Breaking Down Bioplastics

Presidio Sports
Presidio Sports | Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 | 3 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing student blogging series entitled The Business Of Sports & Sustainability. This “micro-blog” is the product of the nations first MBA/MPA certificate program dedicated to sustainability in the sports industry. You can follow the series here.

By Jocelynn StoneCompostable Cup

It’s the second inning and the Giants have just taken the lead in the NLDS series, the scoreboard has a message encouraging fans to help with recycling and composting in the stadium.  Happy that my team is winning, I pick up an empty cup to lend a hand.  Confusion sets in. The side of the cup boasts that it is made from plants and on the bottom is the iconic chasing arrow symbol with a number 7 in the middle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say it is compostable.  Should the cup go in the compost bin or the recycling bin?

There are an ever-increasing variety of plastics products derived from renewable raw materials entering the market.  The market for biobased and compostable plastics, known as bioplastics, is expected to be worth over $5 billion by 2018 according to Dr. Molly Morse of Mango Materials, a startup that is making biodegradable plastic with methane eating bacteria.

Bioplastics hold great promise.  The potential benefits include reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increased diversion of waste from landfills. Readily noticeable is their use in food service items.  They are the darlings of sports venues, such as Seattle’s Safeco Field, Yankee Stadium and Penn State’s Beaver Stadium that are working on zero waste initiatives.

Unfortunately, bioplastics may present problems when it comes time to dispose of them.

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Sierra Club Launching Activist Acceleration Tool in 2015

3p Conferences
| Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 | 4 Comments

By Julie Noblitt

Chris Thomas, CIO, The Sierra Club

Chris Thomas, CIO, The Sierra Club

Next year the Sierra Club will launch a brand-new platform called AddUp.org that uses familiar social media tools to accelerate impact and drive real-world change. Its tagline, “Every Action Matters,” underscores the Sierra Club’s intent to leverage the collective power of their two million supporters to take direct action on initiatives that help protect the environment. Chris Thomas, the Sierra Club’s CIO (Chief Innovation Officer), was on hand at the Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley (November 19-20) to talk about the new site, and I had a chance to sit down with him for a few minutes to dig deeper.

Rethinking advocacy

Thomas is on a mission to shift the Sierra Club away from the old advocacy model of “send us your membership dues and we will do good things on your behalf.” Instead, he would like to give individual members and local chapters direct control over their activism. Thomas has partnered with Salesforce and New York-based Blue State Digital to get the job done.

“Wait, what?” I hear you asking. That’s right. The Sierra Club is using an enterprise-level customer relationship management (CRM) platform in service of creating an online grassroots movement at scale.

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Video: Net Impact Student Ishara Emerson Talks Diversity at NI14

| Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

net impact“When I think of diversity, I think of diversity and inclusion,” Spelman College student Ishara Emerson said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.

“Diversity is all about quantity and getting people together … Inclusion is really about quality: getting those people, from those different backgrounds, and actually inviting them to the table and talking with them.”

Emerson is majoring in environmental sciences with plans to become a veterinarian. She has been a part of the Net Impact community for a little over a year.

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Emerson goes on to make the business case for diversity in this two-minute clip.

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Businesses Needn’t Back Away on #GivingTuesday

3p Contributor | Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

hyattBy Brigitta Witt, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility, Hyatt

The #GivingTuesday movement is a much-needed respite for the holiday shopper, a time to step back and think about how we can all reconnect with the true generosity of the holiday season. Now in its third year, it’s an event that has grown in name and number to rival the famous Black Friday and Cyber Monday preceding it.

This year, the business community has joined the movement in force, with many signing on as official corporate partners for #GivingTuesday. But, on a holiday that has quickly gained momentum and influence on a message of consuming less, how can big brands and companies authentically join in and support the spirit of giving alongside nonprofits and passionate individuals?

Make Global Change Through Local Impact. This year, #GivingTuesday has gone global, with 10 countries now participating.

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Staples: Our Tech Recycling Stats are Still in the Dumps

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Staples_tech_recycle_AnnaVignetThe computer business has been bustling for a few years now. That makes sense in an economy that is increasingly becoming more tech-driven and mobile-dependent. Tablets, iPhones and newer mobile technology are taking the consumer’s focus by storm. Stats posted by Statista indicate that the global shipments of tablets, desktop computers and laptops have been steadily increasing since 2010, with tablets taking the lead.

But what isn’t doing so well, according to a study recently released by Staples, is the tech recycling market.

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Renewable Energy: “Development as Freedom” in Haiti and Beyond

| Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Haiti-solar-installers-e1320783939794 Rapid transition from centralized energy systems based on fossil fuels to those based on a mix of distributed, locally appropriate renewable energy resources is viewed by many as the most effective means of mitigating and adapting to climate change. That’s just the “thin edge of the wedge” with regard to the advantages and benefits societies can realize by spurring development and adoption of distributed energy resources and technologies, however.

Economists and development experts such as Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen have zoomed in on and elaborated the potential of distributed renewable energy resources and technologies to do much more than address climate change. Rather than focusing narrowly on climate change, Sen asserts in an August 2014 article in the New Republic, renewable energy proponents, and global society, would be better served if this perspective were to be broadened and refocused on the potential of distributed renewable energy resource development to alleviate poverty, enhance individual liberty and freedom, and hence foster development of more open, inclusive market-based economies and democratic forms of government.

An energy-and-development policy paper from the Worldwatch Institute invokes Sen’s conceptualization of “Development as Freedom” as applied to Haiti, the most poverty-stricken nation in a region whose history is characterized largely by general poverty linked to political and economic repression and unsustainable extraction and exploitation of natural resources and ecosystems.

In its “Haiti Sustainable Energy Roadmap,” Worldwatch highlights that “tremendous opportunities and actionable solutions exist to build an electricity system that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable using the tremendous renewable energy and energy efficiency potentials of the country.”

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The North Face Introduces Locally Grown Hoodie

| Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments
backyard hoodie

Image courtesy of The North Face

When you hear the words “locally grown,” images of leafy-green-lined farmer’s markets, multi-colored CSA boxes, and interestingly odd-shaped heirloom tomatoes may come to mind – and not necessarily a piece of clothing. Borrowing a cue from the local food movement, The North Face has developed an all-cotton hoodie that was grown, designed, cut and sewn within 150 miles of its corporate headquarters in California. The Backyard Hoodie, as it’s called, is the first in The North Face’s Backyard Collection, a line of products manufactured in the United States using locally sourced materials and resources.

The limited-edition men’s and women’s sweatshirt represents the brand’s commitment to connect with its regional textile supply chain and build products with local roots that have a positive local impact – a significant feat not common within the global apparel industry. In collaboration with the organizations Fibershed, Foxfibre, and the Sustainable Cotton Project, The North Face sourced the cotton used to make the Backyard Hoodie from California farmers who implement biologically-based practices that protect land, air and water resources and result in improved water and air quality, healthier soil, and reduced chemical exposure for farm workers and rural communities.

Beyond the source material, the Backyard Hoodie’s design was also intentional: Motivated to reduce waste, designers accounted for excess fabric in the design process and consequently lowered the hoodie’s waste percentage below the apparel industry average. This type of apparel production gives a new meaning to conscious design. I spoke with Adam Mott, director of sustainability at The North Face, to hear more about the making of the product from seed to sweatshirt, and why a locally grown product like this matters.

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Social Sustainability and Sport

Presidio Sports
Presidio Sports | Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing student blogging series entitled The Business Of Sports & Sustainability. This “micro-blog” is the product of the nations first MBA/MPA certificate program dedicated to sustainability in the sports industry. You can follow the series here.

By Kathleen HatchNIRSA_Flag_Football

As the sustainability movement in sport expands, it’s time to leverage the power of people and focus our attention on social responsibility and inclusion. Think about it – every athlete, team, and league sets out to succeed, from amateurs enjoying a recreational league to teams at an international competition.  Success is measured in various ways, ranging from the win-loss record and TV and media market share, to ticket sales and fan engagement. Now, there is a newer metric focused on mitigating impacts to the environment and the preservation of natural resources.  It’s time to expand these more quantifiable metrics to include diversity and other hard-to-quantify measures of social sustainability.

The National Hockey League (NHL) led the way as the first major sports association to publicly report on its league-wide carbon footprint. The league recently released a comprehensive 2014 NHL sustainability report.

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Timberland Gives Tire Retreads Second Life as Shoes

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

timberland tiresOld, worn out tires will get a new life through a partnership between two companies: Outdoor clothing manufacturer Timberland and tire manufacturer Omni United recently announced their collaboration to create a line of tires. Called Timberland Tires, they will be the first tires ever designed to be recycled into Timberland boots and shoes when the tire treads are worn out. The tires were unveiled at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) automotive trade show in Las Vegas.

Timberland Tires are something new on the market: They will have a tire-to-shoe lifecycle. They will be American made. Used tires will be set aside by retailers after consumers purchase new ones. Liberty Tire Recycling will collect the worn out Timberland Tires and ship them to a North American recycling plant. There they will be recycled into crumb rubber which will be processed into sheet rubber that will be shipped to Timberland outsole manufacturers.

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Report: How Organizations Can Turn Slacktivism into Clicktivism

Alexis Petru
| Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments

Digital Activism Study InfographicThe term, “slacktivism” – defined as “informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement” – has become so common in modern parlance that it was one of the runners-up for the Oxford English Dictionary’s Word of 2014. But the stereotype of a slacktivist tweeting outrage about the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls under the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag – and then not doing anything else about it – may have to change, according to a new report that examines the ways technology and social media are altering Americans’ engagement with social and environmental causes.

Prepared by public relations and marketing firm Cone Communications, the “2014 Cone Communications Digital Activism Study” found that when individuals educate themselves about social or environmental issues through online channels, they are more likely to take action. Close to two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans say that after “liking” or “following” a nonprofit or corporate social responsibility program (CSR) online, they are more inclined to support a cause by volunteering, donating and sharing information.

The study, which surveyed a demographically representative sample of 1,212 adults, also discovered that once individuals “like” or “follow” an organization online, they are also far less likely to disengage from the particular social or environmental issue. Sixty percent will continue to read content and engage with the organization, while only 12 percent will ignore content and 6 percent would “unlike” or “unfollow” the organization within the next 12 months.

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Made to Last Promotes Local Products Proudly Made in Britain

Leon Kaye | Monday December 1st, 2014 | 0 Comments
Made to Last, United Kingdom, Black Friday, buy local, sustainability, artisan, Leon Kaye, Federation of Small Business

Made to Last is trying to revive small manufacturing in the UK

No, they don’t have Thanksgiving in the United Kingdom. Maybe they should, since the Brits should feel thankful they rid themselves of the Puritans. One tradition that has creeped across the pond from the U.S., however, is Black Friday: a ritual some probably feel should stay out of Britain. It’s easy to feel exasperation over Black Friday’s emphasis on heavily discounted, shoddily manufactured goods when plenty of products made to last are on the market. Speaking of which, one online business, Made to Last, is connecting consumers to a bevy of manufacturers who craft their wares within the UK.

Calling out consumers to take into account durability, sustainability and the benefits of strengthening local industries, Made to Last is similar in concept to American web sites Locally.com and Etsy. Products are sold via a web site, but the emphasis on small manufacturers and artisans allow users to “buy local.” Made to Last only has a few rules in order for suppliers to sell on its site: products must come with a guarantee, they must be manufactured within the United Kingdom and finally, the products must have utility—no dancing flowers or pet rocks.

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Patagonia Launches Black Friday Worn Wear Swap with Yerdle

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday November 28th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Patagonia_Better_Than_NewLast year, amid the flurry and consumer buzz of Black Friday, Patagonia unveiled its Worn Wear program. On a day when most consumers were at the malls piling through racks of winter gear, new toys and the latest electronic releases, the company was celebrating Black Friday in a different way: It was urging its customers to give away the Patagonia gear they didn’t need.

Patagonia knows it’s the kind of appeal that resonates with its customers. Sharing the value they’ve enjoyed, from that over-used jacket or favorite top, with others who can turn those memories into usable, re-loved gear makes sense. It also feels good. And, as the U.K.-based group WRAP points out, it’s the kind of strategy that works for the environment.

This year, Patagonia is going a step further with its Worn Wear initiative. Today, in eight locations across the U.S., it’s holding Worn Wear Swaps, where customers can swap their used gear for another item off the Worn Wear rack.

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A Student Challenge Suggests Millennials Could Save Us from Black Friday

Raz Godelnik
| Friday November 28th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Gen Y As retailers debate whether to jumpstart holiday shopping by opening on Thanksgiving, 44 of my students have a new perspective on consumption – they just completed their first “Buy Nothing New” challenge.

For 30 days, the students did not buy anything new other than food and absolute necessities. As their professor, my intention wasn’t to torture them but to give them an opportunity to explore alternatives to consumption — hoping that through their experiences I would have a better sense about their generation’s (aka Gen Y, or Millennials) actual willingness to consider alternatives to traditional retail channels. In other words, the question I had in mind was: Can Millennials significantly integrate sustainable consumption into their lifestyles?

The opinions about it seem to be mixed. While Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Venture Capital describes this generation as transitioning from asset-heavy lifestyles into asset-light lifestyles, a BCG study found out that Millennials “continue to place a high importance on brands. And they do the same for consumerism: majorities of those surveyed said that buying makes them happy and that spending is good for the economy and society.”

So, which one is it?

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Coca-Cola Bets the Farm on “Premium Milk”

Leon Kaye | Friday November 28th, 2014 | 2 Comments
Fairlife, Coca-Cola, beverage industry, dairy, Leon Kaye, milk, organic milk, premium milk

Got Premium Milk?

Could premium milk be the greatest coup for beverage companies since bottled water? Coca-Cola apparently thinks so. Like its competitors within the beverage industry, the company is trying to find new ways to boost profits since their flagship products, fizzy drinks, have long been suffering from flat sales. While more consumers avoid both sugary and diet sodas and hipsters find alternatives from cold brewed bottled coffee to kombucha, Coca-Cola’s shareholders want increased sales. Premium milk could be the answer for Coke.

Coca-Cola is a major investor in Fairlife, which promises to transform the dairy industry by providing “more vroom for your milk.” Starting with the marketing, this is not your parents’ or grandparents’ dairy: instead of pastoral scenes of farmers and cows, the ads are a composite of Alicia Silverstone Aerosmith videos, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic Seven Year Itch photo and a certain scene in Something about Mary. So what is all the fuss about? After all, it is just milk, right?

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Winning Against the Big Box Stores

3p Contributor | Friday November 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

10609452984_3cc36d421d_zBy Andrea Gellert

As someone who has spent the majority of her career as an advocate for small business financing, I am a big fan of shopping local. A recent Civic Economics report determined the economic impact of shopping local: 54 percent of the revenue from local retailers goes back into the community, as opposed to 14 percent from national retailers. And eating at local restaurants does the same thing: 79 percent of local restaurant revenue stays local, compared to only 30 percent from the national restaurant chains.

That said, I know that for a small business it can be very tough to compete with larger companies, who have economies of scale that small businesses just don’t have. But small businesses have powerful ways to differentiate themselves, and here are five suggestions I think can help you beat the big box stores, or national chains, in converting even more customers to the idea of shopping local:

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