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TED Talks Sustainability: Bernie Krause: The voice of the natural world

The SSC Team September 1, 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: Bernie Krause is a musician. With a resume that features Stevie Wonder and The Byrds, Krause found music in and began making history by recording the sounds of nature. Listening to the wind, the rain, the insects, the grunts and groans of animals, Krause uses natural soundscapes to analyze critical questions about how humans interact with and are altering fragile ecosystems.

About the talk: Krause discusses his 45-year journey of capturing the sounds of nature, and discovering how humans are radically alteringthe fragile ecosystems that make our planet complete. By opening our ears to “nature’s symphonies,” Krause believes humans will better connect with and fight to protect the nature around us.

 

Webinar to Watch: A Next-Generation Solar Strategy for Commercial Operations

The SSC Team July 7, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

A Next-Generation Solar Strategy for Commercial Operations

July 19, 2016 @ 1pm Eastern

Presented by GreenBiz

Companies often find that the power grid is the leading contributor to their carbon footprint, but the barriers to sustainable energy for most businesses is way too high. Check out this free webinar about how companies can purchase solar energy and significantly reduce their impact from electricity use.

 

 

Webinar to Watch: A Next-Generation Solar Strategy for Commercial Operations

The SSC Team July 7, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

A Next-Generation Solar Strategy for Commercial Operations

July 19, 2016 @ 1pm Eastern

Presented by GreenBiz

Companies often find that the power grid is the leading contributor to their carbon footprint, but the barriers to sustainable energy for most businesses is way too high. Check out this free webinar about how companies can purchase solar energy and significantly reduce their impact from electricity use.

 

 

Reducing Waste Doesn’t Always Equate to Sustainability: Start Calculating the Impact of Tradeoffs in Sustainability Strategies

The SSC Team March 29, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

For years, organizations have been buying into the “waste less to be green” strategy. Sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – i.e. save some stuff for future generations.

So, it is natural to assume that by using fewer resources today, we are saving them up for our children’s children’s children. Sometimes this pans out, sometimes not.

Many industries would like the definition of sustainability to end here, because it means they can focus entirely on innovating production around using fewer resources, yet still producing profitable goods and services.

Win for the planet. Win for the pocketbook.

However, not all industries can use even come close to really being sustainable, just by virtue of existing at all (ahem, coal). We all know about these industries, and scientists and engineers everywhere are working to reduce our dependence on them.

But what about other industries? Does using less waste always correlate to an environmental “win?”

Research by Jason Jay, a senior lecturer at MIT, and his colleagues are suggesting that it is time to place some serious focus on the temporal tradeoffs in sustainability.

Let’s just say you have a product that is two pounds of plastic, but you innovate and reduce that amount to one pound – and customers love it because they love green products, so you sell twice as many. Sustainable? That is the question.

Consumers really wrestled with this issue back when we were having the paper-or-plastic debate. It seems we may have resolved that one with reusable bags (unless you keep losing them and buying new ones every time you shop).

Now the issue is popping up again and again with retailers like IKEA questioning its own business model and product longevity, making headlines with a recent joke about “peak curtains.”  Allegations that technology companies like Apple are hooking users with upgrades and software that results in a cycle of planned obsolescence and waste and generating backlash. And consumers are coming out against the $5 throwaway t-shirt, cheap plastic trinkets, and a culture too willing to plow through resources to stay on trend.

Startups like Buy Me Once are pushing back on consumer culture, attempting to shift purchasing habits from disposable to durable, and investment in products that last. Begging the question, Why don’t they make ‘em like they used to?”

The tide may be shifting among consumers, and it may not be long until manufacturers are asked to deal with more critical, nuanced questions about consumption. It’s longer going to be about buying recyclable plastic cups for a dinner party, but not buying special cups to start with, shifting the emphasis from “recycle” to “reduce and reuse.” If you make disposable plastic cups, this could be a worrying trend, but if you are the planet, this could be the promise of progress.

Are you seeing changes in demand from customers or clients pushing for longer life-span built into product design? Do you feel that consumers will embrace the “pay more” for products with a longer useful life? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Reducing Waste Doesn’t Always Equate to Sustainability: Start Calculating the Impact of Tradeoffs in Sustainability Strategies

The SSC Team March 29, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

For years, organizations have been buying into the “waste less to be green” strategy. Sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – i.e. save some stuff for future generations.

So, it is natural to assume that by using fewer resources today, we are saving them up for our children’s children’s children. Sometimes this pans out, sometimes not.

Many industries would like the definition of sustainability to end here, because it means they can focus entirely on innovating production around using fewer resources, yet still producing profitable goods and services.

Win for the planet. Win for the pocketbook.

However, not all industries can use even come close to really being sustainable, just by virtue of existing at all (ahem, coal). We all know about these industries, and scientists and engineers everywhere are working to reduce our dependence on them.

But what about other industries? Does using less waste always correlate to an environmental “win?”

Research by Jason Jay, a senior lecturer at MIT, and his colleagues are suggesting that it is time to place some serious focus on the temporal tradeoffs in sustainability.

Let’s just say you have a product that is two pounds of plastic, but you innovate and reduce that amount to one pound – and customers love it because they love green products, so you sell twice as many. Sustainable? That is the question.

Consumers really wrestled with this issue back when we were having the paper-or-plastic debate. It seems we may have resolved that one with reusable bags (unless you keep losing them and buying new ones every time you shop).

Now the issue is popping up again and again with retailers like IKEA questioning its own business model and product longevity, making headlines with a recent joke about “peak curtains.”  Allegations that technology companies like Apple are hooking users with upgrades and software that results in a cycle of planned obsolescence and waste and generating backlash. And consumers are coming out against the $5 throwaway t-shirt, cheap plastic trinkets, and a culture too willing to plow through resources to stay on trend.

Startups like Buy Me Once are pushing back on consumer culture, attempting to shift purchasing habits from disposable to durable, and investment in products that last. Begging the question, Why don’t they make ‘em like they used to?”

The tide may be shifting among consumers, and it may not be long until manufacturers are asked to deal with more critical, nuanced questions about consumption. It’s longer going to be about buying recyclable plastic cups for a dinner party, but not buying special cups to start with, shifting the emphasis from “recycle” to “reduce and reuse.” If you make disposable plastic cups, this could be a worrying trend, but if you are the planet, this could be the promise of progress.

Are you seeing changes in demand from customers or clients pushing for longer life-span built into product design? Do you feel that consumers will embrace the “pay more” for products with a longer useful life? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Reducing Waste Doesn’t Always Equate to Sustainability: Start Calculating the Impact of Tradeoffs in Sustainability Strategies

The SSC Team March 29, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

For years, organizations have been buying into the “waste less to be green” strategy. Sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” – i.e. save some stuff for future generations.

So, it is natural to assume that by using fewer resources today, we are saving them up for our children’s children’s children. Sometimes this pans out, sometimes not.

Many industries would like the definition of sustainability to end here, because it means they can focus entirely on innovating production around using fewer resources, yet still producing profitable goods and services.

Win for the planet. Win for the pocketbook.

However, not all industries can use even come close to really being sustainable, just by virtue of existing at all (ahem, coal). We all know about these industries, and scientists and engineers everywhere are working to reduce our dependence on them.

But what about other industries? Does using less waste always correlate to an environmental “win?”

Research by Jason Jay, a senior lecturer at MIT, and his colleagues are suggesting that it is time to place some serious focus on the temporal tradeoffs in sustainability.

Let’s just say you have a product that is two pounds of plastic, but you innovate and reduce that amount to one pound – and customers love it because they love green products, so you sell twice as many. Sustainable? That is the question.

Consumers really wrestled with this issue back when we were having the paper-or-plastic debate. It seems we may have resolved that one with reusable bags (unless you keep losing them and buying new ones every time you shop).

Now the issue is popping up again and again with retailers like IKEA questioning its own business model and product longevity, making headlines with a recent joke about “peak curtains.”  Allegations that technology companies like Apple are hooking users with upgrades and software that results in a cycle of planned obsolescence and waste and generating backlash. And consumers are coming out against the $5 throwaway t-shirt, cheap plastic trinkets, and a culture too willing to plow through resources to stay on trend.

Startups like Buy Me Once are pushing back on consumer culture, attempting to shift purchasing habits from disposable to durable, and investment in products that last. Begging the question, Why don’t they make ‘em like they used to?”

The tide may be shifting among consumers, and it may not be long until manufacturers are asked to deal with more critical, nuanced questions about consumption. It’s longer going to be about buying recyclable plastic cups for a dinner party, but not buying special cups to start with, shifting the emphasis from “recycle” to “reduce and reuse.” If you make disposable plastic cups, this could be a worrying trend, but if you are the planet, this could be the promise of progress.

Are you seeing changes in demand from customers or clients pushing for longer life-span built into product design? Do you feel that consumers will embrace the “pay more” for products with a longer useful life? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

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 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!