CSR Splash

| Friday May 20th, 2005 | 0 Comments

eti.jpgIt seems like just yeterday that Gap and Nike were the pariahs of the ethical trading community. They’ve since been welcomed back into it, with Gap now being a member of the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative). Nike, since revealing all of its global suppliers last month, is considering membership.
While it would be nice to believe these two transnational entities are pusuing CSR (Corporate Social Responsinbility) soley for the sake of human welfare, CSR has become a part of bottom line reality. Shaw Lebakae, of the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union, said:

Gap had to change because its brand and image was being damaged. The people who it was selling to, American college students, were protesting against them because they didn’t want to support that image. Companies like Wal-Mart, which have no brand or image other than being the cheapest retailer, have no impetus to engage with trade unions in our country.

Read more on WBCSD.

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What Motivates the Gen Y Work Force?…Not Money

| Thursday May 19th, 2005 | 0 Comments

money.jpgAccording to a survey of 600+ young adults aged 18-24 from Lichtman/Zogby International, young people coming into the workforce overwhelmingly value honesty and integrity, with 92% saying they believe that doing the “right thing” is more important than getting ahead in their career. These young workers place loyalty to friends, and love above honesty in business dealings.
The survey finds that, despite 96% saying honesty and trust are important in the workplace, when faced with a number of potential ethical dilemmas, a substantial number are more likely to value loyalty to friends (43%) and “forbidden office romances” (32%). Check out the study here.

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Some US Firms Already Meeting Euro-Standards

| Thursday May 19th, 2005 | 0 Comments

eu_flag.jpgDespite a comparatively lax governmental stance here in the US, may firms are already gearing up to comply with tougher environmental standards – those of Europe. (reported in today’s LA Times) The principal reason, obviously, is that if a US company wants to sell products in the EU, they’ll have to prove compliance. But it’s also sign that US companies are becomming increasingly proactive about governmental regulation, as it’s likely that regulations will eventually be tougher at home. Companies that make changes early are likely to have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.
(Via Gristmill)

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IdleAir Saves Truckers Money and Cuts Pollution

| Thursday May 19th, 2005 | 2 Comments

idleair.jpgA new truck stop innovation is reducing both noise and air pollution, while saving truckers money. It’s also saving them sleep, as the sound of chugging diesel motors surrounding the trucker’s cab during sleep time is greatly reduced.
The invention is called IdleAir. It replaces the need to to leave big rigs running while stationed at truck stops in order to run air conditioning units and other appliances such as stoves, microwaves and TVs.

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Toyota to Start Hybrid Production in Kentucky

| Thursday May 19th, 2005 | 1 Comment

camry.jpgWe’ve had so many Toyota related posts here lately, it’s getting a little uncanny, but nonetheless, this one is worth it. Toyota will begin production of its newest hybrid – a version of the Camry – at its Kentucky plant in about a year.
The fact that Toyota is moving forward with more hybrid production is great, but the bigger side of this story is that it represents a solid commitment to jobs and economy in the auto-maker’s biggest market: the USA. With both GM and Ford struggling to stay afloat, Toyota’s continued investment means a less shakey future for America.

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Grocery Store Wars – From the Organic Trade Assoc.

| Wednesday May 18th, 2005 | 0 Comments

store_wars.gifThe Organic Trade Association is a business group dedicated to promoting trade in organic foods, and a higher degree of global sustainability. They’ve recently teamed up with Free Range Graphics to produce an absolutely hilarious flash video called “Grocery Store Wars“, which sends the point home that organics are a righteous choice. It’s great marketing, and a lot of fun.
It’s also keenly timed to coincide with the release of Star Wars Episide III, another wise marketing maneuver. Also, if you’ve memorized Star Wars from start to finish, like I did when I was a kid, you’ll be thrilled by all your favorite classic scenes (as I digress). [Click Here for the video]

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Unilever is “Listening, Learning, Making Progress”

| Wednesday May 18th, 2005 | 0 Comments

unilever.jpgUnilever, one of the world’s largest consumer products companies, has just come out with a fantastic new Social & Environmental (CSR) Report that raises the bar even higher. Check out the Unilever website for all the details. Highlights include: greater transparancy within their supply chain, a new business partner code of conduct, coming clean on their mistakes & failures, and working proactively with NGOs. CSRwire has additional information.

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Helping El Salvador’s Forests with Coffee

| Wednesday May 18th, 2005 | 0 Comments

salvador.jpgWith an estimated 400 billion cups consumed annually, coffee beans are one of the most coveted agricultural commodities. Unfortunately, deforestation and loss of habitat are often associated with this market staple.
The BBC reports that some growers in El Salvador are using a method of cultivation which uses tall trees to provide shade. Up to 120 different tree species shade the coffee on a single plantation, Coffee shrubs are fertilized with organic compost made from husks that would otherwise be thrown into rivers. These techniques connect two prominent national parks via a green beltway, revitalize habitat, and decrease erosion. The article reports business owners were initially sceptical of the idea, but have since been won over with great enthusism. Co-op President Julio Antonio Martinez says:

I was one of the people that were against Rainforest Alliance because I didn’t like somebody coming into my house and telling me what to do, what to plant or what not to plant. But I realise now that they were giving me good advice. They were telling me plant trees so you will get water – without trees you don’t have rainfall, without rainfall you don’t have coffee.

Also reported on Worldchanging.

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Fujitsu Working on Bioplastic Computer Components

| Wednesday May 18th, 2005 | 1 Comment

fujistu.jpgJapan for Sustainability reports that Fujitsu has developed computer cases that are 50% bioplastic – a substance derived from starches found in corn and potatos. The cases are not 100% bioplastic because of molding problems that have yet to be worked out, but the hybrid material sill reduces CO2 emissions by about 15% over the product lifetime.

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Sustainable Forestry Catching On

| Tuesday May 17th, 2005 | 0 Comments

fsclogo.jpgThe Forest Stewardship Council is a third-party organization that sets standards to ensure “forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way”. Their certification process works somewhat like the LEED ratings system for buildings, and is increasingly being coveted by lumber companies like Potlach who seek validation for their responsible efforts. Potlach was recently awarded FSC certification for major plots of land in Idaho and Arkansas. The company expects the certification to go a long way in ensuring consumer preference for their wood products.
(via worldchanging and Cascadia Scorecard)

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Sustainable MBA Programs Thriving

| Tuesday May 17th, 2005 | 5 Comments

bain_logo.gifOne of a few MBA programs to make sustainability a cornerstone of the business education, Bainbridge Graduate Institute has just graduated its first class (greenbiz report here). Additionally, Bainbridge reports that applications to their program have tripled, while other tom MBA programs nationwide have seen a 30% drop in applications.

Kevin Hagen, principal of Shuksan Energy Consulting and a member of the graduating class, is not surprised, “Sustainability is the next big trend in business. Huge corporations are in the process of transitioning to more sustainable business models-within the next five years, I think MBAs trained in sustainability will become mission-critical employees. BGI is providing the training necessary to fill this rapidly emerging need.”

ED NOTE: Actually, this is the second graduation class from Bainbridge (even better!). Thanks to Eric Magnuson for pointing this out.

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Eco Fashion: Green is the New Black

| Tuesday May 17th, 2005 | 1 Comment

vivavi_mini.jpgI was pleased to see an entire section of Saturday’s Financial Times devoted to the growing trend of ecological and ethical consiousness in high-fashion. Most of the goods featured in the article are on the luxury end which, for now, makes sense as it can be more expensive to ensure sound practices. But it also means that consious shopping is fashionable – a trend that will influence mass-marketed goods, and ultimately bring down the price of ensuring an ethically and ecologically sound product.
Like our friends at Vivavi, a growing number of small entrepreneurs are getting in on the action. These include every imaginable aspect of the fashion world, from design and manufacturing to reselling and bespoke tailoring.

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Toyota Advances Environmental Plan

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 1 Comment

Toyota further solidified its leadership position on sustainability last week by announcing a fourth environmental action plan. There are plenty of details over on Green Car Congress, as well as Toyota’s Press Release. Among the highlights: Significant CO2 reduuction in both manufacturing and end-user emissions, better performing hybrids & further reserch into bio-fuels and other alternatives to petroleum.

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Fair Labor Association Promotes Social Accountability

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

fla_logo.gifThe Fair Labor Association (www.fairlabor.org) is an NGO that accredits companies who add greater transparancy to their supply chains and has all their factories audited to the FLA’s code of conduct. The FLA Workplace Code of Conduct specifies compliance with forced labor, child labor, harassment, abuse, nondiscrimination, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, wages and benefits, hours of work, and overtime compensation. Read CSRwire story here.
Companies such as Nike, Reebok, Liz Claiborne, and Adidas among others are finding that by implementing a social accountability program, they are able to make more sound and profitable business decisions.

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Whole Foods Leading the Way to Zero Waste.

| Monday May 16th, 2005 | 0 Comments

wficon.jpgPutting their money where their mouth is, Whole Foods has announced that it intends to reduce their waste stream to zero. The major ingredient for succes: Composting.

It hasn’t been easy, with having to find the right haulers, composting facilities, and enough space in the stories to pack and store compostables. Company officials realize, however, that composting could have a tremendous impact on reducing the company’s waste stream, and improving its bottom line.

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