EcoTuesday Categories

Straight From the Source: Insights From a Summer of Sustainability Networking

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Since May of this year, I've taken on the task of transitioning to a new career in sustainability. In so doing, I’ve taken advantage of every resource available. Needless to say, it's been quite a learning experience. Here, I'd like to share some key insights with those of you in the EcoTuesday community who are in the middle of a job search or interested in transitioning to a new career. I hope you find them helpful wherever you are on your career path!

 

Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated

View Fenja Blobel's profile
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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.

The Future of the Fishing Industry with Casson Trenor of Greenpeace USA

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Many of us enjoy eating fish and going out for sushi.  Whether it's a rock'n'roll, spicy tuna or shrimp tempura roll, we all have a favorite but do you ever wonder how it is caught or if it is sustainable?  With over three quarters of our planet covered by the oceans, it seems impossible for the life in our oceans to be endangered, but sadly it's true.  According to overfishing.org, "80% of the world's fisheries are fully-to-over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse.  We are losing species as well as entire ecosystems and are at risk of losing a valuable food source many depend upon for social, economical or dietary reasons."  These disturbing stats highlight the exploitation of our biggest natural resource on earth and is exactly why Casson Trenor, a world-wide ocean conservationist, has devoted his life to paving a way for change.  Hear more from this global ocean steward at this month’s EcoTuesday event on April 24th. 

 


Casson will reel you in with his perspective on how overfishing has impacted the industry and what all of us can do to help preserve and support environmentally responsible fishing.
 He has worked tirelessly to support our marine resources in all five oceans and countless seas, from saving the whales of the Antarctic to studying the salmon of Alaska.  Casson is a co-founder of North America’s first fully sustainable sushi restaurantsTataki Sushi and author of Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time. He also played a main character in “Sushi: the Global Catch,” a documentary that played at the San Francisco Green Film Festival in March 2012.  

 

Casson currently holds the position of Senior Markets Campaigner with Greenpeace USA, where he spearheads the organization’s efforts to hold restaurants and supermarkets accountable for their seafood sustainability practices and to help educate the public about the global fisheries crisis.  Named by Time magazine 2009 as "Hero of the Environment" and the "Ocean Protection Hero" award by environmental organization, Save Our Shores, Trenor has extensive expertise as an ocean champion.  Learn more about his ocean stewardship and his quest for change on Tuesday, 4/24.  This is an event not to be missed!

 

Register now: EcoTuesday Meetup/ 

$10 with online RSVP, $15 at the door.

Call for Applications: Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards

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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 awards@acterra.org

Accelerate At The Opportunity Green Conference This Week

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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.

A Green MBA Success Story: The Penny Ice Creamery

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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

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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.

Women in Sustainability

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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 350.org, 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

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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 http://mellowmonk.com

Welcome Our Two New SF Ambassadors

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I'm happy to introduce our two new San Francisco EcoTuesday Ambassadors!
 
Jesse Martinez and Jenny Martinez (no relation) have fully stepped up and taken the lead, which has have been a huge help for me in San Francisco as I take a step back (to have a baby) and play a more minor role in organizing the monthly events.
 
Thanks so much to everyone out there for joining me in welcoming the new family members!
 
chau,
Nikki
 
HERE GOES - OUR NEW AMBASSADORS!

Jesse Martinez

Originally from the big state of Texas, Jesse has enjoyed being in San Francisco since 1997. After a few startups and Corporate Life, he currently helps companies minimize or eliminate paper usage through document-driven business process improvement techniques. He is not only passionate about volunteering for great causes (Food Bank, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) but helping other organizations become more “green” through their efforts thru Connect the Dots. As an EcoTuesday Ambassador, his mission is to help facilitate the bringing together of other like passionate individuals so that we can make a difference/impact on this planet in our lifetime.

Jenny Martinez

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have worked as a designer for local technology companies and startups. My specialty is the design of brands, web and interactive tools. I believe design can effect change for the common good. My passion is to work for and partner with organizations who’s goals are to build a more sustainable world.

The Power of Us

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What to do when your scheduled speaker falls ill and can't join us? Turn the 'virtual mic' on ourselves!

We hope Jurriann feels better soon and we do look forward to rescheduling him for an upcoming talk because we love what Ode Magazine is doing. This spontaneous turn of events actually gave us an opportunity to hear more from each other. And what do you know...we have an amazing community so varied and full of creativity. I was struck with the potential we had in the room that night - we are making it possible to green our homes and businesses through renewable energy, zero waste, supporting the local community, serving sustainable food, having a healthy sense of ourselves, healthy indoor and outdoor environments, and are able to create and sell our own sustainable products. Pretty fantastic! Let's help spread the word about these folks. Here is a recap of most everyone we heard from:

Albert Hartman / High Tide
High Tide's products provide on-demand reliable power required for remote geographies, emergency situations, and mass adoption of mobile electronic devices. Check out their bicycle mounted USB charger, RollerGen.

Michael "Merc" Martinelli / Verdafero
Verdafero helps organizations understand, develop, and execute successful sustainability initiatives by  offering consulting and software as a service (SaaS) tools for sustainable business development. Their focus is small and medium enterprises (SME) who want to effectively manage their “Triple Bottom Line” - People / Planet / Profit.

Ingrid Ramsay / Closets Van Go
Closets Van Go and Kitchens Van Go is dedicated to helping you make your home a masterpiece — artistically, affordably and sustainably. They have a mobile showroom and a large variety of green woods and finishes.

Susan Wright / Connect the Dots
Connect the Dots consults exclusively for the nonprofit community to reduce their environmental footprint as they continue to focus on their social missions.

Nicola "Nikki" Ferenz / Gamechanger
GameChanger helps both big and small companies build powerful, breakthrough brands with fast, flexible new approaches to growth and innovation.

Bodhi Vela Cole / Style Consultant
Bodhi believes that everyone’s unique beauty should be celebrated and embraced. Image coaching is a process where your internal world is transcribed into a wardrobe that has you feel your best.

Chris Sofis / Sofistry
Sofisty's primary service offering is centered on Modern Cabana, an eco-fabulous spare room (think art studio, guest room, kids' play room, yoga/exercise studio, massage studio, or brand new office space . . . you get the idea) which will fit in the smallest of San Francisco gardens.

David Nuss / Runka
Runka was born from a concern that all of us share in preserving the planet. The site provides options for purchasing both practical and exotic products that promote recycling and the use of sustainable materials.

Linda Delair / EarthSource
EarthSource's mission is to proliferate the use of FSC-certified, sustainable and environmentally healthy wood products by educating architects, designers, woodworkers and contractors about the cost-efficiency and long-term benefits of specifying such materials for their building plans.

David Callicott / GoodLight
All GoodLight Natural Candles are paraffin-free, non-toxic, clean burning, 100% palm wax that contains no additives or blends, and use cotton wicks containing no lead or zinc or other metals. GoodLight works with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and GreenPalm organizations pioneering sustainability in palm farming.

Matt Carreira / I Love Blue Sea
I Love Blue Sea sells the largest selection of only sustainable seafood that is sushi-quality fresh at the best prices. The fish is filleted right before it ships to you. The next day it's delivered to your doorstep in all eco-friendly packaging.

Evan Wynns / The San Francisco Energy Cooperative

The San Francisco Energy Cooperative is a consumer owned cooperative corporation dedicated to providing ownership of renewable energy production to anyone who is interested in investing in our energy future and wishes to have a hand in its growth.

Can the Poultry Industry Be Sustainable?

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Join us next Tuesday, September 28th to find out as we welcome Paul Helgeson, Sustainability Manager at Minnesota's own Gold 'n Plump Poultry. (www.goldnplump.com

Paul will be speaking to the group on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Gold'n Plump has recently completed an LCA for its "Just BARE" products. Completing the LCA has clarified the opportunities for Gold'n Plump to use sustainability to gain a competitive advantage. His 15 minute presentation will cover the basics of life cycle assessments, as well as the benefits of going green. This is cutting edge stuff - you don't want to miss it. Come - and bring friends!

For more information and to sign up, visit: www.meetup.com/minneapolis-ecotuesday

September's Speaker in SF: Jurriann Kamp, Founder of Ode Magazine

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We are thrilled to have Jurriaan Kamp, the founder of Ode Magazine, as our speaker in San Francisco this month. Kamp will discuss his thoughts on the power and need for optimism and solutions in ourJurriann Kampcurrent world, the role of media and specifically Ode in making a positive impact needed to create a sustainable world.

 

Ode’s mission is to publish stories about the people and ideas that are making a difference. The magazine for “intelligent optimists,” Ode reports on positive news in the areas of health, science, spirit, life, energy and business. Odemagazine.com is a vibrant community that connects readers from around the globe.

 

Jurriaan Kamp founded Ode Magazine in The Netherlands in 1995 with his wife, Helene de Puy. The magazine continues to thrive there and in 2007, Ode Magazine’s U.S. offices opened in the Bay Area.

 

Before founding Ode, Kamp was an editor, correspondent in South Asia and Chief Economics Editor at the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He is the author of Small Change: How Fifty Dollars Changes the World and Because People Matter. Ode Magazine in the Netherlands recently published its 100th issue.

 

Please join us on Tuesday, September 28th for this amazing opportunity.  To register for the event, click here.

 

Bring More Sustainability To Your Life

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A key component of sustainability is building relationships. We can all get caught up working in front of our computers for days on end, without leaving our office to have face-to-face interactions with others. True sustainability is based on shared experiences that occur over a long span of time. Here are two suggestions on how you can bring this into your life:

  • Participate in "Hands Across the Sand" on Saturday, June 26th. This is an event created by 350.org to bring people across the country together to take a stand against offshore drilling.
  • Start an EcoTuesday in your city! It's a great way to bring like-minded people together on a consistent basis. You can be an Ambassador if your city doesn't already have an event (or check in with your Ambassador if you'd just like to help! We love volunteers.).


Another component of sustainability is constant learning: learning about new technologies, new policy, new ideas, and new trends (to name a few!). Our friends at Triple Pundit and the ISOS Group are hosting a GRI Sustainability Reporting Certification Course next month. This is a very hands-on course that will truly add value to your career. Let us know if you sign up!