Meet e-commerce’s sustainability problem that isn’t the cardboard box

With the click of a button, our groceries, clothes, personal care products, household items – just about anything – could arrive on our doorsteps in a neatly packaged cardboard box. It’s convenience, delivered. But at what cost?

What happens behind-the-scenes to get a package delivered to your door is taking a toll on our planet and our health. Freight is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and a major source of local air pollution. The rise in e-commerce is a growing part of increased pollution and poor air quality.

The truth is, “free shipping” isn’t really free. We’re just paying for it in other ways.

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What presidential hopefuls can learn from the original “Climate Corps”

The 2020 presidential candidates are starting to introduce an array of proposals to fight climate change. Included in the mix are multiple calls for creating a “Climate Corps” – a national service initiative designed to engage America’s youth to advance climate solutions.

I’m excited by the increased attention on climate change and about the debate on how best to involve the next generation in solving the climate crisis. As candidates and public officials look to develop their policy ideas, they might look to lessons learned from the original Climate Corps – Environmental Defense Fund’s fellowship program that empowers the next generation of sustainability leaders to help major companies, organizations and industries to take action on clean energy and climate.

Here are four considerations to help inform the effective design of any national climate-related service initiative.

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Best Buy’s new Science-Based Target helps customers reduce energy use in their homes

In a world where big-box retailers are falling to online giants, Best Buy has managed to thrive.

Earlier this week, Best Buy announced a Science-Based Target (SBT) to help consumers reduce their carbon emissions by 20 percent and save $5 billion on utility costs. In its own operations, Best Buy will reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent.

To date, 567 companies have set or committed to set SBTs. But what makes Best Buy’s story unique is its strategy to make customers part of the equation: Reduce the company’s total carbon footprint by selling more energy efficient products to customers.

Here’s how this goal was set

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Can the circular economy end the era of “Throwaway Living”?

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.

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The vanguard of corporate climate action has arrived — and the Trump administration can’t stop it

After a decade-long dry spell, Corporate America’s call for climate action is back.

Despite the Trump Administration’s continued denial, leading companies are finally giving climate change the attention it deserves and urging Congress to do the same.

Years from now, we’ll look back at May 2019 as a breakthrough moment, when business engagement in climate policy gathered strength and became an unstoppable movement.  This month alone, companies across sectors including oil and gas, electric power, consumer goods and food have joined the CEO Climate Dialogue, invested in the Americans for Carbon Dividends initiative, and advocated on the Hill to put a price on carbon.

As Axios’ Amy Harder notes, “Several years-long trends are driving corporations to ask for government policy — but it’s not really about saving the planet. It’s about investor and legal pressure, falling prices for renewable energy, new bounties of cleaner-burning natural gas and growing public concern about a warming planet’s impacts.”

Whatever the reasons companies are stepping up to the plate on climate policy advocacy, pressure from investors is one trend that is here to stay.

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Dear Companies: Your Future Customers And Employees Want Climate Action

More than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action this spring.

My 12-year-old daughter Anna has become quite the environmentalist lately. She’s even started turning out the lights while you’re in the room to save on energy! Yes, this can be annoying. But I admire her passion and enjoy watching her become more invested in our planet.

Anna and the 1.4 million kids skipping class to protest climate change this spring give me hope. I got goosebumps when I heard the charismatic 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose actions started this movement, speak. She summed it up perfectly when she said: “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have changed.”

These kids are on the front line. It’s their futures at stake. They’re scared, they’re angry and they’re energized.

And they should be on businesses’ radar.

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Good news and new tools to help companies fight against global deforestation

Frances Seymour, a distinguished senior fellow at WRI & Fernando Sampaio, executive director of PCI at TFA2020’s annual meeting. Photo credit: TFA2020

Every day, we see another article about forests disappearing in the Amazon. This coverage shines light on a significant global problem that is only intensifying. With all the bad news, I was especially energized to attend the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) Annual Meeting last week, where around 200 passionate people gathered to promote a forest positive future.

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13 major companies call on Congress to accelerate climate legislation. Here’s why.

Corporate America is setting – and meeting – increasingly ambitious climate and clean energy goals. But the hard reality is that individual corporate action, no matter how big, won’t solve this great climate crisis.

In order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need public policies that harness the power of the whole economy to drive down emissions by putting prices and limits on climate pollution.

Businesses that are sincerely interested in protecting our health, economy and future from the ravages of climate change must join this national public policy discussion. We need companies to lead, not follow, Congress.

That’s why it’s big news that 13 major companies have now joined four nonprofit organizations, including Environmental Defense Fund, to form the core of a new effort to push for climate policy. The CEO Climate Dialogue initiative involves major food brands, powerful utilities, and one of the nation’s leading car companies. Our goal is to turn the power of the marketplace towards addressing this crisis. Read more

Their vote and their jobs: Millennials’ new tools for climate advocacy

A new poll by CNN shows that climate change now ranks as the very top issue among Democratic voters – beating out historically popular issues like healthcare.

Engaging in climate advocacy is growing globally. And what I find to be especially interesting is the innovative approaches that people are taking to make their voices heard.

Climate change’s time could be now, and people are seizing the opportunity. People like Summer Sandoval.

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Activist CEOs: A new reality for corporate America

The days when business leaders could dodge social or political issues are coming to an end. CEO engagement on issues such as health care, sexual harassment, gun control and immigration have been steadily on the rise.

In a U.S. House committee meeting just last week, lawmakers “grilled [bank] executives more on social issues than business fundamentals,” according to Reuters, and probed them about fossil fuel investments. 

And as a recent Axios Trends piece suggests, pressure on CEOs to address social issues is increasing ahead of the 2020 political campaigns. In particular, demands that they act on climate change are heating up.

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