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 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
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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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EPA Proposes to Tighten Ozone Emissions Standard

| Thursday November 27th, 2014 | 6 Comments

epa mccarthy shutterstock_155024234On Nov. 26, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy took another step forward in the federal government’s three-plus decades long effort to improve air quality, and environmental and human health and safety, by driving further reductions in air pollution across the U.S.

Responding to “extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone,” or smog, Ms. McCarthy announced: “EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment.” In addition, EPA said it is taking comments on tightening ozone emissions standards further, to 60 ppb.

“So, 60 is on the table for comment as well as consideration,” McCarthy stated in a conference call. “Now this is a proposal, so taking comments on a range of different outcomes is exactly how we’re supposed to do it, and I’m excited to get moving with the comment process because the conversation isn’t over. This is an opportunity for us to look at all of the science together.”

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Komaza Plants Sustainable Microforestry in Kenya

RP Siegel | Thursday November 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

KomazaSometimes, what we don’t know can set us free. Visiting a foreign nation — and seeing local people struggle to eke out a living on arid and unforgiving land — can certainly move and inspire a bright young man, who has never heard “all the reasons things cannot change here,” to come up with a clever plan that may or may not work.

One need look no further than the example of the renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs (whose biography I recently finished) to see both sides of that story. Sachs had an ambitious plan to eradicate extreme poverty in Africa, which he threw himself into with all the considerable passion, talent and fundraising he could muster. And while his Millennium Villages Project did improve the lives of numerous families, it ultimately fell short of its ambitious goals for a number of reasons. Most notably it lacked a sustainable business model.

Tevis Howard traveled to Kenya and saw what Sachs saw, and he too became determined to do something about it. After coming up with numerous business plans, Howard settled on the idea of planting trees and founded Komaza, a Swahili word that means “to encourage growth.” This was a fortunate choice, likely inspired by Wangari Maathai, the founder of the Green Belt movement and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai championed for human rights, democracy and conservation, all organized around the planting of trees.

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Climate Financing Drops in 2013, Driven Mainly By Falling Solar Costs

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday November 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

solar panelsAnnual global climate flows last year decreased from 2012, according to a new report from the Climate Policy Initiative. The report, titled The Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014, found that annual  global climate finance flows in 2013 totaled $331 billion, $28 billion less than 2012. However, public actors and intermediaries contributed $137 billion, almost unchanged from 2012.

It is not necessarily a bad thing that global climate finance flows decreased. The report cites the falling price of some renewable energy technologies, namely solar photovoltaics (PV), as the the main reason. Or as the report put it, “These cost savings mean that in some cases more renewable energy is actually being deployed for less investment.”

It cost $40 billion less in 2013 to achieve the same level of solar deployment than it did in 2012. About 80 percent of the decrease in private investment came from the falling prices of renewable technologies, particularly solar PV. If investment costs of solar PV had stayed the same in 2013 as they were in 2012, then the global climate finance flows total would have increased by $12 billion, according to the report.

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Hyundai and Kia Promise to Triple Number of Green Cars by 2020

Leon Kaye | Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Hyundai, Kia, Korea, EPA, EVs, greenhouse gas emissions, green cars, hybrids, PHEVs, Leon Kaye, EV Soul, Tucson Fuel Cell, Optima Hybrid

The Tucson Fuel Cell is only a start for Hyundai.

Hyundai and Kia recently pledged to increase their models of more fuel-efficient cars threefold by 2020. The announcement by the South Korean automakers comes on the heels of a massive settlement to which both companies entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after they were accused of underestimating greenhouse gas emissions of over a million vehicles. Together the companies will pay $350 million in civil penalties to the U.S. government. A week later, both Kia and Hyundai said they would offer more green cars by the end of this decade.

According to Reuters, both companies will also increase their total of fuel efficient cars to a minimum of 22 cars before 2020. That boost is in part due to investors complaining not only about the huge fine paid to the EPA, but also because of Hyundai’s most recent Genesis and Kia’s Soul offering a lower fuel mileage than previous models.

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Mercedes Conceptualizes Solar Paint

3p Contributor | Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 11 Comments
Mercedes Vision G Code

Mercedes Vision G Code.

By Roselin Dey

One of the first car brands that comes to mind when we think of luxury and style is Mercedes. In fact, so much has the brand’s popularity grown over the past few years, that it overtook BMW with the sales crown in the luxury auto segment in 2013.

And now, Mercedes might just bring about the next revolution in sustainable mobility.

Imagine a car with an innovative paint job that can enable it to run on solar as well as wind energy. Well, this could possibly come true with the latest concept car by Mercedes, unveiled in Beijing earlier this month at the opening of a new research and development center.

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Video: Jacques-Philippe Piverger of MPOWERD Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

JP “The topic of diversity is thrown around quite a bit. I think oftentimes we don’t fully appreciate or understand what it’s really about,” Jacques-Philippe Piverger, co-founder and CEO of MPOWERD, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference last month.

“Diversity comes down to the core topic of appreciation and love, and fully accepting all people for all that they are and the way that they operate,” he continued. “Whether it’s about your personal relationships or a business that one creates, I don’t think it can reach its full potential unless we’re really open and accepting of others.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Piverger goes on to make the business case for diversity and explain why it matters to MPOWERD, a New York City-based company providing solar solutions to customers on and off the grid, in this two-minute clip.

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