Millenial Voices: Navigating the Intersection of Race, Sexuality and Profession

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “The Millennials Perspective” issue of Green Money JournalClick here to view more posts in this series.

TDBy Julius Tapper

As you may have noticed, there’s a theme to this issue of GreenMoney. As I write this article, featured as a “millennial voice,” I can’t hide a small smirk of irony. I grew up hating labels. Or, more diplomatically put, I had a strong aversion to them – especially my own. As a kid, my labels made me uncomfortable; black, gay, nerd. By definition, they were accurate, but they didn’t seem to fit. They felt limiting and prescriptive; they came with baggage that wasn’t my own. I felt my individuality, my identity, was undercut by my group affiliations.

My perceived stereotypes of “gay” and “black” were incongruent with my desire to be socially accepted and professionally successful. Inhabiting my intersection of race and sexuality was also difficult; Jamaica (where my parents are from) has a notoriously homophobic culture. In response to the tension between my identities, I retreated from them. When I stopped running from – and turned to examine – my ascribed labels, I found community, culture, and stories with personal resonance. I came to acknowledge that my individuality is enhanced by the intersectionality of my identities, and the history they bring. Frankly, I’m now quite proud of my labels, and they are an active and living part of who I am. Maya Angelou’s recent passing, for me, reinforced one of her most poignant lessons: “I go forth alone, and stand as ten thousand,” and I call on those tribes often.

Having been called on as a millennial to share my story for this article, I’m a little less suspicious of the label, and a little more interested in exploring what it means to me and what it might mean for the investment community. All of this talk of identity may seem a little sentimental for an investment publication, but I argue that identity will be a critical consideration for the investment community going forward.

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Taking Sustainability Beyond the Company Walls

Eric Justian
| Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments
SBAmiller, maker of this fine malt liquor, is expanding the meaning of "sustainability"

SABmiller, maker of this fine malt liquor, is expanding the meaning of “sustainability.”

A thoughtful article in the Economist suggests we should be more rigorous with the meaning of ‘sustainability’ in the corporate world, granting it to the broad efforts undertaken by companies like SABmiller and Unilever.

What many companies call ‘sustainable’ measures should be more succinctly termed ‘efficiency’ measures … which, if we really think about it, is what corporations should be doing anyway in the name of just straight-up economic principles. If producing less waste, using less packaging, putting up solar panels and reducing energy use with LED lights is ‘sustainable,’ then of course companies that do this will see a return. Of course they will!

However, the jury arguably is still out on broader, more aggressive moves toward social and environmental responsibility. But companies like SABmiller are undertaking the Big Experiment.

SABmiller is the second largest brewer in the world. Here in North America we’re familiar with the company through products such as Leinenkugel, Molsen, Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite. And of course the next time you poo-poo that 40-ounce bottle of Olde English 800, just know that the company producing it is personally bringing experts and facilities to wheat farmers in Rajasthan in northern India to help them reduce water draw from the strained aquifer by 23 percent and water runoff by 40 percent. The company is also increasing its focus on its own customers with road-safety and anti-drunkenness campaigns.

The difference between SABmiller’s approach and other company-centered ‘efficiency’ efforts is the depth of focus outside the company’s own walls. A business can say “we reduced our water use” or “we have reduced our carbon footprint” or even say “we don’t use child labor” but refer only to what is directly from their own operations, which tends to be comparatively small.

The larger environmental and social impacts are often found in the sprawling supply chain and in consumer use.

According to Jane Nelson, director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, the broader view of social and environmental responsibility is part of a growing trend among businesses.

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Despite Bully Tactics, We Can’t Stop Using Uber

Mike Hower
| Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 3 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.14.12 PMNobody likes a bully. Nowhere in the world is this truer than in the United States, a nation which was founded on the notion of standing up to bullies. We disdain an unfair fight and often find ourselves rooting for the underdog. We are taught since kindergarten to believe that we ought to treat others the way we wish to be treated — and that the one most hurt by bullying is the bully himself.

Tell that to Uber, which has made little effort to shroud its back-handed tactics to annihilate its ridesharing competitors, namely Lyft. Earlier this year I likened Uber to the Galactic Empire of Star Wars and Lyft to the underdog Rebel Alliance. Leveraging a war chest which now has grown to some $1.5 billion dollars, Uber has done whatever it can to put Lyft down — from gimmicky marketing schemes and attack ads, to even lowering rates.

But all of that seems paltry in comparison to Uber’s latest anti-Lyft strategy, which has devolved into outright sabotage. According to the Verge, Uber is hiring teams of independent contractors equipped with burner phones and credit cards as part of a sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors. The contractors, which Uber calls “brand ambassadors,” are paid to requests rides from Lyft and other competitors in an effort to recruit their drivers — all the while taking multiple precautions to avoid detection.

Well, they didn’t go undetected. According to CNN Money, Lyft claims that 177 Uber employees have ordered and cancelled about 5,560 rides since October 2013. One brand ambassador allegedly created as many as 14 different accounts in order to perform 680 cancellations. Lyft drivers also have complained about being propositioned to join Uber.

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Passive House Standard Results in Energy and Cost Savings

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments
passive house

Some of the most energy-efficient homes on U.S. soil, Belfast Ecovillage homes use 90 percent less energy to heat and cool.

While typical homes of a comparable size require families to spend several thousand dollars each year on heat alone, my family of four in Midcoast Maine spent less than $120 a month last winter on of all our utilities, including heat and hot water. On cold, windy days, our home has no drafts. During sunny winter days, our home is heated exclusively by solar gains, and the heating system doesn’t turn on for many hours. Despite having no air conditioning, our home is comfortable throughout the summer. The secret is that we live in a home at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, a 36-unit community constructed to the Passive House standard (although it was not certified).

Homes built to the Passive House standard use a mere 10 percent of the energy for heating and cooling that a code-built home does. For every $1 our neighbors pay to heat their homes, we pay only 10 cents. Generous quantities of insulation in the foundation, walls and roof; a solar orientation; exceptional ventilation; triple-pane windows and doors; an airtight envelope; lots of southern glazing; and thermal mass in the slab have resulted in exceptional comfort and very low utility bills.

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The Online Artisan Marketplace: A Huge Boost for Handmade Products

Leon Kaye | Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments
Artisanal goods, artisan, artisanal products, social enterprise, online artisan marketplace, Etsy, Leon Kaye, amazon,

Surely someone, somewhere is selling handcrafted mate cups.

At a first glance, it is easy to lament both the decline of the small store and the artisan marketplace in North America, as big-box stores have redefined conventional and online shopping. E-commerce behemoths such as Amazon, where one can buy anything from dog food to king-sized beds, have also done a number on small goods. Plus, the rise of China as the world’s factory hardly helps the cause of the small shopkeeper or artisan.

All of this has been on my mind while I’m spending some time in Montevideo, Uruguay, where it is easy to avoid the malls and hypermarkets: There is something to be said about going to five or 10 different businesses while walking to do errands, from the laundry service, to the cheese store, to the vegetable stand, to finally the kiosk to recharge my phone. Living here, it would be easy for me to change my profile picture to that icon, “I didn’t buy it on Amazon.”

At the same time, however, the Internet has made it far easier for artisans, artists, and craftsmen and women to highlight and sell their wares. The creative types who have long been priced out of neighborhoods, such as Williamsburg in Brooklyn or Fillmore in San Francisco, can open a store, online, with no overhead. And for their customers, while the experience may not be as social, or convivial, as walking from store to store, finding that perfect item can be rewarding as he or she bypasses Amazon, or the other online giants. The result is a welcome trend for handmade goods.

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Health Care Savings Will More Than Cover the Cost of Reducing Emissions

RP Siegel | Monday September 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

asthmaPeople, primarily skeptics, often want to know what is the business case for taking action on climate change. Typically, all they can see is the prospect of energy prices going up since, they imagine, energy companies will be forced to make expensive modifications or pay taxes or credits that will raise the price of everything else while providing nothing additional in return. My favorite answer to the question is this one: What is the business case for not taking action? But recently I discovered another set of numbers that justify taking action, which leads me to believe there are probably even more waiting to be discovered.

Consider this: A cost-benefit study conducted by a team of MIT researchers and published in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at three different climate intervention scenarios, taking into account the health care cost savings. What they saw was that in one scenario, the health care cost savings achieved were actually ten times greater than the cost of implementing the scenario. In fact, in two of the three scenarios, the savings achieved by reducing the need for health care, avoided hospital visits, and decreased incidence of pollution-related illnesses more than covered the cost of the program.

The three scenarios selected were a clean energy standard, a policy aimed specifically at emissions from transportation, and a cap and trade program. What the researchers found was the following:

ScenarioCostHealth Care Savings
Clean Energy Standard$208 billion$247 billion
Transportation Emissions~$1000 billion$260 billion
Cap and Trade$14 billion$147 billion
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Survey: Furniture Companies Dropping Flame Retardants

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday September 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

California_flame_retardants_Jeremy_KeithBig changes are afoot in the California furniture market. A survey conducted by the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health and design firm HDR Architecture shows that many furniture manufacturers have dropped, or are in the process of removing chemical flame retardants from their ingredients lists. Their manufacturing changes CEH says, are in response to the state’s recent updates to laws that govern how flammability standards are measured, and whether manufacturers can opt out of including chemical flame retardants in their products.

According to CEH, of 56 office furniture producers surveyed in a recent poll, 12 say they have already removed chemical flame retardants (CFR) from their furniture. This includes Arcadia and Global, which are largely known for their office and home retail products, and David Edward, which produces office and healthcare furniture. Three other companies, Haworth, Martin Battrud and Herman Miller, say they expect to be CFR-free by 2015. Eight others said they are planning to eliminate the chemicals but needed more time to respond to the survey.

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3p Weekend: 6 Ways Eco-Labels Can Help Us Stay Sustainable

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday August 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment

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.

Eco-labels may not sound like the most exciting topic at first. But when you look a bit more closely, it’s easy to see that labels and certifications are the backbone of any sustainability claim, whether it’s a product or practice. Of course, navigating the wide world of eco-labels can be confusing at times. To clear things up, this week we rounded up six ways eco-labels can help consumers and businesses stay sustainable — no matter what their interests are.

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Sustainable Palm Oil Sales Surge as Demand Meets Supply

Leon Kaye | Friday August 29th, 2014 | 3 Comments
RSPO, sustainable palm oil, palm oil, sustainable palm oil sales, Leon Kaye, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, supply chain, greenpalm certificates

Demand for RSPO-certified palm oil now meets supply.

For 10 years the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been on a mission to convert 100 percent of the world’s palm oil into a more sustainable and responsible commodity. It has been a long road, in part because of the world’s rapidly-growing demand for food and businesses’ reluctance to add what they perceive to be additional costs to their supply chains. But RSPO is now making real and measurable progress. Last week the Zurich, Switzerland-based organization announced that the demand for sustainable palm oil is outpacing supply for the first time.

According to RSPO, sales of sustainable oil, based on what the organization traces through supply chains, spiked almost 65 percent during the first two quarters of 2014 compared to last year. That is a total of over 1.1 million metric tons so far this year. Meanwhile sales of RSPO’s certified GreenPalm certificates, which companies can purchase to offset their use of conventionally sourced palm oil, grew by almost 38 percent.

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Founder of Lonely Planet on Heritage Preservation

| Friday August 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment
The entrance to Ciudad Perdida itself can only be reached via a climb of over 1,000 stone steps.

The entrance to Ciudad Perdida itself can only be reached via a climb of over 1,000 stone steps.

In far-flung places around the globe, there are endangered cultural sites in need of preservation, which spurs tourism and economic enrichment in nearby communities. Heritage conservation not only preserves historical record, but it can also open up a previously difficult-to-visit location to travelers and give them a whole new view of the region and its culture.

Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet and board member of Global Heritage Fund, has been to many “dangerous” sites on the planet, whether they are located in regions where there was a history of civil unrest or environmental hazards. But his aim, along with Vince Michael, executive director of Global Heritage Fund, is to encourage travelers (intrepid and armchair) to expand their horizons and explore these areas, many of which are heritage development sites that ultimately benefit local communities with tourism income.

Global tourism is responsible for 8.7 percent of the world’s employment, making it one of the biggest global job creators, according to the 2012 report, The Comparative Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism, by the World Travel & Tourism Council. “At 9.1 percent of global GDP, Travel & Tourism generates more economic output than automotive manufacturing (7.9 percent), mining (8.0 percent) and chemicals manufacturing (9.0 percent).”

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Climate Denial Smokescreen Now Extends to South Asian Food Challenges

RP Siegel | Friday August 29th, 2014 | 3 Comments

BangladeshThe Heritage Foundation-backed National Center for Policy Analysis pumps out a steady stream of misinformation about climate change, continuously reinforcing the smokescreen behind which billions of dollars in fossil fuel profits continue to be made. Generally speaking, it’s best to ignore them, figuring that giving them attention only helps them do their job. But this latest item is so egregious, that someone needs to call them out on it.

Numerous international aid agencies, as well as ratings services like Standard & Poors, have stated that the areas of South Asia and Southeast Asia are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

Yet this article, entitled “Calming Fears of Climate Change in South and Southeast Asia,” assures its readers that not only is there nothing to worry about, but things are going to get far better, since the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is causing a boom in food production.

Their source is none other than Craig Idso, a former executive of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company. Idso reports that South Asian food productivity has increased 7.5-fold in the past years, and attributes that, without evidence, to the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the air.

The increase in agricultural productivity is real enough. It is sometimes referred to as the Green Revolution. Most scholars attribute the Asian increase to four things: fertilizers, technology, labor and livestock. Irrigation has also played a major role in other regions. Indeed, just as in the period from 1980 to 2007, the utilization of fertilizers and tractors increased more than three-fold in places like Vietnam and Thailand recently, which is in line with the increase in productivity. None of them attribute it to the presence of increased CO2 in the air. Attempting to make this connection sounds a lot like what Idso has previously written about climate science, saying, “A weak short-term correlation between CO2 and temperature proves nothing about causation.” So where is the cause-and-effect linkage here?

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How Information Technology Can Help Bridge Gaps in Education

3p Contributor | Friday August 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Fernando_Botelho By Nathan Edwards

Information and communication technology (ICT) first made an impact on the life of Fernando Botelho when he was in his late teens.  Then, Botelho was a recent high school graduate suffering from increasingly impaired vision.  Now, he is the founder of F123, a non-government organization developing low-cost open-source assistive technology for the blind.

“In high school I was ranked 11th in a class of 43,” Botelho recalls.  When he entered college he was given access to assistive technology and it instantly impacted his success, “instead of 11th I was fourth, and instead of a class of 43 it was a freshman class of 904.”  The qualitative impact that the right technology can have on someone’s education and life left a lasting impression on Botehlo, “same person, same brain, same level of education, but suddenly you are in the top percent”.

Although Botelho was granted the assistance of ICT’s in education, he does not represent the majority of disabled people. Eighty percent of people with disabilities around the world live in developing countries and even in wealthy economies such as the U.S., many  cannot afford the software.

While working for the United Nations Agency in Switzerland, Botelho realized he wanted to take what had created opportunities in his life and make it more financially accessible to others.  He addressed the issue of cost by developing an open-source version of this technology.

His organization, F123, has created a software that can be customized to any computer.  “We identify free and open-source technologies that are effective and we adapt them for use by the blind in the context of school and work,” explained Botelho.  The system includes common software applications, an electronic reader and screen magnifier, educational materials for teachers, and training instructions all costing 2 to 5 percent of the price of a standard e-reader.

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Nestle’s New Animal Welfare Commitments

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday August 29th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Little_PiggiesNestle, the global food giant known for its Nestle Crunch Bars, announced its new animal welfare program that will eliminate some common but cruel practices from its global food supply chain. Those cruel practices include confining sows in gestation crates, calves in veal crates and egg-laying chickens in cages. Nestle’s new guidelines also require that veterinary practices be implemented for farm animals that reduce pain or avoid practices that cause pain. Dehorning cows is one example. (Cow horns are removed so they can’t injure other cows.)

The announcement came after Nestle signed a partnership agreement with World Animal Protection International, making it the first major food company to form an international partnership with an animal welfare organization. World Animal Protection has been working with Nestle to improve its Responsible Sourcing Guideline, which all suppliers must follow as part of the company’s supplier code.

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Beat the Job-Hunting Blues with an Updated Search Strategy

3p Contributor | Friday August 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments


If you are on the market for a new job, you will no doubt have noticed the recruitment revolution taking place online. The act of taking a red marker to ads in the classifieds section has long been replaced with scrolling, clicking, uploading, copying and pasting to the ubiquitous recruitment websites and jobs boards. The only thing that’s stayed the same is the crossed fingers and anticipation with which each application is sent. But for the savvy sustainability jobseeker, even that is beginning to change.

These days, everyone from the largest multinationals to the smallest businesses can access an international talent pool without even posting an opening externally. This has turned the tables completely. Modern jobseekers are the ones doing the advertising, while hiring managers are the ones doing the seeking.

All this has made the process of finding and securing a job a much more targeted, strategic activity. If you want to stay ahead of the game and find the best roles, you need to know what recruiters are thinking, what they’re looking for, and where. And you need to identify and communicate your niche.

A new global survey from Deloitte has found that 60 percent of companies have updated or are currently updating their talent-sourcing strategies and another 27 percent are considering changes. “Companies are looking for new ways to access and engage people,” it says, “including through joint ventures, contracting, freelancers, and open source talent.” And with good reason: many companies self-report underperformance in human resources and talent program capabilities.

With this in mind, don’t you think it’s time you updated your job seeking strategy too? Here are the top three new hiring trends and my tips on how to hack them for a dream job in sustainability.

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Six Tips for Improving Your Rank as a Green School

| Friday August 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Green Impact blog.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Sierra Club’s Annual Cool Schools rankings are out.  And the winner is … the University of California, Irvine. Congratulations, Anteaters!

After assessing the methodology and rankings of the top winners, compared to the others, I offer the following six tips for increasing your ranking as a green school:

  1. Participate in STARS;
  2. Tackle waste reduction, energy use, and water use;
  3. Create a sustainability hub;
  4. Craft and promote success stories;
  5. Tackle sustainable food; and
  6. Don’t shy away from SRI.

1. Participate in STARS

UCI, and the other top winners, are a participant in Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. American University, ranked No. 2, is STARS Gold rated.  The Sierra Club rankings are based on a survey, officially called the Campus Sustainability Data Collector.  Schools did not need to be members of AASHE’s STARS program to use the collector, however, I am sure reporting of the data is much easier for campuses that have already gathered the appropriate data into the STARS system.  Click here to learn more about how the ratings were scored.

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