A decade ago, when I first heard the term “B Corp”—a designation for companies that commit to pursuing not just profits but also purpose—I was skeptical. At the time, I was CFO of Cabot Creamery, one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the United States, and a great many questions ran through my head: Was this just another certification—like the Real milk seal and the Real Vermont seal that we’d already earned? Would the customers who bought our cheese and other products really care about this new label? What kind of burden would it place on our farmers, who, owing to our cooperative structure, were also our shareholders? How much work would it create for employees? How much would it cost us—up front and on an annual basis? And why on earth was it called a B Corp when it could be an A? That made the whole thing sound second-rate.
Population growth and industrial development, particularly in the collar counties, has led to increasing groundwater withdrawals in the Chicago region. In some areas, groundwater is being withdrawn at a rate that exceeds the recharge rate, resulting in decreasing yields, increasing pumping demands, increasing salinity, and the search for alternative water sources, all of which increase the cost of providing water.
The Chicago region’s comprehensive plan, ON TO 2050, includes a recommendation to coordinate and conserve shared water supply resources. The recommendation is based on recent research showing that the long-term sustainability of the region’s groundwater supply is threatened. In addition, the plan recognizes the ongoing challenge of investing in drinking water infrastructure. During the development of ON TO 2050, it became clear that a critical component to making informed land use, transportation, and infrastructure investment decisions was missing – there was no regional data on long-term water demand or recent water rate data – until now.
Food production must shift from ‘linear mass consumption’ to ‘a more circular economy’ to meet growing demand for food in a sustainable way, claims a report which will inform much of the EU’s upcoming ‘Farm to Fork strategy for a sustainable food system’.
As the world starts to reckon with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s dire climate warnings, a good place to begin is food waste. Every year, one-third of the food produced globally for human consumption—1.3 billion tons—is wasted. (Americans in particular throw away 40 percent of their food, despite the fact that most of it is perfectly edible.) In aggregate, the world’s annual food waste produces 3.3 billion tons of carbon. That’s more greenhouse-gas emissions than from 37 million cars. Needless to say, a global effort in the reduction of food waste would go a long way toward mitigating our carbon footprint.
Some people are taking matters into their own hands. Five years ago, Douglas McMaster, a British chef, decided that he wanted to open a restaurant. He traveled the world visiting Michelin-starred restaurants he admired so that he could replicate their success, but was quickly disillusioned. “It was criminal, some of the things that I witnessed with [food] waste,” McMaster says in Matt Hopkins’s short documentary A Failure of the Imagination. “I started to realize that the food industry is a complete disaster. It’s unsustainable… Our expectations and desires are unnatural.”
Welcome to the first Real Green People column. I’m excited to begin bringing you profiles of local people doing interesting and important “green” things. That’s what this column will be, by the way: A spotlight on folks who are being the green change they want to see in the world.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended everyone wear cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Along with the homemade cloth face masks and bandannas, people are wearing disposable gloves and other disposable gear to protect themselves, but what happens to the disposable protective gear when it is no longer needed?
In some cases, that disposable gear is landing in local parking lots and on local sidewalks. Southern Illinoisans have posted complaints on Facebook about protective gear discarded in the parking lots of Schnuck’s Market in Carbondale and Dollar General in Elkville, among others.
In this week’s episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Denise Patel, U.S. program director for the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA).
GAIA advances successful, community-driven waste solutions through systems change and policy advocacy, focusing on three initiatives: promoting zero waste; reducing problematic waste streams and; putting an end to the ineffective and hazardous practice of burning waste
We spoke with Patel about her passion for human rights advocacy, how her work is shifting due to COVID-19, what the current pandemic means for our climate and more.