This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

February 18, 2021 by  
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This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact Heather Clancy Thu, 02/18/2021 – 01:00 For more essays by Heather Clancy, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. In early January, I covered personal care products company Aveda’s project to trace and verify the provenance of its vanilla supply using blockchain — and to allow consumers to peek into that information by later this year. It’s not the only consumer brand dreaming about that sort of connection or looking to digital technology as the answer.  Fashion brand Covalent, created to showcase the potential of a biomaterial called AirCarbon made by biotech firm Newlight Technologies, has started communicating with its customers in a similar way. It’s using blockchain software from IBM to track and disclose carbon impact data related to the production of its products, marketed as carbon-negative. Covalent’s metric is called Carbon Date, a 12-digit number stamped on the roughly three dozen SKUs in its product catalog — items ranging from wallets to clutches to smartphone sleeves to tote bags. Consumers can see the data by visiting the Covalent website and entering their unique code. (The test drive at the link shows you the sort of information that is shared.) The Carbon Date is verified with footprint information from carbon accounting firm Carbon Trust, which created a cradle-to-cradle analysis of AirCarbon after an assessment in 2020.  Newlight CEO Mark Herrema told me his company created the Carbon Date concept to appeal to consumers seeking to dig deeper into the environmental claims being made by consumer products brands. “We had this epiphany that GHG emissions seem like such a vague issue … It was about turning this into something tangible,” he says. The material used to create the products, AirCarbon, is made through a renewable energy-powered anaerobic production process in which microorganisms digest air, saltwater and captured greenhouse gases to create a bioderived polymer. According to Newlight, for every one kilogram of AirCarbon produced in this manner, 88 kilograms of CO2 equivalent are sequestered. Hence, Covalent’s ability to make a carbon-negative claim.  Right now, this is a pretty niche brand: The only place you can buy the Covalent items is on the company’s e-commerce site, and at $480 for a tote bag, they’re obviously not meant for the average consumer.  But Debbie Kestin-Schildkraut, marketing and alliances lead for IBM AI applications and the tech firm’s global blockchain ecosystem, says the importance of proving environmental claims is growing. “We are seeing in every study that we do that more and more consumers are willing to change their shopping habits … Blockchain can help build involvement,” she said. IBM’s blockchain technology is being used in some pretty compelling ways, including to track scallop fishing and offer a premium price to certain boats that fish more sustainably than others; and for food safety applications, such as the ones being deployed by Walmart . Recycler Plastic Bank is also using IBM blockchain services to verify its claims . (The same integrator that wrote that application helped Covalent with the Carbon Date project.) To be clear, the life-cycle analysis used for the Carbon Data calculation includes just raw material extraction, transport of raw materials and manufacturing. It doesn’t include the e-commerce cycle, nor does it include end-of-life considerations that are part of circular economy assessments. AirCarbon is billed a “natural, biologically degradable material” similar to wood. If it winds up in the ocean, it can be eaten by microorganisms — much like a banana peel, according to the company’s FAQ. Is this all a publicity stunt? The skeptic in me says yes but I love the creativity and you can’t argue with the need for transparency initiatives that include the consumer. In this way, the Carbon Date initiative echoes similar moves to label food with their carbon impact that have been embraced by the likes of Unilever, Chipotle and Panera Breads. The challenge will be finding an approach that doesn’t require a translation guide for every single consumer production category. Topics Carbon Removal Consumer Products Zero Emissions Blockchain Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Every Covalent product comes with a Carbon Date to help educate consumers about the impact of its production. Courtesy of Covalent

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This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

February 18, 2021 by  
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The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior Mike De Socio Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:05 These days, it’s hard to argue that sustainability is a niche consumer interest. A vast majority of consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, according to research by GlobeScan . More to the point, 57 percent of consumers in that survey were willing to pay more for sustainable products. But only about a quarter of them actually made any sustainable changes to their lifestyle or consumption. So what gives? “There’s this really marked intention-action gap when we’re asking people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia. White shared her research on sustainable consumption during GreenBiz 21. She was among industry leaders from Amazon and Procter & Gamble, as well as nonprofit executives, who shared insights on the trends in sustainable consumption. Here are three takeaways from the session: 1. Attitude has shifted, but behavior lags Across the board, indicators for consumer interest in sustainable products are up, according to the GlobeScan survey. The 2020 results, for example, showed that 73 percent of consumers wanted to reduce the impact they have on the environment by a large amount, up almost 10 percentage points from the year prior. During the session, Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, described it as a “remarkable shift” in consumer attitude that bodes well for the sustainable products market. But he was quick to underline the shortcomings of that progress. “There is still a gap between our desire to change and what we’re actually doing, but we do see significant movements happening across the world,” he said. White’s research in behavioral science looks into what levers could be most effective in convincing consumers to align their choices with their concern for the planet.  A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. “This is a real challenge for marketers, for organizations, for public policymakers,” she said. “We really need to understand, what are the key drivers of behavior change in particular?” White identified a few factors that stakeholders can focus on to shift behavior — social influence (in other words, peer pressure), habit formation, individual values, emotional buy-in and tangible outcomes.  But ultimately, no one should think about hitting consumers with all of those efforts at once, White said. The shifts are more likely to be gradual. 2. Price and performance are still king Todd Cline, as director for Procter & Gamble’s North America fabric care research and development, is trying to focus consumers on one tiny change that could drastically slash the climate impact of his company’s product: Wash their clothes in cold water. Cline said what consumers do with Tide, one of the company’s sub-brands, once they take it off the shelf accounts for two-thirds of the product’s carbon footprint. The biggest chunk of that is the energy used to heat the water in the washing machine. But Cline knows if he wants consumers to change to cold, the performance can’t suffer. So his plan is simple: “Make products that work great when consumers use them on cold,” he said. This highlights a fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. So sustainable products must tick those two boxes before showing off their climate bona fides.  Adam Werbach, global lead for sustainable shopping at Amazon, knows this well. He led the development of a “Climate Pledge Friendly” label on the site that uses external certifications to direct customers to the most sustainable products. The experience so far has shown Werbach that customers, even at Amazon’s eco-conscious Whole Foods, primarily seek out price and performance before considering sustainability.  But the “Climate Pledge Friendly” label can be a quick, easy way for them to make that decision. “Customers like the cognitive load being taken off them,” he said. 3. Less (information) can be more The success of a simple label for Amazon speaks to another important tactic for nudging customers to more sustainable options: Sometimes less information is better. The average consumer, according to White, doesn’t have the time or interest to know all the details on ingredients, manufacturing or packaging. They just want to know it’s not going to harm the planet. “At the end of the day, if it’s really quick and easy and enjoyable and pleasant, I’m going to do it,” White said. That’s where labels can help. Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal, said his company has worked to simplify the way it communicates its own sustainability certifications. “It can really be difficult to communicate the various attributes to the consumer,” he said. So rather than listing 20 or more claims on one label, Green Seal developed a “compass” that identifies four main categories — water, waste, health and climate — and acts as a shorthand to evaluate products. Cline keeps this in mind, too, as Procter & Gamble refines its own packaging and labeling. “If we can make it simple and make it so it’s a great experience for people, they’ll adopt the behavior and stick with it,” he said. Pull Quote A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. Topics Consumer Trends GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Consumer trend surveys show a shift towards an environmental mindset among shoppers but they need to start putting their money where their mouth is.//Image courtesy of Unsplash 

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The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

Need a bike helmet? ‘Grow It Yourself’ with mycelium

January 20, 2021 by  
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Designers are increasingly turning to alternatives to plastic, and one popular replacement comes from fungus. Experts are experimenting with mycelium for everything from construction materials to fashion and now sporting equipment, such as bicycle helmets. A new project allows the consumer to ‘Grow It Yourself’ to avoid plastic without sacrificing durability. Created by NOS Design and Agustin Otegui in collaboration with Diego Mata and Axel Gómez-Ortigoza, the Grow it Yourself Helmet is 100% compostable , breathable and impact-resistant. Related: World’s first “living coffin” made of mycelium is used in a burial Made from a combination of hay and mycelium, the helmet literally grows from natural materials that will decompose back into the soil in about one month after the helmet’s lifecycle. NOS Design developed the idea in conjunction with Polybion, the company credited with developing a foam-like product called Fungicel made from mycelium. Not only is the material eco-friendly, but used in a helmet, it offers impact-resistance to protect the rider without the environmentally hazardous, petroleum-based plastic foam typically found in helmets. In addition, mycelium is affordable and naturally fire-resistant. The product is aimed toward all users but was developed especially for children who quickly outgrow helmets, perhaps requiring several before reaching adulthood. In addition, the Grow it Yourself Helmet provides an alternative for commuters who rely on community bike lending systems that don’t offer personal protection. Mycelium is a web-like, branching system of filaments called hyphae. The mycelium-composite manufacturing cycle starts with this naturally occurring, vegetative part of a fungus . While naturally sourced, it can also provide jobs and economic growth in rural areas that have space to propagate the fungus. In fact, it can be cultivated in your own backyard, allowing you to truly Grow it Yourself. Mycelium isn’t new to the product development market. In fact, it’s quickly gaining attention within the construction industry as an alternative to cement. It’s also ‘growing’ in popularity for use in packaging, acoustic panels and interior design materials, among other products. + NOS  Via Yanko Design Images via NOS

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Need a bike helmet? ‘Grow It Yourself’ with mycelium

3 takeaways from Colgate-Palmolive’s 2025 strategy

December 23, 2020 by  
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3 takeaways from Colgate-Palmolive’s 2025 strategy Deonna Anderson Wed, 12/23/2020 – 01:15 When you think of Colgate-Palmolive, the first thing likely to come to mind is its eponymous toothpaste or dish soap. But the company also owns a lot of other brands that offer other consumer packaged goods such as deodorant (Speed Stick), body soap (Irish Spring) and other household cleaning products (Fabuloso). And what are those items packaged in? Most of the time, plastic . The company was the eighth biggest plastic polluter in 2019, according to the Changing Markets Foundation. But it recently made a commitment to eliminate a substantial chunk of its plastic waste by 2025.  Back in November, Colgate-Palmolive released details about its 2025 strategy, which centers on three key areas and a few goals with longer-term trajectories. Among areas it’s planning to address is preserving the environment. The commitment to eliminate one-third of its plastic waste by 2025 is part of its “preserve the environment” ambition, and it’s part of a goal that also includes transitioning to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging by the same year. Shortly after the 2025 strategy’s publication, I spoke with Ann Tracy, chief sustainability officer at Colgate-Palmolive, about the specific commitments, how the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on its sustainability goals and why it held firm with the release schedule for the company’s recyclable toothpaste tube. “We didn’t slow down the implementation of our new recyclable tube,” Tracy said. “We’re continuing to invest and put even more resources, even hiring some resources around the plastic waste issue.” Here are three other major takeaways from our conversation. 1. Its plastic strategy focuses on three areas. Those areas are the possibility of using new materials; moving its packaging to be 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable; and developing other ways to deliver its products with potentially less packaging. For example, it’s exploring whether toothpaste really needs to be in a tube. “If you think about toothpaste, can it be in a different format other than paste to deliver the same, clean benefits for your oral health? So, can it be tablets? Can it be chewable?” Tracy said. “Things like cleaning products that are a little tablet that you just drop into a reusable container and add water so that it’s reducing the overall environmental footprint. Those are examples.” As of September, the company was testing a tablet cleaning product with its PLOOF Ajax line in France, according to a LinkedIn post from Greg P. Corra, director of packaging innovation and sustainability at Colgate-Palmolive. Companies already are taking a similar approach. For toothpaste , there’s Bite , Lush and Hello . For cleaning products, there’s Blueland , Seventh Generation and Amazon’s in-house product line Clean Revolution . Additionally, Tracy said, the company is studying what role it should play in driving better recycling infrastructure around the world. “Different countries have different levels of infrastructure. The U.S. itself, although we’re considered a developed country, we have a very disparate [system.]” In late June, Colgate-Palmolive was part of a group of consumer brands and corporate foundations to invest $54 million with Closed Loop Partners’ infrastructure fund to “support additional recycling infrastructure and spur growth and technological innovation around end markets for post-consumer materials across North America.”  2. The company is aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its global operations by 2040. To achieve this, Colgate-Palmolive has set goals that will build up to this one. One goal is to source 100 percent renewable electricity in its operations by 2030. “I like to call it the cousin target,” Tracy said, noting that the company recently launched its process to get to 100 percent renewable energy by engaging with its operations around the world. Colgate operates in more than 80 countries, with its headquarters in New York City and six divisions around the world including in Latin America, Europe and Asia. It has more than 50 manufacturing and research facilities globally and in 2019, it made $15.7 billion of worldwide net sales, according to the company’s website. To source the renewable electricity, Colgate plans to implement a multi-pronged strategy: buying green power; building solar farms; and negotiating power purchase agreements.  Tracy said Colgate is still working with outside partners to help it build a plan for how to get to net-zero carbon by 2040 but noted that the company considers purchasing offsets to be the last resort on its decarbonization journey.  “We don’t have a strategy around offsets yet other than we do believe they will play a role to close gaps at the end, but that’s what we consider them —  a gap closer, not a leading technology,” she said. “We’d like to see the offsets become a bit more standardized and accepted before we start building our strategy around that.” The company is also accessing how to address its Scope 3 emissions and beginning to work with its tier one suppliers to help “extend the carbon footprint reduction beyond [its] own supply chain.” 3. Its recyclable toothpaste tube took a lot of partnership — and will continue to. Tracy said the company developed a roadmap to convert every single tube it makes to the recyclable tube format over the next couple of years. During the first quarter of 2020, it launched its first recyclable toothpaste tubes with its Tom’s of Maine and Smile for Good lines. Colgate-Palmolive makes most of its own toothpaste tubes internally. To give a sense of how many toothpaste tubes it sells worldwide, in 2019, the Colgate toothpaste brand sold almost 80 million units in the United States, according to data on Statista. “It takes a lot of investment because we have to convert all our equipment,” she said. “I like to say half the job was the engineering and the technology to develop the tube, but the other half of the job was to work with the local recycling infrastructure to make sure it’s accepted into the mainstream. It takes a lot of partners.”  Right now, Tracy said, the company is “busy ramping up the Optic White line in the U.S., which is one of our biggest lines of toothpaste or brands of toothpaste in the U.S. So, we’re launching that very shortly here along with all our kids’ toothpaste in the U.S.”  She added that, in Europe, by the end of 2021, 80 percent of the tubes will be converted to the recyclable version. Colgate-Palmolive hopes to eventually convert all its tubes. It’s still early days for this effort, so the company doesn’t have many more learnings to share at this point but Tracy said it wants to make sure all its tubes are actually recycled. “Until we have scale, until other tubes convert to this recyclable technology, technically it’s not recycled,” Tracy said. “We’re working very hard with partners to make sure it’s accepted into the recycling industry.” Its partners include Recycling Partnership and the American Plastic Recycling Association, who are helping with its plastic waste reduction efforts. “We had to work with them to get the tube accepted and make sure it was recognized as recyclable,” Tracy said. “We could not have done this work without external partners, absolutely not.” Topics Commitments & Goals Plastic Plastic Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock monticello Close Authorship

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Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy?

December 1, 2020 by  
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Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy? Krishna Rajan Tue, 12/01/2020 – 01:00 The launch of the digital economy has brought with it an expansion of disruptive technologies such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics that are readily being used to transform the marketplace. But can we also use these breakthrough technologies to accelerate the development of safer, more sustainable materials for the renewable energy sector?  Starting with one of the fastest-growing clean energy sectors, solar technology, this is the fundamental question that a unique collaboratory is asking itself. Three years ago, the Department of Materials Design and Innovation at the University at Buffalo, Clean Production Action (CPA) and Niagara Share created the Collaboratory for a Regenerative Economy (CoRE). CoRE recognizes the critical societal importance of scaling clean energy technologies such as solar to address the climate crisis. But to do this sustainably, we need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies.  Issues such as toxicity and environmental impact are often an afterthought in the design phase, which is predominantly focused on improving the technical functions and efficiencies of materials. With more than 78 million tons of contaminated waste related to solar panels expected to hit landfills by 2050, this trend needs to be reversed. To improve the life-cycle footprint of solar panels, big data tools can help manufacturers embed human health and environmental criteria into the front end of the design phase of materials and products. We need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies. In a recently released report, “Elements of Change: Moving forward together towards a cleaner safer future,” CoRE outlines strategies for renewable energy companies to: Reduce chemical footprints of products, supply chains and manufacturing; Apply machine learning to design techniques for lead-free panels; and  Use big data tools to rapidly characterize chemicals and identify safer solvents. Safely meet demand for renewable energy technologies Solar energy, along with other clean energy technologies, depends on hazardous chemicals and novel materials to reduce costs and optimize efficiencies. Some of these chemistries are unsafe for the environment and human health. For example, solar energy technologies rely on toxic materials such as lead in solar cells and hydrofluoric acid used in manufacturing processes. This is especially harmful for workers exposed to hazardous chemicals throughout the life cycle of renewable energy technologies from production to disposal. The solar energy sector is not alone with this major challenge. More than 2,780,000 workers die globally annually from unsafe and unhealthy work conditions, according to the International Labor Organization. The United Nations Human Rights Commission estimated that a worker dies at least every 30 seconds from exposure to toxic industrial chemicals, pesticides, dust, radiation and other hazardous substances.  CPA’s work with the electronics sector to driver safer chemical is applicable to the solar sector and all clean energy technologies. For example, HP, Inc is a leader in its work to reduce its chemical footprint, documented by its participation in the annual Chemical Footprint Survey. This survey measures a company’s chemical footprint against best practices. It is modeled on the Carbon Disclosure Project, and is open and transparent, providing solar companies with a roadmap to safer chemical use. Apple uses CPA’s GreenScreen to provide guidance to its suppliers on safer substitution of hazardous chemicals used as cleaners and degreasers in its supply chain. GreenScreen is a leading hazard assessment tool that benchmarks chemicals based on performance across 18 human health and environmental end points. Solar companies can use this tool to identify safer solutions to problematic materials such as hydrofluoric acid.  These leading electronic companies even have teamed up with nonprofits such as CPA and academics to form the Clean Electronic Production Network (CEPN), which aims to eliminate exposure to toxic substances in the workplace. This is a massive undertaking related to the manufacturing of computers, electronics and other information technologies. Solar manufacturers work off a similar manufacturing platform that stands to benefit from the tools and resources that CEPN is creating to do full chemical inventories and safer substitution with suppliers. Solar companies today can adapt CEPN tools and strategies, proven effective by electronic companies, and make meaningful progress towards safer chemical use. But there remains a major challenge for all these companies, notably solar — the time it takes to discover new materials relative to their growth projections. This is where CoRE believes AI, machine learning and predictive analytics can play a role in accelerating the process of material discovery to the benefit of human health and the environment as well as optimized technical performance.  Using big data and AI to accelerate material discovery  The development of high-performance materials typically takes decades, sometimes up to 30 years to commercialize a new material. Big data tools can organize the large volumes of disaggregated information companies need to improve the technical, environmental and social performance of materials. Solar companies that participate annually in the CPA Chemical Footprint Survey to measure their chemical footprint and track their performance against best practices, can leverage these tools to map patterns and impacts necessary for decisionmaking and prioritization. For example, the use of lead in solar panels is problematic in the production and disposal of these products. Electronics companies have shown it is possible to design lead-free electronic products, but solar companies are still very dependent on lead-based technologies. This is true even with the next generation of solar panels — for example, perovskite-based solar panels show the potential to increase the efficiency of panels, but their chemistry is dependent on lead. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. CoRE has demonstrated that “data fingerprints” can provide a powerful representation of the characteristics of perovskite crystal chemistry. This is key to overcoming the barriers to safer substitution for toxic elements such as lead.  Data-driven screening tools and machine learning methods can help navigate the complexity of information associated with new and emerging chemicals used in the manufacture of solar devices. This includes harnessing advanced materials modeling and informatics techniques to identify pathways for the rational design of new materials chemistries for renewable technologies (solar energy) that minimize adverse environmental and human health impacts without compromising functionality. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. Searching for the proper chemistry of materials that meet multiple functionality metrics of minimal hazard and enhanced engineering performance requires us to explore a chemical search space that is prohibitively too large to explore and make critical discoveries within a reasonable time frame using traditional methods. CoRE seeks to address this challenge by applying materials informatics and physics-based modeling to fill the gaps in scientific knowledge, which then guides accelerated materials discovery and design for solar technologies. At CoRE, our goal is to gain a greater understanding of how atomic-scale changes in chemistry have a multiscale influence on materials manufacturing, performance and sustainability of solar cells.  The European Commission recently announced a new chemical strategy for its Green New Deal that promises a non-toxic future for its citizens and a plan for zero pollution. The plan includes new investments for green and safer material innovation. This policy will stimulate demand for greener, safer products; putting pressure on renewable energy companies to think more holistically about their lifecycle impacts. By building on best practices established widely in the electronics sector and leveraging the untapped benefits of AI and big data, solar companies can lead the way for the renewable energy sector in transforming their chemical footprints and accelerating the adoption of safer materials.   Pull Quote We need to collectively scale solutions to reduce the use of toxic chemicals and scarce, unrecyclable materials that impede circular economies. Rational design is a process that bypasses trial-and-error approaches and creates new materials based on a predictive understanding of the fundamental science governing materials performance. Contributors Mark Rossi Chitra Rajan Alexandra McPherson Topics Chemicals & Toxics Energy & Climate Solar Consumer Electronics Technology Collective Insight The Right Chemistry Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Sondem Close Authorship

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Can big data, AI and chemical footprinting help the renewable energy sector avoid a toxic waste legacy?

Booming secondhand clothing sales could help curb the sustainability crisis in fashion

November 27, 2020 by  
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Booming secondhand clothing sales could help curb the sustainability crisis in fashion Hyejune Park Fri, 11/27/2020 – 01:00 A massive force is reshaping the fashion industry: secondhand clothing. According to a new report, the U.S. secondhand clothing market is projected to more than triple in value in the next 10 years  — from $28 billion in 2019 to $80 billion in 2029 — in a U.S. market currently worth $379 billion . In 2019, secondhand clothing expanded 21 times faster than conventional apparel retail did. Even more transformative is secondhand clothing’s potential to dramatically alter the prominence of fast fashion — a business model characterized by cheap and disposable clothing that emerged in the early 2000s, epitomized by brands such as H&M and Zara. Fast fashion grew exponentially over the next two decades, significantly altering the fashion landscape by producing more clothing, distributing it faster and encouraging consumers to buy in excess with low prices. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20 percent in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185 percent . As researchers who study clothing consumption and sustainability, we think the secondhand clothing trend has the potential to reshape the fashion industry and mitigate the industry’s detrimental environmental impact on the planet. The next big thing The secondhand clothing market is composed of two major categories, thrift stores and resale platforms. But the latter largely has fueled the recent boom. Secondhand clothing has long been perceived as worn out and tainted, mainly sought by bargain or treasure hunters . However, this perception has changed, and now many consumers consider secondhand clothing to be of identical or even superior quality to unworn clothing. A trend of “fashion flipping”  — or buying secondhand clothes and reselling them — also has emerged, particularly among young consumers. While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185%. Thanks to growing consumer demand and new digital platforms such as Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer exchange of everyday clothing, the digital resale market is quickly becoming the next big thing in the fashion industry. The market for secondhand luxury goods is also substantial. Retailers such as The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective provide a digital marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment, where people buy and sell designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès. The market value of this sector reached $2 billion in 2019 . The secondhand clothing trend also appears to be driven by affordability, especially now, during the COVID-19 economic crisis . Consumers not only have reduced their consumption of nonessential items such as clothing , but also are buying more quality garments over cheap, disposable attire. For clothing resellers, the ongoing economic contraction combined with the increased interest in sustainability has proven to be a winning combination. More mindful consumers? The fashion industry has long been associated with social and environmental problems, ranging from poor treatment of garment workers to pollution and waste generated by clothing production. Less than 1 percent of materials used to make clothing are recycled to make new clothing, a $500 billion annual loss for the fashion industry . The textile industry produces more carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries combined . And about 20 percent of water pollution across the globe is the result of wastewater from the production and finishing of textiles. Consumers have become more aware of the ecological impact of apparel production and are more frequently demanding apparel businesses expand their commitment to sustainability . Buying secondhand clothing could provide consumers a way to push back against the fast-fashion system. Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36%. Buying secondhand clothing increases the number of owners an item will have, extending its life — something dramatically shortened in the age of fast fashion . (Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36 percent.) High-quality clothing traded in the secondhand marketplace also retains its value over time , unlike cheaper fast-fashion products. Thus, buying a high-quality secondhand garment instead of a new one is theoretically an environmental win. But some critics argue the secondhand marketplace actually encourages excess consumption by expanding access to cheap clothing . Our latest research supports this possibility . We interviewed young American women who regularly use digital platforms such as Poshmark. They saw secondhand clothing as a way to access both cheap goods and ones they ordinarily could not afford. They did not see it as an alternative model of consumption or a way to decrease dependence on new clothing production. Whatever the consumer motive, increasing the reuse of clothing is a big step toward a new normal in the fashion industry, although its potential to address sustainability woes remains to be seen. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Pull Quote While fast fashion is expected to continue to grow 20% in the next 10 years, secondhand fashion is poised to grow 185%. Worldwide, in the past 15 years, the average number of times a garment is worn before it’s trashed has decreased by 36%. Contributors Cosette Marie Joyner Armstrong Topics Circular Economy Fashion Apparel Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  gabriel12  on Shutterstock.

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How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

November 12, 2020 by  
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How the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries Myisha Majumder Thu, 11/12/2020 – 02:03 World fish consumption has almost doubled between the 1960s and now, and some estimates suggest fish contributes to at least 50 percent of total animal protein intake in developing nations. Despite higher demand for seafood and fish, world reserves have not kept up, and aquaculture is becoming more common as a result. Aquaculture uses techniques of breeding marine species in all types of water environments as a means to supplement seafood demand. The practice comes with many advantages, including reducing the dependence on wild-caught species, but also raises environmental concerns, which some industry experts are trying to address with up-and-coming technologies such as analytics, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Jennifer Kemmerly, vice president of global ocean initiatives at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said a focus on sustainability is necessary in the field, as 3 billion people rely on seafood, and 60 million people rely on the seafood industry for their livelihood. But this demand comes with noticeable problems, Kemmerly observed during a breakout session during VERGE 20 in late October. “There’s a lot of overfishing, or depleted fish stocks on the wild side of capture fisheries. There is illegality and mismanagement traceability back to the source of where the seafood is coming from, even whether it is farmed or wild… There are environmental issues and concerns that need to be dealt with,” she said. Kristina Furnes, global communications manager for Grieg Seafood, an international seafood company in Norway, British Columbia and Shetland specializing in fresh Atlantic salmon, said fish farming is complex. “It actually takes between 2.5 to three years to farm salmon, [which is] quite a long production period compared to, for example, chicken, which maybe takes like one or two months,” she said. Part of this farming process occurs in freshwater facilities on land and the other part occurs at sea. The process becomes even more complex with the introduction of sustainable practices, as fisheries strive to reduce impact on nature and improve fish welfare. “We have to cut carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and we have to find new ways to think more in line with the circular economy,” Furnes said. Data and digital technologies can play a big role in helping out the process, said Furnes and her fellow VERGE 20 panelists. At Grieg Seafood, data analytics are being used to reduce the company’s feed conversion ratio, typically the amount of feed given over the amount of weight gained by the livestock, she said. One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Although technological advances can assist in making fishery practices more sustainable, Furnes emphasized the importance of long histories of fishing communities. She believes that well-established farmers who have “grown up with the ocean” have had the experience-based learning crucial for decision-making. Furnes does not see technology as a way to replace humans in the process, but rather to assist, through the creation of operational centers in the Grieg Seafood infrastructure. “One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. But the idea is that it will help them to make better decisions,” she said. Among the sources of information Grieg uses to inform decisions include sensors and cameras to gather environmental data and monitor equipment on the farms. Another area where data analytics can be used to help fisheries is through early detection of potential damages. Furnes offered the example of harmful algae blooms that can damage the salmon by decreasing levels of oxygen. In Grieg Seafood’s British Columbia center, the company uses machine learning models to predict the probability of algae blooms. If the model warns of such an event, the company puts into place protective barriers through use of upwelling systems, which is simply taking water from further down in the ocean and increasing the overall height. Blockchain also could play a role in supporting the sustainable evolution of aquaculture, said Espen Braathe, head of blockchain transparency efforts in Europe for IBM, who believes IBM’s preexisting blockchain network for the food market in Europe can be implemented in some way. Braathe said data analytics about the condition of fish farms is appealing to consumers as well. “We expect information to be at our fingertips and we expect to have the truth about food… You want to feel good about you know the food that we eat, and we want to make sure it’s healthy right for us as well,” he said. In Braathe’s opinion, consumers are looking for the connection that once ago existed between the consumer and the farmer. It is possible to recreate this relationship through digital connections, he said. Although it is clear that usage of data can benefit the sustainability of fisheries, the industry will need to overcome certain barriers, according to the panelists. “The data is there, it resides in silos, but the quality of the data is not always to the point where you can actually use it [for analytics],” Braathe said. Furnes echoed this statement, and said some sort of streamlining across the industry and within individual companies is necessary to efficiently use the large amounts of data gathered. “There is a need for a standard in the industry on how you actually collect data… Ensuring that you actually have quality data that you are collecting that you can actually use for something and compare is really big,” she said. Adopting such practices hopefully will come with time, as global consumption of seafood likely will continue to rise and have an impact on the surrounding climate and environment. Kemmerly sees great potential in the role of technology in the solutions. “The challenges are not insurmountable. Technology has proven it can play a powerful role in enabling the sustainability and improved management of both fisheries and aquaculture,” she said. Pull Quote One operational center can support all the different farms in that region, and with them, decision-making support as we call it, so we don’t think that digital tools will ever replace the fantastic guys on the farm. Topics Oceans & Fisheries VERGE 20 Digitalization 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 the digital wave is contributing to the rise of sustainable fisheries

Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter

October 30, 2020 by  
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Today’s quote is from Elizabeth Cline, an expert on consumer … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter appeared first on Earth 911.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Clothing Clutter

Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable

October 19, 2020 by  
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Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable Isabel LoDuca Mon, 10/19/2020 – 01:00 Generation Z, those born between 1996 and 2015, are current consumers, future business leaders and the future of this world. Yet, Gen Z is unlike any other generation to date. With buying power of more than $140 billion , Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Gen Z wants companies to use their scale to push for environmental progress, human rights, inclusion and honesty and transparency.  Environment. There are just seven short years left before the damage from climate change is irreversible. As found in a recent UNiDAYS survey , 93 percent of Gen Z believes brands have an obligation to take a stand on environmental issues. From developing company-wide environmental policies to making smart climate-related investments, Gen Z wants to see actionable plans and measurable progress.  With buying power of more than $140 billion, Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Human rights. Strong ethics are critical to a brand’s success in forming a relationship with Gen Z. Supply chain workers’ health and safety, combined with ethical working conditions and practices, and taking into consideration environmental impacts are needed to ensure brand trust and build brand loyalty with consumers. Ethics are important to young people now more than ever.  Diversity, equity, inclusion. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a core belief. Black Lives Matter. Equal pay matters. LGBTQ+ acceptance matters. Gen Z expects diversity, equity and inclusion to be embraced by brands. Promoting DEI in the workplace is a critical aspect of a successful company. Based on actionable initiatives, Gen Z wants companies to have diverse voices in leadership, equal pay and fair opportunities for all. Honesty and transparency. Gen Z is done with fake news. According to a recent study conducted by the Consumer Goods Forum and Futerra, 90 percent of Millennials and Gen Z personally care if they receive honest information about products. Transparency in a digital age sets great companies apart from all others. In an age of skepticism and misinformation, transparency at all operation levels is crucial for building brand loyalty and trust with the Gen Z market segment. Gen Z is the Honest Generation.  With these four values in mind, Devishi Jha and I, both Gen Z students, created Voyagers to fill the gap we see between sustainable businesses and youth consumers. Launching Oct. 21, Voyagers is working to foster relationships between sustainable businesses and youth voices. Through an industry panel with sustainability leaders from IKEA and Clif Bar and climate activist Ziad Ahmed, Voyagers’ launch will be the beginning of forcible youth-led change in the world of business sustainability. Developed by youth for youth, Voyagers provides a platform of youth voices for sustainable businesses to hold campaigns to rally supporters, share and promote their sustainability journey stories and gain irreplaceable Gen Z consumer insights.  The Gen Z consumer segment is growing fast. By 2023, Gen Z will be the largest generational segment in the economy. We invite you to join us . Pull Quote With buying power of more than $140 billion, Gen Z is the fastest-growing consumer segment with unique purchasing values in mind and the willingness to act upon them. Topics Social Justice Youth Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Why Gen Z voices matter in making business sustainable

Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

October 14, 2020 by  
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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways Lilian Liu Wed, 10/14/2020 – 01:30 COVID-19 has radically accelerated the need for the fashion industry to innovate. The second edition of the Circular Fashion Summit bears fruit of this new socially distanced reality. The world’s first virtual reality (VR) fashion summit Oct. 3 and 4 was pioneered by founders Lorenzo Albrighi and ShihYun Kuo of Lablaco , a company that uses technology to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy for fashion, and was an official part of the Paris Fashion Week program this fall.  The virtual reality environment was mirrored after the Grand Palais, an iconic architectural exhibition hall at the heart of Paris and home to the famous Chanel shows. Fashion week formats have evolved dramatically during the pandemic — with digital and virtual shows or mixed digital plus in-person elements events taking place. The Circular Fashion Summit continued to push expectations. Participants were able to not just consume fashion content but also discuss, network and learn from others joining from around the globe —as long as they had a VR headset and an internet connection. Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030, according to Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group . Under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50 percent, according to a recent study from McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda . Clearly, COVID-19 is no time for inaction. Originally planned as an in-person gathering, the Circular Fashion Summit team decided to host the summit in virtual reality — just like being at a real event but without the footprint of travel, and in the shape of your customized avatar. A screenshot shows panelists for a talk during the Circular Fashion Summit. Attendee avatars can be seen. Screenshot courtesy of Lilian Liu. 4 summit takeaways 1. Digital technologies are opening up new ways for us to consume fashion without the waste or carbon footprint…  During the “Technology: The New Product Storytelling” panel, it was astoundingly clear that emerging digital technologies can make a big difference for fashion brands and their customers. “Now that we socially-distance, we need different ways of engaging with audiences, from the first point of creation and design to retail and engaging the consumer. Digital and 3D is becoming integral for every fashion brand,” said Matthew Drinkwater, head of Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion. As the technology gets better, digital prototypes of garments are becoming much closer to the real thing, and you can get feedback on early iterations to save material and time in producing real prototypes.  As fashion is transitioning to digital, the lines between industries have started to blur even more, and the relationship between fashion and the gaming industry has grown. Agatha Hood, head of advertising sales at Unity Technologies , a software development company that specializes in creating and operating interactive real-time 3D content, shared that 25 percent of in-game purchases in the U.S. are being spent on customizing personal avatars, characters or the virtual space.  After the conference, Hood added: “While VR is obviously a great way for both consumers and industry experts to view and explore fashion, another medium that makes us really excited is augmented reality. Being able to view fabrics, textures, designs in real life through a device really brings the products to life — to say nothing of the ability to try fashion on.” The technology already exists for us to interact with digital objects as a seamless part of the real world. In the future, we are likely to see more designers creating fashion in a digital format, making it easily available for consumers to engage in self-expression without buying new physical clothing — lowering the environmental and social footprint of fashion significantly. Virtual consumption could help us curb our everlasting appetite of buying physical clothing while keeping the creativity and fun of fashion alive. 2. …with an emphasis on the need for new skills, and a reminder that the transition to digital fashion needs to be inclusive. With stronger digital integration, we are rapidly seeing the need for education and new skills in the fashion workforce. Drinkwater pointed out the large generational gap in this regard. “A few years ago [fashion] students couldn’t leverage [digital creation platforms] such as Unity or Unreal Engine, but now they can and it makes a difference.”  From a global perspective, Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files , a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, and Lagos Fashion and Design Week, reminded attendees that we need to ensure that the transition is inclusive. “The future lies in virtual platforms; however, it’s important that nobody is left behind. The socio-economic impacts and value that fashion creates will go away from some,” she said.  Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. In the move from physical to virtual engagement, education will be critical. “We need to be able to empower everyone, where a virtual fashion economy still gives opportunity for meaningful employment and meaningful work for many,” Akerele said.  3. To accelerate progress on circularity, we need investment, expertise and a whole lot of collective action. During the “Sustainability: Turning Circularity into Business” panel, speakers discussed the barriers of circularity and how we can overcome them. More investments to scale circular innovation are critical. There is also a need for accessing information and expertise to unlock circular solutions. “Right now a handful of experts have the knowledge, and we need to give access to this expertise to more people,” said Nina Shariati, sustainability strategist at H&M who founded the pro-bono consultancy Doughnate Hour to help bring circularity expertise to brands.  Most strikingly, radical collaboration was the ingredient that was repeated again and again. The only way to overcome barriers in knowledge and scaling these innovations is if brands work pre-competitively and actively collaborate with policymakers and circularity experts.  To embody this philosophy, the Circular Fashion Summit promised to do more than just convene conversations and plans to take collective action. It has set three Action Goals to be achieved by 2021: recirculate 100,000 fashion item; tokenize 10,000 fashion items on the blockchain; and upcycle 1,000 pairs of sneakers. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. The goals are powered by Lablaco technology and will be achieved together with the summit attendees (“Catalysts”). For example, The Lane Crawford Joyce Group ’s social initiative Luxarity launched a resale initiative featuring pre-loved items from celebrity closets, with Lablaco tokenizing the items on the blockchain to help achieve the goals. Unilever is partnering with the blockchain powered peer-to-peer platform Swapchain to recirculate fashion. A partnership with Plastic Bank is also underway, in which the summit team is launching a recycled sunglasses collection. All in all, achieving the goals will save an estimated 2,000 metric tons of CO2 and 793,000 gallons of water from landfill. 4. Circular fashion can be more than closing the loop. Going beyond neutrality, companies can embrace regenerative practices and the social benefits of a circular economy.  Maggie Hewitt, founder of fashion company Maggie Marilyn , emphasized the need for brands to embrace regenerative practices. “The idea that we only have 60 years of top soil left if we continue to degrade our soil is scary. We will need to regenerate our soil if we want to be a lasting business,” she said.   The circular economy is often is seen through a lens of waste reduction and ensuring that materials go back into a circular system. Although Ellen MacArthur Foundation ’s definition of circular economy includes the concept “regenerate natural systems,” regeneration doesn’t get as much attention. To achieve real progress from circular solutions, we need to think beyond neutral and aim for positive impact. Another highlight is how circular business models can be used to increase access and inclusion to fashion, well-being and even economic opportunity. As Darren Shooter, design director at The North Face , shared, the company successfully piloted a rental service for tents and backpacks. “This opened up products to consumers that might not afford or have space for outdoor gear at home to still experience the outdoors. This rental pilot went really well and we are trying to scale it further to see how we can give people even more access to the outdoors,” he said, highlighting the human side and social benefits of a circular economy. It’s clear that the potential of new technologies to bring forward more sustainable ways of consuming fashion is endless. Smart fashion brands and innovators such as Lablaco and the Circular Fashion Summit are at the forefront of capturing this opportunity. In the same way that the summit presented a glimpse of our technological fashion future, it also opened up for the notion that we need to continue to push our circular impact and ambition. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. So, how did I feel attending my first VR summit? As I was teleporting between stages and exhibition hubs, I couldn’t help but wonder if we will ever gather as normal again, getting on an airplane instead of putting on a headset in my living room. With over 300 people getting up to speed with VR, which was a first for many, there were the inevitable tech glitches here and there, such as reboots of the system (and even some spontaneous dancing on stage!). Still, so much more engaging and fun than being on a zoom call. Would I do it again? Absolutely.  Pull Quote Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Virtual Reality 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  franz12  on Shutterstock.

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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

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