Valani launches debut collection of biodegradable clothing

September 16, 2020 by  
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New fashion house Valani has launched its debut collection of biodegradable separates and dresses inspired by “light living.” These sustainable clothes are made from materials like classic hemp fiber, antibacterial Tencel and banana silk for wardrobe staples that are just as comfortable and eco-friendly as they are stylish. The fashion brand has designed its pieces to reflect sustainability, with soft styles that can be worn throughout the year — regardless of season. Founder Vanni Leung is driven by the interconnectedness of the planet, animals and humankind as well as the recognition that love for the planet and love for ourselves are intertwined. She is a lifelong vegan, breathwork practitioner, a believer in the mind-body balance and an ally for female empowerment. Related: Seaweed Girl explores seaweed as an eco-textile for sustainable fashion Valani uses hemp, Tencel and banana silk in its designs. Hemp makes for a soft and flowy fabric that is hypoallergenic; it is also a carbon-negative crop, uses less water in production and is naturally resistant to bacteria growth. Tencel is made from sustainably managed eucalyptus trees and produced using a closed loop method that reuses 99% of solvents and water. The banana silk is made from a byproduct of agriculture waste; discarded banana stems are harvested to make way for new tree growth and then upcycled into this sustainable silk alternative. Prices for the new collection range from $98 to $398, so adding Valani to your wardrobe will certainly be an investment. However, the clothing is built to last, and your money goes much further than just the garment. Valani offers no-cost breathwork sessions online to its customers and plants a tree for every piece of clothing purchased. The sustainable company has also pledged to donate 10% of its profits to conservation, animal welfare and female empowerment organizations. As an additional sustainability feature, Valani uses recycled materials as well as straw, hemp and jute for its packaging. Pattern designs are strategically created to minimize fabric waste, and any scraps are used for scrunchies, crafts, training purposes or as filling for toys and pillows. Some of the most notable pieces include the faux wrap Sitha Top ($148), the cropped double puff sleeved Sineth Top ($168), the mid-rise pull-on Petra Pant ($188) and the asymmetrical, one-shoulder Sokha Banana Dress ($398). Sizes run from 0 to 12. + Valani Images via Valani

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Applying science and healthcare principles to soil wellness can help our planet

August 27, 2020 by  
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Applying science and healthcare principles to soil wellness can help our planet Poornima Param… Thu, 08/27/2020 – 01:00 Basic human health principles tell us that we should diagnose before we treat and that we should test before we diagnose.  From annual physicals and screenings to blood tests and imaging exams, providers and specialists have many new tools and resources to address the health issues we experience in real-time and to prevent new issues from arising. For example, our deepening understanding of DNA helps us discern how drugs, medication, multi-vitamins or treatment plans work differently in patients — creating a brand-new frontier, personalized medicine. Today, by leveraging advancements in technology and new medical discoveries, we are able to treat and prevent diseases and enhance our quality of life, health and wellness. Take the influx of at-home genetic testing kits that provides data on food sensitivities, fertility and predispositions to disease. These same principles of human healthcare, and these same scientific and technological advances, are starting to be applied to soil — our most important asset for securing our food supply. Soil at the center  Soil is one of the most important natural resources we have, yet we’ve degraded over a third of the soil used to grow food, feed, fiber and fuel with intensive farming practices. Healthy soil is critical for environmental sustainability, food security and the agricultural economy — even large food companies are starting to fold soil health efforts into their sustainability programs as they understand the impact it has on creating a viable, cost-effective supply chain.  Soil removes about 25 percent of the world’s fossil fuel emissions each year through carbon sequestering, a natural way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. From a food security perspective, farmers can harness soil organic matter to ensure greater productivity of their fields and reduce erosion and improve soil structure, which leads to improved water quality in groundwater and surface waters. If we continue to apply science and technology — and at scale — we can address disease and deterioration of the soil, and we can give it the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive. According to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation , a foundation whose mission is to catalyze change to improve the standard and quality of life, soil loss costs an estimated $400 billion per year globally. Undoubtedly, soil is foundational to human life, yet we know very little about the soil itself. We need to get to know our soil if we want a science-based, data-driven agricultural ecosystem. The first step in improving the health of the planet, the quality and quantity of our food, and the prosperity of agricultural businesses is soil wellness. And now we have the tools to investigate.   A global, comprehensive soil intelligence project Agronomists are agricultural specialists — soil doctors — who test, touch and smell our soil to assess the earth’s physical and chemical characteristics to determine how to make it most productive, now and going forward. They ask questions such as: Does the soil have large or small pockets of air? Does it have a silty, sandy or clay loam texture? What are the phosphorous levels of the field? Based on their findings, they might recommend chemical inputs or physical measures farmers can take such as adding tiles to the field to help with drainage, planting cover crops or adding a new crop to rotation to reduce depletion of certain nutrients from the soil to improve its resiliency.   Problematically, agronomists have a dearth of information on the biomes that makes up our soil. Over 10,000 species and 100 billion actual specimens of bacteria are in a single handful of soil. More biodiversity is in the earth beneath our feet than in all above ground ecosystems combined. Without the ability to account for the biological make up of soil, our agronomists, farmers, chemical and fertilizer providers, food companies, environmental scientists and more cannot fully diagnose, treat or increase the wellness of the soil to grow more food, farm profitably or capture more carbon.   The agriculture, food, environment, science and technology communities are collaborating to change this. Combining microbiology, DNA sequencing, data science and machine learning, we can digitize the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil to generate evidence-based, actionable soil intelligence. This allows agricultural stakeholders to better identify and prevent disease, understand soil nutrients to make better planting decisions and preserve and restore our deteriorating top soil. Then you add in hyperspectral imagery technology, which collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum to help collect and determine soil properties and composition. Alternatively, farmers can use a method called the Haney test to evaluate soil health indicators such as soil respiration and water-soluble organic carbon. Automated sensors can monitor and measure soil’s physical traits, such as respiration and temperature, with predicted development towards the measurement of soil’s biogeochemical properties.  This is all in an effort to gather data to create intelligence that can help us better understand how to improve the health of the earth beneath our feet. What does it look like in action? Like a 23andMe test but for the soil, farmers can sample their soil and know if their field is at high-risk of certain diseases or nutrient deficiencies based on soil composition; this allows them to make informed decisions about which crop to plant, how many inputs are needed, what kind of and how much fertilizer to use — all based on known risks.  This isn’t unlike taking our daily vitamins. A 2019 survey showed that 86 percent of Americans consume dietary supplements for their overall health and wellness, yet only 24 percent of those had information indicating a nutritional deficiency. Not every vitamin is needed, and not every treatment plan will work for everyone. The same goes for our fields.  The same health and wellness interventions we use on ourselves can and should be applied to our living soil. If we continue to apply science and technology — and at scale — we can address disease and deterioration of the soil, and we can give it the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive.  Hurdles to jump moving forward  There are hurdles to scaling and applying science to soil — from lack of regulations and investment to upending the status quo — but it’s essential we address them as soil health has vast implications, above and below ground.  Investing in intelligence to drive agricultural decisions rather than reverting to traditional practices is a major obstacle. According to the latest AgFunder Agri-FoodTech Investing Report, $19.8 billion was invested in agrifood tech across 1,858 deals in 2019. The report shows that the largest year-over-year growth in funding was for downstream innovations such as meat alternatives, indoor farming and robotic food delivery. Investment in startups operating upstream, or closer to the farmer, increased 1.3 percent year over year. There’s a significant opportunity to boost investment for upstream innovations — and nothing is more upstream than soil.  Today, farmers are experiencing setbacks due to the pandemic. According to the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Research Institute, this year, farmers face losses of more than $20 billion . Taking a risk to try new practices or invest in new technologies weighs heavy on these communities. Combining microbiology, DNA sequencing, data science and machine learning, we can digitize the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil to generate evidence-based, actionable soil intelligence. Embracing regulation to protect the planet is also key to creating real change for our soil, air and water. Take the phase-out and eventual ban on methyl bromide , a fumigant used to control pests in agriculture and shipping: Methyl bromide used to be injected into the ground to sterilize the soil before crops are planted, with 50 to 95 percent of it eventually entering the atmosphere and depleting the ozone layer, until it was phased out from 1994 to 2005 .  Furthermore, diseases are spreading quickly due to climate change and expanding global trade. For instance, seeds are grown and traded around the world, and there are many examples where diseases in agriculture that originated in other countries have spread across the world in a matter of weeks or months via the seed market. This can have a huge economic toll on food security, quality and production.  Monitoring, measuring and regulating our ecosystem, along with the substances that we put into our ecosystem and the practices we use to create a global food and agricultural economy, is vital as we work to create a healthier, more vibrant earth for ourselves and future generations. This is an urgent need because of the state of our soil and the depletion of our topsoil. If we continue to use soil the way we are today, we’ll have only 60 more cropping cycles left.  Now is the time to build a cohort of stakeholders — including farmers, chemical manufacturers, small and large food brands, policy makers, activists, scientists and technologists — armed with information on what good soil looks like, why we should care about what’s under the surface and what immediate and long-term impact soil wellness can have our world to fast-track innovation and positive change.  Pull Quote If we continue to apply science and technology — and at scale — we can address disease and deterioration of the soil, and we can give it the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive. Combining microbiology, DNA sequencing, data science and machine learning, we can digitize the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil to generate evidence-based, actionable soil intelligence. Topics Food & Agriculture Health Care Food & Agriculture Health & Well-being 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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Applying science and healthcare principles to soil wellness can help our planet

rePurpose

August 9, 2020 by  
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rePurpose saracefalu2 Sun, 08/09/2020 – 14:59 rePurpose Global is a movement of conscious consumers & businesses going Plastic Neutral by financing the removal of ocean-bound plastic worldwide. We are here to reinvent the wheel of the world’s resource economy – one where our duty to protect the planet is ethically shared among manufacturers, consumers, and recycler Sponsor Website https://repurpose.global/

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How one company is planning to Redefine Meat

July 27, 2020 by  
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Veggie burgers have been around for years. If you have any vegetarian or vegan friends, you’ve seen them eating their sprouts or maybe even tasted some of their flavored soy. If you hated it, you’re not alone. Lots of people have tasted those frozen veggie burgers and gagged, especially the ones made years ago. But changes are coming. The meatless market has exploded recently, and big changes have rocked this trend. Meat alternatives taste so good these days, you can even get them at restaurants and fast food chains. What’s the next step in this revolution? Steaks. One company is hoping to Redefine Meat…and it may just succeed. Is beef bad? Many people are turning to meatless options, because beef is incredibly bad for the environment. The huge cattle farms, slaughterhouses and related meat industry businesses create big problems for our planet. That’s why Redefine Meat hopes to change the game. Related: What do Americans think about fake meat products There are about 1 billion cows being raised for beef and dairy on the planet right at this moment. These cows drink more water than all the humans on the planet combined and produce more pollution than all of the cars on the roads. To gain 1 pound of meat, cows must consume about 7 pounds of feed — grains that could be used to feed humans. That’s not a very efficient use of food, is it? When you start to think about the environmental impact of the meat market, plant-based options are probably starting to look a whole lot better. Thanks to companies like Redefine Meat, those plant-based options are starting to taste much better, too. Redefining a favorite Redefine Meat is using 3D-printing to create plant-based “Alt-Steaks” that look and taste just as amazing as the real thing. It’s an ambitious undertaking. Mimicking the texture and taste of beef is so difficult, companies have only recently mastered the process well enough to get meatless options into fast food chains. Any meat-eater knows that there’s a world of difference between the taste and texture of steak as compared to ground beef. It’s way easier to fake ground beef than it is to fake a juicy steak — isn’t it? Steak is marbled with fat, which gives it that wonderful texture that meat-eaters love. It’s an entirely different texture and flavor profile than what you’ll get with a standard burger. But Redefine Meat is using 3D-printer technology to copy the texture and flavor of real, marbled meat. The company’s goal is to perfect and speed up the process of creating plant-based steaks so they will be even cheaper than real meat. The 3D-printing revolution 3D-printing is starting to be applied to all sorts of industries in amazing ways that were unthinkable just 10 years ago. This technology is already being used to manufacture athletic shoes, airplane parts and medical devices. Redefine Meat is using 3D-printing to recreate the muscles and fat found in real meats to give plant-based meats the same texture and taste as beef without all of the environmental problems that are associated with the meat industry. Redefine Meat’s Alt-Steak has no cholesterol and a 95% smaller environmental impact than the exact same amount of meat. “The importance of using precision 3D printing technology to achieve texture, color and flavor — and the combinations between them — cannot be overstated,” said Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, CEO and co-founder of Redefine Meat. “By using separate formulations for muscle, fat and blood, we can focus on each individual aspect of creating the perfect Alt-Steak product. This is unique to our 3D printing technology and lets us achieve unprecedented control of what happens inside the matrix of alt-meat. Collaborating with an industry-leader like Givaudan has led to the creation of an Alt-Steak product that is not only healthy and sustainable, but also offers the satisfying flavors, textures and aromas of eating actual meat.” Transforming plants into steak might sound like science-fiction, but it is an innovative approach to shaking up the meat industry. Companies like Redefine Meat are hoping to change the way people think about meat. Because when a steak from a plant can taste just as good as a steak from a cow, why not choose the option that is better for the planet? As the meatless revolution continues, options like this will become more and more available. Perhaps soon, the “meat” industry will be completely plant-based. + Redefine Meat Via Core77 Images via Redefine Meat , René Schindler and Lutz Peter

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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion

June 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever unveils climate and nature fund worth more than $1 billion Cecilia Keating Tue, 06/16/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced it will invest €1 billion (about $1.12 billion based on exchange rates this week) over the next decade in efforts to tackle climate change and deliver on a new goal to ensure net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039. The consumer goods giant unveiled its new Climate and Nature Fund on Monday as it set out a raft of fresh sustainability goals, which include plans to end deforestation in its supply chain and communicate the carbon footprint of every product it sells. The new 2039 target builds on existing sustainability goals to reach carbon neutrality across its operations and halve its value chain emissions by the end of the decade. Unilever CEO Alan Jope emphasized the company intended to eschew a sustainability strategy that focused on emissions alone and instead take a holistic approach. “Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously,” he said. “In doing so, we must also recognize that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.” To reach its new value chain emissions goal, Unilever said it would prioritize partnerships with suppliers committed to science-based climate targets and work with partners across the value chain to drive lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Under the plan, the Anglo-Dutch company said it intends to set up a new system where suppliers are required to declare the carbon footprint of the goods and services while invoicing. It also outlined its intention to work with other businesses and organizations to standardize emissions data collection, sharing, and communication. The new fund will support a raft of initiatives, including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation projects, the company said. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … The firm also confirmed that it is aiming to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023. As such it pledged to increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies — such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain systems — to enhance oversight, accelerate smallholder engagement and improve its approach to derivates sourcing. Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at the company, said that empowering farmers would deliver a “step change” in regenerating nature. “If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems,” he said. “In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land.” Unilever also has committed to step up its efforts to preserve water, with plans to make all its “product formulations” biodegradable in order to minimize their impact on aquatic ecosystems. It also said it would implement water stewardship programs for local communities in 100 locations by the end of the decade. Jope concluded that the suite of new initiatives would complement the company’s ongoing mission to curb its reliance on virgin plastic. “While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life — in the sourcing of materials — as well as in their manufacture and transport,” he said. “We will reduce the impact that our products and our operations have on the environment, and we will do our part to bring the planet back to health.” Last year, the company pledged to halve its use of virgin plastic and ensure it collects and recycles more plastic packaging than it sells. The announcement came the same day as the publication of an open letter to governments from leading green businesses and NGOs, calling on policymakers to prioritize nature restoration projects as part of their imminent coronavirus economic stimulus packages. Pull Quote While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life … Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Early evening view of Unilever office The Bridge in Feijenoord neighbourhood in Rotterdam

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12 sustainable gifts to give Dad for Father’s Day

June 15, 2020 by  
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Father’s Day is just around the corner, so as you celebrate graduations, June birthdays and virtual weddings, keep an eye out for the perfect gift for Dad. While his favorite treat is always welcome, finding something more personal can be a challenge. We’ve come up with some ideas that not only express your love and gratitude for your father, but for the planet, too. Tools If your dad spends his spare time woodworking or tinkering on cars, there are many new gadgets on the market he would like to experiment with. He might also want to upgrade older tools. While shopping, avoid tools made with plastic and look for high-quality wood or stainless steel options that will last a lifetime. Many brands even include a lifetime warranty with your purchase. This will keep low-quality tools out of the landfill and keep Dad from having to shop for wrenches or hammers ever again.  Related: 15 essential woodworking tools Travel mugs and bottles Whether your dad must have his morning cup of Joe or always carries a water bottle with him, provide him with a long-lasting stainless steel option that will keep him from needing single-serve water bottles or to-go coffee cups. Watches Watches are a timeless gift. But, when choosing a design, seek out an eco-friendly model. Many watch manufacturers are now offering sustainable wood designs, like WeWOOD . Also check out the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch with a built-in Climate Action Reminder. Wallet By the time a good wallet gets broken in, it starts to break down and needs replaced, so Dad might appreciate something a little different. This year, go for a vegan leather wallet. Some unique options include these apple waste and wood leather wallets , or these wallets made from recycled banana trees . Plants Whether dad is the clear winner in the green thumb category or simply could use some bamboo luck in his office, both indoor and outdoor plants are great options this Father’s Day. Perhaps select a succulent or cactus, or if Dad is into novel gifts, pick up a Venus flytrap, tropical pitcher plants or sundews. Beer-making kit If your father enjoys a good brew at the end of the day, he may also enjoy making his own beer . Complete kits run around $200 and include all of the tools he’ll need, from a glass carboy to the instruction book. He can then add hops and yeast to perfect a recipe of his choice. Hobby class What does your dad love to do in his spare time? Has he shown an interest in gardening, pottery, knife-making, welding, golf, photography, playing guitar or learning another language? Whatever the hobby, get him a certificate for a local or online class to boost his learning on the topic. You could even take the class with him for a special, shared experience. Time outdoors Sometimes all Dad wants is to spend time with you, so set a date for some outdoor fun. Hike somewhere he’s never been, plan a camping trip or go fishing. Meet up for a road or mountain bike ride. Go for a round of golf or introduce him to disc golf at a nearby park. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to get a picture to memorialize the event. Backyard games If your father is the perpetual entertainer with the grill always ready for action, add some backyard games to the mix. Find or make a solid wood cornhole game for hours of family fun that won’t damage the planet. Horseshoes is another classic that requires little more than two metal poles and four metal horseshoes. Gardening supplies Whether he’s just recently shown an interest or taught you all you know about gardening while growing up, your dad might appreciate some new gardening supplies to add to his tool shed. If space is tight, get him one of the many new indoor gardening systems where he can grow veggies in the kitchen. For the outdoor gardener, invest in quality and sustainable gloves, organic skin protection and seeds. For yard decor, get solar path lights, a bird bath, bird feeder, bat house, butterfly house, bird house or beehive .  Park pass For the dad who enjoys spending time in nature, make sure he has the access he needs with a park pass. Most passes expire annually, so it could even be a tradition in the making to buy Dad an access pass. For the road-tripper, a national park pass will provide access to parks and monuments across the country.  Check out pass options here . Solar products The sun is a powerful tool for providing energy. Mount a solar panel to the RV or van for continual power on the road. On a smaller scale, get Dad a solar-powered lantern for nights under the stars. For cooking, invest in a solar oven and leave the propane and charcoal at home. Images via Aleksandra , Deborah Breen Whiting , Nicolas J. Leclercq , Gyae Min and Akiragiulia

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The unmasking of Corporate America

June 15, 2020 by  
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The unmasking of Corporate America Joel Makower Mon, 06/15/2020 – 02:11 The past two weeks have seen an outpouring of concern and commitment by companies about racism in the United States. Pronouncements on company social media accounts often take the form of graphics — white type against a black background seems to be de rigueur in the current environment. It’s all a welcome sign but also treacherous territory. For one simple reason: Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees and others face when it comes to race and equity. Companies are being asked to show, not just tell. And hypocrisy, or lack of action, is being called out. Consider the backlash already on social media. As companies post their support for Black Lives Matter and racial justice in general, activists are asking these companies to also post a picture of their leadership team and/or board of directors. Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees face when it comes to race and equity. You can probably guess why: Corporate board and leadership teams are all too often overwhelmingly white and male. And while gender diversity has improved significantly over the past few years —  according to Institutional Shareholder Services , 45 percent of new board positions among the Russell 3000, representing 3,000 of the largest U.S.-traded stocks, were filled by women in 2019, up from just 12 percent in 2008 — racial diversity has not.  According to the 2019 Registry of Corporate Directors published by Black Enterprise magazine, there were just over 300 African-American board members among S&P 500 companies, out of nearly 4,500 board seats overall. That’s progress, but barely. (Full disclosure: GreenBiz Group’s six-person leadership team, four men and two women, is all-white.) Board seats and leadership positions are only one aspect of corporate performance on diversity and inclusion, but it’s a critical one, as modeling behavior starts at the top. Companies are responding in a range of meaningful ways: devoting tens of millions of dollars to racial justice initiatives (Apple, Google, NBCUniversal), establishing an internal committee to advance racial equity and justice solutions (Walmart), committing that black candidates are on the succession list for all senior-level positions (Estée Lauder), as well as pledging to direct more investment capital to minority entrepreneurs, publicly advocating for action at the state and local levels, and developing anti-racist workplace initiatives, among other things. But there are also corporate statements that risk being seen as window dressing. Take the Business Roundtable, a group of companies whose 2019 Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation has received copious press coverage. Earlier this month, the group tapped seven of its board members to form a committee on “racial equality and justice solutions.” As Politico reported : Critics pointed out that there are no specific benchmarks or funding. The committee is led by two black and five white executives from Eaton, Vista Equity Partners, AT&T, Marriott International, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase and Johnson & Johnson. Most of these companies have no more than two people of color on their boards. … A spokeswoman for the Business Roundtable said the group is “committed to taking thoughtful action on issues of racial injustice,” which includes “CEOs listening to their employees, customers and members of the communities they operate in, with the goal of strengthening unity and justice.” The spokeswoman also noted that 19 of the group’s more than 180 CEOs are people of color, while another 19 are women (just one of whom is nonwhite). Which begs the question, not just for the Business Roundtable but for all companies: What actually will change as a result of these statements and commitments? How will progress be measured and tracked? Who will be holding companies accountable? Probably not Wall Street. “Your standard research analyst is not going to ask, ‘Please articulate your efforts to become an anti-racist, multicultural organization,’” Erika Karp, founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital and a Wall Street veteran, told me last week. “You’re not going to hear that on an analyst call.” She added: “But I think you should.” I asked Karp, whose firm published a 2018 research report, “Investing to Advance Racial Equity,” how she’d like to see companies judged, and whether company actions could be boiled down to the kind of environmental, social and governance metrics analysts are coming to expect from publicly traded companies. Instead, Karp pointed me to an undated, but presumably recent, matrix pulled from the psychoanalytic world: “Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist, Multicultural Institution.” It plots companies across six stages, from Exclusive (“a segregated institution”) to Fully Inclusive (“a transformed institution in a transformed society”). The continuum tracks companies from monocultural to multicultural to anti-racist to anti-racist multicultural. Most companies, from my perspective, can be found in the early stages of the continuum, such as Passive (“tolerant of a limited number of people of color with ‘proper’ perspective and credentials”) and Symbolic Change (“makes official policy pronouncements regarding multicultural diversity”). The tougher stuff is yet to come. Said Karp: “This came from the psychoanalytic world, but it might as well be from McKinsey.” In many ways, we’ve seen this movie before. The anti-racist continuum could be applied, with only modest modification, to corporate sustainability or social responsibility, from reactive and recalcitrant polluters at one end, to proactive and regenerative beacons at the other. And, as with sustainability, how a company is perceived on racial justice and equity is a delicate dance between showing and telling — that is, meaningful actions paired with stories, with great care given to not let the latter get too far ahead of the former. When the two are unaligned is when companies find themselves called out on social media and beyond. For most companies, having an open dialogue is a critical first step, but if things don’t progress from there, it will be more than a lost opportunity — it increasingly will become a risk factor. That’s a lesson of this moment: Be careful out there. Show, don’t just tell. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote Words, no matter how compelling, compassionate or committed, aren’t enough to undo the injustices and structural challenges employees face when it comes to race and equity. Topics Leadership Marketing & Communication Diversity Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Group

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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration

June 15, 2020 by  
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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration Heather Clancy Mon, 06/15/2020 – 00:15 Over the past year, agricultural commodities giant Cargill stepped up its global sustainability initiatives substantially, with a series of programs created to support its science-based target of reducing supply chain emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  Like many other food companies, it’s dedicating resources to promoting regenerative agricultural practices among the farmers and seeking ways that farms can profit from their efforts to sequester carbon dioxide. That’s the backstory behind its relationship with the Soil & Water Outcomes Fund , a program intended to support farmers who design and implement initiatives aimed at improving water quality and mitigating flooding and runoff, increasing carbon sequestration, reducing emissions from on-farm operations, and creating or protecting habitat. These include practices such as planting cover crops, reducing tillage and preserving edge-of-field wilderness buffers or wetland. The effort, which includes close to 10,000 acres in the pilot phase this year across 15 farms in Iowa, is administered by the Iowa Soybean Association , promoting the idea with members and advising them on best practices; and investment firm Quantified Ventures , helping with cost-benefit analyses and other operational aspects of the effort, including fundraising. The goal is to include up to 100,000 acres in Iowa next year and expand into at least two more states, according to the companies managing the program. They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. Progress against a farm’s individual carbon removal or water stewardship efforts will be measured using COMET-FARM , a carbon reporting and accounting system developed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Division and Colorado State University. “[Farmers] come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do,” said Adam Kiel, director of conservation and external programs at Iowa Soybean. Farmers will be paid between $30 and $45 per acre this season, depending on the outcomes. The metrics for success are being defined by the fund in collaboration with local municipalities that feel the downstream effects of agricultural activities within their watersheds. To be clear, the program isn’t limited to soybean operations but it does require that the approaches being adopted are additive or new — farmers won’t be rewarded for regenerative practices that were already in place. The program started specifically to address water quality measures but evolved to embrace the broader carbon sequestration mandate.     Cargill’s role is twofold: Not only is it encouraging farmers to participate as way of helping address its Scope 3 emissions, it also will buy carbon credits through the fund on an annual basis. “The innovative nature of this program was compelling,” said Ryan Sirolli, director of row crop sustainability at Cargill. While Cargill is the only named company participating in the new fund, Mark Lambert, director of Quantified Ventures, said it is in discussion with other large companies. “We want a diversity of customers,” he said. “We see a variety of opportunities to support sustainability goals.” What does success look like? A program that touches “millions” of acres, he said. Given the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across the global food system , it’s more important than ever to help farmers reap the financial benefits of investing in a more sustainable approach, Sirolli said. “Agriculture is getting absolutely hammered right now,” he said. Aside from this specific effort, Cargill is a founding member of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, which seeks to create a national marketplace by 2020. “We would love to see customers, competitors, others saying, ‘I would love to be in this space,’” Sirolli said. This isn’t the only carbon marketplace scheme in the works — and the model is raising questions about how actions are measured and verified. Startup Indigo Ag, backed by companies including recent investor FedEx , for example, is planning to pay farmers based on how much carbon they have stored in their soil — it collects soil samples to that end. Software company Nori, another rising player, is using blockchain to manage the transactions. An important actor Cargill’s influence on transforming to a more sustainable food system cannot be underestimated — it employs 160,000 people in 70 countries. The footprint of its sustainability activities, detailed in its latest sustainability report published in early June, is extensive. Among some notable highlights of its work: Using digital technologies and barcodes, the company can trace 50 percent of its “sustainable cocoa beans” supply from farm to factory; it’s also using mapping services, which will be important for identifying regions where forests are at risk. The company has reduced its “aggregated gross CO2 reduction” related to its maritime vessels — it owns an ocean fleet of over 600 vessels — by 800,000 metric tons. It’s also working closely with the Global Maritime Forum.  It’s “on track” to eliminate deforestation related to commercial palm concessions in its “third-party supply chain” by the end of 2020.  Cargill also has completed a Brazilian supply chain mapping exercise related to building “deforestation-free” supply chains for soybeans. Earlier this year at GreenBiz 20, Cargill CSO Ruth Kimmelshue acknowledged that progress to protect forests has been tougher within the soy supply chain than it has been for cocoa or palm oil. The company’s overall pledge has been to halve deforestation within its supply chains by the end of 2020 and to eliminate it entirely by 2030. Pull Quote They come to us with a program. We analyze and pay them on a tiered approach depending on what they do. Topics Carbon Removal Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Natural Climate Solutions Carbon Removal 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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Inside Cargill’s experiment to pay farmers for carbon sequestration

Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

June 5, 2020 by  
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Last month, news media around the world heralded cleaner skies as a byproduct of the pandemic-induced quarantines. Alas, as lockdowns are lifted, air pollution is climbing back to pre-COVID levels in  China . Several European countries may soon follow suit. Concentrations of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are back to where they were a year ago, according to data from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (Crea). In early March, when China was suffering the worst of the  pandemic , the particle count was down by 34%, while nitrogen dioxide levels had fallen by 38%. Related: Air pollution could make COVID-19 more dangerous “The rapid rebound in air pollution and coal consumption levels across China is an early warning of what a smokestack industry-led rebound could look like,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Crea’s lead analyst, in an article from  The Guardian . “Highly polluting industries have been faster to recover from the crisis than the rest of the economy. It is essential for policymakers to prioritise clean energy.” Wuhan, the pandemic’s ground zero, is still experiencing lower than usual nitrogen dioxide levels — 14% lower than last year. However, Shanghai’s NO2 level has soared to 9% higher than in 2019. Wood Mackenzie, an energy consultancy group, expects that the second quarter of 2020 will see China’s  oil  demand recover nearly to its normal level. European cities are still enjoying significant dips in air  pollution . The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams) shows that 42 of the 50 European cities it tracks had below-average NO2 levels in March. This pollutant, which is largely produced by diesel vehicles, dropped by 30% in Paris and London during the pandemic. How fast and how much European air pollution will rebound depends on the decisions of citizens, companies and government officials. “We do not know how people’s behaviour will change, for example avoiding public transport and therefore relying more on their own cars, or continuing to work from home,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, the director of Cams, told  The Guardian . Environmentalists hope that people will choose to  walk  and cycle more and drive their cars less. + The Guardian Images via Pexels

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Air pollution climbing back to pre-pandemic levels

Heimplanet celebrates 9 years of innovative inflatable tents

June 5, 2020 by  
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For almost a decade, Heimplanet has offered adventure-seekers an option for quick and easy tent set up in a variety of environments. The company first released a line of inflatable tents in 2011; now, with summer 2020 approaching, Heimplanet is reminding  outdoor  enthusiasts that there has never been a better time to go camping. Founders Stefan Clauss and Stefan Schulze Dieckhoff got the idea for the inflatable tents while on a trip to Portugal in 2003. Traveling along the coast to surf, the two often found themselves setting up their  camp  late at night and experiencing the inconveniences of conventional tents, such as fussing with poles in the dark and the rain. Related: The North Face unveils a geodesic tent that can withstand 60 mph winds The company offers four regular tent models that sleep one to six people and are built to tolerate 80 mph winds. The four models include Fistral, The Cave, Backdoor and Nias. Those seeking a  tent  developed for more extreme use can also splurge for the Maverick, which features room for up to 10 people and the capacity to handle wind speeds up to roughly 111 mph. The inflatable tents incorporate an “Inflatable Diamond Grid” consisting of an inflatable,  modular  cage-like structure that works as a geodesic dome and says goodbye to traditional tent poles. This design allows for high stability even in volatile weather conditions — the company’s Maverick model has even protected researchers and equipment in Antarctica. Thanks to the patented multi-chamber system, the tent’s entire frame is inflated and divided into separate chambers with one easy step that takes under one minute. This multi-chamber system gives the tent its stability, while also ensuring that if one air chamber is damaged the other chambers will keep the rest of the tent erect. Separate chambers can also be replaced or repaired individually, prolonging the life of the whole structure. Resistant double-layer construction combining an airtight thermoplastic polyurethane bladder on the inside and strong polyester fabric on the outside keeps the tent  insulated  and protected. Heimplanet is also part of the 1% For the Planet community, pledging 1% of sales to environmental preservation and restoration. The company has also recently implemented a “re-store” program that  restores  and repairs used models. + Heimplanet Images via Heimplanet, Luca Jaenichen, Sondre Forsell, Kevin Ellison, and Thibault Bevilacqua

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Heimplanet celebrates 9 years of innovative inflatable tents

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