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  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein

    What comes to your mind when you hear the word “failure?” Which sort of feelings does the sound of it engender within you? Not very good ones, probably.

    As a society, we have been systematically wired and re-wired to abhor failure – F’s on quizzes, exams and science projects when you were younger were embarrassing…

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  • The True Cost of Traceability

    29 Nov 2011 – LIz Muller

    SustainAbility’s recent paper – Signed, Sealed…Delivered? – provides thoughtful insight and constructive recommendations on ways to make large scale shifts to new models of production, which will result in more sustainable and socially beneficial conditions.

    My work is centered on linking market demands with improved raw material production through complex commodity supply chains and business realities. I believe that we must account for the true cost of a sustainability or ethical system and maximize…

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  • Earlier this month, the Obama administration decided to delay the decision on approval of the XL pipeline until 2013, ostensibly to further study the pipeline’s potential environmental impacts.

    The fight over the pipeline, which would transport tar sands crude from Canada to US refineries in the Gulf of Mexico region, has become a symbol of a broader argument.

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  • “Ideate. Renovate. Validate. Kill.” These were the four rapid-fire imperatives imparted by Privahini Bradoo, CEO and Co-Founder of BioMine, at last month’s GreenBiz Innovation Forum in San Francisco. The first three received nods from the audience as straight-forward principles of innovation, but the fourth caused the audience to stir. Kill – not just weeding out bad ideas but rather killing good ones – is a principle Bradoo attributed to Steve Jobs, who said that good ideas were the greatest roadblocks to coming up with great ones.

    This has stuck with me as I’ve continued to follow the disruption now playing out in the food sector. Some of the most iconic food companies…

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  • Influencing Consumer Behaviour

    16 Nov 2011 – Simon Lee

    As SustainAbility’s new report, Signed, Sealed… Delivered?, explains, certification marks can help build trust in brands and influence consumer behaviour. But they are not universally successful, for all people, in all circumstances. What alternative approaches can be usefully employed? Business in the Community’s Simon Lee explains the findings from their recent report, Influencing Consumer Behaviour – A Guide for Sustainable Marketing.

    Why aren’t people acting?

    Trust marks undeniably provide a quick, easy method to communicate a company or product’s sustainability credentials to consumers. Yet…

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  • I spent the week before last at the annual BSR conference, held in San Francisco, CA. It is among the year’s biggest confabs of corporate responsibility and sustainability experts, practitioners and aspirants. While I am not a serial or veteran attendee of the conference, I heard (and agree with) a consensus that it was better than others in recent memory. The crowd was generally upbeat and engaged, and that level of energy was both reflected and driven on by a series of lively keynotes, most notably the opening address by Al Gore, who took aim at the ‘insanity’ of short-term thinking, praised attendees for their efforts to advance sustainability, and…

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  • Labelling has an important role to play in conveying information about sustainability to consumers, but it is by no means a panacea for all the ills of unsustainable consumption. Consumer awareness does not simply equate to consumer action; it must be accompanied by incentives, disincentives and, crucially, the phasing out of products and services that have the greatest impact.

    This logic does not only apply to the issue of sustainability. Research consistently points to the need for multi-pronged approaches to changing consumer behaviour in areas such as nutrition, financial services, and pharmaceuticals, to name but a few. All the evidence suggests that point-of-sale information alone is not enough change consumer behaviour.

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  • SustainAbility is thrilled to be on the cusp of launching our latest research report, Signed, Sealed…Delivered? In addition to the global public release online and in print November 16th, we will host in-person launch events in Washington, DC and London on November 16th and 18th, respectively, where our findings will be debated and dissected in workshop format with representatives from certification and labeling initiatives, engaged businesses and other stakeholders.

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  • On October 31st the UN proclaimed that Earth’s seven-billionth inhabitant had arrived. Over eight million babies have been born since I wrote my previous blog on consumption. The figures are staggering. However, we know that the threat to the planet has less to do with the absolute number than with what, how and how much we consume. The challenge of how we meet the nutrition, health, shelter, apparel, energy, and entertainment needs of the next billion without further eroding the planet’s finite resources is surely among the most significant of our time.

    In my last blog on consumption, I highlighted four trends…

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  • SustainAbility and GlobeScan sat down to breakfast in New York recently in the fourth in a series of discussions on “Leadership, Trust and Value.” Over the last few months we’ve held several gatherings about sustainability aspirations with our clients and collaborators in London, DC and San Francisco. At this iteration, colleagues from Cisco, Context America, Goldman Sachs, IFF, Mission Markets, and the Overbrook Foundation joined us. The diversity of our group made our discussion—which volleyed from the evolution of the sustainability movement to “NGO lethargy” and the off-gassing of Styrofoam—all the more interesting.

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