Millennial Activists Driving America’s Revenue Growth

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

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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Are Crowdfunded Companies Socially Responsible?

CSRHUB | Friday September 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

The following is part of a series by our friends at CSRHub (a 3p sponsor) – offering free sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings on over 8,900 of the world’s largest publicly traded and private companies. 3p readers get 15 percent off CSRHub’s professional subscriptions with promo code “TP15.″

8661000014_cb0056d718_zBy Bahar Gidwani

Over the past few years, thousands of companies both in the U.S. and abroad have raised funds through crowdfunding.  Wikipedia defines the term as:

 “the collection of finance from backers — the “crowd” — to fund an initiative and usually occurs on Internet platforms. The initiative could be a nonprofit (e.g. to raise funds for a school or social service organization), political (to support a candidate or political party), charitable (e.g. emergency funds for an ill person or to fund a critical operation), commercial (e.g. to create and sell a new product) or financing campaign for a startup company.”

We could expect crowdfunding to be especially attractive for younger entrepreneurs.  These millennials tend to embrace newer, online methods of raising money — especially since they may not have previous experience raising funding through traditional means. Companies managed by millennials might also have more socially-positive styles of management than traditional companies and may target markets that care about sustainability and social issues.  As a result, we were hopeful that we could combine the 59 million data points in our CSRHub sustainability metrics database with data from Crowdnetic, and reveal a connection between crowdfunding and positive corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance.

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5 Tips for Engaging With Your Community in a New Location

3p Contributor | Friday September 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Chipotle understood the value of community engagement when it aligned itself with the local food movement. But you don’t have to roll out a large-scale campaign like Chipotle to forge connections with the local community.

By Cris Burnam

There’s a lot of strength behind big brands. They can set up shop (or stock the shelves) in almost any market, and consumers know exactly what they’re getting when doing business with that brand.

Take Apple, for example. When consumers see the monochromatic logo, they know what to expect: a product that’s made well and easy to use. Coca-Cola has a somewhat similar advantage in the marketplace. As do Ford, Budweiser, Subway and General Electric.

But that’s not to say there isn’t value in being a local business. By and large, consumers want to support their local economy. They see small businesses as customer-focused, reliable, consistent, committed and just plain easier to do business with.

Obviously, you can’t do much to convince a community that you’re local when you’re not. It would be foolish to even try. But you can involve yourself in the community and in the activities that support that community. In fact, 82 percent of consumers consider the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of a company when making purchase decisions.

Chipotle understood this when it aligned itself with the local food movement. As part of its “Food With Integrity” campaign, the fast-food chain committed to using 10 million pounds of local produce throughout its restaurants in 2012. It also supported family farms that raise animals naturally without antibiotics or added hormones.

Get involved

You don’t have to roll out a large-scale campaign like Chipotle to forge connections with the local community. Here are five key techniques you can utilize:

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Drought, California Agriculture and Water Efficiency: Why Farmers Must Adapt

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday September 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments

VineyardThe entire state of California is in a drought. A big part of the state, including the fertile Central Valley, is experiencing the worst category of drought, exceptional. California supplies much of the fruits, vegetables and nuts the nation eats. In inland areas such as the Central Valley, as well as the combined Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, agriculture truly rules.

While people in Southern California and the Bay Area are largely insulated from the effects of the drought, people in the Central Valley are being hit hard. Some wells in the town of Easton, the small farming community in Fresno County where I was raised, are going dry; and two businesses have closed as a result. Meanwhile, farmers are resorting to over-pumping groundwater. They have no choice. They want to survive. America wants to eat.

Agriculture takes up 80 percent of the state’s water supply. Some crops need more water than others. Tree crops, for example, need more water than vineyards. Almonds are one tree crop that is experiencing great growth, fueled in part by studies that show the health benefits of eating almonds and past drops in the price of raisins. As a result, almonds are California’s largest export; state farmers grow 80 percent of the world’s supply, and 99 percent of all almonds grown in the U.S. hail from California. However, the drought is certain to affect the almond industry. As an opinion piece by Market Watch points out, “This unprecedented drought threatens to slam the brakes on one of the state’s fastest-growing crops and biggest moneymakers.” When the 2014-2015 crop goes to market next year, consumers will certainly be hit with higher almond prices.

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Flip the Thinking on the Three Rs: Join the Reuse Movement

3p Contributor | Friday September 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Ira Baseman with Remberto Perez, in Inuique, Chile.

Ira Baseman with Remberto Perez, one of Community Recycling’s clothing buyers, in Inuique, Chile.

By Ira Baseman

Recently, there has been a lot of invigorating discussion from sustainable business leaders in the apparel industry about implementing take-back programs to recycle clothing and accessories. After all, it is estimated that more than 70 pounds per consumer, or nearly 22 billion pounds of clothing, shoes and accessories annually, end up in our solid waste stream — representing 5 percent of landfills. To be sure, retailers and manufacturers are playing a strong role by raising awareness about this problem of overburdened landfills and encouraging consumers to become part of the solution. I want to elevate the discussion and challenge business leaders to consider a new model for recycling that is focused on reuse, unprecedented convenience and personal engagement that is meaningful and impactful. In my work, I see a new wave of conscious consumerism taking hold, and I like to refer to this as the ‘reuse movement.’

The reuse movement is about making recycling personal. It is about creating and delivering an experience for consumers and a new (corporate social responsibility CSR) journey for retailers and other stakeholders. Each single, personal act of recycling creates local community benefits, such as reusing materials or turning them into new products, and it creates a global impact such as generating new jobs, connecting people through recycling and ultimately reducing waste.

For the retail industry, a new program within the reuse movement allows consumers to recycle clothing shoes, and accessories without leaving their homes – for free. Through a customized portal designed for the retailer, consumers are invited to simply box up their items, print out a free shipping label and place the box on their doorstep for pick-up by their mail carrier. Once recyclers ship their items for reuse, they are invited to their own environmental dashboard where they receive a personalized sustainability report, track the path of their recyclables across the world and share their success through social media channels to showcase their personal impact. For the recycler, this experience is personal, measurable and impactful. For the retailer/manufacturer, this is frictionless, traceable and builds a sustainability record that is easily deliverable to all stakeholders.

One such leader embracing this program in the reuse movement is Original Penguin. The company offers this opportunity to its consumers online and in-store (receipt promotions) with little to no labor impact, which showcases how the company is reducing its environmental footprint. Thus far, Original Penguin, has engaged its consumers in more than 20 states, which are all traceable back to each patron.

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Researchers Find Hidden Value in Carbon Offsets

| Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 3 Comments

ImperialICROATitleClimate change skeptics and deniers habitually assert that cutting carbon emissions and putting a price on carbon would jeopardize economic growth and job creation. Hence, by their reasoning, we’re better off living with the rising costs and profound threats resulting from rising greenhouse gas emissions and a warming climate.

Research carried out by Imperial College London in partnership with the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA) indicates otherwise. In Unlocking the Hidden Value of Carbon Offsetting, the researchers conclude that investing in carbon offset credit programs yields significant social, environmental and economic returns beyond greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

According to the research results, investing in voluntary carbon emissions offset credit programs creates economic development opportunities, enhances environmental conservation, and improves people’s lives by realizing a host of social benefits that range from household savings and health benefits to healthier water resources. Overall, they determined that the additional value – beyond emissions reductions – of each metric ton of carbon emissions avoided by purchasing offset credits totals $664. Ipso facto, they add, carbon offset credits are systemically undervalued.

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Fast Food Sales: “That’s Not Ketchup…It’s Blood”

Bill Roth | Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Whats_Hot_Top10McDonald’s store sales just took another nose-dive. Global same store sales tanked more than three percent. One investment analyst entitled his analysis of McDonald’s prospective sales growth as “That’s not ketchup…it’s blood.”

The three stated reasons for McDonald’s sales declines were: competition; the company’s own missteps, including a TV story in China showing work associates mishandling chicken; and “shifting consumer tastes.” The harsh sales reality for McDonald’s and other fast food retailers is that consumers increasingly associate eating their food with being fat and unhealthy. For the millennial generation focused on being “cool with a purpose,” the eating of fast food is definitely not cool or purposeful.

Fast food schizophrenia damages brand equity

The marketing of fast food is schizophrenic. Fast food used to be well understood by consumers as being cheap, tasty and convenient. Now the same fast food restaurant chain will run simultaneous schizophrenic ads where it promotes a healthy chicken wrap in one ad and its supersized hamburger loaded with bacon and cheese in another. This marketing schizophrenia only serves to undermine the customer’s understanding of the chain’s core values. In comparison, Chipotle’s stock continues to soar to record levels based on its singular marketing focus of selling sustainably-sourced, good food.

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