Warts and all: the route to sustainability isn’t always pretty

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Judging by the constant flow of sustainability announcements from companies, you could be forgiven for thinking that the route to cleaner, more responsible business is clear: a straight shot, free of obstacles and primed for smooth sailing. Whether it’s 100% renewable energy or zero deforestation, companies are making big progress on sustainability.

But what we don’t often read about is what it takes to get there. The day-to-day work of making change happen is, in reality, fraught with obstacles, impediments, and delays – all of which can leave sustainability projects dead in the water.

Although we rarely hear it, the truth is that sustainability wins are the result of tireless work from within an organization, whether by a fiercely committed and vocal CEO, a core sustainability team, an employee-spawned grassroots green team, workers quietly changing the way they do things – or all of the above. There’s no one path to sustainability success. Just about the only sure thing is that we rarely get a glimpse behind the curtain to see what comes before the press conference or coverage. Here’s what we do know: change from within is never easy. And the nature of the challenges is shifting.

Two radically different cities, and the sustainability challenges they face

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Sustainability is often seen as the preserve of the well-off. They are the ones that have the time and money to care about saving the planet. For everyone else, there are day-to-day concerns to worry about.

Yet it’s communities with very real social and environmental problems that arguably have the most to gain from sustainable solutions. Here, we look at two cities where, against the odds, efforts to promote sustainable living are emerging.

The first is Iqaluit, a remote indigenous community in the Canadian Arctic that is entirely reliant on imported diesel for power yet at the same time is seeing climate patterns impact its traditional ways of life. The second is Johannesburg in South Africa, where efforts to promote alternatives to private car ownership are slowly bearing fruit.

France Bans Large Supermarkets From Wasting Food

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year, totaling $750 billion in economic losses, according to a 2013 report from the United Nations that analyzed loss of food around the world. France is looking to avoid such waste, becoming the first country to enact a law that bans grocery stores from wasting food.

The law, which France’s National Assembly unanimously passed last Thursday, calls on supermarkets 4,305 square feet or larger to sign food donation contracts with charities by next July or face fines of more than $80,000. The large grocery stores will also be banned from purposely bleaching and spoiling food to prevent scavengers from Dumpster-diving.

The New Commute

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

It is estimated that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Denser cities and shrinking suburbs promise concrete benefits to the economy, the environment, and urbanites’ quality of life—but only if cities can support their growing populations with appropriate transportation.

Transportation nourishes and shapes urban centers, and insofar as it helps cities continue functioning and recover in the face of a shock, directly affects their resilience. From ancient Rome to contemporary Tulsa, cities’ survival has always depended on transportation. As they densify, cities’ futures depend on smarter, faster, and greener transportation that fits their unique geographies, cultures, and histories. To do that, transport networks should integrate the varied modes necessary to help a city become more resilient.

Although every city faces different transportation challenges, these examples of successful urban strategies offer useful lessons:

In Unprecedented Deal, California Farmers Agree to Water Cuts

Read the full story in Governing.

When California officials struck an unprecedented conservation deal Friday with a group of farmers who have the strongest claims on the state’s dwindling water supply, it showed no one was immune from the fallout of the drought.

Under the agreement, many growers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta will be given the option of reducing water use by 25 percent in exchange for an assurance that the state won’t come down harder on them in the near future.

Cowboys, spaceships and CSR 2.0

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The following is adapted from Sustainable Frontiers, a forthcoming book from Greenleaf Publishing.

When we think of frontiers, two images often come to mind: cowboys and space.

And as it happens, both hold clues to how the world is simultaneously facing the most severe crisis since the threat of nuclear annihilation and being reinvented through business pushing the boundaries of possible solutions.