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Yes it is. Insurers sue town over flooding claims because “Climate change is a foreseeable risk”.  http://t.co/Q3LhjtHjKs

Microbead ban law moving forward in NY State Assembly: 19 *tons a year* of polluting microbeads wash into NY waterways http://t.co/Dmy5kpxxJK

Well done job by Climate Outreach: 7 ideas for helping IPCC communicate climate action better with storytelling http://t.co/RLEvdqCoj1

Profile of NJ ‘s state climatologist Robinson. http://t.co/mnRytfNpuT

Clear, inspiring how-to on building action by William McDonough. Butterfly Resolution! http://t.co/bhzqeKbmZ0

Job for some well-qualified person: Sustainability director position for Amherst College, MA, USA https://t.co/Eyyl8sOoXw

Q for EU friends: When will European Council officially adopt the EU corp disclosure into law? http://t.co/PXJ9H0kN4a

Thanks to Aman Singh for getting my #sustybiz Twitter chat question answered: http://t.co/0q30ytXQ5L

Microbeads ban passed NY Assembly *108-0* last week. Way to go @5Gyres @Anna_Cummins http://t.co/Qk2o3U9cMw

Kudos NJ’s Star-Ledger Editorial Board for this strong statement: Climate disruption & Christie inaction. http://t.co/Qf9PTLlhoM

Why plastic bags suck. Great global overview w/stats & links http://t.co/Fr5jugobnQ

Amazing New Yorker read, bringing sustainability convos into mainstream http://t.co/IiXuFaJkuQ

Important climate risk drum beat for summer’s Risky Business report from Next Generation  http://t.co/r7eRwApRqM

Great job from Greg Harman  on what the skeptics are dishing up next. http://t.co/7xQluh7MaO

Divestment empowerment will have ripple effects. Expect more empowered actions from citizens, like Rutgers students saying “no thanks” to Secretary Rice. http://t.co/T9a76aC7F5

Talking economics, opportunity cost and susty metrics. http://t.co/EdTBCsIo0P

Faith leadership joins for climate action “Blessed Tomorrow.”  http://t.co/kosdLZeXLl

When we get the money people on board, we’ve won. “Why don’t economists get climate change?”. http://t.co/BXU6dWJbcB

Good on McDonald’s for new sustainability plan. Now let’s talk about it. http://bit.ly/McDSusty

The changing tide pulls everything in its wake. Paddle with it. Stanford to divest $18B in coal. http://t.co/bWH5JoQqcT

Message in a bottle of our planet’s plastic burden at @5gyres plastic event. http://t.co/NFkEpajXih http://t.co/PcP0z0NEYT

Love Obama’s climate plan, needs more business.  http://t.co/02yFV91z5I

DEP hosting Northeastern climate change prep conference. http://t.co/IAxJn59rbo

More “consumers speak, brands respond” action | Teen spurs Pepsi & Coke to dump flame retardant chemical. http://t.co/TzvA0sx2dD

Refreshingly transparent talk from UK KFC’s CSR exec 1. KFC doesn’t market 2 kids in the UK. 2. “KFC is a treat.” https://t.co/uwJgy0Yy04

Unilever’s ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign reports that child diarrhea rate are plummeting. http://t.co/5yuZbk2tpA

I’ve got one word for you: Plastics.

Many thanks to green-marketing-guru Jacquie Ottman for hosting last night’s event on plastics with the Sustainable Business Committee of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York:

MAKING GREEN FROM GREEN
Plastics: Global Scourge. Sustainable Business Opportunity

The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic every year.

Discarded plastic fills up landfills and washes out to sea. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vortex of floating plastic twice the size of Texas, one of five major ocean gyres.

• What is being done to address the problems with petroleum-based plastics, including advocacy and industry solutions?

• How do we address harm to our ecosystem from products that are not biodegradable; contain harmful chemicals; and affect wildlife, sea life and the safety of the global food supply?

Join us May 6th for an informed discussion, from consumer education and awareness to business innovation in alternative plastic products and recycled plastic waste.

The event was moderated by Tim McDonnell, Associate Producer, Climate Desk with panelists:

Anna Cummins, Executive Director and Co-founder, 5Gyres Institute
Steve Davies, Director Public Affairs and Communications, Natureworks LLC
William Jordan V, Director Business Development, Axion International
Joe Risico, Executive Vice President Business Development, Ecovative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my latest trend piece for Sustainable Brands.

February 20, 2014

Recent commitments from L’Oréal, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and P&G to phase microbeads out of their products by (or before) 2017 is laudable and a good step forward. This news responds to scientific research linking the tiny, polystyrene balls to Great Lakes pollution.

Meantime, “ban the bead” laws are taking shape in California and New York. Like the manufacturers’ phase-outs, it will take years for the ban law, if passed, to go into effect.

Together, these news items have me wondering:

  • Could our sustainability and government leaders be doing more, faster?
  • And if companies do decide to act faster, with some short-term financial hit, will investors and consumers support them for doing the right thing in the long-term?

We could call it the “CVS Effect” — playing off the drugstore chain’s “no smokes” decision — and the burgeoning “Blackfish Effect” sparked by the anti-Sea World film.

I think these questions deserve a closer look because of the bigger picture. The answers can either support — or hinder — climate action that’s getting underway by the Obama administration and leading U.S businesses.

These questions come from a place of examining what’s possible for forward-looking brands that are already committed to sustainability. It bears repeating that all of the brands in the microbead discussion already are sustainability leaders in their industries. Obviously, global manufacturing supply chains can’t be turned off overnight. But when necessity demands it, such as the 1982 Tylenol recall, things can happen very quickly.

So if CVS is truly a game-changer for health reasons, it opens the door for other forward-looking brands to take faster, bolder action for environmental and natural capital reasons as well. Making the decision to phase out an ingredient, while important, doesn’t stop the clock on the harm being done. The longer we wait, the more microbead pollution will go through wastewater treatment facilities, enter waterways, affect that water body’s ecology, and be consumed by fish, then by people. Each of these steps arguably has some amount of harm associated with it.

It strikes me that change can only happen today. That’s true for any choice we make as individuals, as citizens, and as business owners, to protect and restore the environment. So why not start stretching the bounds of what’s possible, sooner, as a better way of doing business?

For now, it remains to be seen how consumers and investors will respond to CVS’ “no smokes” announcement, and if any other retailers will follow their lead. And on the microbead side, how will consumers respond to the news? Will they shift to a brand’s other products that don’t contain the beads? Would they be open to guidance from manufacturers to do so?

I’m betting that, as it become more normal for companies to make bold pro-health and pro-environmental choices, these decisions will be rewarded by investors and consumers. I’d back this up by pointing to cross-sector collaborations such as the Net Positive group, the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance and Sustainable Apparel Coalition — they’re finding that working together with industry and nonprofit peers, for bigger global benefit, is good business, too.

Our responsibilities in life and business don’t end at the factory wall. That’s where they begin. It’s time for big sustainability actions to be the norm for business-forward action, instead of the exception.

Here’s hoping the CVS Effect is just getting started.

Microbeads: Helpful post w/beads product list & non-beady alternatives http://t.co/yAADskgh33

My latest for Sustainable Brands: Testing the ‘CVS Effect’ on Microbeads: Could L’Oreal & @Unilever Be Bolder? http://t.co/menwewKs7B

Going! Mar. 7 Tri-State #Sustainability Symposium! http://t.co/o558YTQL1O

Interesting petition, we need the same in the US: UK media should move #climate debate to response https://t.co/mCYipFC7pZ

From the always on-target @blindspotting: “So how do you change paradigms?” http://t.co/18HrjlzhK4

Simple advice for having more of what matters: You don’t need it. http://t.co/MpgSYDJk9h

Truth: “Climate change deniers have grasped that markets can’t fix the climate” http://t.co/6Wii7crdRr

ENJOYING Jeana Wirtenberg’s new “Building a #Culture for #Sustainability” book. Features 7 NJ business case studies. https://t.co/rS7k5EvmTw

MAY 2014 Classes Scheduled: Transitioning to Green’s NEW #Leadership for #Sustainability (grad myself) http://t.co/yHd0YjPtYy

Intriguing peek at an upcoming book — It’s All My Fault — here: http://t.co/M0laYHAFiy

All about NJ’s climate plan inadequacy: http://t.co/EhUbH1lvhr. And shorter by me: http://t.co/TlXq1ug3Bu 

Here’s hoping we’re at a tipping point where climate action becomes the norm for business-forward action http://t.co/garojSvH8v

Worthy and worth sharing: The “St. Francis Pledge”? http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/

Laudable but wondering: Does microbead “phasing out” by 2017 signal consumers that green & climate action can wait? http://t.co/COUVKM5HEU

Appreciating Alex Steffen ‘s “attention philanthropy,” ie, the gift of pointing out something worthwhile http://t.co/Zm0Rn7aT38

On steroids & quarterly reports: short-term fixes can really screw up systems thinking http://t.co/OsIQAifXjJ

Nicely put on climate change denial http://t.co/V98v64IB8f

Score! Check out this post on climate change action & sports http://t.co/HDR1ZDxAr4

Maybe a boat instead? (tongueincheek) “Miami Luxury Condos Come w/Free Tesla” http://t.co/yz5BNXQ715

John Kerry warns on catastrophic  climate change http://t.co/ZOUYIaO4hL

When consumers hear an end-date of 2017 for the tiny problematic beads, does this tell them that crucial environment and climate actions can wait?

L’Oreal’s (and others’) announcement that they are phasing out the use of microbeads in their skin cleansing products by 2017 is laudable and a good step forward. There’s new scientific research linking the tiny, polystyrene balls to Great Lakes pollution.

Meantime, a new “ban the bead” law is shaping up in the New York state legislature. But like the manufacturers’ phase-outs, it will take years for the ban law, if passed, to go into effect.

But these announcements have me wondering:

*Does a multi-year “phasing out” or ban of this problem ingredient inadvertently send a signal to consumers that there’s time to wait on other important environmental and climate change actions?

*Is this the best that our sustainability and government leaders can do? Could they be doing more, faster?

*Are the full costs of the environmental harm being done to the Great Lakes today, and repair, being priced into these companies’ phase-out plans? If not, why not?

*And if companies do decide to act faster, with some short-term financial hit, will investors and consumers support them for doing the right thing in the long-term?

We could call it the “CVS Effect”—playing off the recent news of the drugstore chain’s decision to no longer sell tobacco in its stores—and the burgeoning “Blackfish Effect” movement sparked by the anti-Seaworld film.

These questions deserve a closer look. Here’s why: the answers will either support—or hinder—important climate action steps finally getting underway by the Obama administration and leading businesses.

These questions come from a place of examining what’s possible for forward looking brands that are already committed to sustainability. It bears repeating that all of these brands already are sustainability leaders in their industries. I’m completely aware of the reality that global manufacturing supply chains can’t be turned off overnight. But when necessity demands it, such as in a case like the 1982 Tylenol poisonings, things can happen very quickly.

It strikes me that change can only happen today. That’s true for any choice we make as individuals, as citizens, and as business owners to protect and restore the environment. So why not start stretching the bounds of what’s possible, sooner, as a better way of doing business?

Forward-looking brands can be leaders in this movement, by taking faster, bolder action that takes natural capital into account, as well as the bottom line.

Our responsibilities in life and business don’t end at the factory wall. That’s where they begin. It’s time for sustainability actions that have global impact to be the norm for leading companies, instead of the exceptional.

It remains to be seen how consumers and investors will respond to CVS’ “no smokes” announcement, and if other retailers will follow their lead. One encouraging trend is the collaboration we’re starting to see among leading brands across industries.

Here’s hoping that the CVS Effect is just getting started.