Green business

GreenBiz 101: The core of materiality? What matters most

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

If you’re a sustainability professional who got his or her start in environmental affairs, chemistry or toxicology, the word “materiality” probably wasn’t part of your core curriculum. But the concept may be invaluable when it comes to prioritizing sustainability initiatives and communicating progress toward them — especially as awareness of these matters grows in the chief financial officer’s office. With that in mind, we offer this brief accounting lesson.

Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed

Read the full story in the Harvard Business Review.

A marketing revolution is under way and nowhere is that more visible than in the CMO’s transforming role. Unilever CMO Keith Weed embodies this new order as an architect and leader of the firm’s plan to double revenue while halving its environmental impact. In this edited interview, Weed describes a new breed of marketing organization, and the CMO’s increasingly strategic role.

Should Nestle Be Bottling California Water In The Middle Of The State’s Record-Breaking Drought?

Read the full story at Fast Company.

California is in a deep drought. 2013 was the driest year on record in the state. The State Water Resources Control Board went so far this month as to impose harsh restrictions on outdoor water use. (Using potable water in an ornamental fountain? That’ll be a $500 fine.) And somehow, in the middle of all this, Nestle is bottling California’s scarce water and selling it.

Op-Ed: The carbon taxes we’re already paying

Read the full Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times.

We’re already paying a de facto carbon tax on the energy we use, because we’re laying ourselves open to costly environmental risks that will ultimately have to be covered by taxpayers, writes Mark Schapiro. “Every time we use fossil fuels, we increase our tax burden, a burden that unfolds like a sequence of trap doors, just like climate change itself,” he writes

‘Give Back Box’ Turns Old Shipping Boxes Into Charitable Donations

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

Monika Wiela was walking to work on Michigan Avenue in Chicago when she passed a homeless man holding a sign that read, “I need shoes.” Wiela desperately wanted to help him. As the founder of online shoe store, she had a warehouse full of platform heels and stiletto boots – but no men’s shoes.

Wiela did, however, have a ton of cardboard shipping boxes, and after ruminating over the man’s dilemma all night, she came up with a solution: What if you could take your old shipping boxes from online retailers and – instead of tossing them into the recycling or garbage – pack them with clothes and household goods you no longer need, and send them to charities?

That’s the idea behind Give Back Box, a startup Wiela launched last year after running a year-long test with clientele. Before shipping a pair of new shoes to customers, the Polish-born entrepreneur placed a prepaid mailing label addressed to a secondhand charity in the cardboard box, along with donation instructions. The result? Thirteen percent of shoppers boxed up their unwanted goods and mailed them off to nonprofit organizations.

Now Wiela is working with online retailers and to promote the Give Back Box program to their customers, by including flyers in their cardboard shipping boxes. Prior to officially launching her partnership with Newegg, Wiela ran a pilot program with the electronics retailer and achieved a return rate of 0.5 percent without any real marketing effort, Forbes reported.

6 ways collaboration can boost sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A room filled with 10 companies, each at various stages of maturity in their sustainability programs. They’re in the same industry but are different sizes, from different markets, with different brand images and perspectives. My role is to facilitate discussion and gain consensus on a collaborative approach — despite all the differences.

I’ve been in rooms like this many times and have come to recognize there is always one constant: Collaboration is hard. Period. You have to balance competing needs and, compared to an individual corporate initiative, collaboration almost always takes more time, commitment and patience.

But it’s also worth it. Corporate collaboration can drive exponentially greater impacts. It can foster innovative solutions, level the playing field, move an industry, raise expectations for partners, influence policy and catalyze change in myriad ways.

At BSR, we recently launched five new collaborative initiatives for our member companies, and as I have worked with colleagues to get these started, I have been asking myself: How can we make these successful and just a little bit easier?

I came up with six ways. In the spirit of collaboration, I’m sharing my list:


Why sustainability requires leadership training

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

Making sustainability happen — at scale — and with the speed required to reap returns on investment under these conditions, requires business leadership to rethink and remix their skill sets to develop the versatility and agility they need.

Why innovation isn’t always the answer in clean tech

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Like most people, I love the idea of innovation. Innovation is new, it’s exciting, it’s cutting-edge and it’s vital — even if no one can agree on precisely what it is.

In green business and environmental circles, innovation is self-evidently of huge importance. Our current economic models are at the root of the environmental crises we face, so we need to develop innovative new technologies and business models to resolve those crises. Without technical innovation to bring down the cost of clean energy and transport, we will never decarbonize the economy; without innovative new ways of doing business, we will never tackle the resource crunches that loom over so many industries. That is what makes the sheer quantity and quality of clean tech innovation on display at the recent BusinessGreen Leaders Awards so inspiring and heartening. We need clean tech innovation, and long may it continue.

However, there is a little-acknowledged caveat to our obsession with innovation that was highlighted last week by Dutch landscape ecologist Victor Beumer. Sometimes, he told the Global Estuaries Forum in Deauville, France, you need to stop regarding a solution as innovative and acknowledge that it has become normalized, boring, passé even. In fact, this should be the point you are aiming for. That is when you have made it.

This book is a roadmap for business careers in sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Katie Kross and I have known and collaborated with each other for 10 years. I was excited when she published her guide to sustainability careers, “Profession and Purpose,” in 2009. I was doubly excited to hear about its second edition. “Profession and Purpose: A Resource Guide for MBA Careers in Sustainability” just became available for purchase on Monday.

Katie is managing director of the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She has supported hundreds of MBA students and alumni in their searches for purpose-driven jobs.

We sat down to discuss how much has changed in the last five years since her first edition came out.