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Sustainability Consulting Round-Up: Best of Our Blog from January 2019

The SSC Team February 5, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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We try to post a new blog at least once a week, just to share our insights into the world of sustainability strategy and what it takes to be a sustainability consultant or professional today. Here are our most-read posts from January.

 

Exploring Innovative Solutions to Plastic Recycling

 

Ecological Footprint

 

Use the "8 habits" of Creative Genius to Shape Your Sustainability Activities

 

What You Know and Who You Know Are Important for Aspiring Sustainability Consultants

 

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Why Won’t We Make Changes for Our Future?

The SSC Team January 29, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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In the sustainability industry we clearly know that climate change is a huge factor impacting the future of our planet. So why does it seem like there are many people who would rather pretend we aren’t damaging our world each and every day?

 

In a piece last fall by Art Markam, he explored the reasons that people don’t seem to be motivated to address climate change. Perhaps if we can understand these issues it will be easier to find a way to get those who don’t want to make any changes to their behavior to truly understand the dangerous road we are on. 

 

What Markam admits is so strange about this circumstance is typically people are pretty concerned about avoiding imminent danger in their lives. Need to walk down a dark alley? You are likely to move quickly. Passing an aggressive looking dog? You may cross the street. So why don’t people realize the magnitude of global climate change and how pressing it is to make a difference?

 

Because it is easier to ignore it. By pretending that climate change isn’t real or not that big of a threat, a person can continue to drive a gas guzzling SUV, buy an enormous home that they don’t really need or shop without regard for the impact their carbon footprint has on the environment. For companies, turning a blind eye could very well mean cheaper processes, despite the fact that investing in greener efforts would likely lower costs in the long run.

 

We are a right here, right now type of society that doesn’t seem to have a lot of concern for the long term. Markam notes that there are a few others reasons holding people back. Including that climate change isn’t a linear issue. Take spending money — if you go out to eat lunch every day, you are going to see a clear impact that this expense has on your bottom line. But by deciding to make changes to you routines in order to benefit the world around you, well, that impact isn’t as obvious.

 

Another reason people may have a hard time accepting that climate change is a real problem is that most of us aren’t directly feeling the impact in a tangible way. Even with extreme weather, it is relatively intangible so most people don’t make the connection to the bigger picture. As a society we also tend to view the future as less predictable than the present — so who knows what’s going to happen with the environment down the road?

 

Well, we do know what is happening and despite these challenges there is hope that we can influence change. Try exploring the values your colleagues or peers hold in terms of the world they’d like their children or grandchildren to experience. Or bring up a way in which human behavior is really is impacting climate change. Markam’s suggest that if your peer indicates a lack of regard for this human impact follow up with a specific question like “would you give something up today that would allow you to invest in research that could help your great-grandchild in the future?” they are likely to say yes. Using this logic, how can they continue to turn a blind eye to climate change?

 

By putting our values on the table, we can connect with those who continue to disregard their impact on the future of our planet and help them see the immense benefit in making changes to their personal live or business practices.

TED Talk Chad Frischmann | 100 Solutions to Reverse Global Warming

The SSC Team January 24, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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Everyone loves a good TED Talk! Here’s one of our favorites:

Chad Frischmann believes that if we can take more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than we put in is our only hope of averting climate disaster. In this TED Talk he explores current solutions for climate change including the traditional concepts like using renewable energy as well as some lesser-known approaches, such as changes to food production methods, better family planning and improvements to the education of girls. Take a listen and learn more about ways we can work to reverse global warming and create a better world.

C&I Report: From Data to Action: Bridging the Gap on Three Best Practices for Sustainable Resource Management

The SSC Team January 15, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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For more than 20 years sustainable resource management leader ENGIE Insight has watched as businesses of every size and across every industry have been facing increasing pressure from customers, employees, shareholders, and governmental entities to develop sustainable practices. As businesses evolve in their efforts, they are also developing plans that incorporate sustainability and resource management into their operations. In order to track their efforts, sustainable resource management programs are being implemented more often and are becoming more complex.

ENGIE Insight believes the process has been driven by three forces impacting companies around the globe: digitization, decarbonization, and decentralization.

In an effort to explore how businesses see these global forces influencing the creation, expansion, and complexity of their sustainable resource management plans as well as their greatest opportunity for growth and their biggest challenges ENGIE Insight partnered with Zpryme, a market-research firm, to survey 250 representatives from commercial and industrial businesses and get their perspective. You can check out their findings in From Data to Action: Bridging the Gap on the Three Best Practices for Sustainable Resource Management.

https://www.greenbiz.com/whitepaper/ci-report-data-action

Ecological Footprint

The SSC Team January 10, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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Feel like you don’t totally understand our ecological footprint and how we fit in on the planet? It seems so complex, but Alexandre Magnin explains it wonderfully in this six-minute cartoon. Check it out and see how we can work to reduce our footprint!

Purpose Driven Companies Gain Consumers’ Hearts and Minds

The SSC Team January 8, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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It’s not a new concept, but it does seem to be a growing one — the general public’s desires for greener offerings are driving more businesses to use product certification. While branding has long played a big role in decision making when it comes to making a purchase, the rise of “purpose-driven” brands is heartening.

 

Whether it’s groceries, coffee, clothing or home products, there is a growing awareness among consumers that making more ethical choices when spending money can actually make an impact.

 

Although we’ve discussed the concept of consumer desires driving the ambitions of a business to “go green” for their clientele in the past, there has been tremendous growth in this area since 2013.

 

Iaian Patton recently pointed out that during this is a time of intensified feelings about the environmental challenges and climate change issues we are facing as a society it’s clear that consumers are differentiating brands by their authenticity, values and sustainability credentials at an unprecedented rate.

 

In fact, this rise in mindful buying shows that when it comes to the world of sustainability, customers can be a part of the solution and not just the problem.  Recent research by Deloitte showed that nearly 90 percent of millennials believe that a company’s success should be measured not only by it’s financial performance but also by its social and environmental impact.

 

And to help demonstrate to consumers that a product is working toward being sustainable, many businesses are pursuing  more rigorous, industry-recognized certifications, which serve as a tool for those in the same industry to work toward unified standards.

There is simply no doubt that companies have the opportunity to change and influence consumption habits. And this is where corporate responsibility really comes into play. 

Patton notes that from a long-term perspective, certification can help ensure the future viability of farming and agriculture, which likely will confront increasing pressures from climate change and socio-economic factors. By applying best practices related to environmental management, worker health and safety, and farm productivity, certified farms are preparing to be able to deliver high-quality, sustainable produce in the future.

Whether it’s in agriculture or another industry, it is never too late to implement your brand’s purpose driven ethics into the marketing strategy.

For many consumers these days, sustainability is basically the same thing as quality. So push your company to make long-term decisions, and we bet your consumers are going to be more apt to buy in.

Exploring Innovative Solutions to Plastic Recycling

The SSC Team January 3, 2019 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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A new year is around the corner, and it’s important to make the time to take stock of sustainable efforts that are working, as well as those that can be improved. Without much effort, it is clear that we need to continue making global changes to reduce the world’s plastic obsession and subsequent clogging up of our streams, lakes, and oceans with the unrecycled waste.

 

According to Euromonitor, in 2016 about 480 billion drinks in plastic containers were sold but fewer than half of the containers were collected for recycling. Where did more than 240 billion bottles end up? In landfills, being burned for energy, and being dropped when the user was done with them – ending up making their way to the watershed.

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, of all the plastic made in the U.S. in 2015, less than 10% made it to a recycling center.

 

Clearly we need solutions.

 

While the idea of embracing an alternate substance for single serving use items can be appealing, it can also be cost prohibitive. We need a multi-faceted approach to disposable plastic waste reduction that might include:

 

·       Reducing single use plastic consumption as much as possible. Think straws, bags and to-go food containers – they gotta go. Paper, reusable container incentives, and simply figuring out a new way to tote things around can’t be that hard, albeit inconvenient at times.

·       Incentive Reverse Vending. Like a traditional bottle deposit, people return plastic bottles into a machine in exchange for things like cash refunds, donations to charity, discounted tickets for movies, paid phone cards, etc.

·      Plastic as Currency. Another interesting approach is The Plastic Bank. The Plastic Bank’s founder, David Katz said, “We have built out the largest chain of stores in the world for the ultra-poor, where everything in the store is available to be purchased using plastic garbage. Most proudly, we offer school tuition, medical insurance, Wi-Fi, power, sustainable cooking fuel, high-efficiency stoves and everything else the world needs and can't afford.” While most efforts are focused on getting plastic out of the ocean, Katz hopes that The Plastic Bank will encourage people to keep their plastic waste from going in the ocean in the first place. How does it work? People go door-to-door or through the streets collecting plastic, which they then bring to a Bank locations, where it's weighed and checked for quality, then the value of the plastic is transferred into a personal online account. Plastic becomes money. No one wants to throw money away.

What other innovative plastic reuse and recycling ideas have floated across your Twitter feed? Share them in the comments!

TED Talk Johan Rockström: 5 transformational policies for a prosperous and sustainable world

The SSC Team December 20, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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Everyone loves a good TED Talk! Here’s one of our favorites:

Got 12 minutes? Of course you do! Spend it with sustainability expert Johan Rockström as he explains the path for building a robust future without wrecking the planet. In his talk, he debuts the Earth3 model — a methodology bringing together the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth's vital systems could become unstable. Rockström examines five transformational policies that may provide inclusive and prosperous world development, while assisting the earth in a move toward being more stable and resilient.

Sustainability Consulting Round-Up: Best of Our Blog from November 2018

The SSC Team December 6, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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We try to post a new blog at least once a week, just to share our insights into the world of sustainability strategy and what it takes to be a sustainability consultant or professional today. Here are our most-read posts from November.

 

Welcome to the New Normal- Sustainability as a Requirement

 

Don't Insult Employees with Sustainability "Nudges"

 

Marketing Giants Take On Climate Change Message and There is No Time to Waste

 

If you like an article, please consider sharing it online via your favorite social media platform. Helping us grow our audience is the #1 way you can show your support for the work that we do.

Marketing Giants Take On Climate Change Message and There Is No Time To Waste

The SSC Team November 27, 2018 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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In order to make sweeping environmental changes, companies are going to have to step it up and work together to inspire the movement. Take the coordinated efforts that emerged when 17 of New York's top marketing, advertising, and communications agencies came together during the summer with leading climate scientists to launch an effort that would encourage urgent and collective action addressing climate change.

 

Through this meeting of the minds, Potential Energy emerged. Their mission? To put the full force of the creative industry behind the need to rapidly accelerate active support for clean energy as a cultural norm. This is not a small task, as those of us in the sustainability industry know after butting heads with folks who don’t even believe we have a problem.

 

So what was the motivation behind this campaign? Perhaps a little built of guilt about the constant narrative that consumerism and a more, more, more culture with no concern for the environmental impact is at play.

 

John Marshall, chief strategy officer at Lippincott and president of Potential Energy, hit the nail on the head — the current green narrative simply isn’t connecting with a broad enough base to drive the urgency of these efforts. 

 

“We're going to need a new narrative, one that de-polarizes and de-liberalizes the issue and moves beyond traditional messages of the environmental community and broadens it.”

Marshall’s team at Lippincott conducted a market segmentation based on querying 6,000 U.S. voters. They found that only 13 percent of the voting population is connecting with the traditional environmentalist message. So now we need to figure out how to create climate or clean energy or renewable energy messages that actually connect with and motivate the other 87 percent. In order to do that there are lots of questions to answer: How do they think? What do they value? What motivates them? What tribes do they live in? How do we make this relevant?

We know that this is nothing if not timely, in fact our citizen’s desire for efforts to address climate change seem to be moving in reverse with a Gallup poll from March noting that the percentage of Republicans who believe climate change is caused by human activity dropped over the past year, from 40 percent in 2017 to 35 percent.

 

The New York Times also featured a lengthy look at how we could have solved climate change in the 1980s, but here we are with intensely polarized — and, arguably, misinformed — opinions. All this means that changing minds is not going to be an easy task.

 

In the past, advertising has not simply promoted consumerism, but also the idea that the more you have the happier you will be. Only recently that people have begun to embrace the concept that we can live well — perhaps even live better — if we have less stuff.

So Potential Energy hopes that their efforts can resonate with those who aren’t on that page yet. They are working to bring some of the most creative people on the planet together in order to come up with crazy, weird, new ideas, to test those ideas, and try to launch them. At this point, we simply don't have time for the existing messages to continue to not work, Marshall said.

Here’s hoping we can find a message to reach that 87% and get everyone on board to help our world. We don’t have a back up, so we’ve got to find a way to make this one last!