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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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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Employees Of The Month: Amazon’s Climate Activists

The contrast between how the two largest retailers – Amazon and Walmart – engage on sustainability is on full display right now.

Every April, Walmart convenes hundreds of suppliers, associates and partners at an annual meeting to evaluate progress against the company’s aspirational sustainability goals. A major focus this year was celebrating progress on Project Gigaton: in just two years, more than 1,000 suppliers have signed on to the initiative and collectively avoided 93 million metric tons of emissions towards the billion-ton GHG reduction goal.

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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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How Williams-Sonoma, Inc. is furnishing a better planet

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.

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Bevi CEO explains how an idea for a product grew into a sustainable startup

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.

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2020 commodity sourcing goals? These tools can help with supply chain traceability

Amidst rising deforestation rates, many companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from key commodity supply chains. As of June 2018, 473 companies globally committed to curbing deforestation in supply chains linked to palm oil, soy, timber and pulp, and cattle.

Many of these companies have set 2020 goals, and are doubling down efforts to meet these goals as the deadline fast approaches. Companies now find themselves in a position in which they know where they want to go, but do not always know how to get there.

Identifying deforestation risks in supply chains by using monitoring and traceability tools is one key step to achieving corporate goals related to fighting deforestation. Being able to monitor full supply chains, from the production of raw materials to retail or consumption, will enable companies to locate and address deforestation risks. Read more

Super Bowl ad shows Anheuser-Busch InBev’s global leadership on renewable energy

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.

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Circularity has finally hit the mainstream as Nestle, Mars, Danone and Clorox join Loop to test reusable packaging

Credit: SABIC

Having lived and traveled in Southeast Asia for a number of years, I have seen and experienced the negative impacts of plastic pollution firsthand. I can’t count the number of times I’ve visited some of the world’s most breathtaking remote locations and couldn’t stop staring at the plastic everywhere.

Last week, I finally felt that we turned a corner on plastics. At the World Economic Forum several of the largest consumer goods companies announced Loop, a pilot system to test reusable packaging for everyday products like mouthwash, deodorant, household cleaners and certain food products.

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