Regenerative Business: From Theory to Practice

September 15, 2020 by  
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Regenerative Business: From Theory to Practice How can diverse stakeholders move beyond designing out waste and keeping products in play, to regenerating local economies and natural systems? The promise of a circular economy includes so much more than just designing out waste and keeping molecules in play. The opportunity, and necessity, is to improve the health of every single system that we touch — from product design and manufacturing to how we engage suppliers across a value chain. What’s the opportunity for your organization to regenerate the natural systems upon which your business depends? How can we learn from nature’s ingenious design to increase value across all forms of capital? This discussion grounds regenerative principles in practice, and shares actionable tools for implementing them. Speakers Shana Rappaport, Vice President & Executive Director, VERGE, GreenBiz Group Ahmed Rahiem, CEO & Co-Founder, Numi Amanda Ravenhill, Executive Director, Buckminster Fuller Institute  Holly Secon Tue, 09/15/2020 – 10:33 Featured Off

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Regenerative Business: From Theory to Practice

The How and Why of Effective Pre-Competitive Collaboration

September 11, 2020 by  
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The How and Why of Effective Pre-Competitive Collaboration How (and why) can companies overcome the barriers of collaborating with their corporate peers in order to advance system-wide circular outcomes? Faced with the pressing challenges of resource scarcity, ocean plastic pollution and climate change, among others, it’s clear that unique and unprecedented collaborations are required to solve complex global issues. Together, we can drive systemic change more quickly. That’s why leading brands are participating in multi-year consortia to collectively advance a waste-free future. Panelists discuss the challenges, learnings and nuts and bolts of these groundbreaking partnerships. Speakers Kate Daly, Managing Director, Closed Loop Partners  Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Walmart Eileen Howard Boone, SVP, Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy and CSO, CVS Health, President, CVS Health and Aetna Foundations Amanda Nusz, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Target Holly Secon Thu, 09/10/2020 – 19:40 Featured Off

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The How and Why of Effective Pre-Competitive Collaboration

Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

September 3, 2020 by  
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The Biomimicry Institute has revealed this year’s 10 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge finalist teams, which have created innovative solutions for sustainably tackling global issues. The proposals, which all take inspiration from nature, address one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 10 finalists were selected from over 81 student teams as well as 26 teams of professionals from 17 countries in total. Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, half of the 2020 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge submissions addressed “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, and over one-quarter addressed either “Good Health and Well-being”, “Climate Action”, “Life Below Water” and “Clean Water and Sanitation.” This year’s 10 finalist teams are from five different countries — including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States — with the majority focused on Good Health and Well-being, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Climate Action. Related: NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants The first five finalists in alphabetical order include A Sensitive Wall, a proposal for a dynamic green noise barrier for reducing the urban heat island effect and traffic noise. It takes inspiration from concave-eared torrent frogs, mimosa leaves and desert snails. BottleBricks is an interlocking bottle system for insulating refugee housing that mimics the air-trapping qualities found in the triangular, corrugated shape of Saharan silver ant hairs and the structure of silk cocoons. ELIGHTRA is a solar -powered lighting system for temporary settlements with hard outer shells like a ladybug’s elytra (wing cases). Methanolite is a methanotroph-inspired method for converting methane into methanol without carbon dioxide emissions. MyOak Public Market is an online platform to increase food access for vulnerable populations during times of crisis; the project takes cues from the Chesapeake Forest. Additional finalists include nutriBarrier, a woven barrier for reducing nutrient runoff inspired by the protective strategies of hagfish and frogs. The floral stamen-shaped air filtration system Pranavayu features the electrical and structural properties of a spiderweb. An air filter called RICOCHET mimics mantas. The SINC (Sustainable Ice Nucleation Contraption) outdoor water collection system improves access to clean drinking water with methods similar to the countercurrent heat exchange system found in trout. Tubes, Blades, Mesh, Oh My! is a seawall retrofit proposal that takes cues from seagrass and mangroves for greater coastal resiliency. + The Biomimicry Institute Images via The Biomimicry Institute

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Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

The smooth handfish is declared extinct

September 3, 2020 by  
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The International Union for The Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially declared the smooth handfish extinct. This news makes the smooth handfish the first fish species to be declared extinct in modern history. The smooth handfish belongs to a family of fish that get their name from their fins, which are shaped like hands. As opposed to swimming, the smooth handfish crawled with its hand-shaped fins across the seafloor. The handfish is among the most unique types of fish. Besides their bright, multicolored bodies, their awkward movement on their hand-like fins makes them stand out from other fish. According to the IUCN, there used to be 14 species of handfish. But after the organization updated its list of endangered species, the smooth handfish has been listed as an extinct species. The smooth handfish has not been seen since the year 1802, despite searches being conducted around the world. Related: We are in the sixth mass extinction, and it is accelerating The IUCN’s announcement marks the first time a fish species has been declared extinct in modern history, according to National Geographic . The unfortunate news now shifts focus on the other species in the handfish family. Alarmingly, seven types of handfish have not been seen since 2000 or earlier. This might mean that these species are also on the verge of extinction . The handfish is a special family of fish that is characterized by isolation. They do not associate with other types of fish and are usually localized in one place. “They spend most of their time sitting on the seabed, with an occasional flap for a few meters if they’re disturbed,” Graham Edgar, marine ecologist, told Scientific American . “As they lack a larval stage, they are unable to disperse to new locations — and consequently, handfish populations are very localized and vulnerable to threats.” While the fish stay on the seafloor, they are faced with many threats. Some of the threats include industrial runoff that affects the quality of seawater. Further, fishing and dredging along the seabed also threaten many fish, including the handfish. Invasive species also pose a threat to these unique creatures. The recent news of the smooth handfish’s extinction opens our eyes to the possibility of losing more precious species if actions are not taken to protect biodiversity . + IUCN Via Mic , National Geographic and Scientific American Image via Kenneth Lu

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The smooth handfish is declared extinct

EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions

August 18, 2020 by  
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As President Trump’s term comes to an end, his administration has busily rolled back Obama-era environmental protections. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) has loosened standards governing how much methane oil and gas facilities can release into the atmosphere. Methane is a serious threat to the environment because the gas is so good at absorbing heat, making it 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Defense Fund . While methane comes from many places, the oil and gas industry is its largest source. Related: Trump waives environmental laws amid national crises “Trump’s EPA has given the oil and gas industry a green light to keep leaking enormous amounts of climate pollution into the air,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Energy Program. In 2018, the oil and gas industry released an estimated 15 million metric tons of methane into the air. The American public isn’t happy about this. A recent NRDC poll found that 75% of respondents strongly support strengthening controls on methane pollution. The NRDC proposed a solution in 2015. If federal standards for oil and gas infrastructure were adopted nationwide, methane pollution could be halved in less than a decade. Unfortunately, Trump’s new rollback pushes us further in the wrong direction. The rollback allows companies to bypass installation of detection equipment, nor do they have to fix methane leaks. Lax emission standards are especially dangerous to fence-line communities, lower-income neighborhoods that have the misfortune of being close to polluting facilities. According to the NAACP website, Black communities are disproportionately affected by methane, benzene, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde and other toxic and dangerous emissions released by industries in their neighborhoods. Among other health effects, these pollutants cause more than 138,000 asthma attacks in children per year. “We cannot protect the health of our children and grandchildren, especially in the most polluted and endangered communities, if the EPA lets this industry off scot-free,” Doniger said. “We will see EPA in court.” Via NRDC Image via Pixabay

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EPA loosens restrictions on methane emissions

Pittsburgh leads in green energy with largest single sloped solar array in the US

August 18, 2020 by  
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The shift from non-renewable sources of energy to green energy continues to gain momentum. In the past few years, we have seen the launch of groundbreaking renewable energy projects around the world. One of the latest projects is a solar array for Mill 19 at Hazelwood Green in Pittsburgh. The project, led by Scalo Solar Solutions , is now the single largest sloped solar array in the U.S. It consists of 4,785 silicon solar panels that are capable of powering the entire Mill 19 plant. The project was established at a cost of $5 million and is expected to provide sufficient power to supply the energy needs of Mill 19. The 4,785 silicon solar panels sit on a 133,000-square-foot area on the frame of Mill 19. The solar panels were installed using an innovative technology called the Spider WorkWeb. With this approach, the panels were directly attached to Mill 19’s existing frame, thereby cutting the cost of putting up a new frame for the project. Each of the LG solar panels was assembled on the ground and then lifted and fitted into position. Related: IceWind launches residential wind turbines in the US The Hazelwood Green site, where Mill 19 is located, is seen as a model for sustainable development. Mill 19 has a goal to achieve 96% daylight autonomy, providing maximum thermal efficiency. Mill 19 is also targeting LEED Gold certification. The design of the solar slope caters to stormwater drainage. A strategic drainage system has been set in place, which will see all the water through a rainwater garden to a centrally located filtration basin. The Pittsburgh solar project is more proof that there is a possibility of attaining 100% renewable energy in many industries. There are many other businesses and organizations that can use the same model to reduce dependence on non-renewable sources of energy. + Pittsburgh Green Story Image via Pittsburgh Green Story and Andreas

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Pittsburgh leads in green energy with largest single sloped solar array in the US

Hello Wood launches flat-pack kits for DIY tiny cabins

August 18, 2020 by  
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In one of its latest timber-centric projects, Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood has created the Kabinka, a prefab cabin inspired by the tiny house movement . Developed with affordability in mind, the modular structure comes in four sizes — ranging between 12 to 20 square meters — and comes flat-packed for easy transportation. Each cabin kit can be assembled by hand in just one to three days. Crafted under the slogan “design cabin at a reasonable price,” Hello Wood’s Kabinka is a minimalist, gable-roofed tiny cabin that is inspired by the rural vernacular of Hungary. Each Kabinka is designed and manufactured in Hungary and comfortably fits a tea kitchen, a bathroom, a couch and a stove. The four base sizes include the small at 12 square meters; the medium at 14.9 square meters; the large at 17.3 square meters; and the extra-large that includes 20 square meters of indoor living space along with a 9.6-square-meter outdoor patio. The cabin rises to an exterior height of 4.06 meters with an interior floor-to-ceiling height that is tall enough to accommodate a loft level. Related: Hello Wood unveils a tiny cabin that sleeps up to 8 people Flexibility was key in the design of Kabinka, which can be used as a weekend retreat, private work space or even as an extra meeting room or community space for a company. “The compact coolable and heatable interior can be turned into a tiny home that you can enjoy all year-round,” Hello Wood explained. “Then there’s its environmental footprint; thanks to its low energy consumption and environmental focus, the cabin is also greener than a house built of non-renewable materials with conventional technologies.” The prefabricated timber elements of the Kabinka tiny cabin are constructed with a CNC machine. The base model construction is estimated to take between six to eight weeks; customization and extra features such as additional windows are available. Hello Wood developed the Kabinka as a DIY project that can be assembled without the need for skilled labor. The retail price, which is available upon request, does not include shipping, groundwork or assembly, but it does include technical documents and an assembly manual. + Hello Wood Images via Hello Wood

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Hello Wood launches flat-pack kits for DIY tiny cabins

Winning design unveiled for nature-filled Shenzhen Childrens Hospital

August 18, 2020 by  
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A vertical “secret garden”, green-roofed terraces and mountain-shaped massing define B+H Architects’ winning entry for the new Children’s Hospital and Science & Education Building in Shenzhen. Designed in collaboration with East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI), the proposed facility celebrates the local landscape by integrating lush plantings around and inside the urban campus. The hospital’s nature-filled interiors, ground-floor “urban living room” and vibrant color palette also aims to inspire awe and wonder in both the building occupants and the surrounding community. Selected as the unanimous first place winner in an international design competition held by the Shenzhen municipal government, the proposal takes inspiration from the mountains in the distance for its terraced massing with upper floors stepped back to form sky gardens. The new facility will be located to the west of the existing Shenzhen Children’s Hospital, which has been a landmark in the city’s Futian area since it was founded in 1998. Coined as a “once-in-a-lifetime” healthcare facility, the new campus will not only provide top-quality care for children but will also house facilities for advanced research and learning in pediatric medicine. Related: Rehabilitation Center of China is topped with a healing roof garden “Children live very much in the present and can experience each moment very intensely — sights, sounds, scale, touch, colors and patterns hold delights and surprises that we as adults often overlook,” said Stephanie Costelloe, principal and director of Healthcare, Asia for B+H Architects. “We wanted to instill a sense of wonder in every corner which would celebrate their unique and joyful view of the world — whilst also encouraging adults to interact with the environment in a similarly social, playful and collaborative way.” The extensive use of greenery ties the hospital interiors to the adjacent Lianhuashan Park and is part of the architects’ vision to create a “unique micro-landscape” that helps building occupants engage with the surrounding landscape while providing therapeutic benefits. + B+H Architects Images via B+H Architects

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Winning design unveiled for nature-filled Shenzhen Childrens Hospital

Mightly kids clothing is GOTS- and Fair Trade-certified

August 14, 2020 by  
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As parents, protecting kids against chemical-laden fabrics and setting examples about conscientious purchases make an important impact. Brands like Mightly, a children’s clothing company, make it easier to ensure the clothes you buy are responsibly manufactured, both for the safety of the planet and the children. Launched in 2019 by co-founders Tierra Forte, Barrie Brouse and Anya Marie Emerson, Mightly started with the goal of making ethically made and organic clothing more affordable for families. In partnership with Fair Trade USA, the brand will be releasing its first Fair Trade-certified collection.  Related: Origami-inspired clothing line that grows with kids wins Dyson award By the end of the year, all of Mightly’s clothing will achieve Fair Trade certification . This includes its best-selling pajamas, which are made without chemical flame retardants. In addition, the team offers artist-designed T-shirts with itch-free labels and flat seams for kids with high sensitivities. Other products include long-lasting leggings with no-show, reinforced knees (a must for kids) and double-duty dresses with strategically placed pockets for children who like to collect everything in their path. Mightly is also launching new Fair Trade-certified products including kids underwear and adjustable-fit face masks. “Our goal as a company is to make ethically made children’s clothing accessible to more families and Fair Trade Certification is a key part of that commitment. I’ve seen firsthand the many ways that workers benefit from Fair Trade and am proud that Mightly is a part of the program,” said Mightly CEO Tierra Forte. Forte was previously a leading member of the team at Fair Trade USA that developed and launched the Fair Trade Apparel and Home Goods Standard, which has been widely adopted by sustainably minded brands. With a deep understanding of the process, from sourcing materials to selling products, Mightly ensures each step is kind to the Earth. Products are made from rain-fed, certified organic cotton and use Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)-approved dyes and inks. Mightly works exclusively with family farmers in India who sell the cotton through a farmer-owned nonprofit to the company’s Fair Trade factory in India.  Fair Trade-certified factories must adhere to rigorous social, environmental and economic standards to protect the health and safety of workers. For every Fair Trade-certified product sold, Mightly pays an additional Fair Trade premium directly back to the workers. Mightly’s comfort wear is made for children ages 2-12 and is available on Mightly.com. + Mightly Images via Mightly

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Fast food, snacks and treats that are surprisingly vegan

August 3, 2020 by  
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People often equate vegan food with healthy and organic. While it’s true that many vegans are health-conscious and that organic food is probably better for your body and definitely better for farmers, there are times when healthy and conscious aren’t the primary drivers of our eating decisions. So if you find yourself famished on a long road trip and have only a convenience store at which to shop, or if you’re attending a family gathering that’s not receptive to your usual vegan potluck offerings, here are a few things you might be able to eat without breaking your vegan commitment. Note: This article covers U.S.-based products. Ingredients may differ around the world. It’s always wise to scan the ingredient list before purchase — formulations occasionally change. Related: 12 surprising things that aren’t vegan Vegan savory snacks So you’re driving through the middle of Texas when you run out of organic carob energy bites. Now you must resupply from a truck stop snack aisle. What do you do? The ordinary vegan will head for plain tortilla chips, salted peanuts and cashews and hope for a desiccated apple or a brown banana by the checkout. But the savvy vegan who’s not afraid of the junkiest of junk food can branch out. How about a bag of Cheetos Twisted Flamin’ Hot? You didn’t think “Cheetos” meant cheese, did you? If you don’t mind some MSG, this snack will still fit within vegan confines. The same goes for many potato chips, including Lay’s BBQ, Pringles Texas BBQ and several Kettle Brand Chip flavors: Backyard Barbeque, Country Style Barbeque, Korean Barbeque and Maple Bacon. Grab some crackers, too. Both Keebler Club and Ritz are made without animal products; that butter taste is an illusion. Plant-based sweets While you’re in a convenience store, cruise the cookie aisle. Many ordinary cookies are also vegan. Oreos are easy to find — and vegan — as are Nutter Butters and Nabisco animal crackers. Famous Amos sandwich cookies in chocolate , oatmeal macaroon, peanut butter and vanilla are also fair game. Check for vegan pies, too, like Krispy Kreme fruit pies in cherry, apple and peach. If you’re fortunate enough to be at a Trader Joe’s instead of a truck stop, you’ll have lots of vegan cookies to choose from, including Joe Joe’s (similar to Oreos) maple leaf, cinnamon schoolbook and speculoos cookies. Of course, if you’re in a Trader Joe’s , you’ll have lots of quality and healthy vegan snacks to choose from and probably won’t need this article. In the candy section, best bets for vegans include Jolly Ranchers, Skittles Chewies, Red Vines and most of the Twizzler line-up. If you need some jokes to liven up the car trip, vegans can safely eat Mini Laffy Taffy (okay, maybe not safely, as it’s mostly made of corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, hydrogenated oil and chemicals). However, Laffy Taffy Stretchy & Tangy and Laffy Taffy jelly beans contain animal products, like beeswax and egg albumen. Ironically, one of the best vegan candies was made to look like meat. The Texas-based Atkinson Candy Company manufactured Chicken Bones, a candy made primarily of peanut butter and toasted coconut . But in 1955, they changed the name to Chick-o-Sticks because another candy company had the rights to the name Chicken Bones. Chick-o-Sticks aren’t so common these days, but they are one of the tastier vegan candies and contain more easily understandable ingredients than Skittles or Laffy Taffy. Now, keep in mind that some vegans won’t eat white sugar because it is sometimes processed with animal bones. If this is you, double-check that you’ve packed enough organic kale chips before you leave home, or skip the convenience-store sweets and opt for savory instead. Celebratory desserts Now let’s switch our focus to another potential vegan minefield: family gatherings. Is your family still mocking you for that tofu-based pumpkin pie you brought to Thanksgiving 10 years ago? Or the Stevia-sweetened brownies with the consistency of asphalt? If your relatives are suspicious of anything you bake , consider bringing something you made from a mix. Yes, it lacks your special touch. But that’s the point, at least from your family’s perspective. Duncan Hines is your friend when it comes to a birthday cake your non-vegan family will love. The mixes are vegan-friendly and come in a wide variety of flavors, including dark chocolate fudge, carrot, pineapple supreme, German chocolate, classic yellow, fudge marble and strawberry supreme. All you need to do is swap out the butter or eggs for oil. If you want to cut calories, you can use sparkling water instead of oil. Top your cake with Duncan Hines frosting. Again, there are lots of vegan flavors to choose from, including butter cream, vanilla, coconut pecan, strawberry cream and dark chocolate fudge. Frozen pies are an even better choice for the skeptical family. Bring a Sara Lee apple or cherry frozen pie or a Marie Callender’s apple pie and heat it up at the gathering. If your family is eating sundaes, you’ll need to bring your own non-dairy ice cream . But you all can share the Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Vegan fast food Vegans also occasionally find themselves faced with the need to eat something at a fast food joint. Contemplating Mac, Jack, Carl or the King can lead to a vegan meltdown. But don’t worry. A few chains can reliably feed you. Taco Bell is probably the best choice, with a highly customizable veg menu. Right now, your veg source will be beans , beans and more beans, but next year when the chain plans to add plant-based meat, you’ll have even more options. Chipotle is another reliable fast-casual chain with lots of things for a vegan to eat. It’s also a healthier option. Subway has more than just salads for vegan folks. You can order the Beyond Meatball Marinara on Italian bread. Just be sure to tell them to leave off the provolone and Parmesan. Panda Express resisted vegans for a long time. But after pressure from PETA , the fast food chain finally introduced a few things for vegans: chow mein and eggplant tofu, vegan spring rolls and Super Greens. Fast food dining has come a long way for vegans. Nowadays, you might even find a delicious vegan dessert while on a road trip. DQ offers the tri-colored Starkiss, which looks like a patriotic ice pop. Better yet, Baskin-Robbins has introduced some vegan flavors, including Chocolate Extreme and Coffee Caramel Chunk. But remember, just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Think twice before making truck stops and fast food joints a regular way of life. Pack plenty of healthful snacks before you leave home, lest you reap the health consequences later. Images via Robert Sebastian Gusoi , Thomas B. , Stock Snap , Jodie Walton and William Brinson / Chipotle

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Fast food, snacks and treats that are surprisingly vegan

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