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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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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.

Report Finds Peers, Consumer Reviews Now as Trusted as Certifications for Sustainability Claims

Cross-Posted from Marketing and Comms. A recent study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility claims social sources such as consumer reviews, blogs and message boards as well as friends, family and co-workers now rival traditional sources such as certifications and media reports as consumers’ most trusted sources for determining whether a product is socially and environmentally responsible.

How Might We Re:Imagine Consumption? Conditions for Success and a Call for Collaboration

Cross-Posted from Behavior Change. Consumption (noun); the action of using a resource. We know consumption is a primary driver of the inherent unsustainability of modern living. For those yet to be convinced that our way of life is not sustainable (adjective — able to be maintained at a certain level), reflect on the fact that last Friday, May 10th, levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere peaked at 400 ppm. Also reflect on the fact that the desire for a $1 T-shirt has driven the most appalling standards in many apparel supply chains and the recent deaths of over 1000 garment workers in Bangladesh.

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.

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5 Ways to Make Transparency a Brand Advantage

Cross-Posted from Supply Chain. Pink slime. Pan-European traces of horsemeat. Escolar masquerading as white tuna. Some 30 states considering GMO-labeling legislation.The challenges and opportunities surrounding transparency affect consumers in ways that are deeply personal (if not downright intestinal) and raise the stakes for brands.

Consumers Rank Ingredient Transparency Among Most Important Issues for Brands

Cross-Posted from Marketing and Comms. Horsemeat found in five percent of beef tested in the European Union. One in three fish commonly mislabeled in the United States. Up to 30 states now considering GMO labeling laws. Ingredient transparency is trending for brands looking to restore consumer trust. But how much do consumers care about what they put in, on and around their bodies?

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.

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.

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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.

SBIO Semi-Finalist PrintEco Wants to Help You Save Time and Paper

Cross-Posted from Waste Not. Each week leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 5th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote at SB '13, we will feature an article on one of our SBIO semi-finalists. This week, meet the SBIO Public Vote Semi-finalist winner, PrintEco.

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.

Resource Revolution White Paper Examines Risks and Rewards of Circular Economy

Cross-Posted from Waste Not. This article first appeared on edie.net on March 20, 2013.Environmental Data Interactive Exchange (Edie), an online sustainability resource based in the UK, has published an exclusive white paper highlighting the opportunities and challenges of circular economy realization, for both businesses and the waste management industry.The report, published in association with sponsor FCC Environment and sister title Local Authority Waste & Recycling magazine, investigates the implications of closed-loop thinking as businesses start to take back waste-derived materials and energy into their supply chains.

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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?

"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.

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