Most of Keurig Green Mountain’s facilities are in low water risk regions, except for the one in Castroville, California. That facility is located in Monterey County, which, like nearly the entire state, is suffering a severe drought. The good news is that Keurig’s Castroville facility only withdraws a small amount of water from local supplies. That’s great in a county so drought-stricken that does not allow some of its residents to do outdoor watering during the day.
Keurig’s latest sustainability report points out that the Keurig brewing system actually reduces water use as compared to conventional systems, as it uses only the amount of water that will be consumed. (About 12 to 15 percent of home brewed coffee is wasted, on average, the company said.)
Keurig conducted a water footprint analysis related to the manufacturing and use of its coffee portion packs. What the water footprint showed is that it is not a large direct consumer of water. That’s a good thing, particularly for this California girl.
It’s about to get a lot easier for Walmart.com shoppers to make the responsible choice. On the heels of last week’s jaw-dropping commitment to increase wages for Walmart employees, the retailer announced this morning at the Walmart Milestone Meeting that it will now be highlighting the 10,000 “best in class” sustainable products across 80 categories as Sustainability Leaders. That means that shoppers looking for anything from soap to printer ink can easily see which product is the most responsible by looking for the Sustainable Leaders badge.
Sustainable, how? You might ask. In 2009 Walmart.com worked with the Sustainability Consortium (TSC) to create supplier scorecards to rank suppliers and encourage them to improve operations and become more sustainable — by using energy more efficiently or increasing the recycled content of their products. After tackling suppliers and incentivizing corporate buyers to choose the products that scored well, Walmart is on to the final challenge in the list: consumer education. Through the Sustainable Leaders program, Walmart will be highlighting the environmental leaders in every product category. Customers who want to know the details, what makes each Sustainable Leader qualify, can click through to read about TSC’s process and criteria. Go a click further and they can see fact sheets like this one on polyester textiles, which describes what TSC looks for from product manufacturers.
Last Friday Harvard University’s legal team was in court to address what seems to have become iconic debate of our times: the financial support of the fossil fuel industry. Harvard Corporation, which oversees the university’s investment portfolio, was sued last year by seven students who maintain that Harvard “has a legal obligation — and, more importantly, a moral duty —to stop profiting from human suffering and environmental destruction.” The group, which is representing itself, is succinct in its goal: “Our lawsuit simply asks Harvard to live up to its centuries-old promise to promote “the advancement of youth.”
I keep on reading that companies are doing great work on the climate change and general sustainability front. Renewable energy commitments, zero emissions, forests being hugged – all the good stuff that should make us feel warm and fuzzy. So why are we still in so much trouble?
Why is climate change running hot? (Pun absolutely intended). Why are we still losing forests left, right and center? Why are we still fighting for basic worker rights? Why is the gap between the rich and poor expanding faster than our economy? Why are people dying of diseases that have a known cure? Why are we going to miss so many of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs]? Why did Wilson throw that ball? (Go Pats!)
The simple truth is that a majority of companies are still simply not doing their part. For every forward looking one out there, we have a thousand bad ones. How do we make sense of this? As per my usual habit, I drew a picture on a white board under our “Soapbox Issue(s) of the Week” to try and make sense of it all.
Activists are hoping Benetton’s contributions to the Rana Plaza disaster fund can prevent victims from losing their homes
It has been almost two years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse outside of Dakka, Bangladesh. The disaster was not only the worst accident to hit the global garment industry, but it was also the deadliest structural accident in human history. It may have fallen out of memory for many consumers, but not for the families and friends of the 1,134 killed and about 2,000 more injured; many of the survivors endured harrowing experiences in order to escape the eight-story factory collapse. At least 29 companies were tied to Rana Plaza, including Walmart, Mango, The Children’s Place, Primark and Benetton, the Italy-based fashion house.
In the wake of the tragedy, the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO) backed a fund that was tasked with collecting about US$30 million to compensate victims and the families. So far, about US$21 million has been collected, according to the Guardian. But one company with ties to the collapse was holding out: Benetton.
Energy efficiency is big business. Energy audits, insulation upgrades, HVAC systems instillations, LED lighting and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems all create new “green” jobs, sustain existing jobs, fuel innovation and improve U.S. economic competitiveness. Such measures will not only reduce energy bills and alleviate strains on power grids, they benefit this and future generations by helping conserve ecosystems and natural resources and improving human health, safety and the overall quality of life.
Improving energy efficiency and making use of clean, renewable energy have been a mainstay of President Obama’s two terms in office – this second term in particular. Taking executive action, the President in December 2013 promised that the federal government would lead by example, setting ambitious clean energy and energy efficiency goals for all branches of the U.S. government. That includes the U.S. military, whose leaders recognize the opportunities, as well as profound threats, climate change poses both at home and globally.
Providing affordable, accessible education and training is key to realizing the U.S. military and federal government’s clean energy and energy efficiency goals.
On February 13, the Department of Energy announced the first class of Marines graduated from the pilot phase of its SunShot Initiative solar energy industry training program. As the Energy Department explains, the groundbreaking program prepares “service members for careers in the solar industry as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related opportunities.”
Socially Responsible Investing has enjoyed a period of growth spanning back several decades that could be the envy of many other sustainable industries. Even during the economic downturn following the housing crisis of 2008, SRI kept climbing its ladder. Financial assets under SRI management now exceed $33.3 Trillion (or one in every six dollars in professional investment management), and they’re being used to influence corporate governance in ways that have lasting and measurable impacts.
And yet, there’s a sense that we’re not moving the needle fast enough. As SRI manager Michael Kramer explains in a recent op-ed on GreenBiz.com,
“Corporate disclosure of social and environmental performance remains voluntary, and commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions remain few and far between, even as we continue to develop new fossil fuel resources. Meanwhile, in marketing and facile public discourse, sustainability has been significantly watered down, too often simply serving as a green patina atop business as usual. It’s time that we dig deeper.”
That watering down has led some to consider shifting the conversation toward “resilience” as opposed to sustainability. Kramer is among them. Kramer and his colleagues recently released a new book called The Resilient Investor. The book includes a chapter called “Weaning off Wall Street”, which is a particularly refreshing strategy I’d not usually expect from an investment advisor.
The need for sustainable seafood is great. Overfishing is a global problem with about 90 percent of the world’s fisheries either fully exploited, overexploited or collapsed. The world’s fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level, and several key commercial fish populations have declined to the extent that their survival is threatened. That makes sustainability standards for seafood, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), very important. And MSC has recently updated its Chain of Custody Standard.
MSC’s new Chain of Custody Standards are now “more streamlined, clear and accessible,” as a press statement puts it. The new requirements are designed to make it easier for restaurants, fishmongers and caterers to use them. Published on February 20, the updated Standards will apply to all MSC Chain of Custody audits from September 1, 2015 onwards.
In 1989 the Harvard Business Journal published an article about technology bringing blind people into the work place. It stated that roughly 70 percent of blind adults were unemployed but that the advent of the microchip was slowly opening doors of opportunity for these individuals in the workplace, during a time with relatively few technology aides.
Fast-forward 25 years and the technological landscape has dramatically changed. Microchips are old news and other technological advancements have made employment easier for those with severely impaired vision. In fact, 37 percent of visually impaired adults are now employed according to the National Federation of the Blind.
A persistent challenge
While great strides have been made since 1989, finding a ‘home’ in the workplace for visually impaired adults — especially one where they can not only be accepted, but flourish, — remains a challenge. Sixty three percent of blind people in the U.S. are still unemployed, oftentimes held back by a lack of opportunity and workplace tools that can accommodate their disability.
An opportunity for corporate citizenship
As technologies become more sophisticated, and companies focus more attention and resources on corporate citizenship, the needs of this demographic are being addressed.
Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm and arguably the force that has defined the global PR sector for years, will stop working with one of the most powerful business groups in the United States. According to the Holmes Report, Edelman has ended its relationship with the American Petroleum Institute (API).
Blue Advertising, a division of Edelman that had managed the relationship with API, will spin off from its parent firm and manage the account on its own. It is a gutsy business move for Edelman, on par with CVS deciding to stop selling tobacco products, since the Guardian has estimated that its relationship with API delivered as much as 10 percent of Edelman’s annual revenues. Meanwhile the firm developed a growing corporate social responsibility and sustainability practice, a profitable move considering more multinationals are cleaning up their supply chains while taking more action to address climate change. The result was the firm carrying on a balancing act of grooming its social responsibility practice while representing a controversial industry: a dance that was becoming more uncomfortable to watch over the past year.
One of the world’s six major oil and gas companies supports a global price on carbon – and no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke.
In the latest version of its annual Energy Outlook report, BP recommends that governments set a meaningful global price on carbon emissions to level the playing field for businesses and let the market choose the best climate solutions.
The report, which analyzes long-term energy trends and makes projections for global energy markets over the next two decades, predicts global carbon emissions will jump 25 percent by 2035, climbing by 1 percent a year. This estimate is a cause for concern, putting greenhouse gases on a trajectory that is significantly – 18 billion tons of carbon, to be exact – above the path scientists advise to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the study notes.
The negative effects of extractive industry operations on indigenous communities have been obvious for quite some time.
Studies show that the rights of Native communities are often at risk in such settings, especially when hydraulic fracturing and other crude oil-related developments are being operated on or near their lands.
What is often less reported however, are the dangers that Native peoples face from overlooked mechanical or structural failures where materials or waste compounds are stored in remote areas.
Images from NASA showcase the contaminated water that surged from the bright blue retention basin into nearby lakes when the mine collapsed.
The past year has been a roller coaster for Target, with fallout over the infamous data breach, the closing of its stores in Canada and growing pressure to raise wages in the wake of Walmart’s recent announcement. But the company’s sales and its stock have rebounded, and compared to other retailers, employees have been relatively satisfied with the company’s work culture. And its customers may become more intrigued by Target’s increase in its “Made to Matter” product line, which includes a variety of brands that are made with organic and sustainable ingredients.
Made to Matter launched last year, with the roll out of iconic brands including Burt’s Bees, Annie’s Homegrown, Clif Bar, EVOL, method and its own private label product line. Last Friday, Target announced it would almost double the number of brands from 16 to 31, and the company expects sales from these labels to reach US$1 billion in 2015.
Nestlé USA recently announced it is removing artificial flavors and artificial colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of this year. Over 250 products and 10 brands will be free of artificial ingredients. By mid-2015, products featuring a label that declares “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” will start appearing on store shelves.
Nestlé USA plans to replace artificial flavors and colors with ones from natural sources, and cites several examples. In the Butterfinger candy bar, annatto, derived from the seeds in the fruit from the achiote tree, will replace Red 40 and Yellow 5. In Crunch, natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin.
Organic produce is better for our health and the environment. What’s not to love about a farming system that eliminates toxic herbicides and pesticides? One company wants to tout the benefits of organics in a humorous way. That company is Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based organic farmer co-op. Humanaut has produced a faux public service announcement (PSA) for the company called “Save the Bros.”
Save the Bros uses the stereotypical muscle man who lives to go to the gym to get across the message that organics are better and so is Organic Valley’s Organic Fuel drink. The Save the Bros campaign also has a website that touts Organic Fuel. It mentions that the drink has 26 grams of protein, organic milk and is free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, synthetic hormones, and artificial sweeteners. That is all great, but there is a big problem with Organic Fuel: it is loaded with sugar, 26 grams to be exact.
Ed note: Organic Valley reached out to let us know that their formulation was designed with the needs of athletes in mind and the sugar content of the formulation helps with muscle recovery.
Dietary experts have linked the regular consumption of sugary drinks with the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over one-third of all U.S. adults are obese.
New York, NY: May 14 – May 16 Sustainable Cosmetics Summit Taking place in New York City on 14-16th May, the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit will showcase major developments in green ingredients, distribution, social and customer impacts. Register here.
San Diego: Jun 1 – Jun 4 Sustainable Brands 2015 Reinvent yourself in response to changing norms. The demand for brands to deliver purpose is soaring. Get a 20% discount with the code "NW3pSB15sd"Register here.
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