This is a story about a 120 year old start up. Or re-start up, as it were. Oak Hall Cap & Gown is a US based company doing what, for the most part, has been moved overseas: Making what we use in our graduations. Often by hand.
They’re one of those rare companies that eschews laying off people in seasonal lulls, treats people as family, and has a dedicated workforce as a result. They’ve made many of the gowns for honorary degree ceremonies, and were infamously seen twice in the swearing in of Barack Obama.
They were in search of a way to make their product more current, and apparently on a visit to one of the 1,600 colleges and universities they serve, EVP Joseph D’Angelo was looking at a biodegradable spork while at lunch, and thought, “If a spork can be environmentally friendly, why not a graduation gown?”
After getting “terrible” results trying bamboo, they went with recycled PET (plastic bottle) based fabric that mimics polyester cloth. After thoroughly testing it, Greenweaver robes were created, and will be ready for the December 2009 graduation season. Graduations can be a source of a tremendous amount of waste, but here are some greener graduation suggestions we shared earlier. With GreenWeaver, each uses the equivalent of 23 bottles.
While only one part of graduation, these robes could serve a larger purpose then just their one time use there:
There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there when it comes to the climate change issue, ranging from mild concern to full scale panic, but Live Earth decided to take a different approach with their “Love, the Climate” initiative. From September 15th through September 25th, you can give the environment a voice by sharing creative messages that will be used to help communicate the importance of passing the Climate Bill to senators, and motivate them to take action in a compelling, optimistic way.
As someone who’s developed a series of exercises that anthropomorphize brand traits to help devise resonant marketing strategies, a program like this is right up my alley. Personification is a powerful tool for driving key messages home in a memorable way. And what could be more fun than cooking up fun stories and vignettes for what the environment might say, like Shira Lazar’s sunflower love scene below?
The silver lining of this economic crisis is the hope that a new, green economy will emerge. A revitalized mindset focused on open source, social innovation, clean tech and green jobs marked by shifts towards cleaner transportation, energy independence and a renewed focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. Sandra Kwak, like many Americans and businesses, is banking on this notion. Near the end of her Sustainable MBA program at the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, Sandra struggled with the decision of whether or not to take a job or the proverbial “plunge” and start her own business. For now, she is committed to making her dreams of forming a socially responsible business a reality. She pulls inspiration from her studies at Presidio. There, Sandra got more than an education, she found her calling.
San Francisco International Airport unveils new carbon offset kiosks
How much good can selling carbon offsets at airport kiosks have on a region’s economy and environment? The Bay Area is about to find out. According to a report by inhabitat.com, San Francisco’s International Airport (SFO) and 3Degrees (a local carbon firm) initiated the Climate Passport program on Thursday, the first program of its kind. The program will allow passengers to purchase carbon offsets right at the gate, thereby mitigating the environmental impact of their flights. Whether the program will appeal to a wide range of passengers, and whether it will significantly impact the region’s economy and environment, have yet to be determined.
Thousands of excited students headed off to college this fall and as any college student (and parent) knows, in addition to tuition there are many other associated costs of college. Entertainment expenses, parking permits, computers and new clothes all put a strain on the finances. Then, there is the nightmare that is finding and purchasing textbooks. You get your class schedule and hunt for your textbooks amid the chaos, stand in line for hours and nearly keel over when you get your total! There goes your hard earned beer money. College textbooks typically cost more than $100 a piece and students spend an average of $700 to $1,100 a year, representing one of the biggest expenses after tuition and room and board.
Puma, the German “sportlifestyle” company, is an old hand at a relatively new corporate exercise, the sustainability report.
The footwear, apparel and accessories designer published its fifth sustainability report last week. The 121-page opus covering the 2007/2008 reporting period was released exclusively online “for environmental reasons.”
In the latest sustainability report Puma sets a goal to reduce energy and water consumption and “waste creation” 25 percent by 2010 based on its results during its 2005/2006 reporting period.
While it’s done five sustainability reports, Puma issued its first one in 2001, virtually the dark ages for the term “corporate social responsibility.” So it’s really in its tenth year of CSR reporting. That experience shows in its organization and related CSR programs.
How can sustainability improve the lives of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa? Through the simple realization of good ideas and global collaboration – the founding principles of startup Africa Rural Connect (ARC). ARC seeks to change lives by engaging “anyone who cares about Africa” (including past and present Peace Corps Volunteers, the African Diaspora, development practitioners, technology innovators, and scholars), as well as requesting – and realizing – their ideas for positive change. In addition to demonstrating grassroots organization at its best, ARC also demonstrates the roles of technology, individuals, and businesses worldwide in promoting sustainable development in Africa.
According to an East Coast Blogging report, ARC was launched by several local firms in the DC area, plus the National Peace Corp Association. Their basic plan was to drive discussions of development challenges and solutions facing sub-Saharan Africa, aggregate participants’ knowledge, and turn participants’ ideas into action.
According to a recent Reuters report, Tucson Electric Power announced Wednesday that it will purchase power from two Arizona-based solar energy systems. The move is expected to benefit many of Tucson Electric’s 400,000 customers in Arizona by providing solar power for more than 6,000 homes. It will also prevent production of an estimated 64,000 tons of CO2.
Up to 12% of the world’s cargo ships are standing down, absent cargo or crews. Will there be a commensurate reduction in shipping-related CO2 emissions? Will 2009 be the baseline year against which shipping companies could be required to accomplish reductions? For details, see Ghost Fleet Moored Off Singapore: 12% Of Ocean Shipping Armada Stands Down Business significance for #1 is :U2/C3.
Do you work in a supply chain for the personal care products? Niche offerings from the green side are poised to threaten the market shares of multinational brands. An online distributor, Become Clean, is moving to be the Amazon of healthy and safe versions. For details, see Become Clean Offers 20% Off Natural Personal Care Products Business significance for #2 is :U1/C5.
By Matthew Madden In neo-classical economics, the paradox of thrift describes an economic scenario in which the more people save their own money, the worse off the overall economic situation becomes. As a result, the paradox of thrift states that what may be good for the individual may not be good for society. The consumption paradox describes a situation in which an individual enjoys an increased quality of life from a material standpoint, yet is less satisfied and content with that life. The consumption paradox is specifically focused on both the “take-make-waste” model we’ve embraced as well as the role marketing, advertising and sales campaigns play in increasing the throughput of this model.
Water and water bottles seem to be flowing into headlines as often as healthcare these days. But activists in the Northern California town of McCloud are claiming victory in a six-year battle to block Nestle Waters North America from erecting a water bottling plant at the site of an old mill in the once-prosperous logging town. Nestle announced on September 10 that it is bagging the proposal.
When first introduced, Nestle’s proposal was for a 1 million square foot facility that would bottle a mind-boggling 521 million gallons of water a year, pulling it from the town’s watershed and then trucking it as far south of Los Angeles. The plant would also employ 240 people, it said. Nestle later revised the scope down to 195 million gallons, and a plant with a smaller footprint (and a reduced workforce of 100), but the company had already raised the ire of McCloud residents—some of whom were pitted against each other on the issue—and had become a focus of the Think Outside the Bottle campaign of the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International.
There are many features of Hawaii that make the 50th state utterly different from the other 49. Probably one of the most obscure, however, is that it generates nearly 80% of its electricity from imported oil, mainly from Indonesia. When oil prices shot up in 2008, consumers in the state were paying around 50 cents per kilowatt hour — five times the national average.
The state’s tenuous reliance on oil has put added momentum behind the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, launched in January 2008, which calls for the state to generate 60-70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, through a combination of new development and energy efficiency measures.
But as planners across the country have found, switching to renewable energy is not as simple as planting wind turbines and solar panels, even when the impetus behind it is pressing.
Copenhagen’s upcoming bike share competition is a glimpse into the City’s vision for itself: that of a “modern city, with emphasis on effective and environmentally-friendly transport forms,” the CPH bike share competition website says. The primary goal of the contest is simple: To conceptualize and implement a custom-made-for-Copenhagen bike share program that will help the City meet its sustainable development goals. In doing so, the contest will help build a green, dynamic City that is workable for Copenhagen residents, commuters, and tourists. It will also cement sustainability into Copenhagen’s transportation system while (its creators hope) making the City a model of green transport development. But will the program result in financial benefits substantial enough for other communities worldwide to follow suit?
The House of Representatives is considering expanding government-led research into fuel efficient vehicle technology while increasing research dollars for auto parts suppliers, the Star Tribune reports. The expansion would boost funding for the auto industry, helping the industry meet tougher fuel economy standards and potentially creating more green jobs.
Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What’s required is farming smarter, not harder. Farmer Richard Wiswall is here to tell the world it’s possible to start an organic farm, enjoy it, and make a profit. Like any other business, organic farming has ups and downs. But Wiswall (who’s been farming in Vermont for 27 years) offers a hopeful and useful model to ensure a sustainable business that puts some money in the bank.
He says: “My goal is to see more happy, prosperous farmers. I see too many farmers work too hard for little money and burn out because of it. I would love it that farmland shouldn’t compete for developments because developments pay more. I want it that farms remain in farmland because it’s economically viable to do so. And I think that’s the way it should be.”
Chelsea Green recently produced an original video to introduce readers to this organic farmer and author.
Watch the 4-minute version:
For the super enthusiastic, there’s also a 30 minute version:
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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