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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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Entropic Overhead: Measuring the Circular Economy

Cross-Posted from New Metrics. Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.— Charles BabbageDo you break the timer when your boiled egg is cooked?Our economy does; it is like a broken hourglass. We collect together valuable materials, apply energy and labour, put them into products that have yet more added design and brand value and spew them out into the world before starting again (mostly), from scratch.This of course would all be fine if scarcity was not a problem: If the materials, energy and inputs we rely upon for industrial production were either eternally abundant or safe to distribute and use. However in our current industrial models this is simply not the case.

WikiPearl Promises an Edible Packaging Revolution

Cross-Posted from Chemistry, Materials & Packaging. Consumer demand for foods convenient and fast has led to a surge in packaging waste across the globe. The use and disposal of plastic in particular has spiked, and despite increased corporate and municipal recycling programs, far too much plastic still ends up in landfills. This grab-and-go mentality for both junk and healthful foods alike will hardly be sustainable in the long run as more food companies and their brands churn out more products and packaging gimmicks in the name of “innovation.” Not one company so far, though, has found an innovative way to deal with the accumulation of Tetra-Paks, cartons and myriad types of plastic. Could edible packaging help solve this problem?

Dirtball's 'Green Jean' Needs Your Help to Tackle Plastic Bottle Waste

Cross-Posted from Waste Not. 66 billion bottles of water are consumed (and ultimately tossed) each year in the United States alone. In order to make a dent in this staggering number, eco-friendly clothing company Dirtball is using Kickstarter to launch a new product, The Green Jean.

This Tiny Patch Could Be a Game Changer for Global Health

Cross-Posted from Chemistry, Materials & Packaging. Kite Patch is the latest breakthrough technology in the global fight against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. A non-toxic adhesive patch that makes you virtually invisible to mosquitos, Kite brings a scalable solution to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations.

BlueAvocado’s New Collection of Upcycled Accessories Provides Jobs for Female War Survivors

When we launched our business in Texas nearly five years ago, our vision was to empower millions of people to reduce their carbon footprint, invest in the dreams and journeys of female entrepreneurs, and create an impact that inspires action. We came together in 2008 as sisters and friend and started our mission-based business, BlueAvocado.Today, we are thrilled to have a variety of eco-collections for food-on-the-go, travel and beauty that can be found at The Container Store, Whole Foods, Target, JC Penney and numerous online retailers.However, a key part of our original vision was to have a made-in-the-USA line, which at the time of our launch (and the height of the recession) was simply too great a challenge.

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Three Freshly Sprouted Startups on the NYC Local Food Scene

While the most hospitable territory for food startups is certainly California, New York is host to its own burgeoning food movement. We spoke with three startups, in different stages of warming up to the New York food scene, that combine their expertise in the digital space with a passion for food. Striving to make local and nutritious food more accessible, they are sparking consumer demand for local food in ways not seen in a century.Collectively, Good Eggs, Farmigo and Urbavour aim to disrupt certain themes in American food production and consumption. In place of the current system, these startups propose:

Sustainability Innovations Could Generate $156 Billion for UK Firms

Cross-Posted from New Metrics. UK businesses could secure £100 billion pounds (nearly $156 billion USD) in annual productivity gains generated by innovations designed to address environmental and social challenges, according to a new report by Accenture, Business in the Community and Marks & Spencer.Fortune Favors the Brave argues that companies must go beyond conventional corporate and social responsibility programs and place sustainability at the heart of business strategies and operations to unlock the full commercial potential and sustainability benefits.

So Crafty: New Belgium Shows How Sustainable Brand Innovation Can Be a Business Driver

It makes sense that an alliance of craft breweries continues to speak out for the Clean Water Act — you can’t make great beer without great water. But what is it about the culture of craft breweries that makes them see sustainability as an innovation imperative? We asked one of the pioneers in the field, Jenn Vervier, New Belgium Brewing’s Director of Strategic Planning and Sustainability.

Back to the Start with Back to the Roots

In their last semester at UC Berkeley, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora were inspired by a class lecture about the possibilities of growing mushrooms using entirely recycled coffee grounds. The perfect representation of turning waste into wages, after various experimentations the pair founded Back to the Roots in 2009. We caught up with Nikhil to learn more about the company’s business model and its newest offering, a tabletop aquaponic farm.

Airbnb, Lyft Partner with New Sharing Economy Advocacy Group

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. Peer-to-peer businesses have a new voice as they go up against traditional industries and, in some cases, government regulations.Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit are among the companies that have partnered with Peers, a nonprofit that plans to organize sharing-economy users.The newly formed organization made its debut on Wednesday.Executive Director Natalie Foster said the goal of the organization is to promote and protect the businesses and groups that allow people to share goods and services. This means holding events to bring together advocates and users for "community-building" and providing a place for them to share stories and talk about related topics, which includes legislation or local regulations.

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Patagonia Launches New Program to Upcycle Flip-Flops

Cross-Posted from Waste Not. Patagonia has commenced a new remanufacturing program to continuously recycle its flip-flops, which could reduce production waste by nearly a third.The clothing company has partnered with small upstart firm PLUSfoam to create flip-flops that are 100 percent recyclable and can be upcycled into new flip-flops at the end of their life with no reduction in performance.

Veuve Clicquot Innovates for More Sustainable Packaging

This video reveals the development process behind Veuve Clicquot's new potato starch packaging - not only is it 100% biodegradable but it's also isothermal, keeping your champagne cool for up to two hours without refrigeration.

BBMG's Raphael Bemporad on How Businesses Can Help Drive Transformational Change [Video]

In this interview from the Sustainable Brands 2013 conference in San Diego, BBMG co-founder Raphael Bemporad discusses the need for businesses to engage consumers in ways that will help drive transformational change.To learn how some brands are driving change, check out our #BrandInnovation channel.

Tesla CEO's Plans for ‘Hyperloop’ Transport System Coming in August

Billionaire chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX visionary Elon Musk says he will release designs next month for a system capable of rapidly transporting people from Los Angeles to San Francisco via a tube in under 30 minutes.In several recent Twitter posts, the real-life Tony Stark has stated he will be “happy to work with the right partners” on the project, called Hyperloop, as long as they share his vision of developing the technology “fast and without wasting money.”Musk says he is welcoming “critical feedback” on the system and will publish his plans by August 12 as open source.

How Forward-Thinking Brands Are Disrupting and Delighting Through Innovation

Calling all innovators and implementers! Sustainable Brands and BBMG have launched a new Issues in Focus editorial channel examining the most creative, inspiring and disruptive cases of brand innovation.Guest editor Carola Beeney — joined by BBMG founders Raphael Bemporad and Mitch Baranowski and the SB editorial team — is curating a broad selection of articles to help illuminate this emerging paradigm, for publication throughout the year.

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Remade in the USA: A Conversation with Designer Shannon South

Cross-Posted from Waste Not. In the world of sustainable fashion, few designers are pulling off the business model with as much style and substance as Shannon South. BBMG’s proprietary community of Aspirational consumers, The Collective, recently partnered with Shannon for the Remake My Leather Challenge, and we sat down with her to discuss what makes Shannon’s line, Remade USA, different from other sustainably designed product lines.How did you get started as a handbag designer?

Celebrating the Emergence of a New Generation of Business Innovators

When you look at the environmental and social challenges we face, it's often tough to stay optimistic. The worst predictions of climate science are coming true. Resource scarcity — especially water — is a major threat to business and the economy. Worker conditions around the world, like those that led to the unfathomable recent tragedies in Bangladesh, can seem like intractable problems. And the political system that we need to tackle big issues is mostly broken.

Lego Thinking: Key to Futureproofing Your Brand?

Key to futureproofing is creating a brand that fulfills your customers' higher order needs — things such as meaning, authenticity, self-fulfillment and all those other wonderful aspirations at the top of Maslow’s pyramid.But what if your consumer finds him- or herself in flux, discovering a purchase that felt meaningful a short time ago suddenly seems, well, less so today? How can you keep up with this sort of rapidly evolving ‘higher order’ demand?With Lego thinking.

When It Comes to Sustainable Innovation, Corporates Can Learn a Lot from Entrepreneurs

One of the core ideas behind sustainable branding is that, by thinking of social problems as business opportunities, companies can gain a competitive advantage. It follows then that a very important core competency in the quest for sustainable branding is the ability to identify social and environmental opportunities and to turn them into innovative business solutions.In other words, much of sustainable branding is about human-centered innovation and understanding how to continuously create relevance and value in the lives of individuals. This is a field that has advanced significantly in recent years with the increasing prominence of approaches such as design thinking, co-creation and customer development.

Learning How to Share Again [Video]

As toddlers, most of us had to learn how to share against our more basic instincts.

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