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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Startup Growing 'Zero Carbon Food' in London Underground Tunnels Has Investors Clamoring

It is not often that a new venture with an unbelievable, yet-to-be-proven concept is overwhelmingly backed by investors. Zero Carbon Food (ZCF) is just such a venture — throwing conventional wisdom aside, the company's Growing Underground SW4 project has set out to grow food underground, away from the sun and fresh air. ZCF's equity crowdfunding campaign on CrowdCube has elicited a fantastic response from investors, already raising over 200 percent of its £300,000 (~US$500,000) goal with four days still remaining.

#SB14sd Preview: Ford Sees the Future in Data

Ford Motor Company says it considers big data and analytics the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.At Sustainable Brands ’14 San Diego (June 2-5), Carrie Majeske, Ford’s Associate Director of Global Sustainability Integration, will participate in a panel discussion titled: Leveraging Big Data and the Quantified Self Movement to Drive a Sustainable Future.I caught up with her for a short preview.

Campher Offers Unique Insights, Approaches to 'Creating a Sustainable Brand'

Most sustainability initiatives are focused on improving the triple bottom line, but what about growing the business top line?

#SB14sd Preview: Arrow Electronics on CSR and 'Five Years Out'

With 2013 sales of $21.4 billion, Colorado-based Arrow Electronics is one of the largest suppliers of electronics components in the world with 460 locations in 58 countries. Three years ago, the company underwent a complete corporate rebranding around the concept of innovation for “five years out.”Next month at Sustainable Brands 2014 San Diego, Rich Kylberg, Arrow’s VP of Global Marketing and Communications, will discuss how the company’s revamped brand message is best reflected through a new focus on innovative corporate social responsibility (CSR). I caught up with Rich for a short preview conversation.

Verizon Offering $6M for Powerful Answers to Four Global Problems

Verizon is now accepting applications for its Powerful Answers Award, which offers a total of $6 million in prizes for ideas that have the power to create groundbreaking change.Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award invites innovators, developers and entrepreneurs to leverage Verizon’s technology to deliver world-changing solutions and social good. This year, the multimillion-dollar global competition will focus on four categories: Education, Healthcare, Sustainability and (a new category for 2014) Transportation.

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FoodLoop Helps Shoppers, Retailers Work Together to Eliminate Grocery Waste

In the weeks leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 4th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will get to know our 11 semi-finalists. Today, meet FoodLoop.

New Moop + Thread Bags First Products to Feature Thread's Plastic-Turned-Fabric

SBIO 2013 finalist Thread, which creates fabric from plastic bottle waste collected in the developing world, has released a line of special-edition bags with its first partner, canvas bag manufacturer Moop. Each waxed canvas Moop + Thread bag — available in Messenger No.1 and Paperback styles, all designed and hand-manufactured at Moop’s Pittsburgh-based studio — is lined with fabric made from 16 plastic bottles.

Startup's Desalination Tech Could Supply the World with 97% More Water

In the weeks leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 4th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will get to know our 11 semi-finalists. Today, meet Okeanos.

Bureo's Upcycled Skateboard Aims to Clean Up Chile's Waters

Last fall, we introduced a startup called Bureo Skateboards, which aimed to build skateboards from the tons of plastic waste littering Chile’s beaches and waters. Founders Ben Kneppers and David Stover detailed the company’s journey from the idea phase to a multi-faceted funding structure. At the time, the two friends were reluctant to release many specifics about their final product line, as it was still pre-production, but last month they got back in touch, ready to discuss their next phase.

UK Startup Turning Enterprising Beer Lovers Into Urban Farmers

Some breweries in England are increasingly sourcing their hops from New Zealand and the US instead of buying closer to home, which generates a bigger carbon footprint. While chatting about beer over a pint at an Incredible Edible Lambeth event in the fall of 2011, Helen Steer and Ann Bodkin started thinking about how to engage a larger range of people in locally sourced food and drink. From that conversation, Grow Beer — a project to crowdsource hops from personal and community gardens for use at local breweries — was born.

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Isidore Slashing E-Waste, Recidivism in LA While Planning Broader Impact

In the lead-up to this year’s SB Innovation Open, we’re catching up with some of our favorite paradigm-disrupting startups from past years. This week, we have an update from SBIO 2013 finalist Isidore Electronics Recycling.Our last encounter with SBIO finalist Isidore was fairly dramatic. Right before the SBIO finals in San Diego last year, the young company experienced a warehouse fire, forcing them to regroup and relocate in a short period of time.

How Crowdfunding Is Catalyzing Social Change

When I ran a crowdfunding campaign for Kuli Kuli last May, we had zero money, no full-time staff and a network that consisted mostly of other broke 20-somethings. And yet, within a day we had raised $22,000. We went on to raise $53,000 from 800 people, most of whom we’d never met.Prior to our Indiegogo campaign, even my close family and friends didn’t know what I was doing. My own father still couldn’t pronounce the name of the plant that we were trying to make the next big superfood (for reference it’s moringa — MO-ring-GA).

Patagonia Invests in Waterless, Energy-Efficient Textile Processing Company

Patagonia has announced a strategic investment in CO2Nexus, a company that has developed a sustainable method of processing (cleaning, disinfecting and coating) textiles and garments using liquid carbon dioxide — which uses zero water, consumes less energy and generates very little waste.Patagonia made the investment through its $20 Million & Change fund, launched in 2013 to help innovative, like-minded startup companies bring about solutions to the environmental crisis through business. The investment caps a Series A round of investment for CO2Nexus, Patagonia says.

ASU Awards $40K to Student-Led Innovations in Waste, Agriculture, Community Development

Now in its fourth year, the ASU Innovation Challenge, which provides ASU students “an opportunity to create products and services that address some of the greatest challenges facing the world today,” has awarded a total of $40,000 to 11 student-innovator teams, according to a recent announcement.

BetterWorld's 'Phone for Phone' Mobile Service Combines Affordable Plans, Social Impact

Socially conscious mobile provider BetterWorld Wireless, in collaboration with Sprint, today launches its Phone for PhoneTM mobile service, which will provide digital access to people in need by donating a mobile device for every qualified new US mobile customer.

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LaborVoices Continues to Provide 'SmartLine' of Insight Into Supply Chain Issues

In the lead-up to this year’s SB Innovation Open, we’re catching up with some of our favorite paradigm-disrupting startups from past years. This week, we have an update from LaborVoices.

Recyclebank Launches One Twine - A Marketplace for the Conscious Consumer

Today, in honor of Earth Day, Recyclebank — which inspires and rewards more conscious consumer actions and purchasing decisions — is launching One Twine, a new online shop that features a carefully curated collection of socially and environmentally conscious goods. Each product is reviewed through Recyclebank’s Impact Lens, which examines how it’s made, how it’s used and how it can be disposed. Recyclebank members can apply the points they’ve earned for buying and acting more sustainably toward purchases on One Twine.

Warby Parker, Architecture for Humanity Offering 'Good Design from the Foundation Up'

“Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” eyeglass brand Warby Parker has teamed up with San Francisco-based design nonprofit Architecture for Humanity (AFH) on a limited-edition set of two AFH-designed frames, inspired by architects' appreciation for innovative design and durable construction, according to AFH.Warby Parker says the two collaboration frames, Aslin and Fowler, are inspired by an appreciation for streamlined angles and durable materials — the company says it paired Japanese titanium to its signature acetate for extra durability.

THRIVE Farmers: Beyond Fair Trade to a Truly Sustainable Coffee Industry

A Costa Rican coffee farmer’s son, an ex-lawyer turned coffee farmer, and a successful entrepreneur came together and created a partnership built on the idea of making a difference in the coffee community. By cutting out the middleman, putting a brand around it, and selling quality coffee direct to businesses, THRIVE Farmers is making it possible for farmers to receive ten times more profit than even Fair Trade standards. We asked founder Michael Jones what inspired him to leave his $40 million healthcare company to start THRIVE and how it is disrupting the coffee industry.

By-product of Coffee Production Now Turned Into Nutritious, Gluten-Free 'Coffee Flour'

By-product synergy is a win-win strategy that a growing number of organizations across a variety of industries and sectors are wisely incorporating: NYC is using food waste to heat homes; Milwaukee is using cheese brine to de-ice its roads in winter; Pulp Green Tech Holding is creating a high-grade paper pulp from empty palm fruit bunches; EnviroFlight is tu

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