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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

Liz Maw is the CEO of Net Impact, which has 300 chapters worldwide guiding students and professionals who aim to align their worklife with their values and make positive change.

A high school classmate of mine posted an article about her daughter’s nonprofit on Facebook recently, and since I’m interested in this sort of thing, I looked it up.

Net Impact is an organization of 100,000 members in 300 global chapters that “take on social challenges, protect the environment and orient businesses and products toward the greater good.” It provides students and professionals with guidance to align their jobs with their values.

From the website: “Liz Maw joined Net Impact as CEO in 2004. During her tenure, Net Impact has tripled its chapter network to more than 300, formed partnerships with over 50 global corporations, and developed multiple new programs that engage students and professionals in sustainability. …

“In 2011, Liz was named one of the 100 most influential people in business ethics by Ethisphere. Liz is also a Board Member of the World Environment Center.

“Prior to leading Net Impact, Liz’s professional experience included strategic consulting to nonprofits with the Bridgespan Group, as well as fundraising and direct marketing for nonprofit organizations.”

I liked this explanation of what the nonprofit is all about. Sounds good to me. “Net Impact mobilizes new generations to use their skills and careers to drive transformational social and environmental change.

“Many people want to make a difference, but turning good intentions into tangible impact can be hard.

“Net Impact is an accelerator. Our programs — delivered from our headquarters, as well as globally through our student and professional chapters — give our members the skills, experiences and connections that will allow them to have the greatest impact. …

“Our emerging leaders take on social challenges, protect the environment, invent new products and orient business toward the greater good. In short, we help our members turn their passions into a lifetime of world-changing action. …

“We believe that the business sector is a critical part of driving social and environmental change, and thus engage with a variety of big and small companies on our events and programs.”

Net Imapct’s next Path to Purpose conference is October 26-28 in Atlanta. More on that here.

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Photo: Frasers Property
Fairwater, developed by Frasers Property, is the largest geothermal community in the southern hemisphere.

These days there’s a lot of talk about “sustainable” daily-living practices and “sustainable” business practices. But let’s be honest: some practices are more sustainable than others.

One monitoring organization that sets a high bar is the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore wrote recently at the Guardian about projects the council has approved: “In 2016, a new master-planned estate in [Blacktown, near Sydney] became the first residential community in New South Wales to be awarded a top, six-star Green Star community rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

“Not only that, Fairwater, developed by Frasers Property, is the largest geothermal community in the southern hemisphere. Houses are cooled or heated by a refrigerant that pumps air underground then back to the surface, using less power than air-conditioning or heating and saving residents of a three-bedroom house $500 to $600 a year.

“ ‘There’s this avenue of mature trees with this massive lake and lovely terrace houses – yoga by the lake, cycling paths, all these people walking,’ says the GBCA chief executive, Romilly Madew. …

“Green-star buildings produce, on average, 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 51% less potable water and 66% less electricity than average buildings in Australia, according to GBCA’s 2013 report The Value of the Green Star.

“Since launching in 2003, hundreds of buildings around the country have been certified for the rating system and 120,000 people are now moving into Green Star communities. …

“The key is looking at the project holistically, says Madew. ‘It’s about going back to that old adage of community: people, walkability, liveability, places for the kids to play. [We want to] change the way people think about how they live.’

“Developers, ultimately, ‘are there to sell house and land packages – so they’re not going to be successful unless they’re building something people want to buy. Take “sustainability” out and ask what [buyers] want. They want something close to amenities – schools, public transport, shops and parks. And a home that is cheap to run.’ ” Read about other sustainable projects in Australia here.

Hat tip to ArtsJournal.com, a great source of stories.

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Wouldn’t it be strange if China, the smog capital of the world, started assuming leadership on environmental causes like global warming, clean air, and … sustainable fish farming.

The PRI radio show Living on Earth recently explained how China was tackling the latter challenge.

“Consumer demand in both the U.S. and China for safe and healthy farmed fish is shaping aquaculture practices in the world’s most populous country. And fish farmers are using traditional Chinese medicine as well as high-tech monitoring systems as they strive to keep their fish healthy and their farming practices transparent. Jocelyn Ford reports from the Hainan Province. …

“HAN HAN: With such a huge population in China, if we didn’t have aquaculture, if we totally relied on the wild fishery. I guess we would already running out of all these wild fish, maybe 10 or 20 years ago.

“FORD: That’s Han Han, the founder of the China Blue Sustainability Institute, China’s first non-governmental, environmental organization focused on sustainable fishing and aquaculture. Today, aquaculture accounts for one of every two fish that land on the dinner table worldwide, and it’s growing faster than other sources of animal protein. China is the global aquaculture leader, and because of its expertise here, it wants to help other countries. …

“Aquaculture is expanding globally at about five percent a year, and that’s a plus for some of the Earth’s most pressing environmental issues. For example, compared to a pound of beef, a pound of fish has only about one-seventh of the carbon footprint. But large-scale aquaculture has created new problems. Naturally, farmed fish need to eat. And gone are the days when Chinese fish farms were all organic. Qi Genliu is a professor at Shanghai Ocean University.

“QI: Traditionally we used grass to culture grass carp.

“FORD: That changed with the growth of the fish feed industry and the need to feed carnivorous marine fish [and keep them disease free with antibiotics]. …

“The founder and president of The Fishin’ Company, Manish Kumar, started coming to Hainan to build a coalition for a safer, more environmentally sound and sustainable tilapia industry [using traditional herbal medicine instead of antibiotics]. His company is sponsoring trainings, and offering financial incentives to a few model farms that invest in improvements. The idea is, others will follow suit if they see it makes financial sense. …

“FORD: His ideas include increasing omega-3 levels in the tilapia, the fish oil that may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis. To help reassure customers who are nervous about what their fish are eating, next year he’s planning a state of the art oversight system that involves cameras, QR codes, and consumer monitoring.

“KUMAR: We will now proceed to do something no one in the industry has done before. Put a camera system into the farm area. A customer buys a bag of fish. You have a QR code on the bag. Run your smartphone through our QR code on the bag, and you will have a chance to see the actual farm that raised this fish in your bag. And how it’s being raised.

“FORD: Customers can see the type of feed, and the plant where the feed was made, and the insomniacs can watch the fish grow 24/7. Manish Kumar says the extra cost will be negligible. As the largest supplier of tilapia, he expects to be able to take advantage of economies of scale.”

More at Living on Earth, here, where you can learn more about the use of Chinese herbal medicine to ensure the fish stay healthy.

Photo: Jocelyn Ford
Harvesting tilapia for export on an internationally certified farm in China.

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Could food delivery by bicycle be the wave of the future? Wayne Roberts, Canadian bicycle delivery maven from grade 7 to grade 12, thinks so.  Here’s what he wrote recently at the Torontoist.

“Bicycles never used to be thought of as central to the food system, but the Internet has allowed this particular wheel to be reinvented as a prime tool for localizing food systems while reducing traffic jams, cutting global warming emissions, and providing jobs.

“This innovation comes to light on account of Uber’s recent decision to reduce the fee it provides to UberEats bicycle couriers,” which has caused  controversy.

“But there’s another issue that got revealed here, which is the transportation system best suited to strong neighbourhoods and a vibrant and resilient food system. …

“The trip that’s a real killer from a space, energy, and hassle point of view — even worse than the short trip from the local warehouse to the local retailer — is the brief car trip from the customer’s residence to the retailer and then back home again. …

“If you want to calculate the embodied energy involved in moving food, the energy to move a two-ton car four miles to bring back 10 pounds of groceries is by far the most polluting trip any grocery item from anywhere has ever been on. …

“Putting food stores and restaurants back on main streets that are walking distance from densely populated neighbourhoods could be good for many reasons: good for fitness, getting to know neighbours, and building neighbourhood cohesion, which in turn is good for child safety and local response to emergencies. …

“To be resilient, cities need to localize as many services as possible to make them independent of outside control when it comes to the basics of life. Getting access to food is one of the basics, and the means of doing that should be as localized as the food and companies that get it customer-ready.

“The last mile needs to be in the hands of the people who live there.”

More at Torontoist, here.

Photo: Kat Northern Lights Man from the Torontoist Flickr Pool

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One of the things I like about twitter is being exposed to stories I probably wouldn’t read about in the New York Times. This one is from a UK website called Foodism and highlights an effort to build businesses from food leftovers that might otherwise be wasted.

“It’s 4pm at Borough Market and the gaggle of children are elated, having spent the day growing, buying and selling market produce. Now trading time is over, and it’s time for their little stall to close, there’s only one question left.

” ‘What will you do with your leftover produce?’ asks development manager David Matchett, who runs the market’s Young Marketeers project for local schools. ‘We can make it into leftovers for tomorrow,’ pipes up one kid. ‘Or we can give it to people!’ ‘We give our food to my old auntie,’ shouts another.

” ‘I’ve been running this project five years,’ Matchett tells [Foodism reporter Clare Finney], ‘and not once in that time has a child ever suggested throwing the food away.’ ”

Other uses are found, Finney writes, giving a new heat source at home as an example.

“The heat source is used coffee grounds, recycled by the innovative clean technology company Bio-bean into pellets for biomass boilers, biodiesel and briquettes for wood burners. …

“With its sharp branding, smart technology and simple but potentially revolutionary innovation, Bio-bean is irresistibly representative of the new generation of companies applying principles of modern business, as well as slick design, to an issue that can often appear stale and tasteless: wasted food. …

” ‘These are viable businesses,’ Kate Howell, director of development and communications at Borough Market, says of Bio-bean, and of those other companies turning food waste or surplus into consumables. Indeed, many of the biggest names in the world today actually started here with the market, which has provided a seedbed for sustainable businesses like Rubies in the Rubble, which makes a range of chutneys and sauces from supermarket rejects, Chegworth Valley of apple juice fame, and the street food stall selling meat from previously unwanted billy kids, Gourmet Goat.’ …

“A few months ago, [the grocery chain] Sainsbury’s launched a trial of banana breads made from bananas too bruised to sell in store, to enormous accolades. ‘Originally we estimated they would sell 1,000 loaves,’ says Paul Crew, director of sustainability at Sainsbury’s, with palpable excitement. ‘Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and we’ve already sold 3,000, saving just as many bananas.’ ”

Hey, that’s what we all do with bruised bananas! Now you and I can claim to be trendy as well as thrifty.

Read the Foodism article here.

Photo: Foodism
Bio-bean turns used coffee grounds into pellets for biomass boilers, biodiesel and briquettes for wood burners.

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Sometimes I get blog ideas from Facebook, which is one reason I can’t see myself pulling out despite all the irrelevant, unwanted clutter there.

Former colleague Scott G. recently posted a curious item on Facebook about turning pineapple waste into leather — real leather, not “fruit leather.” It’s much better for the environment than animal-based leathers and more appealing to sustainability-conscious consumers than petroleum-based ones.

Adele Peters at FastCoexist says that Carmen Hijosa got the idea for a new, sustainable industry on a visit to the Philippines years ago. But first she needed a PhD.

“When leather expert Carmen Hijosa visited the Philippines to consult with the leather industry there, she discovered two big problems: The leather was poor quality, and producing it was bad both for the local environment and the people involved.

“But as she traveled around the country, she had an epiphany. The Philippines grows a lot of pineapples — and ends up with a lot of wasted pineapple leaves. The leaves, she realized, had certain features that might make it possible to turn them into a plant-based leather alternative. …

“She also looked at other local plants, such as banana fibers and sisal. But only pineapple fibers were strong and flexible enough to handle the manufacturing process she had in mind.

“Hijosa left her work in the traditional leather industry and spent the next seven years at the Royal College of Art in London, developing the material into a patented product while she earned a PhD. Now running a startup — at age 63 — she’s ramping up manufacturing of her pineapple-based leather, called Piñatex. …

“Her startup, Ananas Anam, has built its production from 500 meters to 2,000 meters, and [by August], she expects the next batch to be around 8,000 meters. But as the company’s capacity grows, demand is already outpacing supply. Companies like Puma and Camper have made prototypes with the material, and others are already using it.”

What an impressive woman! More here.

Photo: FastCoexist
Because pineapple leaves would normally be wasted, turning them into leather, is an extra source of income for farmers.

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Shows how far we have come from ancestors who let nothing go to waste that making clothes out of leftover fabric is a novelty. But it’s a good idea nevertheless.

Katherine Martinko at TreeHugger writes that Beru Kids is a children’s clothing company in downtown Los Angeles that makes use of textiles that would otherwise be landfilled.

“The garment workers are mostly female,” she says, “and are paid higher than minimum wage (not per-garment, as is usual in the fashion industry).

“What’s really interesting about Beru is that it repurposes deadstock fabrics to make its clothes. ‘Deadstock’ refers to surplus fabric that has not been used by other factories. In LA, it is sent to a warehouse, where Beru’s founder Sofia Melograno goes on a regular basis to purchase whatever textiles catch her eye. Beru has also begun recently incorporating organic, traceable cotton into its garments.”

Traceability means the cotton can be traced back to its original source so it’s possible to assess whether all steps in the supply chain are environmentally and ethically sound.

Martinko adds that because the fashion industry is a huge polluter, finding a use for fabric that would otherwise get thrown away is good for the planet.

More here.

Photo: Beru Kids (via Facebook)
Beru-Kids-Molly-Bee-dress

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