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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Bottle This: Treeson's Answer to Plastic Bottle Waste

Carlton Solle grew up in Marin County, surrounded by the beauty of the Bay Area. But it wasn’t until he spent time in Costa Rica that he saw natural beauty contaminated — beaches overgrown with garbage floating downstream. In response, he founded Treeson and created a Kickstarter campaign to raise launch funds.

The Dish on 'Clean Plates' (Or What You Don’t Know About Healthy Eating)

As part of our ongoing series of conversations with interesting people making the world a better place, BBMG welcomed to our studio Jared Koch, the author and co-founder of Clean Plates: A Guide to the Healthiest, Tastiest and Most Sustainable Restaurants.

myActions Platform Turning Engagement with Waste, Wildlife Initiatives Into Action

Engaging people in sustainability remains one of the cause’s biggest challenges – ensuring their behavior reflects their engagement is another. A number of studies have been devoted to bridging the gap between people’s attitudes and their actions, and it remains a conundrum for many organizations on a mission to promote positive behavior.Luckily, tools such as myActions are helping companies not only engage certain groups on the merit of more conscious behaviors but motivate them to follow through.

TOMS' New Roasting Company Providing 'Coffee for You, Water for All'

On Tuesday at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie announced the launch of TOMS Roasting Company, and the grand opening of its first location, in Austin.“We’re super excited about it. It allows us to enter a totally new industry and allows us to really work on economic development impact, as well as being able to give water to people around the world — something I’ve been passionate about for a long time,” Mycoskie told USA Today.

Phonebloks Using Open Innovation to Develop the Best Phone in the World

While I won’t say which company makes my smart phone, I will say that my phone breaks… a lot. I’ve had problems with the headphone jack, the vibrate setting, and currently, the touch screen will occasionally start to malfunction by pressing buttons at will, only ceasing when I restart my phone. Problems like these, which are frustrating at best and costly at worst, are one reason Phonebloks plans to step in to save the day.

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Recipe for a Healthy Beauty Industry: Tata Harper on How Her Line Changes the Paradigm

One of the most well-known and loved eco-friendly beauty brands out there, Tata Harper has made a mark on the beauty industry with one eye on sustainability and the other on consumer health and wellness. Hailing from her organic farm in Vermont, Harper’s ingredients are all sustainably sourced and her products as close to “farm-to-medicine cabinet” as you can get. We talked with Harper about how she disrupts — and in some cases elevates — standards for production in the beauty industry.What makes your farm "sustainable"?

6 Incubators Breeding Better Businesses to Rebuild Detroit

It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur. So, what happens in a city whose population shrank by more than half in the last 50 years? For many can-do entrepreneurs, the deserted city is now a clean canvas where they are free to experiment. At the same time, a number of business incubators in Detroit are stepping in, offering budding entrepreneurs training, shared office space and other resources to pursue their dreams. And for many of these incubators, the triple bottom line is an integral part of their identity and Detroit’s revival.

Food, Clothing and Jobs – Oh, My! 6 More Startups Helping to Resuscitate Detroit

In Detroit, a host of mission-driven entrepreneurs and nonprofits are finding innovative ways to serve the embattled city’s underserved communities, starting by meeting their most basic needs for food, clothing, cleanliness and employment (See part one for five more startups that are helping to revitalize Detroit):

Food, Beer, Art and, Of Course, Trucks: Five Startups Revitalizing Detroit

Low rent prices, public-private-nonprofit partnerships, and hip incubators are converging to create an ideal environment in Detroit for social entrepreneurs, leading forward-thinking startups to increasingly reject the saturated and cutthroat environments of Silicon Valley and New York City for a bit of Midwestern Nice. As the city emerges from the ashes of its Chapter 9 filing last year, here are 5 startups revitalizing Detroit while pursuing the triple bottom line.Hantz Woodlands

3 Startups Offering Simple, Scalable Solutions to One of the World's Biggest Problems

Wrinkled veggies. Rotting fruit. Containers that you wouldn’t dare open because of the smells that might escape. How many times have you cleaned out your refrigerator and been dismayed at how much food has spoiled? Every year, billions of dollars are wasted because of food spoilage. In fact, the EPA notes that “in 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only four percent of food waste generated diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.” Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) paints a wider picture by noting that one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted, which translates into 1.3 billion metric tons of food per year.

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Yerdle Becomes First Nationwide Sharing Retailer with New, Low-Cost Shipping Option

Yerdle, the online marketplace where shoppers in the greater San Francisco and New York City areas can give and get things for free, today becomes available across the country by providing low-cost, flat rate shipping for $2-4 nationwide. Yerdle has also updated its iPhone app to offer enhanced discovery browsing, a re-designed home screen, a new social “activity feed,” and a simplified shopping cart.

Umicore: How Sustainability-Driven Innovation Transformed a Failing Mining Company Into a Materials Tech Power Player

Umicore’s ranking as #1 on the 2013 Global 100 index of most sustainable companies was met with healthy skepticism by social justice advocates and environmental purists. The company’s history as Union Minière du Haut Katanga created devastation that Umicore will need to continue to remedy at a hefty price tag.

More than 70 Mainstream Brands Now Taking Part in Collaborative Economy

I have been leading a research effort to understand the impacts of the growing Collaborative Economy trend. In case you are new to the collaborative economy, there's an unstoppable wave of people trading, renting and borrowing all kinds of services and goods. The disruptive impacts to brands are potentially very high. Consumers are already buying and trading among themselves, often without purchasing items directly from the brands themselves. Companies that don't pay attention to this trend are leaving themselves in a state of risk, as technology and society continue to quickly innovate.

The Power of Three Words: Not-for-Profit

Ever since we started writing and speaking about our current book project, How on Earth: Flourishing in a Not-for-Profit World by 2050, we have been amazed by one phenomenon in particular: When we have a chance to explain to people what not-for-profit (NFP) enterprise actually is, we get an incredible response from all sectors and political spheres to the proposition that not-for-profit business lies at the heart of our future global economy.

The Alchemy of Sustainability: 5 Forces That Will Drive More Meaning, Growth and Impact in 2014

At BBMG, we often use archetypes to help reveal a brand’s true character and provide a North Star for the products, services and experiences it can bring into the world.My favorite is the Alchemist, whose core desire is to search out the fundamental laws of how things work and apply these principles to make things happen. The Alchemist integrates physical, environmental and spiritual elements to spark transformation in people, organizations and our times.In 2014, we see an alchemy of economic, environmental and social values that will bring new opportunities for business and society, and we’ve identified five forces that will advance a more sustainable marketplace:

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How Brands Can Unlock Our Adventures

Many classic tales of adventure begin with an empowering gift: something that opens doors, reveals possibilities, or helps to overcome obstacles. D’Artagnan’s father presents him with fifteen crowns, a horse and a letter of introduction; James Bond goes to see Q to pick up his car and gadgets; the Master of Jordan College gives Lyra the all-knowing, all-telling alethiometer.

New COMMON Marketplace Allows You to Buy ‘Nothing’

Imagine a marketplace where you can buy — or not buy — products and services that accelerate social innovation by redefining the capitalist narrative; a place where you can purchase or sell “goods for good” from companies or to consumers around the world. Look no further come February 12, when the COMMON Marketplace makes its official debut.Developed by COMMON, the world’s first “collaborative brand” made up of a community of creative and business professionals, the organization says the new online marketplace is a place where “goods for good” can be bought and sold. In order to sell on the Marketplace, companies must apply and meet a set of design, sustainability and collaborative criteria.

Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions to Broaden Possibilities for Internet of Things and Services

Bosch has expanded its offering beyond the design of home appliances to form a new company, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions GmbH, for the Internet of things and services: The company will supply compact electronic products and software expertise designed to make devices and objects intelligent and web-enabled across a broad range of applications. It will initially focus on sensor-based applications for intelligently networked homes, or “smart homes,” as well as for activities in the fields of traffic, transportation and logistics.

How Your Brand Can Counter the Cynics This Christmas

Cynicism about the social role of brands soars at Christmas. Back in the 1950s, singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer riffed on various carols: Hark the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things. God rest ye merry, merchants, May you make the Yuletide pay. Angels we have heard on high Tell us to go out and buy!Could brands add something to Christmas beyond gifts and greed? Cultural rituals are all about community: We share food, read stories or sing songs to reinforce shared understandings of our history and the values we share as a society. How can brands help people to get to the heart of the community spirit?

Finalists for Unilever’s Young Entrepreneurs Awards Creating Groundbreaking Social Solutions

Unilever and the Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL) have announced the seven finalists for the inaugural Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards, an international awards program designed to inspire young people around the world to tackle environmental, social and health issues.The competition, open to anyone aged 30 years or under, looks for inspiring practical, tangible solutions to help make sustainable living commonplace.

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