Report: Native Peoples at High Risk from Extractive Industries

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday November 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments

native_peoples_dylanwaltersIndigenous rights and risks continue to gain attention these days, and no wonder. Global warming and land rights conflicts with industrial operations both continue to impact Indigenous people’s rights and way of life, according to a new report released by First Peoples Worldwide.

The Fredericksburg VA-based organization, which was started by Cherokee social entrepreneur Rebecca Adamson, looks at the impact of companies and government polices on native peoples worldwide. Their first report, released in November 2013 highlighted the fact that native communities in all nations surveyed faced some type of risk to their land and cultural way of life when industries like oil, gas and coal mining opened operations on or near their indigenous lands.

This year’s report, released last week, looked at 330 extractive industry projects across the world and their impact on the regions’ native communities.

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U.S. Government Achieves Renewable Energy Goals

| Wednesday November 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

geronimo energy wind farmThe U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced that it is on track to achieve the Obama Administration’s 2020 renewable energy goals after awarding a competitive power supply contract. Responsible for procuring the goods and services – including energy – federal government agencies need to do their jobs, GSA contracted to purchase 140 megawatts (MW) of wind-generated electricity from the Walnut Ridge Farm currently in development in northwest Illinois, according to a GSA news release.

The ten-year power supply contract is the largest wind energy purchase from a single source in federal government contracting history, according to GSA. It will add over 500,000 megawatt-hours (Mwh) of emissions-free wind-generated electricity per year to the PJM power grid.

GSA’s latest renewable power purchase also gives a big boost to the Obama administration’s efforts to promote renewable energy resource development and use among Native American communities. The Walnut Ridge wind farm is being developed by MG2 Tribal Energy, a joint venture the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and commercial wind-power project developer Geronimo Energy.

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Norway Ranked Number One For Climate Change Adaptability

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday November 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment

climatechangeNorway ranked number one in the University of Notre Dame’s Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN) for its ability to adapt to climate change. ND-GAIN ranks over 175 countries on their ability to adapt to climate change. Norway has been at the top of ND-GAIN’s rankings for almost 20 years. Scandinavian countries are all ranked higher than Australia, Canada and the U.S., big countries loaded with natural resources. Sweden ranked number three, Finland number 4, and Denmark number five while Australia ranked number 6, United States number eight, and Canada number 11.

The rankings were released on November 5 at the 2014 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Annual Meeting hosted by the Wilson Center. The ND-GAIN ranks countries every year “based on their vulnerability to climate change and their readiness to adapt to the droughts, superstorms and natural disasters that climate change can cause,” according to a press release. It is also used to keep track of a country’s progress over the last 18 years.

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Slow Fashion Startup Zady to Launch American-Made Private Label

| Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

zady While big apparel brands ramp up production of a slew of fashions to gear up for the holiday season, Zady, the e-commerce curator of sustainably made womenswear, menswear and accessories, is set to launch its own collection of ethical styles for the holidays — with one slight difference: It will only sell one item.

In the spirit of slow fashion, the New York-based startup plans to release items from its first collection one-at-a-time in the coming months. The initial private label piece, which will become available on their site in the coming weeks, is a knit wool sweater that was entirely designed and manufactured in the United States.

Zady prides itself in offering high-quality clothes and home goods that are made to last and provide an alternative to the world of disposable, fast fashion. Its new Essential Collection is an extension of that endeavor.

Farm to Closet

Self-described as the “Whole Foods of fashion,” Zady has built an online destination that does more than simply sell local, organic and ethically made products — it espouses conscious living and engages consumers in each product’s journey from farm to closet.

“Whole Foods is massively successful because there’s a consumer who is awakening,” said Maxine Bédat, Zady’s co-founder. “The conversation is changing. Whole Foods pushed organic food into the forefront, and now Walmart carries organic food. We’re reaching out to a community of people who want to buy beautiful products and feel good about it.”

Buyers of the new Essential Collection sweater have much to feel good about: The knit is made with natural fibers and low impact dyes, and it’s made by manufacturers who treat their employees well.

Another value that shoppers can revel in with Zady’s new collection is that all products are completely made in the U.S. The wool for the sweater, for example, was grown in Shaniko, Oregon, treated in Jamestown, South Carolina, dyed in Philadelphia, and manufactured in Southern California.

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How to Power Through the B Corp Finish Line

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a weekly series of excerpts from the new book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the excerpts.

B Corp Logo - Magnifying Glass 7.8.2014By Ryan Honeyman

Our series continues with the next installment of a six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

Week one focused on getting a baseline assessment of your social and environmental performance; week two focused on motivating and engaging your team; week three was about creating an action plan for B Corp certification; and week four discussed how you can raise your B Corp assessment score.

Week Five: Fine tune your assessment score

Time estimate: One to five hours

OBJECTIVE: As your team is working through the action plan, keep track of your improvements by inserting your data into the B Impact Assessment. This will give you an updated score.

END RESULT: A recalculated and refined B Impact Assessment score.

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Video Shows What Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise Will Look Like

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 16 Comments

encroaching-tides-full-reportMaybe some visual evidence of the effects of tidal flooding and the rise of sea levels due to climate change will help transform debate and talk into action.

A video from the Union of Concerned Scientists helpfully illustrates, in about three-and-a-half minutes, the “growing impacts of global warming.”

It’s not that complicated: Water expands when heated. Sea levels are rising, and sea levels are rising faster as global warming heats up the planet.

UCS makes the point that, “Today scores of coastal communities are seeing more frequent flooding during high tides. As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.”

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Positive ‘Spin’ Grows U.S. Economy … But For How Long?

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the author’s personal blog, Enlightened Economics.

6848823919_724f516a05_zBy Ron Robins

American political and economic elites are forever spinning the idea that self-sustaining economic growth is imminent. And this time the spin might be working — but only for a while.

Underpinning the spin are U.S. government economic statistics. Unfortunately — and it seems unknown to even most economists — there are huge methodological and philosophical issues with these statistics, some of which I detailed in a recent post entitled Dubious Positive Biases in Revised U.S. Economic Statistics.

In that post I investigated how unemployment rates, payroll numbers, the consumer price index (CPI), savings rates and gross domestic product (GDP), have seen their statistical philosophical and methodological foundations changed. And these changes almost always make the economy appear in better shape than it would have been by using prior statistical methodologies.

Furthermore, these changed methodologies have not occurred by only wanting to make the statistics more honest. No. In fact, political interference (documented by Shadowstats) is behind most of the major changes so that the government of the day appeared in a better light.

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How Businesses Should Respond to a Shifting Consumer Mindset

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

9513726168_10d5de54a4_zBy Doug Austin

While the discussion around millennials is often centered on tech trends and bootstrapped startups, that’s not all the generation is known for or where its influence ends.

In general, millennials — or those who reached adulthood around 2000 — value transparency, causes and sustainable business practices. As these influential consumers come of age, it naturally follows that organizations will need to rise up to meet them where they are — especially when it comes to green business practices.

How millennials are shaping the consumer mindset

American consumers have grown suspect of big corporations, and millennials are no different. It’s not surprising when you consider that many millennials entered the job market during the Great Recession and grew up at a time when concerns over global warming reached a boiling point.

As millennials mature, their strong opinions and values impact the global mindset in terms of green business practices.

Unlike previous generations, millennial consumers don’t just care about the products they buy; they care about where the products came from, who worked on them and how sustainable the production process was.

Surveys show that 40 percent of millennial consumers are willing to pay more for green products (compared to only 33 percent of consumers in other age groups). This is a powerful statistic when you consider that millennials’ spending power ranges anywhere from $200 billion to $1.3 trillion. And by 2020, the nearly 80 million millennials will constitute 30 percent of retail purchases. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are quickly aging and reducing their spending.

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Getting a Little Good Out of Everyday Choices

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

1381313_744999672236165_2687843588255610606_nBy Wendy Gordon

I went to the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday with a friend. I used my Bank of America credit card to buy the tickets. Not only did I get one free, but I also got us both in to see the sold-out Matisse exhibit.

Now that’s a reward. Got a total dopamine rush to boot. Pretty much made my day.

It doesn’t take much as it turns out. A few days earlier, I ordered some personal care products and cleaning supplies through, a social good rewards site I co-founded. (PIPs stands for Positive Impact Points).

Along with the PIPs reward points I got for making responsible shopping choices, I was notified that a few of my newly-earned PIPs had been pledged to, which supports neighborhood development projects. My face lit up. I had forgotten I’d set up the auto-pledge function a week or so earlier. And I’ll probably forget again until I get another notice that a few more PIPs are being passed forward to a favored cause.

Full disclosure, I founded the company that launched PIPs. But I’m also a healthy skeptic — neither a wild rewards junky nor a rabid do-gooder. So, I was pleasantly bemused by my ‘test mouse’ reaction to the email and again in the museum. I was craving more.

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Acer U.S. Operation Goes 100 Percent Green Power

| Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Acer-AspireR13-R7-371-sku-previewAcer Americas is joining the growing ranks of U.S. businesses meeting 100 percent of their electricity needs from renewable energy resources. The U.S. subsidiary of the Taiwanese multinational consumer electronics manufacturer on Oct. 28 announced it is joining the EPA Green Power Partnership and has purchased enough green power to offset all of its carbon emissions from electricity in the U.S.

To get there, Acer Americas recently purchased more than 27 million kilowatt-hours of green power in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs). That puts Acer among the ranks of U.S. businesses on the EPA’s 100 Percent Green Power Users list, as well as the Top 30 Tech & Telecom partner rankings, Acer highlights in a company press release.

Acer also reported that it is ahead of schedule to meet its 2015 global carbon emissions reduction target. Reducing carbon emissions, environmental pollution and natural resource use, as well as reducing waste and promoting recycling, all factor into the strategic goals Acer has set out in its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, company management points out.

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How to Achieve Higher Productivity in Only 4 Days, Without Bosses

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

9064410644_05f02f4b13_zBy Cristian Rennella

As a programming engineer, I started more than 15 years ago developing programming codes for prestigious software companies such as IBM, Intel and HP. Since the very early stages of my career, I could identify certain aspects of the operation with which I did not agree.

What were the problems?

Firstly, every highly-skilled software engineer I knew would eventually be promoted to a managerial position. This meant that the best programmers would, eventually, stop doing what they did best: programming. This system took place because it was the only way to get a high-rank post and, therefore, a better salary.

The problem lies in the fact that the best programmers will not necessarily be the best managers, or the so-called, “Project Managers,” since each job requires the mastering of very different skills. What’s more, I strongly believe that programmers cannot perform well as managers. Finally, quoting Joel Spolsky, Trello’s designer/developer: “In the end, great human resources who did their jobs skillfully were lost.”

On the other hand, there were managers who had never been programmers, but who did know how to deal with human resources efficiently, communicate their ideas and organize projects according to the company’s goals. The problem with working with this methodology is what Google’s founder, Larry Page, has expressed on several occasions: “Engineers should not be supervised by managers who lack technical knowledge.”

Based on my personal experience, what really happened was that, as managers did not have the capacity of controlling the tasks developed by the programmers, they would reward those who performed their tasks faster, regardless of the quality of their work. And, as all programmers know, more is not necessarily better, since performance in software designing is governed by the premise ‘less is more.’ The less programming language we develop and the more efficient it is in its performance, the better. This is so because that programming language will eventually be cheaper in terms of maintenance costs and will also be much easier to run to run for anyone who wishes to use/modify such program.

What is the solution?

After 8 years of working in our project, OMT, there are currently 35 members in our working team, and the solution to the aforementioned problems is simply to work directly without managers (without bosses). In our company, we are all software engineers who work autonomously four days a week, for a total of 32 hours, as freelancers (without offices).

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Canadian Companies and Charities Discuss the Future of Cause Marketing

3p Contributor | Monday November 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments
John Coyne of Unilever presents at Companies & Causes Canada conference

John Coyne of Unilever presents at Companies & Causes Canada conference.

By Elizabeth Dove

Not that long ago cause marketing – leveraging a brand to encourage consumer participation in a cause effort – was the practice of just a few Canadian companies. Often it was a point-of-sale request to buy a leaf or shoe cut-out you sign and the store mounts, or give an extra toonie when you buy your java to help a kids’ cause. Now cause marketing is considered an integral part of marketing for both business and charities. And, as evidenced at Toronto’s inaugural Companies and Causes Canada conference on Oct. 28, execution has become considerably more innovative, measured and refined based on evidence.

New data shows Canadian consumers open to new techniques

Ipsos Reid announced the results of its recent study, A Canadian View on Cause Marketing, at the conference. It showed that Canadians prefer and most often engage with a company-supported cause by 1) giving a donation at the cash register and 2) a cause-embedded purchase, which are arguably the two most used cause marketing methods. Interestingly, giving at-cash is the only area where those surveyed show less inclination in the future than current behavior. Buy one-get one is the greatest area of opportunity for companies as it shows the biggest gap between past consumer behavior and participation opportunities they “would consider.”

This is good news for at-cash employees, as evidence suggests they are uncomfortable with asking for donations: In the effort to win an external audience through at-cash requests for a cause, companies may be turning off their internal audience. Presenter Phil Haid of Public encourages companies who wish to respond to the evidence of at-cash engagement preference to create a campaign that makes it compelling for customers to ask to participate in-store versus being prompted by an employee.

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Chevron Lobbyists Lose Richmond Election Bid

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday November 10th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Chevron_refinery_Richmond_SharonHahnDarlinFor many organizations concerned about the environment and the impact of global warming on their communities, last week’s mid-term election results were a disappointment.

Organizations like NextGen Climate Action spent millions of dollars in an effort to combat candidates it felt wouldn’t take action on climate change. The League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club also went to the mat and lost in a number of states, including Oklahoma, where victor Sen. James Inhofe has called climate change a hoax. In Florida, a state literally divided by climate change impact and an election that had Gov. Rick Scott in a tie with challenger Charlie Crist, environmentalists lost as well.

One surprising bright spot for environmentalists, however, was Richmond California, where voters turned down the heavily financed appeals of their neighbor Chevron Oil and elected the well-known Democrat Tom Butt as mayor. His overwhelming win over Republican Nat Bates is the result of a trend that has reshaped Richmond’s image in recent years. Initiatives like banning petroleum-based plastic bags and creating bike lanes and green city concepts were all part of a platform that spoke to Richmond voters.

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Xerox Provides New Tools to Reduce Printing Impact

RP Siegel | Monday November 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

meera_sampath_95e3ed9f-7263-4b5d-90f0-650b2daf59e5-prvGiven the widespread popularity of digital communications, you might imagine that the use of paper should just about be dead by now.

Here’s a reality check: Although paper consumption is declining in North America, it is still on the rise worldwide. And before we get too carried away patting ourselves on the back, it’s worth noting that Americans still use far more paper per capita than any other people in the world, upwards of 500 pounds per year each. A full 40 percent of all industrial logging goes into paper production, and that number is expected to increase.

Xerox just announced a couple of new services that can help reduce paper consumption. That might be a little surprising for a company that, not long ago, made most of its revenue based on the number of pages customers printed. Now, in additional to copiers, the company also provides services like document management, which has reoriented Xerox towards helping its customers become more productive.

The Xerox Print Awareness Tool is a software application, developed at Xerox’ European Research Center, that can give you another reality check. It asks how many copies you think you print each month, and then gives you the actual numbers. This is done not to harass you, but to befriend you and win your trust — with the promise that it will help you become more productive and less wasteful. At that point, it becomes a kind of game. Users are given a monthly allocation of points based on their nominal printing requirements. Feedback is provided to compare users to their peers, and suggestions are made with ways to improve productivity.

This might seem odd, but it is, in fact, part of a growing trend of workplace gamification, which has been touted as an effective way to increase employee engagement.

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Supercharge Your CSR Commitments Through Employee Engagement

3p Contributor | Monday November 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Business MeetingBy Leslie Bennett and Elizabeth Dove

According to early findings of the Conference Board of Canada’s second Canadian Corporate Community Investment Benchmarking report, employees are the drivers of reputation.  Happy employees usually equal profitable companies.  For these reasons, most companies are putting increased resources into improving their employee engagement metrics.

As demonstrated at the Conference Board of Canada’s CSR Summit in Toronto Oct. 29-30, a number of Canada’s most successful companies are leveraging their corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitments as opportunities to create fulfilling employee engagement opportunities.

From the successful Green Shield CSR strategy that helps employees to make a difference for their clients, to SaskEnergy employees installing weather stripping in low-income homes as a part of their Home Energy Legacy Program, tips and cautionary tales demonstrated a number of key elements for success.

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