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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.

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.

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.

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):