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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.

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.

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.

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

McIlhenny Family Using Tradition, Conservation to Safeguard Its Famous Sauce

Tabasco, a brand synonymous with chili sauce, knows what it takes to sustain flavor and success. A family-owned business since 1868, the sauce — known by locals as “Cajun ketchup” — is made on Avery Island, Louisiana and exported to 166 countries worldwide. Today, the McIlhenny family still personally chooses every pepper, tastes every batch and takes proactive measures to boost the Island's natural capital, to ensure the Tabasco tradition can continue for generations to come.

Company Reducing Waste, Advancing Sustainable Seafood with Fly Larvae

Animal and plant nutrients company EnviroFlight has developed a system that turns the by-product from breweries, ethanol production, and pre-consumer food waste into a feedstock for Black Soldier Fly larvae — which then become feedstuff for fish, poultry, swine and cattle — according to a new segment released this week by QUEST, an Emmy Award-winning multimedia series with a new focus on exploring the science of sustainability.Fueled by a demand for a healthy, nutrient-rich protein, the market for seafood has grown steadily over the past five decades. However, the small fish used to make fish meal are wild-caught, which is creating a growing threat of overfishing in the world’s oceans.

True to Its Name, Thread Now Spinning Plastic Waste Into Fabric

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 Thread. When we last met SBIO 2013 finalists Thread, the burgeoning social enterprise had taken up the task of transforming the tons of plastic waste littering Haiti not only into local jobs but also quality products for consumers in the US and eventually around the world.

SLOWCOLOR: What We Wear Can Make a Global Difference

In an ideal COMMON day, every little thing you do effortlessly contributes to the health and well-being of the planet and all the creatures on it. Skeptical?Consider, then, the story of Sanjay Rajan and Tricia O’Keefe, their company SLOWCOLOR, a few beautiful scarves and a big but attainable vision.

How to Save Up to 3,000 Lives a Day. With Soap.

“More than 24,000 children die every day from preventable causes. One in eight of those deaths could be prevented with soap and clean water. You buy. Together, we give. It starts today.” — From SoapBox Soaps' crowdfunding video.Founded in 2010 by David Simnick and Daniel Doll, SoapBox Soaps was created around a simple idea, “Soap Equals Hope,” and a powerful business model dictating that for every purchase made, SoapBox Soaps will donate a bar of soap, a year of vitamins (with partner, Vitamin Angels) or a month’s supply of clean water (with partner RainCatcher) to a child in need.

How to Live Forever (Or 8 Cool Ways to Upcycle Yourself)

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives." — William Wallace, BraveheartNobody really wants to think about their own mortality, but the cold truth is that sooner or later, it’s going to happen. Now, your personal beliefs on whether or not you will ascend to Heaven, reincarnate, or simply just be dead don’t really matter; you’re going to leave a body behind when you go. It has now become a custom to either pump dead bodies full of formaldehyde and seal them into a steel and concrete vault or be cremated and have the ashes just sit in an urn.

Beyond Sustainability, Toward Rejuvenative Enterprise

The future that’s coming…The human population is set to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050. What sort of world do we want for new arrivals? One of scarce resources and extreme competition for the basic elements of survival, or one in which they are able to build stable and meaningful lives for themselves and their children?The future we can build…The time has come to build a world where we can welcome 9 billion people rather than fear their arrival. A future of healthy and thriving ecosystems and 9 billion capable citizens is an ambitious vision and a powerful driver for the development of economies, businesses and societies. The companies that will build such a future will be rejuvenative enterprises.

5 Tips on Branding for Good from Successful Social Entrepreneurs

Just because you're doing good work as a social entrepreneur doesn't mean you get to skip on the more commercial parts of running a business. Your good story isn't enough to grab customers and create more impact, you need to build a good brand. Every other month, brand innovation firm BBMG hosts Five x 5, a social innovation workshop designed to help five startups with their most pressing brand-related challenges. Five teams of planners, strategists, creatives, and entrepreneurs donate their time and expertise to delve into each challenge and then share insights and concepts before the networking continues.

B Lab ‘Best for the World’ List Honors Businesses With Positive Impacts

B Lab on Wednesday recognized 92 companies from 15 countries and 31 industries for creating the most positive, overall social and environmental impact.The "B Corp Best for the World" list honors businesses that earned an overall score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company's impact on its workers, community and the environment. Honorees were recognized among micro, small and mid-sized businesses.


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