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The True Cost of 'Cheap'

NEW METRICS - All businesses stay alive by being price competitive. After all, if there are no customers to pay for your product, you can’t make sales and without sales there are no revenues. In an ideal world, a business sets its pricing based on the costs it incurs to produce but other businesses compete by offering different pricing (some do choose strategies based on servicing or other value-added activities).

Latest Net Impact Guide Finds Sustainability a Must for Students Shopping MBA Programs

LEADERSHIP - Net Impact, a nonprofit inspiring a new generation of students to work for a sustainable future, has released its 2013 edition of Business as UNusual: The Student Guide to Graduate Programs. Key findings suggest that social and environmental issues have become a mainstream necessity in MBA programs, driven in part by overwhelming student demand.

Four World-Changing Examples of NGO-Brand Partnerships

COLLABORATION - Do you feel that once you’ve met one environmentalist, you’ve met them all … and that each of them comes with a banner in their backpack? If so, and if that’s stopping you from collaborating with them, you’re likely missing out on an opportunity that could help your company gain an important competitive edge. Partnering with environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) can, at the very least, buffer your brand against the perception of “greenwashing” or potentially even spark the development of breakthrough products and systems that revolutionize your business or even your sector.

Report: More Than Half of Diners Willing to Pay More For Meals in Sustainable Restaurants

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - More than half (56 percent) of diners would pay more for a meal if they knew the restaurant was investing in reducing its environmental impact and taking its social responsibility seriously, according to new research from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Some 43 percent of diners would pay up to 10 percent more for a meal in a sustainable restaurant.The Discerning Diner: How consumers’ attitudes to eating out have become more sophisticated is based on the findings of consumer research by the SRA, which was supported by Unilever.

Six Ways to Make Brand Sustainability Resonate with Consumers

MARKETING AND COMMS - Climate change. Resource scarcity. Pollution. Human rights. These are some of the most pressing issues facing business today. They are also some of the most difficult for consumers to relate to, let alone orient their lives around.According to a recent report from The World Economic Forum and Accenture, sustainability is in desperate need of a makeover. Despite millions of dollars spent marketing the concept over the past decade, only 28% of people know what terms such as “sustainable,” “responsible,” “eco friendly” and “green” really mean, and just 44% say they trust green claims coming from big brands.

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Why Green Product Brands Fail

MARKETING AND COMMS - The Guardian recently published an excellent article on "Why Green Brands Are Failing to Capture Public Attention:"The answer is that environmental/social consciousness is only one part of what are much broader and more complex cultural shifts. Picking out this trend in isolation and trying to build brands around it using traditional marketing paradigms has a very low likelihood of success.

Coca-Cola Joins with Sainsbury’s For 'Don't Waste. Create' Campaign

MARKETING AND COMMS - Coca-Cola Enterprises has partnered with Sainsbury's to launch a new sustainability program that aims to increase the reuse and recycling of plastic bottles during the summer.The beverage company says its Don't Waste. Create campaign is designed to encourage consumers to use their waste packaging at home in a fun and useful way, while also promising to recycle.

Three Freshly Sprouted Startups on the NYC Local Food Scene

PRODUCT, SERVICE & DESIGN INNOVATION - 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:

Federal Government Rates Tesla Model S Safest Car of All Time

MARKETING AND COMMS - The Tesla Model S has received a five-star safety rating in every subcategory from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), making it part of the one percent of all vehicles tested by the federal government to achieve a perfect score.While NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, safety levels better than five stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.Tesla says the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans, which takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.

Big Data: The Ultimate Sustainability Job Aid at U.S. Postal Service

NEW METRICS - Advancement in big data and analytical technologies has opened up many new opportunities to support sustainability advancement in large, complex organizations. The high volume of performance data from facilities, buildings, supply chains, operations and logistics subsystems can be gathered to trace the impact of sustainability initiatives at a very granular level. This information can be rolled up into a series of “green dashboards” allowing managers and employees to track costs savings and monitor performance enhancements across the organization.

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Sustainability Innovations Could Generate $156 Billion for UK Firms

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.

Walmart, Gap Detail Bangladeshi Worker Safety Coalition Plan

MARKETING AND COMMS - Walmart, Gap and several other US retailers met this week in Chicago to implement their independent Bangladesh factory safety plan, which was developed after multiple factory accidents, most notably the Rana Plaza collapse in April that killed more than 1,100 workers and injured hundreds.The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety includes 20 North American apparel companies and retailers, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations, such as Macy’s and Target, as well as new signatories Costco, Intradeco Apparel and Jordache Enterprises. The organization has pledged to have safety standards in place by September 10, and claims to have already dispersed $45 million to hire safety inspection staff in Bangladesh.

Advancing Sustainability: From Revolution to Evolution

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - Sustainability, like brands, must not be a fight against or a vision outside society, but part of it. It is time to drop the proselytism, quit the “sacrifice for a better world” argument and above all stop trying to change people’s behaviours. In order to fully go mainstream, sustainability shouldn’t attempt to influence behaviour and, instead, make ‘the greener option’ desirable for everyone. Moreover, historically, experiments of standardization have often resulted from totalitarian regimes to dull aesthetics.

Sustainable Brands® to Showcase Innovative Performance Metrics that Quantify New Environmental and Social Value Driven by Business

PRESS RELEASE - SAN FRANCISCO, August 22, 2013 – Sustainable Brands® announces the program and speaker line up for its annual New Metrics of Sustainable Business conference, scheduled for September 24-25 at the University of Pennsylvania. A gathering point for sustainability executives, business strategists and financial leaders from across the globe, this event focuses on the leading edge of corporate practices and performance indicators that quantify environmental and social impacts and tie them to financial value.

First Stewardship Travel Program in US Launches in CA Wine Country

MARKETING AND COMMS - San Luis Obispo's County Business Improvement District (SLO CBID) has commenced the country's first Stewardship Travel program to promote appreciation for place and culture, adventure, enjoyment and learning, while also providing clear opportunities to participate in regional conservation and preservation.SLO CBID says the project has been five years in development, and provides curious, active, and caring travelers with a well-defined road map for fun and meaningful vacations in 10 destinations along Highway 1 of the Central California Coast including Ragged Point/San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, unincorporated Morro Bay, Los Osos/Baywood Park, Avila Beach & Valley, Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Oceano and Nipomo.

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Avila Develops New Metrics for Sustainable Event Management

NEW METRICS - When Avila Government Services, Inc. (Avila) decided they wanted to improve the sustainability of their meeting/event planning efforts, they turned to the latest event sustainability guidance. However, as many planners have discovered, the roughly 400 pages of long-awaited guidance can be overwhelming and confusing. The three sets of guidelines fall short of providing the necessary metrics for conducting and evaluating the event planning process. They lack specific policies, goals, measurable objectives and scoring systems for sustainable meeting planning. Instead, they require the organization and its planners to develop their own procedures and metrics for the process.

Customer Behavior Change: The Holy Grail of Conscious Brands

BEHAVIOR CHANGE - “If we can’t get the consumer involved, we will always be behind the curve,” Marks & Spencer CEO Marc Bolland said when he launched the retailer’s ‘Plan A’ sustainability stakeholder consultation.The logic is compelling. Changing customer behavior is a natural part of the sustainable business strategies businesses must create to achieve long-term success. And instead of being seen as an extension of CSR strategies they will be seen more as Long-Term Marketing strategies that are creating the company’s preferred future operating environment.

Largest Vertical Farm in the US Becomes Zero Organic Waste Facility

WASTE NOT - Chicago land-based vertical farm FarmedHere, has launched a program to convert all of its organic waste into compost used to feed other urban farms across Chicago.Through a unique soil-free process that utilizes vertical farming technology, FarmedHere grows USDA certified organic greens that the company says are healthier, tastier, and fresher than traditionally farmed produce. Stacked grow beds – up to six high – are used to create vertical growing space. Instead of soil, water from tanks of hormone-free tilapia delivers nutrients to the plants through either an aquaponic or aeroponic system. These systems are combined with controlled water pressure, humidity and atmospheric pressure to create optimal growing conditions.

Opposites Attract: Five Branding Lessons PrintEco Learned from Our Partnership with Domtar

COLLABORATION - Domtar Corporation is one of the largest and most innovative paper companies in the world. Our company, PrintEco, is a two-year-old software startup with a mission to help save paper and ink and protect the environment. So when we announced our partnership with Domtar at SB ’13 in June, a lot of our friends were like, “Congratulations! Wait ... a paper company?” Admittedly, we’re a bit of an odd couple — but working with Domtar has taught us a lot about branding and about sustainable business in general.

IKEA and Kingfisher Pledge Ambitious 'Net Positive' Agendas, But Can They Work?

SUPPLY CHAIN - Today an ever-increasing number of companies and brands are likely to have a corporate social responsibility agenda because customers and other stakeholders demand they hold themselves accountable for their environmental and social performance. Now more companies are pushing the boundaries, or in reality, talking about going further than merely just becoming more “sustainable” or “responsible.” Zero-waste has become a mantra at some of the world’s most iconiccompanies, including Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

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