Social responsibility, environmental sustainability, and the philosophy of conscious capitalism have made headways over that last decade. Why?
We all know that there are huge problems to solve which are not being effectively addressed by world governments.
The publicization of corporate scandals and the transparency of social media has made us all aware that we need to take responsibility for our planet, the people (all of us) and our financial health. Companies are stepping in to solve these problems. And these are the companies that are going to be around for the long game.
But what you might not be aware of is that socially conscious investing can be also quite profitable. And with its rise in popularity has come an increase in opportunities that make impact investing easy for everyone (not just accredited investors!)
So, if you are interested in changing the world while changing your financial future, give socially responsible investing a look. Techbullion has some beginner tips that will help you better define your strategy.
There are many factors involved. And most of them have to do with the global supply chain.
Think about it. Produce and proteins have to travel many miles before making it to a store, and eventually to your plate. One third of all the food produced never makes it to your plate. This food waste costs the grocery business 18 billion per year.
Enter startups focused on solving global food supply chain problems. They are working on a variety of solutions. From oxygen-monitoring sensors inside freight containers to plant-based preservative formulas.
Preserving food through its journey from source to fork can help battle extensive food waste.
A faculty member asked the university to divest from companies that make military-style assault rifles. The Yale investing community agreed, sort of. They decided not to invest in traditional retail distributors or promoters and dealers who sell assault weapons at gun shows.
Yale is taking a position that there is a distinction between retail distributors and manufacturers. They still believe that assault weapons ?may be used for sanctioned purposes by the military and law enforcement.? Therefore, they won?t be divesting from the source of assault weapons, only from some of the weapon?s retailers.
Yale is committed to research, scholarship and education for the betterment of the world; this requires an environment in which teachers and students are free from gun violence and the fear of gun violence. – Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility
The new policy apparently won?t cause Yale to sell any of its current holdings.
Companies, and activists generally use the word ?sustainable? in reference to environmental issues. However, more companies are now also addressing social issues in their environmental sustainability programs because they are realizing how interrelated they are.
Examples of sustainability initiatives include:
Developing sustainable products and services
Creating positions like Chief Sustainability Officer
Publishing sustainability reports
The greatest realization brands must make is that sustainability goes beyond caring for the environment.
88% of business school students believe that environmental and social issues are priorities in business. An increasing number of first-time entrepreneurs are building their companies around environmental protection. This has led to the rise of promising startups that focus on durable, eco-friendly and recycled products.
Consumer studies indicate that today?s consumers support corporate activism and are more likely to spend a bit more on a sustainable brand.
The greatest realization brands must make is that sustainability goes beyond caring for the environment.
Sustainability involves three major aspects — environmental, economic and social — each of which must be taken into consideration for a true sustainability strategy.
Anheuser-Busch invites innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, and anyone with a passion for building a more sustainablefuture, to apply to its new 100+ Accelerator program. The program seeks to bring together creative minds from across the country to tackle some of the most pressing global sustainability issues.
The issues have been grouped into 10 specific challenges, developed with input from internal and independent experts around the world.
Agriculture science is rapidly advancing yet many growers do not have access to that technology. How can we protect crops from disease and pests and how can we use technology to ensure zero waste occurs in the sorting of malt barley?
What are the cutting-edge renewable energy solutions for farms, how can technology be used to monitor energy and increase efficiency and what new solutions are there for removing carbon from the atmosphere?
How can we effectively disseminate knowledge and transfer technology throughout the small businesses in our supply chain? How can we promote economic productivity through digital training and financial inclusion?
How can our company improve its working environment to make it more focused on recycling, conserving water, and travelling more efficiently?
Individuals or startups can submit their solutions to any of the ten challenges, with successful applicants to receive funding and other support including access to new networks and mentorship. Application forms and more details are available on the 100+ Accelerator website. The deadline for submissions is 12:00AM PST, September 14, 2018 .
The Sweetbridge Alliance has been around since 2003. It is a group of small and large organizations and educational institutions working towards optimizing a sustainable supply chain ecosystem to help meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Global Goals set by the UN.
Blockchain-focused organization ixo have joined the Sweetbridge Alliance with a common aim for increased financial sustainability. Ixo?s mission is to build a trusted global information network that is owned by everyone, enabling anyone to become the creators of their own impact projects and stakeholders in other the projects they believe in.
Anyone should have the opportunity to participate in the fast-growing impact economy, to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that no person gets left behind. – Dr Shaun Conway, president and founder of the ixo Foundation
The implementation of ixo?s protocols will initially allow Sweetbridge to verify impacts relating to supply of capital, goods and services. This will eventually lead to the development of Sweetbridge?s cryptocurrency token, Bridgecoin (BRC), which would see these projects receiving low-cost loans.
We have long supported the Triple Bottom Line approach of using data and decentralised technologies to drive better outcomes through supply chains, not just for improving financial performance and reducing costs, but ensuring sustainable environmental practices and supporting the health and welfare of all workers and society in general. – Mac McGary, President of the Sweetbridge Alliance Network
Plastic waste is piling up in the streets and city councilors in India have come up with a solution.? They’ve asked school children to round up plastic packaging, and mail it back to the manufacturers.
Students from one middle school in the port city of?Thoothukudi collected, sorted, and mailed more than 20,000 packaged food wrappers?back to the companies who manufactured them in less than two weeks.
More than 50% of the wrappers came from a company called?Britannia?(owned primarily by Nabisco) which makes biscuits, bread and cakes.
Along with the wrappers, the students sent a letter:
?We are happy with the taste and quality of your products, but unhappy with the plastic packaging. We want to ensure a safe environment for our future generations and minimize our plastic footprint. We have decided to collect used plastic wrappers of your products and send them to you for safe disposal. Please help us savor your products without guilt, by introducing eco-friendly packaging.?
The companies also received a letter from Thoothukudi commissioner reminding them of a 2016 law which states that producers, importers and brand owners are responsible for collecting plastic waste left by their products, not municipalities. He has given them two months to come up with a plan to clean up their own mess.
Our planet needs some love. Fashion. Fast fashion, to be exact, is hurting our planet and the people in it. The fashion industry is the second dirtiest in the world, next to oil & gas. The good news? More and more people are now choosing sustainable clothing options. We’re beginning to realize that fast fashion becomes fast trash.
Fifty Seasons a Year (srly?)
Whether it?s high-waisted jean shorts, two-piece pant suits, or pineapple print button down, trends seem to cycle in and out weekly. Styles, colors, and prints are marketed and changed every season. What’s more, the fashion industry isn’t limited to four seasons. The need to stay competitive has led to fashion micro-seasons that number?50-100 a year. People have become conditioned to believe that they must wear the latest trend and that clothing is disposable.
The average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but kept them half as long. ~McKinsey & Company
The Spell of Convenience
As a 23 year old woman, I can understand what’s driving this trend. Just recently I bought a new pair of shorts from one of the many fast fashion stores. I remember thinking, “these probably won’t last long but it doesn?t matter because they’ll be out of style before they fall apart.” I realize this is a terrible mentality. And yet, it’s what happens when we’re looking for convenience. It’s also explains why fast fashion impacts our planet to such a high degree.?Every purchase and disposal of clothing is a burden on our planet’s resources.
Fashion + Commerce
Fashion existed long before commerce did, and satisfies deep human needs; a sense of self and sense of belonging or differentiating oneself from a group. At its root fashion is not unsustainable. Rather, it’s our current way of pursuing commerce, which is unsustainable. ~Lynda Grose,Fashion Isn’t the Problem, the Industry Needs to Change
In order to better align the beauty and artistry of fashion with everyday commerce, we must first understand the impact of the fast fashion life cycle.
Fast Fashion: A Look Behind the Curtain
Here’s an example of the journey our clothes make before they end up in our closet.
The fast fashion supply chain. At every stage there exists extraction and pollution of our natural resources.
There are many steps involved in the process that lead to fast fashion’s impact on the planet. Starting with raw materials, clothing dye, textile manufacturing, clothing construction, shipping, retail, use and disposal, the fashion industry creates a large footprint from beginning to end. Pesticides to grow the cotton, toxic dyes, transportation
pollution, water and the eventual discarding of the clothes add to the impact.
1. What it Takes to Grow Raw Materials
Cotton and polyester are the two most used fibers in fashion. Polyester is made by chemical reaction involving coal, air, water and petroleum. This process uses a large amount of energy, usually supplied by petroleum or coal.
A study performed by MIT estimated that polyester production releases 706 billion kgs of green house gases every year, equal to 185 coal plant?emissions.
Cotton, the most common natural fiber, makes up?33% of the fibers in textile industry. It has a huge environmental footprint as it requires higher levels of pesticides and water. With the high demand for cotton, Ukraine has already started to experience issues from the large amount of water needed to grow it.
The Aral Sea water levels are 10% of what they were 50 years ago due to rivers having been diverted for irrigation. China, India, USA, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Brazil are also textile supply chain countries with regions of high water stress.
2. Clothing Dye: Sending it Down River
Many of the dyes made for the clothing industry leads to the dumping of chemicals into nearby rivers. Dye run off often contains many heavy metals and chemicals harmful to aquatic life and people living down river. New technologies have been invented to mitigate this impact but they are expensive. Many of these locations are in poor areas and these new technologies aren’t a realistic solution. With sizable textile factories lining its shores, Indonesia’s Citarum River has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world. It is an open sewer containing lead, mercury, arsenic and a host of other toxins.
3. Textile Factories: Time to Look at Waste and Safety
Textile factors are often detrimental to both the environment and the locals who work there. Excess fabric is a byproduct of pattern cutting and it creates significant waste. Same goes for high water usage and chemical waste involved in the manufacturing process. Think about the shirt you are wearing. If your shirt was cut from a square of fabric, think about how much extra fabric is left over. It is cheaper for factories to throw away excess fabric than it is for them to maximize use.
The increased demand for cheap, fast fashion as resulted in more and more factories opening in developing?countries. Young women 18-24 primarily work at these factories, making as little as $3 a day. These sweat shops are hire underage workers for long hours, low pay, and horrible conditions. The death of over 1,000 workers in Bangladesh 5 years ago,?caused by the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building, drove the government to?shut-down 18 garment factories over growing safety concerns.
4. Transport: Your Clothes Are World Travelers
When is the last time you bought something that was ?made in the USA?? With more than 60% of clothing?manufactured in developing countries, our clothes are already world travelers before they reach retailers. As regulation and costs continue to rise, many clothing companies look to move operations overseas. Not only can they pay workers pennies to the ?dollar compared to wages in the USA, but they can also skirt around the limited or non-existent environmental regulations.
A single large container ship can emit cancer and asthma-causing pollutants equivalent to that of 50 million cars. ~The Guardian
Plane, train, boat, truck and arriving packed in plastic, these clothing items have a huge a environmental footprint before they even reach your local retail store.
5. Retailers: Viva la Plastic
I’ve worked in retail and have seen firsthand how clothes arrive at the store. Items are individually packaged in plastic, as if each needed a hazmat suit to protect it from the plague. Every time we stocked our shelves, we were left with at least three trash bags full of plastic. My store was small, so this only happened 3 times a week. On top of it, we give you a bag to take home. Think about that. These clothes arrive in a bag. We throw out that bag. Then we give you a new bag to take with you. It’s easy to see why so much waste is created before we even ware the clothes!
6. Second Hand: Show the Love
Since fashion styles are constantly changing, clothes aren?t designed to last long. That means clothing doesn’t make it to second hand locations. Only about 20% of used clothes end up being sold in second hand retailers.?The rest end up stacked?in landfills. American send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year.
When you buy something old and previously-loved, you’re extending its lifespan and reducing its carbon footprint. ~Emily Farra, editor Vogue
What Can You Do?
What to hear something great? The tips and tricks included below will not only help our planet, they will help your wallet, too. Here are a few ways you can do well for yourself and do good for our planet. Go green and get rich!
Kick the fast fashion habit. Instead of buying a bunch of poorly made cheap and disposable clothes, invest in some well made long lasting classic pieces. Become aware of the clothing brand’s ethos. Are they just in it for the profit? Are they fair trade? Do they protect the environment or pollute it?? Support those companies that focus on sustainable manufacturing and are not only taking steps to limit their environmental impact but also support the well being of their workers.
Join the second hand clothing trend. In the past 5 years, used clothing purchasers have increased from 11% to 24% and the trend continues to grow. As??77%?of millennials prefer to buy from environmentally-
conscious brands, they are leading the thrift trends. Everyday we see?more and more options to buy second hand, from local consignment shops to online thrift stores.
Buying a used garment extends its life on average by 2.2 years which reduces carbon, waste and water footprint by 73%. ~ThredUp
I tried ThreadUp and was happy with the quality and large variety. Here’s a picture of a sports bra and top I bought for 70% off retail!
The good news? Brands are waking up. At the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2017, the Global Fashion Agenda called on fashion?brands and retailers to sign a commitment to accelerate the transition to a?circular fashion system.? The system looks at 4 action points:
Implement design strategies for cyclability.
Increase the volume of used garments collected.
Increase the volume of used garments resold.
Increase the share of garments made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres.
After just one year, 93 companies, representing 207 brands and 12% of the global fashion market, have committed to set a target for 2020 on one or more of the four action points.
4. Take Baby Steps + Shop With Your Heart
Because we’ve made our voices heard, companies are stepping up. Now is your chance to support companies that are working toward aligning fashion with commerce. Here are a few final tips:
Don’t get sucked into fast fashion.
Buy for beauty, authenticity and longevity. Our clothes should last.
Ryan Lewis is just getting started.Last we spoke with the CEO of EarthHero, they had just launched their eco-friendly marketplace in time for the holidays.
Since then, they have expanded to over 60 brands and 1,000 products and expanded their community to over 20,000 members.
The Boulder start-up is now ready to bring their highly curated list of sustainable brands to a larger audience.?Much of their growth is due to their expanded presence online. ?The biggest change: they?ve gotten to know their customers a lot better.
?Much of our initial outreach focused on HOW we?re helping solve the sustainability problem by curating high quality, eco-friendly products.
However, we?ve realized our mission faces several challenges, and by people who care and want change. ?Which brands to trust? Which products create real impact, and what does that mean? Or, where to even start!? They are also expanding to Instagram and Pinterest. ?We want to hang out where our customers are hanging out.”
What problems is EarthHero solving?
Helping People and Planet
?People care. There is a growing population of people that care about the problems we are causing the planet. From ocean pollution, to greenhouse emissions, to natural resource depletion and animal rights, the list is endless.? ?
EarthHero gives back to charity in various ways. They are a proud member of 1% for the Planet.
One thing everyone can agree on: ?we collectively create a lot of trash and it just doesn?t feel right. There?s a better way. And small changes are easy to implement. We?ll get there. As a community, we?re accelerating the impact of living more sustainably.? ?
EarthHero?s specialty is in promoting brands that use sustainable materials, treat their employees well, and give back to their communities. They want to make conscious shopping easy for everyone.
Addressing Shopper Fatigue
Lewis believes there?s also good amount of shopper fatigue. Shopping has become commoditized. There are thousands of choices, no relationship between the consumer and what they are buying, no connection to the impact of that purchase.
All of this ?adds to the hollow and chaotic feeling of having all of this stuff in our lives. On the other hand, shopping mindfully leads to good relationships with the things in your life. And that just feels better?, says Lewis.
What we don’t know about the stuff we buy
Ryan Lewis knows there are challenges. For example, most people don’t realize that the apparel industry is the second most polluting industry, after oil and gas. Even in Boulder, much of what is consumed and thrown away is out of sight, out of mind. Every time we accept individually wrapped samples, or buy that 10th pair of shoes, we don?t think about the manufacturing process and the impact it has on the environment.
CEO Ryan Lewis at the EarthHero warehouse.
?It?s hard for people to know about the ways in which all the stuff is created in our lives and the impact to Mother Nature.
But this message is buried by the overwhelming marketing of big brands telling us we need to buy more and upgrade everything. I love talking about a different way. We can do better.?
So how does the team at EarthHero plan to do this? One way is to give people lifestyle roadmaps and guides to more conscious and mindful ways of thinking. And start small. For example, start with one-time use items. Step 1: take the items in your life that you use one time and then throw away. Can you replace them with something else? None of us need to buy more plastic water bottles. And if you wrap your sandwich in aluminum foil, there are products that are re-usable and compostable.
Customers trust EarthHero’s vetting process
EarthHero?s customers trust the curation of good brands. Every time the EarthHero team onboards a new vendor, customers are raising their hand to support these brands. This is because customers know and appreciate EarthHero?s vetting process. ?Our community trusts us to make great decisions as we look for the best possible products available. We love product launches and our customers do too?, says Lewis. EarthHero has a proprietary and stringent process for determining which brands to allow into their marketplace. ?There are Planet, People and Give Back requirements for all vendors.
Refining the selection process has taken a lot of conversations. ?It?s getting more and more detailed. We listen to every piece of customer feedback?, says Lewis. For example, people don?t like the plastic that?s included in the apparel that is shipped. Some of that plastic is made from recycled plastic, but EarthHero is pushing their vendors to move to zero plastic. A nice side effect of their selection process: vendors are starting to lean on EarthHero for their expertise in packaging practices. While they can?t yet offer products that are 100% sustainable, their goal is to accelerate the movement to help us get there as quickly as possible.
Launching a sustainable business? Keep this in mind.
More and more start-ups are looking to work sustainability into their business practices. Here are Lewis? top suggestions for up-and-coming social entrepreneurs:
Stay true to your mission. Be really clear who you are and why you?re doing it.
Remember that it takes time and timing. ??I oscillate between patience and persistence ? I mess things up when I get this wrong.?
Be open to, but careful with advice. People will influence, challenge and support what you?re doing.?Listen, and apply if it helps you move your mission forward.?
Listen to your customers. ?When you have an idea and you build the thing, as soon as you put it out there, you?ll get feedback. Be open to that feedback. Be ready to adjust.?
Don?t pivot for the sake of pivoting. Really get to know the customers you?re trying to serve and the problem you?re trying to solve. If there?s a different method for accomplishing that goal without doing an overhaul, figure it out.
?We didn?t get all of these things exactly right and we?re still figuring it out. But every day we are learning.?
In five years, Lewis and his team at EarthHero want to help accelerate the movement so it becomes normal.?
?Every time someone swipes or inserts their credit card, we want them to ask themselves: what?s the impact of my purchase? Am I investing in companies doing good, or not?
We want to help people make these conscious decisions the path of least resistance, the easiest way to shop,?as we shift to a more mindful consumer culture.
People don?t compromise on a mass scale, nor should they be expected to, so we aim to create an exceptional experience.”
Why sustainable shopping fits your budget
Would you like to purchase sustainable products but feel it is out of your price range? According to Lewis,??When you become more mindful about the things you buy, you buy less.?
In other words, do we really need all of those pairs of jeans? Or would a couple of high quality pairs from a sustainably sourced manufacturer be better? Sounds like a sensible approach to us!
Plus, over time, you will end up spending less when you purchase reusable products. Think about the cost (to your wallet and the planet) of all those plastic water bottles and sandwich bags. If you replaced these with multi-use products, you’ll save money?and our planet.?
Special offer for WellWallet readers
EarthHero is giving WellWallet readers$20 toward their first order. Check out their unique gifts under $50. Here are a few ideas for great products that support our planet:
Travel backpacks, wallets, phone cases
?and 1K more ideas
Put your money where your heart is. Shop with intention and feel good about how your money moves in the world.