Recycling Mystery: Black-Colored Plastic

January 7, 2021 by  
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Black-colored plastic gets its color from carbon black pigment and … The post Recycling Mystery: Black-Colored Plastic appeared first on Earth 911.

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How To Quit Fast Fashion for Good

January 7, 2021 by  
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The MO of “fast fashion” brands is to mass-produce trendy … The post How To Quit Fast Fashion for Good appeared first on Earth 911.

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How To Quit Fast Fashion for Good

The Great American Rail-Trail to offer bike access from coast to coast

January 6, 2021 by  
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People have turned toward outdoor exercise as a way to keep fit, lift spirits and fight the monotony of a pandemic. Now, new and veteran outdoor athletes have something exciting to train for: the cross-country Great American Rail-Trail, which will one day let people bike or hike from Washington state to Washington, D.C. The Great American Rail Trail is a project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which was founded in 1986. Back then, a few out-of-service railroad corridors had been converted into usable trails . Today, the U.S. has more than 24,000 miles of rail-trails. The Great American Rail-Trail project requires another 8,000 miles to connect existing trails. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly The plan is for the trail to traverse Washington state, the top of Idaho and part of western Montana, then cross the whole of Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa. It will travel through the top of Illinois, then cross Indiana, Ohio and small sections of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland before ending in Washington, D.C. The route will cover more than 3,700 miles. With 50 million people living within 50 miles of the route, planners expect it to get a lot of use. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has raised more than $4 million in public and private funds to complete the massive trail. “This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. “As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious and impactful vision.” When complete, the Great American Rail-Trail will join other ambitious thoroughfares around the world. The EuroVelo 6 route travels 2,765 miles through 10 European countries between the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Last year, the Great North Trail opened in the U.K. and allows hikers and bikers to travel from northern England’s Peak District to the northeastern tip of Scotland. + Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Image via Pam Patterson

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A French wine cellars updated facade doubles as housing for local bats

December 31, 2020 by  
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Bordeaux-based design studio MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes has recently crafted a new facade for a French wine cellar that doubles as shelter for local bats. Although contemporary in design, the new construction pays homage to its rural surroundings with its simple, gabled shape. Eleven bat nesting boxes have been discreetly integrated into one of the building’s timber-clad, gabled end walls. Simply titled the Bat Wine Cellar, the multifunctional project combines a low-maintenance yet beautiful facade with ecological purpose. The inhabitable facade of the contemporary wine cellar features 11 bat nesting boxes that run the width of the gabled end wall and are constructed of timber to camouflage them into the wooden exterior. To ensure a dark and safe environment for the bats, the architects created a small opening at the bottom of each box as well as ridges on the interior for the bats to hang upside down. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights “Useful in the vineyards to regulate insect and butterfly populations, the future inhabitants of this place will have all the necessary comfort: darkness, warmth and height to protect themselves from predators,” MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes explained in a project statement. In addition to eliminating unwanted pests from the vineyards, the bats can also serve important pollination roles. The dark timber cladding takes cues from the local agricultural vernacular, which includes wood-clad sheds as well as tobacco dryers finished with tar and used oil that dot the rural Bordeaux landscape. The architects used the traditional Japanese wood charring technique of shou sugi ban to treat the wood, which takes on a handsome appearance. Although the process can be time consuming, charring the wood offers benefits such as resistance against rot and pests. As a result, the preserved cladding requires little maintenance. The Bat Wine Cellar project was completed in 2016. + MOONWALKLOCAL collectif d’architectes Images via MOONWALKLOCAL

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A French wine cellars updated facade doubles as housing for local bats

Episode 249: 30 Under 30 honorees share revelations, big oil pivots

December 18, 2020 by  
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Episode 249: 30 Under 30 honorees share revelations, big oil pivots Heather Clancy Fri, 12/18/2020 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (3:45). Can Shell pilot a new era of sustainable aviation? The oil and gas industry’s search for purpose in a climate-disrupted world Can California’s cap and trade address environmental justice? BofA, BlackRock and State Street talk stakeholder primacy — and fall short Features The road ahead for sustainable transportation (21:40)   Katie Fehrenbacher, senior writer and transportation analyst for GreenBiz, reflects 10 key trends from 2020 that will — or should — shape priorities in the 12 months ahead. Among them: bridge fuels to zero-emissions fleets; the public transit crisis; and what policies are mapping the journey.  Year-end reflections from the GreenBiz 30 Under 30 (34:35)   As we did at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, we feature the voices of our vibrant community in this episode and on Jan. 8. Participants considered this question: What’s the most significant way that the events of 2020 changed your job or perspective as a sustainability professional? What’s your priority for 2021, as a result? Here are six responses from past 30 Under 30 honorees: Jarami Bond, chief storyteller at Bond Studio Holly Beale, program manager, datacenter environmental sustainability, Microsoft Ben Price, NOVA external ventures manager, Saint-Gobain  Catherine Nabukalu, project coordinator, District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility Jose Salazar, senior specialist, CSRone Sarah Reed, program manager, Electrification Coalition *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Curiosity,” “Waiting for the Moment that Never Comes,” “Everywhere,” “Start the Day,” “Looking Back” and “All the Answers”  *Music in this episode by AdmiralBob77: “Two Guitars” and “Sax, Guitar and Organ at the Club”  *This episode was sponsored by Salesforce  Do we have a newsletter for you! We produce six weekly newsletters: GreenBuzz by Executive Editor Joel Makower (Monday); Transport Weekly by Senior Writer and Analyst Katie Fehrenbacher (Tuesday); VERGE Weekly by Executive Director Shana Rappaport and Editorial Director Heather Clancy (Wednesday); Energy Weekly by Senior Energy Analyst Sarah Golden (Thursday); Food Weekly by Carbon and Food Analyst Jim Giles (Thursday); and Circular Weekly by Director and Senior Analyst Lauren Phipps (Friday). You must subscribe to each newsletter in order to receive it. Please visit this page to choose which you want to receive. The GreenBiz Intelligence Panel is the survey body we poll regularly throughout the year on key trends and developments in sustainability. To become part of the panel, click here . Enrolling is free and should take two minutes. Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Topics Podcast Transportation & Mobility Energy & Climate Oil 30 Under 30 Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 45:54 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 249: 30 Under 30 honorees share revelations, big oil pivots

3 under-the-radar forces in food

December 18, 2020 by  
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3 under-the-radar forces in food Jim Giles Fri, 12/18/2020 – 01:00 Last week, I unpacked three hype-worthy trends shaping our food systems. Now I want to shine a light on three behind-the-scenes forces that aren’t generating headlines but should be. Let’s drive straight in. 1. Our two-tier food system The story: Online marketplaces that connect consumers with small-scale producers have boomed during the pandemic. Membership at Crowd Cow , a marketplace for craft meat and seafood, doubled in April alone. Thrive Market — tagline “healthy living made easy” — is closing in on 1 million members following a 50 percent jump this year . The backstory: This is good news from a sustainability perspective, because both companies provide additional sales channels for producers that practice organic and regenerative agriculture. They’re also using zero-waste commitments and new packaging technology to aggressively tackle the delivery sector’s waste problems. These achievements make me hope these companies prosper, but I’m unnerved at the fragmentation of food retail they represent. We’re seeing a surge in new sales channels that allow relatively wealthy consumers to make healthy and sustainable choices, but nothing like the same momentum elsewhere in the market. Convenience and dollar outlets remain the only food outlets in many low-income neighborhoods.  This is a (sadly familiar) failure of social justice. It’s also a problem for sustainability. We can’t create the food system we need — one that’s low-carbon and biodiversity-enhancing — if only one tier of that system delivers those benefits.  2. Ghost kitchens in the parking lot The story: Amazon disrupted retail by creating a marketplace for all sellers. Now something similar is happening in the restaurant industry, where a company named REEF is setting up and running kitchens in parking lots, which restaurants use to fulfill take-out orders. The restaurant specifies the recipe, REEF creates the dishes, and a delivery service (say DoorDash or Uber Eats) gets the meal to your maw. The backstory: This trend will bring changes both good and bad to the dining sector. I want to make the case that this consolidation of takeout infrastructure is also potentially a big deal for sustainability.  U.S. restaurants throw away more than 10 billion of tons of food every year, one reason why 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste. One solution is to deploy a food waste tracking technology, such as Leanpath . That can be a challenge for small restaurants, but it makes more sense for a centralized operation such as REEF, which just raised $700 million . REEF’s hyper-local approach also lends itself to cargo bike deliveries. Although the company declined a request to discuss its broader sustainability strategy, it is experimenting with bikes: In May, it announced a pilot with delivery firm DHL that involves four electric bikes in the company’s hometown of Miami. 3. A rapid route to the right recipe The story: Kapor Capital and the Emerson Collective are among the funders behind Planet FWD, maker of Moonshot, a new climate-friendly snack brand . The backstory: Why have a bunch of well-known Silicon Valley investors backed a company that sells crackers? Well, Moonshot is a real product, but Planet FWD’s raison d’être is actually the software the company used to source ingredients for its snacks. The tool allows food brands to easily identify ingredients that meet key sustainability metrics, including low emissions. Rivals in this space include Latis and Journey Foods .  This kind of digital infrastructure is invisible to anyone outside of the food business, but until recently it’s been a missing piece of the sustainability jigsaw. Large retailers and brands can pressure suppliers to discuss environmental metrics, but smaller companies and startups don’t have the leverage. As a result, comparing the sustainability bona fides of different ingredients becomes very time-consuming. By solving this problem, services such as Planet FWD will act as an accelerant, allowing brands with ideas for new sustainable foods to get to market much quicker.  This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food & Agriculture Social Justice Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability

December 16, 2020 by  
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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability Victoria Gilchrist Wed, 12/16/2020 – 00:30 Editor’s note: The opinions and conclusions that appear in this piece do not necessarily represent the position of Intel. 2020 has become a reckoning for American culture through the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ominous storms in the east and the apocalyptic wildfires of the west. We are inherently linked through our biology, ecology, economy, the legacy of white supremacy and oppression. Now is the time to shake the foundation of how we operate as a society. Systemic racism infiltrates every aspect of who we are and how we interact with each other. Sustainability centers around leaving the world a better place for the next generation. This implicitly covers all people with no qualifiers. However, sustainability practices have notoriously catered to the wants and needs of the wealthier majority, while excluding the most vulnerable communities by lack of engagement and practice. Sustainability must become synonymous with racial equity. But how?  First, say the words. “Racial Justice.” “Racial Equity.” “Discrimination.” Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Denounce white supremacy. And if you don’t think it exists, educate yourself . Noted author Beverly Daniel Tatum reminds us, “It is important to understand that the system of advantage is perpetuated when we do not acknowledge its existence.” A recent example from the New York Times includes a biracial couple living in an affluent neighborhood who received a substantially lower home appraisal  — until they removed their family photos of the Black wife and white husband. On Oct. 7, the Chicago Times reported that a Black resident experienced a $60,000 difference in an appraisal because of her race. This discrimination extends to healthcare and environmental harm. A June medical study links air pollution and extreme heat from climate change to pregnancy risk that disproportionately affects Black women. Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Second, ask who is affected and what could go wrong? We need to dismantle the standard paradigm that designs sustainable products and services only for the top 1 percent. “Intent isn’t as important as impact,” explain diversity experts Project Inkblot . For example, designers made medical grade face masks for white men and many don’t fit women very well. The nursing profession is dominated by 91 percent women . The mask issue illustrates a clear design disconnect. Another example is a 2017 study by the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force that showed that African-American citizens are 75 percent more likely to live in a “fence-line” community that borders a toxic industrial facility. Companies must consider these types of impacts moving forward and minimize harm to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. In fashion, which has dealt with criticism of horrible working conditions for decades , we need more brands that not only offer sustainably sourced apparel (from recycled material to fair labor), but also sell it at an affordable price point.  Third, act on the input from BIPOC communities. All aspects of sustainability including community development, building design and product engineering require user input. Urban planners need to have affected communities at the table, not simply to “approve” projects, but also to advocate for their needs. Manufacturers of green products must serve BIPOC communities and affirmatively reach out to ask how they can be better partners. It’s not enough to hear feedback; sustainability leaders need to act on the on BIPOC communities’ advice, needs and requests. And then they need to repeat steps 1 through 3 and keep learning. More voices in sustainability and more awareness on how to support racial equity will translate into better design, services and products. With this in mind, we can heed the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”  Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. The reason becomes crystal clear when one considers the peer reviewed literature on environmental threats. Communities where the majority of the population are Black, Indigenous and people of color suffer more environmental harm than white communities yet tend to be excluded from reforms. Yes, economics plays an important role, but race is a stronger factor . Similar to the impacts of COVID-19, pollution disproportionately affects BIPOC communities. This reality is why poll after poll shows that BIPOC communities care more about climate change and strongly support action.  Talking about racial equity in sustainability is easy, but implementing it requires more than a perspective change . Business leaders, elected officials and educators must commit to a different way of working. From selling green cosmetics in local drugstores to building energy efficient structures in BIPOC neighborhoods, we must intentionally advance racial equity. If we get it right, this new movement for equity in sustainability can snowball by not only providing a “cooling effect” for climate change but also resulting in thriving, healthy, equitable communities.  Pull Quote Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Contributors Heather White Topics Racial Issues Environmental Justice Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Protesters march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on Dec. 13, 2014. Shutterstock Rena Schild Close Authorship

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Is your environmentalism intersectional? It should be

December 4, 2020 by  
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Is your environmentalism intersectional? It should be Deonna Anderson Fri, 12/04/2020 – 01:30 In late May and then in June when companies and individuals were posting black squares across social media as a symbol of their commitment to Black lives, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, eco-communicator Leah Thomas was thinking of a more concrete, tangible way to improve the environmental movement in a way that intentionally includes Black, Indigenous and other communities of color. In that moment, Thomas founded Intersectional Environmentalist (IE), a mission-driven organization committed to dismantling systems of oppression by amplifying historically silenced voices in the environmental movement, along with co-founders Diandra Marizet, Philip Aiken and Sabs Katz.  “We want transparency. We want people to be inclusive, and we want people and companies not to be silent on these issues anymore because that’s how we’ve gotten to this point in the first place,” said Katz, director of communications at IE. “By continuing to be silent, we will only perpetuate these negative aspects of society.” I spoke with Katz (pictured left) about what the organization has been building since it was founded in June, its new partnership with TAZO and the Intersectional Environmentalist team’s hopes for 2021.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Deonna Anderson: What has Intersectional Environmentalist been up to since you founded the organization a few months ago? Sabs Katz: It has been a little bit of a whirlwind just really understanding the amount of growth that we’ve had in less than six months. But we’ve been focusing our efforts on a couple of different pillars that are really central to IE as a business. One of them is community building. We do that through our Instagram page. And we have a website as well that aggregates a lot of educational resources that look at different topics and look at different communities for people who are interested in learning more about intersectional environmentalism. So we’ve been focusing on community building there.  We’ve also been developing an accountability program for businesses to incorporate intersectional environmentalism into their workplace. And we’ve been focusing on really developing and hoping to set a standard as a business and show other companies that you can be a mission-driven company and still pay your workers fair wages. You can still be profitable and have all of these positive initiatives that can make a difference in the world and yeah, not really compromise your values. Anderson: Can you describe what intersectional environmentalism is and how that’s different from environmental justice and climate justice or how those things might work together? Katz: I’ll start off with a little bit of background. Intersectional theory and critical race theory has been studied largely by Kimberlé Crenshaw , a professor and a lawyer. And she really inspired Leah Thomas, our founder, to incorporate this idea of intersectionality into environmentalism because a lot of times, when we do hear the term intersectional it’s applied to feminism. So Leah, when she was in college, heard and understood intersectional feminism and identified with that but noticed that within the environmental space there wasn’t really a lot of that applied to people’s environmentalism.  And historically the environmental movement has been very white-washed. So after the murder of George Floyd in May, she came out with this graphic that ended up going viral that said environmentalists for Black Lives Matter and defined intersectional environmentalism, a form of environmentalism that advocates for both people and the planet and identifies the ways that injustices are done to certain groups of people without minimizing or silencing under-amplified voices within this space. Intersectional environmentalism … is more of a framework for one to achieve environmental justice. So someone can be an intersectional environmentalist with the goal of attaining climate justice.         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Leah Thomas (@greengirlleah) Anderson: Because the GreenBiz audience is mostly corporate sustainability professionals, I’m curious about your business accountability program. Can you tell me how that program works?  Katz:  Right after we were created, there were a lot of companies reaching out to us who wanted to partner with us in different ways or just to find out how to incorporate a more intersectional perspective into their business, into their CSR goals. We developed this accountability program because we wanted people to continue doing the work, and we didn’t want to lose the momentum of people being activated and using their voices. The accountability program is made up of four modules over the course of four months, so there’s one module per month.  There are a couple of different aspects but one of them is largely an online coursework program where the company can participate and learn more about intersectional environmentalism. They can learn more about why it’s important to have sustainability goals and also have diversity goals. I feel like when we see a lot of companies that participate in sustainable practices, it’s very non-human-focused in many ways.  For example, a lot of fashion companies might use organic cotton or maybe they’ll use recycled plastic. But one thing that they might not necessarily talk about is how the production of plastic can cause pollution. A lot of chemical factories or factories that create plastic are located in largely BIPoC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] communities and cause negative health consequences. We want to really encourage companies to lean into those conversations and not minimize those conversations that are deemed maybe a little bit too political. Because what we’re seeing a lot of is that a lot of new folks in Gen Z, a lot of millennials, want to be supporting companies that are transparent. They want to support companies that have a stance against social injustice and environmental injustice. So it’s not only something that is good for moral’s sake. It’s good business practice as well. Anderson: It sounds like you are encouraging businesses to take a more holistic approach to the way that they achieve sustainability within their business versus just their bottom line and thinking more about people. Katz: Absolutely. And within the environmental space for so long, the conversation has been very focused on conservation or it’s been focused on like plastic in the oceans, all of which are obviously very important conversations to have. But we are not really talking about the ways that humans are being negatively impacted by the effects of the climate crisis and disproportionately BIPoC communities and low-income communities are being impacted. And those are the voices that continue to be erased within the environmental movement because it seemed a little bit too political. But when these are realities that are happening every day, it does no good to continue ignoring or to continue silencing those voices when we should be all fighting for an environment that is just for everyone. So that is one of our main goals with this program. Anderson: Intersectional Environmentalist recently launched a partnership with TAZO Tea to help with the launch of IE’s first cohort of interns, with a $250,000 donation from the tea brand. I’m curious about how the internship program works and also how the partnership came about. Katz: Leah Thomas, our founder, had been in contact with somebody from TAZO. They’re a huge fan of Leah herself. And so this has been a conversation that’s been going on for a little bit going back and forth because TAZO has been wanting to take a stance and wanting to invest in environmental justice organizations. We as IE have always known that we want to pay people for their work, and we don’t believe that people should be giving free labor. And we believe unpaid internships should be abolished because they’re just frankly not fair. And they take opportunities away from people who might not be able to work for free. A large part of what we do is find ways to make sure that we can pay all of our activists, all of the activists on our team. We’re still pretty young. Sometimes our budget’s a little bit scrappy. But we don’t want to take advantage of people. So this partnership is really a collaboration in many ways because of TAZO’s desire to really support a lot of these environmental justice initiatives. It does no good to continue ignoring or to continue silencing those voices when we should be all fighting for an environment that is just for everyone. And our goal is to continue growing as a team and also ensure that everybody on our team is paid fair wages. All of our interns are paid $21 an hour. And we just want to make sure that we set the standard, like I said before, to show companies that regardless of how big or how small you are, there are ways that you can fund your interns. And so we don’t want these huge companies, especially companies that are much larger than us, to think that it’s still OK to have unpaid internships when there are ways to really fund that.  Anderson: Has the internship already started for these folks? Katz: Yes, the first official day was Nov. 10 on Tuesday right after the election. So it was kind of a whirlwind. But yes. They started a couple of weeks ago. We have a creative cohort of interns. We have eco-communication, social media, environmental justice research interns. And it’s been really exciting hearing the feedback. I know we received well over 1,000 applications, and the applications were only open for a week. So it really shows the desire and the need for more companies to really be imbuing these ideals of social justice and environmentalism within their business. And it’s showing that people want to do this work, and people really want to make their voices heard and be a part of a community that is making a real difference in the world. Anderson: It seems to me that your partnership with TAZO is kind of unique. Are there opportunities for other businesses to get involved with IE? And do you have visions of ways that businesses can get involved outside of your business accountability program and things like this partnership with TAZO? Katz: Absolutely. I think one thing that I forgot to mention earlier is that we do partner very thoughtfully with certain businesses. For example, today we’re doing a series of cookouts with Impossible Foods. We do a lot of social media partnerships. We partnered with Allbirds, a sustainable footwear company. And they created a bunch of posters that were put up in New York City. They were put up in [Los Angeles] and San Francisco in partnership with IE. We are very open to doing partnerships in many different ways. That being said, we want to be very thoughtful and considerate and develop relationships with these businesses rather than having it be a one-off thing because we’re really focused on that community-building aspect. I would say there are definitely other ways to partner with us, not just within that accountability program respect. Anderson: I’m looking forward to seeing what those other partnerships become. Pivoting a bit, 2020 is almost over — it’s been an interesting year, and IE was started this year. I’m curious as we go into 2021, what are some of IE’s hopes about the impact that you have on the environmentalism movement? Katz: I’ll split it up into two different answers. The first one, what are our hopes? Our hope is really to bring intersectional environmentalism to the mainstream environmental movement and have that be the focus of every future environmental conversation. We don’t want it to just be talking about the polar bears. Obviously, we want to talk about the polar bears. But we want to really have the conversations of how are people being impacted? And who are the folks who are most impacted by the negative aspects of the climate crisis? We can no longer continue to ignore the ways that BIPoC communities are being disproportionately impacted.  We’re already seeing climate refugees, folks who are no longer able to live within their communities or within their countries because the weather is too hot to live there or the conditions, the air conditions, the air pollution conditions make it no longer a viable community. We really want folks to not shy away from these conversations. When we look at a lot of environmental organizations, a lot of environmental nonprofits, the largest ones are ones that focus on conservation. They focus on nature. They focus on animals. All of which are absolutely wonderful.          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by IE (@intersectionalenvironmentalist) But when we look at how often environmental justice organizations are funded, the amount of money that goes to funding these companies and these initiatives is minuscule compared to something like the World Wildlife Fund or the Nature Conservancy, not to disparage those organizations whatsoever. But I think it reflects a larger issue in that why are we not funding this research? Why are we not funding these initiatives? So we’re really hoping to shift that conversation in many ways. We’ve already heard stories of students in universities who are asking their schools to implement intersectional environmentalist courses into their coursework and make those required courses for any environmental majors.  Those would be one of the more grassroots initiatives that we hope to see, and we hope to continue seeing. And then in terms of IE as a business, we are looking to expand a little bit. Right now we are a for-profit, and we very consciously decided to become a for-profit because we wanted to show that you can be a mission-driven organization and still make money and you can still pay people fair wages. One of our goals for 2021 is to create a nonprofit arm so that area can focus on doing a lot more of the grassroots work, whether that’s through our mentorship program, which we’re still continuing to flesh out, or funding grants for sustainability of intersectional environmentalist organizations.  We’re fleshing out that arm in 2021. We’re also hoping to create a media house almost like Jubilee with the goal of really highlighting a lot of these stories of environmental injustice and really bring it to the forefront so that people can no longer ignore these conversations. Anderson: Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you feel is important for GreenBiz readers to know about the work that you are doing at IE?  Katz: I just want to reiterate that a lot of people and a lot of young consumers nowadays, they want to be able to support companies that take a stance when it comes to social justice, when it comes to environmentalism. We don’t need to see just the black squares on social media. We want to see real action being taken. We want transparency. We want people to be inclusive, and we want people and companies not to be silent on these issues anymore because that’s how we’ve gotten to this point in the first place. And by continuing to be silent we will only perpetuate these negative aspects of society.  And not to shy away from them because, like I said, folks want to be supporting these companies … There will always be some folks who don’t want to have that conversation, who don’t want companies to necessarily feel like they should be having that conversation. But at the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do. And it’s the way of the future. And we have to continue having these conversations in order for us to have a future that is intersectional. Pull Quote It does no good to continue ignoring or to continue silencing those voices when we should be all fighting for an environment that is just for everyone. Topics Social Justice Environmental Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Illustration by  GoodStudio  on Shutterstock.

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More pieces of IKEA’s sustainability puzzle come together

November 25, 2020 by  
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More pieces of IKEA’s sustainability puzzle come together Deonna Anderson Wed, 11/25/2020 – 08:00 Black Friday is upon us. For IKEA, that marks the expanded launch of a program to buy back furniture in an effort to curb consumption . “We don’t want to encourage people to overconsume. That’s one of the challenges we’ve identified that we feel like we can make a big impact on within our whole strategy,” said Jenn Keesson, sustainability manager at IKEA U.S.  As part of the program, the home furnishings company, widely known for its flat-pack packaging and ready-to-assemble furniture, will be taking back a range of IKEA products: bookcases and shelf units; small tables; chairs and stools without upholstery; and chests of drawers. When a customer returns an item, they’ll receive a voucher to use for future purchases. If IKEA can’t resell an item, the company plans to recycle it or donate it to community organizations.  The effort, which will be running in 27 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia are on the list), is temporary for now, running from Nov. 24 through Dec. 3. But it is part of a larger circular approach being pioneered by the company.  While the U.S. is not on the list of countries for this year’s Black Friday buyback initiative, IKEA U.S. has done some experimenting with such a program in the past, in partnership with Goodwill. And Keesson said the company is working to get a buyback program launched in the country. There are 374 IKEA stores in 30 countries around the world. “We just have a few other complexities when it comes to legislation and around different municipalities that we’re in,” she said about developing the plan to launch in the U.S. Here are a few of IKEA’s other recent waste reduction and circular economy efforts: The retailer plans to remove all non-rechargeable alkaline batteries from its global home furnishing offerings by October 2021. For context, IKEA calculates that if all its customers switched to its rechargeable batteries and charged them 50 times, its global waste could be reduced by as much as 5,000 tons on an annual basis. Earlier this month, IKEA opened its first secondhand IKEA store in Sweden. The store initially will be open for six months, and it is a sort of experiment. According to the news release about the collaboration with ReTuna Shopping Center , a recycling mall, the initiative “will help IKEA understand why some IKEA products are turned into waste, what condition they are in when thrown away, why do people choose to donate or recycle products, and if there’s an interest in buying the products that have been repaired.” And in June, IKEA announced a strategic partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , which will build on the company’s commitment to become fully circular by 2030. What would it mean for IKEA to be fully circular? “I think in a dream world, it is that every product that you would buy is coming from recycled materials that are closed-loop in our own supply chain. And that [with] everything we’re utilizing in a store, there is no waste going to landfill,” Keesson said. “We’re finding alternate ways to reuse it or we have partners that we’re working with who can reuse the materials or recycle materials in some way. But getting there is a long journey.” But getting there could make a big impact because of how large the company is. There are 374 IKEA stores in 30 countries around the world. Aerial view of IKEA Baltimore location and Maryland solar car park. Photo courtesy of Distributed Solar Development. Beyond circular Over the years, IKEA has made a number of bold commitments to address the impacts of its operations on the environment, outside of its recent circular economy efforts. In 2018 , for example, the retailer pledged to having electric vehicles complete the last-mile portion of delivery to its customers by 2025.  In IKEA’s 2019 fiscal year, its e-commerce sales grew by 46 percent, according to website for Ingka Group, its parent company. And based on current trends — e-commerce revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022 from $3.53 trillion in 2019, according to Statista — IKEA’s growth is likely to increase.  Ingka announced in September that it was investing more than $715 million over the next 12 months for IKEA to become ” climate positive” by 2030 , in addition to past investments . “We believe it’s good business to be a good business. Despite the significant challenges we’re facing in the world, we still have it in our own hands to change the direction of the climate crisis. We want to be part of the solution, which is why we will continue to focus our future investments to ensure a cleaner, greener and more inclusive recovery,” said Juvencio Maeztu, deputy CEO and CFO of Ingka, at the time of the announcement. Despite the significant challenges we’re facing in the world, we still have it in our own hands to change the direction of the climate crisis. In recent years, Ingka has invested in companies such as Optoro , a software startup that provides reverse logistics for retailers; RetourMatras, a company that makes it possible to recycle more than 90 percent of the materials in a mattress; and Winnow, a company that has developed an artificial intelligence-enabled food waste tracking solution to help reduce food waste in commercial kitchens. Tangentially related to food, this week, the company announced several food-related commitments . One goal: By 2025, IKEA plans for 50 percent of the meals offered in its restaurants to be plant-based and 80 percent to be non-red meat. Because it touches everything from furnishings to food, IKEA’s reach is wide. And with all the commitments the company has set, it still has a lot of work to do to continue its work as a corporate sustainability leader. “We have a lot of goals by 2030. We have the ambition to be climate positive and fully circular,” Keesson said. “We’re super excited and energized to see how we can continue to make impacts and continue to be this leader.” Pull Quote There are 374 IKEA stores in 30 countries around the world. Despite the significant challenges we’re facing in the world, we still have it in our own hands to change the direction of the climate crisis. Topics Circular Economy Retail IKEA Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off IKEA Baltimore location. Photo courtesy of Distributed Solar Development.

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More pieces of IKEA’s sustainability puzzle come together

7 Ways to Spend Black Friday (That Don’t Involve Shopping)

November 24, 2020 by  
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This Black Friday, stay away from the frenzy of the stores and spend time doing something a little more productive than shopping. The post 7 Ways to Spend Black Friday (That Don’t Involve Shopping) appeared first on Earth 911.

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7 Ways to Spend Black Friday (That Don’t Involve Shopping)

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