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TED Talks Sustainability: Metali and Isabel Wijsen: Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

The SSC Team March 17, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Nothing inspires us like a good TED talk, and here’s one of our favorites. Enjoy it!

About the speaker: Sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen launched an island-wide campaign to ban plastic bags, inspired by bag bans in other parts of the world. They share their inspirational story that has resulting in a commitment from Bali’s governor to ban bags by 2018. What will they tackle next?

About the talk: If you live in the middle of the ocean, then ocean health is always a consideration of daily life. When teen sisters Metali and Isabel Wijsen realized the harm that plastic bags were doing to their island home of Bali, they went on strike – literally a hunger strike – to push the Balinese governor to ban plastic bags. Their inspirational message about sustainability and activism is shared in this great TED talk.


TED Talks: Luciana Walkowicz of NASA – Let’s not use Mars as a backup planet

The SSC Team January 12, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Nothing inspires us like a good TED talk, and here’s one of our favorites. Enjoy it!

About the Speaker: Lucianne Walkowicz works on NASA's Kepler mission, searching for places in the universe that could support life.

About the Talk: Walkowicz spends her days looking for planets like our own, but as she does this challenging work, she us to think carefully about how we treat our own home world. In this short talk, she suggests that we stop dreaming of Mars as a place that we'll eventually move to when we've messed up Earth, and to start thinking of planetary exploration and preservation of the Earth as two sides of the same goal. As she says, "The more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet."

 

Put your office paper use policy down, on paper

The SSC Team November 19, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Paper is arguably one of the most important physical invention in human history. (People keep claiming “printing press,” but seriously. That’s like“car” without “wheel.”)

For all its importance, paper is capable of doing some major damage to wetlands, oceans, and forests.

According to New Leaf Paper’s recently released Life Cycle Analysis, recycled paper has a climate impact 100 times lower than virgin paper.

Recycled paper uses 75 percent less water, has no impacts on rivers or wetlands from recurring logging of large forests, and avoids the harvesting of multiple forest types.

The obvious solutions

Solve incrementally, not drastically

Making the decision to cut 40% of an organization’s paper use or increase budgets for paper by 40% probably won’t work. Instead, make it a change management effort.

Employees, department heads, and company management all need to understand the effort, be given clear direction, milestones, and goals, and feel that they are making a difference.

Here’s a sample of how you can manage the transition to using less paper: 

  • Ensure employees fully understand why you’re focusing on paper (Save the forests! Save the ocean!)
  • Ensure employees understand how much paper they’ve used in the last measurable period (A mini-paper audit, perhaps?)
  • Give department managers a monthly “paper budget” and not an all-access pass to the copy room (It’s easier to “run out of paper” at the end of each 30 days, and “get by,” than it is to conceptualize what a year’s supply of paper means. Learning to ration over time is more successful.).
  • Give each department a paper reduction goal
  • Reward and support employee efforts to reduce printing and keep costs down (money saved through paper reduction can be donated to a conservation organization).

The case for reducing paper consumption and changing the purchasing behavior is similar to all change management projects. Communicate, collect data, create an action plan with goals, and measure your success.

For help developing sustainability strategies for your organization, contact us! 

Listen: Jennifer Woofter talks about individual impact in our interconnected world

The SSC Team November 17, 2015 Tags: , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
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In a recent podcast with 1000 Leagues Across the Sea (an effort to row across the North Atlantic and share a variety of perspectives about the experience), our own Jennifer Woofter addresses how daily activities impact the environment.

"There is only so much our societies can take from the Earth before the Earth is unable to rebound," she says. 

Part of the journey of being more sustainable, both as individuals and in organizations, is striking a balance between making sustainable choices and still being able to participate in the world as it is. 

Jennifer speaks about how global politics, individual consumption, and the natural world are intricately connected, and how our our interconnectivity in this unsustainable world is being examined by entities big and small.

This examination - by corporations, by scientists, by governments, by NGOs - is a combined effort to help all of us determine how much the Earth can truly take, how to put on the brakes before we come close to those limits, how conserve so our resources are replenished or preserved, and how to 'live a little.'

At SSC, our job is to help governments, non-profits, and corporations understand how to make incremental change that add up to big impact. Check out our service offerings, and let us help you start making sustainable choices. 

 

TED Talks Sustainability: Barton Seaver, Chef: Sustainable seafood? Let’s get smart

The SSC Team November 10, 2015 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Nothing inspires us like a good TED talk, and here’s one of our favorites. Enjoy it!

About the Speaker: Barton Seaver is an advocate of sustainable seafood and a chef in Washington DC. His work tells the story of our common resources through the communion we all share – dinner.

About the Talk: Chef Barton Seaver presents a modern dilemma: Seafood is one of our healthier protein options, but overfishing is desperately harming our oceans. He talks about the costs of overfishing - costs hidden underneath the waves. His suggestion on how to restore seafood? Focus on changing the “fundamental meaning of dinner.” 

Views: Basic Psychology Can Empower Energy Efficiency

The SSC Team October 15, 2015 Tags: , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Enjoy this post from the blog archives:

Most people are not aware of how much energy they are using (or wasting). Many feel as though they have little control over their monthly utility bills. However, social scientists suggest that if people were made aware of 1. their power usage costs in real time; and 2. how those costs compare to their neighbors and others in similar situations, energy conservation would be enhanced because of people’s desire to outperform.

According to Scientific American, new technology may improve awareness of our energy use and help push peoples desire to conserve energy.

One example of such new technology was employed by Southern California Edison utility which gave its consumers an Ambient Orb - a ball that sits on one’s table and communicates wirelessly with the local power grid. During peak demand hours, the ball glows red. When electricity prices are lower, the ball grows green. After only a few weeks, residents using the Ambient Orb decreased their power consumption during peak periods by 40 percent.

Competition and the ability to compare energy usage with one another may encourage further saving. A study was conducted in a small California town where all residents were notified about their energy consumption in previous weeks as well as the average consumption in their neighborhoods. Included with each month’s utility bill, individual homes were given a smiley face for bellow average consumption and a frown for an above average bill. This simple expression prompted excessive users to cut back and encouraged savers to continue saving.

These examples seem to illustrate a fundamental misconception – that being more energy efficient will somehow make life more difficult or less comfortable. A more reasonable conclusion may be that comfort is relative. Meaning, some people may actually want to do their laundry late in the evening or early in the morning if they can save money.

The article articulates another simple point - knowledge is power. People should be informed about their energy use in more effective ways!

Have you seen other technology that uses positive reinforcement or active awareness to encourage more sustainable behavior? Let us know in the comments!

Dispatch from SSC summer 2009 Intern Paul Turaew

Reducing and Managing Food Waste presented by ITP’s Green Hotelier

Tara Hughes July 31, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Industry News No comments
FOOD WASTE

Reducing and Managing Food Waste in Hotels presented by Green Hotelier

Join us for a complimentary webinar about Reducing and Managing Food Waste presented by AGPOM’s Partner International Tourism Partnership on September 24th.

Register heregreen hotelier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every bit of food you throw away costs you and the environment.

According to UNEP, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted. Additionally, according to the Food Waste Alliance, 68m tonnes of food waste are produced each year in the US, with around 39.7m tonnes going to landfill or incineration. One third of this is from full and quick service (QSR) restaurants. The saddest part is 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat.

What’s the environmental issues cased by food waste?

  • When food rots it creates methane (CH4) which has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide
  • Every time food is wasted, the water, energy, time, manpower, land, fertilizer, fuel, packaging and MONEY put into growing, preparing, storing, transporting, cooking the food is wasted.
  • If food waste was a country, it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of CO2

Reduced Waste = Reduced Expenses

By taking a few simple steps to waste less and recycle more, and by working out the cost of food waste to the business, hotels can reap financial as well as environmental benefits. Read more

Sustainable Supply Chains in Chinese Factories, Pt. 2

The SSC Team May 21, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
This is Part 2 of a two-part interview with Nate Sullivan of Efficiency Exchange, provider of sustainability software and services to manufacturers.  He highlights some of the challenges faced by Chinese factories in implementing their sustainable supply chain programs. On Tuesday, we posted a Part 1 of this interview from the SSC archives  - enjoy: SSC: How much time and effort should a supplier factory reasonably expect to spend on tracking and reporting sustainability information to their customers? Nate Sullivan: Given how hard customers are going to push them on price, we think the focus really needs to be on driving that time and effort down to zero. One of the things that really drove us to build Charge the way we did was seeing how all this compliance data was not being used to provide any value to factories -- all the time they theoretically spent gathering and vetting that information was essentially spent checking a box that didn't create any value for them. That's not the way it has to be, or should be. When factories meet sustainability requirements through Charge, they're doing it without spending any time solely on compliance -- they are spending that time figuring out how to run their factory more cost-effectively, and then as a secondary benefit that data is helping them show that they meet compliance standards. Everybody still gets what they want, but nobody is sitting there trying to figure out whether the time is well spent, because the benefits of spending it are much more direct. SSC: When done correctly, what are the bottom-line benefits that a supplier factory should see when implementing sustainability initiatives? (feel free to use EEX-specific examples!) NS: From the factory perspective, sustainability initiatives can have several possible benefits, if done right. First of all, there's reduced cost in the form of energy, water use, steam, natural gas, or whatever resource is being used less. There are some big benefits there, but obviously the "doing it right" part here is important, because factories need to be targeting the sustainability projects that make economic sense first and foremost. That's why Charge starts with energy -- we found energy costs and consumption to be something that factories could attack aggressively, reducing cost without slowing business growth. But there are opportunities in other fields, and Charge is going to add all of those to it's core capabilities. Other than cost reduction, the biggest benefit to any sustainability project is becoming more appealing to customers, and that's a big part of where we see Charge going in terms of it's relationship to buyers and brands. It's a top line benefit instead of bottom line, but the idea behind Charge's connection to retailers is ultimately to match the best suppliers to the best retailers. Charge looks at your operational data, and tells you "hey, you are currently meeting the requirements for the following potential customers", and vice versa. That introduces you to new customers who are excited to work with you, and it ties successful sustainability projects to new business and more revenue, which really changes the motivational calculus for factories. Instead of seeing sustainability as this horrible paperwork/audit driven obstacle, it becomes something factories actively seek out, because the better they operate, the more customers they can find, and the better those customers will be for the business. I think that's already the somewhat cartoonishly-optimistic perception of sustainability, especially in the west, but until EEx came around, I don't think anyone was out there building the tools and relationships necessary for that to become reality at the factory level. That's something that we are really, really excited to do for them. How is sustainability saving Chinese textile mills money? Read about it here!