From the Web: Solving food waste: There’s an app for that

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Toronto startup is looking to solve what its founder describes as Canada’s “food waste epidemic.”

Josh Domingues, who spent the early part of his career in finance with firms including BMO Nesbitt Burns, launched the Flashfood app in January. He is hoping to prevent a fraction of the more than $6 billion worth of food thrown away by restaurants and grocery stores from reaching landfills, where it is converted into harmful methane gas (including consumers, an estimated $31 billion worth of food is thrown away each year in Canada).

The free app enables users to purchase surplus food from restaurants and grocery stores at what is describes as “enormously” discounted prices. App users can view and purchase the food directly from their mobile device, and pick it up later that day in a designated zone within participating stores.

Learn more (via Canadian Grocer) >>

I Spent 5 Months Thinking About Climate Change In A New Way, And Why Your Company Should Do The Same

This post was written by Bianca Mohn, SEMBA ’16

When we hear the words “climate change,” so often what comes to mind is negative. Images of dry, barren fields, polar bears desperately clinging to melting ice caps, Donald Trump as he fiercely denies its existence – you get the picture. These associations are well ingrained in our conceptualization of climate change as an overwhelming monster of destruction that we would rather not think about. This mindset carries over to the corporate world with businesses not addressing climate change in their strategic planning, preferring instead to focus on other “more pressing” priorities.

Climate change is terrifying in the big picture. But it does us no good to run away in fear of the changes and to avoid addressing it all together. We need a new way of thinking about climate change, a mindset that recognizes the challenges yet is motivated to act. What if, for instance, climate change was viewed as an opportunity rather than as a threat? What if companies included climate change in their strategic planning as a way to increase their performance and not just as a risk assessment?

Some companies are already embracing this new way of thinking about climate change. For five months I worked as a sustainability strategy consultant for Interface Inc., a global carpet manufacturer headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Interface has a long history of sustainable thinking that began when the founder Ray Anderson had an epiphany on how business can make a positive impact in 1994. He challenged his company to “Be the first company that, by its deeds, shows the entire world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits – and in doing so, become restorative through the power of influence.” Since then Interface has been working towards its Mission Zero goals to have a net zero impact on the environment by 2020. Interface is poised to meet its 2020 goals, and is now working on the next chapter of its sustainability agenda.

Here is where the new thinking on climate change comes in. Interface has announced a new initiative called Climate Take Back, an ambitious strategy to work towards reversing climate change by 2050. Climate Take Back has four platforms – “Live Zero” to continue operating with a zero net impact on the environment, “Love Carbon” to use carbon as a resource to build and to create, “Let Nature Cool” to let nature do its job without any interference from the company, and “Lead the Industrial Re-revolution” to inspire other companies to create new business models. As the sustainability strategy consultant, I created frameworks to help Interface identify the goals for each platform, articulate what success looks like for Climate Take Back overall and for the four platforms, and delivered recommendations for key strategies, metrics, timelines, stakeholders, external partners, and how to engage employees. In everything, the question was how climate change will provide opportunities for Interface to improve its products, operations, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, profits, and external relationships.

What I learned through this experience is that there are so many opportunities around climate change that other companies are overlooking. Take carbon, for instance. The rhetoric around carbon emissions is usually focused on the increasingly dangerous levels of CO2 and the rising global temperatures. The Scientific American featured an article by Scott Waldman in March 2017 which featured the headline “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Hits Record Levels” followed by “It marks five consecutive years of CO2 increases of at least 2 parts per million, an unprecedented rate of growth.” Fear is a natural reaction to reading this, followed by a sense that the problem is too enormous to even begin to tackle. Intimidating as these facts may be, we need the science and facts, particularly in the post-fact world that we seem to be living in. But we also need hope, creativity, and resourcefulness. We need more companies like Interface who look at rising CO2 levels and resolve to make their products out of carbon neutral and carbon negative materials by 2050. We need business leaders to recognize that social and environmental effects of climate change will inevitably impact their businesses, and that now is the time to innovate around the challenges and opportunities that climate change will bring.

We also need to educate future business leaders to look at climate change through the lens of opportunity. I graduated with a MBA focused in sustainability from the University of Vermont’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) program. The program integrated sustainability into every class, from marketing to finance to operations. This program teaches students how to look at world issues such as climate change, poverty, inequality and ethics, and to see how business can make a positive impact. This mindset should not be exclusive to niche educational experiences, but instead the type of thinking that all business students should be trained in. Companies should then be eager to recruit and hire these types of thinkers to form creative and innovative teams.

At the end of the day, climate change is the future and context of opportunity. What is needed is less of “climate change is not my problem and I can’t do anything to fix it” thinking and more of “what can I do and what can my company do to maximize the opportunities from climate change by making a positive impact?” When individuals and companies redefine a threat as an opportunity, it makes space for innovation, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and connection. If we can work towards this with climate change, then our world will be a healthier and happier place to be.

From the Web: Here’s How Thousands of B Corps are Making the World a Better Place

More than 2,000 B Corps in 50-plus countries—and they’re all making the world a better place. Kim Coupounas, the director of B Lab, has been a part of the B Corporation community since 2007, after she and her husband cofounded an outdoor brand called GoLite. GoLite went on to become a Certified B Corp as it made beautiful outdoor equipment and apparel in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Over the years, Coupounas has watched the B Corp world flourish under the nonprofit B Lab, which develops and maintains the standards underpinning the B Impact Assessment companies undergo to pursue B Corp certification. “I’ve spent the past three years engaging and growing the community of B Corporations in Colorado,” Coupounas says. “In three years, we more than tripled the size of the B Corp community in Colorado and generated a number of truly innovative practices that are being used throughout the global B Corp community now to enhance B Lab’s mission overall. I’m now focused on reaching companies beyond Colorado and getting them on the path to measuring and improving their impacts.”

Learn more (via gb&d Magazine) >>

From the Web: How Foundations Can Use Their Endowments To Push For More Diversity In The Investment World

The Knight Foundation is going to make sure the people charged with investing its vast endowment aren’t entirely homogeneous. It’s not just a push for diversity’s sake–it’s also a push for better returns.

In order to create the cash flow necessary to continue issuing grants year after year, most foundations reinvest the majority of their endowment in the open market. Historically, however, major funders haven’t thought a lot about how to use that process itself to do more good.

Earlier this year, the Ford Foundation rethought wasted financial impact by committing a large portion of its endowment toward mission-related investments, creating more capital for change. Now the Knight Foundation, which works to build engaged and informed communities, is trying to address a more creeping societal issue: discrimination against who exactly is enabled to make these investments.

According to a Knight Foundation report, women and minority-owned money management firms are getting shut out of the asset management industry–not just by philanthropies, but by public funds, high-net-worth individual and family offices, and especially corporate interests. The group hopes to change that practice across the entire investment landscape by calling more attention to it.

Learn more (via Fast Company) >>

From the Web: Germany Breaks Record, Gets 85% Of Electricity From Renewables

 

 

 

 

 

 

On April 30, Germany established a new national record for renewable energy use. Part of that day (during the long May 1 weekend), 85% of all the electricity consumed in Germany was being produced from renewables such as wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende Initiative says a combination of breezy and sunny weather in the north and warm weather in the south saw Germany’s May 1 holiday weekend powered almost exclusively by renewable resources.

Learn more (via Clean Technica) >>

From the Web: Light-powered device purifies air and generates clean energy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.5 million people died prematurely because of air pollution back in 2013 – and half of those people lived in India or China. Air pollution continues to plague people around the world today, but now researchers from KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp have found a way to transform that dirty air into energy. They designed an air purifying device able to fit in a person’s hand that only needs light to work.

The groundbreaking device houses two small chambers divided by a membrane. In one chamber air is purified; in the other hydrogen gas is generated. Nanomaterials in the device act as catalysts to both break down pollution and produce the gas. Scientist Sammy Verbruggen of both institutions, who’s lead author on a study published recently about the device in ChemSusChem, said the hydrogen gas can be stored and used as fuel in the future.

Learn more (via inhabitant) >>

From the Web: In Search of Sustainable Leadership: An Opportunity Mindset

Our search for sustainable leadership has shown how defining vision, values and purpose helps organizations to adapt seamlessly to change. This brings competitive advantage that grows stronger with each challenge, built on courage, enthusiasm and the passion of the human spirit. But before we can define an inspiring vision, we first need to choose a way forward. We will do that better if we first identify a range of options.

Here’s how sustainable leaders are able to identify more opportunities to move forward during times of change.

Learn more (via Sustainable Brands) >>

From the Web: Higher, cheaper, sleeker: wind turbines of the future

With the UK government ending subsidies for onshore wind and the Trump administration pushing for a return to coal, you might think the wind power revolution had run out of puff.

Far from it.

The cost of energy from offshore wind in Britain has fallen by a third since 2012, and wind accounts for over 40% of new capacity in the US, representing an annual investment of $13 billion. Now next-generation wind technologies promise to make wind energy safer and more affordable – if they can make the difficult jump from research prototypes to commercial products.

Learn more (via The Guardian) >>

From the Web: UK tests cheaper, longer-lasting roads made with recycled plastic

Around 24.8 million miles of roads crisscross the surface of Earth. And hundreds of millions of barrels of oil have been used to build them. Engineer Toby McCartney has come up with a solution to that waste of natural resources and the growing plastic pollution problem. His company, Scotland-based MacRebur, lays roads that are as much as 60 percent stronger than regular asphalt roads and last around 10 times longer – and they’re made with recycled plastic.

Learn more (via inhabitat) >>