Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture 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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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

June 26, 2020 by  
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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice Rachel Ramirez Fri, 06/26/2020 – 00:30 This story originally appeared in Grist;  and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalistic collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story . “I can’t breathe.” These were among the final words that George Floyd and Eric Garner gasped before their deaths at the hands of white police officers. That plea has become part of the current rallying cry for racial justice and an end to police brutality in the United States. But for Black people living near industrial facilities, the phrase has an additional layer of meaning: a reminder of their disproportionate pollution burden. “While many in power seemed surprised that COVID-19 is killing twice as many Black Americans, those of us in the environmental justice movement know that the health impacts of cumulative and disproportionate levels of pollution in our communities have created underlying health conditions that contribute to our higher COVID-19 mortality rates,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said at a virtual press conference in mid-June. Shepard is part of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN) , a national coalition of Black environmental justice groups and grassroots activists founded in 1991. Although the network took a hiatus in 2006 after executive director Damu Smith died , the network just announced that it’s making a comeback against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed calls to fight racial injustice. We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. The network’s mission sends a clear message: Environmental injustice is not a single issue. Rather, it’s a constellation of issues including discrimination in housing, jobs and healthcare. It’s impossible to untangle Black communities’ current risks from America’s long history of racist policies and practices. Discriminatory policies such as banks’ government-sanctioned refusal to approve home loans and insurance for people in communities of color, also known as redlining, forced Black families into neighborhoods more likely to be exposed to industrial pollution and extreme heat . Now these same communities face a surge in unemployment and poverty rates as a result of the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, and they also are  disproportionately dying from the novel coronavirus as a result of a lack of health insurance, unequal access to test sites and higher workplace exposure via employment in essential services. As if that weren’t enough, a recent Harvard study also found a link between air pollution and death from COVID-19. Given the systemic conditions that disproportionately expose Black people to the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other worsening crises, NBEJN members — including the network’s co-chairs, environmental justice pioneers Robert Bullard and Beverly Wright — say they are looking to bring in Black lawyers, engineers, leaders and other experts to join forces to help create an equitable green stimulus package, take on the fossil fuel industry and fight the Trump administration’s seemingly endless orders to weaken environmental protections . “We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries,” said Bullard, an author and professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. “The NBEJN is about dismantling systemic racism, and we’re talking about turning the dominant paradigm on its head.” Network leaders say COVID-19 recovery legislation could be an opportunity for lawmakers to pass a robust green stimulus package that would focus on environmental justice. Such a green stimulus package, the coalition said, needs to address core issues of systemic racism by, for example, providing green jobs to communities of color. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. “Green stimulus packages often only look at protecting the world, but not protecting people like us,” said Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “Any stimulus package dealing with transportation to housing or whatever they’re talking about doing will have to include us and need to be viewed with equity and justice lenses.” Even if an equitable green stimulus package makes it through Congress and the White House, there still will be a lot more work to be done. Bullard said that even if the Democratic party wins the presidential election or takes control of the Senate, it will take time to reverse Trump-era environmental policy damages, including the country’s withdrawal from the 2016 Paris Agreement. Even then, he added, policymakers will need to take additional steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and center frontline communities. And NBEJN leaders say the network will stick around to make sure those steps are taken. “Racism is baked into America’s DNA,” Bullard said. “NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America.” Pull Quote We see these environmental rollbacks as not just fast-tracking project permits, but as a fast-track to the emergency room and cemeteries. NBEJN is needed today to fight these conversing threats and underlying conditions that are denying Black people the right to breathe and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enjoyed by white America. Topics COVID-19 Policy & Politics Environmental Justice Equity & Inclusion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Tverdokhlib Close Authorship

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How Black environmentalists are organizing to save the planet from injustice

Vegan dog food company continues its international expansion

March 8, 2019 by  
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V-planet , the San Francisco-based company that manufactures 100 percent vegan products for dogs, has just expanded its market to Israel. Israeli shoppers can now buy vegan pet food through Vegpet , v-planet’s online store. Why Israel? “Israel is one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world, with more self-identified vegans per capita than any other country,” said Lindsay Rubin, vice president of v-dog. “With so many consumers interested in transitioning their dogs to a vegan diet, expanding our brand to Israel to offer a high-quality option to dog parents seemed like a natural fit for our brand.” Since 2005, the vegan-owned and family-operated business has offered its plant-based kibble to a U.S. clientele. Its international expansion now makes v-dog available in Canada, Australia and Israel. Related: Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet? Switching dogs to vegan kibble could have a significant effect on the planet. “A 2019 study stated that if dogs and cats were a country, they’d rank fifth in global meat consumption,” Rubin told Inhabitat. “Caring for a large dog is environmentally comparable to driving an SUV. Pets are responsible for a quarter of the greenhouse gases from animal agriculture. Just like a human choosing a plant-based lifestyle, a dog can significantly reduce their carbon pawprint by going vegan.” By contrast, plant-based ingredients naturally use significantly less land, water and energy than meat-based counterparts, she said. According to Rubin, vegan dogs thrive. Customers have reported reduced allergies , better digestion, less arthritis and other joint inflammation issues and better overall health and energy after switching their dogs to a vegan diet. Still, it is  important to talk with a veterinarian  before making drastic changes to your furry friend’s diet, as it must be done very cautiously. The brand hopes to grow internationally and is actively seeking additional distributors in more countries. “At v-planet, we’re passionate about nutritious, yummy products for dogs that are cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable,” Rubin said. “We hope that by continuing to expand v-planet’s availability, we can help more dogs and save more farmed animals.” + v-planet Images via v-dog / v-planet

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Vegan dog food company continues its international expansion

A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer

March 8, 2019 by  
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Marked by a stunning contemporary design normally reserved for land-based structures, +31Architects ‘ latest houseboat is simply spectacular. The Amsterdam-based company, which specialize in floating constructions, has truly outdone itself with the Nature Cruiser, a motorized houseboat equipped with hybrid electric drive and solar panels. The Nature Cruiser was commissioned by a German adventurer and entrepreneur who requested a motorized houseboat that would allow him to sail over lakes and rivers. Additionally, the floating home had to be just that, a modern living space that would provide the ultimate in comfort while exploring the world’s most exotic waterways. Related: Energy-neutral luxury houseboat floats in Haarlem waters Accordingly, the designers created a 15-meter-long cruiser with a slender shape punctuated with various large windows. These windows not only provide stunning views of the surroundings, but also allow natural light to brighten the interior spaces. The floor plan is comprised of a large living room, a bedroom, a bathroom and an expansive rooftop terrace. A semi-covered front and back deck provide additional space to sit and take in the views. The beautiful interior design scheme is contemporary and sleek, with warm wood panels used to clad the floors, walls and ceilings. Minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired furnishings create a cozy, inviting space. The innovative houseboat was also designed to be self-sufficient and to minimize waste. Solar panels and solar collectors are installed on the roof to generate energy and provide warm water. The Nature Cruiser also operates with a hybrid electric drive. Its integrated water and sewer systems are aimed at using water from lakes and rivers. The water is purified through the boat’s systems and then stored in a water tank. +31Architects Images via +31Architects

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A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer

These are the world’s top vegan cities

January 22, 2019 by  
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If traveling is a top priority for you in 2019 and you follow a vegan diet , there are some cities that are more vegan-friendly than others. Vegan website Happy Cow has compiled a list of the 10 most vegan-friendly cities in the world based on the number of fully-vegan restaurants, the number of vegan-option restaurants and their impression of overall vegan-friendliness. London At the top of the list is London, because the number of vegan restaurants in the city has exploded over the past year. It was the first city on the list to hit 100 completely vegan restaurants. A recent survey showed that more than a half million people are following the vegan diet in Great Britain. Related: Veganism on the rise, record number of sign-ups for Veganuary Berlin Because its vegan scene continues to grow, Berlin comes in at No. 2. There are now 65 vegan restaurants in the German city and 320 additional vegan options at restaurants within a 5-mile radius. New York City Many people consider the Big Apple to be the international food capital of the world, and its vegan scene is flourishing. There are now 64 vegan restaurants in NYC that range from fast food to upscale dining. Portland Veganism is a way of life in Portland , and that means the city has a wide variety of plant-based food options. You can easily find a vegan burger and a variety of vegan artisanal cheeses. There are also a number of vegan food carts and even a vegan bed and breakfast. Tel Aviv With an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the Israeli population being vegan, the country has the highest percentage of vegans in the world. The 31 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv serve a variety of cuisines from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Some also have a Western influence. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles, Warsaw, Toronto, Prague and Paris . + Happy Cow Image via 12019

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These are the world’s top vegan cities

Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa

January 26, 2018 by  
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Scientists have discovered the oldest known fossil of a modern human outside of Africa in Misliya Cave near Mount Carmel, Israel . The discovery reveals that modern humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. “[The fossil] provides the clearest evidence yet that our ancestors first migrated out of Africa much earlier than we previously believed,” said Binghamton University anthropology professor Rolf Quam. The fossil , which consists of an upper jawbone with several teeth still attached, is estimated to be between 175,000-200,000 years old, at least 50,000 years before humans had been thought to have first left Africa. Using microCT scans and 3D virtual models, the research team, including scientists from Tel Aviv University , Binghamton University, and the State University of New York , determined that the fossil showed signs of potential hybridization. “While all of the anatomical details in the Misliya fossil are fully consistent with modern humans, some features are also found in Neanderthals and other human groups,” said Quam , who was a study co-author. The fossil and archaeological evidence found in the cave also indicates that these early humans in historic Palestine were capable of hunting large game animals, controlling fire for their own uses, and crafting a variety of prehistoric stone tools. “It also means that modern humans were potentially meeting and interacting during a longer period of time with other archaic human groups, providing more opportunity for cultural and biological exchanges.” Related: Turns out blood-sucking ticks really did plague the dinosaurs The region in which the fossil was discovered has long been seen as a major passage for human migration out of Africa as well as a home for various species of hominids, including Neanderthals . Piecing together the story of human migration beyond the African continent is essential to understanding the evolution of our species, the researchers emphasized. The latest discovery adds key information to this story, including details regarding the timing and nature of demographic changes and genetic mixing between populations and even species of early humans. With this new chapter, the story of ourselves becomes that much clearer. Via Phys.org Images via Rolf Quam and  Israel Hershkovitz/Tel Aviv University  

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Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa

Israeli bus company to invest $2.2M in wireless charging electric roads

December 15, 2017 by  
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Wireless charging electric roads just took a big step forward, as Tel Aviv transit service Dan Bus Company announced plans to invest $2.2 million in ElectRoad . ElectRoad’s technology buries electric coils beneath roads to wirelessly charge electric vehicles as they drive. Future EV drivers may never have to worry about stopping at a charging station with ElectRoad’s technology. Several months ago, investment management company Biomedix Incubator Limited announced an intention to acquire ElectRoad, and just signed a cooperation agreement with Dan Bus Company. Should the merger be completed, Dan Bus Company will invest as much as 8 million Israeli New Shekels (NIS) (around $2.2 million) in ElectRoad. Related: Israel to test electric roads that wirelessly charge vehicles as they drive According to Globes , “The agreement with Dan includes an initial NIS 3.1 million investment and options for Biomedix shares amounting to NIS 5 million at a company value of NIS 90 million.” ElectRoad’s technology uses conduction coils to power electric cars via magnetic induction. They point to zero emissions , high efficiency, and low costs as benefits of their technology. They also say the system could allow for energy sharing between vehicles and the grid . The startup plans to gradually penetrate the market by focusing on public transportation , such as bus lanes. Globes said in their article, “The investment by Dan and the agreement between the companies indicates that public transportation companies are indeed interested in the technology.” Dan Bus Company has already rolled out some electric buses that could be charged via cable at departure stations in two to three minutes for a range of 30 kilometers , or almost 19 miles, which they said was enough for the longest urban line. Electric road technology could make such charging unnecessary. + ElectRoad Via Globes/ElectRoad Images © ElectRoad

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Israeli bus company to invest $2.2M in wireless charging electric roads

Cannabis walls add warmth to this eco-friendly home in Israel

December 4, 2017 by  
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Cannabis is good for more than just medicine—industrial hemp has its uses in eco-friendly architecture too. Haifa-based studio Tav Group built Ein Hod, an eco-minded home for artists, using hempcrete, a bio-composite made from hemp hurds, hydrated lime, and water with desirable thermal properties. Located on a hillside in a rural Israeli artist’s village, the beautiful terraced home is optimized for passive solar and ventilation to further minimize energy demands. The use of natural materials and external lime plaster helps blend the 250-square-meter Eid Hod home into the rocky terrain. Concrete is avoided save for the mandatory safety room and foundations. Locally excavated stone make up the lower floor walls, while hempcrete, set between wood framing, makes up the walls of the upper levels. Interior walls are built of rammed earth and earth-based plaster is applied throughout the light-filled interior to create a warm and comfortable non-toxic environment. Timber ties the rooms together and can be seen in the rustic furnishings, stairways, window frames, and exposed ceiling beams. The architects say the Ein Hod home is the first structure in Israel built of hempcrete , a fire-resistant plant-based material with carbon sequestration benefits. The use of lime coating also adds to hempcrete’s anti-microbial and anti-fungal advantages. However, hempcrete is no replacement for concrete; the material isn’t suitable for structural use but is an eco-friendly insulation choice, albeit a pricey one depending on where it’s used. Related: Hemp-based insulation makes a comeback in Belgium In addition to the use of hempcrete and passive solar principles , Ein Hod is also equipped with solar panels and rainwater collection as well as graywater purification systems to minimize water use. + Tav Group Images by Yoav Etiel

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Cannabis walls add warmth to this eco-friendly home in Israel

SpaceX’s upcoming launch of reused rocket marks historic first for NASA

November 30, 2017 by  
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SpaceX will launch a recycled Falcon 9 rocket into space for an upcoming NASA resupply mission to the International Space Station. While the private space travel company founded by Elon Musk has already launched previously used rockets into space and back, this marks the first instance in which the company will reuse a rocket for NASA. “NASA participated in a broad range of SpaceX data assessments and inspections regarding use of a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage booster,” said NASA in a statement made to The Verge , confirming the groundbreaking launch. This institutional support from the agency marks a major accomplishment for SpaceX, which has emphasized the promise of its reusable rockets. A typical SpaceX mission involving a Falcon 9 rocket includes an initial launch into space, where it completes a particular objective such as cargo delivery or placing satellites into orbit, followed by a return into Earth’s atmosphere and a landing onto one of SpaceX’s launching pads. It is possible that these Falcon 9 rockets could be used for three or more launches, though further testing is required. Related: SpaceX is sending two private citizens to the moon next year At the moment, only a few of SpaceX’s customers, such as Luxembourg-based communications company SES and satellite operator Bulgaria Sat , have opted for resuable rockets. However, the numbers are poised to grow, particularly after SpaceX’s upcoming launch with NASA .  Israeli satellite operator Spacecom has decided to launch a new satellite with SpaceX’s reused rockets, despite past challenges involving the destruction of a Spacecom satellite when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket it was to be launched on exploded. While NASA has voiced optimism about expanding its use of resuable rockets, it has also made clear that it will tread carefully in using this new technology. Meanwhile, the US military has offered some positive words for reused rockets, with General John W. “Jay” Raymond, head of US Air Force Space Command, claiming to Bloomberg that it would be “absolutely foolish” to not explore the option as a cost-saving measure. Via The Verge Images via SpaceX/Flickr   (1)

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SpaceX’s upcoming launch of reused rocket marks historic first for NASA

What innovation looks like when water is a strategic resource

September 27, 2017 by  
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Learning from Israel’s leadership.

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What innovation looks like when water is a strategic resource

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