Big Food Battles Vermont Over GMO-Labeling Law

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 435 Comments

Healthy groceriesThe recently launched, four-pronged suit against the state of Vermont’s genetically modified organism (GMO)-labeling law comes as no surprise. Last week, a group of the country’s largest grocery organizations filed suit against Vermont for its passage of a law (Act 120) requiring all manufacturers to label those products that contain GMO ingredients.

Big Food four stand up for GMO

The four “Big Food” companies — the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers — allege that Vermont’s newly minted law contravenes federal law and cites the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the right of free speech and the commerce clause. It also cites the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment for Act 120’s “vagueness” in its prohibition of the use of certain words, such as natural, and other descriptors that the Vermont law has deemed confusing to consumers.

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Can Crowdsourcing Reduce the Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion?

Sherrell Dorsey
| Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Sustainable fashion, crowdsourcing, fashion crowdsourcing, sustainable supply chain, fashion supply chain, textile waste, sustainable textile, environment fashion, retail, retail strategy, sustainable retail In the new world of fashion, smart solutions are solving some of the most pressing issues when it comes to apparel production.

Retailers and designers are abandoning antiquated models of forecasting and yearlong design planning processes in favor of high-tech business platforms that empower the consumer as both buyer and style dictator. The proliferation of brands adopting user-generated, or “crowdsourced,” solutions such as Kickstarter and Krush to bestow their latest designs on the masses benefit greatly from predicting needs, scaling production and receiving upfront payments before ever hitting the cutting room floor.

Today’s online retail environment presents several opportunities for discovery and environmental stewardship. Audience engagement early in the design process provides customer agency and early adoption. By leveraging crowdsourcing as a feedback tool for production prediction, designers reduce risk and long-term environmental impact from over-production.

“Fashion crowdsourcing is the Internet-era combination of two venerable retail strategies: satisfying demand and building customer loyalty,” explained Susan Scafidi, professor and academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School in New York City to DailyFinance.

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1 Million Hectare Reforestation Project Planned for Panama

| Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

forest_carbon1_f A groundbreaking initiative launched in Panama highlights the role agroforestry can play in promoting sustainable socioeconomic growth, combating climate change and enhancing the value of ecosystems.

Establishing a precedent-setting alliance, ANCON (Panama’s Association for the Conservation of Nature), the Panama Association for Reforestation (ANARAP), and the Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (CCIAP) on June 17 announced a sweeping project that envisions forestation or reforestation of 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) of land.

Dubbed the “Alliance for 1 Million,” the 20-year forestation project has three main goals: strengthen sustainable development of Panama’s forestry sector; help realize the goals elaborated in Panama’s National Forestry Plan; and help Panama meets its pledge to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions by capturing as much as 7 million metric tons of CO2 per year.

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Harley-Davidson Launches an Electric Motorcycle

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Harley-Davidson Motor Company Right ViewIconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson Motor Co. is launching its first electric motorcycle. Calling it Project LiveWire, the company gave the public the first glimpse of the motorcycle at an invitation-only event on Monday in New York, the Associated Press reports. Select customers will then be able to ride the motorcycle and provide feedback. The bike is not yet for sale.

Harley-Davidson will kick off a 2014 U.S. tour of the bike with a trip down Route 66, visiting more than 30 dealerships along the way through the end of the year. Next year, the Project LiveWire Experience will continue in the U.S. and will be expanded into Canada and Europe.

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Community Involvement is Smart Business for Women Entrepreneurs

3p Contributor | Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Forget the Glass Ceiling-Cover-4By Geri Stengel

Women who start and grow thriving businesses have an interesting characteristic in common.

No, it isn’t an MBA or having a business plan. And they are not all in women-centric industries.

The commonality is that they care about their communities. They do this in a number of ways, as I found out when researching the Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One report, commissioned by Dell.

Social responsibility is built into their DNA

For Erika Bliss of Qliance, Mandy Cabot of Dansko, Kara Goldin of Hint Inc. and Danae Ringelmann of Indiegogo, community is fundamental.

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Alaska Bars to Distribute Free Pregnancy Tests to Help Prevent Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

pregnancy-testFetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is a serious condition that affects about 1 in 100 children, and is caused by alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. Alaska is taking an innovative approach to reducing FAS: A $400,000 University of Alaska project will put free pregnancy tests in the bathrooms of 20 bars and restaurants across the state, starting in December. For more than 12 months, at least 50,000 tests will be distributed, the University Herald reports. Alaska has the highest rate of FAS among all states.

Nationwide, half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and 59 percent of women in the U.S. between the ages of 18 to 44 report drinking alcohol. Binge drinkers have a much higher rate of unplanned pregnancies and binge drinking is more prevalent in cold climates.

The researchers will place the pregnancy tests in three cities and rural hubs with messages about preventing FAS on both the dispensers and tests. Other cities in Alaska will display framed messages on the walls of bar restrooms but will not have free pregnancy tests. First proposed by Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Alaska) in March, the project will help to determine if posters warning pregnant women not to drink or pregnancy test dispensers are more effective. Bar customers and staff will be interviewed by researchers.

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What Do People Want From the ISO 14001:2015 Standard?

3p Contributor | Monday June 23rd, 2014 | 1 Comment

By Robert Fenn

ISO 14001:2015

ISO 14001:2015 is starting to take shape.

First published in 1996, the ISO 14001 standard has grown to become the best known framework for environmental management. Developed by global consensus, it provides a best practice benchmark for organizations of any size, in any sector. Used in supply chains throughout the world, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) review their standards on an ongoing basis to ensure they are still relevant and effective in a rapidly evolving world.

In 2013, ISO conducted the ‘ISO 14001 Continual Improvement Survey,’ the results of which helped form the basis of a draft of the new, updated standard. Garnering feedback from thousands across 110 countries, ISO’s desired outcomes were to find out what value users got from the standard, together with the areas that ISO 14001 needed to strengthen in order to meet future challenges. Below, we look at the expected changes which will finally result in ISO 14001:2015.

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3p Weekend: 7 Companies That Make Employee Volunteering a Priority

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday June 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Timberland employees recently surpassed 1 million volunteer hours served.

Timberland employees recently surpassed 1 million volunteer hours served.

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 easy to start losing your faith in humanity once Friday rolls around. To give you a bit of a mental boost this afternoon, we rounded up seven industry-leading companies that make employee volunteering a priority while still turning a profit. 

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Why Tim Cook’s Leadership Won’t Lead Apple to the Next Phase of CSR

Raz Godelnik
| Friday June 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Apple CEO Tim CookThree years after taking over the leadership of Apple, Tim Cook is still struggling to make his own mark in the company. A profile article in the New York Times published last week described the challenges Cook faces while trying to lead a company, living in the shadow of Steve Jobs and “making Apple his own.”

According to the article, there are still many people — including some of Apple’s shareholders — wondering if Cook can fill Jobs’ shoes and maintain the company’s position as an innovation powerhouse and the most valuable company in the world.

One issue where Jobs’ shoes aren’t too big to fill is corporate social responsibility (CSR): In his day, Apple was famous for its reactive CSR strategy, low level of transparency, little commitment to stakeholder engagement and a generally dated approach to what responsibility in business means.

Cook — who had to address some of the issues that were the result of Jobs’ approach, such as the working conditions at Foxconn – seems to be more open-minded about CSR, promoting an agenda focusing on climate change, human rights and philanthropy.

The interesting question is whether this is enough to build Cook’s own legacy and make Apple not just his own, but also more sustainable? I believe the answer is no. And the reason is not what is in his agenda, but what is missing from it.

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4 Lessons the Apparel Industry Can Learn from Carpet-Makers

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday June 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TriplePundit attended Sustainable Brands 2014 in San Diego this month. This post is part of our coverage. Find the rest here.

5185833554_e9fb31921e_zThe 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego prompted discussions about a host of sustainability issues, from climate resilience to consumer engagement. But in a nation where waste recovery rates have hovered below 35 percent for the past decade, it was tough not to talk about recycling as well.

In a panel discussion hosted by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, leaders in the textile recycling space spoke about lessons learned that can be applied to the apparel industry, which is a key area of focus for the institute. One of the more surprising additions to the panel, entitled “Optimizing Building Blocks: Cradle to Cradle Materials for Textiles,” was Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a great deal the apparel industry can learn from carpet-makers about closed loop recycling. Shaw, for example, has been producing Cradle to Cradle certified products for more than a decade, and they now make up 64 percent of the company’s sales. I sat down with Murray after the panel to find out more about how the carpet industry’s success with closed loop recycling can be applied to your favorite fashions and lessons that translate across the textile industry.

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How Food Waste Recovery Fills Pockets Instead of Landfills

RP Siegel | Friday June 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Epiphergy animal feed Human beings are very clever — clever enough to remake much of the world in the image of what lies in our collective imagination. We are also clever enough to forget, perhaps for generations, that we are still a part of nature. But part of our cleverness also involves learning from our mistakes.

People are beginning to wake up to the fact that even our wildest excursions of creativity and talent must be grounded in and informed by the lessons of nature. Nature, being the ultimate master of the subject, can teach us how to survive. Nature wastes nothing. The very idea of waste does not exist in nature. Leaves fall from trees and decompose, turning back into food for the trees and the millions of organisms employed in that industry.

People recycle, too. Aluminum cans become car frames or more cans. Yesterday’s front page becomes tomorrow’s sports section. We are saving lots of energy and resources in the process and feeding those employed in that industry.  But food waste, despite the tremendous biochemical value contained within it, has been slow to follow. Food is wet and sloppy. It smells bad, and it rots — providing a potential haven for microbial bad guys. It must be picked up and disposed of promptly, and unlike aluminum or paper, it contains a lot of water, which makes it heavy.

So, other than the few of us who compost, most of the food waste goes into the landfill. According to the EPA, close to 50 percent of what goes into landfills is organic material. Some of that is recovered as landfill gas, but we could do much better, especially considering that a great deal of that methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas, escapes into the atmosphere. But, beyond avoiding methane release, there is tremendous value that can be recouped from this material.

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EVs and the Emerging Solar-Powered Energy Ecosystem

| Friday June 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s note: This is the second post in a two-part series on building a national fleet of electric vehicle charging stations. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here.

Google-Solar-Parking-Lot-From-Avinash-Kaushik-on-Flickr-490x367 With SolarCity and Tesla, Elon Musk and team have crafted a template for a triple bottom line business that melds the production of solar electricity and its use in transportation, residential, commercial and industrial settings. Tesla‘s Supercharger fleet of electric vehicle charging stations is a key facet of this vertically integrated, solar-powered energy “ecosystem.”

As 3p reported in part one of this series, Tesla isn’t the only one looking to build out a nationwide fleet of EV charging stations. Miami’s Car Charging Group, Inc. is working to assimilate and revive the EV charging station assets it acquired during a recent string of acquisitions. Furthermore, a recent executive hire points out the longer term direction the company may be heading, one that could capitalize on the same sort of business symbiosis inherent in the Solar City-Tesla combination.

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Ultra-Energy Efficient Homes: Are They Worth the Upfront Cost?

Sarah Lozanova | Friday June 20th, 2014 | 4 Comments

solar energy houseWhen building a new home, design and material selection greatly impact the operating costs for decades. Investing in triple-pane windows and doors, generous insulation, and air sealing can greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs, while also boosting comfort. Is it financially savvy to construct a super efficient home over a code-built home because of the reduction in operating costs?

The simple answer is yes, but the more detailed answer is that it depends. Some energy efficient upgrades have a lot of bang for your buck, while others don’t. Your local climate is another variable.

Tessa Smith, co-owner of the Artisan Group in Olympia, Washington says the payback period of upgrading a home to an ultra-energy-efficient home over a code-built house can be a mere five years or less in the Pacific Northwest, with the upfront construction costs being four to six percent higher. Super-efficient homes require an investment in different materials and mechanical systems, some increasing and others decreasing the construction costs. Mechanical ventilation, more efficient hot water heating, upgraded windows and doors, and more insulation add to the cost, while money is saved on the heating and cooling system, according to Smith.

Super efficient homes with air sealing require mechanical ventilation to circulate outside air, bringing in a fresh stream of filtered air and preventing mold issues. Such homes typically don’t use combustion fuels, such as natural gas furnaces and propane stoves, because the byproducts contaminate the indoor air quality. Airtight homes with air sealing allow very little air into the home, thus fresh air is brought in with a ventilation system that recycles heat.

All 36 homes at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BCE) in Midcoast Maine have Zehnder heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems, that transfer 90 percent of the heat from the exhaust air to the intake air before it exits the home. Stale air is removed from the kitchen and bathrooms and fresh air is supplied to the bedrooms.

“Air sealing a building prevents the air you have paid to condition from leaving the building — but it also prevents air that may be filled with contaminants from entering uncontrollably,” says Adam Romano, Director of Training Operations at the Association for Energy Affordability. “Combining air sealing with proper ventilation, such as Heat Recovery or Enthalpy Recovery Ventilation systems (HRV/ERV) will provide control over where you extract the contaminants produced in your home, how you treat incoming air to remove external contaminants, and how you optimally distribute this fresh air into living spaces.”

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Ohio Stalls Green Energy Projects

| Friday June 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

wind-farmjpg-4ebfd008dba10857_large Ohio Gov. John Kasich took what clean energy proponents deemed retrograde executive action last week, putting the brakes on Ohio’s clean energy drive.

In 2008, Gov. Kasich signed Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) into law, requiring utilities by 2025 to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from alternative energy resources, and at least 12.5 percent from renewable energy resources. On Friday June 13, Kasich enacted Ohio Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), which freezes renewable and energy efficiency drive for two years.

Gov. Kasich and the Ohio state legislature followed that up by “abandoning $2.5 billion in wind energy projects,” according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). This past Monday, June 16, Ohio’s governor signed House Bill 483 “without vetoing a last-minute insertion that requires wind turbines to be at least 1,300 feet from the nearest property line instead of the nearest house,” AWEA explains in a news release.

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New Solar Tariff on China May Slow Recent U.S. Solar Boom

Sarah Lozanova | Friday June 20th, 2014 | 4 Comments

slow US solar marketThe U.S. solar energy market has been booming for several years, due to falling solar component prices and stable government incentives. In an effort to boost domestic manufacturing, the Commerce Department recently ruled in favor of the petitioner SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar producer for 40 years, to impose a solar tariff for Chinese solar products that may boost overall solar installation costs by an estimated 10 percent.

The new solar tariff on China may slow the recent U.S. solar boom. A preliminary duty of 35 percent on imports of Suntech, 19 percent on imports of Trina Solar, and 27 percent for most other Chinese solar producers are effective immediately. The ruling closes what SolarWorld calls a loophole in the solar tariff, where Chinese solar manufacturers used Taiwanese solar cells in Chinese solar panels to circumvent the solar tariff.

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