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Exclusive Poll – ODP's Green Consumerism Index, the King of Green Beers, and our Interview and Heroes of the Week
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By: Monica Medina and Miro Korenha

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Friday, May 18th, 2018

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ODP's Green Consumer Index Shows Americans Support Sustainable Companies

The results of our recent poll conducted by Change Research Partners show that green consumerism is on the rise and that a growing number of Americans vastly prefer to purchase eco-friendly products from sustainable companies and companies that want to lower their carbon footprint. An overwhelming majority of Democrats, well over half of Independents and a surprising number of Republicans are buying more sustainable products than they were five years ago. One notable result was that 64% of all respondents, including 40% of Republicans, said that they consider gas mileage when purchasing or leasing a vehicle.  This is something the Trump administration should consider before moving to weaken fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. 
Green consumers are pushing companies toward more sustainable practices and driving the market to deliver more eco-friendly products to all Americans. Over the next few days, we'll bring you some consumer-focused stories to help highlight how companies are stepping up to reduce waste and emissions as a result of consumer sentiment. 


The King of Green Beers

Last month, Anheuser-Busch, the 165-year-old owner of brands including Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois announced that the roughly $400 million worth of electricity it purchases each year would be 100-percent renewable by 2025. The beer Goliath's stated sustainability goals also include ambitious vows to package beverages in majority-recycled content, improve water efficiency, work directly with farmers, and reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent. Perhaps most notably, all cans and bottles of Bud, as of this past Earth Day, sport a "100% Renewable Electricity" symbol. The idea is to make consumers aware that the suds they're swilling can be credited to sources such as solar and wind.

Why This Matters: It's great that a company as big as AB has committed to using renewable energy. Large companies like this are driving America's renewable energy boom--which is good news for our planet. Also, since Budweiser's target demographic isn't the same as that of Patagonia or Ben and Jerry's (they are mostly white, working-class men in the interior of America) this could help normalize renewable energy and sustainability in a part of the country where those terms are more politically charged. While the majority of Americans do want a healthier planet, some aren't comfortable being vocable about it in their communities. But if the beer they're drinking after work supports renewable energy, it "creates legitimacy for the position that clean energy isn't just some libtard nonsense," according to business consultant and author Shel Horowitz


Interview of the Week:  George Chmael, President and CEO of Council Fire.  George has been a pioneer in the social enterprise and sustainability movement for much of his professional career.

ODP:  You helped to launch the B-Corporation movement.  What does it take to be certified as a B Corporation?  Have those standards remained high even as the world of B Corps has grown?

GC:  For too long, business pursued a strategy of winners and losers, focused on economic profit for a privileged few.  The B Corp movement changes that dynamic and is about using business as a force for good and a driver for a shared and durable prosperity. As for certification itself, B Corp is the gold standard for sustainable business. It is an extremely rigorous framework that measures the depth and breadth of a company's impact on it workers, customers, community and the environment. 

ODP:  How many B Corporations are there now across the country?  Do you believe that B Corporations are more impactful than government in creating a sustainable economy in the U.S.? 

GC:  The B Corp certification was created in 2008 and there are now over 2500 certified B Corps in 60+ countries and more than 130 industries around the world. We have the cutting edge companies that you'd expect, like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's and Warby Parker, and ones you might not like Laureate Education which employs tens of thousands and educates more than 1 million students in its universities around the world. Think of governmental policies as establishing the floor for our economy, the foundation upon which companies build day to day commerce. Sustainable businesses are constructing an economy that is fair, just and inclusive and provides the services and product we want without destroying our planet.  And that effort continues regardless of political swings and changes in administration.

ODP:  Your company, Council Fire, is an award-winning B Corporation — what do you think is the key to being a successful B Corporation?  We hope to be one at Our Daily Planet — what should we aspire to?

GC:  We are deeply proud of our certification and designation as a "Best for the World" corporation.  One needs to adopt a different mindset from what we are taught in school about business success. Businesses need to see themselves as social enterprises, organizations hell-bent on making a difference in the lives of all with whom they interact. Committed leaders get it done. And the entire B Corp community is there to help you. There is no more collaborative collection of organizations and individuals in the business world.

ODP:  Some skeptics say this B-Corporation “movement” is just marketing — what do you say to those who think B Corps are just a bunch of bunk?  

GC:  I'd say they don't really know B Corps very well at all.  The certification provides a reliable, trustworthy way for consumers, prospective employees and investors to know that they are dealing with a company committed to the highest standards of economic, environmental and social impact. You can check out Council Fire’s recent series of reports detailing the quantifiable impacts that B Corps can and are having on our economy.   

ODP:  Your work with conservation-focused B Corporations must make you optimistic about the future — what do you see in terms of future growth for B Corporations in the conservation and environment space?

GC: There is tremendous opportunity in the conservation and environmental space for sure.  Companies are being challenged to not only reduce harmful environmental practices but encouraged to move to regenerative practices and being rewarded in the marketplace for doing so. In a world currently fraught with political extremism, economic instability, growing wealth inequality, and severe climate change impacts, I see this movement as the ultimate counterbalance - the private sector, unparalleled in its economic strength, using that power to bring stability, equality, and solutions to the table - and it comes in just the nick of time.  

Thanks, George!  We agree - now more than ever.  As our poll results show, the green economy has great momentum!

To Go Deeper:  You can find lots more information about B Corps by clicking here.  


Image: Jorge Gamboa/National Geographic
NatGeo's Planet or Plastic? Campaign Catching the Eye of the World 

The amount of plastic pollution around the world and especially in our oceans is staggering and as a result, National Geographic has made a new global commitment to help solve this urgent challenge. On Wednesday, NatGeo launched Planet or Plastic?, a multiyear initiative aimed at raising awareness of the issue and reducing the amount of single-use plastic that enters the world's oceans. Doing so will not only benefit the millions of marine animals that become entangled and suffocate in plastic but will also improve the overall health of marine ecosystems and the millions of people that rely on them. 

As Mashable reported, for its June 2018 cover and part of its "Planet or Plastic?" initiative, the magazine published a cover that's been widely shared on the internet and described as "dire" and "brilliant." Created by Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa, the photo-illustration features a plastic bag partially submerged in the ocean, suggesting that the world's plastic pollution problem is "just the tip of the iceberg." Gamboa had submitted the artwork, titled Iceberg Plástico, to Bolivia's Biennial of Poster in 2017, where it won first place in the political and social posters category. Now gracing National Geographic, the artwork is set to become iconic.

Why This Matters: Through storytelling and science, Planet or Plastic? will leverage the power of NatGeo's media portfolio around the world and the expertise of its explorers and scientists who are witnessing firsthand the devastating impacts of this crisis. No one does imagery better than NatGeo and hopefully, this new campaign can open the eyes of the world to the dire consequences of our addiction to plastic. As their website states, "we depend on plastic, now we're drowning in it." 

We highly encourage you to check out this month's National Geographic magazine and visit the Planet or Plastic? website


ODP Adopts Another Rescued Penguin:  Meet Duchess Meghan

Our loyal ODP readers will remember that for World Penguin Day in April, to raise awareness about the plight of penguins, we at Our Daily Planet adopted a South African rescued penguin — and then we had a contest to name it.  Your response was overwhelming!  Prince Harry was the winning name.  To thank the huge number of participants in the contest, we said we would adopt another penguin named Meghan if Prince Harry won. Yesterday we welcomed Duchess Meghan into the ODP family and announced via tweet that these penguins are a "wedding gift" from all of us to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for all their fantastic work on behalf of saving endangered species in Africa. Prince Harry has said that saving endangered animals is "God's test" for humanity.

Why This Matters:  Penguins are in need of our help and the contest was a great way to raise awareness about that. This gift to the royal couple is in keeping with their request that people donate to causes they support on their behalf.  This is how we change the world -- by using our combined strength and generosity of spirit to do good things.  

What You Can Do:  Adopt a penguin!  The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SACCOB) is a wonderful organization that rescues and rehabilitates birds.  You can learn more about their work by watching the video below.

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from the readers of Our Daily Planet!



Heroes of the Week: Green Lawyers Using Their Superpowers To Share The Power of the Sun

We loved this story from The Washington Post about two legal beagles -- Jeff Lesk and Herb Stevens of the law firm Nixon Peabody -- who decided to install solar panels on the firm’s office in the Chinatown neighborhood and then used their knowledge of the law and the city bureaucracy to benefit the city’s most vulnerable residents. They knew that D.C. residents with solar panels can sell energy credits to the local utility company, which must produce 1 percent of its energy from solar sources. Solar credits generated in one part of the city can then be sent to another.

So the law firm got a grant from the city and formed a nonprofit to run their energy transfer program.  They donated their energy credits to people who need them, in this case, the credits helped residents at Copeland Manor, a community in Southeast Washington, including Edna Wimberly, 71, who has lived in the complex for nine years, pays $700 a month in rent and lives on a fixed income. The firm will offer solar credits to two other apartment complexes, but it hasn’t yet announced the locations. This second phase is expected to benefit about 300 residents.  

What a win-win!  We hope other DC businesses will follow their lead and do the same!

Thanks for reading this week.  Have a great weekend and we will be back on Monday!
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