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Trees are life enablers and life protectors. They are air cleaners and oxygen makers, making it possible for us to breathe (i.e., live). They mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide; one tree can sequester up to 50 pounds of CO2 per year, and an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage. Trees also filter some pollutants out of the water and soil, and they can prevent or control flooding. They provide habitat to many species. They provide shade (natural cooling, which reduces energy use for AC cooling). Some trees provide food (fruit and nuts) for us to eat. Being near trees boosts our mental health and clarity. Their presence increases property values for homes and neighborhoods, and they contribute much-needed beauty to our world. So many benefits.

Despite all of the ways that trees contribute to (and are necessary for) our health and wellbeing, a recent study found that during the past 12,000 years of human civilization, humans have wiped out almost half of the trees on earth. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year (to make wood products, pulp, and paper, and to clear land for cattle grazing, palm oil plantations, other agricultural uses, and development). (Click here for other Forest Facts.) We are destroying our own life support system. We are also losing millions of trees to drought in some areas, and also to the growing number of severe wildfires, which are both worsened by climate change and simultaneously contributing to climate change through additional carbon emissions, in a vicious cycle (AKA a feedback loop).23208221_10155936458843007_9218184974786625536_n

We need to prevent deforestation, and also to reforest and regreen our world. We can start with our own yards, gardens, fields, or towns. Plant a tree, or two or three!

[NOTE: If you celebrate Christmas and you traditionally mark the occasion with a cut-down (i.e., killed) xmas tree, how about starting a new tradition: you could get a living (potted and replantable) tree instead (do a web search for the words “living Christmas trees” or “live xmas trees” and your county name to see if there are places near you that offer these; or just go get a live, plantable tree from a nursery). Alternatively, you could put ornaments or lights on a tree that’s already growing in your yard. Or get creative and make a wreath or a table/mantle decoration from evergreen trimmings, and forego having an xmas tree at all (gasp!). In a climate crisis (which is what we are in now), and with millions of trees being destroyed by wildfires, drought, and deforestation every year, I think it’s entirely fair and appropriate to question some traditions (such as our Great Annual Xmas Tree Massacre) and start up some new ones. Don’t you? Regardless of what you choose to do for Christmas, you can always make a donation to a reforestation group or a local tree-planting group. You will find a partial list of organizations below.]

You can also have a tree planted in someone’s name (e.g., “adopt” or “sponsor” a tree in their honor) as a gift for Christmas or any other occasion—through groups like the Arbor Day Foundation, Cool Earth, Trees for a Change, Redwood Forest Foundation, etc.

imagesfscAnother way to reduce extreme deforestation (the clear-cutting of forests) is to look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood and paper products, as well as Rainforest Alliance-certified products (see logos to the right).

Earlier this year, 1.5 million volunteers planted a record 66 million trees in 12 hours in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Other groups are starting to use drones to plant seeds or saplings, to reforest areas much more quickly and efficiently than can be done by hand (there have been articles on this in Fast Company and Wired magazine, among other publications). Note: Climate- and site-appropriate (native or adapted) trees should be selected when planting trees. And forests should not be planted over native, wild grasslands, which also sequester carbon.

There are many anti-deforestation efforts as well as local tree-planting and global reforestation organizations around the world, including:

Also check out these online tools:

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December 6, 2017
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1hx7bwmthtg5ekjaeb4fxegAlmost 2,300 businesses around the world (from more than 50 countries and 130 different industries) have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of Autumn 2017. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.” A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Method, Etsy, and Natura.

The annual Best for the World ratings highlight businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. “Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers, and Best for Customers.” This year, some companies have also been designated as Best for the Long Term (based on the company’s Governance ratings). In 2017, 846 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 176 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies.

The following are 24 companies that not only achieved the 2017 Overall “Best for the World” designation, but also achieved at least two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category:

A to Z  Wineworks

Alter Eco

Bolder Industries

Catalyst Partnersclimatesmart_logo_large_0

Climate Smart Business, Inc. (Canada)

Dopper BV (Netherlands)

Dr. Bronner’s

Eco-Bags Products

ECO2LIBRIUM (Kenya)

Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM)

Grounds for Change

Hepburn Wind (Australia)

Inesscents Aromatic Botanicals

MOVIN (Brazil)

New Belgium Brewing Co.

Northeast Green Building Consulting

Papel Semente Ind e Comercio (Brazil)patagonia4

Patagonia, Inc.

Saul Good Gift Co. (Canada)

South Mountain Company

SQUIZ (France)

xrunner Venture (Peru)

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

YouGreen Cooperativa (Brazil)

The B Corporations with some of the highest overall scores include: South Mountain Company (score: 183), ECO2LIBRIUM (score: 180), Patagonia, Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM), Trillium Asset Management, Portafolio Verde (Colombia), Alter Eco, Home Care Associates of Philadelphia, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Dr. Bronner’s, and RSF Capital Management/Social Finance.

Click here to read stories about some of the Best for the World B Corporations.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Related posts:

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September 28, 2017
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goldmanprizelogo-300x106The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award of $175,000. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.” 2017 is the prize’s 28th year.

This year’s six prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions) are:

  • Rodgrigo Tot—Guatemala: An indigenous leader in Guatemala’s Agua Caliente, Rodrigo Tot led his community to a landmark court decision that ordered the government to issue land titles to the Q’eqchi people and kept environmentally destructive nickel mining from expanding into his community. (Relevant organizations: Defensoria Q’eqchi’ and Indian Law Resource Center)
  • Wendy Bowman—Australia: In the midst of an onslaught of coal development in Australia, octogenarian Wendy Bowman stopped a powerful multinational mining company from taking her family farm and protected her community in Hunter Valley from further pollution and environmental destruction. (Relevant petition: Stop the Hunter Coal Rush)
  • Prafulla Samantara—India: An iconic leader of social justice movements in India, Prafulla Samantara led a historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.
  • Uros Macerl—Slovenia: Uroš Macerl, an organic farmer from Slovenia, successfully stopped a cement kiln from co-incinerating petcoke with hazardous industrial waste by rallying legal support from fellow Eko Krog activists and leveraging his status as the only citizen allowed to challenge the plant’s permits. (Relevant organization: Eko Krog)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief, well-produced video—about each person’s remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Mark Lopez of East Los Angeles:

And here’s the video about Wendy Bowman of New South Wales, Australia:

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

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April 25, 2017
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Almost 2,000 businesses around the world have now gone through the B Impact Assessment and have become certified as B Corporations (by B Lab), as of late 2016. “The B Impact Assessment gives companies a score based on how they perform on metrics for impact on their communities, the environment, workers, and customers.”

cover-art-221x300-1The annual Best for the World ratings “highlight the businesses that have scored in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the assessment. Companies that have scored in the top percentiles across a majority of the assessment’s categories, based on company size, are honored as Best for the World Overall, and companies that have scored in the top percentiles in a given category, again based on company size, are honored as Best for the Environment, Best for Community, Best for Workers and Best for Customers.” This year, 515 companies have qualified for at least one of these Best for the World categories, and 140 companies are considered Best for the World Overall. Below we’ve listed a subset of those companies: companies that were deemed Best for the World Overall, and also qualified for one or two (of the four) specific “Best for” categories. (No companies have yet qualified for all of the “Best for” categories.)

The following are 20 companies that achieved the 2016 Overall “Best for the World” designation, as well as two specific category ratings, including the Best for the Environment category (and their second category would either be Best for Community, Best for Customers, or Best for Workers):

  • Eco2Librium (business consulting on energy and forestry enterprises)
  • Mobisol (solar energy for developing nations)brand
  • Revivn (electronic recycling for businesses)
  • Squiz (reusable food pouches; Switzerland)
  • Telesis Corp. (urban community regeneration, planning, finance)
  • Triciclos (recycling, waste management company; Brazil & Chile)
  • Wholly Hemp (skin care products)
  • X-Runner (dry-toilets/sanitation product & service for low-income households in Peru)
  • YouGreen (recycling and waste cooperative; Brazil)

These companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus the Best for the Environment rating:

  • Accion Verde
  • Atayne
  • Comet Skateboards
  • Cuento de Luz
  • Dolphin Blue
  • Fazenda de Toca Organicos
  • Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods
  • Jibu
  • Northeast Green Building Consulting
  • One Earth Designs
  • RainGrid
  • Revive  (Belgium)
  • Seeds Printing
  • Sistema Biobolsa
  • The Arnold Development Group
  • W.S. Badger Co.

And these companies achieved the Best for the World Overall rating plus two of the other sub-categories (but not the Best for the Environment category):

  • Abacus Wealth Partners
  • Abramar
  • Australian Ethical Investment
  • Beneficial State Bank
  • Bridges Ventures
  • Build With Prospect
  • Clean Yield Asset Management
  • Eudaimonia
  • Farmland
  • HCA
  • Imajine That
  • Juhudi Kilimo
  • Roshan
  • RSF Capital Management
  • Saber Es Poder
  • Trillium Asset Management

 

Click here to read stories about some of these B Corporations, as featured in B Magazine.

And click here to find other B Corps, including ones in your region. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.) A few of the largest and most well-known B Corporations are: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Sungevity, Seventh Generation, the Honest Company, Method, and Natura.

Related posts:

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November 28, 2016
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GoldmanPrizeLogo-300x106The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award of $175,000. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.”

2016 is the prize’s 27th year. The Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony is held in San Francisco, California and then a couple of days later in Washington DC. The main event on April 18 will be livestreamed on the Goldman Prize YouTube channel, as well as on their website and Facebook page.

Kittner_20160219_5391

This year’s six prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions) are:

  • Destiny Watford—Baltimore, MD, USAIn a community whose environmental rights had long been sidelined to make room for heavy industry, Destiny Watford inspired residents of a Baltimore neighborhood to defeat plans to build the nation’s largest incinerator less than a mile away from her high school. (Her organization: Free Your Voice)
  • Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera—Puerto Rico: Luis Jorge Rivera Herrera helped lead a successful campaign to establish a nature reserve in Puerto Rico’s Northeast Ecological Corridor—an important nesting ground for the endangered leatherback sea turtle—and protect the island’s natural heritage from harmful development. (His organization: Coalition for the Northeast Ecological Corridor)
  • Máxima Acuña—Peru: A subsistence farmer in Peru’s northern highlands, Máxima Acuña stood up for her right to peacefully live off her own property, a plot of land sought by Newmont and Buenaventura Mining to develop the Conga gold and copper mine. (More information at GRUFIDES.org and EARTHWORKS)
  • Leng Ouch—Cambodia: In one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental activists, Leng Ouch went undercover to document illegal logging in Cambodia and exposed the corruption robbing rural communities of their land, causing the government to cancel large land concessions. (His organization: Cambodia Human Rights Task Forces, CHRTF)
  • Edward Loure—Tanzania: Edward Loure led a grassroots organization that pioneered an approach that gives land titles to indigenous communities—instead of individuals—in northern Tanzania, ensuring the environmental stewardship of more than 200,000 acres of land for future generations. (His organization: Ujamaa Community Resource Team, UCRT)
  • Zuzana Caputova—Slovakia: A public interest lawyer and mother of two, Zuzana Caputova spearheaded a successful campaign that shut down a toxic waste dump that was poisoning the land, air and water in her community, setting a precedent for public participation in post-communist Slovakia. (Her organization: VIA IURIS)

Click on each recipient’s name to read a longer profile—and watch a brief, well-produced video—about each person’s remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Máxima Acuña of Peru:

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

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April 18, 2016
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This is a listing of some of the sustainability-themed films that have been released this year. Click on each of the links below (or go to IMDB.com) to see previews/trailers, reviews, and descriptions of each film.

Click here to see our previous listing of green-themed films; it lists movies that came out between 2012-2014. (Note: We periodically add more films to these listings, as we learn of other films that have come out.)

 

Racing ExtinctionRacing Extinction 
[being shown on the Discovery channel]

 

Time to Choose

 

The Yes Men Are Revolting

 

Inhabit: A Permaculture PerspectivePlanetary movie

 

Planetary

 

Catching the Sun: The Race for the Clean Energy Future

 

Resistance

 Resistance, the film

STINK!

 

Medicine of the Wolf

 

Last Days of Ivory

 

Revolution

 

Dryden: The Small Town that Changed the Fracking Game
(11-minute short film; watch it via the link!)

 

Other films, released before 2015:

Are there other relevant, recent (or forthcoming) films that you’ve seen and would recommend to others?  If so, please mention those in the Comments section below.

Green Film Festivals

These are a few of the annual film fests that I’m aware of; it isn’t an exhaustive list. Please let everyone know about other green film festivals by contributing a Comment! Many of the festivals’ websites feature video clips and a few even stream some entire films (short and full-length films), and they list many additional, new, independent films, beyond what I’ve listed above, including some brand new ones that haven’t been screened widely yet.

See the Green Film Network to find film festivals in 24 countries.

Also check out the recent and acclaimed TV series  Years of Living Dangerously  and  EARTH: A New Wild.

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October 28, 2015
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10pFlower1The organization Bioregional works with communities (as well as businesses, governments, and other entities) to create better places where people can “live happy, healthy lives within the natural limits of the planet.”

They base their work around the following 10 principles of the One Planet Living framework:

Health and Happiness
Encouraging active, sociable, meaningful lives to promote good health and well-being

Equity and Local Economy
Creating bioregional economies that support equity and diverse local employment and international fair trade

Culture and Community
Respecting and reviving local identity, wisdom and culture; encouraging the involvement of people in shaping their community and creating a new culture of sustainability

Land Use and Wildlife
Protecting and restoring biodiversity and creating natural habitats through good land use

Sustainable Water
Using water efficiently in buildings, farming, and manufacturing. Designing to avoid local issues such as flooding, drought, and water course pollution

Local and Sustainable Food
Supporting sustainable and humane farming; promoting access to healthy, low-impact, local, seasonal, and organic diets; and reducing food waste

Sustainable Materials
Using safe and sustainable products, including those with low embodied energy, sourced locally, made from renewable or waste resources

Sustainable Transport
Reducing the need to travel, and encouraging low- and zero-carbon modes of transport to reduce emissions

Zero Waste
Reducing waste, reusing where possible, and ultimately sending zero waste to landfill

Zero Carbon
Making buildings energy efficient and delivering all energy with renewable technologies

The following are the most established One Planet Communities that Bioregional has been working with around the world:

  • BedZED, Hackbridge, Sutton (south London), UKBioregional-BedZED

And these One Planet Communities are currently being developed:

  • Zibi, Ottawa, Canada

One Planet Communities is a voluntary program, and it is not a certification program. Similar frameworks that do offer certification include the: Living Community Challenge, and LEED for Neighborhood Development, and STAR Communities. (Check back soon for a new post about those rating and certification programs.)

Related post:

Sustainable Neighborhoods and Communities

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July 30, 2015
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B Corporations (known as B Corps, for short) are companies that “use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” As of June 2015, there are now more than 1,300 certified B Corporations, in 41 countries and 121 industries (twice as many industries as were represented a year ago). Among the larger and most well-known companies that are certified B Corporations are: Ben and Jerry’s, Method, Patagonia, Seventh Generation, Sungevity, The Honest Company, Natura, and Etsy (which recent became a publicly traded company).

BCorp-620x415Each year, B Lab recognizes a group of B Corps as “Best for the World” honorees. These companies have earned an overall score in the top 10% of all certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment. These are businesses that go beyond simply being benign or reducing their harm to society; they make significant efforts to be beneficial and even benevolent.

Dozens of companies made the top 10%. But here are this year’s Best of the Best. The companies that got the five highest scores of all (in the overall Best for the World list) were:

  • South Mountain Company (an employee-owned, residential design/build and renewable energy firm), West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts [They received the top score overall, which is currently 179]
  • Juhudi Kilimo (an agricultural asset financing and training company; lender / credit provider), Nairobi, Kenya
  • Echale a tu casa (self-build affordable housing program and housing improvements production company), Mexico City, Mexico
  • Beneficial State BankBeneficial State Bank (community development financial institution; bank / credit provider), Oakland, California
  • One Earth Designs (sustainable living products, such as the SolSource solar grill), Hong Kong (as well as offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in China)

 

Within the Best for the Environment category, these were the companies with the five highest environment scores:piedmont_logo_LRG_0

  • Atayne (high-performance outdoor and athletic apparel), Brunswick, Maine
  • Dolphin Blue (sustainable products online retailer), Dallas, Texas
  • Method Products (home and personal care products), San Francisco, California

There are also categories for Best for Community and Best for Workers.

 

Click here for stories about some of this year’s Best for the World companies.

Also follow the B Corps blog and B The Change Media, a new media hub for stories about B Corporations and benefit corporations.

And click here to find other B Corps. (You can search by location, name, industry, or keyword.)

Note: B Corporations and “benefit corporations” are similar but different things. For an explanation of each and the difference between the two, please see our previous post on this topic:

Benefit Corporations and B Corps: Businesses for the Common Good

Other relevant posts:

Best of the “Best for the World” B Corps of 2016

Beneficial Businesses: Top B Corps of 2014

Green Business, Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethical Finance, and Sustainable Economies

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June 10, 2015
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The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious annual award for grassroots environmentalists. Many people refer to it as the “green Nobel.” Goldman Prize winners are models of courage, and their stories are powerful and truly inspiring. “The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk. Each winner receives a financial award of $175,000. The Goldman Prize views ‘grassroots’ leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.”

2015 is the prize’s 26th year. The Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony, which is held in San Francisco, California and then in Washington DC, will be broadcast LIVE on the Goldman Prize YouTube channel.

This year’s six prize recipients (one from each of the six inhabited continental regions) are:

Click on each recipient’s name to read—and watch a brief, well-produced video—about their remarkable efforts and achievements.

Here’s the video about Marilyn Baptiste, from British Columbia, Canada.

Posts on Goldman Prize winners from previous years:

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April 20, 2015
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