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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Stronger Local and Trans-border Policies Needed to Tackle Air Pollution

GreenFutures | Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 1 Comment

By Ibrahim Maiga

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently sounded the alarm about global air quality. In the 1,600 cities it monitors, only 12 percent of people breathe air that falls within its quality guidelines. In February of this year, the concentration of pollutants in the air in Beijing and Shanghai was more than 20 times WHO limits. But Delhi was the city found to have the world’s highest annual average concentration of PM2.5 – fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns, and considered the most harmful form of air pollution to human health, the WHO reported in May.

These are just the statistics we know about: The WHO recently told the Guardian some of the worst cities for air pollution “are not collecting data regularly.”

The good news is that the policies and technologies that are needed to address the two main causes of all this air pollution – heavy industry and vehicles – have been tried and tested for decades now. “Effective policies restrict the amount [of pollutants] that various polluters can emit, and then companies have options about how they choose to do it,” says Deborah Seligsohn, an environmental policy analyst specializing in China and India, based at the University of California, San Diego.

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What This 3-D Printed Lip Balm Jar Means for the Future of Cosmetics Packaging

Sherrell Dorsey
| Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Anitas balm, 3d printing, 3d printing cosmetics, loreal, bio plastics, estee lauder, sustainable cosmetics, aveda, origins, cargo cosmetics, terracycle, lush cosmetics, eco friendly cosmetics, beauty productsMillions of cosmetic tubes, jars, caps, wands and other hard-to-recycle packaging materials are sent to landfills each year. Not only do our personal care packaging disposal habits wreak havoc on our waste streams, they also ask us to consider: To what extent of environmental costs are we willing to pay in order to maintain our beauty routines?

The onus doesn’t simply fall on the consumer to re-think the way we toss our toiletries. Mass-market brands like LUSH Cosmetics, Cargo Cosmetics and Aveda that have concentrated their efforts on producing smarter and easy-to-recycle lines have demonstratively served both people and planet with their business models.

“Sustainability in the beauty sector is not new given the efforts of brands such as Aveda CPR, Unilever compressed deodorant can, and Cargo now discontinued PlantLove lipstick eco-friendly formula with biodegradable packaging,” explains Tina-Gaye Bernard, cosmetics industry marketing consultant, founder of Cocoa Chic Beauty and former director of marketing for brands such as L’Oreal, Sue Devitt Beauty and Clinque. “Cosmetic industry manufacturers will continue to pursue cost and earth efficient improvements.”

In 2011, Garnier partnered with free waste collection programs TerraCyle to divert a significant portion of its packaging waste from landfills. Through the partnership, Garnier works with Terracycle to allow salons and individuals to recycle their packaging through the Personal Care and Beauty Brigade program — a free recycling program for hair care, skin care, and cosmetic product packaging, as well as a fundraising opportunity for participants. To date, the program has collected over 4 billion units of packaging waste and has raised over $82,000 dollars for charities.

But what if there was another way that cosmetics companies could marry both quality packaging with earth-friendly principles?

When entrepreneur Anita Redd, who faced a challenge when the packaging for her natural skin care products–Anita’s Balm, was discontinued by her supplier, she found cohesive solace between her all-natural lip balm line and a biodegradable jar she crafted with a 3-D printer. The bump in her proverbial road turned out to be just the challenge she needed to re-think her mission of marketing high-quality, natural products with guilt-free packaging.

Her custom designed and printed jars are now patent pending.

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‘More Than Me Academy’ Educates and Protects Vulnerable Girls in Liberia

3p Contributor | Thursday September 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Erb Perspective blog, a publication of the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute at the University of Michigan.

More Than Me Academy provides quality education to at-risk girls from the West Point slum of Liberia.

More Than Me Academy provides quality education to at-risk girls from the West Point slum of Liberia.

By Marianna Kerppola

As I entered the classroom, 26 girls between the ages of 10 and 18 chanted: “Welcome to More Than Me Academy. We are the girls of Power class, What is your name?” I answered “Marianna” and watched their charismatic teacher prompt the class to spell out my name phonetically as my heart melted.

More Than Me (MTM) Academy is a girls school in Monrovia, Liberia founded in September 2013. MTM enrolls 125 girls from a slum called West Point, a neighborhood known to have the highest rates of child prostitution in the country. MTM works towards making sure that “education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, define the lives of the most vulnerable girls from the West Point slum of Liberia.” Because of the 14-year civil war in Liberia, education has lagged for all children — but girls in particular. Most of the girls’ parents are illiterate, never having a chance to go to school while Charles Taylor pummeled the country. As a result, these families are stuck in a cycle of poverty, without the support of organizations, like MTM.

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