How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

May 27, 2020 by  
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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair Elsa Wenzel Wed, 05/27/2020 – 02:00 Doing away with a culture of disposability is one of the big dreams of the circular economy. A jolt in this direction came overnight as COVID-19 drove people indoors, forcing many to rethink how they reduce, reuse or recycle items they took for granted only weeks earlier. As U.S. unemployment claims soared to 30 million, buying non-essentials became an act of either audacity or foolishness. Even window shopping has been confined to a web browser. People have been making every can of beans and square of toilet paper last. “Like it or not, the coronavirus is changing the rules of consumption,” said GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy during the Circularity Digital virtual event last week. “Millions of consumers are putting off retail purchases and looking at the stuff in their closets and cabinets and desktops in a very different way. Why should this item be thrown away when it could be repaired or refreshed and for that matter, how long should I expect these things to last?” However, most brands are in the business of selling something new, so circular economy efforts generally have tended to put repair at the bottom of the menu. Will this pandemic create a lasting change in priorities for business and end users alike? There’s no surefire answer for now, but some of the people thinking the hardest about what all of this means are those who work in product design. Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., works hands-on with denim, zippers and buttons. Being stuck at home lately has been tough. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. “It’s called on all of my home [economics] skills, all of my ability to prototype and ideate using just the materials around my house, which has been a really exciting exercise,” Dillinger said. “It has challenged me to remember a lot of the skill set we don’t often call upon to make from nothing, to repair the broken things around us.” Embracing imperfections and repairs is part of his vision for a pair of jeans to be loved and worn for a decade until ultimately being recycled. Levi’s heritage, after all, began with durable canvas work pants worn by miners around the California gold rush. “Everyone’s favorite jean has a repair in it, a stain they don’t mind,” he said. “That mustard was a great ballgame. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product.” With that mindset, Dillinger led the design of Levi’s innovative Wellthread shirts, jackets and jeans, which launched in 2015. The company rebuilt blue jeans for recyclability, also slashing the use of water and being mindful of workers’ well-being. A Wellthread denim jacket in the line, for example, uses four technologies to incorporate recovered, chemically recycled and mechanically recycled cotton in the buttons, exterior denim and lining. The end result is 100 percent cellulosic material, the type of single, “clean” input that’s easiest for a recycling system to handle, which is why simple glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers have such a long recycling track record. Wellthread jeans contrast with others that are labeled as cotton but actually use blended materials, including polyester, throughout. If it were up to Dillinger, the industry would be a blank page for design. But reality has a lot of stuff in it already — most of it barely used or valued. Six out of 10 garments are incinerated within a year of production, according to McKinsey research. That means important and scarce natural resources are ruthlessly consumed and discarded, like the more than 3,700 liters of water needed to produce a pair of jeans. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. Fast fashion and high-performance fabrics have compounded waste by accelerating the output of apparel that’s virtually impossible to recycle. Take, for example, a blend of wool, viscose, polyamide and cashmere in a scarf or sweater. “You would need a solvent for one, a mechanical process for another, heat for another,” Dillinger said. The problem is shared across industries, including in electronics, which make up the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to a United Nations University report in 2017 . The fate of the rest is mostly unknown, probably either landfilled, reused or recycled informally. For Ed Boyd, an inside look at a recycling plant was a wake-up call. The senior vice president of Dell’s Experience Design Group recently visited a new Wistron electronics recycling plant in Dallas, one of the largest in North America. A typical notebook computer includes more than 200 ingredients, only a handful of which can be processed by such a facility. The rest get separated and sent around the planet for handling. “I’ve been involved in recycling materials for a long time, but seeing it firsthand in that kind of environment was kind of daunting,” Boyd said. “I was looking at this through a designer’s eyes thinking, I’ve kind of created this problem. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. And that has kicked off a lot of exciting work at Dell really aiming at changing that.” Over the past few years, Dell already has been getting more questions from customers about environmental impacts, reflecting a dramatic shift in sentiment that’s pushing electronics makers to rethink their approaches, Boyd said. Dell’s “moonshot goals” for 2030 include three things: for an equivalent product to be reused or recycled for every item bought by a customer; for recycled or renewable materials to make up all its packaging; and for more than half of the materials in its products to be made of recycled or renewable materials. Dell already has plucked some of the low-hanging fruit of closed-loop materials, such as by using reclaimed ocean plastics . In 2011, it introduced the use of mushroom-based cushioning to ship servers. Boyd said the PC maker is exploring with its suppliers how to rethink core product components responsibly, including battery cells, motherboards and displays. It’s also considering biopolymers to prevent waste and solar-powered smelting to reduce manufacturing footprints. And Boyd wants Dell to innovate by creating products that can be assembled and later disassembled quickly, extending life cycles by enabling repeated cycles of reuse or upcycling. That’s been the objective for DIY advocates such as Kyle Wiens, at the forefront of the right to repair movement for more than 15 years. The CEO and co-founder of the iFixit repair website, famous for ticking off Apple, pointed out how the 30 or so metals inside a given cell phone have a low recovery rate, making product reuse more efficient than recycling at this time. “It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society,” Wiens said. “I hope we’re moving in the other direction.” iFixit helps 100 million people a year fix things, including one in every five Californians, Wiens said. The company sees eight figures in annual sales of toolkits, switches, spark plugs and other parts, but its repairs database is free. It offers nearly 63,000 crowdsourced manuals and advice for an amazing assortment of products, including cars, garden hoses, jacket zippers and PCs. Some 70,000 people have accessed iFixIt’s instructions for repairing a countertop Starbucks Barista machine. iFixIt also rates products for their accessibility to fixers. A Dell Inspiron laptop that can be opened with a Phillips screwdriver got a 10 out of 10 score, while a Microsoft Surface that needed to be cut open received a score of three. (An upgrade later earned that model’s successor two more points.) Wiens is excited that iFixit is diving into on-demand 3D printing, starting with a component it sells for a coffee maker. He said he’d like to collaborate with companies to create products designed from the outset with components that can be printed in case of a breakdown. “We really think it needs to be a partnership between the repair community and the manufacturer to make it work,” he said. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Since the pandemic hemmed most of society into their homes, iFixit has seen a spike in searches for fixing devices, laptops and the Nintendo Switch. Last week, it dove into new territory and activism by publishing 13,000 manuals for medical devices , everything from hospital bed headboards to nebulizers to scales, becoming the world’s largest source of details for medical repairs. The company is hoping this ambitious effort will lighten the workloads of the exhausted biomedical technicians who keep hospital equipment humming and beeping. For better or worse, most appliances rely on human muscle and brainpower for longevity. But information technology is beginning to change some of this.  Boyd is intrigued by the possibility of “self-healing” electronics that reconstitute or repair themselves, made possible by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI already helps predict when a laptop battery will fail. Also further out, and in Dell’s planning stages, is how to augment and design equipment that improves over the course of a decade or two. Product-as-a-service models could become part of an industry transformation, he said, eliminating the need for companies to keep up revenues by releasing whole new lines of modestly updated electronics every year. “We’re having an interesting moment in technology right now, with the birth of 5G and strong cloud connectivity — we can make products in the future that don’t degrade; they actually get better,” Boyd said. Dillinger, on the other hand, wants to remind people to “get a little analog” and take a stab at sewing a button. iFixit has directions for that, too. Pull Quote There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Topics Circular Economy Consumer Electronics Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Automation is only part of the picture. Shutterstock Serggod Close Authorship

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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair Elsa Wenzel Wed, 05/27/2020 – 02:00 Doing away with a culture of disposability is one of the big dreams of the circular economy. A jolt in this direction came overnight as COVID-19 drove people indoors, forcing many to rethink how they reduce, reuse or recycle items they took for granted only weeks earlier. As U.S. unemployment claims soared to 30 million, buying non-essentials became an act of either audacity or foolishness. Even window shopping has been confined to a web browser. People have been making every can of beans and square of toilet paper last. “Like it or not, the coronavirus is changing the rules of consumption,” said GreenBiz Editorial Director Heather Clancy during the Circularity Digital virtual event last week. “Millions of consumers are putting off retail purchases and looking at the stuff in their closets and cabinets and desktops in a very different way. Why should this item be thrown away when it could be repaired or refreshed and for that matter, how long should I expect these things to last?” However, most brands are in the business of selling something new, so circular economy efforts generally have tended to put repair at the bottom of the menu. Will this pandemic create a lasting change in priorities for business and end users alike? There’s no surefire answer for now, but some of the people thinking the hardest about what all of this means are those who work in product design. Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co., works hands-on with denim, zippers and buttons. Being stuck at home lately has been tough. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. “It’s called on all of my home [economics] skills, all of my ability to prototype and ideate using just the materials around my house, which has been a really exciting exercise,” Dillinger said. “It has challenged me to remember a lot of the skill set we don’t often call upon to make from nothing, to repair the broken things around us.” Embracing imperfections and repairs is part of his vision for a pair of jeans to be loved and worn for a decade until ultimately being recycled. Levi’s heritage, after all, began with durable canvas work pants worn by miners around the California gold rush. “Everyone’s favorite jean has a repair in it, a stain they don’t mind,” he said. “That mustard was a great ballgame. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product.” With that mindset, Dillinger led the design of Levi’s innovative Wellthread shirts, jackets and jeans, which launched in 2015. The company rebuilt blue jeans for recyclability, also slashing the use of water and being mindful of workers’ well-being. A Wellthread denim jacket in the line, for example, uses four technologies to incorporate recovered, chemically recycled and mechanically recycled cotton in the buttons, exterior denim and lining. The end result is 100 percent cellulosic material, the type of single, “clean” input that’s easiest for a recycling system to handle, which is why simple glass bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers have such a long recycling track record. Wellthread jeans contrast with others that are labeled as cotton but actually use blended materials, including polyester, throughout. If it were up to Dillinger, the industry would be a blank page for design. But reality has a lot of stuff in it already — most of it barely used or valued. Six out of 10 garments are incinerated within a year of production, according to McKinsey research. That means important and scarce natural resources are ruthlessly consumed and discarded, like the more than 3,700 liters of water needed to produce a pair of jeans. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. Fast fashion and high-performance fabrics have compounded waste by accelerating the output of apparel that’s virtually impossible to recycle. Take, for example, a blend of wool, viscose, polyamide and cashmere in a scarf or sweater. “You would need a solvent for one, a mechanical process for another, heat for another,” Dillinger said. The problem is shared across industries, including in electronics, which make up the world’s fastest-growing waste stream. Only 20 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to a United Nations University report in 2017 . The fate of the rest is mostly unknown, probably either landfilled, reused or recycled informally. For Ed Boyd, an inside look at a recycling plant was a wake-up call. The senior vice president of Dell’s Experience Design Group recently visited a new Wistron electronics recycling plant in Dallas, one of the largest in North America. A typical notebook computer includes more than 200 ingredients, only a handful of which can be processed by such a facility. The rest get separated and sent around the planet for handling. “I’ve been involved in recycling materials for a long time, but seeing it firsthand in that kind of environment was kind of daunting,” Boyd said. “I was looking at this through a designer’s eyes thinking, I’ve kind of created this problem. There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. And that has kicked off a lot of exciting work at Dell really aiming at changing that.” Over the past few years, Dell already has been getting more questions from customers about environmental impacts, reflecting a dramatic shift in sentiment that’s pushing electronics makers to rethink their approaches, Boyd said. Dell’s “moonshot goals” for 2030 include three things: for an equivalent product to be reused or recycled for every item bought by a customer; for recycled or renewable materials to make up all its packaging; and for more than half of the materials in its products to be made of recycled or renewable materials. Dell already has plucked some of the low-hanging fruit of closed-loop materials, such as by using reclaimed ocean plastics . In 2011, it introduced the use of mushroom-based cushioning to ship servers. Boyd said the PC maker is exploring with its suppliers how to rethink core product components responsibly, including battery cells, motherboards and displays. It’s also considering biopolymers to prevent waste and solar-powered smelting to reduce manufacturing footprints. And Boyd wants Dell to innovate by creating products that can be assembled and later disassembled quickly, extending life cycles by enabling repeated cycles of reuse or upcycling. That’s been the objective for DIY advocates such as Kyle Wiens, at the forefront of the right to repair movement for more than 15 years. The CEO and co-founder of the iFixit repair website, famous for ticking off Apple, pointed out how the 30 or so metals inside a given cell phone have a low recovery rate, making product reuse more efficient than recycling at this time. “It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society,” Wiens said. “I hope we’re moving in the other direction.” iFixit helps 100 million people a year fix things, including one in every five Californians, Wiens said. The company sees eight figures in annual sales of toolkits, switches, spark plugs and other parts, but its repairs database is free. It offers nearly 63,000 crowdsourced manuals and advice for an amazing assortment of products, including cars, garden hoses, jacket zippers and PCs. Some 70,000 people have accessed iFixIt’s instructions for repairing a countertop Starbucks Barista machine. iFixIt also rates products for their accessibility to fixers. A Dell Inspiron laptop that can be opened with a Phillips screwdriver got a 10 out of 10 score, while a Microsoft Surface that needed to be cut open received a score of three. (An upgrade later earned that model’s successor two more points.) Wiens is excited that iFixit is diving into on-demand 3D printing, starting with a component it sells for a coffee maker. He said he’d like to collaborate with companies to create products designed from the outset with components that can be printed in case of a breakdown. “We really think it needs to be a partnership between the repair community and the manufacturer to make it work,” he said. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Since the pandemic hemmed most of society into their homes, iFixit has seen a spike in searches for fixing devices, laptops and the Nintendo Switch. Last week, it dove into new territory and activism by publishing 13,000 manuals for medical devices , everything from hospital bed headboards to nebulizers to scales, becoming the world’s largest source of details for medical repairs. The company is hoping this ambitious effort will lighten the workloads of the exhausted biomedical technicians who keep hospital equipment humming and beeping. For better or worse, most appliances rely on human muscle and brainpower for longevity. But information technology is beginning to change some of this.  Boyd is intrigued by the possibility of “self-healing” electronics that reconstitute or repair themselves, made possible by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI already helps predict when a laptop battery will fail. Also further out, and in Dell’s planning stages, is how to augment and design equipment that improves over the course of a decade or two. Product-as-a-service models could become part of an industry transformation, he said, eliminating the need for companies to keep up revenues by releasing whole new lines of modestly updated electronics every year. “We’re having an interesting moment in technology right now, with the birth of 5G and strong cloud connectivity — we can make products in the future that don’t degrade; they actually get better,” Boyd said. Dillinger, on the other hand, wants to remind people to “get a little analog” and take a stab at sewing a button. iFixit has directions for that, too. Pull Quote There’s got to be a better design solution to address end of life, how [products] can easily be refurbished, upcycled and disassembled. It feels like we’ve moved to this throwaway society. I hope we’re moving in the other direction. The story of our lives [is] written in our jeans. People will resonate with that far more than with a disposable, unrepairable, unresolvable product. Topics Circular Economy Consumer Electronics Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Automation is only part of the picture. Shutterstock Serggod Close Authorship

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How Dell and Levi’s envision the future of repair

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession 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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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession 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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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

May 26, 2020 by  
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Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million Heather Clancy Tue, 05/26/2020 – 06:01 While overall startup funding is down this quarter because of the economic disruption brought on by COVID-19, entrepreneurs focused on solving climate-related problems have been bucking the trend . This morning brings one of the biggest deals yet this year: an infusion of $250 million in new financing for food waste crusader Apeel Sciences . What’s more, the funding pushes the Santa Barbara, California-based company’s valuation to more than $1 billion — a status dubbed in VC circles as “unicorn.” Cumulatively speaking, Apeel has raised $360 million, including the new funding. The lead backer on the latest round is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, which explicitly embeds sustainability considerations into its investments. Other “participating” investors are Viking Global Investors, Upfront Investors, Tao Capital Partners and Rock Creek Group. There are also two highly recognizable minority “non-participating” investors: pop star Katy Perry and media queen Oprah Winfrey, who previously invested in Apeel in 2019.  “I hate to see food wasted, when there are so many people in the world who are going without,” Winfrey said in the funding press release. “Apeel can extend the life of fresh produce, which is critical to our food supply and to our planet too.” Food waste is responsible for generating close to 6 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions: for perspective, that’s three times the amount generated by the aviation industry. The issue has been exacerbated by the pandemic: Farmers have been forced to bury vegetables and pour milk down drains, while livestock operations have been forced to euthanize animals with slaughtering capacity idled during the quarantine. Apeel, which got its start in 2012 with a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has attracted funding from many high-profile funds, such as Andreessen Horowitz, as well as several firms that have championed a focus on climate tech including S2G Ventures, DBL Partners and Powerplant Ventures. The startup’s product is literally a peel — made from fruit and vegetable matter — that can be used to coat everything from limes to avocados to mandarin oranges to apples. It’s applied in packaging facilities or warehouses using a water-based formula. That layer extends the shelf life of the produce so that it is less likely to spoil during its journey to the retailer and so that it lasts longer on display. The company says each item can last two to three times longer, because Apeel’s coating slows water loss and oxidation. What’s more, the coating is edible and because it’s made from plant matter, it can be used on organic products. One reason Apeel’s approach is so, well, appealing is that it’s intended to give nature a boost: fruits and vegetables already seal themselves with a substance called cutin; Apeel’s product helps make that seal last longer .   I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. “I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales,” Adrielle Dankier, chief commercial officer for Nature’s Pride, a Dutch importer of fruits and vegetables that is applying Apeel to avocados, said in a customer video. Since 2018, the company has saved more than 3 million avocados by using the product, according to the testimonial. Other organizations featured in the customer video (below) are Cata Fresh, a Spanish exporter of everything from melons to onions, and Sage Fruit, which specializes in pears, cherries and apples. The company is working with suppliers, retails and growers — “ranging from smallholder farmers and local organic growers to the world’s largest food brands and retailers.”  Some of its partners include Kroger (the largest U.S. food retailer), Edeka (Germany’s biggest supermarket company) and Sailing Group (the largest retail group in Denmark). Apeel’s coating is being used in dozens of produce categories. This year, it could save up to 20 million pieces of fruit from going to waste in stores — it also can help extend the shelf life at home. The new funding will enable Apeel to continue is international expansion, especially in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and South America — places where there are higher rates of both food waste and food insecurity. The company operates primarily in the United States and Europe today. In a statement emailed to GreenBiz, a company spokesperson said interest in Apeel has grown since the pandemic. “Our capital raise comes at a critical time — making it possible to accelerate our efforts to improve resilience across the supply chain while it works to rebuild, and provide a better path forward now and into the future,” the Apeel spokesperson said in emailed answers to several questions submitted about the funding. “Food service organizations are also an integral part of the fresh food supply chain and another channel that has been greatly impacted as a result of the pandemic. Our efforts to improve efficiencies through the supply chain will absolutely include this sector, as well as work to help food service distributors and operators reduce waste.” Pull Quote I think it gives confidence to put more product on the shelf. What we have seen is like a 50 percent [reduction] of waste, and then also a double-digit growth of sales. Topics Food & Agriculture Climate Tech Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apeel coats fruits and vegetables with an edible layer that can is designed to extend shelf life by two to three times. Courtesy of Apeel Sciences Close Authorship

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Food waste startup backed by Oprah Winfrey snags $250 million

9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

November 27, 2019 by  
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Shopping is an ubiquitous part of American culture that peaks during the holiday season in spurts of deal-hunting and gift-giving. Anyone who has made efforts to go zero-waste or plastic-free knows how difficult it can be to maintain those goals while finding meaningful presents for loved ones. So when Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, you might experience the internal conflict of responsibility to the planet with the desire to give gifts. We love that you love the planet, so we’ve put together some ideas of ways to enjoy the season without leaving behind a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. Watch packaging  When it comes to gifting, watch out for extra packaging, especially plastic foam and molded, unrecyclable plastic . Consider buying items in bulk, as long as they have less packaging and won’t go to waste. You can also bring your own containers for bulk products like bath salts, pet treats and food. As always, bring your own reusable shopping bags, and decline the offer of plastic bags from the store. Related: Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping Support sustainable companies More and more companies are working to source natural materials and manufacture products in a sustainable way. Reward their efforts by supporting them as your first choice in gift-giving. For example, select bracelets made from ocean plastic, shoes or sunglasses made from coffee grounds or indoor gardens sourced from recycled plastic. Look for companies that ship using recyclable materials, too. While smaller, sustainably minded companies may not have a flashy ads online or on the TV, they are out there and will often offer discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday just like the giant box retailers. You just have to do a little bit of searching. Make your own gifts The most sustainable way to enjoy Black Friday is to be in complete control of the materials used in your gifts. Instead of heading out for pre-packaged and wasteful options, take a trip into the local pottery studio and make some plates, a popcorn bowl or a mug to give as a gift. Upcycle by gathering up special T-shirts and other clothing to have a company make them into a memory quilt (if you have sewing skills, you can also DIY !). Set another date on the calendar for a craft party, and invite friends, family and neighbors to gather and make gifts. Use the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts to score some deals at the craft store. Just be sure to look for products that don’t include plastic and emphasize natural materials like hemp, grapevine and organic fabrics. Choose green technology A quick glance through most holiday catalogs will highlight deals on electronics. If TVs and other modern gadgets are on your list, research models that consume less energy and purchase solar-powered items when they are an option. Go for durability While it is likely that not every item you purchase throughout the season will fully fit the sustainability bill, one way you can help the planet is in waste reduction. To meet this goal, keep in mind that a long-lasting product will create less waste than one that is quickly disposed of. Research your purchases and go for items made with real wood instead of pressboard, strong metals instead of flimsy ones and natural materials instead of plastic (think wooden picnic tables and rocking horses for toddlers). The same goes for jewelry, clothing, furniture, kitchen items and decor. Quality counts, both for the gift recipient and for the planet. Look for eco-friendly materials Especially when it comes to textiles , the materials used in production can make a huge difference in the amount of pollutants that end up in waterways and landfills. Select natural fibers for sheets, towels, blankets and clothing. The most obvious example is organic cotton , which eliminates the toxic chemicals such as insecticides, pesticides and fungicides used in traditional cotton production. Minimize driving and stops Stop-and-go city traffic is guilty for contributing to air pollution , so do your part by limiting the number of stores at which you shop. Pick one store for your purchases, or select stores near each other. Even better than driving is to take public transit, bike or walk from shop to shop. Shop local Depending on where you live, shopping local is likely the best thing you can do for the environment. You get bonus points if you can shop at a nearby craft mall or import store with a focus on eco-friendly and/or locally made products. If you do hit up the online deals for Cyber Monday, follow the suggestions above in regards to buying from sustainably minded companies and observing packaging and shipping practices. Gift wrap naturally Once you’ve made or purchased your gifts, continue the eco-friendly trend with thoughtful gift wrapping. Use natural fabric or paper, and accessorize with leaves, flowers, small branches, nuts or fruit. Alternately, recycle greeting cards into gift tags, upcycle tablecloths and pillow cases, put gifts inside gorgeous reusable bags or organize a gift basket with no wrap at all. Images via Shutterstock

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9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go?

October 24, 2019 by  
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Challenge your knowledge about where your trash and recycled materials … The post Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #76: Where Does Your Garbage Go?

Using Reclaimed Materials in Your Home & Yard

October 3, 2019 by  
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When most of us think of landfills, we think of … The post Using Reclaimed Materials in Your Home & Yard appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Using Reclaimed Materials in Your Home & Yard

Infographic: How Long Do Different Roofing Materials Last?

October 1, 2019 by  
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Do you need to replace your roof, but you’re not … The post Infographic: How Long Do Different Roofing Materials Last? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Infographic: How Long Do Different Roofing Materials Last?

We Earthlings: 1.1 Billion Lbs. of Pesticides

October 1, 2019 by  
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American agriculture is heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers. According to … The post We Earthlings: 1.1 Billion Lbs. of Pesticides appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: 1.1 Billion Lbs. of Pesticides

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