EcoTuesday Categories

Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated

View Fenja Blobel's profile

This month at San Francisco EcoTuesday we are very excited to have Linda Brown, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of SCS Global Services, speak. SCS Global Services has been working since the 80’s to promote sustainability by providing third party certification services in environmental performance and social responsibility, auditing, testing and standards development.  SCS was launched long before sustainability became fashionable, much less a top priority, for companies.


Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated” is the title of her presentation this month.  Throughout the evening, she will point out that environmental and sustainable claims are not always what they are cracked up to be, and discuss the importance of educating ourselves about this issue to appropriately weed out the hype. 

She’s in a good position to know.  SCS launched its third party certification programs in response to greenwashing and has remained a staunch defender of legitimate green claims ever since.


What is a “third-party” certifier? Third-party certifiers are neutral organizations that verify claims on behalf of manufacturers, retailers, public agencies, NGOs and other entities.  By contrast, “first parties” are the companies themselves, while “second parties” are other interested parties, such as industry trade associations.  A legitimate third-party certifier provides scientific, non-biased assessment, with an emphasis on transparency in order to build awareness and support informed product comparisons. 

SCS currently conducts certifications under 16 internationally recognized accreditations including green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, retailing and more. These certifications range in complexity from specific claims such as recycled content to complex sustainability and life cycle assessment based claims.  Here is a quick primer on the types of claims that fall under this certification umbrella:


Single attribute environmental claims are simple, straightforward claims about one attribute of a product. For example, SCS’s Indoor Air Quality certifications look at the emissions of products like furniture, flooring, or carpet and verify that the emission factors pass the indoor air quality requirements of California Section 01350.  Multi-attribute claims are claims about a broad set of attributes, for instance, a group of environmental, health and social measures. The “level” certification program, developed by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) for furniture, is an example.  The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for responsibly managed wood is another.


Life-cycle assessments approach the issue of environmental performance differently. They look at and measure the entire scope of impacts associated with a product, process or service. Ideally, these results can be compared among product options to facilitate educated decisions.


SCS’s environmental and social mission is reflected in the company itself.  For instance, in January of this year, SCS was one of the first corporations in California to become a California Benefit Corporation under the recently enacted AB 361 legislation, along with Patagonia and 10 other California companies.  SCS is additionally a Certified B Corporation. B Corporations conduct business for the benefit of the people and the environment. They engage stakeholders to ensure corporate accountability and transparency by meeting higher legal accountability standards. They also meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.


To learn more about the environmental claims and greewashing, the challenges of third-party certification, and the importance of transparency, join us at EEFG at 6:30pm on Tuesday July 24th. Register here!

Please note, I am an employee of SCS Global Services but have made this article as objective as possible.

Top 10 Women of Sustainability - Nikki Pava Listed

View Lisa Ann Pinkerton's profile

(This article was featured in Renewable Energy News and Cleantechies.)


In this second installment in our series on leading women in cleantech and sustainability sectors, we offer up our top picks for the sustainability sector. Quite often this category is dominated by women working in Corporate Social Responsibility, as it’s a sector where women have made great strides to gain leadership roles in the last few decades. However, for our series, we are saving those women of CSR for a later post. This let’s us focus more on those women doing unique sustainability work that might otherwise not be noticed. Stay tuned for our Women of CSR post, it’s not far behind!

1. Nikki Pava – Co-founder, EcoTuesday & Founder of Alegria Partners

Nikki Pava is both the co-founder and president of EcoTuesday and part of the organization’s Ambassador team in San Francisco. EcoTuesday is a renowned networking event for sustainable business professionals that takes place every fourth Tuesday of the month in cities across the US. The organization’s 5-year anniversary celebration takes place on February 21st with special guest speaker Brian Black, president of the Sustainable Industries Magazine.

Most recently, Nikki launched Alegria Partners, an integrated marketing and sustainability consulting firm that helps to manage and grow businesses. Clients include Technology Forecasters, Blue Coat Systems, Maestro Conference and Greenopolis. As an independent consultant, Nikki has also worked in a strategic capacity with Williams-Sonoma on a project to decrease waste in their stores and played a key role in implementing Burning Man LLC’s five-year sustainability plan. She also helped Morrison & Forester (one of the country’s largest law firms) establish its Cleantech Practice Group. Nikki has an MBA in Sustainable Business from the Presidio School of Management and has worked in a strategic capacity with Fortune 500 companies, small- and medium-sized businesses, and non-profits to develop strategic plans and coordinate teams to reach specific and measurable goals.

Follow her on Twitter>>


2. Elizabeth Sturcken - Director of Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund

Elizabeth Sturcken is the Managing Director of the Corporate Partnerships program at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). There she develops and implements joint projects with leading companies in order to create environmental change. Elizabeth currently works with Wal-Mart to create a broad environmental change in crucial areas of its business, including climate change, China, seafood, and packaging. Additionally, she has worked with FedEx to develop environmentally advanced heavy-duty delivery vehicles. With UPS she helped implement innovative changes in their express delivery packaging.


3. Karen Flanders – Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme

Karen Flanders is a Senior North American Representative at Prince of Wales’s Business and Sustainability Programme where she contributes to the organization’s mission to draw on world-leading research and networks of Cambridge University to help business leaders address the critical global challenges they face today. Karen is also a Senior Associate (Fellow) with the University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (CPSL). In her 20 years of experience working on the sustainability field, both domestically and internationally, Karen has become an important member of several major corporations, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations.

Prior to joining CPSL and working with PWBSP, Karen served for eight years as the director of sustainability for the Coca Cola Company. Prior to that, she lead the European and global advocacy campaigns for WWF for 12 years. She is also part of the board of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future.


4. Bonnie Nixon – Executive Director, Sustainability Consortium

Formerly an executive with Hewlett Packard, Bonnie Nixon is known for her ability to inspire and serve as a catalyst for transformation in the field of sustainability and social and environmental responsibility. As Executive Director for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), Bonnie is responsible for providing strategic direction and executing on the TSC’s bold vision for independent global product standards. TSC works to help set the standards and develop transparent methodologies, tools and strategies that will drive a new generation of products and supply networks that address environmental, social and economic imperatives. Some of the Board of Directors representatives are companies and organizations of the caliber of Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, The Walt Disney Company, Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, Dell and more.

With her more than 25 years of experience in social and environmental responsibility for large corporations, Bonnie serves on many multi-industry consortiums, including global retailers, footwear and apparel, toy, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, consumer goods and mining. She is also the Board Chair for Sustainable Silicon Valley and Board Member of Blue Planet Network.


5. Marianna Grossman – Executive Director, Sustainable Silicon Valley

Marianna Grossman leads Sustainable Silicon Valley, who’s mission is to create a more sustainable future within the Valley by collaborating with local government agencies, businesses, and community organizations to identify and address the most pressing environmental issues of the area. Marianna’s goal is to catalyze innovation and action to produce economic value, while at the same protecting the environment. She brings more than 25 years of business and leadership experience with knowledge of climate change, sustainable technologies, Total Quality Systems and transformation management. All of this aims to create value for clients across the different sectors of the industry, including the entrepreneurship, computer hardware and software, semiconductors, automotive, educational and civic organizations. Marianna has also both developed and led training courses from executive to individual contributors on four continents. She is an expert in increasing revenues while at the same time taking advantage of both new market opportunities and improved use of energy.


6. Diane MacEachern – Author, Big Green Purse

Diane MacEachern is the founder & CEO of Big Green Purse, the award-winning environment-focused website. She is also the author of the best-selling book Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World as well as Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Clean Up The Earth. She’s also a a regular commentator on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living radio program.

In addition to writing, Diane is a founding member of Green Moms Carnival, one of the most reputed green lifestyle blogging networks on the web. During her career, her main focus has been to empower consumers – especially women – to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment. Due to her passion in these endeavors, Diane has garnered a series of awards and recognitions, including the Best Green Website of the year 2007, being the finalist in the Books for a Better Life award 2008, being featured in the Top 100 Environmentalist Blogs from Design Sprout and much more.

Follow her on twitter here>>


7. Nina Simons – Founder, Bioneers

Nina Simons is a social entrepreneur, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Bioneers, a national nonprofit that helps highlight, gather and disseminate breakthrough solutions to the most pressing environmental and social challenges. Nina’s life and work have been shaped by her passion for the natural world, women’s leadership, systems thinking, and the arts’ capacity to shape culture and consciousness.

Throughout her career, Nina has served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla, being instrumental to the success of each of these companies nationwide. Since beginning Bioneers in 1990, she and her partner and husband Kenny Ausubel have collaborated to grow the organization and its influence. Bioneers now reaches many millions through its annual conferences, satellite conference partners, award-winning radio series, broadcast and print media, interactive website and book series.

Nina Simons has also been vital in restoring the “feminine” to a balanced place in our culture. In 2006, she began offering Cultivating Women’s Leadership, a five-day intensive for diverse women with the passion and capacity to effect change in their communities. This intensive training emphasizes skillful collaboration across differences, and the creation of relationships and networks to cultivate leadership, build alliances and encourage mutual support.

Follow her on Twitter here>>


8. Pamela Gordon – Author, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment

Pamela J. Gordon is the President and Founder of Technology Forecasters Inc. (TFI), as well as being the Lead Consultant for TFI Supply Chain and TFI Environment. TFI is an organization that helps technology companies create more efficient supply chains while at the same time reducing their environmental impact. She specializes in sustainability and is a popular keynote speaker, having presented at high-tech conferences in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Before founding TFI, Ms. Gordon was a senior analyst at McGraw Hill’s electronics industry market-research firm Gnostic Concepts Inc. She is also the author of the influential 2001 book, Lean and Green: Profit for Your Workplace and the Environment. It features 17 electronics companies from around the world and has been required reading at the University of California Haas School of Business.

On top of all of these achievements, Ms. Gordon has received the 2011 Sustainability Summit Community Award which was given in recognition of “the person who has most generously dedicated time and effort to support the development of a legacy of environmental stewardship in the [electronics] industry.”


9. Astrid Lindo – Co-founder, The Living Seed Company

A native of Colombia and raised in Miami Beach, Astrid Lindo always lived close to the earth. This led her early on to understand modern human’s disconnection with the natural world and contributed to her desire to found The Living Seed Company and inspire people to live more harmonious lives with their environments. The organization specializes in providing people with the best possible choices for food diversity.

With her formal training as an interior designer from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, she has also built a career as an ecological interior designer. Astrid holds a Certificate in Green Building and Permaculture, as well as an LEED accreditation. Her firm Astrid Design Studio supports more sustainable practices in the design field.

Follow her on Twitter here>>


10. Stacie Shepp – 2011 Executive Director, San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce

In 2011, Stacie Shepp was the fearless leader the San Francisco Green Chamber of Commerce. The organization empowers businesses to achieve economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Members benefit from increased visibility, educational tools to improve operational performance, and extensive networking opportunities.

Stacie is also co-founder of Earthsite, a Digital Consultancy for Sustainable Brands that specializes in building web strategies, design and social media marketing campaigns that are sustainable and optimal. Stacie is a graduate of the Green MBA program at Dominican University of CA.


About the author:

Lisa Ann Pinkerton is founder of Women In Cleantech & Sustainability, a San Francisco Bay Area group dedicated to the advancement of women in various environmental and technology sectors. She is also Founder and President of Technica Communications, where she handles marketing and public relations strategies for cleantech and biotech companies. Lisa Ann is a former award-winning broadcast journalist who reported for National Public Radio, PBS Television, WPXI-NBC, American Public Media, and Free Speech TV.

Veriflora Certified Sustainably Grown Plants and Flowers at the Opportunity Green Conference

View Fenja Blobel's profile

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flowersVeriflora®, one of this year's Opportunity Green Conference sponsors, is a leading sustainable agricultural certification and eco-labeling program recognized as the gold-standard in the floriculture and horticulture industries. Most of the flowers around the conference as well as the long stem roses that were given out during Thursday evening's party were Veriflora certified.

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Veriflora<!--[endif]-->® certified growers who participated include California Pajarosa,; Resendiz Bros.,; Green Valley Floral,; and F & B  Farms and Nursery,


Veriflora certifies cut flowers, potted plants, improved input devices, and peat moss products through its ‘Responsibly Managed’ peatlands annex.  The multiple attributes of sustainability addressed by the Veriflora certification (for more information click here) include:

1. Environmental Sustainability 

Sustainable Crop Production

Resource Conservation and Energy Efficiency

Ecosystem Protection

Integrated Waste Management       


2. Social & Economic Sustainability

Fair Labor Practices

Community Benefits


3. Product Integrity

 Product Quality

Product Safety


If you want to know where to buy Veriflora certified fresh cut flowers or potted plants, go to the Preferred Retailer Program page on the Veriflora website.

Call for Applications: Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards

View Fenja Blobel's profile

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November's speaker in Silicon Valley was Adriane Erickson from Acterra. If you missed the networking event last week, you still have a chance to apply for Acterra’s Environmental Awards, see below for more details.

Applications for Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards are now available - click here.  


This year’s categories are: Environmental Project, Environmental Innovation, Sustainable Built Environment, and the Acterra Award for Sustainability. 

Any business, municipality or organization located in the following counties is eligible to apply: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz County. Non-profits may also apply if environmental work is not their central mission. 

The deadline to apply is Friday, December 9, 2011. For more information, please contact

People for Bikes at Opportunity Green Conference

View Fenja Blobel's profile

Family bikingFrom speakers to sponsors to attendees, this year’s Opportunity Green Conference had many visionaries that spanned the green economy. One particular booth that I loved was People for Bikes, a non-profit focused on promoting biking across the nation. Many of our cities in the US need to incorporate bike lanes into their city planning.


Why do we ride? A few interesting facts from the People for Bikes’ website: 

47% of Americans would like to see more bike lanes, trails, and bridges in their communities.

  • I personally would love to see the Bay Bridge not only create a bike lane from the East Bay to Treasure Island but also from Treasure Island to San Francisco. How many people travel across by foot or by pedal on the Golden Gate Bridge a day? How wonderful would it be if the Bay Bridge would be accessible by foot or by pedal? 

1 pound of CO2 pollution cut for every mile pedaled. 

50% of trips Americans make are less than 3 miles.

  • How wonderful if you could get your exercise while commuting! 

$8,000 spent on average each year owing and operating a car.

3 hours of riding per week reduces the risk of hear disease & stroke by 50%.

$10 saved each day by commuting 10 miles round trip by bicycle instead of car.



This year’s conference theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with this non-profit.  “We chose the theme ‘Accelerate’ for this year’s conference because the successes that have gotten sustainably-minded people and companies to where we are today accelerates and offers the momentum to drive to an even better future.”

The goals of People for Bikes align well with the goals of green acceleration.

People for Bikes:

One for all: Build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country.

Opportunity Green:

We facilitate the movement to transform business for good, through advancing change and market transformation by providing open-minded professional unprecedented approaches to sustainability.

People for Bikes:

Let our voices be heard: Every six years, the federal government allocates billions of dollars to expand and improve our country’s transportation infrastructure.  We must improve our bike infrastructure to have the healthy planet everyone dreams of.

Opportunity Green:

Because we have the unique opportunity to do good for our world and our business simultaneously. Now is the time when our leadership is most needed, and will have the most impact on the future of our organization and communities.           

We must Accelerate the use of biking in order to have the future we all wish for.


Power to the Pedal People.

Accelerate At The Opportunity Green Conference This Week

View Fenja Blobel's profile

This week on November 10th and 11th, I will be representing EcoTuesday by attending the Opportunity Green Conference in Los Angeles. This is a wonderful conference that happens yearly with visionaries attending from the green economy. Go to the Opportunity Green website for more information.

This year’s theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with the current momentum of the green economy. We must continue this acceleration in order to have the amount of positive change we need in this world.

Personally, I am especially energized to listen to Conde Nast 2011 Designer of the Year, Yves Behar speak about Redefining Design. Founder and Chief Designer of fuseprojects, Behar has lead many inspiring projects including One Labtop per Child, underwear designed with compostable packaging, “See Better to Learn Better” and many more. Redefining the way we design products incorporating sustainability in every step of the way is the design of today.

Green Education, Green Jobs, and You

View Rosana Francescato's profile

What's the value of a green education in getting a green job? Here's your chance to find out!


The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Project Management Institute has been holding a series of 3-hour interactive Green Project Management seminars on topics like sustainability at major corporations, case studies on green projects, and even fusion energy. For more, see the PMI SF Bay Area green blog.


Our November seminar, on Saturday the 19th, will cover the importance of green education in getting a green job. It’s crucial for project managers to be familiar with current legislation and how it affects the overall supply chain. As we move toward stricter standards and globalization of products and services, we must be informed about how products are harvested, manufactured, and distributed throughout the globe. Kelle McMahon, CEO of the Green Science Academy, will show us how the landscape of the job market has changed, making project management skills even more valuable -- in fact, vital -- in today’s job market. She will explain how the skills she developed as a project manager helped her build a company that supports the triple bottom line: people, planet, and sustainable profits. Moreover, she will explore how you can transfer your skills to a job in a green industry, as well as showing how green education will differentiate you from other professionals in the marketplace. If you’re thinking of moving into a green job, this workshop will be perfect for you.


To register, go to the PMI registration page


Seminar Series - Details

The Green Project Management Seminar Series is co-sponsored by Keller Graduate School and the Project Management Institute San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. The seminars are held on the third Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon PDT, at Keller Graduate School’s Daly City location. For details and registration information, click here.

A Green MBA Success Story: The Penny Ice Creamery

View Nikki Pava's profile

The Penny Ice Creamery, located in downtown Santa Cruz, is one of the many businesses that have made a huge impact on a local economy and launched by a Green MBA graduate. 


The owners and creative visionaries, Kendra L. Baker and Zachary E. Davis, use sustainably grown local ingredients, such as wild fruits, vegetable, herbs, and even flowers to bring ice cream lovers new flavors with each season. A recent Yelp reviewer states, "Some of the best ice cream in Santa Cruz. The flavors here are very strange, so be open! You can still get a lot of the classics, too." There are reports that there are often lines out the door on nice, sunny days. 


Davis is an alum of the Green MBA and the business plan for The Penny Ice Creamery was his Capstone project before completing the program in 2009. He and Baker secured a loan through the Small Business Administration, funded by federal stimulus funds. Davis had a very unique idea: to thank Obama for the loan with a "THANK YOU" video (it's fun to watch!) instead of a card (his mom must have been proud!). In it, Baker and Davis shared how the loan made it possible to contribute to the local economy through creating jobs and buying goods from other local businesses (when they opened their shop, they hired 11 employees and worked with 20 local businesses). The video got the attention of those at The Huffington Post and the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and was soon after "retweeted" by The White House. 


In what came as a complete surprise, in November 2009, Vice President Joe Biden called Davis to thank him for creating the video and recognizing the Administration for the stimulus package. What was even more thrilling was a call the following January, when the pair was invited to sit in Michelle Obama's chamber during the State of the Union address to the nation.


The journey to Washington DC seems like an incredibly fantastic event to take place during the infancy of a local business! The Penny Ice Creamery is a clear example of the types of companies that are born during (and after) a student's time at the Green MBA. While a trip to Washington DC wasn't a part of Davis' Capstone plan, the entire Green MBA curriculum is designed to support business professionals reach their goals.


Please join us on Tuesday, October 25 in San Francisco for a great speaker and the opportunity to talk directly with Green MBA grads! Register soon and see you there!




Community & Stakeholder Engagement: Your Key to Success

View Nikki Pava's profile

Your customers, investors, employees, investors, community, suppliers, and family.

This is just a short list of the many types of stakeholders that support your company. All stakeholders are important for the progress and prosperity of a business.


Strategic employee engagement is the most effective way to foster successful economic, environmental and social initiatives in a company. Employees are learning more about best practices around sustainability, which in turn helps to save the company money. Companies can support these new ideas to spur innovation that will have a ripple effect with the other stakeholders. When a company focuses attention on the employee stakeholder group, it thrives. 

On Wednesday, September 21, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion entitled, "Community and Stakeholder Engagement: A Sustainable Approach" and will be joined by representatives from B Corporation, The Green Chamber of Commerce, and the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence. We will discuss communities, renewable energy, stakeholder groups, and more. 

The event takes place at the Hotel Palomar from 6:30-8:30. The cost is $30 and food/drink is provided. The first ten people to sign up for the roundtable will gain free entry to EcoTuesday in SF, so register today!

During the roundtable, I will focus on the following: 

Employee Engagement Through Building A Green Team: Your Key To Sustainability

  • Your employees as important stakeholders
  • Tips you can use to get employees enrolled in your company's sustainability intitiatives
  • How strategic initiatives increases motivation and productivity

Please join us this month in cities across the country to meet new business contacts and friends. Our event this month will take place on Tuesday, September 27. We encourage you to register beforehand so that we know you'll be joining us. In San Francisco ten people will have the opportunity to quickly share their "elevator pitch" about their company in supportive environment! We hope to see you at an EcoTuesday this month.

By the way, our November event will be held a week earlier, on November 15. We will not be hosting a December event. the Cloud to Benefit the Environment

View Ivette Torres's profile

Join us this month for an insider’s look into one of the largest growing companies in the world and learn how it focuses on driving sustainability with special guest, Sue Amar, Sustainability Officer at is a true Cinderella story; it began as startup by four people in a small San Francisco apartment a little over ten years ago and now has over $1.3B in annual revenues., with its no software motto, has taken cloud computing to the next level. The simple "software as a service" (Saas) model has launched the company as not only the leader in the cloud space but also in sustainability.

According to its website, promotes its cloud system as “The most efficient model for carbon savings” and they have the numbers to prove it. The company shows a reduction in 95% emissions over on- premise hardware and 65% reduction over “private” clouds. In addition to running a lean green operation through optimization, promotes sustainability through an ethical supply chain: procuring energy-efficient services and equipment, choosing environmentally responsible suppliers, providing green tools for clients, and ensuring all leased and owned IT equipment is responsibly managed at the end of their life.

The enormous task of managing all aspects of sustainability at is handled by Sue Amar, Sustainability Officer, who in 2006 realized the importance of the environment and volunteered to spearhead and promote sustainability within the company. Her hard work has paid off and has been become a leader in sustainability and was recently voted as one of the most ethical companies of 2011 by Etisphere Institute.

This month Sue will discuss “Reducing Carbon Emissions in the Cloud” and focus on the following areas:

  •  Collaboration and best practices
  •  Sustainability Leadership
  •  Reducing IT emissions
  •  Community engagement


We look forward to seeing you on July 26th at the Adobe Offices (601 Townsend, San Francisco. Please remember to register beforehand! Register HERE.

How New Leaf Changed the Paper Industry

View Eric Brown's profile

(This blog post is a wrap up of the San Francisco event on May 24th featuring Jeff Mendelsohn, CEO and Co-Founder of New Leaf Paper)


"The paper industry is one of the most resource intensive industries in the world, and one of the slowest to change."



"The paper industry is one of the most polluting and resource intensive industries in the world. It is responsible for over a third of worldwide timber harvest and over 40% of all landfill waste in the U.S. When New Leaf Paper was founded in 1998, the paper industry had demonstrated a high resistance to change. With low margins, a commoditized international market, and huge capital investment in the status quo, paper companies resisted efforts to integrate sustainable principles into their business practices," said Jeff Mendelsohn, founder of New Leaf Paper.


It was inspiring to hear Jeff Mendelsohn talk about the process of changing the 'stuck-in-its-ways' paper industry into a more sustainable system.  How did New Leaf accomplish this? How did New Leaf survive in a challenging industry and succeed in making positive change.


Prior to New Leaf, Jeff started New York Recycled Paper Company in 1991 and is a pioneer of this industry. Around the same time various other recycled paper companies popped up around the US but all of them disappeared - except for New Leaf. 


What did New Leaf do differently to be successful as a mission driven company within a challenging industry and actually drive change with in it? 


How do you change an industry? 

Jeff says, "There's a lot of barriers and it's challenging. The paper industry is very resistant to change. Paper mills were designed to make paper a certain way for a quarter of a century, non-stop, to make money. To overcome these challenges, New Leaf created a strategic brand strategy. To change an industry, Jeff mentions you have to first present a positive vision for it. Despite the unsustainable ways of the paper industry, New Leaf never pointed fingers at anyone or pointed out how bad they are.  Instead they approached the industry with a "Think and Smile" approach. 


"Think and Smile" came to New Leaf due to the understanding that they would never win on a "commodity tunnel vision scenario." "We need people to think about what they're buying and we need them to smile, due to good design, and good products. A lot of environmental messaging before was 'think and frown', which doesn't get you very far."


Four principles New Leaf used to change the industry

  • Positive vision
  • Partnership up and down the supply chain
  • Transparency
  • Quantifying benefits 

Jeff says that a company has to start with a Vision and ask questions, such as "What would a sustainable paper industry look like?" 


It all boils down to a sustainable design. Designing an industry, designing a process.


What is sustainable design?

Wiki: Sustainable design (also called environmental design, environmentally sustainable design, environmentally conscious design, etc.) is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of economicsocial, and ecological sustainability.


New Leaf created a vision for a perfect sustainable mill and identified existing mills that met this vision. At this time, there where only about 3 or 4 in North America; New Leaf wanted to increase this number. 


New Leaf's goal became to make the mills even greener. "In changing the paper industry, no one is just going to invest in a green mill without researching the markets. Our role was to "seed" markets and create new products in all these different product categories where nothing existed beyond 20 or 30% recycled paper." To do this, New Leaf bumped up the recycled content to 100% and gave it a clean bleaching process. The goal: "Attract demand, attract competitors and then eventually shift mill design."


Jeff discussed, "attracting competitors," which sounded counter-intuitive to me at first. However, it makes sense when your goal is not just for your own personal gain, but for the betterment of humanity and the planet at large. It would be quite difficult for one company to change an entire industry alone. In this instance, attracting "competitors" is also attracts a more sustainable future. New Leaf was then able to sell their vision to their customers and leverage the demand of these huge companies to drive change up through the supply line. 


Bank of America approached New Leaf

B of A wanted to change their letter head to 100% recycled post-consumer paper. New Leaf created their first 100% post consumer letterhead for Bank of America, inspiring most mills in this arena to create competing grades of paper, creating a permanent shift in the market for high-end corporate collateral. 


Book publishing - Harry Potter

In 2001, New Leaf created book paper. In 2003, the company provided the paper for the viral book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," catching the attention of the entire book publishing industry. New Leaf decided not to pursue using book paper in its product line, but is proud of the impact it had on getting larger publishing companies to start using 100% post-consumer paper.


The event last month went well, and we were very lucky to hear about such an inspiring, dynamic company that truly cares about creating change in their industry.

- - -

Prior to meeting Jeff I already owned a New Leaf notebook which I keep on me as an alternative to taking notes on my tiny-keyboard smart phone. When I open the 'made from old milk carton' notebook, on the first page of the notebook are cool facts on the amount of post-consumer waste New Leaf has saved (greenhouse gases, fully grown trees, gallons of water, etc.) A live updated version of these stats are found at the top of their website.


Women in Sustainability

View Nikki Pava's profile

Over the past few years, women have made great strides in all areas of sustainability. For example, women hold key positions in large solar companies, are driving sustainability initiatives in Fortune 500 companies, and have started businesses that have greatly impacted the food industry.

There's still so much more to accomplish!

Learn From Award Winning Creative Agency: Free Range Studios

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San Francisco EcoTuesday will feature Erica Priggen, Executive Producer at Free Range Studios this coming Tuesday. Please join us to learn from a Bay Area award winning creative agency working towards building a more just and sustainable world.

As the head of Free Range's video and entertainment department, Erica Priggen oversees the creative and strategic development of all of the company's video campaigns. With a Master's in Consciousness Studies, she brings a deep study of sustainability and systems thinking to her work, with a concentration on the importance of storytelling and mythology as tools for cultural transformation. Erica is the producer of Free Range's award-winning The Story of Stuff, as well as other hits such as, The Good Life, the Alliance for Climate Education's national high school assembly program, and the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop video series.

The mission of Free Range Studios is to enable their clients to communicate key messages and empower individuals to transform society through the innovative use of digital media, storytelling, graphic design and strategy. They amplify the impact of their work by inspiring others through values-driven business practices.

In addition to having Erica lined up as our fabulous speaker this month, we've got a great venue for networking. We are being generously hosted by Adobe at their San Francisco office located at 601 Townsend. This building is the oldest LEED-certified platinum green building in the world and we'll get a chance to hear a few words from the Adobe Green Team. Plus, both Honest Tea and San Francisco's Haamonii Shochu will be there to pour teas and tea-shochu cocktails.

We get started at 6:30, come join us for some great networking, introduce yourself to a room of professionals, and to learn something new!

RSVP here, $5 online or $10 at the door.

Learn all You Ever Wanted about Green Tea in Less than a Week

View Fenja Blobel's profile

Silicon Valley EcoTuesday will feature Paul Kotta, Owner of Mellow Monk Japanese Green Tea, as our speaker in Palo Alto in less than a week!  Want to learn everything you have ever wanted to learn about green tea, then this event should be perfect for you. Paul Kotta will discuss from field to cup, how green tea is made on artisans’ estates in Japan as well as issues associated with small green tea farms.


As many of you know, green tea is thought to have many benefits. The antioxidants destroy chemicals known as free radicals, which speed up cell death and are believed to be involved in the body aging process. Ever wonder why Japanese elders look so young? Maybe it is due to their cultural green tea drinking.


Mellow Monk’s green tea is thought to contain higher percentage of catechins, antioxidants, due to their tea being produced at independent small tea artisans’ estates. Due to their small size, they harvest only what they can craft into fresh tea that day. If harvested but not immediately produced into tea, oxidation and fermentation occurs that can destroy antioxidants.


Mellow Monk’s tea is made by steaming instead of pan frying. In comparison to frying, this is thought to help preserve more of the disease-fighting antioxidants and keep the tea’s natural earthy flavor.


The green tea family farms are certified under Japan’s Eco-Farmer Program, a voluntary local government program that is monitored by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to promote environmentally responsible farming practices. Mellow Monk is also certified under Co-Op America as a green business as well as a certified green business under the San Francisco Bay Area Green Business Program.


Paul Kotta along with his wife, Akimi Kotta founded Mellow Monk’s Green Teas in 2004.  For more information on Mellow Monk’s Tea go to

Scott Cooney Reflects on Sustainability at Re-Opening Event in Palo Alto

View Fenja Blobel's profile

November, the month of elections, is a great opportunity to discuss the political state. Around this time, most individuals have a strong opinion and you can engage many people in what is happening in the national, state and local level. Scott Cooney, our speaker this month, reflected on sustainability and renewable energy policies during the last two years. Recently, there has been a lot in the news about the green economy, policy, and even in offices, green is a topic of choice. However, some people are still really frustrated on the perceived lack of progress that has happened. Two years ago, people in the green economy were really excited by the prospects of Barack Obama and by the Democratic congress that they would be able to push through some comprehensive climate change regulations and progressive policies to move us towards a clean economy, free of coal and foreign oil.