To B or not to B? More tech companies should ask themselves that question

June 25, 2020 by  
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To B or not to B? More tech companies should ask themselves that question Heather Clancy Thu, 06/25/2020 – 02:00 Fifth Wall, the biggest venture fund dedicated to funding disruptive ideas in real estate and retail, this week revealed that it has become a Certified B Corporation (B Corp) — a move that requires it to embed concerns about equity, inclusiveness and sustainability into its portfolio. The disclosure caught my attention not just because it’s a relatively unusual move but because it’s the second company from the tech world that has made such a gesture: WeTransfer, the well-known file sharing service, also has adopted similar changes to its business model.  For Los Angeles-based Fifth Wall — whose portfolio includes sustainable footwear company Allbirds and “gear for good” company Cotopaxi (both B Corps), smart-bike firm Lime and a slew of other startups that beg my attention — the adjustment reflects that reality that buildings and real estate account for an estimated 40 percent of raw materials consumption and 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.  “We recognize that today’s announcement is a small step and that there is a lot more work to be done,” said Fifth Wall co-founder and CEO Brendan Wallace in a statement. “As a member of the venture capital and technology ecosystems, we’re hopeful this commitment will be shared by our peers and ultimately catalyze an industry-wide shift in mindset.” The catalyst was the $200 million Carbon Impact Fund that the firm announced earlier this year — and that is preparing to launch in collaboration its limited partner base, which includes big names such as CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, Hines and Marriott.  “What needs to be done is a collective action problem,” wrote Fifth Wall partner Tyson Woeste in a blog about the fund. “By convening the world’s largest and most forward-thinking real estate leaders in this alliance, we can collectively take responsibility and bold, proactive actions to identify, develop, and adopt critical new technologies to reduce the industry’s GHG footprint.” Keep in mind that the fund was announced before the COVID-19 pandemic sent shock waves through the real estate world. As the economy restarts, many believe that the sector is in for a massive reboot, as companies reconsider the safety and necessity of mammoth corporate campuses and begin allowing a chunk of their workforce to work permanently from home. “Over the next few years, sustainability and decarbonization issues will be a dominant theme for every company in real estate and the technology companies that support the industry,” Woeste noted this week. We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one. Right now, there are an estimated 3,300 Certified B Corps. When I spoke with WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby about why the Amsterdam-based company decided to join their ranks, he said the move created more supervisory clarity. WeTransfer appointed its first non-executive chairperson, British businesswoman Martha Lane Fox, as part of the shift, which took about six months to pull off. “We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one,” he said in a statement. To be clear, many of these policies aren’t yet baked into WeTransfer’s strategy. For example, Willoughby told me that the company is in the process of setting renewable energy policies — that plan will include recommendations for sustainable energy suppliers for employees who work at their homes.  One of the more intriguing policies it already has adopted, however, is a 20 percent discount on advertising rates for other B Corps. Considering that half of WeTransfer’s revenue comes from ad sales, that’s not a token gesture. The company’s original file-sharing service serves about 50 million monthly users, with more than 1 billion files sent per month. Are these two companies outliers? I prefer to think of them as the leading edge. After all, Danone, the world’s largest B Corp , has proven that it’s possible to make the shift, although it certainly won’t take just six months. Here’s hoping. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote We believe in accountability for the products and technology we put into the world, and we will strive to push our peers to transform our industry into a more responsible one. Topics Corporate Strategy Standards & Certification Technology Venture Capital Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off WeTransfer CEO Gordon Willoughby Courtesy of WeTransfer Close Authorship

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To B or not to B? More tech companies should ask themselves that question

Whether pandemic or climate crisis, you better get your data right

June 25, 2020 by  
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Whether pandemic or climate crisis, you better get your data right Paolo Natali Thu, 06/25/2020 – 00:30 According to polls, it was  mid-March  when most of us in the United States understood the severity of COVID-19. At the same time, we collectively were searching for data to drive lifesaving decision-making. Close all business and keep people inside homes? Or allow some degree of freedom? What would be the exact growth curve of virus cases, and most important, how could we flatten it? By early April, a consensus had emerged around the role of accurate data, even if it could not help contain a first wave of infections. This lesson on the importance of actionable data did not go unnoticed for those of us working on industrial decarbonization. With growing consensus on the gravity of the climate crisis, countries and companies are adopting carbon reduction targets. If we are to learn from the pandemic, there’s one critical element for any effort to have a chance of success. Less catchy than a target reopening date, and perhaps more like an immunologist telling you to get tested: Do we have the right data to act upon? Pressure is growing to take action The question is relevant because there is mounting pressure to take action against the climate crisis. Pressure to make emissions visible has been around for a while: Consumers want to know how much carbon is embodied in the products they buy. Investors are concerned about the viability of long-term assets in high emissions sectors at risk of being hit by negative policy or market developments. For example,  one chocolate bar  could emit as much as 7 kilograms of CO2, equivalent to driving 30 miles in a non-electric car. Alternately, if the cacao is grown alongside agroforestry or reforestation, the same bar could have zero or even negative emissions via the trees removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If consumers knew the difference, would they pay a premium for the climate-smart chocolate? A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. This year, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management company, made thundering news in his  annual letter to investors , touting, “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.” Since then, the asset manager  backed two proposals  at the annual general meetings of both Chevron and Exxon, related to the manner these companies conduct themselves in relation to Paris Agreement targets. Earlier in the year in Australia, investors at both Woodside Petroleum and Santos passed annual general meetings motions to  adopt a “Scope 3 ” (indirect emissions) reduction target. This trend of shareholder and consumer scrutiny has strengthened in recent months, and most S&P 500 companies — in fact, 70 percent of them — already make climate-related disclosures to the reporting platform CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project). Translating demands into dollars Yet, to date, there is no way to exactly translate these demands for action into dollar figures. You walk around trade conferences (or, more likely these days, Zoom workshops) and everyone is asking: What’s the premium that a consumer is willing to pay for low-carbon products? Is a bank really willing to decline loans for an investment that fails to fulfill certain sustainability standards, for example as pledged by the 11 global banks that signed the  Poseidon Principles  for shipping finance in 2019? If the European Union agrees on a border price for carbon, what should it be? All of this pricing talk begs the question: How can we have such discussions without clear metrics that everyone can stand by? A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. For a start, while financial accounts are reported via one of two standards — U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) — a variety of methods can be used for carbon accounting (CDP accepts 64 of them). While financials make the performance of a chemicals company comparable to an iron ore miner, the carbon accounting metrics differ in a way that is difficult to reconcile. This becomes a problem for an automotive company, which needs to combine the performance of both to make an accurate declaration about the carbon content of a product that has over 30,000 parts. It is also a challenge for a fund manager who needs to combine stocks of different sectors, and has a fiduciary duty to use financially material metrics to do so; or for a commercial banker who lends money to different asset classes, and needs to determine the amount of “climate risk” involved in each investment decision. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. Remember the core of the coronavirus debate: The number of confirmed cases are better known than the total number of cases. This uncertainty generates debatable data, upon which it is difficult to make decisions that will have an enormous impact on the destiny of societies. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. And if the cost of those gases to a community and ecosystem isn’t clearly visible, conversely, how can we measure good interventions so that investors feel confident to put their money toward them? This is particularly ironic because market demand for product sustainability creates a win-win situation for everyone involved: make a plan to increase product sustainability, shape the world to be a better place. In most cases, low-carbon technologies are either readily available, such as in the case of low-carbon electricity and carbon-neutral concrete, or less than a decade away, such as hydrogen-based trucking. But if it’s so easy, why isn’t it happening? And most importantly, what needs to happen? Harmonizing the efforts The current ecosystem of reporting is built on bottom-up efforts that are not harmonized. The previously mentioned CDP has a large database of disclosures. The Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) has a widely adopted set of metrics that companies use to report (including to CDP). The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has — you guessed it — standards solid enough to guarantee “financial materiality,” that is, to allow the analyst in the above example to “buy with confidence” when making investment decisions based on sustainability. The Science-Based Targets Initiative promises to take all this to the next level and link carbon disclosures to the trajectories that companies need to undertake in order to comply with the Paris Agreement. Companies that need to report emissions lament that this is too complex or that it doesn’t allow apples-to-apples comparisons due to discrepancies in the way different methods prescribe calculations. Investors lament that they can’t base financial decisions on current metrics, because they aren’t reliable or standardized. Consumers still have to see eco-labels that are truly credible. It is imperative that emissions accounting shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. As confusing as it sounds, the good news is that between existing methods, standards and platforms, the elements of a functional system do exist. Despite the gloomy portrait that we often read in the news, of a humankind sleepwalking toward climate disaster due to a selfish inability to act together, this ecosystem actually represents a wonderful testament to the ability of society to recognize a challenge and address it. The importance of climate alignment A few years ago, the Smart Freight Center introduced the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC) Framework, creating a common guidance for logistics companies to report in a unified manner. The GLEC Framework is a guidance that specifies how disclosures need to be made in each of the existing methodologies and platforms. Once a company discloses according to the GLEC Framework, analysts will be able to compare a disclosure made for different purposes using different methods, and trace back what it actually means. It is urgent that this expand to supply chains at large. It is also imperative that the emissions accounting focus shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. With unified and simplified standards, companies will be able to be easily ranked based on their actual and projected contribution to meeting the Paris Agreement, thus keeping climate change at bay. Why do this? To reap the benefits of being in sync with what stakeholders request more and ever louder. This is only wise, considering that not even a global pandemic and looming economic recession has silenced these requests. According to a recent Deloitte  report , 600 global C-suite executives remain firmly committed to a low-carbon transition. They are perhaps finding opportunity in shifting from risk and need clear data to make their decisions. Pull Quote A company’s financial accounts are used to make reasonable decisions about how that company will do in the future. Alas, to date the same isn’t true of carbon performance. From the perspective of the climate crisis, we still haven’t figured out how to attribute the right price to something nobody can see, such as the amount of noxious gases emitted by a factory in a land far, far away. It is imperative that emissions accounting shifts from a notion of disclosures (a still image of current emissions) to climate alignment, a forward look into a company’s future emissions. Contributors Charles Cannon Topics Energy & Climate COVID-19 Data Collective Insight Rocky Mountain Institute Rocky Mountain Institute 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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Whether pandemic or climate crisis, you better get your data right

PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 wildfire deaths

June 18, 2020 by  
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Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) pled guilty this week to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of unlawful fire starting, admitting its faulty power lines began a horrendous 2018  wildfire . Dubbed the Camp Fire, the blaze in question started in Butte County,  California  on November 8, 2018. The fire killed at least 84 people, destroyed about 18,000 buildings and devastated the town of Paradise, making it California’s most destructive wildfire ever. Related: Climate change heightens California’s drought and wildfire risks Butte County Superior Court Judge Michael Deems read out the names of people who’d died in the fire one by one as their photos flashed on a screen. After each charge, PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said, “Guilty, your honor.” “Our equipment started that fire,” Johnson admitted. A year-long investigation led by Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey determined that PG&E’s outdated equipment caused the 2018 fire. The brutal grand jury report concluded the  utility  company ignored repeated warnings about old, poorly maintained power lines that failed to adhere to state regulations, showing a “callous disregard” for people’s lives and property. PG&E’s plea is part of an agreement with Butte County prosecutors to avoid further criminal proceedings against the utility company. The plea deal includes pledging billions to improve safety and assist Camp Fire victims and accepting closer oversight. The company will pay $3.5 million in fines and a half million in costs. PG&E will also put $15 million towards water for residents, as the Camp Fire destroyed Miocene Canal, one of the area’s vital water sources. “I am here today on behalf of the 23,000 men and women of PG&E, to accept responsibility for the fire here that took so many lives and changed these communities forever,” Johnson said in a written statement. In January 2019, wildfires drove PG&E to file for bankruptcy. The utility has paid out tens of billions in victim settlements and lost billions more in damaged equipment during 2015, 2017 and 2018 wildfires. PG&E has agreed to skip paying out shareholder dividends for three years, which will save about $4 billion. Ramsey said this is the first time any major utility has been charged with homicide stemming from a reckless fire. Still, he is not satisfied with the fine and thinks PG&E should pay much more for the  deaths  and damage that Camp Fire caused. + NPR Image via Pexels

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PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter in 2018 wildfire deaths

How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

June 4, 2020 by  
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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Jesse Klein Thu, 06/04/2020 – 01:45 Cranberries are more than just an American Thanksgiving Day tradition; they also are a tradition of the American land. The crop is one of only three native cultivated fruits in North America. Because the plant is actually meant to grow in the natural environment, many growing and harvesting practices already help the surrounding land and could be considered sustainable, under normal conditions. The berry grows best in boggy, water-soaked soil that can’t be used for many other crops. And every one acre of cranberry bog requires 5.5 acres of wild marsh needed around it — a built-in wetlands preservation strategy.  “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Chris Ferzli, director of global corporate affairs and communications for Ocean Spray, the well-known agricultural co-operative, which generates annual revenue of about $2 billion. “The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land.” Ocean Spray recently took advantage of the crop’s natural sustainability to become the first major food manufacturer in the United States to have its entire crop be certified “100 percent sustainable.” Specifically, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) used its Farm Sustainability Assessment to verify that each organization within Ocean Spray’s 700-farm co-op is operating with regenerative agriculture in mind.  The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. SAI’s Farm Sustainability Assessment dives into 112 questions over 17 categories to evaluate a farm’s investment in sustainable practices. The questions range from the safety of workers to nuanced issues of greenhouse gas emissions, and they are categorized in three ways: “essential,” “basic” and “advanced.”  For example, one question — “Do you take measures to maximize energy use efficiency such as optimizing your farm equipment and optimizing electricity use?” — checks if farmers are reducing non-renewable sources of energy, avoiding forest degradation or conversion and optimizing farm equipment usage.  In order for the crop to be considered 100 percent sustainable, all of Ocean Spray’s farms had to score well for 100 percent of the 23 essential questions, at least 80 percent of the 60 basic questions and at least 50 percent of the 29 advanced questions.  A third-party auditor, SCS Global, verified each Ocean Spray farm’s answers.  “The biggest challenge was the gap in how we define things and how a certifying body might define things,” Ocean Spray farmer Nicole Hansen wrote in an email when asked to describe how tough the certification process was from the farmer’s point of view. “In the end, we are all talking the same language. Maybe just a different dialect.”  Hansen’s farm, Cranberry Creek Cranberries, joined the Ocean Spray co-op in the late 1990s and is one of the largest producers in Wisconsin. According to Ferzli, the adjustments the farmers had to make were few and mostly centered on upgrading technologies that made sense for the specific bogs.  There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. For example, moisture probes help farmers conserve water by collecting real-time data and only watering when the soil dips below a certain limit instead of on a set schedule. Temperature monitors feed into smart systems and are able to more accurately measure temperatures at both the top and bottom of a cranberry bed than traditionally handheld thermometers.  When building new beds, laser levelers help ensure the bed is flat and even, so that floodwater moves efficiently during harvest season, keeping the amount needed at a minimum. Farmers also addressed irrigation systems and sprinklers that had unnecessary runoff, causing water waste.  While most of these changes were inexpensive, Ferzli said Ocean Spray does help its farmers apply for grants so they can put the most innovative and sustainable technologies in place, including the Baker-Polito Administration grant that awarded $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers in 2019, 15 of which are part of the Ocean Spray co-op. Another factor leading to Ocean Spray’s milestone was the structural history of the cranberry crop. Cranberries are already a very consolidated operation with almost all of the U.S.’s cranberries grown in Wisconsin or Massachusetts. In 2017 , Wisconsin produced 5.4 billion barrels and Massachusetts produced 1.9 million. Ocean Spray’s co-op makes up a large percentage of those farms. In fact, of the 414 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, 65 percent are part of the Ocean Spray family.  The coalition of cranberry growers and the administrative structure in place was vital. Ocean Spray growers already submit a farm assessment survey required by retail partners such as Walmart that covers the health and safety of their workers and renewable energy.  That meant the co-op had the structure to distribute the SAI Platform survey, collect the data, make adjustments and comply with an audit, making getting to 100 percent much more feasible and streamlined than if the structure weren’t already in place.  “The farmers wanted to do it,” Ferzli said. “There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it.” The verification applies to Ocean Spray’s agriculture program and operations for three years. The company plans to survey the farmers every year and continue the verification process every three years when it comes up for audit. Only then will we know if growing sustainably is sustainable for the business.   Pull Quote The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Ocean Spray cranberry farm. Courtesy of Ocean Spray Close Authorship

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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

June 3, 2020 by  
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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers Rajat Panwar Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:00 Amidst numerous uncertainties surrounding post-COVID corporate climate, one thing is certain: Sustainability managers will face multifaceted challenges.  Many could face budget cuts, even as their stakeholders expect them to ramp up sustainability efforts and seize this unique “opportunity” to initiate fundamental corporate transformations. Many may find their companies’ post COVID-19 business strategies are no longer aligned with ongoing or planned sustainability programs. The job of a sustainability manager never has been easy, it will become even more challenging during economically turbulent times.  After the 2008 economic recession, I led a study to show that companies generally scaled down sustainability programs during periods of lowered financial performance, but they did so rather selectively. This study also shows that the extent of scaling down is contingent upon the level of economic turbulence. The latter issue is especially critical in the current context because the COVID-19 has inflicted turbulence on economic systems at a deeper level and more pervasive scale than previous downturns have, at least in the recent history.  I believe that this is a time for sustainability managers to act with foresight. They should not only concern themselves with broad sustainability goals, but they also should be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  This ambidextrous approach will help them garner more trust for sustainability units within their companies, which in turn will enhance internal support for corporate sustainability programs in the long term. Here are five ways (call them 5Cs) that together can help sustainability managers act ambidextrously:  1. Focus on communities These are times of community-level distress, manifesting in multiple ways. Community well-being is the most salient of all concerns that companies must attend to as part of their sustainability programs. Many companies are doing it through corporate philanthropy; but engaging in community-oriented projects more directly would provide companies with visibility, goodwill, improved employees pride and enhanced societal trust.  Community involvement will be the yardstick with which stakeholders will measure companies’ sustainability and social responsibility performance in the post COVID-19 recovery period and well beyond it.  2. Develop coalitions with other businesses This may be a promising approach for companies to engage in community-oriented projects. A critical part of community involvement should be the support for small and micro businesses in the area.  Initiatives taken by grocery chains, such as Publix, can play a critical role in providing much-needed support to save farmer markets and small farmers throughout the world. Local sourcing and purchasing can help revitalize small businesses and are well aligned with broad sustainability goals. Indeed, local sourcing also can uniquely demonstrate companies’ commitments to foster circular economies.  3. Display creativity This is truer than ever. As goes the adage, “If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeroes.”  The COVID-19 outbreak has removed those two zeroes for many companies. Sustainability managers could draw on such concepts as frugal innovation to spur outside-the-box thinking and to develop and execute sustainability programs that actually help in cutting cost, reducing waste and projecting companies as originators of cool, simple solutions to complex problems.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims.   Workplace risk mitigation will be a priority for companies as economic reopening starts. Innovation in this area is already happening — combining smart scanning technologies , drone-enabled deliveries and artificial intelligence — but such high tech-high cost innovations will not be accessible to all companies.  Frugal yet effective sanitization, I believe, is the most important area in which sustainability experts can provide critical input. Keeping sanitization costs low while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike is indeed a litmus test for creativity and innovation: Backed with expertise in design thinking, safety norms and customer expectations, sustainability managers are among the best positioned to advise companies on how to effectively handle sanitization in the most frugal way. 4. Show genuine concern A core tenet of sustainability is a concern for all. These are periods of immense hardships. Indeed, bigger threats of climate change loom at us, and sustainability managers ought to not take eyes off that big issue. Yet the open wounds need urgent treatment. It is exactly the time for sustainability managers to display concern for all and live up to their own ideals. Sustainability entails integrated thinking: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked , after all.  It is an immense opportunity for sustainability managers to institutionalize integrative thinking in their companies and cultivate fraternity across functional units. By showing empathy for communities, employees and customers, sustainability managers will further ingrain stakeholder orientation within their companies.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims and earn their trust and support for future sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise support.  5. Get everyone on board with the changes Finally, sustainability managers will need to make their co-workers on sustainability teams comfortable with the adjustments in their corporate sustainability programs. Co-workers’ discomfort may emanate from their fearing job loss as they might perceive adjustments as curtailments. This discomfort also may emanate from a perceived value-misalignment as some co-workers simply may not value new approaches to sustainability.  Keeping up the spirits of team members and instilling in them the confidence that theirs is a critical role in helping the company recover from financial hardships is a new and important task for sustainability managers. Sharing with sustainability co-workers a short-, medium- and long-term vision of strategy will help sustainability managers keep co-workers motivated and creative.  Clearly, times are difficult. But these are exactly the times when the relevance of sustainability thinking will be put to test. After all, sustainability is about resilience and adaptation: Sustainability managers will have to show both in the coming months.  Pull Quote Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims. Topics Corporate Strategy COVID-19 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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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

June 3, 2020 by  
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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers Rajat Panwar Wed, 06/03/2020 – 00:00 Amidst numerous uncertainties surrounding post-COVID corporate climate, one thing is certain: Sustainability managers will face multifaceted challenges.  Many could face budget cuts, even as their stakeholders expect them to ramp up sustainability efforts and seize this unique “opportunity” to initiate fundamental corporate transformations. Many may find their companies’ post COVID-19 business strategies are no longer aligned with ongoing or planned sustainability programs. The job of a sustainability manager never has been easy, it will become even more challenging during economically turbulent times.  After the 2008 economic recession, I led a study to show that companies generally scaled down sustainability programs during periods of lowered financial performance, but they did so rather selectively. This study also shows that the extent of scaling down is contingent upon the level of economic turbulence. The latter issue is especially critical in the current context because the COVID-19 has inflicted turbulence on economic systems at a deeper level and more pervasive scale than previous downturns have, at least in the recent history.  I believe that this is a time for sustainability managers to act with foresight. They should not only concern themselves with broad sustainability goals, but they also should be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  This ambidextrous approach will help them garner more trust for sustainability units within their companies, which in turn will enhance internal support for corporate sustainability programs in the long term. Here are five ways (call them 5Cs) that together can help sustainability managers act ambidextrously:  1. Focus on communities These are times of community-level distress, manifesting in multiple ways. Community well-being is the most salient of all concerns that companies must attend to as part of their sustainability programs. Many companies are doing it through corporate philanthropy; but engaging in community-oriented projects more directly would provide companies with visibility, goodwill, improved employees pride and enhanced societal trust.  Community involvement will be the yardstick with which stakeholders will measure companies’ sustainability and social responsibility performance in the post COVID-19 recovery period and well beyond it.  2. Develop coalitions with other businesses This may be a promising approach for companies to engage in community-oriented projects. A critical part of community involvement should be the support for small and micro businesses in the area.  Initiatives taken by grocery chains, such as Publix, can play a critical role in providing much-needed support to save farmer markets and small farmers throughout the world. Local sourcing and purchasing can help revitalize small businesses and are well aligned with broad sustainability goals. Indeed, local sourcing also can uniquely demonstrate companies’ commitments to foster circular economies.  3. Display creativity This is truer than ever. As goes the adage, “If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeroes.”  The COVID-19 outbreak has removed those two zeroes for many companies. Sustainability managers could draw on such concepts as frugal innovation to spur outside-the-box thinking and to develop and execute sustainability programs that actually help in cutting cost, reducing waste and projecting companies as originators of cool, simple solutions to complex problems.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims.   Workplace risk mitigation will be a priority for companies as economic reopening starts. Innovation in this area is already happening — combining smart scanning technologies , drone-enabled deliveries and artificial intelligence — but such high tech-high cost innovations will not be accessible to all companies.  Frugal yet effective sanitization, I believe, is the most important area in which sustainability experts can provide critical input. Keeping sanitization costs low while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike is indeed a litmus test for creativity and innovation: Backed with expertise in design thinking, safety norms and customer expectations, sustainability managers are among the best positioned to advise companies on how to effectively handle sanitization in the most frugal way. 4. Show genuine concern A core tenet of sustainability is a concern for all. These are periods of immense hardships. Indeed, bigger threats of climate change loom at us, and sustainability managers ought to not take eyes off that big issue. Yet the open wounds need urgent treatment. It is exactly the time for sustainability managers to display concern for all and live up to their own ideals. Sustainability entails integrated thinking: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked , after all.  It is an immense opportunity for sustainability managers to institutionalize integrative thinking in their companies and cultivate fraternity across functional units. By showing empathy for communities, employees and customers, sustainability managers will further ingrain stakeholder orientation within their companies.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims and earn their trust and support for future sustainability initiatives that they may not otherwise support.  5. Get everyone on board with the changes Finally, sustainability managers will need to make their co-workers on sustainability teams comfortable with the adjustments in their corporate sustainability programs. Co-workers’ discomfort may emanate from their fearing job loss as they might perceive adjustments as curtailments. This discomfort also may emanate from a perceived value-misalignment as some co-workers simply may not value new approaches to sustainability.  Keeping up the spirits of team members and instilling in them the confidence that theirs is a critical role in helping the company recover from financial hardships is a new and important task for sustainability managers. Sharing with sustainability co-workers a short-, medium- and long-term vision of strategy will help sustainability managers keep co-workers motivated and creative.  Clearly, times are difficult. But these are exactly the times when the relevance of sustainability thinking will be put to test. After all, sustainability is about resilience and adaptation: Sustainability managers will have to show both in the coming months.  Pull Quote Sustainability managers should also be active partners in helping their companies recover from economic hardships.  To clarify, it is not time to stall climate initiatives; but it is time to more vigorously engage with stakeholders who have urgent claims. Topics Corporate Strategy COVID-19 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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A tightrope walk ahead for corporate sustainability managers

How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries

May 22, 2020 by  
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How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries Deonna Anderson Fri, 05/22/2020 – 00:05 The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the safety of reuse into question. But Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, thinks when the crisis is over there will be even more opportunity for reusable packaging and containers to become more commonplace, if done right. “Recycling is going to take a real punch to the face, to be quite fair,” Szaky said during GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 20 Digital event this week, pointing to the continued decrease in oil prices and the pressure that’s putting on the economics of using recycled plastics. “That’s disastrous for the recycling industry, which creates its revenue by selling recycled plastics, which are hedged against, in many ways, the price of oil.” Many recycling activities have been paused as the pandemic has raised health and safety concerns, which could lead to a waste crisis post-pandemic, he said. Recycling centers have closed temporarily or indefinitely, across California and in parts of Ohio, Oregon and Alabama. “That, I think, will benefit waste innovations,” said Szaky, whose company is in the business of recycling and eliminating waste. “It will especially benefit the reuse movement because that is sort of the next step up in waste innovation.” Szaky acknowledged that reuse is not a silver bullet solution to addressing the waste problem, but if life cycle assessment is considered , he said that reuse can be better than single-use options in a significant number of cases. It plays a role in reducing waste and TerraCycle’s e-commerce program Loop  — which features items in reusable containers — plans to be part of that, while being affordable and convenient. We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability … “We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability because [while] disposability has a lot of negatives, it is the gold standard, by far, for convenience,” he said. “That is our holy grail, to get to the exact same convenience you get when you throw something in the garbage, with no thinking, no thought and off you go.” While Loop is still working toward the convenience factor, it’s also working toward building trust with consumers outside of its core following. As Szaky wrote in a piece for GreenBiz recently, “Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle.” In the time that comes after COVID-19, TerraCycle’s Loop and other companies that are working on launching or improving their reuse models must do it right. That means consumers need to be able to know that the reusable packaging they are using was thoroughly cleaned and doesn’t pose a health risk to them. During the Circularity 20 Digital conversation, Szaky described the cleaning process for the packaging in the Loop program, between when it leaves one consumer’s possession and ends up with another. First, the customer either will drop off their Loop tote at a retailer or have it picked up and shipped. (TerraCycle recently announced that it would expand its reuse platform Loop across the contiguous United States including in physical retail stores.) Earlier this year, the company announced partnerships with Walgreens and Kroger that would allow consumers to drop off totes in bins within their stores, starting this fall.  Once the tote reaches a Loop distribution center, it is checked in and the packages inside it are sorted based on the contents and type of packaging material. Then each type of packages is stored until there are enough to start cleaning, which takes place in a proper cleanroom where people are in full gear. “The process to clean — which is what chemistry is used, dwell times both in drying and washing and temperatures, and all those different types of knobs and dials on the cleaning protocol — are set to be specific to that content and the type of material that content was in,” said Szaky, noting that both factors have meaningful effects on the cleaning process. Once the packages are cleaned, it is immediately shipped to the manufacturer, which has protocols for maintaining cleanliness for the packaging. Szaky noted that each time the cleanroom is used it is reset — pipes flushed for potential allergens and air vented — for the next batch of cleaning. Lauren Phipps, GreenBiz Group’s director and senior analyst for the circular economy, who led the conversation with Szaky, asked if there was an opportunity for retailers and restaurants to implement similar practices for their reusable items and how they could communicate their practices with consumers. Szaky responded by sharing that he’s been working with the group Consumers Beyond Disposability — which is housed under the World Economic Forum and includes the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, City of Paris and PepsiCo — to develop guidelines for companies that want to put reuse in play. The group plans to share those guidelines during the Davos gathering in January. But for now, Szaky gave an example of how safe reuse could work in a coffee shop. “I would recommend that there’s some process that when you give your cup to the barista, maybe the barista looks at the cup and only accepts certain types of cups … then has some process that is consumer-facing, that you can see and that you can be proud that that process is strong and you can trust it,” he said. “Trust is a critical commodity that we have to build with individuals right now, or in fact almost re-earn.” Pull Quote We’re still very focused on trying to create a reusable system that has the same convenience as disposability … Topics Circular Economy Circularity 20 Circular Packaging Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock warut pothikit Close Authorship

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How TerraCycle’s safety and cleaning practices can be adopted across industries

Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

May 21, 2020 by  
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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’ Heather Clancy Thu, 05/21/2020 – 00:46 The term “regenerative agriculture” has become two of the biggest buzzwords in nature-based climate solutions. But how many farms and food companies can say they follow both regenerative and organic practices? Canadian cereal and snack company Nature’s Path — the largest organic breakfast and snack company in North America — hopes to get more agricultural organizations focused on the nuances of those adjectives.  In March, its 5,000-acre Legend Organic Farm in Saskatchewan became the largest yet to be certified as part of the Regenerative Organic Certified program, organized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance . It’s one of just 30 farms operating with that label. The company created a limited edition oatmeal to draw attention to the certification, which it started selling on Earth Day. Because Legend follows organic farming principles, it already practiced many processes often mentioned as regenerative. The main change the farm made over the past two years to receive Regenerative Organic Certified recognition was stepping up its planting and investments in cover crops such as legumes to improve soil fertility and carbon capture, according to Nature Path founder and chairman Arran Stephens.     The idea, at least in part, is to set an example that other farms can follow. “My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it,” Stephens told me in late April.  Nature’s Path made the decision to seek the Regenerative Organic Certified designation two years ago, both to enrich its soil for the future and to continue differentiating its brand.  My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Legend is the only farm that the company owns outright; it is supplied by hundreds of independent farms, who should be able to command a premium from customers such as Nature’s Path for following these practices in the future, according to Dag Falck, the company’s organic program manager.  “It’s a great way to communicate that your organization is practicing on the highest level of organic,” he said. Some investments it took While it takes just one growing season to earn the Regenerative Organic Certified label — unlike the core organic certification, which takes three years to earn — a series of steps are required to participate, notably expanded soil testing capabilities. As part of the program, farms are required to measure levels of Soil Organic Carbon, Soil Organic Matter and Aggregate Stability. Nature’s Path is testing for all of those metrics, along with Active Carbon, Total Soil Carbon and the Microbial Respiration of CO2. While organic farming shuns the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it doesn’t preclude the use of new technologies or tools. Indeed, Nature’s Path is using a number of new information technologies as part of the program that could offer ideas for others. Among the tools that are playing a role: Tractors that are autosteered using global positioning satellite (GPS) data Satellite maps to monitor growth through the growing season Farming implements such as tine weeders and rotary hoes that help with weeding in preemergent phases while keeping the life within the soil; this allows the farm to reduce its tillage frequency and intensity A new recordkeeping system that can track specific crops back to the field; this is part of the traceability requirements for the certification The company doesn’t currently use precision agriculture technologies, but it eventually could play a role in mapping its soil carbon results, according to the company. According to the World Economic Forum, the average soil carbon level of most farmland is just 1 percent — far below the 3 percent to 7 percent levels they nurtured before being cultivated. It estimates that raising those levels to the low end of that range could sequester 1 trillion tons of CO2. Nature’s Path hasn’t disclosed its current soil levels, but is using this first season to establish a baseline. “We can’t say at this point what we have achieved,” Falck said.  Currently, soil has to be sent to a lab for test — a “fairly costly” process, Falck said, that can take from five to 10 days. The hope is to make more accurate in-person testing available as quickly as possible. Nature’s Path, based in Richmond, British Columbia, was founded in 1985 and became the first organic cereal production in North America five years later. The company is on track to achieve climate neutral status by September.  Pull Quote My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off One requirement of the Regenerative Organics Certified label is a series of tests to gauge soil carbon content. Courtesy of Nature’s Path Close Authorship

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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate

May 16, 2020 by  
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Risk, doubt, and the burden of proof in the climate debate Barbara Freese Sat, 05/16/2020 – 14:20 Excerpted from ” Industrial-Strength Denial: Eight Stories of Corporations Defending the Indefensible, from the Slave Trade to Climate Change ” by Barbara Freese, published by the University of California Press. © 2020 by the Regents of the University of California. The above is an affiliate link and we may get a small commission if you purchase from the site. The Hubris of Denial: Risk, Doubt, and the Burden of Proof There are many reasons why the risks of climate change would not fully register in the human mind. In addition to the denial-provoking gravity of the threat, climate change is not the type of risk our minds evolved to detect. It is gradual, and it derives largely from the familiar and widespread practice of burning fossil fuels. It is something we all contribute to and cannot just blame on enemy evildoers. And it manifests as natural phenomena like heat waves, droughts, fires, storms and floods; we need experts, assessing global data and long-term trends, to tell us if what is happening is truly unusual. As such, climate change just does not provoke the sense of threat we would get from a stalking tiger, a hostile attacker or an eerie and unrecognizably novel situation. All these factors surely make it easier for climate deniers to internally deny the risk and to convince others to do the same. But what exactly are they still denying? The Heartland Institute has for years hosted conferences where climate deniers talk to each other and the media (events known to critics as “denial-paloozas”). At one such event in 2014, speaker Christopher Monckton surveyed the room and declared that everyone there agreed that humanity’s “emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have contributed to the measured global warming since 1950.” His point was to make it clear that “we are not climate change deniers.” Monckton also predicted additional CO2-emission-driven warming in the decades ahead, though less than the consensus predictions. (He undermined his bid to appear reasonable, though, when he went on to berate the media for ignoring facts that “go against the climate Communist party line.”) What continues to define these people as “deniers” in my book is their unshaken belief that climate change is simply no big deal and there is no reason to go out of our way to prevent more of it. “There is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and no point in attempting to do so,” as one recent Heartland document succinctly put it. One reason people might be confused about how much climate deniers actually accept about the science is the vitriolic rhetoric of so many of them. Only two years before this conference, Heartland had issued its press release saying that manmade global warming was a “fringe” view (held by mass murderers, etc.) and that still believing in it was “more than a little nutty.” After this conference, in 2016, Heartland’s science director gave a speech titled “Man-Caused Global Warming: The Greatest Scam in World History” (rather than one called, say, “Man-Caused Global Warming: We Agree We’re Causing It But Predict Less Warming Than Others Do.”) [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:0] Charles Koch is among the deniers who accept that our CO2 emissions are causing global warming, but he is confident the climate is “changing in a mild and manageable way.” It is worth noting here that evidence from psychological studies suggests that the experience of power promotes “illusory control” — that is, a belief among power holders that they can control outcomes that are actually beyond their influence. Contrast Charles Koch’s view with that of one of the pioneers of climate science, Columbia’s Dr. Wallace Broecker. He is winner of the President’s National Medal of Science for, among other things, shedding light on the abrupt climate changes of earth’s distant past. The “paleoclimate,” he says, shows that the “Earth tends to over-respond. . . . The Earth system has amplifiers and feedbacks that mushroom small impacts into large responses.” He does not view climate change as mild and manageable. On the contrary, he says, “The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks.” It is worth pausing here to appreciate the breathtaking hubris of this now-dominant strain of climate denial. These deniers accept that humanity’s pollution has disrupted a fundamental, complex and awesomely powerful planetary system with a history of violent shifts, yet they express complete confidence that the global changes we are inadvertently unleashing will be harmless, even beneficial. It is a bit like a pregnant woman who, after learning that a drug she is consuming causes sometimes devastating chromosomal changes, especially as it accumulates in the body, continues to consume it in ever greater quantities, somehow confident her baby will only benefit from the resulting genetic mutations. Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Sometimes this spin is explicit, like when the Global Climate Coalition argued in 1996 that “the scientific community has not yet met the ‘burden of proof ’ that greenhouse gas emissions are likely to cause serious climatic impacts.” More often, it is implicitly built into the conversation, as it was in so many other public debates, like those over leaded gas, ozone and tobacco. And because there is no discussion of who should initially bear the burden of proof, there is also no discussion of whether to revisit the question and shift that burden once the evidence reaches a certain point. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. The tobacco industry responded to this incentive (“doubt is our product”) as do climate deniers. A recent analysis of decades of ExxonMobil’s climate change communications by Harvard science historians Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes found that while 80 percent or more of the company’s internal documents and peer-reviewed papers acknowledged that climate change is real and human-caused, only 12 percent of its paid “advertorials” aimed at the general news-reading public did so. Instead, 81 percent of these ads raised doubts. [node:field-gbz-pull-quote:1] Oil and gas executives were recently reminded of the value of raising scientific doubt by Rick (“win ugly or lose pretty”) Berman, who explained in his secretly taped 2014 presentation that “people get overwhelmed by the science and [think] ‘I don’t know who to believe.’ But, if you got enough on your side you get people into a position of paralysis about the issue. . . . You get in people’s mind a tie. They don’t know who is right. And you get all ties because the tie basically insures the status quo. . . . I’ll take a tie any day if I’m trying to preserve the status quo.” Imagine how different the climate debate would be if — after decades of analysis and mountains of data pointing to extreme danger — we now finally shifted the burden of proof and started demanding that climate deniers prove the safety of continued pollution. Where is the proof that we can safely raise atmospheric CO2 to levels not seen on earth for millions of years, since long before humans existed, when the earth was much warmer and seas far higher? What is your alternative explanation for the melting ice, shifting ecosystems, growing extremes and other evidence of warming? Show us the sophisticated computer models that accurately simulate the climate system, that factor in ongoing pollution, and that still show a stable future climate with no significant risk of catastrophic changes. Demonstrate precisely how we can be confident that pushing CO2 levels higher will not trigger the feedback systems that in Earth’s past have repeatedly amplified small changes into extreme planetary transformations. Those urging us to heedlessly continue down our current polluting path would need to show evidence of virtually complete scientific consensus, including assurances from all the major scientific academies and relevant scientific societies throughout the world, that pushing CO2 concentrations ever higher was safe. (We would not, however, insist on agreement from all scientists, even those who were the most financially and ideologically invested in the opposite conclusion, because that would be ridiculous.) And wherever there was a gap in our knowledge — about exactly how our complex climate and life on earth would react to these unprecedented changes — that uncertainty would not make us feel safer. We would understand that it increases risk because what we don’t know can hurt us. Pull Quote Maintaining such wholly unfounded confidence (and selling it to others) requires spinning every uncertainty your way by keeping the burden of proof perpetually on those pointing to a climate threat. Whoever does not bear the burden of proof gets the benefit of the doubt and thus has an incentive to exaggerate or manufacture doubt. Topics Risk & Resilience Books Risk Disaster Recovery Collective Insight GreenBiz Reads Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Anya Douglas Close Authorship

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Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19

May 12, 2020 by  
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Now that states are starting to ease their lockdowns, outdoorsy and active people are eager to hit the trails or pick up their tennis rackets and golf clubs. But what do you need to know before getting active amidst COVID-19 ? Here are tips to stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors during a pandemic. Picking the safest activities The virus is still out there. So as you venture out of your home, remember to keep your guard up. The safest activities are those that let you maintain physical distance and congregate with as few people as possible — it’s still safest to stick with members of your own household. Related: COVID-19 and its effects on the environment If you must recreate with the population beyond your quarantine-mates, singles tennis is going to be safer than doubles, because there’s only one person on each side of the net and only one other person touching your tennis balls. You can probably golf safely, but a post-golf hang out in the clubhouse is a bad idea. For now, you’re better off avoiding sports that require close contact and lots of hands on the same equipment, such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. Hiking At first thought, hiking seems like the perfect pandemic activity. What could be more socially distanced than trekking through the wilderness? Well, nothing. Except that, depending where you live, half of your neighbors probably had the same idea. Plus, hiking trails are narrow. So what happens when one hiker wants to pass another? Choose your hiking trails carefully. Depending on where you live, trailheads might be blocked and parking lots could be closed. Try to check your local ordinances before you head out. This can be tricky, since websites may not be up to date and conditions can change rapidly. In Oregon, official guidelines currently say, “Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.” In other words, rangers may close trailheads or parking lots at any minute if folks fail to behave responsibly. Pick the less popular trails, go early and abort the mission if there are too many cars parked near the trailhead. Have a face mask handy so you can cover up and protect fellow hikers if you need to pass them. Avoid narrow trails on cliff edges, where there’s nowhere to step aside. If your dog wants to come along, plan to hike on a wide trail or in a remote area. If the trails are too crowded, and/or you can’t resist those puppy-dog eyes, consider looking for quiet country roads and going for a ramble rather than a hike. Running Since the gyms closed, the number of outdoor runners seems to have multiplied. It can be tricky to navigate your path as you stay 6 feet away from other humans. This might mean zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other, coming to a dead stop when a group of kids go by on trikes and being highly alert to avoid cars and bikes. You’ll need your wits about you. Either skip the headphones or only wear one. With regular routes suddenly too crowded for physical distancing, it’s also important to be vigilant when navigating less familiar terrain. Distance runners might need to plan their routes more carefully. Being 4 miles from home on city streets and suddenly realizing all the public restrooms are closed — well, that’s not a fun predicament. This isn’t a great time for public drinking fountains, either. So carry a reusable water bottle or plan your route so that you can stop by your house for a mid-run comfort break. Water sports As spring turns into summer , water lovers’ thoughts turn to their local beaches, rivers and lakes. Many water sports are a good option during COVID-19, but this isn’t a good time to take up anything extreme. You really don’t want to have to seek medical attention or be hospitalized right now. Instead, try activities like kayaking or paddle boarding on calm waters. But because even the calmest water can be dangerous, go with your household or a buddy. You can stay in close proximity with the people you live with, but if you meet up with a friend, you do need to continue to practice social distancing. Some outfitters are opening up now for contactless rentals and physically distanced group outings with well-sanitized kayaks. This is a good option if you don’t own the gear. Swimming and surfing can also be done while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Adhere to local ordinances and, again, go with your household or a friend. Other outdoor exercise tips and etiquette As you venture outdoors, keep your safety and that of others in mind by following local ordinances and official guidelines. If you live in a place where face masks are optional, bring one along in case conditions turn out to be more crowded than expected. Stick a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket in case you have to touch something. If you’re exerting yourself, watch where you are huffing and puffing. People going on a socially distant walk with family or housemates should go single-file if others are trying to pass. If other people fail to observe proper pandemic etiquette, stay calm. Move away from people breathing in your space. Also, remember why you’re going outdoors: fresh air, exercise and the uplifting effects of nature . This is a time to prioritize physical health and sanity, not athletic achievement or personal best race times. So get outside, be safe and try to be kind to yourself and others. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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