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Product, Service & Design Innovation

The latest products, services, design approaches and business models that are helping organizations of all sizes deliver on their sustainability ambitions and establish a new business as usual.

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tonlé's Creative Approach Showing Fashion Industry How Zero Waste Is Really Done

Cambodian fashion brand tonlé is revolutionizing the textile industry not only with its ethical business model, but also a creative approach to zero-waste: The company incorporates even its smallest scraps back into “yarn,” which is hand-woven back into new fabrics, creating unique and delicately woven garments perfect for shoppers who are conscientious about how their clothing is made.Sustainable Brands caught up with Rachel Faller, tonlé’s designer and founder, to learn more about the company’s motives and impact.

New App OpenLabel Aims to Replace Product Labels

Silicon Valley startup OpenLabel has just launched a free iPhone app and website that lets consumers and non-profit partners attach information and product ratings directly onto any barcoded product.After closing half a million dollar seed investment from investors at Google, Amazon, and MicroVentures, OpenLabel released its free mobile app and web platform that helps smart shoppers make healthier, more responsible, and more informed decisions.

Show Me the Money: Sustainability and Financial Outperformance

“The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. Its province is to assist us in making available what we are already acquainted with.”— Ada LovelaceAt the leading edge of sustainability best practice some leading companies are already developing meaningful pathways towards truly sustainable business models. For the followers, there is perhaps a perceptible acceptance that sustainability is an important aspect of good corporate management. However, there still remains a need to demonstrate, within the current modes of capitalism, how sustainability impacts financial performance.

How Cryptocurrency Is Lifting Hope for South Africa's Women

Digital currency, aka cryptocurrency, is shaking up the financial industry’s entrenched institutions, and now its potential for doing good is dawning — as it enables accountability and financial sovereignty one mobile click at a time.Stellar, a nonprofit building a global digital platform for money transfer, is partnering with open-source text messaging network, Vumi, to empower young women in South Africa in an aptly titled program, Give a Girl a Savings Account.

Coffee Ground Yarn, Rice Husks and More in M&S' First Sustainable Footwear Collection

UK retailer Marks & Spencer has launched its first sustainable footwear collection, called Footglove Earth — the latest component of the company's ongoing Plan A initiative to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2020.

On the Ground: Cornell Center Demonstrates Benefits of Applied Research

To the uninitiated, persuading those living in malaria-prone parts of the world to buy low-cost insecticides seems simple: Explain the benefits and the products will, to use the old phrase, “sell themselves.”For many years, the traditional theory for selling to bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) consumers, 4 billion of whom earn less than $1,500 annually, has espoused, “low price, low margin, high volume.”

What Can You Do to Create Positive Change in the Fashion Industry?

“What does it mean to be ‘eco’ or ‘green’ today? We need to redefine that. We need to modernize the fashion industry. This is where we need to be in the 21st century — all products need to be created with thought.”This statement was made by actress, fashion icon and social entrepreneur Amber Valletta at the public launch for Fashion Positive in New York on November 14, 2014. The occasion was the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Celebration and the audience was a room full of the next-generation thinkers of sustainability, fashion icons, industry leaders and vision makers.

Documentary Looks at Innovations, Sustainable Practices in Fashion That Could Become 'The Next Black'

The Next Black, a documentary that explores how out-of-the-box thinking and more conscious design are shaping the future of our clothes, had its first screening in Brooklyn earlier this week. The event kicked off a weeklong exhibit at the BF+DA about the growing intimacy between technology and fashion.

Cheshire: 'Connect Your Vision to Your Business Model - Otherwise It Will Just Be Lipstick on a Bulldog'

Sir Ian Cheshire | Image credit: The TimesFirst, let’s quash the rumours that have been circling ever since Sir Ian Cheshire announced he would step down as group chief executive of Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer.

Unilever, Cambridge Name Winner of Top Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize

Daniel Yu, founder of Reliefwatch — which makes software to help medical clinics in the developing world to digitize and manage inventory records for better patient outcomes — has won the Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneurs Prize.As part of the prize, Yu has been awarded €50,000 ($56,500) and will be supported with a tailored mentoring program delivered by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Unilever experts over the course of 2015. The six runners up each will receive a cash prize of €10,000 ($11,300) in addition to mentoring and support.

Norwegian Reality Series Shows Fashionistas the Dark Side of 'Dead Cheap Fashion'

What happens when you send three young fashionistas to a Cambodian sweatshop for a month? Aftenposten, Norway’s biggest newspaper, answered this question with a five-part, online reality TV series.In “Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion,” fashion-conscious Norwegians Anniken Jorgensen, Frida Ottesen and Ludvig Hambro fly to Phnom Penh, where they work with and interview people that work in the type of facility that produces clothes for some of their favorite brands. The three step fully into the life of the average textile worker, sleeping on concrete, living on $3 a day and sewing for eight hours a day.

MCAD Offering Free Online Biomimicry Design Course

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) has partnered with Canvas.net to offer a free, open online course called, Biomimicry: A Sustainable Design Methodology. The course is an introduction to biomimicry, a sustainability framework that studies nature’s best design ideas to help us solve our own design challenges.

Two Birds Apparel Bring Sustainable Fashion Home to Canada

If you ask Daniel and Tiffany Andrew — the husband-and-wife team behind Canadian men’s fashion brand Two Birds Apparel — what sustainability means to them, they’d say local, ethical supply chains and environmentally friendly materials, which is exactly what their brand encapsulates.Launched in 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, and now headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Two Birds is fairly new to the stage, but is trying to diverge from the status quo by sourcing, manufacturing and distributing all of their clothing domestically.

Closed-Loop, Organic Shrimp Farm Could Create Sea Change for Domestic Shrimp Industry

San Diego company Net Zero Aqualife says it has beat its crowdfunding deadline and now has the funds to begin production of high-quality organic shrimp at low cost. The farm is expected to produce 100 percent organic, non-GMO, self-sustained shrimp, without emitting any waste or pollution, or consuming any water or energy, through a closed-loop system.The company hopes to provide a sustainable method of producing the popular shellfish domestically; currently, the US imports a whopping 91 percent of its shrimp.

These Companies Want to Make Your Smartphone Truly Smart

In this new age of mobile phones, many of us suffer from “Shiny Object” syndrome — where we always want the latest and greatest toy Apple, Samsung or one of the other multitude of manufacturers can think up. Most of the more than 1.8 billion mobile phones sold worldwide in 2013 replaced devices that were less than two years old. Nearly a billion of these devices were smartphones.

Stella Artois, Water.org Want You to 'Buy a Lady a Drink' to Help End Women’s Water-Collecting Journeys

Every day, women in developing countries spend a combined 200 million hours collecting clean water for their families. To raise awareness of this issue as part of the global water crisis and to help provide solutions, Belgian beer maker Stella Artois has launched its first global social impact campaign, “Buy a Lady a Drink.” With the support of Water.org and its co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White, “Buy a Lady a Drink” aims to help put a stop to these water-collecting journeys. The campaign formally launched on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival, of which Stella Artois is an annual sponsor.

BASF, Save the Children Using 'Empathic Design' to Tackle Water and Nutrition Challenges in India, Kenya

Chemical giant BASF has partnered with Save the Children to develop solutions related to improvement of water accessibility and quality in Mumbai, and livelihoods and food security in the Turkana region of Kenya.The two organizations plan to use a co-creation methodology known as “empathic design” for research and development. This technique combines in-depth problem observation with target group interaction to develop better solutions for pressing challenges in India and Kenya.

2015 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge Offering $100K to Nature-Inspired Solutions to Global Food Challenges

On Tuesday, the Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation announced that the latest Biomimicry Global Design Challenge — an annual competition that invites people around the world to address critical sustainability issues using nature as a guide — is now accepting entries for commercially viable, nature-inspired solutions to this year’s theme: food system challenges. The grand prize, to be awarded in 2016, is $100,000.

Ford Challenges 10 Designers to Transform Its Seat Covers Into Couture for Hong Kong Fashion Week

On Monday, Ford Motor Company and Redress — a sustainable fashion charity organization — announced the winners of The Redress Forum: Ford Design Challenge, in which 10 emerging designers from around the world transformed sustainable seat fabrics from Ford vehicles into couture garments as part of The EcoChic Design Award 2014/15 at Hong Kong Fashion Week.

New MasterCard Rewards with Nike Carbon Offsets, Tracks Footprint Reduction

Sustain:Green has created a new biodegradable MasterCard® rewards card, which provides carbon offsets for everyday purchases — specifically, helping to fund Nike’s Mata no Peito rainforest preservation projects in Brazil.

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