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.
Last week, Iron Mountain publicly shared its approved Science-Based Target (SBT) after committing to the SBT initiative in June of last year.
Setting SBTs has transitioned from a trend to an industry best practice. Last April, 250 companies committed to set or received approval for a SBT. That number today is now 515 companies. More than double in less than a year.
As more companies explore SBTs, it’s important to call out those that have reached that target-setting milestone so that others can learn from them.
Effective targets are aspirational, yet attainable. It’s not enough just to set one. There needs to be a strategy in place to meet it – which is what Iron Mountain did.
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.
Last week, CDP recognized companies for leading on climate change. Around 127 brands received an “A” grade – 2% of reporting companies – while the others were stamped with B’s, C’s and D’s.
We should certainly celebrate the companies that made it to the A List. These companies have proven leadership in corporate climate action and should be recognized.
But if we neglect the B’s, C’s and D’s, we all lose.
True cohesive climate action requires elevating the environmental performance of all companies – not just one-by-one. And the best way to do that is through collaboration.
Photo credit: Wendy Palmer
One of the world’s top chocolate companies shared new plans for reducing its impact on the planet – including committing to set Science-Based Targets. But what sets Hershey apart from its peers is not this commitment. It’s the journey behind how it got here.
Leading up to today’s announcement, a lot happened behind the scenes – data was collected, numbers were crunched and methodologies chosen. It required time, human capital and expertise.
But Hershey didn’t do it alone. The company hired a graduate student to help with the heavy-lifting that comes before a target can be set.
Bureo makes the first skateboard deck made out of recycled fishnets. KICKSTARTER
Where else can you bring creative projects, like a handheld printer that can imprint on any surface or soap that smells like bacon, to life? I’m a big fan of Kickstarter. So when I heard the company was inspiring its creators to make environmentally conscious decisions, I immediately wanted to learn more.
As the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter has built a global community that aims to bring creative ideas to life. Since its launch in 2009, more than 155,000 creative projects have been successfully funded, and over $4.1 billion dollars pledged.
I recently spoke with Heather Corcoran, outreach lead at Kickstarter, to find out more about the company’s sustainability philosophy, its recent environmental features, and her favorite Kickstarter product to date.
Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.
A lot happened in 2018. The U.S. made some notable progress with the first Muslim and Native American women elected to Congress, and and SpaceX launched the world’s most powerful rocket. (I also became a first-time dad! And remember Yanny vs. Laurel?). And we experienced some major lows, with hundreds of innocent lives lost to multiple mass shootings and families torn apart due to the current administration’s troubling immigration policies. Now, with 2018 coming to a close, attention is being redirected to the year ahead.
But before I begin anticipating what’s to come in 2019, I want to step back and celebrate a few big corporate sustainability accomplishments from 2018 that I’m particularly encouraged by.
Business leaders can no longer afford to look the other way on climate change. The recent National Climate Assessment revealed that regional economies and industries dependent on natural resources are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – as are energy systems. Warmer climates will increasingly disrupt international trade, prices, and supply chains, and costs could reach hundreds of billion dollars per year by the end of the century. Climate change doesn’t just threaten ecological balance, it threatens corporate balance sheets.
In light of these findings I’m encouraged by a recent survey of corporate leaders, 82 percent of whom said companies need to advocate for or take a stand on environmental, social and governance issues and that “climate and environment” was one of the three highest priorities for their organizations.
Knowing that a company should take action, however, is a long way from actually taking action on climate. While there are a growing number of cases where leading companies and major investors are ahead of the federal government on climate action, it’s simply not enough, and many more U.S. businesses need to step up.
The role that CEOs and companies play in global governance is changing. Leaders and laggards, winners and losers, will all be defined by how they respond to climate change. The leaders will surface based on their ability to take these four critical steps. Read more