Sustainability is Important to Most American Food Shoppers, Survey Finds

| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Food shoppingA new survey of American consumers provides some potentially surprising findings that indicate American food shoppers are very mindful about what they place into their shopping carts, and it’s not just about price and taste.

While food commercials on television constantly bombard Americans with offerings that focus on price-point and convenience, a 2014 survey by Cone Communications found that people care about where their food comes from and how it is produced. In a poll of more than 1,000 people from a broad cross-section of the shopping public, 77 percent of respondents said sustainability was an important factor in deciding what to buy, while 74 percent said buying locally was a significant factor.

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Carson City, Calif. Puts a Temporary Ban On Oil and Gas Drilling

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 1 Comment

CA frackingThe five members of the Carson City Council in California voted unanimously to put a 45-day ban on new oil and gas drilling. During that time, the city council will consider enacting a one-year ban. Occidental Petroleum would like to develop 200 wells in the Carson City area, located in Los Angeles County. Occidental reportedly said back in 2012, when it first proposed drilling the wells, that it plans to use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. However, the company now says it no longer plans to use fracking.

The council is not taking the word of Occidental Petroleum. As one councilman, Albert Robles, told Reuters, ”There are too many questions, too many unknowns and too many possible bad consequences that could result from the city engaging in this activity.” Robles added, “These questions significantly outweigh any possible benefit to the residents of Carson.”

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Making the Food Trade Work for All

Fair Trade USA | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Daniel Gonzales, Fundación AVINAFarm worker sifts corn kernels at his home in Central America

This Monday, March 31, we celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, and remember the challenges faced and battles fought by farm workers across the country. It’s also a time to discuss the fight that lives on today in the U.S. and abroad—a fight for fair wages and safe working conditions in an industry held up by a population of laborers whose rights are often difficult to protect.

In North America, most farm workers come from Latin America. The U.S. Department of Labor, for example, says that close to 90 percent of farm workers are Spanish-speakers, and more than half of immigrant farm workers nationwide do not have legal protection. More indigenous workers from rural Mexico and Central America are arriving, as well as guest workers from Asia. Although they pay payroll taxes and contribute anywhere from $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security funds, migrant farm workers do not come to the United States to get welfare because of the simple fact that they are not eligible.

A global workforce

What this tells us is that the realities of agricultural labor in the U.S. are not confined within its borders. Whether it’s a coffee farm in Brazil, a pineapple farm in Costa Rica, or an apple farm in North America, farm workers can often find themselves a part of a globally marginalized, transient and largely invisible workforce that brings us our food each day. Just as the issues in our global food systems cannot be addressed by problem-solving in one region alone, restoring pride and dignity to the American farm worker also requires a far more global perspective and approach. It requires the equitable appreciation of all farm workers, wherever they may be. Their skills, dedication and sweat are all human.

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Clean Energy Trends 2014: New Solar Energy Capacity Exceeds Wind For First Time

| Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 12 Comments

CleanEnergyTrendsLogoThe landscape of the global renewable energy market continues to shift with changes in economic and social conditions and policies. While some renewable energy sectors – notably, solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment – experienced “dazzling growth, success and rising stock prices,” others saw a drop in deployments, as well as challenges on the policy and finance fronts, according to a global clean energy market report from Clean Edge released March 26.

Last year marked a turning point for solar PV, according to Clean Edge’s, Clean Energy Trends 2014 report, as newly installed solar PV generating capacity exceeded that of wind power for the first time since the market research company began tracking global markets in 2000. Newly installed solar PV generating capacity totaled 36.5 gigawatts (GW) while that for wind totaled 35.5 GW, according to Clean Edge’s count.

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How Loving Your Clothes Can Make the World a Better Place

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Appalatch co-founders Grace Gounin (right) and Mariano deGuzman work on pieces for their line.

Appalatch co-founders Grace Gouin (right) and Mariano deGuzman work on pieces for their line.

By Grace Gouin, Creative Director of Appalatch

It’s easy to get frustrated and blue when you start paying attention to all of the problems facing sustainability in the apparel industry. Once you learn about the environmental harm and the social inequity caused by the industry as it stands today, you find yourself a little stumped when it comes time to get dressed. As a very astute 12-year-old asked me today as we tried to do some shopping: “What am I supposed to do? I can’t go naked!” It’s hard to discuss the problems within the apparel industry without somebody asking, very reasonably, for a solution. We think the solution lies in everybody loving their clothes a little more.

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Caribbean Island of Barbados To Get Waste-To-Energy Plant

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

wastetoenergyOne day soon the Caribbean island of Barbados will have part of its electricity needs supplied by a waste-to-energy plant.

Cahill Energy, based in Guernsey, announced the signing of an agreement with the government of Barbados on March 15 to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant. The company plans to invest up to $240 million in the plant which will be built in Vaucluse, St. Thomas. The plant is predicted to create up to 350 jobs, plus stimulate economic growth on the island and save the government of Barbados several hundred million dollars during the 30-year contract, according to estimates from Cahill Energy.

The waste-to-energy plant will use plasma gasification to transform up to 650 tons of solid waste a day into renewable energy. It will save all of that waste from ending up in a landfill and provide a domestic power source for Barbados which will reduce the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuel. It is expected to provide up to 25 percent of Barbados’ total energy needs and reduce energy cost. Westinghouse Plasma Corp., owned by AlterNRG, will supply the plasma gasification technology.

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8 Reasons Socially Responsible Businesses Survive and Thrive

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 3 Comments

3344142642_c4d3bfa042_zBy Zack Rosenberg

Business leaders act, not react. By nature they are forward thinking and innovative– a ballast on a ship. But never before has leadership been a more critical tool, with billion dollar brands being built overnight and distribution trending in ways we never imagined.

It’s the Internet, of course. Consumers are interacting with brands in ways that could never have been done before. Twenty years ago our choices were limited to whatever was on the shelves at our local supermarket or pharmacy. Now, every brand and product is available at anytime and anywhere.

So how do we as leaders distinguish ourselves? The key is to understand how our brands can provide solutions to problems as well as to communities (our own or others). Here are eight reasons that business leaders who incorporate social responsibility into their business models will survive and thrive.

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Oil Spill Shuts Down Houston Ship Channel on Exxon Valdez Anniversary

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Gaveston_Bay_oil_spill_USACE-eh It’s been said that history repeats itself. It’s doubtful that the author of that saying had oil spills in mind at the time – and even less likely the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Still, the irony of this weekend’s collision and spill near Galveston Bay, Texas on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Exxon spill has been hard to ignore.

Approximately 168,000 gallons of crude oil has been leaking into the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay since Saturday — when a barge being pulled by a towboat collided with a cargo ship in the channel off the coast of Texas City, Texas. The collision closed down traffic and has backed up vessels both ways. More than 80 commercial ships were waiting to get into port as of Monday morning. The Bolivar Peninsula ferry, which shuttles commuters between the peninsula and Galveston, Texas, has been closed until the spill can be cleaned up.

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New Solar Cell Doubles As a Touch Screen

| Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

new solar cell material doubles as touch screenA new finding from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) demonstrates yet again how the flexibility and wide-ranging applicability of solar power provides it with advantages that are impossible to achieve with fossil forms of energy. NTU’s breakthrough is a new solar cell material that could also be used to make the now-ubiquitous touch screens for electronic devices, information kiosks and many other display forms.

The integrated solar cell/touch screen concept parallels the emergence of building-integrated solar cells, as well as solar cells that can be incorporated into fabrics and other wearable or portable items.

In addition to the potential energy cost savings related to consumer products, NTU’s new solar cell material could also provide businesses with a low-emission platform for colorful lighting displays, especially when combined with a storage system that enables night-time use.

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Interview: Monique Oxender Walks Us Through Keurig’s New Sustainability Report

RP Siegel | Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 6 Comments

Green mountain keurigGreen Mountain Coffee has been a very busy place lately. For starters, the company announced a major deal with Coca-Cola which will focus on bringing single–serving, brew-at-home technology to the soft drink market — a story we covered last month. The company has now changed its name to Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., though it maintains the two brands, Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters on separate websites and product lines.

In last month’s story we wrote about some of the impacts of this single-serving wave that has been taking the world by storm, pointing out areas where they will clearly make things better, such as moving less water around, and places where there might be some added impact, such as more packaging. I had not seen a lifecycle analysis (LCA) of the Keurig system, so I could not quantify its impact.

Now, with the release of their 2013 Sustainability Report, we have some of those details, at least for the K-Cup coffee system.

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Jaguar Land Rover Embraces Carbon Finance to Deliver Change

GreenFutures | Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

By supporting LifeStraw Carbon for Water, JLR have provided safe water to 700,000 people in the Busia region of Kenya_660By Will Simpson

Can an auto manufacturer make a difference in millions of lives? That is the goal of U.K. manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, which set an ambitious target to improve health, reduce poverty, and create new opportunities for employment and education for 12 million people around the world by the end of this decade.

It’s no pie-in-the-sky goal: The difference will be felt by people living in communities with particular development goals – such as the need for safe water. These are being identified in collaboration with ClimateCare, with the Busia region of Kenya first on the list (see box, ‘Water for Busia’). Consistent measurement frameworks are being agreed with the London Benchmarking Group to help report the impact consistently across a variety of projects and global locations.

The key to delivering change on such an immense scale? Carbon finance.

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How MBA Students Are Getting ‘Out There’ with Global Experiential Learning

3p Contributor | Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments
MBA students from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business work with the World Bicycle Relief in Zambia to catch a glimpse of environmental and social challenges that face other cultures in real-time.

MBA students from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business work with World Bicycle Relief staff to provide bicycles for transportation and disaster relief in Zambia.

By Erika Herz

Societal issues loom large, and MBA students don’t want to wait until the end of their programs to make a difference.

As Prof. Andrea Larson of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business shared in her October Triple Pundit article, students eagerly refine their abilities to lead in business with an eye toward sustainable innovation and social impact. An instrumental and increasingly popular means for doing so is global experiential learning. Working beyond domestic sustainability challenges gives these students the opportunity to tackle very complex business, political and cultural situations – all in one project.

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Buying Smartphones for Longevity: Are Manufacturers (and Consumers) Ready?

| Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment

San Francisco Apple Store morning new iPhones launchHere’s a quick question: What’s your smartphone upgrade cycle? Or in other words, what’s the frequency with which you replace your older smartphone in a newer one?

If you’re like the average American, it’s a little less than two years (22 months in 2012, according to Recon Analytics).

This aggressive upgrade cycle is no secret, and it helps the mobile industry grow and generate impressive profits. At the same time, we all know this trend is not sustainable and hurts our wallets. In addition, writes Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times: “Smartphones have crossed the threshold from amazing to boring. High-end phones seem to have hit an innovation plateau, with each new iPhone or Samsung Galaxy just incrementally better than the last.”

Given these circumstances Manjoo suggests it might not be so wild to imagine a world in which we “buy smartphones with an eye to longevity.” In this world, he writes, consumers use their smartphones for more than two years (ideally three); try to repair them instead of replacing them when possible; consider buying used phones instead of new ones; and trade their smartphones in where they’re done with them.

I like Manjoo’s vision. It’s practical and at the same time offers a real change. The only thing I would change about it is aiming somewhat higher with the upgrade cycle to at least twice what we have now – let’s say four to five years. But even without this revision, is it really possible for the mobile industry to become a (more) sustainable closed-loop system, or is it just another green fantasy?

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A Fish with a Story Could Save Our Oceans … and 200 Million Jobs

3p Contributor | Monday March 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments

1027287737_d527cb331d_zBy Cheryl Dahle

The best fish story I ever heard was from Dune Lankard, a native Athabaskan fisher, who shared the tale of the salmon that those of us gathered in his home that evening were about to eat. His people, the Eyaks, have lived in the Copper River Delta region of Alaska for 3,500 years. For much of that history (before industry exploitation and disease decimated the population) their culture, diet and spirituality all centered on salmon.

Lankard narrated the journey of the salmon — starting with its birth in the rich, silty river, following its trek out to sea and then, years later, its heroic return upstream, fighting currents to fulfill its destiny. He said we were privileged to eat this fish, which had been taken at the peak of its energy — immersed in the struggle to reproduce and give its life to the future survival of its species. Instead, its energy would feed us. For that, we owed our thanks.

I’ve never eaten a meal with as much reverence as I did that night. That fish story connected me to riverbanks, pristine waters, and something bigger than my appetite or myself. I’ve not eaten a fish since without thinking about its journey.

The truth is that we rarely know the journey of a fish that has landed on our plate. And that missing story is more than a lost opportunity for reflection: It is the root of why we are overfishing our oceans with rapacious abandon.

Here are a few reasons why story matters if we want to ensure the survival of our own species, which depends on oceans for every other breath we take.

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ExxonMobil to Report Publicly on Carbon Asset Risk

Bill DiBenedetto | Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3095052057_cc7c23a1c2_zFinally, ExxonMobil is agreeing to publicize the risks that stricter carbon emissions rules and limits will have on its business.

In doing so, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas corporation in the world became the first such company to do this.

It seems like a huge deal for a several reasons: The oil major is publicly acknowledging the potential impact of carbon emissions limits on its business model and revealing how it assesses the “risk of stranded assets” from climate change, and it did so at the behest of two shareholder groups.

The landmark agreement with shareholders was disclosed—without comment from ExxonMobil—in a PR Newswire release from Arjuna Capital and As You Sow. Arjuna is the sustainable wealth management platform of Baldwin Brothers Inc., and As You Sow is a nonprofit that promotes environmental corporate responsibility.

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