Predicting Environmental Trends for 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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For the past couple of years, Earth911 has made predictions … The post Predicting Environmental Trends for 2021 appeared first on Earth 911.

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Predicting Environmental Trends for 2021

4 alternative protein trends to watch in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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4 alternative protein trends to watch in 2021 Jesse Klein Mon, 01/04/2021 – 01:30 It is highly probable your children will be vegans eating a Christmas ham Dec. 25, 2050. Alternative proteins will be the norm very soon and we might look back at this decade as the time when real shift in diets occurred.  Don’t believe me? Here are a few stats. Venture capital invested $1.5 billion in alternative proteins in 2020. The plant-based meat market is predicted to grow from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $4.2 billion by 2021 . And by 2040, 60 percent of meat sales will be plant-based or cultured meat products.  Every movement has the trends that significantly shape its future and others that quickly die and are forgotten. Here are four trends for 2021 that are expected to last beyond the initial excitement.  1. Fermentation is king  Fermentation, using genetically engineered microbes to mass-produce plant-based proteins, is on the verge of dramatically altering our protein food system. The value of fermentation lies in the system’s simplicity, effectiveness and flexibility to be used across food categories. Perfect Day uses fermentation to make dairy-like products while startups such as Clara Foods are focusing on egg substitutes . And there is about to be even more competition. According to a Prepared Foods report , 44 new fermentation companies launched in late 2019 and early 2020, a 91 percent increase compared to 2018.  But it looks like there will be plenty of money to go around. Even as COVID-19 upended global markets, alternative protein companies focusing on fermentation raised $435 million in venture capital by July, 58 percent more than in 2019. High-profile investors such as Al Gore and Bill Gates got in on the 2020 action, leading an $80 million investing round for Nature’s Fynd in March. And in December, Nature’s Fynd added $45 million from Oxford Finance and Trinity Capital. The company uses microbes found in Yellowstone National Park’s famous geysers to grow a protein with all nine amino acids. As we move to 2021 and beyond, fermentation technology likely will become a pillar of the alternative protein supply chain.  2. A move to direct-to-consumer In early 2020, some premier alternative protein companies had restaurant-only strategies. Impossible Foods had chefs such as David Chang serving the burger at its trendy restaurants. Soon after, the focus expanded into fast-food chains. But when the pandemic shut down restaurants, it expedited a shift to grocery stores and even direct-to-consumer purchasing.  You can buy Impossible’s ground “beef” at 15,000 Safeways, Krogers, Trader Joe’s and many other grocery stores across the country. Beyond Meat, which was in grocery stores before Impossible, can be shipped directly to your door. Impossible Foods also created a shop section on its website, bypassing the grocery store middlemen completely.  Eclipse , a vegan ice cream company based in the Bay Area, shifted from partnerships with popular ice cream shops such as Salt & Straw to chef collaborations on limited-edition pints ice cream lovers can buy directly from Eclipse online. Next year, alternative protein companies will continue to take the pandemic’s lessons to heart by giving consumers the convenience of direct purchasing while the companies get to rake in dollars without the help of restaurants or grocers. Atlast and Meati are two companies using precise mushroom cultivation to produce whole cut substitutes that taste and act like the real heterogenous meat versions. Photo by  Ksenia Lada  on Shutterstock. 3. An opportunity in whole cuts  While the alternative protein industry has made huge strides in the areas of ground beef and processed products such as chicken nuggets or fish sticks, a huge section of the meat market that has yet to be successfully tapped into is whole cuts. In fact, according to a USDA agricultural marketing and economic report , about 80 percent of meat purchases are whole cuts such as chicken breasts, steaks and loins. In 2021, the alternative protein industry will need to focus on innovating in this very valuable part of the market. Some are already doing it and planning on coming to market with consumer products next year. Atlast and Meati use precise mushroom cultivation to produce whole cut substitutes that taste and act like the real heterogenous meat versions.  “The way we make bacon is the equivalent of making mushroom pork belly,” said Eben Bayer, CEO of Atlast. “We grow this blob of mushroom like a big piece of meat, and we run it right through a conventional pork slicer.” To create bacon that has different layers and doesn’t act like a standard mushroom, Atlast tightly controls and changes environmental factors such as airflow and temperature during the growing process to create mushroom sections that taste fattier and other sections that get crispy to create that true bacon experience. While the industry inches towards whole cuts in 2021, the companies that figure out how to make convincing plant versions of steaks, chicken breasts and hams at scale will have cracked the alternative protein market wide open. 4. A focus on non-allergenic substitutes  Many standard ingredients for alternative proteins are soy, oats, legumes and nuts. These are also some common allergens. One percent of the U.S. population is allergic to nuts. And estimates suggest up to 6 percent of the population has a gluten sensitivity, along with the many who have jumped on the trend of cutting out gluten without any intolerance. Legume allergies, such as peanuts and soy, are also frequent. In 2021, the industry will need to start creating products that cater to this demographic. Going vegan or vegetarian for people with allergens can be extremely difficult and limiting. Soy and gluten-free vegan options such as Sophie’s Kitchen seafood products or Atlantic Natural Foods’ Neat Meat will be important in making alternative proteins accessible to everyone.  Topics Food & Agriculture Alternative Protein Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The plant-based meat market is predicted to grow from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $4.2 billion by 2021 . Photo by Line Tscherning for  LikeMeat on Unsplash .

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5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021

January 4, 2021 by  
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5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021 Meg Wilcox Mon, 01/04/2021 – 01:15 For companies with sustainable packaging goals, 2025 is fast approaching. That’s the year when many have pledged to become zero waste, or to use 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging. But COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in those plans, with single-use packaging skyrocketing, low fossil fuel prices and disrupted recycling systems, already weakened by China’s 2018 plastics waste ban.  Yet, at the same time, the pandemic has led to a surge in environmental and sustainability awareness by showing how much carbon emissions can drop, or wildlife can flourish, when the world’s economic engine slows down.  As TerraCycle founder and CEO, Tom Szaky, put it, “The world is waking up, but the systems that are there that allow them to act are going the other way. There’s this divergence, which is a great opportunity for anyone who can bridge the gap.” Bridging that gap with novel solutions and collaborations, in a race against the clock, is one of five key themes to keep an eye on for sustainable packaging in 2021.  1. A year for reckoning — and opportunity In September, Waste Management published a report identifying gaps in the plastics recycling system, in response to shareholder pressure from As You Sow and Trillium Asset Management. The report provided a bit of a roadmap for 2021, according to Nina Goodrich, director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and executive director of GreenBlue. It was critical for helping stakeholders understand the system, the supply chain, and the role that emerging tech will play, and it “provided the environment for everyone to buckle down and say, ‘Uh-oh, how are we going to do this?’” she said. That is, how will stakeholders meet their recycling goals? Noting, for example, that the report revealed that only 30 percent of PET is collected, and most of that goes into fiber, Goodrich queried, “How does one create a system where there’s 100 percent recycled content and recyclability when you have more than one market demanding that material?” Clearly, stakeholders will have to get out of their silos and collaborate across sectors.  Although it’s a challenging time, with companies’ 2025 sustainable packaging goals coming due and the recycling market in disarray, Szaky said he believes that 2021 will be an interesting year: “We’re going to see a lot of people leaning in on these topics in a way they haven’t before.”  For Loop, the reusable packaging platform that allows consumers to buy goods in durable packaging and return it to producers after use, that means opportunity. “It’s a pretty exciting time for us,” Szaky told GreenBiz. “We’re booming.”  2. Reuse models will continue to grow Loop is fast growing, raising $25 million last year. It’s moving into quick service restaurants including Burger King, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons in 2021. “The big theme for next year is retailers are starting to do in-store quite aggressively,” said Szaky. Carrefour already has begun in France. Many of the other 15 retailers that Loop works with are starting store rollouts in six countries in 2021, according to Szaky. Loop isn’t the only reusable packaging platform seeing strong growth. Algramo expanded into New York City last summer. Media Source Courtesy of Media Authorship Algramo Close Authorship Plenty of new reuse pilots are springing up, such as Good Goods, a New York City startup that incentivizes customers to return their wine bottles to the point of sale, or the dozens of other projects summarized in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, ” Reuse — Rethinking Packaging .”  In fact, experimentation is the name of the game with reuse models, according to Kate Daly, managing director at Closed Loop Partners.  “We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another,” said Daly. “We really want to make sure that sustainable choices like reusable packaging aren’t just limited for people who can pay extra for their goods.” Also key is ensuring that reusables get the longest life and largest recapture rate, and that they’re recyclable and recoverable at the end of their life. To foster learning about what works and doesn’t work, Closed Loop Partners will release a report this month on its 2020 pilot initiative with Cup Club, a NextGen Cup Challenge awardee, and its experience marketing reusable cups across multiple cafes in the Bay Area.   3. Compostable packaging finds a niche with food waste Biopolymers and compostable materials are quickly becoming an alternative to disposable packaging, but there’s a confusing array of materials being developed. Some bio-based materials such as bio-PET are derived from biological materials, but are not biodegradable. Meanwhile, other bio-based materials such as PLA, (polylactic acid), a natural polymer made from corn starch or sugar cane, is biodegradable, although not in the way a consumer might assume it to be.  To help brands and others understand the fast-evolving landscape of bio-based materials, Closed Loop Partner’s released ” Navigating Plastic Alternatives in a Circular Economy .” We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another. Among its conclusions, the report finds that compostable alternatives are not a silver-bullet solution, in part because there is not enough recovery infrastructure to recapture their full value efficiently. Plus, among the 185 commercial composting facilities that exist, many don’t accept compostable-certified packaging.  “We have to rethink where composting is appropriate and where it isn’t. It is a really good solution where you have food waste,” Goodrich said. Daly agrees: “What we wouldn’t want to see is any format that is being successfully recycled being converted to a compostable format when there isn’t the infrastructure possible. That would create a misalignment between the material and infrastructure that would exacerbate the challenges already in place today.” 4. Extended producer responsibility takes off Last month, the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) and Product Stewardship Association (PSI) released a joint statement calling for extended producer responsibility at the end of life for flexible packaging and paper. The statement lays out eight policy elements that could go into legislation, including a mechanism for producer funding for collection, transportation and processing of packaging, among other critical funding needs for municipal recycling facilities.  “With this agreement, FPA member companies and PSI member governments, companies, and organizations have started down a path together to provide desperately needed fiscal relief for municipalities while fixing and expanding our national reuse and recycling system,” said Scott Cassel, PSI’s chief executive officer and founder, in a press release.   Goodrich called it “groundbreaking.”  Remarkably, FPA wasn’t the only industry association to step up on extended producer responsibility. The Recycling Partnership released ” Accelerating Recycling ,” a policy proposal outlining fees that brands and packaging producers would pay that would help fund residential recycling infrastructure and education. A proposed per-ton disposal fee could be required at landfills, incinerators and waste-to-energy plants, with the revenue going to local governments for recycling programs. The American Chemistry Council also came out with a position paper supporting packaging fees across multiple material types, in addition to disposal fees to equalize the costs of disposal versus recycling. “Two years ago, you couldn’t even mention this, and now you have a series of industry proposals being put on the table. That is incredibly significant,” said Goodrich.  5. Rising action to eliminate toxics from food packaging Amazon was the latest among more than half a dozen major food retailers — from Whole Foods to Trader Joe’s to Ahold Delhaize — to announce a ban on certain toxic chemicals and plastics in food packaging materials. The new restrictions apply to Amazon Kitchen brand products sold through the tech giant’s various grocery services, but not to other private-label or Amazon brand-name food contact materials, such as single-use plates.  Still, it’s a good start. And Amazon’s actions “send a strong signal to competing grocery store chains that they need to get their act together, and also tackle some of the same chemicals of concern that scientists are sounding the alarm on,” Mike Schade, campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, Mind the Store, told GreenBiz. We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource. Schade has seen rising attention over the past few years on the part of both food retailers and fast casual restaurants, such as Sweet Green, towards not only banning specific chemicals, but also restricting classes of chemicals.  Getting toxics out of packaging, in flexible films in particular, was also on the agenda at a 2020 RCD Packaging Innovation workshop that brought together 80 representatives from consumer brands, waste managers and the plastics industry over a nine-month period. Such attention on toxics is critical, as a comprehensive report on the health impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in packaging and other plastics materials underscored last month. Bisphenol A, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and dioxins are among the chemicals that disturb the body’s hormone systems, and can cause cancer, diabetes and reproductive disorders, and harm children’s developing brains. Expect more food retailers and fast casual restaurants to ban or restrict endocrine-disrupting chemicals from their packaging. But, as Schade point out, those chemicals are just the “tip of the toxic iceberg.” Much more work is needed to get to the larger universe of chemicals.  More work is needed all around in 2021 to advance a circular economy. “We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource,” said Daly. “And the approaches must be collaborative and systemic. None of us can do this alone.”  Pull Quote We’re very much in an age of experimentation, and need to continually interrogate what are the unintended consequences when you switch from one system to another. We really see a sense of urgency around these issues, as plastic production continues, as more and more materials are lost to landfill that we’re not able to recapture as a valuable resource. Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Circular Packaging Packaging Plastic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Rawpixel.com Close Authorship

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4 tips for changing consumer behavior

November 23, 2020 by  
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4 tips for changing consumer behavior Lauren Phipps Mon, 11/23/2020 – 01:00 When I cover solutions to the plastic waste crisis, I typically focus on infrastructure development and bringing recycling systems to scale, standardizing materials, inventing new ones and designing out unnecessary single-use items, and rethinking business models and supply chains. But once these structures are in place, they only work if consumers embrace new models and ensure that materials move through the system as planned. Otherwise, the entire system breaks down. And if you thought it was hard getting your colleagues to recycle rigid plastic or compost paper towels, or to stop wishcycling — that whatever they throw into the bin will, in fact, be recycled — think about the complexity of changing consumer behavior across a city, country or beyond.  During a recent webcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Natalie Hallinger, a behavioral scientist and behavior change adviser working to translate research on human motivation into real-world behavior change strategies.  Here are four tips Hallinger recommends for designing large-scale interventions:  Make it relatable: “People often think they need to force people to do something they don’t want to do,” Hallinger shared. But brute force is rarely the path of least resistance. “The easier route is to find a way to relate to them. What’s an intersection of a goal they already want that aligns with your goal?” For example, if your generic environmental appeal to an individual doesn’t resonate, perhaps an individual will relate more with a personal desire to visit a clean beach in the summer.  Make it desirable: Culture and social norms are strong drivers of consumer behavior. “The most desirable thing for humans is to fit in,” Hallinger explained. “If you design interventions that create community norms of waste reduction behavior, reusing and repairing, then everyone wants to be doing the same thing. You don’t want to stand out. You do it because of your desire to be part of the community.” Make it contextual: Behavior change interventions must be relevant and salient. Hallinger explained that if you’re engaging employees in a work context about actions they can take at home, it likely will go in one ear and out the other. Focus on actions that people can implement immediately.  Make it easy : The “right” choice from a sustainability perspective should also be the easy choice. “If you create the infrastructure and design built environments that make the behavior you want the default, then you have behavior without even needing to persuade the person.” To eliminate the guesswork that consumers face at the bin, Hallinger suggested that single-stream recycling with back-of-house sorting would design out confusion and contamination and lead to higher recycling rates in certain contexts.  I invite you to listen to the entire webcast here , which includes additional insights on behavior change from Jacob Duer, president and CEO of Alliance to End Plastic Waste; Jeff Kirschner, founder and CEO of Litterati; and John Warner, distinguished research fellow at Zymergen.  Topics Circular Economy Consumer Trends Featured Column In the Loop 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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Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives

November 23, 2020 by  
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Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives Cecilia Keating Mon, 11/23/2020 – 00:30 Unilever has announced plans to dramatically increase sales of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives over the next seven years as part of a new sustainability program designed to shrink the environmental footprint of its food brands. The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said last week that it plans to sell more than $1.2 billion worth of plant-based foods and dairy alternatives within the next five to seven years, largely by boosting sales from its The Vegetarian Butcher brand and increasing the number of vegan alternatives across its extensive portfolio. Unilever acquired plant-based meat company The Vegetarian Butcher in late 2018 and since has expanded the brand into more than 30 countries and secured a major supply deal for the firm’s vegan patties and nuggets with Burger King. In the same time frame, it has launched a number of vegan products for its most high profile brands, including Hellman’s, Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s. “As one of the world’s largest food companies, we have a critical role to play in helping to transform the global food system,” said Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s food and refreshment division. “It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good.” The plant-based meat market is expected to expand rapidly in the coming years to meet burgeoning consumer demand for sustainable food products, with one analysis from Barclays predicting the market will grow by more than 1,000 percent over the next 10 years to reach $140 billion by 2029. It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. Unilever also announced plans to bring forward its goal of halving food waste from its global operations by five years to 2025, a move commended by Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of food loss and waste at the World Resources Institute. “Food loss and waste have massive impacts in terms of cost to the global economy, the environment and society,” she said. “We know that food loss and waste contributes about 8 percent of global greenhouse emissions as well as wasting the land and water used in production of food. We need as many companies as possible to step up and prioritize the issue of food loss and waste and take action to reduce it.” In addition, Unilever committed to lowering calorie, sugar and salt levels across all its products and doubling the number of products that deliver “positive nutrition” globally by 2025, which it defines as products containing “impactful” amounts of vegetables, fruits, proteins or micronutrients such as vitamins and iron. Jessica Fanzo, associate professor of global food and agriculture at John Hopkins University, commended Unilever for its commitment, which she said would encourage people to embrace more sustainable diets. “The average person’s daily diet will need to change drastically during the next three decades to make sure everyone is fed without depleting the planet,” she said. “By improving food production and food environments, transforming eating habits, and reducing food waste, we can begin to solve these problems.” Pull Quote It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. Topics Food Systems Alternative Protein Plant-Protein BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Jaap Korteweg is a ninth generation farmer and founding father of The Vegetarian Butcher.  Courtesy of The Vegetarian Butcher Close Authorship

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Unilever sets $1.2B sales target for meat and dairy alternatives

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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The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

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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Solid Waste Trends In 2020

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