The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior

February 18, 2021 by  
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The ‘last mile’ of consumer sustainability behavior Mike De Socio Thu, 02/18/2021 – 00:05 These days, it’s hard to argue that sustainability is a niche consumer interest. A vast majority of consumers worldwide believe we need to consume less, according to research by GlobeScan . More to the point, 57 percent of consumers in that survey were willing to pay more for sustainable products. But only about a quarter of them actually made any sustainable changes to their lifestyle or consumption. So what gives? “There’s this really marked intention-action gap when we’re asking people to change their behaviors to be more sustainable,” said Katherine White, professor of marketing and behavioral science at the University of British Columbia. White shared her research on sustainable consumption during GreenBiz 21. She was among industry leaders from Amazon and Procter & Gamble, as well as nonprofit executives, who shared insights on the trends in sustainable consumption. Here are three takeaways from the session: 1. Attitude has shifted, but behavior lags Across the board, indicators for consumer interest in sustainable products are up, according to the GlobeScan survey. The 2020 results, for example, showed that 73 percent of consumers wanted to reduce the impact they have on the environment by a large amount, up almost 10 percentage points from the year prior. During the session, Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, described it as a “remarkable shift” in consumer attitude that bodes well for the sustainable products market. But he was quick to underline the shortcomings of that progress. “There is still a gap between our desire to change and what we’re actually doing, but we do see significant movements happening across the world,” he said. White’s research in behavioral science looks into what levers could be most effective in convincing consumers to align their choices with their concern for the planet.  A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. “This is a real challenge for marketers, for organizations, for public policymakers,” she said. “We really need to understand, what are the key drivers of behavior change in particular?” White identified a few factors that stakeholders can focus on to shift behavior — social influence (in other words, peer pressure), habit formation, individual values, emotional buy-in and tangible outcomes.  But ultimately, no one should think about hitting consumers with all of those efforts at once, White said. The shifts are more likely to be gradual. 2. Price and performance are still king Todd Cline, as director for Procter & Gamble’s North America fabric care research and development, is trying to focus consumers on one tiny change that could drastically slash the climate impact of his company’s product: Wash their clothes in cold water. Cline said what consumers do with Tide, one of the company’s sub-brands, once they take it off the shelf accounts for two-thirds of the product’s carbon footprint. The biggest chunk of that is the energy used to heat the water in the washing machine. But Cline knows if he wants consumers to change to cold, the performance can’t suffer. So his plan is simple: “Make products that work great when consumers use them on cold,” he said. This highlights a fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. So sustainable products must tick those two boxes before showing off their climate bona fides.  Adam Werbach, global lead for sustainable shopping at Amazon, knows this well. He led the development of a “Climate Pledge Friendly” label on the site that uses external certifications to direct customers to the most sustainable products. The experience so far has shown Werbach that customers, even at Amazon’s eco-conscious Whole Foods, primarily seek out price and performance before considering sustainability.  But the “Climate Pledge Friendly” label can be a quick, easy way for them to make that decision. “Customers like the cognitive load being taken off them,” he said. 3. Less (information) can be more The success of a simple label for Amazon speaks to another important tactic for nudging customers to more sustainable options: Sometimes less information is better. The average consumer, according to White, doesn’t have the time or interest to know all the details on ingredients, manufacturing or packaging. They just want to know it’s not going to harm the planet. “At the end of the day, if it’s really quick and easy and enjoyable and pleasant, I’m going to do it,” White said. That’s where labels can help. Doug Gatlin, CEO of Green Seal, said his company has worked to simplify the way it communicates its own sustainability certifications. “It can really be difficult to communicate the various attributes to the consumer,” he said. So rather than listing 20 or more claims on one label, Green Seal developed a “compass” that identifies four main categories — water, waste, health and climate — and acts as a shorthand to evaluate products. Cline keeps this in mind, too, as Procter & Gamble refines its own packaging and labeling. “If we can make it simple and make it so it’s a great experience for people, they’ll adopt the behavior and stick with it,” he said. Pull Quote A fundamental truth for sustainable products: Consumers’ top concerns are still performance and price. Topics Consumer Trends GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Consumer trend surveys show a shift towards an environmental mindset among shoppers but they need to start putting their money where their mouth is.//Image courtesy of Unsplash 

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Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks?

February 17, 2021 by  
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Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks? Diane Osgood Wed, 02/17/2021 – 00:05 ESG may be all the rage, but what about retail banking? The deposits you make at your retail bank for personal and business accounts sustain the bank’s ability to make loans and investments. Loans and investment fuel growth. Put simply, a bank’s capital can flow towards fossil fuels or renewable energy, towards local business loans or financing environmentally damaging projects. Imagine if all retail banks required environmental impact assessments for loan applications. Or committed a certain percentage of loans and investments for renewable energy projects. Certainly, this is a vision all climate-concerned citizens can support, and the opportunity to influence banking as citizens is large. Most U.S. households (93 percent) have a checking or savings account while only 52 percent own stock. Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? So why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Last February, I began empirical research to discover the reasons people don’t change to green banks. I narrowed the pool of participants to people who self-identify as either “climate activists” or “environmentalists.” The study was designed to hold a series of in-person focus groups in Europe and the United States. I finished two focus groups in Europe before pausing the project due to COVID-19. While more research is required, a few insights can be drawn from this small data set. I share here the interim results for the first time. In the opening discussion in both groups, the majority said that they’d not made clear decisions about where to bank. One participant in her early 20s, an ardent Swiss climate change activist, said that her parents had set up her banking account and she’d never questioned it. Others said they’d picked the least-worst option for service and didn’t think about the choice again. The most common responses from both focus groups related to a lack of information about good alternatives and how to find out more information about their current banks’ investment policies. Many participants expressed a sense of being overwhelmed at the thought of trying to find this information and make the change. What I heard aligns with published research. Many people only move bank accounts during a moment of transition such as starting college, moving to a new city, starting a new job or getting married, then remain there unless a disruptive event happens. Many folks simply begin with the most convenient bank and stay. The U.S. national average age of a checking account in the U.S. is 16 years. I am no different; I opened my first account where my parents banked and kept it there for more than a decade. As the conversations developed, emotive reasons surfaced as driving forces behind the inertia. Two of the younger participants (age 20-25) expressed frustration that they don’t feel that they have any power as a young client of a big bank. One said bluntly: “Who am I to ask them about the bank’s investment policies? The bank manager has all the power. My account is tiny.” Older respondents (in their 50s) expressed a different emotional factor: cynicism. In the first focus group, the conversation moved to how could they really believe anything a bank says, including the well-known green banks? The responses fell into three categories that correspond to Chip and Dan Heath’s Switch framework . This framework applies the image of a rider on an elephant trying to steer the elephant down a path. The elephant, symbolizing our emotional body, must want to go. The rider, symbolizing our mind, must want to go as well. Our minds are lazy, so the change needs to be easy. Finally, the path must be clear with no obstructions or unacceptable costs. If any of these three conditions aren’t met, change will be difficult. The customer will not change banks. Using this simple framework, we see focus group results hit all three types categories. Banks need to respond to all three types of barriers to enable more people to make the switch. In other words, providing only the information won’t suffice. Banks need to ensure the process of switching is low-friction and that feelings of loyalty, security and possible skepticism are addressed. Clients also need to feel welcomed as valued and equal partners. We’re itching to get back out when it’s safe to hold more in-person focus groups and build out this research. In the meantime, the lessons from banking can be applied to other products and services. How are you addressing: The rider: Do your customers know your climate-friendly, “green” product exists? Can they easily find relevant information? The elephant: How do you help customers believe your claims? How do you make them feel genuinely welcome? The path: Are your products really easy to find? Do you need to woo new customers away from “sticky” loyalty programs? Let’s keep the conversation going. Leave a comment here or reach out to me at diane@osgood.com . Pull Quote Why don’t more people choose to bank with climate-friendly retail banks that have clear environmental investment and loan policies? Topics Consumer Trends Banking 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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Insights from green banking: What keeps customers from switching banks?

We need to talk about consumption

February 15, 2021 by  
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We need to talk about consumption Lauren Phipps Mon, 02/15/2021 – 01:30 Want more great analysis of the circular economy? Sign up for Circularity Weekly , our free email newsletter. I know, it’s not the most popular of subjects. But on the heels of last week’s GreenBiz 21 conference, the annual gathering of corporate sustainability professionals, I can’t help but address the elephant in the room. (Or as the World Resources Institute appropriately dubbed it, the latest elephant in the boardroom .)  “We need to do a heck of a lot more than change the ways that we create and consume,” said Sherri Mitchell, an environmental and Indigenous rights activist, teacher and founding director of the Land Peace Foundation . “We need to actually change our relationship with consumption.”  Mitchell’s words, and the keynote panel, “All We Can Save: Why We Must Learn from Indigenous Wisdom” on which she sat, have rattled around in my mind all week between breakouts on the nuts and bolts of the corporate sustainability profession. Consumption often remains unspoken or unacknowledged.  To be fair, we are getting increasingly better at the way we make things. Across industries, companies are beginning to prioritize recycled and renewable materials, powering manufacturing with clean energy, and (sometimes) embracing circular design principles of durability, modularity and reparability. The path forward for better products is relatively clear.  We’re even getting a bit better at the way we enable sustainable consumption and get the most out of what we already have: Repair, remanufacturing and product life extension; resale and recommerce; sharing and rental are quietly gaining momentum.  But making better products and extending their useful lives won’t be enough.  When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? Mitchell continued, “We have to reevaluate our entire value structure so that consumption is not holding a primary role within the [framework] that we’re operating under. When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? We commodify ourselves in nearly every aspect of our lives. We need to start looking at changing the ways that we apply value.” The roots of overconsumption — culture, values, worldviews, capitalism — are some of the most unpopular and uncomfortable topics of conversation at any company. And for good reason: they threaten the fundamental premise of the sustainable business community and its theory of change (see: ” Winners Take All ” by Anand Giridharadas).  Frankly, corporate audiences don’t often take seriously value-driven inquiries about consumption, writing them off as aspirational or totally unrealistic.  Mitchell spoke on stage alongside Tara Houska — tribal attorney, land defender, former adviser on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders and founder of Giniw Collective — who stepped indoors from the Line 3 pipeline resistance camp to participate in the conversation. She had some things to say about how many business leaders typically respond to these calls for reflection by indigenous leaders.  “Native people make up 5 percent of the population globally and hold 80 percent of the biodiversity. I think we know something and have some information to share,” Houska said. “We’ve been around for thousands and thousands of years. We’ve learned something in our time here on this planet that we all share. Obviously, those connections and that deep interconnectedness with nature [enabled us to] have 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.”  Despite the virtual format of the event, you could hear a proverbial pin drop.  “So please listen and please do your best to take our words to heart instead of just putting them into some ‘Oh that was inspiring and made me feel good, but back to business.’ This should be the business. The business of life is critically important to life. We care about life and we want life-givers and life to continue on this earth because we owe it to the next generation to come.”  So yes, we need to talk about consumption. But we also need to listen, particularly to Indigenous leaders, on addressing the symptoms of a systemic problem and on reframing the definition of business itself.  I invite you to listen to Mitchell and Houska’s entire conversation here .  Pull Quote When your entire value system for society is based on notions of commerce and consumption, how do you get away from that? Topics Circular Economy Social Justice GreenBiz 21 Environmental Justice GreenBiz 21 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 Image: Shutterstock/Oneinchpunch Close Authorship

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We need to talk about consumption

Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector

February 15, 2021 by  
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Joe Biden can be the president for a sustainable private sector Lisa Woll Mon, 02/15/2021 – 01:00 Like no president in recent times, Joe Biden assumed office facing multiple interlocking crises. His ability to achieve his agenda will require action from key sectors across the country, including the investment and business community. Biden already has rejoined the Paris Agreement, committed to advocating for environmental justice and rolled out a government-wide focus on racial justice. He is advocating for a higher minimum wage, among other policies to address economic inequality. To accomplish this ambitious agenda, we believe the time is right for the president to establish a White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business. It would create a focal point to engage the private sector to contribute to current and future priorities and to further accelerate the private sector’s focus on sustainability. The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Here’s how it could work: The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business through collaboration with the fast-growing network of businesses and organizations promoting such goals. Here’s why it can’t wait: The magnitude of the challenges facing the United States requires that the new administration leverage all sectors of society. Biden needs the private sector to help move this important work forward. This new office would significantly strengthen the administration’s government-wide approach to tackling urgent social and environmental issues. The sustainable investment community already is engaged in this effort, channeling dollars to companies with better environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. One in every three professionally managed dollars in the United States — $17 trillion — is invested with an ESG focus. Sustainable investors were among the early voices urging companies to take action on climate change. They engage with companies to improve policies on issues ranging from human rights to diversity and water use. They also have been long-term investors in community banks and credit unions that are addressing economic and racial inequality in urban, rural and Indigenous communities. In parallel, more companies are embracing the shift to sustainable business practices that deliver important societal benefits as well as a strategic advantage. This includes committing to net-zero climate targets and changing their business models, products and services to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. In the last year, leading companies have made new commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Today, 90 percent of S&P 500 companies publish sustainability reports, up from 20 percent in 2011. Companies are being urged to transition from a shareholder primacy model to one focused on multiple stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, the environment and shareholders. This is often referred to as stakeholder capitalism. In a July speech, Biden noted that “it’s way past time to put an end to shareholder capitalism.” We agree that this shift is overdue. A new White House Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would accelerate the growth of sustainable investment and catalyze the shift to stakeholder capitalism, both of which are critical contributions to Biden’s pledge to “build back better.” Advancing policies that support the growth of a sustainable American economy also supports U.S. economic competitiveness and our broader national interest. The office, in fact, could serve as an important tool for the restoration of American “soft power,” decimated by the past administration. Such an office also would reflect the priorities of an increasing number of Americans, particularly millennials and members of Gen Z, who expect that the places at which they shop and invest will be focused on positive outcomes for society and the environment. A White House office also will allow sustainable investors and companies to partner with the administration to achieve a more sustainable and equitable economy. By highlighting the critical role of the private sector, Biden can further drive alignment of investment capital and corporate actions with his administration’s policy priorities. Pull Quote The Office of Sustainable Finance and Business would develop a national strategy for U.S. leadership in sustainable finance and business. Contributors Aron Cramer Topics Policy & Politics Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage

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Community investments pay dividends

February 15, 2021 by  
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Community investments pay dividends John Davies Mon, 02/15/2021 – 00:00 This article originally appeared in the State of Green Business 2021. You can download the entire report here . Corporate community investment historically has been the realm of philanthropy and volunteerism departments, but there are a growing number of examples where direct investment by businesses benefits operations as well as the communities in which they serve. In 2019, the Business Roundtable redefined the purpose of a U.S. corporation as being “to promote an economy that serves all Americans.” In a survey of 2,511 registered U.S. voters by Real Clear Opinion Research, 77 percent of respondents agreed: “The purpose of a corporation is to maximize financial returns for its shareholders, but also to deliver value to customers, invest in employees, deal ethically with suppliers and support the communities where they work.” When it comes to investing in employees, Tyson Foods faces the challenge of its plants being predominantly in rural areas with limited labor pools, and with many of its front-line team members recent immigrants. To address this labor shortage, the company launched the Upward Academy , offering free and accessible classes in English as a Second Language, High School Equivalency, U.S. citizenship, financial literacy and digital literacy. The program is still in its early stages but all signs point to the investment paying off in terms of employee engagement and retention, and leading to a stronger local community. Purchasing and sourcing strategies are also getting realigned to support local communities as well as smallholder farmers around the globe. Supply experts at Sodexo, a French foodservice and facilities management company, have worked with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council to target local and seasonal produce, working with local farmers and producers around each of its client sites. This approach evaluates environmental, social and economic impacts on the community and helps local businesses to thrive, which in turn benefits the company’s clients. Corporate sourcing decisions can drive change for communities around the world. Companies such as Mars and Griffith Foods have established sustainable sourcing programs that seek to create societal value while generating business benefit. As noted in its 2020 annual report, Griffith receives high-quality raw materials from trusted partners while farmers receive on-farm and in-community support from a consistent buyer. The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. In these and other examples, community investments typically start with nonprofit engagement, aligning with on-the-ground resources that provide local knowledge and connections. The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. Companies such as HSBC and PwC have shifted to a more strategic approach by integrating their giving and volunteering. HSBC envisions a Venn diagram of urgent needs and financial literacy, where the overlap identifies opportunities to help the underserved develop soft skills to boost employability and financial capability. PwC took a similar approach to combining philanthropy with volunteering, providing employees paid time to support educational initiatives in entrepreneurship and financial literacy, leveraging their consulting skills to better the community. AT&T has reinvented its philanthropic approach so that it looks more like its store franchise model. AT&T Believes is a localized effort to create positive change in the communities where it operates, letting local employees determine how to best have an impact. Wells Fargo has launched pitch competitions to fund breakthrough ideas that promise new ways to create urgently needed affordable housing nationwide. Such initiatives are part and parcel of recent efforts to measure the social contribution of business. There are currently few standards to guide and measure community investment and other social impacts.  Danone, Patagonia and others have been certified as B Corporations , identifying them as businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Lab, the organization behind the voluntary standard, offers an assessment tool that can start companies on their journey toward strategic community investment. Pull Quote The alignment of capabilities and community is a growing business trend as companies move away from pure checkbook philanthropy. Topics State of Green Business Report Corporate Social Responsibility Social Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image: Shutterstock/Rawpixel

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Community investments pay dividends

4 things we can learn from Indigenous wisdom

February 12, 2021 by  
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4 things we can learn from Indigenous wisdom Suchi Rudra Fri, 02/12/2021 – 02:00 Sustainability goals have become top of mind for an increasing number of corporations and communities, but in the words of Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Indigenous rights attorney and executive director of the Land Peace Foundation, we will not “solar panel or vote our way out of this crisis without also radically re-framing our connection with our Mother.” In order to restore balance in our environment, we must first listen to the natural world — and to those who know it best, Mitchell says. During the GreenBiz 21 keynote session “All We Can Save: Why We Must Learn from Indigenous Wisdom,” hosted by All We Can Save co-founder Katharine Wilkinson, Mitchell joined Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), attorney, environmental and Indigenous rights advocate (who took a short break from the outdoor resistance camp in Minnesota, where she is taking part in demonstrations against new pipeline beds related to the Line 3 project ). The two shared their Indigenous perspectives on this matter of urgency. Here are four key takeaways from the conversation: 1. Listen and take action on the information Indigenous peoples have to share As Houska pointed out, Indigenous people make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet Indigenous lands and territories hold 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. “I think we know something and have some information to share,” she said. “We have been around for thousands of years and have a deep connection with nature. Please listen and please do your best to take our words to heart instead of just putting them into something, like, ‘Oh, that was inspiring and made me feel good,’ and then it’s back to business. This should be the business. The business of life is critically important to life.” 2. Change our relationship to consumption Although more communities and businesses are becoming aware that we must evolve the way we create and consume, Mitchell said that it is important, above all, for society to change its relationship with consumption. That includes reevaluating “our entire value structure so consumption doesn’t hold a primary role,” she suggested. Even with the various layers of policies, laws and penalties in place to keep businesses in check, Mitchell believes the “destruction of the earth has become a pay-to-play endeavor. If you have money to violate the law, you can go ahead and do it.” Some companies just consider that fine the cost of doing business and have accounted for it in their operational ethos, she said. Until we can create a shift in our hearts and minds to stop viewing each other as commodities and see each other as human beings instead, Mitchell pointed out that we will have to “change the way we address those businesses who are violating the laws and have catastrophic consequences.” Aside from challenging the big corporations on this philosophy, we all bear personal responsibility and must look inward to our own relationships and connectivity, Mitchell said. “People should think about mechanisms for climate change adaptation and mitigation and how to move it toward alignment of sustaining of life. They need to look at the ways they are perpetuating problems through solutions,” she added. Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), an attorney, environmental and Indigenous rights advocate 3. Embrace a more holistic kind of success Our society’s utilitarian mindset has given us a need to create metrics of success in all aspects of life, including political movements. “You have to say victory over and over again, when that’s just actually not the case most of the time,” Houska explained. Instead of setting up “micro bars” of success, victory must be approached in a different, more holistic way, she suggested. Through her own experiences of building up a community of resistance (a group of people who come together to live and peacefully protest on the front lines of a politically contested site), Houska has come to see one type of victory in the creation of leaders “who actually hold the earth in their hearts and understand how to do the work to live in balance and in nature. It is not easy to live in balance, and it does require some discomfort, sacrifice and recognizing that there are parts of our lives that we need to unplug from and reform.” 4. Bring women back into the center of society to restore a healthy balance As an advocate for the concept of climate matriarchy, Mitchell explained very straightforwardly to the GreenBiz 21 audience that “those who have framed the societies we live in have not been the givers of life. Those who are the ‘most stringent protectors of life’ have been removed from the discussion.” And because these mothering voices are not allowed to “speak on behalf of life, societies have been created to destroy life — and so we see this energy moving through that is built on destruction.” Topics Climate Change Corporate Strategy Social Justice Indigenous People GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Indigenous rights attorney and executive director of the Land Peace Foundation

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4 things we can learn from Indigenous wisdom

Episode 255: Reflections and highlights from GreenBiz 21

February 12, 2021 by  
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Episode 255: Reflections and highlights from GreenBiz 21 Heather Clancy Fri, 02/12/2021 – 00:15 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:00). The Wild West of plastic credits and offsets 9 key takeaways from the 600-page Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation Features GreenBiz 21 highlights (18:00) Enjoy some highlights from the rich keynote program at this week’s GreenBiz 21 event .  Sanda Ojiambo, executive director and CEO, United Nations Global Compact Sherri Mitchell Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset, Indigenous rights attorney and executive director of the Land Peace Foundation Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation), attorney, environmental and Indigenous rights advocate Learning from a young Indigenous activist and educator (30:15) VERGE Executive Director Shana Rappaport chats with 20-year-old Indigenous educator Danielle Boyer, founder of the STEAM Connection. Boyer was a featured speaker at this week’s GreenBiz 21. Her cause: Ensuring young people of color have access to an education in science, technology, engineering, art and math. Read the Q&A here . Is it just? A label helps answer that question (37:30) “Social justice is really the new frontier of transparency,” says Rochelle Routman, chief sustainability and quality officer of HMTX Industries, one company embracing the Just Label designation developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). This segment features Routman, along with ILFI Director of Business Development Shawn Hesse. Read more about the process here . *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere : “Here’s the Thing,” “I’m Going for a Coffee,” “Looking Back,” “Arcade Montage” and “Knowing the Truth” Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episode of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes or Spotify . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Topics Podcast GreenBiz 21 Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 42:53 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 255: Reflections and highlights from GreenBiz 21

Will meat eaters really switch to alternative proteins?

February 12, 2021 by  
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Will meat eaters really switch to alternative proteins? Jim Giles Fri, 02/12/2021 – 00:05 This analysis originally appeared in the Food Weekly newsletter, which is a year old this week. New readers can sign up here . One thing I’ve been pretty upbeat about over the past year is the emergence of alternative proteins. Prices of lab-grown and plant-based meat are falling just as awareness of the climate impact of livestock is growing. That doesn’t bode well for the meat industry. I’m now wondering if that analysis is a little gung-ho. Two recent developments suggest consumers may be less willing than I’d anticipated to switch to alternative proteins, and a third piece of news confirms governments are typically unwilling to nudge them in that direction. Before I unpack the developments, a quick note on how I think about animal products. I’m not arguing everyone needs to go vegetarian or vegan. But the science is clear on two points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. So either ranchers figure out how to produce low-carbon beef — and it’s far from certain they can — or we eat less red meat. That latter option, however, turns out to be unpopular. And not just here in the land of the burger, but pretty much everywhere in the world.  Last month, the United Nations Development Program released the results of the Peoples’ Climate Vote , a survey of 1.2 million people from 50 countries. The severity of the climate crisis was widely appreciated — almost two-thirds of respondents described it as an emergency. Some climate solutions, including forest conservation and renewable energy, also were supported by more than half of all respondents. But when people ranked 18 of those solutions, promotion of plant-based diets came out last, with just 30 percent support. The science is clear on 2 points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. A survey of that size and geographic reach inevitably obscures important regional differences, but a new study of just over 3,200 U.S. consumers also contains sobering news for alternative proteins.  In one part of the study, researchers looked at how price affects consumer preference for a regular burger versus one with a Beyond Meat patty. Knocking $1 off the price of the Beyond burger dented sales of the regular version by just 0.5 percent. Yet the same cut in the price of the animal burger led to an almost 4 percent increase in sales for that product. The take-home is that consumers seem to be more sensitive to prices of animal meat, suggesting that the ongoing fall in prices of plant-based alternatives may have a smaller impact than you would expect. The results do show some consumers switching to plant-based burgers as prices fall, notes Jayson Lusk, an economist at Purdue University and a co-author of the study. But you’re going to get the “biggest bang for the buck,” he added, by changing the price of beef. This isn’t great news for Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and others working to cut the price of plant-based meat. But it does suggest a clear role for governments. Many economists would argue that meat-eaters should pay more for burgers anyway, because the cost of the product does not cover the harm that it causes. Introducing a meat tax therefore would be justified on economic grounds. According to the research, it also would shift people toward plant-based diets. Reports in the British media suggest that last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson was indeed considering levying taxes on meat and cheese . He didn’t mull it over for long. News of the plan was greeted by negative headlines, followed by a hurried assurance from Downing Street that “we will not be imposing a meat tax on the great British banger.” The option is being debated elsewhere in Europe, but can any of you imagine any influential U.S. politician taking a stance different to Johnson’s? Where does this bevy of bad news leave plant-based meats? I’m not sure it will overly concern the strategists at Beyond, Impossible and rivals. I doubt their business plans assume that governments will raise prices of animal meat, at least not in the United States. The challenge for these companies always has been to create a product that beats meat on the three things consumers care most about: convenience; price; and taste. The recent news simply confirms how unlikely it is that governments will assist, and also how hard it will be to persuade meat-eaters to switch to plant-based alternatives. Pull Quote The science is clear on 2 points: We need to dramatically cut food system emissions; and red meat is responsible for an outsized share of those emissions. Topics Food & Agriculture Plant-Protein Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A Beyond Meat consumer package, shown in a grocery store meat section. Courtesy of Beyond Meat

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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability

December 16, 2020 by  
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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability Victoria Gilchrist Wed, 12/16/2020 – 00:30 Editor’s note: The opinions and conclusions that appear in this piece do not necessarily represent the position of Intel. 2020 has become a reckoning for American culture through the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ominous storms in the east and the apocalyptic wildfires of the west. We are inherently linked through our biology, ecology, economy, the legacy of white supremacy and oppression. Now is the time to shake the foundation of how we operate as a society. Systemic racism infiltrates every aspect of who we are and how we interact with each other. Sustainability centers around leaving the world a better place for the next generation. This implicitly covers all people with no qualifiers. However, sustainability practices have notoriously catered to the wants and needs of the wealthier majority, while excluding the most vulnerable communities by lack of engagement and practice. Sustainability must become synonymous with racial equity. But how?  First, say the words. “Racial Justice.” “Racial Equity.” “Discrimination.” Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Denounce white supremacy. And if you don’t think it exists, educate yourself . Noted author Beverly Daniel Tatum reminds us, “It is important to understand that the system of advantage is perpetuated when we do not acknowledge its existence.” A recent example from the New York Times includes a biracial couple living in an affluent neighborhood who received a substantially lower home appraisal  — until they removed their family photos of the Black wife and white husband. On Oct. 7, the Chicago Times reported that a Black resident experienced a $60,000 difference in an appraisal because of her race. This discrimination extends to healthcare and environmental harm. A June medical study links air pollution and extreme heat from climate change to pregnancy risk that disproportionately affects Black women. Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Second, ask who is affected and what could go wrong? We need to dismantle the standard paradigm that designs sustainable products and services only for the top 1 percent. “Intent isn’t as important as impact,” explain diversity experts Project Inkblot . For example, designers made medical grade face masks for white men and many don’t fit women very well. The nursing profession is dominated by 91 percent women . The mask issue illustrates a clear design disconnect. Another example is a 2017 study by the NAACP and the Clean Air Task Force that showed that African-American citizens are 75 percent more likely to live in a “fence-line” community that borders a toxic industrial facility. Companies must consider these types of impacts moving forward and minimize harm to Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. In fashion, which has dealt with criticism of horrible working conditions for decades , we need more brands that not only offer sustainably sourced apparel (from recycled material to fair labor), but also sell it at an affordable price point.  Third, act on the input from BIPOC communities. All aspects of sustainability including community development, building design and product engineering require user input. Urban planners need to have affected communities at the table, not simply to “approve” projects, but also to advocate for their needs. Manufacturers of green products must serve BIPOC communities and affirmatively reach out to ask how they can be better partners. It’s not enough to hear feedback; sustainability leaders need to act on the on BIPOC communities’ advice, needs and requests. And then they need to repeat steps 1 through 3 and keep learning. More voices in sustainability and more awareness on how to support racial equity will translate into better design, services and products. With this in mind, we can heed the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”  Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. The reason becomes crystal clear when one considers the peer reviewed literature on environmental threats. Communities where the majority of the population are Black, Indigenous and people of color suffer more environmental harm than white communities yet tend to be excluded from reforms. Yes, economics plays an important role, but race is a stronger factor . Similar to the impacts of COVID-19, pollution disproportionately affects BIPOC communities. This reality is why poll after poll shows that BIPOC communities care more about climate change and strongly support action.  Talking about racial equity in sustainability is easy, but implementing it requires more than a perspective change . Business leaders, elected officials and educators must commit to a different way of working. From selling green cosmetics in local drugstores to building energy efficient structures in BIPOC neighborhoods, we must intentionally advance racial equity. If we get it right, this new movement for equity in sustainability can snowball by not only providing a “cooling effect” for climate change but also resulting in thriving, healthy, equitable communities.  Pull Quote Now is the time for us to make equity the cornerstone of this vision for a greener, livable future. Contributors Heather White Topics Racial Issues Environmental Justice Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Protesters march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on Dec. 13, 2014. Shutterstock Rena Schild Close Authorship

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How to talk about racial justice in sustainability

Sustainable shopping is healthy, even amid a pandemic

December 15, 2020 by  
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Sustainable shopping is healthy, even amid a pandemic Diane Osgood Tue, 12/15/2020 – 01:45 As sustainability professionals, we’ve been talking for years about how consumers are increasingly influenced by values and sustainability.  We search the data for proof points that people would prefer to buy from a more sustainable company. Indeed, even when we find the proof points, we also find a large action gap  between what people say and what they do. We think the action gap is about to get smaller, due to a set of trends and the context of the pandemic. The pandemic has shaken the mental health and emotional well-being of people everywhere. It also has caused many people to consider more carefully what they value most: family; friends; health — and savings, if possible. As a result, consumers are paying increased attention to  companies that treated their customers and employees well during the pandemic . Against the backdrop of the pandemic,  we see important trends. Values matter, even now The importance people place on values in purchasing has increased. Even a global pandemic and economic trouble couldn’t push values out of people’s minds. As the pandemic surged around the world, stock-art giant Getty Images wanted to know whether it rendered everything else irrelevant. It  combed  its own vast customer database of more than a billion image searches, then commissioned a third-party survey of more than 10,000 people across 25 countries, conducted in more than a dozen languages. If sustainability’s importance to consumers and purchasers didn’t go away in the midst of a global pandemic, will it ever? Getty found that months into the pandemic, consumers still had attention for other issues, represented by four basic categories: sustainability; wellness; “realness” (authenticity); and technology. Sustainability was, they learned, trending upwards ” quite against expectation .” And for those respondents who are passionate about sustainability, they said they were willing to pay 10 to 15 percent more for products or services from companies that: use sustainable practices; are aligned with their values; have transparent business practices; and care about the well-being, safety and security of customers. In other words, even in times of enormous upheaval, people still have, and act on, personal values. Shoppers’ behaviors continue to change What’s more, it’s not all just happy talk. We have seen this in shoppers’ actual purchasing behavior during the pandemic. Evidence? NYU Stern Business School’s 2020 Sustainable Share Market Index shows shares of sustainability-marketed products grew significantly during the week of March 15, and continued to maintain that increased share through mid-June. We have to wait until the researchers release the data analysis for the second half of 2020 to see if the trend held. However, the period of March to June clearly indicates consumers were more frequently putting their money where their mouth is on sustainability. The same study found that sustainability-marketed products are responsible for more than half of the growth in consumer-packaged goods from 2015 to 2019. Businesses are changing, too What’s changed is not just consumers but also business purchasing. We see evidence of business-to-business purchasing teams applying sustainability criteria to supplier expectations. The biggest driver seems to be net-zero ambitions. Any company that has taken on net-zero commitments will be looking at its supply-chain partners to reduce its carbon emissions and switch to renewables in the next few years. Indeed, Apple already has set the bar for its major suppliers such as Foxconn. Foxconn committed to supply Apple’s iPhones from factories run on 100 percent renewable energy.  Other companies, such as IKEA, BT, Unilever, Ericsson and Telia, have launched a new net-zero initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions across their supply chains. The trend in B2B spending strikes us as an important lever to accelerate even more sustainable production. New cross-sector efforts to address corporate supply chains and purchasing will further expedite effective approaches. If sustainability’s importance to consumers and purchasers didn’t go away in the midst of a global pandemic, will it ever? Remember when U.S. automakers thought customers weren’t that concerned about quality because they bought largely based on style? One day, we’ll look back at the belief that sustainability doesn’t matter to customers, shaking our heads the same way. Pull Quote If sustainability’s importance to consumers and purchasers didn’t go away in the midst of a global pandemic, will it ever? Contributors Daniel Aronson Topics Consumer Trends Marketing & Communication Consumer Products 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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Sustainable shopping is healthy, even amid a pandemic

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