How Natural Infrastructure Can Boost Climate Change Resiliency

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 1 Comment
Restoring wetlands (like these wetlands at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts) can protect coastal communities from floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Restoring wetlands (like these wetlands at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts) can protect coastal communities from floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

Are government officials doing enough to prepare their communities for natural disasters and extreme weather events – that are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change? Not surprisingly, the answer is no, says a new report from nonprofit environmental organizations National Wildlife Federation and Earth Economics and insurance group Allied World Assurance Company Holdings.

Released Monday, “Natural Defenses from Hurricanes and Floods: Protecting America’s Communities and Ecosystems in an Era of Extreme Weather” details the growing threat of climate-related calamities and calls on elected officials and policy makers to make their communities more resilient to climate change’s impacts.

But government agencies shouldn’t necessarily rush to strengthen seawalls, install levees or build new “gray” infrastructure, as part of their emergency preparedness efforts, according to the report’s authors. Instead, communities can achieve resiliency by protecting and restoring natural infrastructure, including wetlands, riparian zones and barrier islands, as well as by designing infrastructure that mimics natural systems such as engineered oyster reefs or dunes.

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Five Reasons To Stay Corporate and Ignore Your Higher Calling

3p Contributor | Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 2 Comments

Man Balance Mountain - Paxson Woelber

By Phil Preston

Ask around and I reckon you’ll be hard pressed to find a corporate professional who doesn’t see his or her job as a stepping-stone to a higher purpose or cause. Is it possible to stay in a corporate role and achieve more?

Here’s the standard playbook:
• Climb the corporate ladder to build up your earning power
• Develop your contacts and skills while paying down some of your debt; and then
• Move into a job that is more aligned with your personal values

Or there is the knuckle-down strategy, where you commit to working like a dog for the next ten to twenty years in the hope of building your wealth, retiring early and then giving back.

Do you really want to wait that long?

It also begs the question: If you were debt free with fully funded health and retirement benefits, where would you be working today?

Family and financial obligations can make us feel trapped in the corporate machine. As a result, we put off making a difference for another day.

Throwing it all in for a radical life or career change is one option, but it’s not the only option. Here’s five ways to make a bigger difference as a corporate employee:

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Cambodian “Reintegration” Program Sends Sex Workers to Sweatshops

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 4.17.22 PMIn case you still weren’t sure how you felt about labor practices in Cambodia’s growing apparel manufacturing sector, maybe this will help get you off the fence.  According to a short video posted by VICE News last week, female sex workers arrested in Cambodia are being forced into jobs in the country’s infamously inhumane garment industry.  If this is true, what to make of it?

The VICE documentary

Here’s how the claim arises in VICE’s “The High Cost of Cheap Clothes” mini-documentary, in which VICE founder, Suroosh Alvi, travels to Cambodia’s capital to investigate “what is happening to those swept up in the country’s trafficking crackdown.” The video opens with Alvi reminding us that, although Cambodia is one of the capitals of the sex tourism industry, the country has been cracking down on the sex trade since 2008 when, at the supposed behest of the U.S., the government initiated an “aggressive” anti-trafficking and prostitution campaign.

Alvi’s investigation takes him first to a ride along with the anti-trafficking unit of the Ministry of the Interior, which quickly turns into the raid of a building allegedly housing sex traffickers.  The raid leads to a few very young-looking women (girls?) being handcuffed.  Over screams and much crying, we are shown a tiny room, barely illuminated by a creepy, red light.  On the floor are a few mattresses and a roll of toilet paper.  “This is about as dark as it gets,” Alvi says.

After the girls have been rounded up, Alvi turns to one of the cops and asks, “Where will you take the girls?” The cop responds that they will first be brought to the “anti-trafficking department,” then on to the unfortunately named “re-education training department.”

And now we have arrived at what Alvi tells us is the “crux” of Cambodia’s anti-trafficking program.

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EPA: Native American Tribes Hit Hard by Climate Change

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 10 Comments

climate_change_epa_USACEDrought conditions in the Pacific Northwest aren’t letting up. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency forecasts that while there may be some improvement in Nevada and Arizona, the lack of rain will likely continue through the winter in California.

This is particularly bad news for the country’s Southwestern tribes, who have been hit hard by diminishing water levels and parched soil conditions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some 44 tribes in California are in jeopardy of running out of water, as communities struggle to address drought conditions that now cover more than 60 percent of the state.

In response to these concerns, the EPA announced last Wednesday that it would award southwest tribal communities a total of $43 million to deal with improvements needed to counteract the drought conditions.

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A Tale of Two Clean Energy Cities: Boulder and Minneapolis

| Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

Xcel and Centerpoint Clean Energy PartnershipThe city of Minneapolis, Minnesota has just entered into a first-of-its kind Clean Energy Partnership with its two utilities, Xcel Energy and the natural gas company CenterPoint. The new agreement renews the city’s franchise agreements with both utilities to include more consumer choices for clean energy, more support for renewable energy development in Minnesota, an increased focus on energy efficiency, and a more vigorous program to transition municipal facilities into more clean energy and improved efficiency.

Assuming that both of the utilities deliver on their promises, Minneapolis energy consumers can probably thank the good people of Boulder for helping to bring the Clean Energy Partnership into being. Boulder also has Xcel as its utility, but Boulder voters have taken an entirely different route toward bumping their energy supply into 21st-century renewable sources. It seems that Xcel is determined not to let the same thing happen in Minneapolis.

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“Flourish and Prosper” Part 2: Moving Ideas to Action

RP Siegel | Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Flourishing1The Flourish & Prosper conference held last week at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland sought to distinguish itself by moving from ideas to action. With an array of over 40 sustainability notables in attendance, including Naveen Jain, Bart Houlahan, Andrew Winston, Raj Sisodia, Peter Senge, Michael Braungart and many more, there would not only presentations and talks, but also a number of design summits intended to wrestle with a some of the most critical and relevant challenges facing the sustainability movement today.

Day two kicked off with a rousing talk by Raj Sisodia, co-author, along with John Mackey of Whole Foods, of the book Conscious Capitalism First, he went through a brief history of the world, before and after 1989, which, he claims was a massive turning point (fall of Berlin wall, Tiananmen Square, Exxon Valdez spill, Ayatollah Khomeini, the invention of the World Wide Web, and the first time the median age in the U.S. exceeded 40). Then he talked about business as a force and said that “making money is like making red blood cells, we need both to live, but that’s not why we live.” We have the opportunity today, he said, “to lead the most meaningful life humans have ever lived.”

Next, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former Chairman of Accenture and Royal Dutch Shell spoke about the great challenge that occurs when government doesn’t function. Business cannot address this alone. We need partnerships between business and civil society. He spoke of the importance of the UN Global Compact, in which Case Western’s Weatherhead School of Business played an early role. This is the largest corporate citizenship initiative, with 8,000 companies signed up to report against 10 criteria. If they don’t report they get kicked out.

Harvard’s Jane Nelson, talked about how, “This is the generation that for the first time has the means to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.”
Opportunity was a key theme throughout the conference, which consisted primarily of business leaders, business school personnel and consultants.

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SXSWeco Interview: Andrea Learned on Twitter

| Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

twitter-bird

From the days of the Cluetrain Manifesto, social media experts have tried to emphasize that successful online communication means letting go of the committee-driven thought process that companies often cling to in their communications. Rather, letting go of the reigns and allowing a more free-form dialogue to emerge about their companies is a more effective strategy.

I had a talk with social media expert Andrea Learned about the use of Twitter as a tool for companies at SXSWeco this year.  She emphasized that companies who want to successfully use Twitter should let go of over-thinking the medium and let key individuals have the freedom to connect with folks on twitter in an honest and open way.  This practice is the best way to provoke open and productive dialogue.

Hear it from Andrea in the video below:

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Stories & Beer: The State of the Sharing Economy

Marissa Rosen
| Wednesday October 22nd, 2014 | 2 Comments

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The “sharing economy” describes a type of business built on the sharing of resources – allowing customers to access goods when needed. Think AirBnb or Zipcar. While sharing goods has always been a common practice among friends, family and neighbors, in recent years, the concept of sharing has moved from a community practice into a profitable business model.  But is “sharing” really the right word to describe these new companies?

Now that many sharing economy companies are maturing, is sustainability still at the core of their philosophy? Is “sharing economy” still the right term to describe these companies, and have their benefits been truly triple bottom line?

Please join us along with folks from AirBnB, Lyft and Yerdle on October 22 to discuss this and more!

WATCH A RECAP OF OUR CONVERSATION RIGHT HERE:

Schedule

  • 6:30 – 7:00 – beers and networking
  • 7:00 – 8:00 – fireside chat and Q&A
  • 8:00 – 8:30 – networking

TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, will lead the discussion with Molly Turner, Rachel Barge and Emily Castor.

To attend the event in person in San Francisco, please register here.

To watch online, return to this page on Wednesday, October 22, at 6:30 p.m. PST / 9:30 p.m. EST.  

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Major Apparel Brands Join Forces for Responsible Down

| Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

urlTextile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, announced today that leading fashion, footwear and outdoor brands, including H&M and Eddie Bauer, will join The North Face in adopting the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) – a third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard that upholds the ethical treatment of animals along the down and feather supply chain. The North Face initially worked with Textile Exchange and Control Union Certification, an accredited third-party certification body, to design version 1.0 of the standard, which was launched earlier this year.

Upon completion of the RDS in January 2014, The North Face gifted the standard to Textile Exchange to administer and evolve it as needed, as well as work with more brands and down suppliers to implement the standard. As part of this effort, Textile Exchange is evolving the standard through a stakeholder feedback process that includes input from brands and NGOs such as Adidas, Outdoor European Group, Outdoor Industry Association, and Four Paws.

“As more brands adopt the RDS, it will bring improved animal welfare conditions and better traceability in the down supply chain at a much larger scale than any one organization or one supply chain could accomplish alone,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity of Textile Exchange.

Down and feathers that are used in apparel, bedding and home goods are traditionally sourced from geese and duck that are grown for the food industry — and in recent years animal welfare groups have raised concerns about live-plucking and force-feeding practices found among certain suppliers. In response, Textile Exchange and its partners worked with a diverse set of stakeholders and did extensive research, including visiting the sourcing regions in remote areas of Europe and Asia, to fully understand conditions and address issues along the global down supply chain in its creation of the standard.

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The North Face Launches Collaborative Standard for Responsible Down

| Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

urlDay-to-day, a rotating list of companies announce their latest efforts to set new sustainability industry standards, from game-changing initiatives such as Walmart’s Sustainability Index and Puma’s triple bottom line accounting system to a spectrum of brands broadcasting new metrics, programs or platforms that advance their corporate sustainability goals. Setting the pace for industry-leading change has become an industry standard. While this type of leadership is commendable (and necessary), it does not always guarantee systemic change. This is one important distinction between two standards recently launched by two outdoor apparel giants: Patagonia’s Traceable Down Standard and The North Face’s Responsible Down Standard.

Patagonia, which launched its new standard last November and announced that from fall 2014 forward all its down-insulated products will contain only 100 percent “traceable down,” is certainly an exemplar of all-things-good for the outdoor and apparel industry. As Patagonia has done in the past with its commitment to organic cotton and recycled polyester, the company hopes its new down traceability standard will “inspire other companies to look closely at their own down supply chains and utilize the model.”

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Photo Essay: How Workplaces Reflect Company Goals

3p Contributor | Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Todd Burns

new report from the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and Jones Lang LaSalle, titled Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building unearths the connection between green workplaces and employee productivity, provides “overwhelming evidence” that indoor air quality, thermal comfort, access to natural light and other elements of green office design make employees not only feel better, but also more productive.

Following are a series of projects completed by JLL for businesses across the U.S. These images illustrate how each company’s unique workplace reflects its sustainability and employee productivity goals. Click the first image after the jump to open the gallery.

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Vermont Prison Becomes a Recycling and Composting Trailblazer

Leon Kaye | Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments
Prison, recycling, Vermont, composting, Leon Kaye, waste diversion, Northwest State Corrections Facility, sustainability

This Vermont prison is now a recycling leader

We spend so much time here at TriplePundit talking about how companies and universities are becoming more sustainable, it is easy to forget the sustainability agenda is going on everywhere, and yes, that includes government. To that end, more prisons are making moves to become more environmentally responsible. The latest is the Northwest State Corrections Facility in Swanton, Vermont. Recently the women’s prison, which incarcerates over 200 prisoners, announced it had become compliant with the state’s 2012 solid waste and recycling law.

Considering the depressing statistic that almost one in 100 American adults is behind bars, there is plenty of work to do on this front. From deliveries to food to water consumption, these facilities, operating 24/7 just as a small town does, provide plenty of opportunities to reduce waste and save money. Washington State, for example, partners with one of its state universities to implement recycling and sustainability programs within its correctional facilities. So what exactly is going on in this corner of New England?

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How to Motivate Your Team Towards B Corp Certification

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the eleventh in 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 series.

BLabBy Ryan Honeyman

Welcome to week two of the six-week, turbocharged Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

As a quick refresher, last week was focused on using the B Impact Assessment to establish a baseline of your company’s overall social and environmental performance and to create momentum before engaging others in the process. This week is focused on starting to engage others and motivating your team.

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Why Don’t More Businesses Donate Excess Food?

3p Contributor | Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This summer, Tamanna Mohapatra, a master’s student in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Program, took a ride with City Harvest and got an up-close look at food waste and hunger in New York City. This is the second post in a two-part feature detailing her experience. In case you missed it, you can read the first post here. 

Volunteers from Barclays repack squash into pantry bags at City Harvest's Food Rescue Facility in Long Island City.

Volunteers from Barclays repack squash into pantry bags at City Harvest’s Food Rescue Facility in Long Island City.

By Tamanna Mohapatra

A sales lady at La Bergamote, a French bakery located in Midtown Manhattan at 52nd Street and 10th Avenue, was very reluctant to talk about their food waste. The lady, who preferred anonymity, mentioned they take leftovers home.

Anna Sloane, a young sales girl in her twenties from Brooklyn, New York, was closing shop at one of the many stores of the famous Le Pain Quotidien café when quizzed about the remaining pastries in the café’s display window. She said she felt bad about the food that had to be thrown out every evening. “I try to take it with me and distribute it in my neighborhood or on the way home on the train” she said. Le Pain Quotidien reached out to us to let us know that their official policy is to donate every day:

Josh Ramos, the night manager at the famous vegan restaurant Blossom in the heart of Chelsea at 20th Street and 9th Avenue, said of their food waste, “We typically don’t have a lot of food leftover as we try and plan all our meals in advance. Also vegan cooking uses a lot of oil, so we can’t even compost our food scraps.”

Though the reasons vary for restaurants and stores choosing not to donate their leftovers, the main cause is a “misunderstanding of how food liability works.” This is still the No. 1 reason quoted by everyone working with food waste.

Racine Rodriguez, the manager for food sourcing at City Harvest said, “The biggest concern donors have is being held liable for their donations. When adding on new donors, City Harvest will visit and train donors on what it is we can and cannot accept to ensure donors understand they will not be held liable for the donations. We assume liability through the Good Samaritan Law, a federal law.”

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Report: The Chief Sustainability Officer Role is Evolving

Leon Kaye | Tuesday October 21st, 2014 | 0 Comments
Weinreb Group, chief sustainability officer, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, Leon Kaye, innovation, strategy

Business is understanding sustainability is important

It was not long ago that the chief sustainability officer—or whatever title that person or committee tucked into their email signature—was often someone on the outside looking in. For many companies, appointing a CSO was done to assuage some stakeholders with corporate social responsibility projects. That officer was also charged with giving a public face to the company’s efforts related to their sustainability agenda. But recent trends show that oft-heard complaint is less and less true. We see more companies, from the logistics sector to snack manufacturers, appointing a CSO, and one who has a role with teeth to get things done. They are increasing involved in day-to-day decision making within the C-suite, and their numbers are increasing annually. Now a report from the Weinreb Group shows the role of the CSO has matured even more the past few years.

And what is the biggest shift underway? These CSOs are no longer simply internal program managers—they, in the report’s words, are “strategic lynchpins” who are integral to a company’s overall strategy, often identify new opportunities for innovation and lead impactful strategic initiatives from within and outside the company.

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