As we head into the dog days of summer and gear up for pool parties, picnics, and barbecues, we thought it would be useful to look back on what we learned from our annual Day Without Waste and consider how to have summer fun while avoiding unnecessary waste.
An important annual report by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment, continues to identify significant risk to human security from increasing climate change, particulate pollution, and water scarcity in 2018.
April is Earth Month and April 22nd is Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution. Have you made plans to take notice of your social responsibility this month or participate in Earth Day activities? This year, more than one billion people will be celebrating the 48th anniversary of a global event said to have kicked off the modern environmental movement, with 2018’s theme bringing awareness to the current and future dangers of plastic pollution. Finding time to give back to the environment through Earth Day not only impacts the environment, but also helps individuals reconnect with nature and business teams better connect with each other.
More than ten years ago, actuaries started talking in earnest about changing predictive models to account for climate change. From this, the Index, which is based on analysis of neutral, scientific data, was born.
Scientists from 13 federal agencies finished drafting the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) in January. As a part of a special science section of the National Climate Assessment, the report details evidence on human involvement in climate change.
As a global sustainability leader in the textile industry, Textile Exchange is again proving its commitment to driving transformation with updated and improved recycling standards. Raising the standard in chain of custody tracking with RCS 2.0 and encouraging innovation in reclaimed materials with GRS 4.0, Textile Exchange reminds us that sustainability is an ongoing process of continuous improvement.
Buildings have a powerful influence on health because we humans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Recently, researchers from Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment worked with leading academic institutions to study how green buildings affect health and cognitive function. The study, funded by United Technologies, was designed to simulate indoor environmental quality conditions in both green and conventional buildings to assess the impacts on human health and cognitive function. The implications of this study are significant. We can improve worker productivity and safety, student learning, and patient healing by implementing better indoor air quality and ventilation.
Last month, our company celebrated A Day Without Waste. This event, now in its 4th year, encourages us to be more aware of our daily habits, and to apply some mindfulness and creativity to the choices we make each day. By now, many of us here at Sustrana are experienced in the art of a day-long zero waste challenge. We push the boundaries of our already impressive reduce-reuse-recycle game, which includes composting our Q-tips, packing snacks in reusable containers, cooking for our company potluck from scratch, and much more. We’ve even indoctrinated our newest team members to embrace the quest for zero waste.
But despite our best efforts, we all encountered barriers beyond our control – limited consumer options, antiquated recycling systems, pushback from our own families and yes, even mother nature. The day had its frustrations and left us wondering: How much impact can we have as individuals if the system itself perpetuates waste?
Daily at the Sustrana office, we take recycling seriously, very seriously. However, recycling and our other routine approaches to sustainability will pale in comparison to the level of attention that we happily bring to waste management on Tuesday, April 18 in our celebration of Sustrana’s 4th annual A Day Without Waste, part of our observance of Earth Week 2017.
Campus sustainability is no longer limited to recycling and lighting retrofits. Today, many colleges and universities are leading the way by designing whole-system approaches and innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues. These cutting-edge innovations serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved on a larger scale.
The strengthening scientific consensus on the causes of global warming, the accumulating negative impacts from an already changing climate in many regions, and the improved models to forecast dire climate change and sea-level rise in the not-so-distant future, have all contributed to the international community hitting a new high in its level of consensus in 2016. Where will the critical leadership come from?
In just 15 years we will have a 40% deficit of global fresh water. Industrial demand for water is expected to increase 400% by 2050. This means that all industries need to be focused on how they can conserve water resources. The textile/apparel industry has significant water needs if it is to produce the 400 billion square meters of fabric used annually for clothing. Conservation and technology are helping to make production more sustainable.
A growing body of data documents an alarming decline in wildlife abundance around the globe. The measured decline in vertebrate abundance does not occur in a vacuum. Food webs and other myriad interactions that unite vertebrates to the unknown numbers of insects, fungi, and bacteria in any ecosystem suggest a decline in biodiversity across the spectrum of life on Earth. This is a business problem because the ecosystem services that the Earth provides humanity in general, and businesses specifically, are supported by an abundant, healthy, diverse base of life. A sustainability manager’s mandate is to help an employer thrive in a changing environment.
When it comes to a company’s environmental footprint, managing waste streams can seem like one of the larger headaches. Sure, there are bound to be “quick win” projects to eliminate inefficiencies around an office – like eliminating the cover sheet from print jobs, or replacing those Styrofoam water cups with reusable glasses. But when it comes to creating a comprehensive waste management plan, you need a baseline to work from, and that’s where the real fun begins.
It’s that time of year again: conference season. If you’re attending a conference this year, you are among the 225 million people attending more than 1.8 million events in the U.S. Businesses spend about $565 billion on hosting, attending, and exhibiting at industry-related conferences. Promotional product giveaways cost businesses $20 billion a year. There are some businesses that are giving this more thought and greening the conference giveaway.
For a successful sustainability program, companies need to be able to wrap their heads around environmental impacts to see where the biggest opportunities for improvements are. We've blogged before about how carbon accounting may be easier than one would think, but this is just one facet of a complete environmental footprint. A company's waste and water are also important to track, especially as customers and the public increase on businesses to report this information.
Though there may have been controversy surrounding the cleanliness of Brazil's waters for this summer Olympics, the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony revolved entirely around the idea of environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Let's face it, most of us don't give a second thought to ordering shoes in two sizes and returning the one we don't want. Imaging the amount of products that are ending up back in the hands of the retailer. Managing these returns is a very complicated process, and in fact, it's also an environmental burden. That's because sometimes it's more economical for a retailer to just throw away perfectly good items.
After months of negotiation, the EU reached a pioneering agreement on conflict minerals. Conflict minerals are minerals that are financing conflict in high-risk areas. Their extraction is often associated with human rights abuses such as child labor. They include tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold and are known as the "3 TGs." These minerals are in our smartphones, laptops, microwaves, and more.