BSR’s challenge to businesses: Hire 100,000 new impact workers by 2020

July 24, 2018 by  
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Creating jobs for economically and socially vulnerable people is crucial for supporting the SDGs, according to Business for Social Responsibility.

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BSR’s challenge to businesses: Hire 100,000 new impact workers by 2020

Want to help cities act on climate change? Give them data

July 24, 2018 by  
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National governments have actionable information for cities. Why not share it?

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Want to help cities act on climate change? Give them data

A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

July 19, 2018 by  
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No matter where you live or what you do for a living, there’s always a chance that fate will take a few bad turns, leaving you and your family in need of temporary housing. The Cambridge Health and Human Services Department (CHHSD) and Cambridge’s HMFH Architects recently joined forces to build such a shelter in a lovely 19th century building once thought doomed for demolition. In addition to providing safe, short-term housing, the project focuses on sustainability in its design. Once a grand, aluminum-gilded structure among the dignified homes along Massachusetts Avenue, building number 859, constructed in 1885, was turned into offices years ago. But time took its toll: the aluminum siding faded, the entryway became disheveled, rust sullied the fire escapes and flourishing gardens were harshly paved. Related: Architect converts derelict 19th century Mexican home into light-filled mixed-use community center The city purchased the dilapidated structure, and HMFH Architects razed the interior down to its structural beams and studs to make room for 10 family-sized housing units that each provide temporary homes with private baths for an adult and one to two children. Each floor has a kitchen and dining area shared by tenants. The architectural design team joined forces with the Cambridge Historical Commission to ensure as many details as possible were restored to their original state, from the front stairway design to the paint, trim and roofing materials. Sustainable design was also high on the list of project goals. The building meets Cambridge’s goal to keep the site’s energy use to as close to zero as possible, concurrent with generating sufficient renewable energy to fulfill its own yearly consumption. To accomplish this, the building has three types of solar roof tiles , maximum-efficiency mechanical systems to decrease heating and cooling needs and LED lighting operated by sensors. Double-thickness walls and insulation along with energy-efficient windows and doors also helped the project meet its energy goals. “The new residence at 859 Mass Avenue provides a welcoming, comfortable environment for families and children in need,” said Ellen Semonoff, Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services. “The beauty and functionality of the building let families know that they are valued members of our community.” The Cambridge Historical Commission presented the 2018 Cambridge Preservation Award to jointly honor the project and the city for its work. + HMFH ARCHITECTS + Cambridge Health and Human Services Department Images via Bruce T. Martin and Ed Wosnek

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A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

Zen and the Triple Bottom Line

July 9, 2018 by  
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If we really want to change the system, we must help individuals reconnect with their core values.

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Zen and the Triple Bottom Line

Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

July 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese earthworms, the Mauritian flying fox and the Bankoualé Palm are joining over 26,000 species categorized as “endangered.” The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List report  now identifies 26,197 plants and animals facing extinction, out of 93,557 facing serious environmental threats around the world. Australia’s reptile population possibly faces the most threats of all species. 975 reptiles native to the island — nearly every cold-blooded animal living there — have joined the list. In addition, seven percent of those are threatened with extinction due to changing environmental factors , including invasive species and climate change. Estimates from ICUN blame 600 million reptile deaths on feral cats, while a one-degree temperature change could cut the Bartle Frere cool-skink population by half over 30 years. Related: Conservationists sound alarm over US House bill that weakens Endangered Species Act While Australia is facing a mass extinction of reptiles, other areas across Asia could lose species over time. The Mauritian flying fox, an important pollinating species on Mauritius and Réunion, was also added to the endangered species list. Deforestation , cyclones, poaching and death from power lines have significantly reduced the population. In Japan, three species of earthworms were also added to the Red List and face extinction. Nuclear fallout from both World War II and the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, combined with over-farming and city growth, are threatening the species. Animals also aren’t the only species that face extinction before the century’s end. The Bankoualé palm, a plant native to Djibouti, Somalia and Yemen, may also be relegated to textbooks. Between deforestation, drought , destruction from farming and water redirection, the palm could disappear entirely from Yemen first, leaving the Horn of Africa as its only remaining habitat. Although the outlook is grim for the newly endangered species , all hope is not lost. The ICUN is actively working with local populations to ensure both plants and animals can continue to thrive for generations. In Mauritius, a task force is working with farmers to protect crops and orchards with nets and other deterrents, reducing the need for population culling. Via ICUN

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Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species

Dairy farmers’ excess milk gets a second life feeding the hungry

July 3, 2018 by  
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Automation may have caused a significant surplus of dairy products and a corresponding price drop, but one non-profit has stepped up to ensure food – and farms – don’t go to waste. Philabundance , a food bank in Philadelphia, is working with cow ranchers to help sell their foods while also keeping hungry families fed in the city. After shifting their farming focus away from traditional milk packaging and sales, Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers struggled to keep family businesses afloat. According to a study by the Center for Dairy Excellence , 120 Pennsylvania dairy farms closed their gates for good in 2016. Related: Transfernation volunteers will deliver your leftover party food to homeless shelters That’s where Philabundance came into the picture. Working with farmers across the state, the organization wanted to purchase excess dairy products to feed hungry families in Philadelphia. Traditionally, extra skim milk was dumped because farms didn’t have the equipment to turn the surplus into cheese or yogurt. In 2016, Pennsylvania farmers alone discarded 43 million gallons of excess milk. But with state funds provided by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System and the cooperation of dairy farms, Philabundance and other food banks purchased over 60,000 gallons of excess milk destined for waste and turned it into cheese. The result was a new food source for food banks and $165,000 in revenue for farmers. This partnership quickly turned into a much bigger idea: turning excess milk into artisan cheese. Philabundance took the lead by buying even more milk to produce the same food products , then selling them under the name “Abundantly Good.” The products went on sale through three retail partners, a direct-to-restaurant seller and an online shop . One dollar from each sale goes back to farmers, subsidizing the milk set aside for food donations. In one year, farmers sold $9,000 worth of products each and prevented further food waste. With the success of the cheese sales and donation programs, Philabundance is testing other products for retail shelves, including drinkable yogurt. The group is also expanding its line to include foods like spiced tomato jam. Much like the dairy program, portions of the sales go back to farmers who turn their crops into soup and sauces for people in need. This partnership closes the loop in agricultural waste. Instead of destroying products or sending food waste to the garbage, farms produce more food that goes to people in need. In turn, the farms’ bottom lines increase, keeping them sustainable well into the future. Which is something that everybody – from farm to table – can celebrate. Via NPR

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Dairy farmers’ excess milk gets a second life feeding the hungry

Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

July 3, 2018 by  
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Narwhals, or the “unicorns of the sea,” could be at risk from additional Arctic shipping routes as polar ice continues to recede. A peer-reviewed study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests as many as seven marine mammal species may face new threats and uncertain consequences from increased ship traffic. The Arctic Ocean is home to hundreds of animals, like narwhals, polar bears and whales. However, as the polar ice caps retreat, more shipping companies are taking advantage of open waters to reduce travel time. To determine how the increase of ships could affect marine mammals , the research team from University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Washington studied wildlife during the fall shipping season. The group looked at 80 different subpopulations among the seven species to determine if they were directly exposed to the ships and how much these ships could affect the wellbeing of the marine life. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation During the study period, over half of the subpopulations were impacted by ships, with narwhals inheriting the highest amount of risk. In addition to an increased risk of injury or death from collisions,  toothed whales also face communication challenges because of their audio sensitivity. Like dolphins, the ocean unicorn “talks” with a language of buzzing, clicking and calling. While narwhals could have the most to lose, polar bears and seals have the least risk because of the time they spend on land. But researchers note their populations also come with high long-term uncertainty, and the team concluded more data is required to determine how shipping affects their livelihood. The news wasn’t entirely bad for wildlife populations. The scientists noted through additional data collection, shipping companies could plan for environmentally-sustainable transportation options. “Regions with geographic bottlenecks, such as the Bering Strait and eastern Canadian Arctic, were characterized by two to three times higher vulnerability than more remote regions,” the researchers wrote in their study abstract. “These pinch points are obligatory pathways for both vessels and migratory [ocean mammals], and so represent potentially high conflict areas but also opportunities for conservation-informed planning .” Arctic planning groups are aware of the wildlife threats and are working out plans to balance shipping with environmental concerns. The Arctic Council instituted regulations on transport companies in January 2017, with the goal of making shipping safer for both crews and marine mammals. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via Earther

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Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

Australia takes stand on single-use plastic bags

July 2, 2018 by  
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Single-use plastic bags are going out of style in Australia, but shoppers aren’t thrilled by the reduction. Two major retailers, Big W and Coles, have officially ended the use of plastic shopping bags from their stores. The move effectively outlaws their use in nearly every Australian state. After Tasmania and South Australia started by installing a plastic bag ban, national retailers voluntarily began relying on them in stores. On June 20, 2018, Woolworths stopped offering single-use bags, instead charging shoppers 11 cents for reusable plastic totes starting July 9. After sharp customer backlash, the totes will be free until July 8. Related: Billions of pieces of plastic trash are sickening the world’s coral reefs The other two retail chains pulled the plastic shopping bags off their shelves July 1. To quell community outrage, Coles brought on more staff to ensure check-out lines moved quickly as a result of the shift. As a nation, Australia is reducing its reliance on one-use plastic products to combat ocean pollution . According to the United Nations’ Environment Program , the world produces over 300 million tons of plastic annually. Approximately 2.6 percent – eight million tons and as many as 5 trillion plastic bags – end up in the ocean, where they can poison marine life. Without reducing single-use plastic production, the UN estimates plastics could outnumber ocean fish in just over 30 years. While the move is environmentally conscious , it isn’t popular with shoppers. According to Australian labor union SDA, around 43 percent of retail workers said they suffered “abuse” from shoppers because of the change. At least one was reportedly assaulted, leading the union to start a public service announcement campaign to educate the public about plastic pollution. In the United States, the National Conference of State Legislatures shows only two states have instituted single-use plastic bag bans for shoppers: California and Hawaii . Six major cities, including Austin, Boston, Chicago and Seattle, have all banned single-use bags, while four states and at least six cities charge fees to shoppers who opt for plastic bags. Via NPR and Reuters

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Australia takes stand on single-use plastic bags

Why corporate tax savings should be held to a higher standard

May 29, 2018 by  
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Should corporations’ windfalls lead to a sustainability stimulus?

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Why corporate tax savings should be held to a higher standard

10 reasons startups should be socially responsible from birth

March 20, 2018 by  
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It shouldn’t be regarded as a new burden but as a competitive differentiator right in the first presentations and brainstorms.

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10 reasons startups should be socially responsible from birth

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