In 1955, LIFE magazine ran an ad promoting “Throwaway Living,” encouraging the use of disposable items as a way to help cut down on household chores.
We used to depend on plastic, and now, our planet is being suffocated by it. Environmental impacts are showing the need for a more circular economy, and businesses are responding by offering innovation solutions, such as new products, packaging and business models, to address resource scarcity and climate risk – not to mention unlock a $4.5 trillion economic opportunity.
I recently caught up with Brendan Edgerton, the Director of Circular Economy at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and EDF Climate Corps alum, about the progress being made toward circular models of design and production – and his love of Swiss chocolate.
Circularity refers to shifting from current linear methods of production and consumption, where products are designed without consideration for what happens after use, to adopting circular models that keep products, components and materials within the economy.
Last year, global wine production rose to near-record highs, reaching a harvest of 292.3 million hectoliters – that’s more than 7.7 billion gallons. In the U.S. alone, domestic and imported wine sales reached $70.5 billion. The world clearly loves wine.
But, few industries feel the perils of climate change more directly than the wine industry. And with temperatures expected to only become more extreme, wineries are being forced to consider the long-term risk a changing climate will have on their business.
I had a chance to chat with Inesh Singh, the first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer of Sula Vineyards, India’s largest wine producer. For Inesh, sustainability isn’t just an opportunity to save the company money, it’s a key part of its long-term survival. Inesh is GreenBiz’s 30 Under 30 honoree, and was an EDF Climate Corps fellow with PepsiCo back in 2016.
Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
In July, I’ll become a first-time mom, which means the next four months of my life are going to be spent preparing for what’s to come. In my attempt to navigate the baby-care industry, I’ve started researching the options for toxic-free, eco-friendly, safe and affordable products. To say the process is ‘overwhelming’ is an understatement.
Lucky for me, I’m not alone in asking for products that are good for the health of my kids and the planet, and companies are starting to meet this demand.
I recently spoke with Tracy Liu, the Chief Operating Officer of WAYB, a new company co-founded by former Patagonia CEO Michael Crooke alongside manufacturing experts Tio Jung and his father I.S. Jung that aims to deliver safe, well-designed and sustainable products to families with young children. Tracy (who’s also expecting) shares how the company is bringing its experience in the outdoor gear industry to design its first product, a next generation car seat. Tracy is also an EDF Climate Corps alumna.
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.
Pottery Barn Kids / west elm Greenguard certified and Fair Trade crib
Furnishing a new home is a big job. I know because I recently went through the process myself. You need to purchase the big ticket items, maybe a new bed from Pottery Barn, down to the nitty-gritty items, possibly a nice west elm throw for the couch. It’s taxing work – for you and the planet.
Danielle Jezienicki, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Williams-Sonoma, Inc. works across the company’s eight brands, including Williams-Sonoma Home, Pottery Barn Kids and PBTeen, west elm, Rejuvenation and Mark & Graham, to ensure that products are made with the environment in mind.
I recently spoke with Danielle, an EDF Climate Corps and Presidio Graduate School alumna, to learn how Williams-Sonoma, Inc. works with stakeholders – from customers, employees and vendors – to engrain sustainability into its values.
Here’s an edited version of our conversation.
Reducing impact on the planet isn’t an afterthought at Bevi – it’s the startup’s core business.
Co-founder and CEO of Bevi, Sean Grundy, wanted to work for a company where sustainability was woven into the business model from the start, and shareholder and environmental values were one in the same. So, Sean chose to start fresh and build that very company.
Today, Bevi’s smart water dispensers, which provide customizable flavors using filtered tap water and natural ingredients, have saved the waste generated by over 65 million plastic bottles.
I recently chatted with Sean to learn about how he wound up co-founding Bevi, and how the startup has created an efficient, customizable and environmentally friendly alternative to canned and bottled beverages. Sean was also an EDF Climate Corps fellow with Hilex Poly back in 2012.
Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
While Tom Brady was chasing his 6th Super Bowl Victory, something big happened during the game. Budweiser aired an ad celebrating the link between business and sustainability – a message that reached at least an average of 100 million viewers.
The 45 second video combined Budweiser’s brand icons, Dalmatians and Clydesdales, with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, to tout the company’s renewable energy commitments, particularly around wind generation.
For someone who tries to follow sports, but remains “passive” as my husband would put it, this ad won my attention for the night. It was a mixing pot of nature, technology and business that shared a singular, important message – companies are proudly investing in our planet’s future.
The truth is, this ad shared only part of the work Anheuser-Busch InBev, Budweiser’s parent company, is doing to make its global operations more sustainable. I know this because I recently chatted with Jess Newman, Director of U.S. Agronomy at Anheuser-Busch – one of many employees working to meet the company’s sustainability goals.
You know that feeling when you’re cheering for your team to win, and they do? That’s the feeling I get to experience every day in my job as Manager of the EDF Climate Corps network (aren’t I lucky?!) Yesterday GreenBiz announced it’s “30 Under 30″ – a global search for emerging leaders who are shaping the next generation of sustainable business. To my delight, I saw Kayla Fenton, a 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellow, included in this impressive group. This was exciting, but not surprising; the EDF Climate Corps network is filled with inspiring leaders, just like Kayla, who are tackling corporate sustainability issues every day.
I first met Kayla when she was preparing for her summer with Nestle Waters NA. In just ten weeks, she managed to surpass everyone’s expectations. “Kayla’s detailed analysis and cross-company collaboration created the internal engagement and buy-in to move forward with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for my last company. Her great work inspired me to bring on an EDF Climate Corps fellow in my new role with Danone Waters of America to advance carbon reductions in North America for our carbon neutral brand, Evian.” Recalled Debora Fillis-Ryba, Kayla’s former supervisor at Nestle, now with Danone Waters of America.
Now, with Amazon, Kayla manages programs to minimize the company’s footprint by eliminating packaging waste. Her efforts save the company money and energy, and optimize delivery by reducing material across the supply chain. It’s innovative, it’s sustainable and it’s economic – it’s winning!