Video Interview: Suzanne Shelton, President & CEO, Shelton Group

| Wednesday April 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

I just got back from the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara and put together a handful of great video interviews.  You can follow along on our conference page here for all of them, as well as past years’ coverage.

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Suzanne Shelton is founder, president and CEO of Shelton Group, an advertising agency focused exclusively on motivating mainstream consumers to make sustainable choices.  She’s also one of the more insightful and energetic conversationalists you are likely to run into at a conference and has a lot to say about what it takes to get consumers to take sustainability seriously.

Last week, Suzanne led a lunchtime discussion at WSJ ECO:nomics on the fact that, while companies have come a long way in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), engaging the end consumer is still required to really accomplish their goals.  Suzanne was kind enough to sit down with me for a whirlwind conversation on the subject.

Watch the whole thing in the video after the jump:

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How to Make Corporate Giving a Foundation That Strengthens Your Business

3p Contributor | Wednesday April 9th, 2014 | 0 Comments

7646188700_7e7902b560_z (1)By Zeynep Ilgaz

It should go without saying that giving back is a good thing. Every member of society benefits from the health of the community, and as members of a corporation, we should always be conscious of the power we have to bring about good in the world. Giving to the less fortunate is an admirable act.

However, like a lot of good deeds, corporate philanthropy doesn’t just benefit the recipients. It also benefits those who are giving. Make corporate giving a foundation of your business, and you’ll find that it can improve the morale of your employees and the health of your company.

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Southeastern Cities Look to Max Out the Triple Bottom Line Returns of Recycling

| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in a two-part series examining the recycling industry and job creation. In case you missed it, you can check out Part I here

recycling symbolRecycling is a growth industry in the U.S. and around the world, with resource scarcity, cost reduction, and the basic human need and desire for clean, healthy air, land and waters all driving growth.

As was pointed out in Part I of this two-part series, the economic, as well as social and environmental, benefits of recycling are underappreciated and undervalued here in the U.S., where recycling rates lag those of other industrialized nations, however.

Under the aegis of the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), manufacturers with operations spanning 11 Southeast U.S. states have joined together to raise awareness and boost recycling rates. They’re not the only ones who see significant benefits and advantages from increasing recycling rates in the U.S.

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Extreme Action: UPS Fires 250 in New York After 90-Minute Protest

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 8 Comments

UPS truckIn a demonstration of the power of corporations over workers, unionized or not, UPS began firing 250 Teamster drivers in Queens, N.Y. last week after they dared to stage a 90-minute protest of the firing of long-time employee and union activist Jairo Reeves.

According to news reports from Business Insider and the New York Daily News, which broke the story, the unionized drivers at UPS’s Maspeth facility got their walking papers because they walked off the job briefly on Feb. 26.

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Honey Maid Defends Its Ad Featuring ‘Nontraditional’ Families

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Graham CrackersIn early March, Honey Maid launched its “This Is Wholesome” ad campaign featuring several “unconventional” families – a family with two dads, a mixed-race family, a “rocker” family, a military family and a single dad and his son. The 30-second commercial normalized these “atypical” families – showing them engaging in everyday activities like taking walks, getting dressed in the morning or enjoying Honey Maid’s iconic graham crackers. And – even more revolutionary – the ad made the assertion that these families are just as wholesome as the 1950s stereotypical family: a mom, dad, 2.5 kids and dog — an archetype that many would argue was actually more uncommon than such “nontraditional” families.

“No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will,” the ad says. “Honey Maid: Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family.”

But after the ad drew criticism from religious and anti-gay circles over the family with two gay dads portrayed in the commercial, the company released a follow-up video on social media last week, addressing both the negative and positive comments it received.

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What Makes a Civilization Collapse?

RP Siegel | Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

collapsed buildingLast week, we talked about the latest report from the U.N. IPCC describing the impacts that have already been seen from climate change and some projections of what we might expect in the future. The report found that, “Climate change poses the greatest risks to the most vulnerable populations within all nations, and a potentially existential risk to poorer countries already struggling with food insecurity and civil conflict, as well as low-lying small island states.”

But most of us are not in that group, so we’re okay, right?

Not necessarily. The report “recognizes that risks of climate change will vary across regions and populations, through space and time, dependent on myriad factors including the extent of mitigation and adaptation.”

In other words, there is a great deal of uncertainty in predicting specific risks, and the results depend a great deal on the actions we take or don’t take.

Another report came out last month, this one by a cross-disciplinary group at NASA, based on the Human and Nature Dynamical (HANDY) model. The model was created by a team of natural and social scientists led by mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The study has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed journal Ecological Economics.

The study states that in the past a number of highly sophisticated, complex civilizations such as the Roman, Han, Mauryan and Gupta Empires, along with numerous Mesopotamian Empires, have collapsed, and it draws parallels among the conditions that made each of these susceptible.

Considering the growing awareness of our own vulnerability, we would be well advised to pay attention to these results.

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Air Pollution Now Responsible for 1 in 8 Deaths Worldwide, Study Shows

Alexis Petru
| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 1 Comment

SmogAir pollution is now the world’s single greatest environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new findings that show poor air quality is responsible for 7 million deaths a year – one in eight total deaths worldwide. WHO estimates that indoor air pollution caused 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households that burn wood, coal or biomass as cooking fuel, while outdoor air pollution contributed to 3.7 million deaths the same year. Because many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollutants, WHO could not simply add the two figures together, but came up with an estimated total of 7 million deaths in 2012.

It is already common knowledge that poor air quality can trigger and aggravate respiratory diseases like acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But WHO reported that its new data also shows a stronger correlation between air pollution and cancer, as well as air quality and cardiovascular diseases, including strokes and heart disease.

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Video Interview: Raj Mamodia, CEO of Brillio

| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

I just got back from the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara and put together a handful of great video interviews.  You can follow along on our conference page here for all of them, as well as past years’ coverage.

logo-brillioBrillio is a $100M startup that’s set to launch in the next few weeks. A global technology consulting firm, Brillio is focused on leveraging emerging technologies in, among other vertical markets, the energy/utilities industry. With innovation ‘hot spots’ due to open in the U.S. in 2014, Brillio is investing in new market opportunities to help organizations achieve competitive dominance beyond strategic advantage and quality management.

I had a chance to sit down with Raj Mamodia, Brillo’s CEO, to learn more about how Brillio will help companies, especially utilities cope with fast changing technology, fast changing customer behavior, and the basics of running complex operations.  The goal, from a sustainability perspective, is to greatly increase efficiencies that can save not only money, but many negative externalities that the energy sector faces.

Watch the video after the jump:

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Did Hyperbole or Social Responsibility Push Johnson & Johnson to Reformulate Its Baby Products?

Sherrell Dorsey
| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 0 Comments

4779401331_9b6ca0ff38_zIn an increasingly responsive environment, consumer influence brings brands dangerously close to the edges of both innovation and implosion. Social media, the mother of all sounding boards for consumer activism, advocacy and subsequent protest, fuels the fire of messages that easily become distorted or misguided — making for murky water and confusion among consumers who mean well as they seek to protect their own best interests and demand transparency from the companies they support. Responding in such an environment requires that brands take consumer concerns seriously and adopt policies and practices that re-instill consumer trust.

Such was the case for personal care products giant Johnson & Johnson, which suffered a very public battle when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) called for a consumer boycott of the company over potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. A stream of fiery darts were thrown at the brand when CSC purchased and reviewed the shampoo sold in 13 countries and discovered that the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States contained two carcinogens: formaldehyde and 1,4,-dioxane. These ingredients, however, were not formulated in the shampoos sold in other countries. Parents and special interest groups were unrelenting in their outrage towards a brand they trusted to care for their children.

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Video Interview: Peter Graf, CSO EVP at SAP

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

I just got back from the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference in Santa Barbara, Calif. and put together a handful of great video interviews.  You can follow along on our conference page here for all of them, as well as past years’ coverage.

logo-sapED NOTE: Please join us on April 11th as we talk with Peter Graf of SAP, Aron Kramer from BSR, & Nigel Topping of CDP on Twitter. Register here to join us.

Peter Graf is SAP America’s chief sustainability officer.  Last week, he led conversation at WSJ ECO:nomics on the use of IT to drive sustainability, covering sustainable design, product stewardship networks, employee education, transportation management, recycling administration and aligning incentives with sustainability interests.

I had a chance to sit down with Peter and talk about SAP’s recently released integrated report, the process for putting it together and how it has benefitted the company. We also talked about some of the company’s recent accomplishments in committing to 100 percent renewable energy and a new foray into free online sustainable business education.

Watch it all in the video after the jump:

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Wind Power Is Reducing Electricity Rates; Pays Back Tax Credit 17 Times Over

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 10 Comments

USWindTurbMtnsACORE Higher performance turbines, lower manufacturing costs and lower prices for consumers drove new U.S. wind energy construction to record heights in early 2014 — despite the U.S. Congress still debating whether or not to renew the federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), which expired Dec. 31. In many parts of the U.S., wind energy is now the cheapest form of electricity generation – cheaper than natural gas and even coal, NextEra chief financial office Moray P. Dewhurst recently stated on an earnings call.

The federal wind energy PTC has been instrumental in the U.S. wind energy industry achieving that milestone. Yet, Congress has been playing “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” with the U.S. wind energy industry for two decades now. Every time the PTC expires, wind energy investment and new capacity tumbles; when it’s in place, wind energy booms. It’s just bad policy, emblematic of the divisive partisanship, cronyism, lack of foresight and political leadership that has come to characterize U.S. politics.

In its “Outlook for Renewable Energy 2014,” the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), working in conjunction with U.S. renewable energy industry trade associations, presents facts and figures that clearly illustrate the triple-bottom-line benefits and advantages the U.S. wind energy industry brings to American society, and how the renewable energy PTC has played a seminal role in spurring them on to realization.

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Southeast Manufacturers Join to Spur Job Creation Through Recycling

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 1 Comment

plasticwasteFrom local to global, conservation of natural resources and ecosystems — and the quality of our air, land and waters — have become increasingly public, and pressing, issues in recent decades. Pressures on fundamental ecosystems and services are increasing along with the costs and risks associated with climate change. At the same time, local communities across the U.S. are struggling to cope with changing demographics, rapid and profound technological change, sluggish job creation, and widening gaps in income, wealth and political representation.

The numerous and varied benefits to be gained by doing more with less — by reducing waste, reusing, and recycling materials, water and energy — are widely acknowledged. Doing so creates cleaner, healthier communities and helps minimize destructive environmental impacts. Yet, in the face of all this, Americans continue to lag compared to their industrialized peers when it comes to recycling. Furthermore, the positive economic impacts recycling is having in terms of boosting local and regional economies are underappreciated, undervalued or largely unnoticed.

The shortfall of domestic U.S. supply and the demand for recycled materials hits home in the Southeast, where manufacturers make use of more recycled materials than in any other region of the nation. Recycling is a growth industry, one that continued to expand through the depths of the last recession. Why? “Because there’s value there,” Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) executive director Will Sagar highlighted in a 3p interview.

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Alaska Air Group Sets Aggressive Sustainability Goals

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

AlaskaAir_jetAlaska Air Group, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, has committed to reduce aircraft fuel consumption by 20 percent and use a sustainable aviation biofuel at one or more airports by 2020.

The Seattle-based group’s 93-page sustainability report for 2013, “Innovating for Our Future”—only its second such report—said that since the last report in 2011 fuel efficiency improvements have saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel. The two airlines also cut waste by 50 percent per passenger, saving nearly 2,900 tons of recyclables. Alaska and Horizon are the only airlines that recycle on every domestic flight.

The two airlines have also reduced greenhouse gases by 30.4 percent per revenue mile since the 2004 baseline year.

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Lowe’s Settles California Toxic Dumping Suit for $18.1 Million

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Lowes_Toxic_Dumping_closeup_MikeMozartInvestigators at California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) have been hard at work – this time inspecting trash disposal sites behind Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse stores for toxic dumping. In conjunction with the investigative skills of Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), DTSC determined that Lowe’s stores had been illegally dumping toxic materials at landfill sites that weren’t authorized to receive the materials.

The DTSC says that the materials included pesticides, aerosols, mercury-based fluorescent bulbs and other items not eligible for landfill disposal. Investigators state that more than 110 stores across the state were found to be dumping toxic items improperly.

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Demand for Humane Food is Strong, Study Finds

Sarah Lozanova | Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments
free range chickens

Egg producer JS West provides a 24/7 live video cam for consumers to see how hens are raised.

In the United States, an estimated 9 billion chickens, pigs and cattle are consumed each year, with a vast majority raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).This form of food production typically emphasizes profit over farm animal treatment and sustainability. However, consumer demand for higher welfare animal proteins is increasing, likely due to heightened consumer awareness.

Americans are prioritizing animal welfare and consciously-raised foods over price and variety, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker. A staggering 69 percent of respondents said they prioritize animal welfare when buying animal proteins.

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