The Sustainability Communicators at Texas Tech University (TTU) are committed to changing how their community thinks of sustainability. This Chapter is led by Darin Williams, Shayla Corprew, and Luke Morgan, all graduate students in TTU's Department of English, who came together because of their shared interest in environmental stewardship and social activism. Below, the founding members provide insight into their passions and how Net Impact assists them and their campus in achieving impact-focused pursuits.
Darin: "Recently, my perspective on sustainability has changed from the traditional 'triple bottom line' model to the sustainability COG WHEEL, shown here. This model enables capacity-building through proactive business strategy and provides a framework for driving social well-being with phased organizational maturity. The cycle of capacity building, innovation and change management are initiated with leadership commitment. I plan to provide that leadership in all of my endeavors."
Luke: "Sustainability to me means equity. It means accepting our place as part of local and planetary ecosystems and working actively in our social, political, and especially cultural institutions to change how we live."
What led you to wanting to work with Net Impact?
Darin: "As a student, teacher, and professional, it's difficult to find the time to plan, develop, and execute impactful activities. Net Impact provides more 'off the shelf' activities than any organization I've ever been involved with. They also provide incredible support from the central administration team for Chapter Leaders. Involvement with Net Impact ensures that we can do more on-campus."
Shayla: "Net Impact immediately grabbed my interest due to the interdisciplinary approach to solving sustainability-related issues in a tangible way. My work as a technical communication scholar is focused on implementing practical methods of effective communication - Net Impact complements this work well."
What are you most looking forward to in working with the Net Impact community this upcoming academic year?
Shayla: "I am very excited about hosting webinars, panel discussions, and workshops that incorporate each of my founding members' interests, while engaging the TTU community. I also hope to expand our focus to the greater Lubbock community, if not all of West Texas."
Luke: "I hope that by working with Net Impact, we can broaden the scope of our conversations and connect with other advocates in the Texas Tech and Lubbock community. While I value conversations with my faculty and colleauges, I want to make discussions of sustainability mainstream amidst a wide variety of stakeholders in our community. I think creating informal, exploration-driven spaces for discussion and fellowship can help accomplish that, and Net Impact offers resources to help us do that."
Looking to connect with the TTU Chapter? Visit the Chapter's profile page here to get in tocuh and see other impact initiatives they have planned this upcoming year!
In April 24th, 2018, the world commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, an incident that awakened consumers to the perils and injustices of an industry they regularly participate in - the apparel industry. After oil, apparel is the world's second more polluting industry, responsible for over 12 million tons of clothing ending up in landfills every year.
In an effort to shed light on the global fashion industry's social, economic, and environmental negative consequences, Net Impact launched Wear it Wise, a program dedicated to increasing awareness of the detrimental impacts of the apparel industry, specifically fast fashion, and educating consumers on the habits they can form to become conscious consumers. We partnered with industry leaders in the sustainable fashion movement, including The Levi Strauss Foundation, Eileen Fisher, and Remake.
In May, Net Impact concluded our inaugural year of the Wear it Wise program with incredible results. Program participants consisted of 18 Net Impact Chapter Leaders from Professional, Graduate, and Undergraduate Chapters. The cohort educated over 8,000 people on their campuses and in their communities on everything from textile waste to resource scarcity and circular supply chain management through a variety of events and activities such as panel discussions, mending and repairing workshops, campus-wide clothing shops, and even resource-filled websites (see www.sustainablefashion101.com). We also saw cross-sector partnerships between campaigns and city government, start-up companies, established companies, and student organizations.
While all of the inaugural year's Wear it Wise campaigns are worth highlighting, we are excited to announce the winner of this year's challenge. Alex Marchyshyn from Duke University is a first-year dual Master's candidate in Environmental Management and Business. Her campaign approached the issue from both the industry and consumer side, including spotlighting sustainable brands in North Carolina, providing consumers with an easy to digest resources about sustainable consumer practices, and educating a broader audience through social media campaigns.
Alex also hosted two live events that engaged her student body and larger community about the impacts of fast fashion and aimed at repositioning sustainable fashion as accessible, affordable, and stylish.
Her first event featured five panelists for an engaging discussion entitled "Beyond Fast Fashion." Panelists included Beth Stewart from Redress Raleigh, Kat Williford from Pamut Apparel, Bill Johnston from Recover Brands, Dr. Deb Gallagher from Duke University, Jordan Brewster from VF Corporation, and Dr. Jesse Daystar from Cotton Inc. Her second event was a campus-wide clothing swap where over 150 items were exchanged, giving used clothing another life and preventing it from ending up in a landfill.
Alex will attend Remake's "Meet the Makers" tour in Mexico in October 2018 where she will travel with a small group of future sustainable apparel leaders and get to know the people and places where our clothing is made. Please join us in congratulating the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment Chapter and Alex Marchyshyn!
As a part of the Net Impact Fellowship Program and the Net Impact Chapter at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC, Ishita Jain, Chapter Leader, and Chuyao Geng, Chapter Member, started Zero Waste SVA. This project sparked their interest in the recycling systems in New York City and inspired them to work directly with informal recyclers to reduce the criminalization they face and spark conversations about the relationship between social inclusion and environmental sustainability in New York City.
In New York City, more than 7,000 "canners" are working hard everyday to divert recyclables from the landfills but they and their contribution are invisible to the average person. Canners are informal recyclers who earn their daily bread by collecting cans and bottles from New York City streets and redeeming them for five cents apiece. Ishita and Chuyao's project uses a user-centered approach to problem understanding and research to creatively tackle the challenges that canners in NYC face.
Canners are not a "recognized group," so there is no study on canners in New York City. Even though we see canners diverting recyclables from landfills, the contributions are not quantified. Canning has the potential to create jobs, reduce poverty and save the city money. However, there is no research on these social and economic advantages. Secondly, there's no communication to share a new perspective, so people continue to harbor misconceptions. Public attitudes and public policy are based on misconceptions like canning has no positive economic and/or environmental impact.
Modern recycling systems only focus on technology and often overlook decentralized and informal systems like canners or waste pickers. This problem is not unique to New York and exists in some shape or form all over the world.
To fill these gaps and to show that canners are contributing members of society, Ishita and Chuyao built "Canversation," an interactive walking tour led by canners with a mission to introduce New Yorkers to their canners. The audience is students and professionals in sustainability, policy, and design who value recycling, do research projects, and can influence policy in the long run. The students believe that if they can shift the public attitude and show the contribution canners make, they will have a better chance to influence public policy and government perspective enough to ultimately advocate integrating canners into the waste management system as local recyclers.
The response the team received exceeded their expectations. All three tours with 25 participants got great reviews. The tour was written about by Untapped Cities, a sightseeing tour agency in NYC. The participants were inspired by the tour and are already working on projects such as unionizing canners and making a short film about the canning ecosystem. People confessed that this tour made them see canners differently. One participant said, "I used to think these people were homeless and drug addicts. This has changed everything I knew." The rich interactions and demand that the tour generated shows that it has the potential to change the way New Yorkers see canners as well as the potential to be financially sustainable.
The Ford College Community Challenge (C3) is a program run by the Ford Motor Company Fund with the mission to foster collaboration between universities, students, and local organizations to implement practical solutions in critical community need situations. In the 11th year of the Ford C3 program, the theme was “Making Lives Better.” Student proposals had to address an unmet need in their community through changing the way people move through smart mobility, driving social mobility, or building sustainable communities.
Net Impact spread the word about this opportunity to our chapters and six Net Impact members participated. We are excited to announce that three of those six Net Impact members produced proposals that made the top 20! Read about their proposals and watch their video submissions below:
The University of Illinois at Chicago
East Garfield Park Cafe & Resource Center
Build a center in the East Garfield Park area of Chicago to serve as a place where residents can congregate to socialize and access a variety of programs and resources.
Focused on community building through a central information hub in a neighborhood, InfoPark would be a place where information can be exchanged between residents, local nonprofits, and other key local organizations like churches.
Dirt to Power Initiative
Build a park out of recycled and reused materials to serve as a community meeting place to educate locals on a more sustainable approach to food production.
Congratulations to these and all other finalists! You can view all the top 20's video submissions on the Ford Fund website. Up to 10 winning proposals will be selected to receive $25,000 each from the Ford Fund to support implementation of the proposed projects. Stay tuned to see if any of the Net Impact teams are selected!
As a member of the Net Impact community, you are already committed to making environmental and social change - but where and how can you be most effective?
For me and my colleagues, that place turned out to be McDonald's. Our Arches are not always synonymous with sustainability and corporate responsibility for some on the outside, but I've been nothing but inspired since I joined the company last year. Across the company and stationed around the world are experienced professionals and subject matter experts dedicated to using McDonald's Scale for Good. In their roles at McDonald's as engineers, scientists, policy analysts or business leaders, they are collaborating on projects such as sustainable packaging designs to serve our food, conservation practices to save energy in restauarants, and stakeholder partnerships on beef sustainability.
These are big issues and big opportunities to make a difference - and now we're ramping it up.
Within the last few months McDonald's announced several major commitments to using our Scale for Good. Among them, in March 2018 we became the first restaurant company in the world to address global climate change by setting a Science Based Target to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Separately, we also pledged that by 2025, 100% of McDonald's guest packaging will come from renewable, recycled or certified sources, and our goal is to recycle guest packaging in 100% of McDonald's restaurants, recognizing infrastructure challenges.
To bring these commitments to life requires teams of people across many departments and touches all aspects of the business from executives to the supply chain and sustainability team to communications; from government relations to legal to creative. In this respect, working on sustainability projects at McDonald's takes shape with people contributing in different ways, from strategy to execution including suppy chain teams working with our suppliers to implement new programs, analyzing data to determine where we can have the greatest impact, and building strong technical and NGO partnerships.
For example, Jenny, senior director for global sustainability, worked closely with teams from supply chain, sustainability, and restaurant operations to global menu and marketing as they shaped the overarching strategy platform and goals. Meanwhile, all these teams work with people like Claire, our senior director of U.S. public affairs, whose team led the communications effort for the global announcement about McDonald's climate action, which involved coordinating video, social media, traditional media and multiple events with stakeholder partners.
As we shift into implementation to reach our goals, our work at McDonald's will require even more collaboration, especially with franchisees, suppliers and producers, as well as our NGO partners and other stakeholders.
We are working to answer many questions as we turn our goals into action. What are the best ways to deploy renewable energy in our restaurants with a network of independent business owners? How can we creatively work with our supply chain to adopt practical solutions that cut carbon? How can we use our scale and convene with other industry players to push for infrastructure changes to enable recycling in all of our restaurants around the globe? Answering these questions cannot be done by one person or team, which is why sustainability jobs come in all shapes and sizes at McDonald's.
All told it's an exciting, engaging and, yes, challenging time to work on sustainability issues, and I'm proud to work with such committed and passionate people.
So what does that mean for you? As more and more companies like McDonald's step up to do their part for the environment, I'm convinced there's a vast opportunity for you to step up and do yours. We think of it as building a better McDonald's, but also a better world.
Watch the video below to learn more about the measures McDonald's is taking to use its Scale for Good:
Every month, Chapter Spotlight highlights one Chapter in our network doing great work in their corner of the world. This month we will hear from our first Chapter in Germany - Net Impact ESMT Berlin.
The ESMT Berlin chapter has just started but is going strong! The Chapter is currently planning a mega launch event and details will be released soon. In the meantime,however, they are constantly working to increase their network in Germany and learn from every opportunity. Recenty, they were invited to be a part of the Sustainable Business Roundtable which is a coveted invite-only platform. The Roundtable is a peer-to-peer learning network with companies such as Adidas, E.ON, Enel, Coca-Cola, IBM, McDonald's, Siemens, and Unilever among many others. The Sustainable Business Roundtable is an initiative of the Center for Sustainable Business at ESMT Berlin, held twice a year, and is headed by Prof. C. B. Bhattacharya.
At the conference, the Chapter members introduced themselves to some of the top officials and experts from member companies, learned from speakers from companies such as Tchibo, Adidas, Enel, Volkswagen, and Forum for the Future. Chapter Leader Nikhil Bajpai said "It was an enriching experience getting to know about Adidas’s “Parley for the Ocean” concept, Enel’s “Open Innovability” challenge, Tchibo’s “WE” program and Forum of the Future’s valuable advice on how Sustainability is a process to create long-term value."
The Chapter's focus right now is climate change, waste management, and the effects those two have on the ecosystem around all of us. Net Impact at ESMT Berlin is currently inviting companies for collaboration on projects, internship opportunities for its members, and more. Bajpai says Chapter members are "...committed towards the cause of Sustainability and leave no stone unturned when it comes to what they believe in – a positive change in how business is conducted today and solutionsto the most pressing matters around the globe."
Interested in collaborating with this Chapter? Feel free to get in touch with the ESMT Berlin Chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every month, Chapter Spotlight highlights one Chapter in our network doing great work in their corner of the world. This month we will hear from our Chapter at Clark Atlanta University - the Organization for Social Change.
As a first-year Net Impact Chapter, the Organization for Social Change (OSC) at Clark Atlanta University is challenging students, professionals and fellow Chapters around the world to make important impact in their local communities. OSC has made it their Chapter’s mission to positively impact their local community of Atlanta, GA by committing to community service through Chapter-led events, activities and projects during the academic year.
At the beginning of the spring semester, OSC partnered with the urban farming nonprofit Truly Living Well (TLW). According to their website, TLW “has used its expertise to demonstrate how food can be a bridge across diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. [Their] goal is to use food production as the plate on which [they can] create a culture of health and wellness in [their] community.” Diamond Gray, President of OSC, reflected fondly on her Chapter’s experience volunteering with the nonprofit and working on one of their urban farms. She mentioned that the Chapter was excited to work with a local nonprofit that shared the same values. Likewise, they enjoyed getting their hands dirty by laying down new soil, making the farm ready for new vegetation and harvesting in future months.
After returning to classes from spring break, OSC once again gave back to the community by providing meals to homeless citizens in the Atlanta recreation area, Hurt Park. Gray confirmed that the Chapter knew Hurt Park was a popular place for homeless citizens to congregate and that she and her Chapter members wanted to do something to support the less-fortunate. The Chapter spent a Saturday in March organizing and delivering ready-to-eat meals to persons in need around the park.
As one of the Chapter’s final semester events, the group hosted an induction ceremony and gala. The goal of the event was to welcome new Chapter members and celebrate members who participated in one of Net Impact’s signature programs, Up to Us. The program is a semester-based project that encourages students to think of creative ways to raise awareness on the U.S. national debt both on-campus and in the local community. Students from diverse backgrounds, political affiliations and majors came together to provide real-world solutions to solving this fiscal and economic issue. OSC thanked their supporters of faculty, family and friends and gave certificates of achievement to all new members.
In this year’s Food Solutions Challenge, teams from around the world were asked to address a topic that has a major impact on the food supply and on climate: food loss. Food loss, meaning food wasted before it reaches a consumer, accounts for 64% of all edible food that is lost. When food is wasted at the farm, in harvesting, in production, and in transportation, we lose both edible food and also the climate-changing environmental resources that went into producing it.
Between November 2017 and March 2018, 63 Food Solutions events were held in universities and communities around the world, resulting in 133 ideas submitted. Proposals addressed how to reduce surplus production on the farm in the United States, how to reduce postharvest loss of Cassava in Nigeria, and how to better adopt the Food Loss and Waste Standard. Semifinalists were invited to attend the 2018 Net Impact Accelerator in Oakland, CA in April. Participating teams received training by design thinking consultants, improved their solutions, and learned transferable skills. We are excited to announce the first, second, and third place winners of the 2018 Food Solution Challenge. Read below about each team’s idea and watch the videos they created:
Iowa State University
The team from Iowa State University proposed creating a new genetically modified cassava variety that will substantially reduce the amount of cassava that is wasted post harvest. Currently, cassava goes bad after ~72 hours of cultivation and to stop deterioration, fresh cassava is dipped in wax after harvest. The Iowa State team wants to create a cassava variety that naturally creates a waxy barrier to extend shelf life from 3 to 14 days.
To address post harvest cassava loss, the entrepreneurial minded team from Ashoka University wants to create a business they are calling StoreEasy. Cassava that is stored in wooden boxes between alternating layers of sawdust can reduce postharvest loss of cassava from 3 days to 4 weeks. StoreEasy would sell and rent wooden boxes filled with sawdust to cassava farmers.
The team from Bard College developed a plan to reduce food loss working with breweries to reclaim spent grains. Breweries produce more than 750 million pounds of spent grain; of that 70% is used to feed animals while the other 30% is sent to the landfill. The team wants to redirect that byproduct and transform it into edible granola and other food items.
Congratulations to the winners and to all who participated in this program! We are excited to see the progress these teams make.
The 2018 Drawdown INNOVATE program supported members in developing original ventures that impacted climate change, and incubated the best ones, moving us all to a better climate future. Program participants developed ideas that sought to maximize the impact of Project Drawdown's 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, which range from the impact of educating women and girls to energy, among others.
From Korea to Costa Rica to Copenhagen, students and young professionals gathered locally, using toolkits and videos from Net Impact to explore Project Drawdown's solutions. Then, using design thinking and business planning they imagined, tested, and refined product, service, and other venture ideas to bring solutions to reverse global warming to market.
After the events, teams with the most promising ideas were invited to attend a weekend accelerator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Innovation consultancy IXL took finalist ideas from concept to first steps by teaching them about customer testing, team formation, startup strategies, and more. These transferable skills not only improved the quality of submissions, but can be applied to future projects and impact leadership. The post-accelerator winner receives seed funding.
Meet our winner and finalists:
Soil Sink, Columbia University: Jenna Lewein, Matthew Akins, Merlyn Mathew.
Soil Sink encourages farmers to practice regenerative agriculture by helping them monetize the carbon they have sequestered.
Eat Fresh, Washington University in St Louis: Sophia Dossin, Kailun Yin, Sean Fallon.
EatFresh is a food box delivery service designed for college students which reduces food waste from college students and from local grocery stores.
Left Owners, Savannah College of Art and Design: Eliska SKarolkova, Paula Chamorro, Felipe Cuellar.
LeftOwners is a service aiming to reduce food waste in restaurants. LeftOwners provides restaurant customers with compost, biogas and Eat Later programs, which allows them to bring and eat the food later in any of the partnering restaurants.
We are so excited to see where these incredible ideas go!
Thank you to our program partner, Interface. Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet, began its sustainability journey almost 25 years ago, in 1994, with Mission Zero. With this goal, Interface resolved to completely eliminate its environmental footprint by the year 2020. As of 2016, Interface runs on 87% renewable energy globally, has brought greenhouse gas emissions intensity down by 95% and has decreased its carbon footprint by about 60% since 1996.
In 2016, with the company close to hitting its initial Mission Zero goals, Interface launched a new sustainability mission, which examines how the company can not only mitigate harm, but actually reverse global warming through new manufacturing processes and leadership. Interface’s latest sustainability mission, Climate Take Back, aims to lead business and society to reverse global warming through four key areas. One of the strategies for Climate Take Back, called “Love Carbon,” is directly aligned with Project Drawdown. “Love Carbon,” asks that we stop seeing carbon as the enemy and instead use it as a resource. What are some practical areas where we can use the excess carbon in the atmosphere in productive ways?
For more information on Climate Take Back, visit their site here.
We are thrilled to announce the finalists and winner of the Racial Justice in Corporate America Challenge, a program launched in collaboration with Caesars Entertainment. The program opened in February and invited both students and professionals to submit ideas for how Corporate America can be part of the solution to effectively advance racial justice.
Congratulations to our four finalists, who were awarded prizes for their inspiring and innovative recommendations. Read below for an overview of their ideas:
Idea: Provide contract workers with equitable benefits.
"In many corporate industries, racial minorities are overrepresented in labor intensive contract roles, such as janitors and security guards, which lack benefits, are significantly underpaid, and offer no advancement options. This contributes to an inability to afford the cost of housing among other challenges, which ultimately perpetuates a cycle of racial inequity. Corporate America can help end this cycle and advance racial justice by providing their contract workers with equitable benefits to ensure a greater sense of stability as well as skill development programs and contract-to-perm advancement pathways to ensure opportunities for upward mobility."
Matthew Hui, University of Southern California, Social Impact, MA
Idea: Sponsor programs and challenges that encourage racial equity solutions.
"Corporate America can effectively advance racial justice through sponsoring innovation challenges that encourage racial justice solutions, live dinner events that promote stories of racial reconciliation in the marketplace, and racial equity leadership development programs that incentivize racial justice in corporate leadership. By implementing these programs, knowledge of racial issues that occurs both on the streets and in the office, can be exchanged for the better of communities. With its abundance of financial resources and facilities, Corporate America is in the perfect position to ensure better solutions towards racial equality are supported and heard."
Carley Mostar, University of Illinois, Chicago, MBA - Social Value Creation
Idea: Directly invest in communities of color
"To work toward racial justice, corporations should invest directly in communities of color through partnerships with local small business owners within their industry and within their communities. To address the lack of access to traditional capital and assets that these communities often face through structural racism, corporations could create mentorship programs for entrepreneurs of color to shadow at the executive level in their industry and receive supply chain, marketing, and financial support through sustained relationships. In return, corporations will develop stronger brand loyalty, gain access to new markets, and develop talent within their industry - all while working toward racial justice."
Cathleen Jeanty, Net Impact New York City Professional Chapter
Idea: Create a data-driven platform to foster collaboration on strategies to address racial inequality.
"Moving the Needle would be an innovative, collaborative, data-driven platform that allows multiple companies to work together to address racial inequality in the workplace. The online platform would be open to all companies that would like to see a more equalized workplace."
Congratulations to the finalists and to all who participated in this program! If you are interested in more racial justice content, check out the engaging webinar series that was created in conjunction with the challenge. These three webinars feature a variety of renowned and experienced professionals discussing their perspectives on racial justice in Corporate America. Speakers include Justin Steele from Google.Org, Malcom Shanks from Race Forward, and Gwen Migita from Caesars Entertainment, among many others. You can listen to recordings of all the webinars here.