Certifications matter more than ever and brands should be promoting them

October 6, 2020 by  
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Certifications matter more than ever and brands should be promoting them Suzanne Shelton Tue, 10/06/2020 – 00:30 I’ve written quite a bit lately about how Americans are experiencing a “Maslow moment”  right now. Concerns about the environment are taking a backseat to worries about basic needs — our health and our economy (at both the macro and personal level). But that doesn’t mean we’re not at all worried about the environment. According to our latest polling of Americans in May, 43 percent of us are more concerned about climate change, 41 percent of us are more concerned about plastics in the ocean and 39 percent of us are more concerned about deforestation and environmental destruction than we were a year ago. While the percentage of Americans worried about these issues has gone down by a quarter to a third for the moment, the remaining 40 percent of us who are worrying about these issues are worrying more intensely. So what are we doing with that worry? At Shelton Group, we’ve seen for several years that Americans are increasingly working to manage their environmental concerns via their purchases. About a quarter of Americans, in fact, can name a brand — unaided — that they’ve purchased or not purchased because of the environmental record of the manufacturer. Which begs the question: How do they know a product is green? Americans are increasingly working to manage their environmental concerns via their purchases. If we go back in time to 2014, the No. 1 answer by far was, “I read the ingredients/detail on the package.” So Americans have trusted their own knowledge base as a way to determine what details or storylines matter most — and they’ve trusted brands to be honest with them. Fast forward to 2020 and while “I read the package” is still the No. 1 answer, it’s slipped a bit. And a significant number have lost confidence in their own ability to judge whether a product is green — 23 percent now say there’s no way to know. But one measure has gained traction that, in fact, is a way to know whether a product is green: third-party certifications. This is worth unpacking further for brands: 87 percent of Americans say green certifications are important when purchasing a product. So certifications can and should be used as a way to validate a brand’s green claims. But it’s not just about influencing purchases; certifications build trust: Energy Star and USDA Organic are named as the best third-party certifiers in ensuring a product is green (although Energy Star slipped significantly from 2014) and, not surprisingly, they’re the two most trusted third-party certifiers, with 69 percent of Americans mostly-to-completely trusting Energy Star and 46 percent mostly-to-completely trusting USDA Organic. Also not surprisingly, awareness is closely linked to trust. Let’s look at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), whose label indicates whether a product was sustainably sourced (and full disclosure, it is a Shelton Group client). 52 percent of Americans have heard of the SFI label, and 90 percent of those people say they trust it. So awareness of the label can drive trust in the label and, by extension, the brand. That’s the most important piece for brands: Certifications on packaging/labels engender more trust than a brand’s advertising or press. And certifications backed by scientists would do ostensibly better, given that scientists are among the top three most trusted sources. The moral of the story for brands is that you should use third-party certifications, and once you’re using them, you should promote them and leverage their trustworthiness to communicate your green product story. This starts on pack. Don’t just put the third-party certification logo on your package, tell the story of why it’s on your package. Back to our client SFI: We often see their logo on packaging accompanied by a sentence that sounds as if it were written by the brand’s lawyers instead of a compelling message that communicates the value of forests in fighting climate change. Get the compelling message on your package to build both awareness and value in certifications which, in turn, will build value and believability in your sustainability story. (And if you’re an SFI user, reach out to them about this — we’ve crafted an entire toolkit of messages you can use on pack that we know will resonate with consumers.) Now, don’t limit your efforts to packaging; communicate about your third-party certifications in your social and digital efforts. Ensure people know about each certification you use, tell the story about what they each mean and why you’ve partnered with them. It’ll buy your brand more trust — and your sustainability story more credibility — than simply running an ad talking about your sustainability efforts or a press release with your latest goal announcements. In our current environment — where legitimate news organizations are branded as “fake news,” actual fake news is tough to spot and Americans are in the streets and on social media demanding change from governments and companies — certifications can be a trusted, trustworthy “spokesperson” that brands, and Americans, can rely on. Pull Quote Americans are increasingly working to manage their environmental concerns via their purchases. Topics Marketing & Communication Standards & Certification Market Intelligence Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably 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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Certifications matter more than ever and brands should be promoting them

Mysterious seeds from China arriving in mail across America

July 30, 2020 by  
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Agricultural officials from several states have expressed alarm over unsolicited packages of seeds delivered to residents. The packages appear to come from China, as they feature China Post labeling. Agricultural officers advise farmers not to plant the seeds, in case they are harmful or invasive. Warnings sent out to farmers and residents follow reports of unsolicited seed packages being delivered in residents’ mail. Several people reported receiving seeds in white pouches that featured Chinese writing and the words “China Post.” Another concerning detail is that the seed packages were not labeled as food or agricultural products. Envelopes included misleading labels, with some listing the contents as jewelry, toys or earbuds. States that have released public notices against planting the unsolicited seeds include Washington, Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Dakota, Texas, Alabama and Florida. Kentucky , one of the first states to receive reports of unsolicited seeds, issued warnings to residents. As Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, wrote on Twitter, residents should “put the package and seeds in a zip lock bag and wash your hands immediately.” Residents must also send any seeds they receive to the Department of Agriculture. Following the reports, several other states, including Arkansas, Michigan , Oregon and New Jersey, issued warnings to residents. Such measures may help prevent farmers from planting harmful, contaminated seeds. The Chinese Embassy in Washington claims these China Post packages “to be fake ones with erroneous layouts and entries.” Cecilia Sequeira, spokesperson for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the department is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop illegal importation of prohibited seeds. Should you receive any mysterious seeds in the mail, report it to the nearest Agriculture Office. + NY Times Image via Pexels

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Mysterious seeds from China arriving in mail across America

The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping

June 20, 2019 by  
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In as little as a few clicks and confirmations your online purchase can be at your doorstep in a matter of hours. Online shopping is so simple there is barely enough time to consider the process your order goes through in order to reach its destination, not to mention the cost! It’s easy to condemn Americans’ obsession with online retail as unsustainable over-consumption, but when the numbers are pitted against in-store shopping, online shopping is actually the more eco-friendly option. Think of delivery services as public transportation for your packages, where everyone’s package rides the same bus instead of your personal car. Online shopping Online shopping constitutes one out of every seven purchases around the world, that’s nearly 15 percent of all shopping. The online retail industry is worth over $3.5 trillion, a massive total that rises by 20 percent every year. The average carbon footprint of a package is difficult to calculate because there are huge discrepancies. For example, the time and resources used comparing a local clothing delivery and a refrigerator that travels across the world from China. The advantages In Britain, the average package produces just six ounces of carbon dioxide, which sounds tiny but has to be multiplied by millions of deliveries. Going to the store to pick up your item and back, averaging an estimated 13 miles, produces approximately 144 ounces of carbon dioxide , which is 24 times more than the delivered package. You would have to pick up 24 items in order to break even. According to a researcher and author of Decarbonizing Logistics , even when you consider mis-deliveries and returns, the averages point to online shopping as a more environmentally-friendly option. Nowadays, many popular brands no longer have (or never had) storefronts. The carbon footprint of running a website alone is also drastically less than the energy it takes to power and maintain a building space. The disadvantages The biggest polluter for delivery services is the last mile, and those emissions are multiplied every time the delivery is unsuccessful. Between 12 and 60 percent of all deliveries are unsuccessful on the first try, so they often make a second or third attempt. If they are still unsuccessful, the consumer must drive to a warehouse to pick up the package– negating all benefits in terms of carbon emissions . Furthermore, about one fifth of all products purchased online are returned, which can double the carbon footprint. In-store shopping The advantages Shopping in person partially cuts down on returns because customers are able to touch, see and try on the items before purchasing. This means they are more likely to select something they like and that fits them and avoid the common online practice of buying one item in a few sizes and returning all but one. Additional advantages of in-store shopping lie in the personal choices people make to reduce their carbon footprint. Many people walk or bike to stores, while others utilize public transportation . Although a bus still has a carbon footprint, you technically aren’t adding additional emissions since the bus was simply completing a pre-determined route. Moreover, shoppers tend to purchase more than one item at a time, which minimizes the emissions per item. The disadvantages Depending on the distance the consumer travels and their mode of transportation, online shopping is highly inefficient. In most cases, shoppers drive individually in personal cars to malls or commercial areas. Although shoppers can make personal choices to cut down their emissions, such as carpooling and staying local, research shows these steps still do not compensate for the benefits of online shopping . Related: Over 6000 employees demand Amazon take climate change seriously How to make smarter shopping choices New innovations Delivery services are growing rapidly and getting creative. Amazon is piloting drone deliveries and other companies are experimenting with ground-based robots. New apps and shared economy services are also popping up, like bike courier companies. One innovative app called Roadie is playing with the idea of a package hitchhiking system that connects your package with a delivery already heading in that direction. Slow shopping You’ve heard of slow food , but it turns out that slow deliveries might be more environmentally friendly too. Most people who can afford it opt for speedy deliveries, but this forces retailers to send packages out individually, immediately and sometimes in emptier trucks just in order to meet deadlines. With the wiggle room of a few more days, shippers can bundle items going to a similar location together and reduce the number of trips and emissions. Buy Local If you can walk or bike to the store, that’s a great option. If you have to ship something, check out different retailers and chose the one located closest to you. The less distance your package travels, the lower the carbon footprint. Conspicuous consumption There are a few ways to be a more responsible buyer. If you know a delivery is coming, make sure to be home when the delivery arrives so it does not have to double back. Select slower delivery times when not in a rush and shop more purposefully to avoid returns. Overall, the best way to reduce retail-related emissions is to buy less! Carefully consider what you need and do not buy items that you will barely use. But most importantly, always consider all items before a purchase. Are they necessary? Afterall, an item not purchased has the lowest footprint. Via Ensia Images via StockSnap , HutchRock, kasjanf, RouteXL

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Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

June 20, 2019 by  
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If the summer heat is already getting you hot and sweaty, cool down at this amazing tiny home water park in Wisconsin Dells. Guests to the Dells Resorts park have a number of accommodation options, but one of the best by far is this gorgeous tiny home built by Bantam Built Homes , which sits next to the park’s natural lagoon. The Bantam tiny home , which sleeps four, blends in nicely with the natural surroundings of the resort. Clad in a blend of dark wood and copper, the exterior boasts a tiny deck with a glass door that leads into a spectacular living space. Related: Try out tiny house living in Oregon’s new micro-home resort in Mt. Hood The home’s interior is light and airy, brightened by natural light from an abundance of windows. The compact kitchen comes with all of the basic amenities, including plenty of counter space and full-size appliances. To the right of the kitchen, the living room is made up of a sofa with what appears to be an attractive wooden accent wall. However, the wall actually conceals a mattress that can be folded out into a bed. Past the kitchen, a ladder leads up to the comfy sleeping loft , which has enough space for a queen-sized bed. Underneath the loft, the designers added a spacious bathroom with a large vanity, a stand-up shower, a toilet and an ingenious sliding shelf unit for linens. In addition to its charming tiny home accommodations, the water park also features a number of eco-friendly practices. The water pond, for example, is kept clean using natural elements instead of harmful chemicals and uses a waterfall to add extra oxygen to the water. + Dell Resorts + Bantam Built Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Bantam Built Homes

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Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

New Airstream trailer is built to tackle off-roading for 40K

August 1, 2018 by  
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Want to tackle rough roads in style? Airstream , the makers of the iconic “silver bullet” trailers, has just unveiled the new Basecamp X Package, a compact camper specifically designed for rugged roads. The all-terrain Basecamp X Package comes with a convertible and multifunctional rear space that delivers style and the comforts of home to any adventure off the beaten path. Clad in shiny aluminum panels, the Basecamp X Package is the more rugged cousin of Basecamp , a tiny trailer launched two years ago. The newly unveiled trailer offers all the standard Basecamp features—such as versatile storage solutions throughout and a solar pre-wire kit for renewable power hookups—as well as brand-new features. These include a three-inch lift kit for added ground clearance, Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, a stainless steel front stone guard, a solar front window protection, and a black shadow wheel design. “Our Basecamp X encourages you to go on bigger adventures,” said Airstream CEO and President Bob Wheeler in a press release. “You can tackle rough roads and cold-weather driving with confidence. “The higher departure angle along with the aerodynamic design opens up a new world to explore.” Related: Airstream’s new Basecamp is a tiny house you can tow practically anywhere The compact unit has a base weight of just 2,635 pounds—with a maximum trailer capacity (GVWR) of 3,500 pounds—and can be easily adapted for eating, sleeping, lounging or storage. Large rear cargo hatches make loading and unloading easy. The Basecamp X Package is towable with a variety of small and mid-sized SUVs and Crossovers. The pricing for the Basecamp X Package units starts at $39,600. + Airstream

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New Airstream trailer is built to tackle off-roading for 40K

UPS is developing an electric delivery truck with a startup

August 1, 2018 by  
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The odds are growing that the package you’ve been waiting for will be delivered in a truck powered by a battery.Delivery giant UPS announced this week that it’s partnered with a small tech startup called Thor Trucks, based in Los Angeles, to create and test out an electric delivery vehicle.The truck, a class 6 with a battery range of 100 miles, is supposed to be available later this year. UPS will test it out over a 6-month period and determine whether it wants to make a larger purchase order. 

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UPS is developing an electric delivery truck with a startup

The circular economy will put businesses in a spin

March 1, 2016 by  
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The EU’s new circular economy package will bring significant changes to how businesses operate — but change is good.

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The circular economy will put businesses in a spin

NYC’s plans for biophilic urban acupuncture

March 1, 2016 by  
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If we’re not careful, our commute and daily experience within the city will be nothing more than glass, steel and concrete.

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NYC’s plans for biophilic urban acupuncture

Bipartisan Deal Could End Government Shutdown Tonight, Prevent U.S. Default

October 16, 2013 by  
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US Capitol  photo from Shutterstock More than two weeks after disagreements over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) forced a partial shutdown of the federal government , it appears that relief may finally be in sight. Multiple outlets report that the Senate has agreed on a bipartisan proposal to extend the nation’s debt limit. If Congress approves the package, which is expected, it would extend the debt ceiling, averting a devastating default, and allowing thousands of furloughed government workers to return to their jobs. As Inhabitat has reported over the past 16 days, the government shutdown infringed on Americans’ quality of life in many disturbing ways, from blocking access to publicly funded National Parks , to possibly facilitating a major salmonella outbreak . For all these reasons and more, we can only hope that reason prevails, and a consensus is reached before midnight Wednesday. Keep reading for more details about the proposed deal. Read the rest of Bipartisan Deal Could End Government Shutdown Tonight, Prevent U.S. Default Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon emissions , congress , Environment , federal employees , food safety , government , government shutdown , house , national parks , politics , salmonella , senate        

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Biolite Infographic Shows the 3 Ps of Preparedness for Emergency Situations

October 16, 2013 by  
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BioLite knows a thing or two about emergency preparedness. The Brooklyn-based company was on the front lines during Hurricane Sandy , and its USB-charging CampStoves made national news for their role in helping residents keep communication lines open during the power outage. With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaching, BioLite just unveiled its emergency preparedness infographic & giveaway . The BioLite 3 P’s of Preparedness infographic makes what can seem like an overwhelming task easy with its simple steps to plan, pack & power – check it out after the jump! The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Read the rest of Biolite Infographic Shows the 3 Ps of Preparedness for Emergency Situations Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3 ps of preparedness , BioLite , camping , disaster kit , Disaster Relief , Disaster-proof design , green design , green gadgets , infographic , natural disaster , outdoors , preparedness , renewable energy , sustainable design , USB-charging CampStoves        

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Biolite Infographic Shows the 3 Ps of Preparedness for Emergency Situations

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