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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New Research Finds UK Consumers Earning and Saving £4.6 Billion Through the Sharing Economy

New research commissioned by The People Who Share shows that 65% of adults in the UK are already part of the sharing economy, and a further 28% would consider taking part, if they don’t already. Conducted by Opinium, The State of the Sharing Economy polled 2,005 adults in the UK to demonstrate the growing consumer appetite for the sharing economy, just in time for Global Sharing Day 2013 on Sunday, June 2nd.

Run Up to SB '13: Nick Miller on Startups in the Sharing Economy

Nick Miller is the CEO of Parking Panda — a service that enables parking space owners (both individuals and commercial lots) to capitalize on underutilized parking spaces by renting them to a community of drivers. On the flip side, drivers can save time and money by reserving a spot in advance and paying online.

Run Up to SB '13: Neal Gorenflo on the Cultural Shift Around Innovation and the Sharing Economy

Neal Gorenflo is the co-founder of the non-profit Shareable, whose mission is to empower everyone to share for a more joyous, resilient and equitable world. Shareable is best known for its online magazine covering the sharing economy.At Sustainable Brands ’13 (June 3-6), Gorenflo will be moderating and participating in panel discussions focused on entrepreneurial trends and the importance of connecting innovation with purpose. I asked him a few questions about how sharing fits into the picture.

Startup Crowdfunding to Sell Superfood Bars in US to Aid West African Farmers

Oakland-based social enterprise Kuli Kuli is launching an Indiegogo campaign to leverage its “superfood” nutrition bar to help alleviate poverty in West Africa.Kuli Kuli Bars are gluten-free, raw and made with just a few simple all-natural ingredients, the company says. The bars also are low in calories but contain high amounts of fiber, protein and vitamins. The bars are made from moringa oleifera, a tree that has been widely documented for its vast nutritional properties and ability to grow in poor soil with little water.

Groundbreaking Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs

The multitude of social and environmental challenges we face — both locally and globally — presents countless opportunities for new approaches and business models to rise to the fore. All over the world, mission-driven entrepreneurs are bringing fresh, disruptive innovations to market in response to some of these challenges. Here are some of our favorites, each of which represents a different game-changing idea that has the potential to dramatically shift the market, and the world, in which they operate.

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Mosaic Crowdsourcing $100 Million in New Solar Projects

Mosaic, an online marketplace that connects investors to solar energy projects, is tackling more and more ambitious projects. Recently, it started the Golden State Series, a string of solar investments that will total $100 million. The first project, seeking a investment $153,000 in a solar charity in San Diego, sold out in just six hours.

SBIO Wants Your Help Choosing the Best New Talent Solving the World’s Biggest Problems

The Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) is celebrating its 5th birthday with a new crop of highly innovative, socially and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. SBIO presented by Target, would like your help in choosing the runner-up and winner of the People’s Choice Award on June 5th via a live online public vote.Since its inception, SBIO has aimed to identify startups with the most potential to make scalable and sustainable impacts. Past SBIO alumni have continued to flourish, including 2012 finalist Mosaic and 2011’s winner, One World Futbol.

B Lab's 'Best for the World' List Highlights Companies Making Positive Impacts

Sungevity and Trillium Asset Management are among the 67 businesses recently recognized by B Lab’s annual “Best for the World” list, which honors companies across 20 countries and 25 industries for redefining success in business.Each company on the list is a certified B Corporation focused on solving social and environmental problems and met several standards for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. The firms also each earned an overall score in the top 10 percent of all certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a comprehensive assessment a company's impact on its workers, community and the environment.

Australian Social Enterprise Partners with WaterAid To Wipe Away Disease in Africa

To prepare for this year's Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) competition, we're catching up with some of our favorite entrepreneurial ventures from competitions past ... The next time you visit the loo, consider yourself lucky. While many might think little about answering nature’s call, some 2.5 billion people — or roughly 40 percent of the global population — do not have access to a toilet. In areas lacking adequate facilities, human waste can contaminate drinking water, which when combined with malnutrition, often causes gastrointestinal infections such as diarrhea.

Changing Consumers to Users Key To Success of Circular Economy

In January, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation released a new animation, focusing on the role of new business models in the transition to a regenerative circular economy."The Circular Economy: From Consumer to User" (below) is a follow-up to 2011’s "Re-Thinking Progress: The Circular Economy," a short film that offered an introduction to the circular concept and stimulated discussion around what our future economy may look like. The new video looks in more detail at one aspect of this — what if we didn’t buy the goods we use but instead favoured access and performance over ownership?

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"The Interests of the Commons": Eric Lowitt on the Collaboration Economy

In this recent interview, guest editor Adam Werbach talks with Eric Lowitt, author of the forthcoming book, The Collaboration Economy (Wiley, April 2013). As Lowitt explains, the collaboration economy describes a situation in which “the interest of the commons now affects the common interest.”To illustrate the concepts explored in the book, an excerpt from a chapter of The Collaboration Economy appears below the video.

Holistic, Brand-Led EPR Initiatives Key for Achieving Benefits of Circular Economy

With three billion new middle-class consumers projected to enter the global marketplace in the coming decades[1], it is now widely acknowledged that the global economy of tomorrow will face material scarcity and supply chain insecurity at an unprecedented scale — an inevitable consequence of an industrial era based on a make/use/dispose model. These new realities have galvanized an international community of academia, NGOs, governments and corporate interests to promote new principles to guide future economic decision-making.

The "Follower-Ship Challenge": Pavan Sukhdev on the Circular Economy

In this recent interview, guest editor Adam Werbach and Pavan Sukhdev — leader of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project and author of Corporation 2020 — discuss the shift in thinking, habits and values necessary for the widespread adoption and success of the circular economy, and the "follower-ship challenge" presented by early adopters.

The Circular Economy: Reinventing Business Models for Broad Economic Change

Let’s start with where we are today. The state of the "economy," like the bible or the U.S. constitution, is granted semi-magical powers by most businesses, as if it were carved out of granite, solid and unmoving, never in flux. Yet we all know that the economy — which we'll define here as the system of production and consumption of goods and services within a given region — is ruled by no one, experiences massive upheavals as industries rise and fall, and serves to enrich some people and impoverish others. The economy requires the functioning of natural systems, from the hydrologic cycle to photosynthesis, to function.

The Circular Economy: Driver of Business Model Innovation and Social Good

In this Issue in Focus, guest editor Adam Werbach and the SB editorial team explore the broad range of radical economic and business-model innovations emerging, through which both startups and some of the top global brands are rethinking the future of business and creating new economic, environmental and social benefits.Discussion question:What do you think are the biggest challenges to overcome in the shift toward a circular economy?Join the conversation!

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Manufacture New York: A New Sustainable Model for U.S. Fashion Production

Sometimes an industry simply can’t move forward without changing the conversation and embracing more sustainable business models.

Ecofiltro: Quenching Thirst in Guatemala One Family at a Time

To prepare for this year's Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) competition, we're catching up with some of our favorite entrepreneurial ventures from competitions past ...In most of the developed world, few of us give much thought to where our drinking water comes from. When thirsty, we need only to walk to the nearest faucet for an endless supply of fresh, potable water. Studies show the average American household wastes 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of water every year, while 780 million people in developing countries lack access to reliable drinking water — about one in nine people on the planet.

How Are Circular Economic Models Driving Innovation and Social Good?

Calling all innovators and implementers! In March 2013, Sustainable Brands will launch a new “Issues in Focus” editorial package, including daily features, interviews and case studies on the circular economy as a driver of business model innovation and social good.The Issue in FocusYou can't get a soy latte these days without hearing the words collaborative consumption, the circular economy, crade-to-cradle or the sharing economy. But how are these quasi-utopian concepts becoming real? What implications could they have for the future of business and the economy?

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Aims To Create $10B of Value by 2015 With New Global Business Alliance

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation today launched the Circular Economy 100 (CE100), a three-year program aimed at bringing together a network of 100 leading companies globally to facilitate development and commitment to new circular economy projects. The CE100 will provide executive education on key themes and emerging trends, share knowledge and new learnings, and identify and develop solutions to common challenges. The objective is that by 2015 participating companies will have triggered circular initiatives that will result in an aggregated economic benefit of $10bn for the businesses involved.

Aspirational Consumers Unite Style, Sustainability To Shape Market Trends

Is there such a thing as sustainable consumption? A new study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility finds that a majority of consumers across six international markets are seeking to reconcile their desire for shopping and style with responsibility to the environment and society through their purchases.

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