Michelle Selesky told the Guardian that, “We would not support a campaign that denies the existence and the threat posed by climate change, or efforts to obstruct regulations cutting greenhouse gas emissions and/or renewable energy standards.”

Likewise, Rhian Rotz, speaking for WE said, “We would not knowingly partner with a client who denies the existence of climate change.”

WPP, based in the U.K., is the world’s largest advertising firm by revenue. They commented that, “We ensure that our own work complies with local laws, marketing codes and our own code of business conduct. These prevent advertising that is intended to mislead and the denial of climate change would fall into this category,”

However, a spokesperson noted that individual entities within the organizations remain free to make their own client decisions, which could include “campaigns opposing regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Notably absent from this group was the U.S.-based Edelman, the largest, independently-owned PR firm in the world. Edelman’s sizable client roster includes the American Petroleum Institute, a group that actively campaigns against climate regulations, as well as Shell and Chevron. The firm took the position that it evaluates clients on a case-by-case basis. Spokesman Michael Bush politely dodged the question, stating only that, “Expanding the dialogue in a constructive manner, and driving productive outcomes to solve energy challenges are the key criteria for evaluating client engagements.”

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Catlin Seaview Survey Assesses Climate Risks in Florida

Leon Kaye | Thursday August 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Catlin Group, Catlin Seaview Survey, climate change, insurance companies, Florida, NOAA, Google Maps, Leon Kaye, climate risks

Catlin Seaview Survey is working with NOAA to survey Florida’s coast

We have long heard about future perils to our coasts due to climate change, but the allure of the ocean views and mild weather keeps pulling us to the shores. This is especially true in Florida, where despite the constant threats of hurricanes, communities keep growing with a population approaching 20 million. Insurance companies are at particular risk because of that continued growth and development along with future climate volatility. One hurdle confronting insurers, however, is that only about 5 percent of climate change science research is actually focused on oceans. Catlin Group, a US$4 billion insurance and reinsurance company, has been taking steps to change that.

The company is sponsoring the Catlin Seaview Survey, a scientific initiative that aims to create a baseline record of the globe’s coral reefs. By filming these reefs in high-definition, panoramic vision, the organization’s goal is to have data readily available so scientists, the general public and governmental officials can gauge the challenges our reefs are confronting due to fishing, pollution and of course, climate change. The latest project is now underway in Florida.

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Can Conan O’Brien Convince Californians to Save Water?

Alexis Petru
| Thursday August 14th, 2014 | 1 Comment
California's State Capitol lets its law go brown to raise awareness about water conservation during the state's drought.

California’s state capitol lets its law go brown to raise awareness about water conservation during the state’s drought.

California’s historic drought is no laughing matter. But the state of California and the Natural Resources Defense Council are trying to inject some humor into their efforts to encourage Californians to conserve water, teaming up with Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter on a series of public service announcement (PSA) videos that feature water-saving tips.

Part of California’s “Save Our Water” drought awareness campaign, the new PSAs cover topics from car washing (you can save 60 gallons of water by taking your car to a carwash rather than washing it by hand – and you can bathe your kids there, too, Richter points out) to pool covers (swimming pools evaporate up to 40,000 gallons of water a year; even if you don’t have a pool, you can buy a pool cover to impress people and make them think you have one, the funnymen say).

The comedians even poke fun at the idea that saving water takes too much work; there are many “lazy” ways to conserve water, they say: running dishes through a dishwasher instead of washing them yourself, using a carwash rather than hand-washing your car and their more tongue-in-cheek suggestion of skipping showers.

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Top 30 Cities for Green Real Estate

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday August 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

green There are numerous ways to measure the sustainability of a major city these days. Cutting-edge, energy-efficient transportation, renewable energy and recycling/reuse programs are all excellent indicators of a “green” municipal mindset. So is green real estate. Energy-efficient, certified real estate construction has been gaining prominence in recent years, so much so that it is now addressed in bylaws in many cities across North America.

So it’s also no surprise that the real estate group CBRE came up with a list of the top 30 U.S. cities to feature green commercial building construction. What is intriguing is the variation between cities when it comes to what defined that green emphasis.

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Human Values and Corporate Social Impact: Respect and Shame

3p Contributor | Thursday August 14th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the third post in a six-part series written by Donald J. Munro of the University of Michigan. You can follow the whole series here

Chase Bank branch at the Chrysler Building in New York City.

Chase Bank branch at the Chrysler Building in New York City.

By Donald J. Munro

The desire for respect derives from our experience in social hierarchies, where we prize respect and have an aversion to shame, a disvalue. Sometimes respect or shame are related to the value of loyalty to superiors and how they treat us. These are instances in which a moral category can be used as a control mechanism for enforcing social duties. These duties may involve cooperation for the common good, or simply conformity to social customs. This reveals that respect/shame are both values or disvalues, and universal social emotions. Culture determines the conditions and forms under which they arise.

Shame involves an individual violating a rule, being aware of the violation, and knowing that others know of the violation. It is not embarrassment and is not guilt. It is not guilt because one can feel guilt before God even if no person knows about it. Shame involves an attack on one’s inner worth. It can be used as a form of punishment. It is one of those traits that reveals self-reflection, of which humans alone seem to be capable (Professor Sin yee Chan, University of Vermont).

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