From the Web: Can this startup use blockchain to brew up more sustainable coffee?

An entrepreneur with a background in verifying the provenance of so-called conflict minerals is applying that expertise to keep tabs on one of the world’s most widely traded commodities: coffee. Tracking this kitchen staple requires a mélange of emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

The goal of his venture, bext360, is to help coffee buyers automate their dealings with fair-trade farmers, allowing them to more closely track the source and quality of the fair trade beans they’re buying while speeding up payments for local growers.

For buyers, the service promises deeper transparency, as well as a way of automating the verification process. For harvesters and growers — largely women — the service could mean more ready access to investment capital, according to bext360 CEO Daniel Jones.

Learn more (via GreenBiz) >>

From the Web: American energy use, in one diagram

Spring brings new growth, new possibilities, and, best of all, a new spaghetti diagram from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at the Department of Energy.

Every year, LLNL produces a new energy flow chart showing the sources of US energy, what it’s used for, and how much of it is wasted. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s worth a look.

Learn more (via Vox) >>

From the Web: Save the Planet – Get a Bike!

A new book, How Cycling Can Save The World, argues that from improving public health to mitigating climate change, replacing cars with bikes could have an exceptionally large impact on the health of the planet.

Peter Walker, political correspondent and contributor to The Guardian’s bike blog, writes in his new book: Biking is not as unsafe as it seems, and it’s often the fastest and most enjoyable way to get around.

But Walker also takes it a step further. While he admits the title is a bit grandiose, he also tells Fast Company that it’s not far from the truth. From eradicating health concerns linked to inactivity, to mitigating climate change, to boosting local economies and building community, biking, Walker says, is an integral part of the solution.

Learn more (via Fast Company) >>

A ‘Shark Tank’ for Impact Investing: SEMBA’s Net Impact Chapter Featured

This post was edited by Mike Rama, SEMBA ’17, and originally was featured on Net Impact’s Hub Announcements.

The SEMBA Net Impact chapter held a pitch event described as a “Shark Tank for impact investing.”

Net Impact is an accelerator with chapters across the country that works to orient professionals and students to solve social and environmental challenges. The SEMBA Net Impact chapter is a hybrid chapter at the University of Vermont, Grossman School of Business, focused on bringing together current students, alumni, and community members in an effort to mobilize awareness and action on sustainability.

What makes this chapter stand out is the unique programming that equips its members with the skills and connections to drive impact now and throughout their careers. “Our chapter programming falls under three main categories: skill development, alumni relationships, and building collaborative networks with the community and other academic departments,” says Michael Rama, the Vice-President of the chapter.

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From the Web: Millennials Are Pushing B2B Companies Toward Greater Social Impact

Our economy changes a little every day as Millennials begin to take on more substantial business roles, opening companies and rapidly becoming a larger share of the workforce. It’s no surprise that their spending habits reflect not only in general consumer behavior, but also a shift in B2B sales.

And the major factor that affects how Millennials spend money is a company’s ethical and moral behavior, especially concerning the environment. The flood of Millennials in the B2C and B2B marketplaces is altering the way companies do business. This changes the game for B2B entrepreneurs and sales professionals who are preparing for the future of commerce.

Learn more (via Forbes) >>

From the Web: Pesticides are not needed to feed the world, UN says

The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts.

new report, being presented to the UN human rights council, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>

From the Web: Congress Just Made It Officially Legal To Kill Hibernating Bears

Hunters in Alaska can now track and kill hibernating bears thanks to a U.S. House and Senate resolution rolling back Obama-era regulations against the practice.

President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Monday, which rolled back Alaska’s ban on killing the vulnerable bears, along with wolf cubs in dens. It also allows for hunters to target the animals from helicopters.

The Republican-sponsored legislation impacts 76.8 million acres of federally protected national preserves across Alaska.

Learn more (via The Huffington Post) >>

From the Web: London and Paris mayors announce new emissions monitoring system for vehicles

Just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order that aims to bring back smog-inducing coal power, the mayors of London and Paris are acting to cut air pollution in their cities.

Reuters reports that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have announced a new system for monitoring vehicle emissions in their respective cities, with the aim of combating the air quality problems that have plagued both national capitals. Their plan would enable a system that identifies real-life emissions readings from cars, which would give people more information about how much theirs emit. Each car’s score for the air pollutants it puts out would be based on road and “real-world” testing using emissions analytics and the International Council for Clean Transportation.

Learn More (via Inhabitat) >>

From the Web: South Australia to get $1bn solar farm and world’s biggest battery

A huge $1bn solar farm and battery project will be built and ready to operate in South Australia’s Riverland region by the end of the year.

The battery storage developer Lyon Group says the system will be the biggest of its kind in the world, boasting 3.4m solar panels and 1.1m batteries. Construction will begin in months.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>

From the Web: Walmart invests billions to buy from women-owned businesses – but is it enough?

Women-owned suppliers make up just 2% of the retailer’s global purchases – but Walmart will join Coca-Cola, Pepsi and others in committing to buy more.

Walmart announced Wednesday it has achieved its goal to buy $20bn worth of goods and services from women-owned businesses in the US over five years. The company also conceded that it’s failed to reach another goal set around the same time: to double the amount of products and services sourced from women-owned companies outside of the country.

The mixed success shows the challenges for big companies to narrow the gaping gender gap. While Walmart’s initiative has doubled the amount of money it spends with women-owned suppliers, it’s still only 2% of the retailer’s global purchases. Yet that’s twice the global average retailers spend with women-owned businesses.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>