Can Technology Help Fight Income Inequality?

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday December 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

income_inequlityIt’s generally acknowledged that technology has had a major impact on the increase of income inequality for more than three decades, but can technology help reverse that trend?

That’s a big maybe at best, but George Mason University professor of economics Tyler Cowen, in a recent Economic View article in the New York Times, sketched out “some significant ways in which technology could reduce” income inequality.

Cowen said it’s worth exploring whether “market forces themselves might limit or reverse the trend.” For example, he continued, while computers have improved our lives in many ways, “they haven’t yet done much to make health care and education cheaper.”

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Chick-fil-A Loses Legal Battle to Kale Enthusiast

Sarah Lozanova | Monday December 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

eat more kaleA three-year legal saga came to a close last week, with a Vermont folk artist being allowed to continue using the phrase, “Eat More Kale.” Chick-fil-A, a Georgia-based fast food chain that uses the slogan “Eat Mor Chikin,” brought an intellectual property suit against Bo Muller-Moore, a Vermont resident and local food advocate. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Muller-Moore’s request to trademark the phrase last Friday in a symbolic decision.

The Eat More Kale initiative is certainly a humble one, starting 13 years ago in Muller-Moore’s home-based studio, before some of us had even heard of kale and how healthy it is. After he made a couple shirts for friends, others wanted one and the concept spread. He started selling the shirts at music festivals and farmers markets, until trouble sprang up in 2011.

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Contingency Planning for the Supply Chain

3p Contributor | Monday December 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment

supply chain contingency planningBy Srini Vasan

Remember that old idea about how a butterfly flapping its wings in South America unleashes a crazy string of events that results in disaster elsewhere? Anybody who manages a supply chain understands the delicate interplay of events, and how one mishap can instantly derail your whole system. And how expensive the consequences can be.

Inbound Logistics found that 73 percent of companies they surveyed had experienced a disrupted supply chain. Almost a third of those companies took more than a month to recover.

Military coups, terrorist attacks and devastating events from Mother Nature happen. But making a contingency plan now will minimize the damage to your company and those it serves when the inevitable happens. Here are some steps you can take.

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Video: Sarah Endline of Sweetriot Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Monday December 15th, 2014 | 0 Comments

sarah“To me, it’s about bringing the best people to the table with differing opinions to try to make sure that we’re always making the right business decision,” Sarah Endline, cheif rioter (aka founder and CEO) of Sweetriot, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.

“If you only have one point of view, I don’t feel like you’re going to get to the best solution.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Endline goes on to explain why diversity is important to Sweetriot — a certified women-owned business that sources its cocoa from Latin America — in this 90-second clip.

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Fund for Teachers Supports Sustainability One Teacher at a Time

3p Contributor | Monday December 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Fund for Teachers Fellow Megan DeRitter

Megan DeRitter visits school made of “eco bricks” in Guatemala.

By Carrie Caton Pillsbury

Sustainability widely refers to the endurance of products or processes. But for one nonprofit, the term applies to the profession of teaching. Fund for Teachers awards grants for pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade educators to keep them inspired, innovative and in the classroom. How educators choose to spend the national nonprofit’s investment – well, that’s up to them.

Since 2001, 6,000+ teachers leveraged $22 million in Fund for Teachers grants into self-designed summer fellowships. The eduventures range from seminars across town to research spanning continents, whatever the teachers deem as relevant to their sustainability and students’ success.

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TriplePundit’s Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday December 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3143621640_049229f351_zWith 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.

When you have people and the planet on your mind, holiday shopping can be kind of a drag. Sure, you want to brighten your loved ones’ holiday season, but not with yet another mass-produced trinket that’s destined for the landfill before Valentine’s Day.

Skip the trip to the big-box store, and gift your friends and loved ones with durable, useful items that align with your own values. To save you some time sifting through the ever-growing — and often greenwashed — list of “eco-products,” this week we rounded up 15 sustainable presents that are sure to please everyone on your list. Holiday shopping = done.

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Policy Points: Three Signs of Hope from 2014

American Sustainable Business Council
| Friday December 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

11178388835_b7d56ea6c9_zBy Zach Bernstein

As 2014 reaches its final days, it’s worth looking back at what this year brought us. Not all of it was good – indeed, major priorities for sustainable business leaders stalled in Congress.

But when it came to the states, action on a pair of issues gained even more momentum. And a third which failed in Congress – and suffered a setback from the Supreme Court – still offers hope that a solution can be found. For a year that didn’t exactly inspire confidence in policy-making generally, it was actually a better year for sustainable policy than one might think.

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Tar Sand Companies’ Future CO2 Emissions Could Increase Five-Fold

Leon Kaye | Friday December 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Tar sands, FFI, keystone pipeline, Fossil Fuel Indexes, Canada, Alberta, ExxonMobil, Shell, Leon Kaye, ethical investing, Suncor Energy, Canadian Natural, Imperial Oil

Aerial view of Alberta’s tar sands

Supporters of the Keystone Pipeline and Canada’s tar sands development like to call their product “ethical oil,” but plenty of their opponents question whether digging up massive amounts of the earth’s surface is really “ethical.” Those who question whether churning tar sands into fuel, the most energy-intensive fossil fuel to refine, is a wise long-term policy will have more ammunition due to a report Fossil Free Indexes recently released. It could give potential investors in tar sands companies second thoughts about buying their equities.

According to this New York-based research group, which provides data to support ethical investing, the top 20 companies that have invested in the Canadian tar sands have increased their potential carbon dioxide emissions by more than five times the past 10 years. The FFI came up with this list based on its most recent Carbon Underground Tar Sands 20, which is comprised of the largest of the 200 public coal, oil and gas companies based on their reported reserves.

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Report Reveals Startling Differences in GDP and Inclusive Wealth

| Friday December 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

lWR 2014 TitleEconomic theory supports the allocation of capital and investments throughout the U.S. $17-trillion — and global $75-trillion — economy. Conventional economic theory is rife with assumptions that not only paint a narrow, inaccurate and vastly oversimplified view of the future prospects and actual overall impacts of investment decisions, but also justify investments that, over the long-term, can drive societies over the proverbial cliff.

Efforts to move beyond narrowly defined conventional economic theory — and measures such as GDP — stretch back decades. On Dec. 10, a globe-spanning initiative on the part of United Nations agencies, universities and research institutes released the 2014 Inclusive Wealth Report.

Measuring human and natural as well as produced capital, the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) offers a broader, more comprehensive — and hence more useful more perspective than GDP — regarding the economic performance of 140 nations. Moreover, comparisons of national economic performance from 1990 to 2010 as measured by Inclusive Wealth contrast starkly with those based on GDP.

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Why Uber is Not Part of the Sharing Economy

Raz Godelnik
| Friday December 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Uber Last week Uber raised $1.2 billion in its latest round of funding, bringing the company’s value to about $40 billion. The headline on TheStreet was: “Uber’s $40 Billion Valuation Nears Facebook Territory as Sharing Economy Continues to Soar.”

I find this headline quite accurate except for one thing – Uber is not part of the sharing economy.

I know that it might sound a bit strange, as Uber is one of the more common examples of the sharing economy. But bear with me for a minute while I try to make the case as to why Uber, despite being a business success story, still shouldn’t be considered as part of the sharing economy.

Looking at definitions of the sharing economy, one might actually think there’s no problem with addressing Uber as part of it. For example, in a 2013 report prepared for the European Commission, The Sharing Economy Accessibility Based Business Models for Peer-to-Peer Markets, the authors define the sharing economy as a space including “companies that deploy accessibility-based business models for peer-to-peer markets and its user communities.” Another definition comes from Adam Werbach, co-founder of Yerdle: “With sharing economy there are activities that take underutilized resources bringing them to use through the application of technology and community.”

Both of these definitions could fit Uber, especially with regards to its UberX service, in which ‘regular’ drivers use their own cars to provide customers with rides.

However, I believe that there’s more to the sharing economy than just creating peer-to-peer marketplaces and making a better use of underutilized resources. Take for example the framework Rachel Botsman, the co-author of “What Mine is Yours,” offers. She describes the core values of the sharing economy (or the collaborative economy as she refers to this space) as empowerment, collaboration, openness and humanness. “In terms of the underlying philosophy, it’s about putting these values above the end goal of profit maximization,” she writes.

Now, this might sounds like a narrative taken from a hippie lexicon, but to me it puts the finger right on the spot. The economic viability of the sharing economy is important, but so are the human values it promotes. After all, the hope (at least mine) is that the sharing economy will provide us with the much-needed vision of how a more sustainable future or a more humanized way of living would look.

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Are Cities the New Cigarettes?

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

beijingBy Jona Jone

We are living in a crucial time in Earth’s history — a time in which over half of the world’s population is now living in cities. This number is continuously rising, and with it comes the rise of pollution. Reports indicate that half of the world’s biggest cities are severely polluted, and the forthcoming setting for each of these places is looking grim.

Pollution comes in many forms, all of which capable of causing serious damages to our health. However, there is one form of pollution that harms us the most, simply because it is in the air we breathe. Humans are constantly breathing, and it is only logical that the more polluted the air we breathe, the more damage it causes our lungs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for more than 6 million deaths per year. In fact, air pollution is even causing more deaths than AIDS and malaria combined.

A study released by the United Nations in 2011 examined outdoor air pollution in almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries. The study, which used fine particulate matter as a measure of the severity of air pollution, notes that half of the world’s urban population are living in cities that have 2.5 times more of the recommended levels of fine particulate matter indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines.

It is said that the current cities of the world are slowly killing us. Recent studies reveal exactly why.

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Republican Congressman to Introduce Climate Change Bill

RP Siegel | Friday December 12th, 2014 | 17 Comments

Repub windmillEventually the truth, like cream, rises to the top, though it sometimes takes a long time. Perhaps it’s because we live in a world with so much technological capability that allows us to merely think of something and it becomes true — which has led us to believe whatever we wish to be true is true. In other words, some of us appear to have lost the distinction between fact and fantasy.

Sadly, there are a number of things out there that, no matter how hard we might wish it otherwise, are facts. Death and taxes are two (though if you have enough money you might be able to avoid the second one). The fact that the massive amount of combustion products we’ve emitted over time has substantially altered our planetary climatic system is a third. It seems that the facts are on one side, while the money is on the other, which might explain the standoff we’ve been seeing in Washington.

There is a young man in Congress, a Republican named Chris Gibson, who has announced his intention to put forth a resolution that will help others “recognize the reality” of the situation. Gibson, who represents the 19th district in New York (Hudson Valley), is basing the move on what he has observed:

“My district has been hit with three 500-year floods in the last several years, so either you believe that we had a 1 in over 100 million probability that occurred, or you believe as I do that there’s a new normal; and we have changing weather patterns, and we have climate change. This is the science.”

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Largest School District In the U.S. Will Serve Antibiotic-Free Chicken

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday December 12th, 2014 | 0 Comments

school foodChildren attending schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the largest school district in the nation, will soon be eating better meat. The LAUSD’s Board of Education recently approved the 2014 Good Food Procurement Resolution which calls for food procurement guidelines to include antibiotic- and hormone-free standards. The LAUSD is the largest food purchaser in Los Angeles, the second most populous city in the U.S., serving 650,000 meals a day.

The Resolution is part of the Good Food Purchasing Pledge. Developed by the LA Food Policy Council (LAFPC), it has been described as being Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) type standards for food. In October 2012, the City of Los Angeles signed the Good Food Purchasing Pledge, and few weeks later the LAUSD signed it. It consists of five key values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition. It includes a tiered, points-based scoring system. It also features a baseline commitment: To be a Good Food Purchaser, a baseline for each value is required to be met.

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Stories and Beer: Creativity and Sustainability

Marissa Rosen
| Thursday December 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

storiesandbeerlogoIt’s time for another Stories and Beer Fireside Chat on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. PST (9:30 p.m. EST) at the Impact HUB San Francisco – and online via web cam. Register here.

How can creativity and design thinking solve problems of sustainability?  

It might seem obvious that creativity is part of any problem-solving process, but it’s not always obvious how to create the conditions wherein creativity can thrive. How can these conditions be stoked? More importantly, how can sustainability be injected into the creative process so that any problem solving design is thinking about the long-term sustainability challenges of our world and society?

On Dec. 17, join TriplePundit’s founder, Nick Aster, for a conversation with Joe Speicher, executive director of the Autodesk Foundation, as they take an up-close look at the connection between creativity and sustainability. After the dialogue, the floor will open up for audience questions and participation.


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SABMiller Makes the Case for Confronting Water Scarcity at Lima Climate Conference

Leon Kaye | Thursday December 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments
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SABMiller facilities in Lima, Peru.

Latin America is relatively water rich compared to other regions in the world. But there are still plenty of areas in Central and South America feeling the effects of climate change, generally because the precipitation is occurring where there is low population density. For example, Lima, the host of this week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference and home to 8.5 million people, only receives about 6.4 millimeters (0.30 inches) of rain annually.

Ironically for beverage companies, they are often expanding their businesses into areas that are already struggling with water scarcity. To that end, one large global brewer, SABMiller, says businesses need to make the business case for addressing water stress and climate change throughout Latin America.

As with the case of many beverage companies and brewers, Latin America is a growth market as more citizens enter the middle class and can now easily afford a beer or two. The problem, however, is that new breweries are often opening in municipalities that are already coping with water stress. To address the issue, SABMiller, which has concentrated its business in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Peru, has partnered with other organizations on water conservation and treatment programs for several years. One of them, the Water Futures Partnership, works with the World Wildlife Fund and the German development organization GIZ on recharging aquifers while reducing dependence on groundwater. According to SABMiller, such programs not only address water stress, but can also benefit businesses that invest in water security within Latin America in the long run.

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