Tag Archives: Sustainability

The Best Running Shoes Come From The Ocean

Adidas Parley UltraBoost

It could get busy around here.

The polarising struggle to argue out the sustainable consumption oxymoron often misses the point. Consuming more sustainably than we have done before has to be part of the real world incremental improvement process whilst we scramble for the step-change improvements that are really needed. Yes, that may very well not be quick enough to avoid catastrophic environmental change for many of ‘us’, but we are where we are, this is what we have, pragmatism has its uses and credit to those who are trying. Many aren’t.

Last week we saw Apple throwing its marketing nous behind Earth Day, this week we see Adidas (there is no alphabetical component here) upping its sustainability commitments and profile including ‘one million pairs of shoes made from up-cycled marine plastic in 2017.’

One million. Many people have little to no idea or the vaguest concept of the scale of industrial production, but such big numbers should make you sit up. One million pairs of running shoes made from up-cycled plastic has to be progress. Say it with a Dr Evil pinky finger to your mouth, I dare you.

Every second breath we take is generated by the Oceans,” commented Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans.

We are now into the territory beyond climate denial but not quite mainstream consumerism (i.e. purchasing dictated by sustainability criteria). Yet. Apple, adidas and many other leadership companies are exploring key themes such as the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals and momentum is building week after week. Expect to see many more innovative products and processes conveyor belted out as the market is tested for acceptance.

Companies like Interface and their work in a similar vein to Adidas’ partnership with Parley with Net-Works are also even possibly more worthy of praise as they were way ahead of the pack, but alas, carpet tiles have yet to become a dominant brand category in your face 24/7 in the way the usual suspect consumer brands have.

For disclosure. I adore my adidas UltraBOOST running shoes. For many, many years I had always shown a strong brand affinity for Nike (whom I even worked as a football freestyler and tester of prototype football boots in my non-linear career story) or Asics for great running shoes and avoided Adidas after a bad experience before the New York marathon. I explored a pair when setting out to train for my first ironman distance triathlon 18 months ago (and survived in surprisingly good shape), and instantly fell in love with the astonishing levels of comfort for a performance running shoe.

Worth noting is how the bigger consumer facing brands are increasingly pushing out high profile product and communications. We are past tipping points now and heading into consistent mass market positioning rather than the niche deep green audiences of not so long ago. I hate to admit it, but this could get boring as sustainability innovation today becomes the norm of tomorrow.

For the brand lovers and runners out there check out the shoes and vote with your wallets for a great product now combined with great provenance. You could also check out www.adidas.com/runfortheoceans as week of support around World Oceans Day, June 5 -11.

For the sustainability people, and activists wanting to look beyond the communications frontage, adidas also shared their latest Sustainability Report.

*Oh, and if anybody at Adidas or any of their close friends should read this, and need a UltraBOOST size 9 product tester, I’m your man!

 

 

 

Apple’s Greatest Video?

Credit where credit is due.

I’ve roasted Apple (should that be baked?) many times, especially during the Steve Jobs era, but I had a feeling that Tim Cook would take a very different approach to sustainability. His supply chain background almost dictated it.

So, without further ado, here is Apple’s latest effort to use its brand for good, and that matters. It really matters. Watch the videos and then read why it meant so much to me.

 

Not your usual Apple slick, minimalistic, polished marketing advert!

Apple were the epitome of laggards, hiding away from disclosure or action whilst they focused on selling as many of their beautiful innovative tech toys as possible. Nothing new about that. Countless business still take that approach. Probably most businesses in all honesty.

But, Apple were and are one of the biggest mainstream brands in the world, with the accompanying leadership position that should elevate any authentically responsible business to push sustainability not only through their own operation and products, but also their widest sphere of influence including their customers and fans.

Five years ago I wrote a blog hoping, and predicting Tim Cook’s appointment would be a catalyst for change. Such a change was always going to take time. One tweak here, a new appointment there, a commitment to solar, a video celebrating diversity and now this. (notice I omitted Liam the recycling robot – Apple’s Howard the Duck moment)

The video above feels like a milestone moment because it shows Apple is now comfortable enough to be creative and step away from brand norms – which is very out of character – and bold. We desperately need more bold. The work has been done internally and my new hope is that this video is the start of a confident new leadership brand in the sustainability space, or should that be iSustainability?

The biggest challenge of our time is convincing the non-usual suspects to look at the issues people like me call sustainability in a way possibly only Apple could do, to change behaviour at scale.

Congratulations Tim Cook, Lisa Jackson et al, your mark has been made, but how high can you go?

 

 

A Few Good Women

SDG 5 Gender EqualityFor International Women’s Day I wanted to share a handful of true leaders constantly on my professional radar through their bold, innovative, considered, and wise inspiration.

There’s no science to this list, just stand-out impact creators from across a range of CSR and sustainability related organisations that I see constantly challenging, shaping and changing the world of male dominated business and political leaders.

Change is hard. Change is not equal. Change is eternal. Change is essential.

Today I salute you all, and also the many, many other unsung women leaders fighting inequality in all its forms not hightlighted below.

I can’t possibly provide justice to this group’s achievements, passions or skills in a couple of sentences, so there are plenty of links to their LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts and main websites to find out more.

Who else would you pay tribute to ?

 

SueSue Stephenson

As a leader within Ritz Carlton Hotels Sue was responsible for the incredibly successful Community Footprints programme before stepping toward a new challenge as Vice Chair of IMPACT 2030, connecting the private sector to the Sustainable Development Goals through human capital investment.

@SueOStephenson

 

ElaineElaine Cohen

Elaine is the undisputed go-to-person of CSR / sustainability reporting. If that wasn’t enough her pragmatic and outspoken personality combined with a love for ice-cream should be reasons enough to keep her blog especially on your watch list.

@elainecohen

 

CindyCindy Gallop

There aren’t many people more to the point than Cindy. “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.” she  delicately suggests on her LinkedIn profile. The world needs more of this bluntness. Founder & CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, Cindy uncompromisingly blends purpose, brand and impact – and wonderfully regular profanity.

@cindygallop

 

SusanSusan McPherson

Susan has been a constant powerful voice across the responsible business spectrum. Now as Founder of McPherson Strategies, and previously with roles at Fenton and PR Newswire Susan invests, connects and amplifies a whole community including her famous #CSRchats on Twitter.

@susanmcp1

 

AnnaAnna Hill

A truly inspirational force of nature as an award-winning designer, artist, entrepreneur and innovator across the space and sustainability industries. As Co-Founder of the Thames Deckway concept Anna recently won praise as an Innovate UK Women in Innovation.

@Thames_Deckway

 

LiseLise Kingo

After over a generation at pharmaceutical giants of innovative responsibility Novo Nordisk, Lise then grabbed the reins as leader of the UN Global Compact with an audience of over 13,000 private sector signatories and partners. Also a very new arrival on a fun platform called Twitter.

@Lise_Kingo

 

ellenEllen McArthur

After a maybe not so obvious career switch from sailing to pushing circular economy thought leadership through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation she has dramatically driven awareness and understanding of one of the most crucial elements of all future business models.

@ellenmacarthur

 

lucyLucy Marcus

A true font of knowledge on all things corporate governance, ethics and leadership. Lucy is the Founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting whilst also regular contributing to numerous media outlets including Reuters and the BBC. If you want a better Executive Board, and therefore a better business, ask Lucy.

@lucymarcus

 

NadineNadine Hack

As a long-time supporter of some of history’s true leaders Nadine is a global expert in engagement leadership, mentoring and executive coaching, working at the highest levels of state, multinational business and academia. As CEO of beCause Global Consulting she also convenes a powerful community of collaborative expertise.

@NadineHack

 

AndreaAndrea Learned

Andrea is one of my favourite sources of best practice for leaders using social media to amplify and deepen their engagement and reach. An exceptional influencer specialist through her consultancy Learned On.

@AndreaLearned

 

KoAnnKoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz

KoAnn is Founder and Chief Executive of Sustainable Life Media, the company behind the Sustainable Brands calendar of international conferences and community. Each event is a continual source of innovative concepts and practical best practice across the responsible business spectrum.

@Koann

 

#InternationalWomensDay

#IWD2017

 

 

 

Smurfs Up! Tiny Blue Belgians Change The World

For those who hadn’t noticed, my inner-child is quite near the surface. I try desperately to be sensible, responsible and adult like, but the reality is I am proud to add a touch of levity when the setting allows. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the big problems that surround us all locally and as a global community.

So, today, I give you The Smurfs!

Now my inner-child is sated I should reveal the wonderful reason this should be shared far and wide, and not just to children (or bigger kids with jobs).

It is easy to criticise the UN for being abstract and a big part of the problem created by a global community of environmental and social institutions that have for years been preaching for us all to save the world. The response has largely been erm, nope. Not my circus, nor my blue Belgian kids characters.

There is a subtle yet hugely significant change happening. Those who are privy to the gloomy data, science and politics are actually collaborating ever more effectively with people who can translate these urgent messages into the range of tools, voices and formats needed to engage the real army. You. Your children. Your friends. Your cousins. Your cousin’s cousins. Everybody who doesn’t get the immediacy. In short, everybody.

Team Smurfs will rally behind the 17 Goals through to the International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2017. Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village will attend a celebration at United Nations headquarters in New York on Saturday, March 18 to honour youth who have already taken action to achieve the Goals in their own communities.

smurfs-un-main-campaign-final

“We know that children and young people are some of the world’s most passionate advocates on issues that matter to them the most. We must continue to find new ways to empower them to help achieve a world free from inequality and injustice for every child. This campaign will give children and young people the platform they need to have their voices heard,” said UNICEF Director of Communications Paloma Escudero.

“The campaign message focuses on the notion that every one of us can make a difference, regardless of our size,” said Veronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs in 1958. “It’s an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF.”

“All of us, even a small Smurf, can achieve big goals!” added Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the upcoming animated film.

Can a kids cartoon change the world? Damn right it can!

Watch it. Talk about it in work. Talk about at home too, and share it like crazy.

www.smallsmurfsbiggoals.com

#SmallSmurfsBigGoals and #TeamSmurfs

 

Want A Path To A Heroic Future? Now?

Try as you might, it’s hard to avoid the imposition of doom, gloom and political madness, now more than ever. Whether it’s Donny ‘Cable TV Host’ Trump, How The F*** Brexit, Everybody Elses Climate Change, How Do I Pay The Bills or just the damn cold and rain outside.

It is also hard, even with the increasing awareness, advice and efforts, to see past our preconceptions, education, life experiences and personalised media bubbles.

But, there are those that are particularly, and occasionally spectacularly adept at focusing forwards. One of those has to be Alex Steffen, who recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, that even inspired my own credit card into action.

Want to know what the future could look like, and more importantly how to make it happen? It is maybe easier than you think…

“I believe it’s literally true that we can’t build what we can’t imagine. The fact that we haven’t compellingly imagined a thriving, dynamic, sustainable world is a major reason we don’t already live in one.

Our challenges are epic. If building a better world seems out of our reach, then we need to become people who can reach farther. We extend that reach by embracing bigger visions. To become people capable of doing heroic things together, we have to envision a heroic future. That’s the mission: finding that heroic future, and the paths we take to get there.”

 

Heroic. Together. Now. Start. Be Bold. Fail. Learn. Improve. Repeat.

For more about Alex check out his website at www.alexsteffen.com

 

 

 

Global to Local Goals Through IMPACT 2030

 

 

 

“Volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It brings positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.”

Ban Ki-Moon

 

impact-2030

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, we are 12 months in from the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. This week is #GlobalGoals (a much better brand to reach the great unengaged audience we need) week as the UN General Assembly gets underway and year two of fifteen toward 2030 begins.

Recently I reached out to one promising initiative aligned to a pet project back in Liverpool. The reason I reached out to IMPACT 2030 was primarily for one key reason. It is private sector led. Whilst UN backed this is the business world rapidly coalescing from their own acceptance of responsibility and ability to lead. There are a whole host of reasons to explore IMPACT 2030, but for me when the private sector steps up, stuff gets done. Admittedly that stuff isn’t always the most morally acceptable when created in isolation, but this is different, it is a genuine and transparent partnership platform based on overcoming the biggest social and environmental challenges.

Another key element is the language being used. Volunteering, like CSR and other terminology has an image problem. IMPACT 2030 aims to reframe the debate using ‘human capital investment‘ in place of the more patriarchal terms like pro bono and volunteering, often seen as a cost or superfluous bolt-on activities. To encourage the private sector to significantly increase participation they have to see returns on investment, and in terms they understand and also appeal across the boardroom.

Philanthropy also absolutely has to be part of the equation as there will often be challenges that will never strategically fit investment propositions, but this focus on a more accepted private sector language can only increase awareness and impact.

So, in short, IMPACT 2030 aims to stimulate human capital investment in employees and align with the 17 Global Goals through awareness raising and support. The demonstrations of successes so far were a clear sign that the initiative’s momentum is building.

The standout case study of the Summit was between GSK and SAP combing their data and healthcare expertise to carefully listen to the local needs in Rwanda, map relevant employee skills and deliver a pilot project with Partners in Health within a mere three weeks. IMPACT 2030’s potential for human capital investment leverage is huge within their global remit. “These companies, so far, represent millions of talented people across 220 countries” said Executive Director Dr. Tauni Lanier.

The Mayor of Philadelphia was also in town to share the city-wide story of commitment to IMPACT 2030 and the wider Sustainable Development Goals, with particular emphasis on schools.

 

 

The always entertaining, and originally from Liverpool, Sir Ken Robinson shared wonderful insights from a creative and education perspective, even managing to connect the population explosion to the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

I understand that IMPACT 2030 is only twelve months old, yet has made significant impacts and collaborations, but I did get a sense that the 99% was being overlooked. I often attend similar events and the reasoning for corporate focus is clear. Scale, or rather the appearance of ability to scale, as this isn’t always the outcome. The business world below the corporate threshold is yet again the audience that scarce available resources are appearing to push too far down the priority list. Approximately 50% of private sector turnover comes from SMEs which also has approximately 60% of employees in many global economies. If we are really going to make the Global Goals mainstream, it is essential that far more consideration is given to engaging with the smaller business community.

IMPACT 2030 will not be a US based ivory tower. A growing army of territory based Regional Voices has been identified to ensure, and trust me, I saw this passion, that the Global Goals become very Local Goals too. By having people on the ground who understand the needs of local communities, acting as advocates, brokering partnerships and reporting measured impact back to a centralised portal the project should deliver results.

The also originally from Liverpool (can you see any patterns here?) IMPACT 2030 Vice Chair, Sue Stephenson perfectly summed up the whole event with the wonderful African proverb

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

 

For more information check out the links below:

#Impact2030

www.impact2030.com

Twitter list for Impact 2030 (shout out if I missed you!)

 

 

A Cunning Plan That Might Just Work

Did you know whilst the world goes to hell in a handbasket à la Trump, Brexit, ISIS, all reality tv, plastic microbeads et al, there is actually a plan to counteract much of humanity’s blatant disregard for our planet and respect for each other?

Ok, that may actually be a first world vision of the underworld, and the real global challenges sit lower down Maslow’s hierarchy, but that is probably too close to the blissfully ignorant view of those outside the Sustainable Development Goals bubble.

As part of my own humble action for #GlobalGoals week I’m going to post every damn day, which for me will be a near miracle when I pull it off, and some of it may even make sense, possibly even inspire an action or several.

So to kick the week off, and the next 14 years, here’s the big plan. It is not mine, but I do like it…

 

Amongst a few ideas I have I will also share an amazing trip last week to New York to jump into the world of #Impact2030 where the private sector is pushing its own efforts through human impact investment (or volunteering if you prefer). I may even cover entrepreneurship, technology, sport and BCorps, but who knows? I don’t. You’ll just have to stay tuned to enjoy the fun!

But, please, do one thing extra this week. Make an hour to read, share or just do something, anything. If you let me know what you did I may even send you a present.

#GlobalGoals

#2030Now

#Impact2030