What can cities do contribute to the sustainability revolution? A whole lot, according to a workshop today, opening morning of SB ’15, featuring Gil Friend, CSO of the City of Palo Alto, and Chris Guenther, Director of Research at think tank SustainAbility.The three-hour presentation and breakout discussion focused on leveraging municipal and corporate partnerships to advance sustainability goals around issues such as climate, water, utilities and mobility.
With approximately 9 billion people in the world today, society consumes and discards more and more each year, with no signs of slowing down. Culturally, we’ve begun to embrace and adopt recycling as a solution to our modern waste habits and an opportunity to keep designing, using and producing recyclable materials. But what if those recyclable materials are not in fact being recycled? Well, then we’re right back where we started, aren’t we?
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." ~Buckminster FullerSeems the hippies and the father of the geodesic dome were on to something sustainable in the 1960s when they modeled shared living spaces and bartered goods. Turns out those behaviors truly are easier on the planet and better for the soul.
Nearly 15 years ago, John Fullerton left a two-decade career at JP Morgan in pursuit of meaning. Fullerton was disillusioned with the direction of mainstream finance; he saw a once principled culture yielding to the ferocious competition in deregulated capital markets, where economic brawn increasingly trumped civility.In his search for a new path, Fullerton soon discovered the profundity of interrelated ecological, economic and social crises afflicting the world. His most startling realization, he writes, “was that the modern scheme of economics and finance — what Wall Street ‘geniuses’ (like me) practiced so well — formed the root cause of these systemic crises.”
Facebook announced new benefits for its contract workers this week; the company will require contractors to pay employees a $15 minimum wage and provide benefits, including 15 paid days off and $4,000 paid parental leave.“Taking these steps is the right thing to do for our business and our community,” COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote in the post.Facebook’s decision is indicative of two important trends affecting the modern workplace: the proliferation of the 1099 economy and the growing pressure on companies to better compensate contractors.
According to Communicating the Circle: Are circular economy communication strategies starting to connect? — a white paper published by Go Circular — a majority of circular economy professionals (61 percent) believe corporate circular economy communication strategies would benefit from such a definition.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Granta Design have launched new indicators which, for the first time, enable companies to assess how well a product or company performs in the context of a circular economy. The new Circularity Indicators measure the extent to which the material flows of a product or company are restorative. In doing so, they will enable companies to measure their progress in making the transition from linear to circular models, and to identify areas of further opportunity.
To coincide with Earth Day, the New York City Council, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) and Global Kids held a joint press conference this morning on the steps of New York City Hall to push for statewide climate education for K-12 schools in New York. Resolution 0375-2014 calls for climate education to be included in the New York State school curriculum and it currently has 21 of the 26 needed sponsors to pass.
When Airbnb and Uber burst on the scene a few years ago the business world was abuzz with the potential for a new “sharing economy.”Advocates explained how these services would provide people with new ways of making money by utilizing their homes and vehicles to their full potential, while offering a service that could save energy, reduce waste and bring communities together by sharing their resources and time.
The North Face today announced the expansion of its Clothes The Loop recycling program to all of its retail and outlet stores in the U.S. in tandem with an in-store and social media campaign to encourage consumers to recycle unwanted apparel and footwear from any brand in any condition.Clothes The Loop extends the lifecycle of apparel and footwear brought in by consumers by giving them a new life through reusing items or reverting them to basic materials used for new product manufacturing. Initially piloted at 10 The North Face retail locations in February 2013, Clothes The Loop is now available in all 83 of The North Face retail and outlet stores nationwide.
This week, the WorldWatch Institute, an independent research organization that focuses on energy, resource and environmental issues, released State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability. The report details a diverse range of threats, driven directly or indirectly by growing stress on the planet's resources, which have the potential to upend social systems, environmental balance and even entire economies.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways ...There's been lot of love shown recently to the notion of cities being 'resilient,' 'good' … or just plain fabulous. Take, for example, The Rockefeller Foundation's well-known 100 Resilient Cities initiative, which offers support to cities attempting to become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges being faced today.
People are confused about recycling because they complain that the entire process – from labeling, to which bin is which, to what your municipality accepts - makes it difficult to determine a material’s recyclability. This issue is especially common when consumers are dealing with some of the more complicated recyclable materials such as plastics, but the question persists: What exactly makes a material recyclable or not? Two very different lenses are often used to determine this: science and economics. Which of these factors is more relevant in revealing a material’s chance of being recyclable? Or is it a combination of both?
This week, non-profits Ceres and WWF published resources that provide guidelines for how strategic investment at the private and public level can help avert environmental and economic crises felt the world over. The reports also present compelling arguments for how said environmental crises fuel — and could easily eclipse — the global economic crisis.On Tuesday, Ceres released a report and cheat sheet (right) designed to help global investors improve their analysis and decision-making with regards to water scarcity.
Corporate circular economy strategies are starting to mature: A recent survey on this topic found that 28 percent of organizations now consider their own circular strategies to be highly advanced, and core to what they do. However, a significant number (19 percent) are just starting out on this journey and exploring ways in which they can integrate circular principles into their business models.
“How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?”Dwight D. EisenhowerThere is much more to be said on the issues of context-related sustainability, Planetary Boundaries and the multiple capitals approach than is included below. We intend to evolve and publish some further ideas on the challenges and opportunities of measuring and locating absolute sustainability in the context of the planet’s limits in further blogs in 2015 (and perhaps beyond).
Thick clouds of smoke, a suffocating heat. Forests, lush and green and bustling with all types of life, reduced to burned land and ashes. In Indonesia, in the 1997-98 fires, approximately 10 million hectares of rainforest, an area the size of Switzerland, were affected. The regional economic costs of the fires were estimated at $9 billion. These fires were set deliberately, by palm oil estates, to clear land for rapid and cheap expansion of their plantations, and to hide timber poaching and land theft.
Environmental justice has been a small, but increasingly vocal, component of civil rights activism. After all, many organizations, including the NAACP, have documented the disproportionate health problems the United States’ 370-plus coal-fired power plants — which often happen to be located near neighborhoods in which the majority of residents are people of color — have had on minority communities.
Today, leaders of some of the world’s largest companies — collectively known as The B Team — called upon world leaders to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 — and urged business leaders to match this ambition by committing to bold, long-term targets.