The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

September 22, 2020 by  
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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen Suzanne Shelton Tue, 09/22/2020 – 01:00 I hope you’ve downloaded our latest free report, “Engaging Middle America in Recycling Solutions.” . We conducted that research because we were curious about whether Americans were aware of what was happening with our recycling system — that most Asian countries no longer will take our plastics off our hands, many municipal curbside programs are shutting down and many plastics we’re all putting in our recycling bins are being landfilled — and, if they were aware, what was the impact on their recycling behaviors? We also wanted to understand what could keep them engaged once they understood that they need to do things better or differently to ensure everything they chuck in the bin actually gets recycled. That led us to ask the following questions: How often do you look for an item’s recycling label before discarding it? Some companies have started including new labeling on their packaging showing which parts of the package are recyclable (see sample image). Have you noticed any new recycling labeling on the packaging of things you buy? We made a high-level, perhaps seemingly cavalier recommendation in the report (and in my GreenBiz article about it ) that most Americans haven’t noticed the How2Recycle label — a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public — or find it too hard to read and that we need a massive campaign to teach people to look before they toss. It’s worth unpacking this because there’s a key insight for brands. First off, only 22 percent of Americans say they always look for an item’s recycling label before discarding the item — so one in five people. Of those, 66 percent have noticed the new label, the How2Recycle label pictured above. One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. For the folks who have noticed — the 66 percent of the 22 percent — the vast majority (86 percent) find the label helpful and feel that the label makes it easier to know which parts of a package are actually recyclable. Two-thirds of this group of “Always Recyclers” who’ve noticed the How2Recycle label say they feel frustrated that parts of the package aren’t recyclable. (If you read the free report , this makes sense — we all really want to believe in the guilt-absolving promise of recycling.) Half of this group say the label is too small to read, and 63 percent say if they weren’t already aware of the label, they wouldn’t know to look for it. Bottom line: One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly, and the How2Recycle label makes it easier for them to do it right. Thus, they think that brands should be promoting the label, making it easier to see on packaging, AND that companies need to make more parts of their packaging actually recyclable. If you represent a consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brand, you have a vested interest in encouraging better recycling behaviors. As we note in our report, people want the recycling system to work (76 percent of us say recycling makes us feel better about our purchases). They feel like it’s a promise that’s been made to them by CPG companies: “You don’t have to feel guilty about all the buying of stuff you do … just recycle it when you’re done, and it will become something else for somebody else! It’s the circle of life! You’re doing your part!” Once that promise begins to fall apart, most Americans won’t blame themselves — they’ll blame the companies who made the promise. So, let’s make it work. Let’s create a massive campaign encouraging people to look for the How2Recycle label so that recyclable items actually get in the recycling bin and non-recyclable items go in the trash. Brands, use that label as an internal pressure point to design packaging that’s actually recyclable. It’ll be great for your brand. Who’s with me? Pull Quote One in five Americans are diligently working to discard a brand’s packaging properly. Topics Marketing & Communication Consumer Trends Recycling Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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The How2Recycle label needs a massive campaign. Brands should make it happen

It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability

June 15, 2020 by  
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It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability Diane Osgood Mon, 06/15/2020 – 00:30 Right now, talking about shopping can seem trite. Yet, to address systemic racism, we need a more just economy. An economy slanted towards white ownership plus discriminatory labor practices perpetuate systemic racism. As discussed in earlier columns ( here and here ), consumer demand drives 70 percent of the economy. Consumers and citizens have significant influence over the shape of the economy because we — in aggregate — ultimately control almost 70 percent of it. As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. We must urgently guide the economy now because: In the face of worldwide protests against systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic, many people became more conscious of what they value. How do we draw clear links between the action of shopping and what we value? So much about shopping is reflexive yet shopping and consumption patterns have been deeply altered during the pandemic. People everywhere have had to learn new behaviors. In this moment, can we introduce new behaviors to support a more just and sustainable economy? What can we do to reinforce changes and create lasting habits? Governments are making huge capital investments in their economies. Those trillions of dollars will not be readily available again for at least the next 10 years. Thus, this capital injection will define the shape of the economy for the next decade. Climate scientists say these are the exact 10 years that we have to reduce greenhouse gases. The climate horizon and COVID horizon are merging. We can’t wait 10 years to advance economic change on both fronts. If we want a more just economic system, we have two levers, voting and shopping: Vote for local, state and national leaders and policies that support minority-owned businesses and require fair and safe labor standards. Shop at minority-owned businesses and buy products from companies with a verified track record of fair and safe labor standards, just hiring practices and diverse leadership. Today we have a unique opportunity to reimagine and reshape the 70 percent of the economy that is consumer-driven. By doing so, we can shift the economy towards justice and environmental sustainability. As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. We need to help our companies operationalize true equality and fair labor practices throughout all its activities from board and executive representation down to supply-chain partners. Then we can guide consumers and help drive the changes our economy needs. Join me in the conversation, in the comments below or at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote As sustainability professionals, we need to ensure our companies do more than take a stand against racism and unfair labor practices. Topics Consumer Trends Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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It’s urgent to reshape our economy towards justice and sustainability

The fashion industry is unsustainable — here’s how journalism is inspiring activism to improve it

May 15, 2020 by  
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The fashion industry is unsustainable — here’s how journalism is inspiring activism to improve it Kirstie Dabbs Fri, 05/15/2020 – 01:43 The fast fashion industry has long been critiqued for unsustainable practices and unethical working conditions. From global cotton supply chains to pollution from textile factories, the need to improve the industry in favor of both people and the planet is pressing.  Bard MBA student Kirstie Dabbs spoke recently with author Elizabeth Segran about their shared passion for building a sustainability-centered future for the fashion industry. They discussed the unchecked growth of the fashion industry’s business model, possibilities for regulations, and how to inspire systematic change in global fast fashion.  Segran writes about design, with a particular focus on the fashion industry as a senior staff writer at Fast Company Magazine . She also recently authored a new book, ” The Rocket Years: How Your Twenties Launch the Rest of Your Life .” In it, she discusses how all kinds of decisions that we make in our 20s — from career to love to family — have the greatest impact on how our lives play out. There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Kirstie Dabbs: What inspired you to begin writing about the fashion industry and climate change? Elizabeth Segran: In a lot of ways, the work I did for “The Rocket Years” is extremely relevant to the conversation about the fashion industry and climate change. The decisions young people make, the activism they pursue and the ways they think about building a career can all center around trying to solve some of these problems and having a real impact.   Collectively, young people need to be involved in being part of the solution here. I have a lot of hope that we can change this industry, which is causing so much disruption to the planet. Dabbs: As you dug into the fashion industry’s environmental footprint, what were some discoveries that jumped out at you? Segran: I was really surprised about exactly how much we’re overconsuming in the world of fashion. There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Plus, if you think about how those clothes are spread out around the world, people in many places don’t own that many clothes. So the vast majority of the clothes being manufactured are going to countries like the United States. Then, when you think about how many resources go into making every single garment, including the $5 shirt from H&M, it adds up. There’s an enormous cost in natural resources like cotton and wool, and there’s a massive impact on the climate because a lot of carbon is involved in manufacturing nylon and polyester.  There’s just so much waste in this industry. Clothes are made at such low cost that we go into a store or we go online, and we fill our carts with clothes that look fashionable right now but that we essentially treat as disposable. In a few months, maybe a few years, all of those clothes will end up in the trash. Dabbs: Can you speak to the discrepancy between the population growth rate and that of the fashion industry? Segran: The first part of the problem is that fast fashion has created a new way of interacting with clothes that make them pretty much disposable. The second part of the problem is that companies are measured by how quickly they can grow — investors want to see constant growth. This means that, for a fashion brand to continue growing, it either needs to sell clothes to more customers or needs to sell that same customer more clothes.  The fashion industry is growing at a rate of about 3 to 4 percent a year , but the human population is only growing at a rate of about 1 percent . We can see why we’ve gotten to the point of such massive overconsumption. Dabbs: How do you hope to inspire systemic change through your work? Segran: Sustainability reporters like myself have been talking about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and over many years there’ve also been reporters consistently writing about human rights abuses in the fashion industry. It’s so clear now that those two things are connected. A lot of environmental destruction happens when we’re using inexpensive materials, and on the other side of that, we’re also using inexpensive labor to keep costs low.  I’ve written a lot about how farmers, particularly in India and Bangladesh, who are responsible for so much of global cotton production, are exposing themselves to toxic chemicals. A lot of the time, those chemicals end up in the ground water and poison entire villages. That’s one of the human costs we see along the chain in order to get these inexpensive materials.   Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. There’s also the factory part to consider. We know that conditions in factories in many parts of the world are terrible, but because people are so desperate in those countries for work, they’re willing to work under awful conditions for very low wages. All of that for a $5 shirt we aren’t going to wear many times.   I’m asking consumers who read my stories to think about how they participate in this system. A lot of people struggle to understand exactly how the supply chain works, so I’m educating them about where abuses are happening and how they can call out companies for their bad practices.  It’s also my job to find out about companies that are doing things slightly better so that consumers can use what I call wallet activism to have an impact on the market. Investors and companies see what the trends are in terms of consumer spending and may adjust their behavior to respond. Dabbs: Is there a case for regulating the global fashion industry? Segran: This is a really important topic and one that I don’t think has been wrestled with enough. Part of the reason that the fashion industry is still largely unregulated is that the supply chain is really spread out. There are brands that don’t even know what the conditions are in factories because they work with middlemen who help them source products. Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. So this is actually a very complex issue. Plus, even today we don’t have very good ways to measure environmental impact. We know that the industry is creating a lot of waste, but we’re not exactly sure how much. On the other hand, we’re beginning to use more circular models, where you might buy an article of clothing and after wearing it for a couple of years, send it back to be recycled and turned into new garments. Developing interesting models through innovation is a great way to move the industry forward. This Q&A is an edited excerpt from the Bard MBA’s May 1 The Impact Report podcast. The Impact Report brings together students and faculty in Bard’s MBA in Sustainability program with leaders in business, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. Pull Quote There are 8 billion humans on this planet, but a lot of the data suggests that we’re making about 100 billion articles of clothing for them. Even if you ask a brand to regulate its environmental impact throughout its supply chain, that brand may just not have access to information about what’s happening lower down in the supply chain. Contributors Katie Ellman Topics Retail Supply Chain Circular Economy Fashion Supply Chain Waste Collective Insight The Sustainable MBA Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Milos Vucicevic Close Authorship

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The fashion industry is unsustainable — here’s how journalism is inspiring activism to improve it

The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

March 2, 2020 by  
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Pollination occurs when pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, feed on the sweet nectar from flowers. While they enjoy the buffet, powdery pollen sticks to them. As they move down the buffet line to other plants in the area, the pollen drops off into those plants, which then use it to create seeds, fruit and more plants. The process is essential to our food supply, with some estimates giving pollination credit for up to one-third of what we eat. Whether you want a robust garden full of produce, to help boost pollinator populations or both, focusing on the best plants for pollinators will help you reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to select native plants for your region. Talk to your local extension office, do some research online or grab a book from the library. Your local nursery or other garden supply store will likely have a great selection of the best plants for attracting pollinators to get you started. In the meantime, here are plenty of tips to help you know where to start when it comes to creating a beautiful, bountiful pollinator garden. Related: EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides Best plants for every kind of pollinator and climate Many plants are forgiving enough to succeed in a variety of climates and are commonly used for attracting pollinators in just about any area. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint and oregano are great options. Other plants provide aesthetic appeal for your yard while also creating a feast for pollinators. Look into whether coneflower (purple is a favorite for butterflies), sunflower, redbud, catnip, penstemon, lab’s ears, verbena, aster, black-eyed Susan or yarrow are a good fit for your space. Butterfly gardens If your main draw is butterflies, try alyssum, aster, butterfly bush, cosmos, delphinium, and the easy-to-grow daylily. A few other butterfly favorites include fennel, globe thistle, goldenrod and liatris. Hollyhock makes butterflies happy, but be careful where you plant it, because hollyhock can become invasive after the first season. Plants to attract hummingbirds Hummingbirds like big, bright blooms they can stick their extraordinarily long tongues into for a drink. Test out bee balm, begonias, bleeding heart, canna, cardinal flower, columbine and coral bells (heuchera). Vary your plantings by season, and choose plants of different heights and colors. Include cleome, dahlia, foxglove, fuchsia, gladiolus, iris and lupine. Other plants known to draw in the fluttery birds include lantana, paintbrush, nicotiana, phlox and yucca. Bee-friendly plants As you probably know, bees are critical to the survival of our planet, but colony collapse has put them in crisis. Do your part with some bee-friendly plants like bee plant, bergamot, borage, cosmos, flax, giant hyssop, marjoram and poppies. Bees are usually satisfied feeding at any nectar-rich banquet, so most herbs, berries or flowers in your garden will likely make them happy. If you plan to try beekeeping, note that the resulting honey will pick up the key notes from what they feed on, so experiment with wildflowers, wild rose, thyme, verbena and blackberries for different flavors. Pollinators by region Weather trends in your area will affect the types of plants that will thrive, so again, it’s important to research plants native to your locale. However, here are some general ideas for the more extreme climates you might be dealing with. Arid mountains  If you live in a semi-desert region, try out catnip, clover, milkwort, morning glory, passion flowers and phacelia in your pollinator garden. Some other options that should thrive in arid regions include rose, potentilla, sorrel, violet and wild mustard. Coastal areas For areas that receive more rain, such as the misty coasts, add catalpa, cow parsley, goldenrod, impatiens, morning glory and willow catkins to your garden. Although we’ve mentioned a lot of flowers, remember that crops bloom too, providing an opportunity to feed the pollinators and yourself. Plant some almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, eggplants, gooseberries, legumes, watermelons, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes along with herbs to satisfy the pollinators and fill your plate. Additional pollinator garden tips There are a few more components to creating the perfect pollinator garden, where bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and more will all flock to for nectar. Proper plant care In addition to selecting the best plants for pollinators, you’ll want to make sure those plants and the pollinators are thriving. Follow watering guidelines for the plants you select and fertilize them when needed, but be sure to use only organic materials. Avoid chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides that can harm bees, moths and other pollinators. Especially during the hot, summer months, scatter water sources around your garden for pollinators to enjoy while they work. Also cluster plants together so pollinators have some protection. This gives them a place to hide from predators, heat and rain as well as to rear their young. If you grow crops on a large or small scale, consider throwing some seeds in the ground during the off season. You may not want the plants that are not at their peak, but pollinators will appreciate them nonetheless — your soil will likely thank you for some variety, too. You can also put wildflowers in unused areas for your pollinators to enjoy. Pollinators’ favorite colors Map out your garden with a variety of colors for attracting pollinators of all types.  Birds are naturally drawn to warm tones, like scarlet, red and orange. They also respond well to white blooms. Butterflies like bright colors and the deeper tones of red and purple. On the other end of the spectrum, moths prefer dull red, purple, pink and white. By planting a variety of colors that bloom throughout the seasons, you will provide the best environment to attract all types of pollinators. Images via Shutterstock

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Solid Waste Trends In 2020

January 15, 2020 by  
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Ten years ago, most people thought garbage was boring; even … The post Solid Waste Trends In 2020 appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Warming Winter Soups

January 15, 2020 by  
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The winter is a wonderful time to make soup. Soup … The post Maven Moment: Warming Winter Soups appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Warming Winter Soups

Earth911 Podast: Make 2020 the Year of Greener You

January 13, 2020 by  
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Predicting Sustainability Trends for 2020

January 6, 2020 by  
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‘Rainforest’ Excerpt: Eliminating Deforestation From Soya Cultivation

January 6, 2020 by  
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In December 2019, we spoke with environmentalist Tony Juniper on … The post ‘Rainforest’ Excerpt: Eliminating Deforestation From Soya Cultivation appeared first on Earth911.com.

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4 Trends in Solar Energy for 2020

December 24, 2019 by  
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