Strategic Sustainability Consulting provides organizations with the tools and expertise they need to actively manage their social and environmental impacts. We offer green auditing, sustainability assessment, carbon footprinting, sustainability reporting, life cycle analysis, and sustainability strategy development services.
We know you may not always have the time or resources to attend industry conferences or meetings, but thanks to webcasts it’s possible to stay on top of major issues in the industry from our office or our living room. This webcast from GreenBiz covers the combination of concerns regarding plastic waste, the emergence of the circular economy, and the blossoming of advanced, environmentally friendly materials is changing how manufacturers and brands are thinking about packaging.
Topics covered include:
current business strategies in regards to circular packaging
the individuals and external pressures that are driving companies to make changes
expansion of alternative packing materials and styles
We know that the world is in trouble due to our obscene use of plastic, but maybe it’s time to find a different narrative to drive change. A key concept in the sustainability world is the idea of circularity — minimizing waste and maximizing resources. And as we watch our world get more and more and more cluttered with waste, it’s clear that a change is beyond necessary.
But seeing the ocean filled with plastic, sea turtles tangled in can lids and other tragic visions of how we are failing to care for our planet may have been over used. Yes, they inspire a reaction, but do they inspire action? It’s time to consider that a doom and gloom narrative may not be the only — or the best —way to drive change.
Other efforts seem to be gaining traction and, perhaps, making a greater impact on those who experience them. Take San Francisco-based artist Ben Von Wong who has embraced a different approach to exploring circularity through images and videos. His approach combines photography and fantasy, bringing to life what many may consider tedious stats about microfibers, e-waste and apparel through intricate designs with a huge impact.
Some recent installations express how much of an item one person is likely to use in their lifetime, such as the world’s tallest closet in the Mall of Arabia in Cairo which showcased the average pieces of clothing that someone in the a developed world is likely to wear during their life — 3,000 items. Or last year’s project in conjunction with Dell highlighting the company’s e-waste recycling program and, hopefully, inspiring a growth in e-waste recycling. The final product? A series of photographs capturing an out-of-this-world landscape that Von Wong and a team of 50 volunteers constructed using 4,100 pounds of e-waste, approximately the amount an American might use in their lifetime.
And with so much focus on transitioning away from single use plastic straws, Von Wong’s Strawpocalypse was made out of 168,000 drinking straws recovered from the streets of Vietnam.
With works like this, Von Wong is hoping to inspire action, not just feeling. It’s time to stop focusing on the breadth of impact and instead focus on the depth of impact so we can see some real change.
We try to post a new blog at least once a week, just to share our insights into the world of sustainability strategy and what it takes to be a sustainability consultant or professional today. Here are our most-read posts from June.
Majd Mashharawi, the CEO Of GreenCake, had an incredible idea while walking through her war-torn neighborhood in Gaza: what if she could she take the rubble and use it create a material for building? In this TEDtalk, she discusses designing a strong, low cost brick made out of ashes that can help people rebuild their homes. She also shares details about another incredible project she developed — an off the grid solar kit called SunBox that was created to bring light to families living in darkness via solar power.
Lux Research, an independent research and advisory firm, went after the two tech giants for using tools that make broad generalizations about power production in the regions where Google and Amazon have large data facilities – reporting that the two companies may be underestimating their carbon footprints by 42,000 MT CO2e per year and 85,000 MT CO2e per year, respectively.
What is important to note here is: the world of sustainability tools out there is rapidly moving. What you report today can be disputed tomorrow as new analytical tools, calculators, and data sets are developed.
It’s not that eGRID is a terrible tool, or that Lux has built a surefire new solution, it’s more about choosing the right tool, at the right time, and at the right level of detail for your individual case.
Not every company needs a power-plant-by-power-plant analysis of its power sourcing, as the cost of a microscopic look at GHG emissions in this area may outweigh the overall variation in results. In other words, for many companies, the eGRID analysis would be absolutely acceptable based on moderate use of electricity in a given area as the overall data is within an acceptable margin of error.
However, power-intense companies like Google and Amazing, using vast amounts of energy, should absolutely be looking for the most refined and detailed tool to analyze power use impact. Being off by just a small percentage can represent tens of thousands of tons of CO2 being left un-reported, and more accurate data should help inform locations of future data centers to optimize clean power use.
If an organization is new to sustainability reporting, GHG calculating or meeting industry standards for environmental data, it is highly unlikely that that organization is going to be able to navigate these ever-changing waters without help.
Partnering with an experienced consulting firm like SSC, with the background knowledge and experience, to choose the best-fit reporting tool for every individual case is critical. Contact us today to talk about your carbon footprint analysis.
Don’t miss your chance to participate in GreenBiz’s upcoming webcast Decarbonizing E-Commerce: A Path to Low-Carbon Shipping. Learn about how corporate sustainability leaders, shipping partners, policy makers and tech companies are making it easier to analyze and reduce the carbon footprint of shipping on June 11. Register now so you don’t forget to tune in!
About the speaker: Jill Farrant is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. She researches resurrection plants plants that can survive extreme drought, “resurrecting” when moistened or irrigated.
About the talk: Farrant believes that if we can better understand the natural preservation mechanisms of “resurrection plants,” we could better understand and develop more drought-tolerant crops to feed populations in increasingly dry and arid climates around the world.
There is no doubt that we have all spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to track information and pull together sustainability reports. But when it comes down to it, is the end result actually helping anyone?
A recent piece on Eco Business suggested that sustainability reports are basically useless. Research by GlobeScan found that investors believe only 10% of information in sustainability reports is useful and author John Pabon thinks that reporting is basically an “ineffective, bloated, dead system.” Although reporting has added a level of transparency via tables of data and statistics— what is this getting us?
Teams put a ton of work put into creating sustainability reports, but if very few people actually read them are having any meaningful impact on creating change? Pabon says no. But he also notes that reporting continues to be necessary to please government entities and boards. In order to meet their needs, he suggests providing just enough information in reports to satisfy these stakeholders, while focusing the majority of a team’s resources toward an effort that will actually make sense to a broader audience.
Pabon believes that there is a better way to do this than through a traditional, old-fashioned report. He refers to this new (shorter) method as a next-generation sustainability report.
These documents will:
Put the stakeholder first. While each stakeholder is looking for a something unique it makes sense to have a tailor-made approach to reporting. Companies are creating separate reports that address the specific needs of a particular groups.
Tell a story. This style of reporting is different. It is a piece that tells stories to actually interest the reader. This means that whatever the effort (printed/digital), it will need to be more visually appealing and less data-driven.
Be succinct. No one needs a 300-page report. No one is likely to read all that. Instead a next-generation reports might be just a few pages or may convey the data in a completely different way like through a digital video or a brochure. Be creative!
The take away from this research is to focus on what will be an effective way of communicating successes and educating stakeholders about progress or hurdles in the process. It’s time to re-evaluate our traditional method of reporting and see what will actually have an impact without wasting valuable time.
We try to post a new blog at least once a week, just to share our insights into the world of sustainability strategy and what it takes to be a sustainability consultant or professional today. Here are our most-read posts from May.
Olivia Tyler as been a sustainability practitioner for 17 years’ and her biggest goal is to work herself out of a job. In this talk she explores how people don’t know where everything they buy comes from. Listen as Tyler highlights how overwhelming the challenges are that companies face when they are trying to enforce sustainability across their supply chains.