Chemical Flame Retardant Industry Suffers More Blows

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday September 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

chemical_flame_retardants_crib_nerrissas-ringFlame retardant opponents had a big reason to celebrate this weekend. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced on Sunday that he would get behind the push to ban chemical flame retardants from furniture and children’s products.

Schumer has proposed a ban on 10 specific flame retardants that are used in children’s clothing, bedding and other furniture products. The flame retardant products associated with TDCPP and TCEP in particular have been found to be toxic to humans through long-term exposure.

Plus, Schumer says, there is now question about their efficacy in stopping fires.

“It’s a nightmare scenario that is all too real: Children are being exposed to highly toxic flame retardants — that can cause cancer and developmental delays — just by lying on a changing table and in their cribs, or even by sitting on the family couch. To boot, these carcinogenic chemicals found in foam are not effective in reducing fire risks,” the senator said in press conference on Sunday.

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Expanding the NGO-to-Business Partnership Model in Canada

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Two generations of women have now benefited from the skills, revenue and empowerment created by the partnership between cosmetics company L'Occitane and the shea nut women’s co-op in Burkina Faso.

Two generations of women have now benefited from the skills, revenue and empowerment created by the partnership between cosmetics company L’Occitane and the shea nut women’s co-op in Burkina Faso.

By Elizabeth Dove

Can value for both business and developing country communities be realized with integrity?

Partnerships between international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and businesses are fairly new and somewhat uncomfortable territory in Canada. Such collaborations are usually philanthropic and/or volunteer contributions by business, in exchange for bragging rights on good deeds done. Even on this modest partnership plane, there is a great deal of heated discourse from within the Canadian development sector around the appropriateness of INGOs working with business.

There is, however, a small but growing number of Canadian INGOs positioning themselves as having a service to offer business that will create value for both the core business of a company and meet the mandate of the NGO. Examples include World Vision Canada’s work with extractive companies to ensure project alignment with local government and community development and Socodevi’s work to improve the capacity of Van Houtte coffee producing communities in Honduras.

Another such entrepreneurial initiative is the business brokerage service of Uniterra. Uniterra is a co-venture of the INGOs World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI). As it has developed into Canada’s largest overseas volunteer-sending program over the past 10 years, Uniterra has established strong business relationships and networks in the countries it works with throughout South and Central America, Africa and Asia. Opportunities to facilitate partnerships with overseas businesses to benefit local communities evolved naturally.

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Fear-Based Marketing Has No Place in the Mainstream Climate Change Debate

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 16th, 2014 | 3 Comments
Voting

When it comes to climate change, voting, marching and innovating are “achievable, empowering, scalable and marketable,” argues Ian Edwards — and are far more successful than fear tactics.

By Ian Edwards

The underwhelming launch in August of Milton Glaser’s new graphic campaign — “It’s not warming. It’s dying” — shows in dreary shades of green the many ongoing branding and marketing challenges of the climate change movement.

The prolific graphic design genius behind the happy and ubiquitous “I ♥ NY” slogan (that single-handedly rebranded a struggling city in 1977) can’t even get it right.

His design of a green disk shrouded in a deathly black fog is dull, and the tagline is just plain wrong. The planet is warming according to the many scientific minds at the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, as just one source blaming humans for making climate change worse. Additionally, the people living here are indeed threatened, but this big orbiting rock will outlive us all.

With an issue as polarizing as climate change, accuracy is important.

The ‘sustainability’ conversation – of which the climate change discourse is a critical subset — needs recalibration, traction and a spark that will ignite it in the mainstream beyond the lukewarm response to the crisis to date. How much more evidence do we need that the language of fear, which Glaser uses, fails to engage and inspire action?

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SOCAP14 Interview: Paula Goldman, Omidyar Network

| Tuesday September 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This video is part of our ongoing coverage of SOCAP14.  To see the rest please visit our SOCAP 14 page here.

What exactly is “impact investing“? Paula Goldman is Senior Director of Knowledge & Advocacy for Omidyar Network and, according to her, it’s a type of investing that asks for both financial and societal return.  In this brief conversation, Paula discusses both the history of impact investing and how governments can enact policies to encourage it.

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Life After Sandy: How NYC is Improving Its Electric Grid

RP Siegel | Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a short series on creating resilient cities, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with Siemens and Arup on October 1, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP here.

Power_pole

The 9-foot storm surge from Superstorm Sandy, which came on top of a 5-foot high tide, inundated the low-lying areas of the city — wiping out electrical service to substantial portions of the city, and ultimately causing some $50 billion worth of damage. Approximately 800,000 customers lost power in the city, along with millions more along the East Coast. The question posed in a recent toolkit was was: What actions can be taken to reduce the impact of a similar event?

With our climate in upheaval, many cities, organizations and businesses are talking about building resiliency into their operations, in order to allow them to better deal with extreme events such as heavy storms, droughts and floods. While these expenditures are often high, given today’s reality they are considered necessary — in keeping with Ben Franklin’s adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

While taking steps to improve the resiliency of, for example, a city’s electrical grid, won’t prevent the increasing number and intensity of storms from coming (only reducing our carbon emissions can do that), they can prevent the kind of system-wide damage that New York City and its residents suffered in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The grid’s 61 substations, 94,000 miles of underground cable and 34,000 miles of overhead cable are susceptible to damage and disruption caused by events ranging from tidal surges, flash floods, blizzards, droughts, high winds and heat waves, all of which are more likely to occur given the onset of global warming. Recommended actions fell into three categories: robustness and redundancy of equipment, keeping the demand from overwhelming supply, and enhanced coordination of resources through smart infrastructure.

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Hundreds of USDA Violations Linked to Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve been reporting for more than a year on Foster Farms’ mysterious salmonella infections, which earlier this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture linked to three California processing plants. In July, the agency issued a Class I recall after more than 600 people had been sickened by the infection, and a 10-year-old boy was hospitalized – the lynch pin, it seems, to finally linking the epidemic to its point of origin.

What wasn’t disclosed to the public until now, however, was just how extensive the infections were, or the number of times that the factories were found in noncompliance during routine inspections.

All of that came to light last week, when the Natural Resources Defense Council published the results to its recent Freedom of Information Request to the USDA.

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Millennial Activists Driving America’s Revenue Growth

Bill Roth | Monday September 15th, 2014 | 3 Comments
Millennials

Millennial activists’ quest for products and companies that are “cool with a purpose” is driving the revenue success of Apple, Google, Patagonia and Chipotle.

The millennial activist is now driving revenue growth in the American economy. Their quest for products and companies that are “cool with a purpose” is driving the revenue success of Apple, Google, Patagonia and Chipotle. They are also a key demographic group that is driving down the revenues of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and your local utility. Figuring out how to successfully align with millennial activists is now the strategic challenge facing every business.

Millennial activists seek solutions

For 40 years the American economy has been driven by a boomer generation that demonstrated for peace and love during their teenage years but then, after Woodstock, “sold-out” to their personal consumption. It was the boomer generation that embraced fast food as America’s diet choice because it was tasty, fast and cheap. The boomer generation created suburbs of less energy-efficient homes, linked to their workplaces through an urban commute too often executed in full-size vehicles powered by V-8 engines. To fund their consumption, they made the working mom an economic reality along with credit card debt and unsustainably high mortgages. The unintended consequences of the boomer generation’s decisions include a national obesity and diabetes epidemic, pump/meter price pain driven by energy demand, and increased government regulations to address the human and planet health impacts from record levels of air emissions. Our economy now struggles to grow against the headwinds of costs and debt created from the boomer generation’s consumption decisions.

The millennial generation seeks solutions to the problems they have inherited from their parents. This is not a personal rejection of their parents. But it is a rejection of lifestyles built upon energy inefficiency, consumer debt and unhealthy food consumption. Led by pioneering millennial activists, the millennial generation is rejuvenating downtowns across America. They are choosing to live in more energy-efficient, in-town homes to gain the benefits of social participation, diversity and sustainability. They are adopting lifestyles built on healthy foods, walking/biking to work, sharing rather than purchasing and the adoption of digital technology to enable productivity while also reducing their environmental footprint. Influenced through millennial activists, the millennial generation is adopting a new culture built upon best practices that align value with values.

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Lehigh Technologies Forges Ahead in ‘Closing the Loop’ for Tires

| Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

2473342146_22b1aaac53_z The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) forecasts that passenger, light truck and truck tire demand will rise nearly 2 percent in 2014 to reach 302 million units. Though no one knows just how many there actually are, there are many times more tires accumulating in dumps in every nation around the world – a festering, growing threat to human and environmental health and safety.

Lehigh Technologies is on a mission to “green” the lifecycle of synthetic and rubber tires. Using a proprietary “green chemistry” process, Lehigh replaces petroleum-based materials by recycling discarded tires and turning them into micronized rubber powders (MRPs) that can be used to manufacture a wide range of rubber and plastic products – all manner of vehicle/transportation tires included. The benefits are numerous and manifold, from reducing manufacturers’ operating costs to helping conserve tropical forests and ecosystems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping alleviate air, soil and water pollution associated with waste tire dumps.

On Sept. 3, Lehigh announced that it had raised another $8 million in support of its efforts to expand geographically and realize the milestones established in its technology road map. Joining with earlier venture capital investors including Index Ventures, Florida Gulfshore Capital, Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, and Leaf Clean Energy, is Japan’s JSR Corp., a $4 billion specialty chemicals company.

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Unilever Pledges to Stop Killing Male Chicks

Sarah Lozanova | Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Unilever CSREgg-laying hens are bred for a single trait: laying eggs. Breeders select the most productive hens, which result in greater egg production. Unfortunately, male chicks are not productive, either for laying eggs or producing meat (compared to a chicken bred for meat).

“Somewhere along the way the male chick became disposable,” says Janice Neitzel, principal of Sustainable Solutions Group. “The chicks are thrown in to the high-speed grinder and if all goes as planned, killed instantaneously. But it isn’t pretty. Consumers may not be currently aware of this global practice, but with social media — it is just a matter of time. “

This may change, as Unilever recently announced that it pledges to find a solution to this industry-wide practice, which kills millions of male chicks annually. Unilever will fund research to seek alternatives, such as technologies that allow egg hatcheries to determine the gender of embryos before maturing into chicks.

“We are committed to providing financial support to research and market introduction of in-ovo gender identification (sexing) of eggs, a new technology that has the potential to eliminate the hatching and culling of male chicks in the poultry-breeding industry,” Unilever announced in a press release.

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Heineken USA Takes Sustainability Seriously

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Heineken Light canIt’s not a small thing for a company with almost 500 employees, eight offices, over 20 beers and ciders in its portfolio, and almost $4 billion in direct economic impact on the country to strive for sustainability. The company in question is Heineken USA, and its New York City office reduced water use by 20 percent and electricity use per square foot to 25 percent below what is required by local codes. Its parent company Heineken has reduced water use by its breweries around the world per unit of finished product by 5 percent in 2013. Heineken has also reduced carbon emissions by 26 percent.

Heineken’s global sustainability program, Brewing a Better Future, has four key areas of focus: advocating responsible consumption, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, conserving water resources and sourcing sustainably. To encourage responsible consumption among its employees, Heineken began a pilot program in 2013 that provided a few of its employees with Alcohoot, which connects to a smartphone and tells users how much alcohol they have consumed. It also links to the GPS in smartphones and can link to taxi apps so employees can find a safe way home. The device is now given to all of the company’s employees. In 2013, Heineken USA increased the amount of free rides offered to employees through its Safe Ride programs by 122 percent.

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SOCAP14 Interview: Thaddeus Owen, Herman Miller

| Monday September 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This video is part of our ongoing coverage of SOCAP14.  To see the rest please visit our SOCAP 14 page here.

In this video, Herman Miller’s chief engineer on the sustainability team, Thaddeus Owen talks about what sustainability means at the company. Specifically he discusses the concept of radical transparency across the company’s supply chain as well as with regards to the chemicals and other ingredients that go into Herman Miller’s products.

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A Young Filmmaker’s Journey to Change the World

3p Contributor | Monday September 15th, 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.

Holly-photoBy Holly Mosher

In 2006 I started off on two different film journeys. One was to make a film on world visionary Muhammad Yunus and his amazing creation of microcredit and social business that was selflessly helping millions of people and closing the economic gap in Bangladesh; the other was to follow the path of political corruption through the selfish influence of corporate money in the United States. The irony of working on two films, one following the influence of less than $100 on people’s lives versus the other showing the influence of over $10 billion spent in the last election cycle, was not lost on me.

Bonsai People – The Vision of Muhammad Yunus shows how social business can create a more just society and give people a chance to lift themselves out of poverty, while Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes, highlights how — just as in the game of Monopoly — American politics has become winner-take-all, morphing our country into an oligarchy (as was confirmed by the recent Gilens and Page study that came out of Princeton and Northwestern).

While making Bonsai People I learned much about the field of social enterprise and how it can change lives, altering the balance of wealth in society for the better. In Pay 2 Play, I witnessed my own country being destroyed by a relatively few wealthy people willing to spend their millions (chump change for those who are worth billions) to influence elections across the country, supporting politicians who owe them legislative favors once they are in office, making it difficult for Congress to pass any bills that are good for WE THE PEOPLE.

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3p Weekend: What Creative Workspaces and Fantasy Football Have in Common

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday September 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment
The success of a workplace is determined by its culture and values -- just like a football team. Crowdsourced T-shirt company Threadless, for example, decked out its entire Chicago office in art as a nod to its corporate culture. Click here to watch the workplace tour.

The success of a workplace is determined by its culture and values — just like a football team. Crowdsourced T-shirt company Threadless, for example, decked out its entire Chicago office in art as a nod to its corporate culture. Click here to watch the workplace tour.

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.

As scores of happy (and not-so-happy) fans know all too well, the pro football season kicked off last week. Now, after reviewing scores from week one, fantasy football owners must make sure they are asking the right questions to inform their lineups before a new round of games begin. One of the most common queries is: Who will score the most points this year?

Unfortunately, that question won’t lead players down the path to success. Instead, fantasy owners should focus their efforts on constructing a weekly, winning lineup. Similarly, organizations should focus on assembling the right team to ensure success and employee support, said Max Chopovsky, founder of Chicago Creative Space, a culture consultancy and online platform that features videos of Chicago’s most interesting workplaces.

As it turns out, successful workplaces and winning football teams have a lot in common. Chopovsky let us in on the following five tips for creating a successful team, both on and off the field.

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From Fishing Nets to Carpet, ECONYL Invests in More Nylon Recycling

Leon Kaye | Friday September 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Aquafil, econyl, textile recycling, recycling, ghost fishing, carpet recycling, Leon Kaye, Nylla, Interface

Imagine if 600,000 of these can be churned into new carpets and textiles. 

One does not have to look far to see how the production of textiles has a huge impact on our planet, water and land. And if you add the effects of the carpet industry, the story becomes even more worrisome. While carpet recycling has improved in recent years, the stubborn fact remains that the world will require more fiber — from cotton, to wool, to fossil-fuel based materials such as polyester — in the coming years. Estimates suggest the world’s demand for fibers will reach 96.4 million tons in 2020, up from 76.4 tons in 2010.

One Italian company, Aquafil, seeks to reduce that demand by improving textile and carpet recycling, educating consumers, and finding new markets for its fibers and yarns. Yesterday I had a telephone conversation with Maria Giovanna Sandrini, Aquafil’s brand and communication manager for ECONYL, to learn how this company is boosting its bottom line while raising awareness about the environment.

What’s most interesting about this firm? Your future outfit — or carpet in the home or office — could, oddly enough, have a tie to the fishing industry.

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Mismatched Socks Sold to Cure Blindness

| Friday September 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Stylish mismatched socks for men and women

SWAP Socks offers stylish mismatched socks for men and women.

The latest entrant in the one-for-one model popularized by TOMS shoes is SWAP Socks, makers of fashionably-mismatched socks. SWAP Socks will give 50 percent of its profits to the SEVA Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing sight to visually-impaired people around the world (coincidentally, the same partner TOMS chose for its eyeglass partnership).

Why focus on the visually impaired?

Well, for starters, blindness can be debilitating not only for an individual but also for a whole family because it pulls a potential-earner out of the workforce, and worse, often requires another family member to stay home in a caretaking capacity. These impacts are most stark in the developing world. The statistics are dramatic: 246 million people struggle with low-vision and 39 million live completely blind worldwide. Ninety percent of these  live in the developing world, and 80 percent of these cases can be prevented or cured with routine or simple eye care — from antibiotics to outpatient cataract surgery.

I got to learn about how debilitating total blindness can be at the kickoff event for SWAP Socks’ Indiegogo campaign, held at Opaque restaurant in San Francisco. 

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