Is Your Used Pizza Box Recyclable? Here’s How to Find Out

Used pizza boxes are technically recyclable, even if they’re stained with grease or cheese, according to a July report from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), but not all recycling facilities will accept them. Now Domino’s Pizza has launched a new website tool that will help customers figure out if their communities offer the option of pizza box recycling.

A Domino’s-commissioned study conducted by WestRock, a leading pizza box supplier and an AF&PA member, found that “the presence of grease and cheese at levels typically found on pizza boxes does not impact manufacturing in a negative way.”

“Corrugated pizza boxes are successfully recycled every day at paper mills throughout the country, yet consumers remain confused by mixed messages suggesting that some boxes should not be put in the recycle bin,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “So, let’s be clear: Pizza boxes are recyclable. Consumers should not be concerned about grease or cheese; simply remove any leftover pizza and place the box in the recycle bin.”

Many environmentally minded consumers still believe that used pizza boxes are not recyclable. And many recycling experts still say pizza boxes can’t be recycled if they’re soiled with grease or cheese. According to Stanford University’s Stanford Recycling Center, the paper in soiled pizza boxes “cannot be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process. Food is a major source of contamination in paper recycling.”

Treehugger notes that the high rate of contamination in American recyclable materials is why China stopped accepting most recyclables from North America in January 2018.

But Domino’s and WestRock say their study demonstrates that pizza boxes with food stains are not a problem for recycling facilities. “We proved that the grease and cheese residuals, at the levels that are typically found in a pizza box, can make it through the recycling stream with no issue, and […] there’s no issues with the paper after we recycle the boxes,” Jeff Chalovich, WestRock’s chief commercial officer and president of corrugated packaging, explained to Fast Company in a July 22 article.

this photo shows a young woman eating pepperoni pizza from a recyclable pizza box that has a visible grease stain on the bottom.

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok of Pexels

To help consumers move past the confusing and often conflicting claims about recycling pizza boxes, Domino’s created a look-up tool on recycling.dominos.com. It uses zip codes to tell you whether your community’s recycling centers accept used pizza boxes. However, many recycling centers don’t have a clear policy. Search results on some zip codes state, “Recycling guidelines in your area suggest that corrugated boxes are accepted. However, it is not explicitly stated … Recycling guidelines in your area should be updated to explicitly state their acceptance.”

Recycling programs for pizza boxes are available to an estimated 73 percent of the U.S. population, according to a Resource Recycling Systems access study commissioned by WestRock in the fall of 2019. But consumers have long been told that these boxes can’t be recycled, and many end up getting discarded as trash.

“We have heard a lot of excitement from customers about pizza boxes being recyclable. However, sometimes they were confused about their local regulations,” said Jenny Fouracre, director of public relations for Domino’s. “This new tool on our recycling site should help to clarify the local regulations. We are also really happy to see communities nationwide communicating more clearly to residents that they do want pizza boxes in their recycling bins instead of the garbage cans.”

California Governor Signs “World’s Toughest” Recycling Law Covering Plastic Bottles

The state of California struck a well-aimed blow against plastic pollution on Sept. 25 when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that will require plastic beverage containers to be manufactured with recycled material—in amounts that will significantly increase over the next 10 years.

Companies that produce beverages—ranging from bottled water to sodas and sports drinks—will be required to use 15 percent recycled plastic in their bottles by 2022. The amount of recycled plastic must increase to 25 percent by 2025 and to 50 percent by 2030.

Plastics News said the legislation may be “the world’s toughest” law covering recycled content in plastic bottles, noting that it exceeds the European Union’s standards. But the online publication said legislators, under pressure from special-interest groups like the American Beverage Association, watered down the bill with “what some described as potentially significant ‘off ramps’ for companies to seek waivers that could limit the law’s impact.”

Plastic News reported that early versions of the California law required 75 percent recycled content in plastic bottles, but complaints from the beverage and bottle-making industry convinced legislators to soften the bill.

The American Beverage Association’s membership includes soft drink giants like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Coca-Cola has already pledged to switch to 50 percent recycled materials by 2030. PepsiCo last year said it would increase the amount of its recycled content to 35 percent by 2025.

California currently requires glass bottles sold in the state to be made of 35 percent recycled material, while 50 percent of newsprint must be made from recycled content, according to The Mercury News.

The law’s supporters believe it will help boost demand for recycled plastic, reduce litter in waterways and roads, and lower consumption of oil and gas used to manufacture new plastics. “This is the most ambitious, aggressive recycled plastics content law in the world,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the Mercury News.

Out of the estimated 12 billion plastic bottles sold in California each year, about 70 percent are recycled, according to state statistics. Still, more than 3 billion bottles are not recycled and usually end up in landfills or as litter.

The problem of plastic pollution has been complicated by China’s decision two years ago to stop accepting many waste plastics for recycling. That left collectors of used plastic with few options for selling the material.

“We are doing a really good job of collecting things for recycling,” Murray said in the Mercury News story. “The difficult part has been finding an end-use market for it. This new law is about closing the loop. Now companies that manufacture the plastic bottles have to buy them back. They’ll have the responsibility.”

In a website post, Californians Against Waste said the law “has some characteristics that have made it a model [of] efficiency.”

“Like all bottle bills, the payment of a deposit by consumers (California Redemption Value or CRV) is the backbone of the program,” the post explains. “Consumers pay $0.05 for containers under 24 ounces and $0.10 for containers over 24 ounces. That money is returned to consumers when they recycle their containers or is ‘donated’ to a curbside operator or nonprofit recycler, depending on how the consumer chooses to recycle the container.”

“The CRV is essential to California’s high beverage container recycling rate and its low beverage container litter rate,” the post continues. “By putting a monetary value on the recycling of beverage containers, consumers are much more likely to recycle” plastic bottles rather than throw them in the trash or discard them outdoors.

The bill also requires manufacturers of beverage containers to pay a fee that goes to recyclers, helping them offset the cost differential between the cost to recycle that type of container and the value that type of recycled material fetches on the marketplace.

“Because the processing fee is much higher for difficult-to-recycle container types, like #3-7 plastic, California’s bottle bill incentivizes manufacturers to design their products with recyclability in mind.”

California State Assembly members Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, authored the bill.

“The time has come for companies to step up and help us be good environmental stewards,” Ting told The Mercury News. “By boosting the market for used plastics, fewer containers will end up as litter.”

West Virginia Wesleyan College Unveils Solar Canopy With Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

West Virginia Wesleyan College, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, and key partners recently unveiled a solar canopy that will help reduce the school’s carbon footprint and boost its sustainability efforts.

The solar canopy houses four electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and has a solar capacity of approximately 60 kilowatts, which will provide the energy equivalent of the use of six average American homes for a year. In addition, the solar canopy has the potential to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to the output of 13 average American cars for one year.

Thanks to the support of the energy sector, including alumnus Charles “Chip” Pickering of Pickering Energy Solutions, “The college is able to expand its solar footprint with the opening of the solar-powered canopy,” Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia Wesleyan, said.

Related: Recycling cars in the modern world

Thierstein noted that the solar canopy joins the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library as the second on-campus entity with a clean-energy component. The solar canopy was made possible by a gift from Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provided a federal grant to incentivize the investment by Pickering and Pickering Energy Solutions.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the sustainability efforts of West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Pickering said. “From their recycling programs to energy-efficiency projects, adding renewable energy provides support for the development and focus of the next generation of our future leaders.”

Other participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Keri Dunn of Pickering Energy Solutions; Kris Warner of the USDA Rural Development; and Robert Fernatt of the West Virginia Electric Auto Association.

Related: Auburn professor’s research aims to make more efficient use of solar energy

“Pickering Energy Solutions is honored to be able to facilitate the use of clean energy and encourage the use of electric vehicles in West Virginia and specifically here at West Virginia Wesleyan College,” Dunn said.

“Having the ability to produce clean, renewable energy in West Virginia is an important asset that helps the West Virginia economy and rural communities by reducing energy costs and saving money that can be utilized in other key areas of the community,” Warner added.

“This is very exciting,” Thierstein later told a local TV station. “The students are excited to see this kind of thing because it means we are on the cutting edge. We are a state-of-the-art campus, and this is evidence that we are.”

This article has been adapted from the original version appearing on the West Virginia Wesleyan College website.

Scientists from Two Sullivan Partner Schools Lead Research Expedition to Antarctica

Professors from two Sullivan Foundation partner schools will lead a scientific expedition this month to study unexplored Antarctic waters, hoping to improve understanding of biodiversity undergoing rapid disruption due to a changing climate.

Twenty scientists will participate in the 14-week voyage, which begins on Sept. 20. The research will be led by Kenneth M. Halanych, a professor and Schneller Endowed Chair of biological sciences at Sullivan partner school Auburn University, and Kevin M. Kocot, assistant professor of biological sciences at Sullivan partner school University of Alabama and curator of Invertebrate Zoology for the Alabama Museum of Natural History.

Related: Duke University researcher tracks down cute mouse-like creature in the Horn of Africa

Other research leaders are Andrew Mahon, professor of biology at Central Michigan University; Deric Learman, professor of biology at Central Michigan; and Sarah Gerken, professor of biological sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Funded by four grants totaling more than $2 million from the National Science Foundation, researchers will explore the biodiversity, evolution and biogeographic patterns of animals and microbes living in the Weddell Sea. Using data and biological samples collected during the trip, the scientists will use morphological and molecular tools to assess Antarctic biodiversity and unrecognized genetic variation and patterns of relatedness between populations of marine Antarctic species.

Joint research by Halanych and Mahon attempts to understand environmental factors shaping patterns of diversity in the invertebrates living on the ocean floor in the Southern Ocean through studying their DNA. The findings will inform predictions about how species distributions may change as Antarctic ice sheets melt and how organisms adjust their geographic range in response to environmental changes.

Scientists from Sullivan Foundation partner schools Auburn University and the University of Alabama will lead a research voyage to the Antarctic to explore how climate change affects biodiversity in the region’s waters.

“An organism’s history is written in their genome,” Halanych said. “We will use evolutionary genomic tools to explore biodiversity in Antarctic marine invertebrates and use this information to inform us on how human-mediated climate change may shape populations of marine animals in the future.”

Antarctica is among the most rapidly warming places on the planet, and some reports suggest the Antarctic environment is approaching, or possibly beyond, the tipping point for ice-shelf collapse. The loss of ice around Antarctica is dramatically changing habitat availability for marine life, particularly invertebrate species living on the ocean floor.

Related: Oglethorpe University senior has simple solution to better protect Hawaii’s dolphins

“Antarctica is changing more quickly than anywhere else in the world,” Kocot said. “Conserving the deep sea and polar regions is really important, even if people don’t see it. Having this baseline of what lives there and having more people who can do that in the future is really important.”

For Kocot, this will be the first of two trips to the Antarctic waters over the next four years to find new species of aplacophorans, a group of poorly known worm-like mollusks with scales or spines, and to use advanced imaging and DNA sequencing techniques to identify and classify them.

Aplacophora is one of many groups of organisms diverse and ecologically important in the deep sea and polar regions, but they have been studied by just a handful of researchers worldwide. Kocot and his students aim to understand the diversity of this group and its evolution.

“If we don’t know what’s down there, we can’t know what we’re losing,” Kocot said. “We have to continue to explore the world.”

Similarly, Gerken is a leading expert on “comma shrimp,” formally called Cumacea, which are small crustaceans living in ocean sediment. Cumaceans are potentially ecologically important, occasionally occurring in high enough densities that grey whales prey on them, yet not much is known about them. Her planned monograph on the Antarctic Cumacea will provide a resource for future work in the region.

“It is a constant surprise how much there is left to learn about our world,” she said.

Work led by Learman aims to better understand how tiny organisms in the sea floor called microbes are impacting carbon cycling in an ecosystem experiencing massive changes. Through studying the genetics and function of microbes collected during the expedition, researchers will determine the species in the community and how they break down organic matter, which drives the distribution of nutrients in the sediment’s ecosystem.

“While microorganisms are the smallest forms of life on Earth, they are the gatekeepers of the cycling of essential nutrients, such as carbon and nitrogen, and the foundation of the food chain that support larger and more complex forms of life,” Learman said.

Follow the researchers on their journey through their online blog at Icy Inverts.

This article has been edited from the original version appearing on the Auburn University website.

Recycling Cars in the Modern World

By Carmen Adams

For most of history, humanity has been forced to recycle due to the general scarcity of materials. To make even something as simple as a shirt was hard work. But since the dawn of the industrial age, the production of goods has become increasingly faster, more effective and cheaper. The only thing that separates the modern human from a t-shirt (or a value pack of six) is the click of a button. But it has also become much easier to throw things away without a second thought.

Recycling of a Different Kind
When we usually think about recycling, the first thought that comes to mind is household waste. Recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass and metal have become ubiquitous. While small-scale consumer recycling definitely makes a difference, one of the most important avenues for recycling is something that you won’t be able to chuck in your nearest recycling bin.

Related: 10-year-old Ryan Hickman leads global recycling effort

More than 25 million vehicles reach the end of the road (no pun intended) every year. In the European Union alone, end-of-life- vehicles (ELV) generate close to 8 million tons of waste. That is a lot of waste! And, more importantly, a lot of potential for recycling.

In some parts of the world, ditching your car all together is an environmentally friendly move that is also realistic. Many European cities boast ultra-developed public transport systems that make a car-free life practical. Even commuting by bicycle is easy and more common. But for many, life without a car is not really an option, and the second best thing is recycling.

Recycling Vehicles
Recycling cars is not new. The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) was established in 1943 and is “an international trade association that represents an industry dedicated to the efficient removal and reuse of automotive parts and the safe disposal of inoperable motor vehicles.” Car recycling is a massive worldwide industry, and recycling technologies and techniques have developed in parallel with the technologies of the manufacturing industry.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

The Benefits of Recycling Cars
The environmental impact is obvious. To manufacture one large car creates about 55 gallons of dangerous waste. According to a report by the State of Washington Department of Ecology, recycling saves on an annual basis around:

  • 8 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel
  • 24 million gallons of motor oil
  • 8 million gallons of engine coolant
  • 5 million gallons of windshield washer fluid
  • 96% of all lead-acid batteries

In addition to reducing dangerous waste, around 18 million tons of steel is recycled from ELV’s on an annual basis. If you take into account that every ton of steel that’s recycled conserves about 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone, it becomes clear that recycling cars definitely makes a big impact.

Related: Art project featuring old bike wheels gives new meaning to “recycling”

The environmental impact is not the only benefit. I looked for a car recycling service to get the inside scoop, and I ended up making contact with the SellMax office in San Diego to find out more about the economic benefits of car recycling and to speak about the industry.

Their website lists an impressive collection of statistics:

  • In addition to its environmental impact, the car recycling industry generates over $25 billion a year in revenue. That’s a lot of money—and a lot of jobs!
  • It also turns out Americans are really good at recycling cars. In fact, cars are the most recycled item in the country, with around 12 million vehicles being recycled each year.
  • Every year, car recycling in North America produces enough steel to produce 13 million new vehicles and saves about 85 million barrels of oil.

How Does Car Recycling Work?
A surprisingly large percentage of a car can be recycled—more than 75%. When a car reaches the end of its life, it enters the recycling stream by either being taken to a junkyard or to an auto-recycling facility specifically meant for cars. It then undergoes a few basic steps:

  1. Inspection. The first question is one of economics: Would it have more value if repaired or recycled? If it’s clear that repairing it would not be profitable, the car is recycled. The vast majority of cars in a junk yard undergoes recycling.
  2. Draining. There’s a lot of juices flowing around in a car: oil, gas, brake fluid, transmission fluid etc. The car is drained, and dangerous waste is disposed, while other liquids like gas are salvaged.
  3. Dismantling. The usable parts of the car are removed. This includes the engine and transmission (if in suitable condition), and smaller items like tires, batteries, etc. Some of these parts are cleaned and sold as is or used to remanufacture components.
  4. Crushed. Once all the good stuff has been removed, the only thing that remains is the body, which is about 75% metals. The car is crushed, and the metal is recycled.

What about the remaining 25%? After the metal has been removed and the car is crushed, the part of the car that remains is known as the “shredder residue.” Usually, this ends up in landfills, which is both an environmental and economic concern. The issue is becoming increasingly worrisome since modern car producers are starting to employ more lightweight materials and moving away from heavy, composite metals, leading to an increase in shredder residue. However, the good news is that many institutions, like the United States Council for Automotive Research, are creating advanced technological processes for salvaging various items from the shredder residue.

Related: The Plastic Bank turns plastic waste into currency for the poor

With the help of salvaging processes, many valuable materials are salvaged from the residue, including plastic, polyurethane foam, polymers, even nylon from car carpets. More and more ingenious methods are invented to salvage materials in a way that makes it economic enough to validate reuse.

In a report by the Argonne Laboratory of the University of Chicago, it is explained that the recycling of these plastics and other organic material in the shredder residue saves the equivalent of around 23 million barrels of oil annually, resulting in a reduction of 12 million tons of greenhouse gases.

Recycle that Hunk o’ Junk!
As we move forward into the 21st century and recycling goes from just being the concern of the green-minded environmentalists towards a global problem that is imperative for the sustained wellbeing of all humans on the limit, the role of vehicle recycling will certainly continue to play an important part. So, if it’s time to start looking for a new ride, be sure that your old one ends up where it should!

Carmen Adams is a master’s student at San Diego State University. She has been passionate about bettering the environment since a young age. When she’s not studying, she’s spending much of her free time working with the Surfrider Foundation in San Diego.

Pioneer of Slow Money Movement Launches Beetcoin to Boost Small, Local Farms

When it comes to funding local farms and food startups, social entrepreneur Woody Tasch believes slow and small wins the race. That’s the principle behind the Slow Money Institute, which Tasch founded in 2009, and his latest initiative, Beetcoin.

The Slow Money Institute connects investors with independent farmers, thus “catalyzing the flow of capital to local food systems, connecting investors to the places where they live and promoting new principles of fiduciary responsibility that ‘bring money back down to earth,’” according the nonprofit’s website.

The institute promotes the formation of self-organizing local groups with a focus on local sustainable farming. The groups host public meetings, on-farm events and pitch events and help facilitate peer-to-peer loans, investment clubs and nonprofit clubs making no-interest loans. According to the website, the institute’s work has generated more than $73 million for 752 food enterprises “in deals large and small.”

this photo shows the family that owns Ollin Farms, a recipient of a SOIL group loan connected to the Slow Money Institute and Beetcoin.

Ollins Farms in Longmont, Colorado, received a zero-percent loan from a local SOIL group.

According to Denver publication 5280.com, Beetcoin, which grew out of the slow money movement, allows individuals “without deep pockets” to invest in locally owned agricultural businesses “committed to doing the right things for the earth.” These small donations from microinvestors are pooled, and the money goes to support  local Slow Money’s SOIL (Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally) groups, which give zero-percent loans to small farmers and startups.

“Our hope is that a large number of people chip in $10, $25, $50,” Tasch told 5280.com. “In the greater scheme of things, it’s small. We hope that, over time, it will grow.”

There are presently five SOIL groups in the U.S.—four in Colorado and one in Virginia. Those five groups thus far have received $1.25 million from 304 members and issued nearly $800,000 in zero-percent loans to 60 agricultural entrepreneurs. There is a membership fee of $250 to join the group, and all members get an equal vote on which projects to fund.

Recipients of loans have included Two Roots Farm in Basalt, Colo.; Ollin Farms in Longmont, Colo.; and Native Hill Farm in Fort Collins, Colo.

pictured are the owners of Two Roots Farm in Colorado, recipient of a loan from a SOIL group connected with the Slow Money Institute

Two Roots Farm, located in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, received a no-interest $7,500 loan from a SOIL group to help purchase materials for a mobile walk-in cooler and a drip-irrigation system.

To receive funding, farmers and food startup owners pitch their projects to the group and explain how they will make a positive impact on local food systems. The loans might be used to pay for a new tractor or a drip irrigation system, whatever is needed to improve the operation. Once the loan is repaid, the money goes back into the pool for future loans. “The money you put in stays in and recirculates indefinitely,” Tasch told 5280.com.

“We’re not kidding about the slow part,” Tasch added. “The idea is to very slowly grow this thing. We’re trying to build a movement of people who see that banding together with your neighbors to invest for the long-term health of the community is important … If we’re going to do what needs to be done in the world today, it’s going to take a lot of small local actions.”

Duke University Researcher Tracks Down Cute Mouse-Like Creature in Horn of Africa

It’s the size of a mouse with a long nose, it’s adorable even to hard-nosed scientists, and it mates for life. But the Somali Sengi has been missing in action for decades. Now, thanks to a researcher at Sullivan Foundation partner school Duke University, the fuzzy, remarkably speedy little critter has been rediscovered in the Republic of Djibouti—and it’s living its best life.

The Somali Sengi, also called the Somali Elephant-Shrew, is a tiny African mammal boasting a long and flexible nose that it waggles to and fro. In fact, it’s a close relative of other trunk-nosed creatures like aardvarks, elephants and manatees.

Related: University of North Carolina research explains why sea turtles eat plastic

Unfortunately, no scientist had seen this particular species of sengi from the Horn of Africa since the early 1970s. Only three dozen historical specimens existed in museums. That made the sengi among the top 25 most-wanted in the Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species initiative.

Early last year, Steven Heritage, a researcher at the Duke Lemur Center, set out with a small team of other zoologists, including Galen Rathbun from the California Academy of Sciences and Houssein Rayaleh from Association Djibouti Nature, to see if the Somali Sengi was still around—and maybe hanging out somewhere else in eastern Africa other than Somalia.

More than 1,200 live-traps later, they had found eight Somali Sengis and a whole bunch of mice and gerbils.

“It was amazing,” Heritage told Sci-News. “When we opened the first trap and saw the little tuft of hair on the tip of its tail, we just looked at one another and couldn’t believe it.”

“A number of small mammal surveys since the 1970s did not find the Somali Sengi in Djibouti—it was serendipitous that it happened so quickly for us.”

this photo shows Dr. Steven Heritage of Duke University with a small brown Somali sengi or Somali elephant-shrew

Dr. Steven Heritage of Duke University shows a tiny Somali sengi caught in a live-trap baited with peanut butter, oatmeal and yeast.

With some modeling of its distribution and potential habitats, the researchers also concluded that the Somali Sengi is a lot more common than people had thought, with a much larger range that includes hot, dry and rocky parts of Somalia, Djibouti and maybe even neighboring Ethiopia. The finding should move the sengis from “data deficient” to “least concern” on the missing-species lists.

In an interview about the discovery with CNN, Heritage said the sengi is noted for its long hind limbs, which make them swift runners. “The proportions of their hind limbs are closer to antelopes or gazelles than they are to other small mammals,” Heritage told CNN. He said that some species of sengi can run up to 18.6 miles per hour.

The sengi are also monogamous and pair off for life with their mates.

“In the scientific community, we try to use a reserved language that would classify the animals as ‘charismatic microfauna,’ which translates from science-speak to normal-speak as ‘adorable little animals,’” Heritage told CNN.

After some careful DNA and anatomical analyses of the captured animals, the research team not only confirmed that the little mammal, known as Elephantulus revoilii, was alive and well, but that it had been misclassified by scientists, probably because of the sparse data.

In a paper appearing Aug. 18 in the open access journal PeerJ, the scientists nominated the resurrected sengi for its own genus, which would make its new name Galegeeska revoilii.

“For us living in Djibouti—and, by extension, the Horn of Africa—we never considered the sengis to be ‘lost,’ but this new research does bring the Somali Sengi back into the scientific community, which we value,” Rayaleh told Sci-News. “For Djibouti, this is an important story that highlights the great biodiversity of the country and the region and shows that there are new opportunities for new science and research here.”

This article was adapted from a Duke University press release and other media reports.

 

Leading CEOs Propose Roadmap to Building a Purpose-First Economy

A new coalition of global leaders, including the CEOs of Danone, Mahindra, Philips, L’Oreal, and other companies representing a combined annual revenue of over $100 billion and a combined global workforce of over 500,000, have endorsed a roadmap to “build the economic system better,” rather than merely “building it back.”

As Real Leaders magazine reports, the goal of the roadmap is to create an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID economy that benefits society, the planet, and shareholders for generations. In an open letter, the group of 14 CEOs called on governments to accelerate such a transition by recognizing and supporting purpose-first business as an emerging fourth sector of the economy.

The signatories to the letter have also committed to advance the purpose-first economy by leveraging their procurement, innovation, research, development, and investment to accelerate the growth of this critical sector. The letter provides a practical roadmap for proactively redesigning corporate structures and government policies to develop a more supportive ecosystem for organizations that operate under a new business logic. The leaders have urged businesses and governments to join them.

“Our world was a dangerous and troubled place even before COVID-19 took hold,” said Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, who is now working on transforming the structural impediments to sustainable business. “We have the chance to rebuild a fairer, greener society. But to do so, we need courageous business leaders who are willing to act, individually and collectively. It’s why I applaud the signatories of this letter. No company alone can solve the problems we face. But together, we can begin to challenge the orthodoxies which got us here. Together we can help the world change.”

Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, said: “Today, more than ever, the world needs to reimagine a new future, a future in which people can feel safe and protected. The initiative being set in motion by Leaders on Purpose is an effort toward defining the new environment. It provides a much-needed aspirational framework that can change the language of business discourse and how we regard the future. This philosophy resonates deeply with Mahindra’s vision and has the potential to become a movement that will define the future for generations.”

The group’s diverse community includes corporate leaders from across the globe, including Ajay Banga (Mastercard); Alan Murray (Fortune Media); Anand Mahindra (Mahindra Mahindra); Dan Hendrix (Interface); Dylan Taylor (Voyager Space Holdings); Emmanuel Faber (Danone); Feike Sijbesma (DSM); Frans van Houten (Philips); Dr. James Mwangi (Equity Bank); Jean-Paul Agon (L’Oreal); John Denton (ICC); Mike Doyle (Omnicom-Ketchum); Roberto Marques (Natura & Co.); and Stefan De Loecker (Beiersdorf).

While governments around the world debate economic and social policies designed to jumpstart their economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Build it Better” framework includes six key imperatives for public and private sector leaders to guide innovation of public policy as well as corporate and financial structures to accelerate the progress of the purpose-first economy. These imperatives include:

  • Recognize the purpose-first sector.
  • Carefully craft incentives and policies.
  • Incentivize innovations of financial products, risk assessment, valuation models, and ratings.
  • Design for a safe, educated, and healthy society.
  • Leave no one behind.
  • Enable a supportive ecosystem.

Feike Sijbesma, honorary chairman of DSM, said: “The private sector needs an integrated strategy and supportive ecosystem that integrates more fairness, less dependency, more climate and sustainability focus, preparedness, and agility for uncertain times. We each have to think about the world around us, our role in it, our tremendous potential, and how we can contribute to making it better together.”

About Real Leaders Magazine: Located on the web at real-leaders.com, Real Leaders Magazine is the world’s first sustainable business and leadership magazine. Real Leaders aims to inspire better leaders for a better world, a world of far-sighted, sustainable leadership that helps find solutions to the problems that 7.5 billion people have created on a small planet. Click here to subscribe to Real LeadersFor more Real Leaders video content, check out their Youtube page here.

Girl Scout Creates Sustainable Shopping Maps to Combat Fast Fashion

Sarah Kessler is a Girl Scout on a mission: to educate consumers in Grand Rapids, Michigan, about the problems posed by “fast fashion” and the need to shop sustainably.

According to the West Central Tribune, Kessler, 16, has been working on her Gold Award, the highest achievement for a Girl Scout (similar to the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America). To earn the award, she had to develop and execute a project that would have a lasting positive effect in the community.

After learning about the environmental impact of fast fashion and the plight of low-paid factory employees working in the industry, Kessler decided to help local shoppers make better buying decisions. She created two shopping maps covering a large swath of northern Minnesota. One map highlights stores that carry responsibly made, locally made and/or Fair Trade Certified products. The second map focuses on those stores that offer second-hand goods.

“When I kind of learned about how badly we need sustainable fashion, I was just really shocked, because I’d been into fashion my whole life, and I’d never heard this before,” Kessler, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1483, told the West Central Tribune. “I was just really amazed, and I wanted to give people the opportunity to know how their actions affect so much more than they think it does.”

For her Gold Award project, Kessler contacted more than 80 stores within a 300-mile radius to gauge their commitment to sustainability. She took into account whether the stores were paperless or offered single-use plastic bags. “It was really inspiring to see how many stores did have responsibly and locally made stuff,” she said. “The more we know, the more we can make informed, ethical decisions.”

Kessler also created a YouTube video that succinctly and effectively explains the problems with fast fashion and how to shop sustainably. “We like these clothes because we can buy a lot of them for really low prices,” she explains in the video. “But they’re such poor quality that they wear out and fall apart really quickly and become garbage. It’s disposable clothing.”

She also notes that the fast-fashion industry “is a major contributor” to global warming. It releases 1.2 billion tons of carbon every year, Kessler says, and generates 20 percent of the planet’s waste water (fresh water that is rendered unusable).

Additionally, 40 percent of purchased clothing is never even worn, Kessler says in the video. “One garbage truck full of clothing—that’s 530 garbage bags—is being burned or dumped into a landfill every second.”

Kessler’s video also touches on the issue of worker exploitation in developing countries where fast fashion clothing is usually made. “People are dying at work from making our clothes. Most of the people making our clothes are being exploited and physically, verbally and/or sexually abused. They work in awful conditions every day and are not even paid enough to live. This is not OK.”

The video, titled “Fast Fashion & How to Fix It,” was posted on June 20 and has garnered 270 views and 20 likes. On August 10, Kessler posted a second video, titled, “Sustainable Fashion: A Beginner’s Guide.” (See below.)

Meanwhile, Kessler plans to distribute her sustainable shopping maps at visitor centers and chambers of commerce throughout northern Minnesota. The map can also be viewed at visitgrandrapids.com, while her project is featured on her Instagram account, @fashion_or_planet_choose_both.

“When we buy from a brand, we directly support everything they do, including environmental and social crimes,” Kessler notes in the YouTube video.

“We can’t survive without clean water and air,” she adds. “And fast fashion is wasting it.”

Camila Coelho Launches Line of Sustainable Beauty Products

As a little girl, Camila Coelho loved playing dress-up with her mom’s cosmetics. Now, at 32, the social media influencer has launched her own line of beauty products, and she went to great effort to incorporate sustainability and responsible sourcing into her business plan.

Coelho, who has 8.8 million followers on Instagram and 4.7 million subscribers on her YouTube channels, recently unveiled Elaluz by Camila Coelho, a line of beauty products with key ingredients sourced from her native Brazil. (Coehlo has noted that “Elaluz” means “she is light” in Portuguese.)

“I’ve always loved beauty, ever since I was a little girl,” she recently told Harper’s Bazaar Arabia (HBA). “Growing up, I have countless memories of myself playing with makeup when I was around four or five years old. When I was six, I asked my grandmother if I could wear her red lipstick for my passport photo. I actually still have that photo.”

After her family moved to Scranton, Penn. in the U.S., Coelho worked at a makeup counter in a department store as a teenager. Before long, she was creating beauty-focused vlogs on YouTube and building a powerhouse brand that evolved from her social-media presence.

Camila Coelho launched her new cosmetics brand, Elaluz, with sustainability, transparency and inclusivity in mind.

“At the time, [social media influencing] was super-new, and I didn’t know that this could become my job,” she said in the HBA interview. “It started out really organically and, in the past few years, I’ve had a successful career on social media by being able to work with all these brands. But my biggest dream has always been to create my own beauty line; it’s been on my mind for a long time. This isn’t something I decided to spontaneously do in the past few years.”

Coelho said she was “100 percent involved” in all aspects of creating the Elaluz brand, “from the packaging to the formulation.”

Sustainability “was super-important to me,” she noted. “I knew right from the start I wanted sustainable packaging for our products and our ingredients to be clean, but I also knew that it was going to be a challenge.”

She said most of Elaluz’s packaging is recyclable or made from reusable materials. “I wanted the packaging to look as luxurious as possible while also being sustainable,” she said. “We had to work a lot on it, but I’m happy we made it happen.”

“When it came to the ingredients, there was a ton of back-and-forth on it as I wanted the formulation to be clean, high-quality and long-lasting. We’re also using a lot of Brazilian ingredients within the products, ingredients derived from fruit and nuts, which was a big priority for me, as I come from Brazil.”

According to the Zoe Report, those ingredients include guarana, buriti fruit oil and cupuacu seed butter, all of which grown naturally in Brazil.

Coelho kicked off the new line with just two products, both available on the brand’s website: 24K Lip Therapy ($28) and Lip & Cheek Stain ($34). “I wanted Elaluz to be a luxury brand, but a mindful luxury brand,” Coelho told the Zoe Report. “A brand that would have inclusivity, sustainability and transparency as our main pillars. A brand that was mindful when it came to ingredients, packaging—everything.”