Tag: Sustainability

6 Reasons Why You Should Support Local Business

Why You Should Support Local Business

The Power of the Consumer

Being a consumer puts you in a position of power. Each purchase you make throughout the day is, in effect, a vote for what you deem the best. When voting with your dollar, you are supporting a business, whether good or bad. A conscientious consumer thinks about the social and environmental aspects of any product or service before they choose to use it.?A wise consumer supports businesses that are doing more than just making a profit. This takes a bit more thought than pulling into Walmart or a few clicks on Amazon, but it’s well worth your time. Here are 6 reasons why you should support local business.

Related:? The Power of the Purse

Small and Local Businesses

1 – Better Customer Service

A local business owner is more likely to remember you and the products or services you purchase on a regular basis. This means that you get more personalized service. He or she is also more likely to have direct contact with all employees and a thorough knowledge of all products. Should any problems arise, you won’t have to stay on hold on some 800 number waiting for a faceless name to listen to your concerns.

2 – Increased Employment

Local and small businesses employ over 50% of the private sector workforce. Since the end of the Recession, small businesses are responsible 66% of all net jobs created. Local and small businesses are also more likely to hire locally increasing the employment base in your community. Keeping workers local decreases commutes and the environmental hazards that go with them.

3 – Improved Local Economy

Local businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to national chains or franchises. This is referred to as the “multiplier effect.” An average of 48% of the revenue from local businesses is recirculated into the local economy compared to only 14% from national chains.? Put simply, local businesses are more likely to purchase from other local businesses and use other local services. When you shop locally, you are actually investing in your community.

4 – Better, Healthier Products?

A marketplace of small businesses breeds competition. You are more likely to be able to acquire better quality products and services at local businesses. Local businesses have an element of transparency that faceless corporations don’t which holds them accountable to the quality of their products or services. In addition, purchasing from local farmers gives you access to healthier foods without the mass chemical spraying and preservatives required of corporate chains that have to mass produce and transport their produce over a long range.?Buying fresh, local and traceable foods is not only being a responsible consumer, but a healthy one.

5 – Property Value and Quality of Life

Local businesses give your community character. The uniqueness of a variety of local businesses is far superior to the bland monotony of ubiquitous national chains littering a cityscape. Because the businesses in your community make up a large part of its character, they also play a large part in both quality of life and property values. By supporting your community’s unique character rather than giving your money to national chains, you help to preserve its value.

6 – Socially and Environmentally Conscious Businesses

Local businesses are far more likely to be socially and environmentally conscious than big corps, especially when it comes to food. To begin with, local businesses reduce the carbon miles required from transport and may use local information to choose between suppliers. Local clothing stores are far less likely to purchase from mass fast fashion overseas suppliers. Due to consumer demand, small farm-to-table restaurants, regional banks, and small businesses are turning greener every day. In addition, because local businesses are invested in their community, they tend to take responsibility for their actions beyond simply bringing in revenue.

Related:? How This Social Start-Up is Changing the Way We Shop

The Bottom Line

There are always knock-on effects to every product or service that you buy. Those effects begin with where you spend your dollar and what you spend your dollar on. While it may not seem evident on the surface, if you take a peak under the lid, you’ll understand both the direct and indirect impacts that each of your purchases has. Knowing where a product comes from is crucial to shopping sustainably. If there is a local option, choose it. Shop in season and don?t buy fruit that has more flyer miles than you do. Ask local shops where they buy their supplies from when it is not obvious.

When you buy products that are produced locally and sold by local businesses, there is a positive effect on the local economy. By contrast, when you buy food and clothing that is shipped in from thousands of miles away by a national retail chain, more often than not it is produced by workers who are exploited in a factory that has no environmental policy, and sold by a corporation that is not acting in a sustainable manner. This not only has a negative effect on local economies, but also on the world at large. Every purchase counts. Every purchase has an impact, whether we like or not. As the world is simply a collection of individuals, it’s up to each individual to make sure that their dollar 1) does no harm, 2) makes their community, and the world, a better place.

Related:? Six Conscious Companies that Help You Make and Save Money

 

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A Radically Practical Approach to Sustainable Investing

A Radically Practical Approach to Sustainable Investing

Cornerstone Capital Group does not distinguish between ?impact investing,? ?ESG investing,? and ?sustainable investing.? They believe these terms reflect the same motivations and strategies – a mindful method of investing which is ?radically practical.??While environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices generally describe the actions investors and companies take to achieve progress towards sustainability, Cornerstone Capital sees these practices as a critical discipline.

ESG as a discipline

Cornerstone Capital is a registered investment advisor founded in 2013. Cornerstone?s CEO, Erika Karp, feels that she came to sustainability quite organically. In Karp’s over 25 years experience on Wall Street, she has observed that systematically analyzing the most important environmental, social, and governance factors leads to a more predictive insight into issues which have been outside of traditional financial metrics that affect companies.

For example, a company might struggle with reputational issues around food safety incidents, or corruption within a company?s supply chain. As an investor, having access to this information makes you a better investor. Sector by sector, company by company, environmental, social, and governance indicators are absolutely material to the financial outcomes. Water scarcity affects a beverage company and their operations. Carbon prices and emissions affect shipping and airline companies.

ESG issues need to be part of the mosaic that an investment decision relies upon. The idea of sustainable and impact investing should be viewed outside of the ideological, politicized, and moralistic, and seen instead from a perspective of enhanced analytics, pragmatism, and risk-adjusted return analysis.

Companies and investors with a long-term perspective on value creation will pursue strategies consistent with this idea of sustainability.

Cornerstone Capital

We use the discipline of ESG analysis to identify emerging trends that may create disruption.

The convergence of technological, regulatory and behavioral change can help to identify both investment risk and opportunities. – Erika Karp

Currently, there are a lot of factors driving sustainable practices

Pension funds, endowments, and foundations

We are seeing real leadership from the major asset earners, like pension funds, which have to supply benefits for a very long time. There?s been incredible push by some asset earners such as pension funds, endowments, and foundations to think about our world as a system, and to view investments as existing within that system.

Corporations

On the corporate side, there is aggressive movement towards transparency and disclosure. Corporations are asking how they can do what they do for the long-term. Even if there is an administrative or regulatory authority that’s entirely misdirected, the economics play out first. This amounts to great progress notwithstanding any misguided policy. The establishment of standards for disclosure of ESG factors by corporations further serves to drive innovation.

Capital markets

Today there is an unprecedented demand for the transparency of corporate sustainability and sustainable investment. We’re seeing a huge shift in the dynamics of the capital markets among asset owners, asset managers, investment banks, regulators, exchanges, accountants, and ?academics.

Related Content: 4 Ways To Make Real Money With Sustainable Investing

The Disruptive Trends Driving Change

Social media is driving transparency

We are seeing social media driving transparency like we’ve never seen before. Big data is allowing all of that noise out there to become insight and companies are finding their corporate responsibility viewed under a microscope.

Massive inter-generational transfer of wealth

In addition, there is a massive intergenerational transfer of wealth. Over the next 30-40 years, an estimated 30 trillion dollars will transfer from the older to the younger generations.??The younger generations are really starting to explore what money and their financial life means to them.

Change in mindset on a grand scale

While it seems that, traditionally, people have been able to separate their?financial life from the rest of their life, today people are feeling a strong emotional need to resolve the inner turmoil they experience when their financial life is in conflict with their values and beliefs.

Even though trust in institutions has been destroyed, we can fix it because the discipline of finance is changing. It?s becoming more transparent and ultimately more democratized. For example, as an individual, if you work at a company and have a 401(k) but are not invested in any of type of impact funds, it is really just a matter of using your voice and expressing your demand.

A Change in Language

It?s true that the language on Wall Street has been purposefully inaccessible because that is what sustains the status quo and keeps the power structures in place. But all you really have to say as an investor is, ?I wanna put my money with a manager that believes I can get good financial returns and a good social impact. Can I please have those options?? And this needs to happen on a grand scale. There needs to be a lot of people asking for it, demanding it, and we need to see the voices rise.

It?s finally being recognized that the system of capitalism is broken and there is a fierce urgency of now. The magnitude of the problems that we have to address is not going to take millions, nor even billions. We need to move trillions now.

Related Content: Start Impact Investing for as Little as $50

Where can people find out more?

Cornerstone Capital has a lot of research on their website that they believe can empower people to take discussions about sustainable investing to the traditional investing mainstream, such as archaic investment committees or pension fund boards.

Use our research. Take it to the people you want to influence, and show them that there is no inherent underperformance as a result of considering your values in your investments. There are choices you can make as a consumer.??

There is a lot of retail education that you can get by researching by yourself, quite simply. Once you get your voice and really exercise it, that’s when it’s powerful. For example, if you have a 401(k), there is no downside to asking direct questions of the corporation you work for:

Why can’t I invest sustainably? What do I gotta do? Who do I gotta talk to? Who is the board that represents my money? Let me talk to them.”

 


This article was derived from an interview with Erika Karp, founder, and CEO, and Sebastian Vanderzeil, Director and Global Thematic Analyst of Cornerstone Capital Group. For more interviews like this and other videos, check out the Prosperity Roadmap.

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Conscious Capitalism In The News – May 13th

Conscious Capitalism In The News:? Invest in water – win the long game, How ESG can protect your portfolio, Bud rebrands to Green Beer, A warning to all businesses:? Be sustainable or risk your bottom line, and more…

Water Wins the Long Game as Global Demand Continues to Grow – CNBC

Water-related ETFs are in an advantageous position due to some pretty serious situations.

For example, PowerShares Water Resources ETF (PHO), First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (FIW) and Tortoise Water Fund (TBLU) hold?shares in U.S. water utilities, such as American Water Works, infrastructure companies like Aegion Corporation?and technology companies like Xylem, a supplier of energy-saving pumps and controls for hot water systems.

All 3 water-related ETFs are up around 15% since last year.
…there’s really not a much more essential asset than water…people are really starting to realize we have a global water problem on our hands -?Matt Weglarz, Portfolio Manager at Tortoise Index Solutions.

Global water demand is expected to grow by more than 50 percent over the next 30 years. In 2015, the EPA estimated that we need $472.6 billion to fix America’s public water infrastructure system alone.

Flint, Michigan, is still waiting…

There is?opportunity for investors to capitalize on clean water infrastructure and technology over the long term because of the need to upgrade and maintain water systems across the U.S.

The Swell Clean Water portfolio is a managed portfolio of water-focused companies which is up 11% over the past 12 months.

Whether it’s through news about water scarcity or news about the demand for water or need around improving our water infrastructure, those are all reasons that you would want to be in a clean water portfolio of companies that are addressing any one of those areas. -? Dave Fanger, CEO of Swell Investing.

Related:? Start Impact Investing For as Little as 50$ – An Overview of Swell Investing

Bud Rebrands to Green Beer – Sierra Club

Anheuser-Busch has officially promised that the $400 million worth of electricity it uses each year will be 100% renewable by 2025. It has also vowed to follow through on sustainability goals which include plans to:

  • Repackage beverages in majority-recycled content
  • Improve water efficiency
  • Work directly with farmers
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 25%.

In celebration of its new vision, starting on Earth Day, it has labeled all of its cans and bottles of Bud with a new ?100% Renewable Electricity? symbol to make consumers aware of its new goals.

This labeling strategy builds awareness, sparks conversation about what exactly it means to be sourcing clean energy, and offers a gateway to the bigger discussion that consumers?particularly millennials?increasingly expect. The challenge is for the company to maintain transparency everywhere, even with more challenging questions.?- Christen Graham, Social Impact Executive

Anheuser-Busch CEO Carlos Brito has proclaimed that ?Budweiser is going to be carrying the flag for renewable energy around the world.? However, when a company does not follow through with its corporate social responsibility promises, it amounts to greenwashing.

Will Bud follows through with its promises? In fact, it may not have a choice.

Whether beer brewers rebrand as green and fly ?the flag for renewable energy or not,? they are going to have to not only rethink their sustainability strategies, but actually carry them out in order to survive. Issues of water scarcity and water quality currently pose particularly serious threats to the survival of food and beverage industries around the world.

This is the silent crisis that?s sneaking up on all industries but will hit this one particularly hard. -?James Reeves, Corporate Social Sustainability Strategist

It?s Not Hip to Buy From Environmentally Ignorant Companies: ?Be Sustainable or Die – Fast Company

Much like the shift we went through when turning our backs on smoking and littering, we?re clearly in the middle of a massive cultural shift when it comes to sustainability. Just as we find it abhorrent to throw litter out of a car window, it is now becoming unacceptable to buy products from companies deemed to be mistreating the planet.

What this means for companies is that if they don?t start integrating sustainability and corporate social responsibility into their business model, products, and brand, they are definitely going to feel it in their bottom line.

Shelton Groups recent EcoPulse Study reveals some interesting trends:

  • 45% of Americans want to be seen as someone who buys eco-friendly products.
  • Over 50% of Americans don?t believe a product is green if they don?t believe the company is green.
  • Over 50% of Americans can think of a time when they?ve either purchased or not purchased a product because of the environmental reputation of the manufacturer.

When it comes to Millennials, these trends are even stronger:

  • 90% say they?ll buy from a brand if they trust that company?s social and environmental practices.
  • 95% say they?ll recommend the products to their friends and family if they trust a company?s social and environmental practices.

We?ve come a long way. Being eco-friendly is no longer considered a fringe activity limited to activists and early adopters. Joining the dialogue and aligning your brand with deeply held beliefs is the marketing of the future.

Business must be part of the solution…Sustainable, equitable growth is the only acceptable business model. – Unilever

Bottom line:? Don?t smoke, don?t litter, and be a sustainable brand ? or risk losing your marketplace advantage.

Related:? How To Incite Change Even as a Small Shareholder

How ESG Can Protect Your Portfolio – Business Insider

In this interview, Martin Kremenstein, head of retirement and ETF solutions at Nuveen, defines ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and explains how ESG metrics serve both as an indicator of quality, and can be used as a risk management tool. Some takeaways:

  • According to research from MSCI, companies ranking in the lowest 20% in ESG ratings have been twice as likely to suffer a catastrophic loss (over 95% cumulative loss) within three years.
  • MSCI downgraded Equifax to the lowest ESG rating on cybersecurity concerns one year before?the data breach was announced.
  • Facebook was excluded from Nuveen’s NuShares ESG Large-Cap Growth ETF when the ETF launched in December 2016 because Facebook scored relatively poorly over data privacy concerns compared to other tech companies.
  • Before the Deepwater Horizon incident, BP had actually been downgraded and removed from major ESG indices over concerns about its outsourcing of maintenance of offshore oil wells, which was directly related to the accident itself.
By actually having this framework in place, you are really putting in place a method for trying to avoid tail risk from companies that are badly run, and may end up having serious, serious scandals in the press. -?Martin Kremenstein, Nuveen.

Related:? The New Landscape of Sustainable Impact, and ESG Investing

Latest News in The War on Plastic – Global Citizen

Bad News:

Plastic stats have been making the rounds in the news, and especially on social media. Some highlights:

Good News:

In light of this, here are 15 countries and cities around the world that have made serious strides in the race against plastic. Let?s hope this is the beginning of a permanent trend.

1. Kenya

As of August 2017, anyone in Kenya who?s found using, producing, or selling a plastic bag faces up to four years in jail, or a $38,000 fine.

2. Vanuatu

On July 30, 2017, its independence day, the Pacific nation of Vanuatu announced the beginning of a phasing out of plastic bags and bottles .

3. UK

In January 2018, the UK announced a 25-year plan to ?set the global gold standard? on eliminating plastic waste. It has also eliminated plastic microbeads ?in ?rinse-off? cosmetic and personal care products and previously brought in a tax on plastic bags in 2015 which has resulted in 9 billion fewer plastic bags in circulation.

4. Taiwan

In February 2018, Taiwan announced one of the farthest-reaching bans on plastic in the world which restricts single-use plastic bags, straws, utensils, and cups.

5. Zimbabwe

In July 2017, Zimbabwe announced a total ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS), a styrofoam-like material used for food containers that takes up to a million years to decompose.

6. Montreal

Merchants have until June 5 to adapt to a policy banning single-use plastic bags.?Meanwhile, the city of Victoria also announced it will bring in a ban on single-use plastic bags in July 2018.

7. Malibu

In March 2018, the Californian city of Malibu?s local council voted to ban the sale, distribution, and use of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and plastic cutlery ?effective June 1st.

8. Seattle

As of July 1st, Seattle will enact a ban on plastic straws, along with single-use plastic utensils .

9. Australia

South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory, have state-wide bans on single-use plastic bags. Queensland is set to follow suit in July 2018. Major Australian supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have announced they will phase out single-use plastic bags by mid-2018.

10. Canada

In January 2018, Canada put a full stop to plastic microbeads effective ?July 1st.

11. Hamburg

Hamburg brought in a fairly niche plastic ban in February 2016 against non-recyclable plastic coffee pods.

?12. France

In 2015, France banned plastic bags. In 2016, France became the first country to announce a total ban on plastic cups, plates, and cutlery effective 2020.

?13. New Delhi

Banned all forms of single-use plastic in 2017.

14. Morocco

Banned plastic bags on July 1, 2016.

15. Rwanda

Banned plastic bags completely in 2008.?The country is now hinting at becoming the world?s first plastic-free nation and planning to become completely sustainable by 2020.

Styrofoam in California

Long Beach City Council recently approved a styrofoam ban from restaurants. Five cities in San Luis Obispo County, California have already banned the use and sale of Styrofoam-type food containers. The county government is considering extending the ban to the entire county as early as July 2018.

Related:? Hairy Legs are Sexier than Disgusting Disposable Razors

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Hunters? The Surprising Origin of Conservation and Why it Matters

Like it or not, there?s stuff that we need from our planet. We need food, we need water, and we need the land to get both of those things and much more. But that doesn?t mean that we have to tear the world apart to get it. We need to work with the planet, not against it. Conservationists understood this from the beginning and Larry Nielsen shows us why it matters.

Who is Larry Nielsen?

?Conservation is really understanding that it?s not save everything, or people are evil, but that?together, nature and conservation can produce great things.?

Larry Nielsen is a professor at N.C. State and the author of Nature?s Allies, a book that follows eight notable conservationists and their triumphs. Conservation and environmentalism sometimes get bad names (especially where I?m from.) But those movements aren?t just about humans sacrificing everything to stop taking from our planet. It?s just about being smart.

Related: The Future of Work and Why it Matters

Environmentalism vs. Conservation

Back home, environmentalism conjures up images of people chaining themselves to trees to save rainforests. And sometimes that?s what’s needed. But Larry draws a line between environmentalism and conservation that removes that ?zero-sum? mentality.

?The conservation perspective is the important one, I think. We recognize that our lifestyle, our quality of life, is really a function of using nature well to provide the resources that we need.”

Instead of trying to stop every person in the world from taking from our planet, we can simply be smart. We can strategize about the best way to use the resources that we have so that they can sustain us for the long term.

Related: How Crickets and Buildings can Save the World

Conservation?s Surprising Origins

Conservation is a young movement and a young discipline. It?s only about 100 years old – much younger than environmentalism. However, conservation didn’t start with environmentalists who wanted to stop taking from the planet. It came from hunters.

?The people who have supported conservation and developed conservation were originally hunters and fishermen. That?s where the conservation business came from. They were people who lived and enjoyed being close to nature, close to those resources. And they [were] the first ones to realize when things [were] going off the rails. And they were the ones that said we need to support conservation.?

Crazy, right?

Some people think of hunters and fishermen as people who take indiscriminately from the world around them. But think about the regulations that they have to follow. Hunting and fishing seasons create boundaries and limits on how much they can hunt or fish. Those controls establish a partnership between our planet and the people living on it.

Related: How this Social Start-up is Changing the Way we Shop

Why Conservation Matters

The idea behind the controls for hunting and fishing are about creating a balance between what we take from our planet and what we leave alone. Those ideas can be extended to the energy we consume, the food we grow, the land we cultivate, and so many other vital industries. Conservationists don?t demonize you for harvesting from the earth. They just want to make sure we don?t overload the systems we rely on. I think Larry says it best when he says:

?It seems to me that the work of conservation is to find that balance, that genius, that allows us to live sustainably on earth with nature as a partner, rather than something to be conquered.?

Couldn?t agree more, Larry. Conservationists look for a win-win between the people living on this planet and the planet itself. That sounds like a pretty good partnership, doesn’t it?


This interview is part of the?Prosperity Roadmap.?Photo credit?Wade Basuel.

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How to Work Sustainability into your Business Idea

If you?re even thinking about starting your own business, good for you. Nothing is harder than figuring out how to start a new venture, and nothing is more rewarding than getting your own paycheck. You might even want to start a business that supports great causes and promotes sustainability. And you can do that. There are plenty of successful companies that do good without compromising the bottom line. If you want your social good business to succeed, you need to honestly think through these three questions:

  1. Is your business important to people?
  2. Can you deliver on your promises?
  3. Can you make money?

Related: Check out Prosperity and get inspired by companies that promote People, Planet, Purpose and Profit?

Your Business must be Important to People

Just like any other business, your company needs customers. There are two different types of customers for a social-good business: the ones who love you for your business and the ones who love you for your social impact. Most of the people who walk through your door will be the first kind, so you need to offer them something that?s worth paying for and helps you accomplish your social good at the same time.

Georgetown, a Republican city in Texas, became the first in the state to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. The big sell didn’t come from the environmental impact it could have. It came from the lower energy prices and the greater price stability over the next 20 years. How’s that for some amazing benefits? Think about how you can accomplish your social good while running a successful business. Your social good benefit may not be the big seller, but your business can provide it in tandem with other benefits.

Related: Make your home a sustainable source of income.

You Must be able to Deliver

You might have an amazing idea that will change the world and give customers substantial value. But it won?t matter if you can?t deliver on your promises. Think about your idea and make sure that you can realistically make the leap from idea to successful venture.

One of my favorite horror stories is the Coolest Cooler. The Coolest Cooler was one of the most highly funded Kickstarter campaigns ever. It had all of these cool built-in features like Bluetooth speakers, a blender, a bottle-opener, a hidden compartment, and a bunch of other cool features (sweet, right?). It raised $13 million in 2014. But after only a third of the Kickstarter backers got their coolers, the Department of Justice got involved. Three years later, 20,000 people were still waiting for their coolers.

If you have a great business idea that people are willing to throw money at, you have to make sure that you can create and deliver it to them. That means your solar powered electric go carts idea had better be thought all the way out before you go ask for money.

Related: Read our article on the new landscape of sustainable impact investing.

You must Get Paid

Starting a business costs money and, if you?re like most entrepreneurs, you?ll probably have to ask someone to help fund operations. You have to accept one hard truth if you?re fundraising: No one will give you money if they don?t think they?ll make it back.?That means you have to work out the numbers to make sure that your great idea also makes business sense.

Tom?s Shoes is a great example of a business that is profitable and promotes great causes. Some of you probably wear Toms, but do you know why you pay so much for them? Part of the shoe price covers Tom?s One for One program which provides help to someone in need with every purchase. Tom?s used to just give a pair of shoes to someone with every purchase, but now they?ve partnered with charities that provide clean water, restore eyesight, and prevent bullying. If Toms can make almost $400 million a year with a business model that has purpose, creates a positive impact for society, and makes a profit, then you too can combine your passion with positive impact.

Tom?s Shoes can make money and give back to the world at the same time because they built it into their business and their prices. You can too if you think your business all the way through.

Learn more about companies that are doing well while they do good. Check out the B Corporation movement?and 1% for the Planet. Both of these communities certify for-profit companies that have positive impact on our society and the environment.

Related: Read our article on going toxin free without breaking the bank.

Sustainability?is the Future?

Do you know why massive companies like Microsoft, Uber, or FaceBook became so huge? They were early. They dove into industries that were either non-existent or very young, which gave them plenty of room to grow and become the dominant players in those industries. Sustainable business is a young and growing trend that your idea could grow to dominate. Think of all of the opportunities and new ventures that are there to create positive impact in the world. Imagine being the entrepreneur who seizes those opportunities.

Business can be powerful force for good. It can promote sustainability?and?create wealth and value. Whatever business you decide to start, know that you can both do well and do good. You just have to plan for it and execute on that plan.


Photo by?mvp

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