Jordan Brewster_1's blog

Mobility, Technology, Freedom and FOMO

FOMO – the Fear of Missing Out. In our always-connected lives, when we’re barraged with information we can’t afford to miss, events we should attend, and people we just have to meet, FOMO is a common anxiety. If you face real obstacles to being where you want to be – if you’re disabled, for instance, or live in an underserved urban core, or are slowed by the effects of old age – FOMO can become your reality. Limited mobility increases the risk of missing out.

Mobility as a Social Issue

At Net Impact and Toyota, we talk a lot about mobility – which means, by the way, more than getting from one place to another. When you think about it… 

  • Mobility is about freedom and empowerment – the ability to learn, grow and explore. 
  • It gives people access to employment, to education, to opportunity. 
  • It helps people break through perceived limits and improve the quality of their lives. 

In other words, mobility is a social issue – a big one. Certainly, people need cars and trucks but the bigger issue is making sure everyone gets where they want to go – whether that’s across the country, across town, or across the room. If people cannot get where they need to go, they miss out.

Going Off-road

Here’s a good example of how we can improve mobility, and with it, people’s quality of life: at Toyota, the team has been working on a device called BLAID. While it’s still under development, the idea is that a person who’s blind or visually impaired can wear it around their neck and it will help them get around indoors. It can recognize common objects and, equipped with cameras, voice recognition software, speakers, and small vibration motors, the device will steer the user where they want to go.

Looking Ahead

You may already know that Net Impact and Toyota’s Mobility Foundation launched the Next Generation Mobility Challenge this year. Teams of students from 15 campuses around the country competed in design challenges to come up with solutions for mobility issues around three themes: community, connectivity or sustainability. We loved the ideas we heard and were so inspired.

The winning concept, devised by a team from Babson and Olin Colleges and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a proposed app called StreetSmart. It would provide real-time audio alerts on street conditions (traffic jams, accidents, construction, etc.) for people who are visually impaired. It would be crowdsourced, a lot like the popular navigation app Waze, making use of existing technologies like Google Maps. And it would keep getting better as more people provide information on what’s happening around them in their own travels. StreetSmart would allow people with disabilities to navigate more easily, and feel comfortable and safe as they do it. This summer, Esther Kim (RISD) and John Mathai (Olin) have started researching the StreetSmart concept with an internship at Toyota’s Partner Robotics Lab in San Jose. Niklaus Sugiri (Babson) has begun business research at the Net Impact office to support the build out of this idea. You can learn more about their updates on the Net Impact blog this month. 

Getting There Together

At Toyota and Net Impact, we both see mobility as a great arena for shared value – a way that companies create business value by addressing social problems that intersect with their work. It has always been important for companies to listen to consumers and pay close attention to the needs of society. At Net Impact and Toyota, we believe that breakthrough solutions come from this shared value approach.

Our goal is to help people improve their quality of life – and maybe lay FOMO to rest while we’re at it.  

Latondra Newton, Group Vice President, Social Innovation and Chief Diversity Officer, Toyota Motor North America; Chief Program Officer, Toyota Mobility Foundation

Liz Maw, CEO, Net Impact


Mobility is about freedom and empowerment – the ability to learn, grow and explore.
Mobility is about freedom and empowerment – the ability to learn, grow and explore.

Meet John, Mobility Challenge Winner & Intern

Last year, Net Impact and Toyota’s Mobility Foundation launched the Next Generation Mobility Challenge for students to generate solutions to some of the leading issues in transportation and mobility. The winning concept was a proposed app called StreetSmart that would work in conjunction with Toyota’s Project BLAID, providing real-time audio alerts on street conditions for people who are visually impaired. The students who proposed the solution are spending their summer working with Toyota Mobility Foundation and the Partner Robotics Lab to build out research on their idea. Keep an eye on the Net Impact blog as we spotlight this summer’s interns.

Name: John Mathai    

Major: Mechanical Design 

School: Olin College of Engineering, Needham, MA

How did you hear about the Toyota + Net Impact Next Generation Mobility Challenge?

I found out about the Challenge through a professor -- he announced it to a class I was the class assistant for at the time.

What specific project are you working on this summer?

I am working on Toyota’s Project BLAID, specifically looking at the product’s future as a platform for visually-impaired users.

How does the internship differ from or complement your school coursework?

Much of the schoolwork I had done in my first year revolved around human-centered design and product development. It is fantastic to be able to use those skills in the real world on a product that has such a potential for positive impact.

How has the experience shaped your future plans?

I enjoy dynamic environments; I find them more challenging and more engaging. As such, I am looking into engineering opportunities abroad or in places I think I’d find compelling, such as aboard a ship, for the summers to come.

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world of mobility and transportation?

I think the most critical issue is energy. Most solutions to any of the mobility/transportation problems rely on power, and finding or generating a sustainable source of energy and creating infrastructure around that is going to be a necessary but massive shift in the way this world works.

What is one of the craziest things you’ve done to date?

I joined 5 students I had never met before in a foreign country where I barely knew the language for a month and a half. We were there for language immersion and some environmental volunteerism and education. I turned out alright (I think)…therein lies my passion for unfamiliar and rapidly changing places!


StreetSmart won the 2015-2016 Next Generation Mobility Challenge
StreetSmart won the 2015-2016 Next Generation Mobility Challenge

One Woman’s Mission to Change the Sexual Product Industry

One father-daughter team have managed to build an entire sustainable brand within the sexual wellness market; selling everything from vegan condoms to organic lubricant, all while empowering women to take control of their sexual health.

Sustain Natural is the first brand of all natural female-focused sexual wellness products. Sustain’s turquoise boxes of sustainably produced, non-toxic products can be found in the aisles of Whole Foods and Target stores nationwide. Sustain’s purpose? 

“The purpose of Sustain is not only to provide a product that is better for the planet but also better for people using them. Besides creating the most sustainable product of its kind, I’m really on a mission to inspire and educate women to take control of their sexual health,” co-founder of Sustain, Meika Hollender said. 

Meika Hollender has just been announced as a keynote speaker for 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia November 3-5. 

Hollender grew up in a very entrepreneurial family, especially in a natural product space. Seventh Generation, her dad's former company, was the first brand of eco-friendly cleaning and personal care products. Today Hollender continues that legacy; she co-founded Sustain with her parents, Jeffrey Hollender and Sheila Hollender, and is a co-author of the book “Naturally Clean.” 

Register today to see keynote speaker Meika Hollender at the 2016 Net Impact Conference and check out these top 4 reasons why Sustain is making an impact:

Sustain is sustainable and socially responsible

Sustain gets its latex from sustainable-certified forests and manufactures in factories where workers are treated well, including a unionized factory where the workers are making three times the average wage in India. The natural rubber used for the condoms is from the sap of a rubber tree and is therefore a natural, renewable product. Harvesting the sap does not harm the tree, which can produce latex for 35 years.

Their products are vegan and better for you

Approved by the Vegan Awareness Foundation, Sustain condoms are vegan, they are not tested on animals, and they are not genetically modified. In September 2014, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) released independent test results of latex condoms sold in the United States and found that only two major brands were free of detectable nitrosamines, a class of carcinogenic chemicals. Sustain was one of those two brands. 

Their lubricants are free of petrochemicals, which the World Health Organization says are damaging when they enter your body. They also contain no traces of Parabens and Glycerin and are recommended by medical professionals. Like their condoms, these lubricants are 100% vegan and gluten-free, not tested on animals, and are even made with 95% organic ingredients.

Sustain is empowering women

It's delightful (yet discreet) packaging and messaging helps to remind women that protection should never be something to feel ashamed of. Hollender created the #GetOnTop movement, in which women pledge to have safe sex. Also 50% of the Sustain company is owned by women. 

Sustain is giving back

As a part of the #GetOnTop movement, women pledge to have safe sex and for every pledge a condom is donated to a young woman in partnership with Bedsider and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy.  To amplify the message, Hollender got 10 well-known women to start in a video:

With the lofty goal of making all condoms sustainable in five years, Sustain may have a long way to go, but the organization is already making a big impact while leading a movement of women taking charge of their sexual health. 

To learn more about how Meika Hollender went from NYU student to co-founder of a natural sexual wellness empire, join us at the 2016 Net Impact Conference.

Sustain co-founder Meika Hollender has just been announced as a 2016 Net Impact Conference keynote speaker
Sustain co-founder Meika Hollender has just been announced as a 2016 Net Impact Conference keynote speaker

Find Motivation in Jared: Sustainability + Entrepreneurship = Big Impact

What can professional intrapreneurs learn from today’s college students? We think a lot. Launching a passion project within an organization takes guts -- and it doesn’t matter if it takes place on campus or in the office. For our Climate Disruptors series, we’re highlighting the lessons learned from students who have spearheaded sustainability success at school, showing that you can make change from any position. 

Jared Greenberg is a recent graduate from Arizona State University’s (ASU) business school, holding an undergraduate degree in sustainability and entrepreneurship.

You have initiated several intrapreneurial ventures throughout your professional and undergraduate career. What is the one that you are most proud of? 

That would be the Pee’d Off Initiative I brought to my university. I literally had  an ‘aha’ moment while I was peeing and realized that urinals would be such an easy way to conserve water. I had been looking for an opportunity for water conservation and realized that 40,000 gallons of water can be conserved per year by using a waterless urinal. 

How did you know this was the right project to work on?

At the time I was the Director of Projects for the Campus Student Sustainability Initiatives, looking for an “undeniable reality” to lead change. 

To me, an undeniable reality is anything where you cannot argue the truth in it. It makes your doubters shut up, because it kills any counter-argument. It is something that makes a lot of sense and is easy to adapt. People don’t like change, so this doesn’t give them an option. 

Ideally, these types of projects also don’t require much behavior change from individuals. I did a ton of research and interviewing and eventually found out that a 0.175 gallon flush would be the ideal solution to this water waste issue. 

How did you know you achieved success? 

Once I had found the high traffic areas on campus, I managed to connect with the right people and installed four new urinals relatively quickly. I can now say that I initiated 80% of water being conserved for every flush of these toilets, saving 35,000 gallons of water per urinal per year. In 10 years, that will conserve 1.32 million gallons of water. But the best part is that  it was a relatively simple project. I just had to initiate the change and push for it to go through.

Where do you go from here? 

Imagine how much water we could save! The long-term goal is to make this approach the law. If these urinals became standard and we managed to change the policy, then we could make a world of a difference. If we can get urinals in bulk and even use recycled materials, then we could make them more and more universally accessible. You could go so far with this. It is like with LED lights a few decades ago -- someone believed that the system could be revolutionized and today it is common practice to have them.

What characteristics are necessary in a successful intrapreneur?

There are three crucial aspects to a successful intrapreneur. Navigating ambiguity is the first, because you cannot fear the uncertain. Confidence and passion are next, because you need to believe that what you are doing is right. The third one is creativity. For me it was in the branding. The name “Pee’d Off” stemmed from being so pissed off that we were wasting this water. It started as a saying -- but it worked. 

Apart from that, the more practical, technical things are obviously key too. Do your due diligence and research, and find other success stories to motivate you along the way. My personal inspirations are the projects that I failed at. 

Tell me a little more about failure.

Failure is what leaves you thirsty for more, and anything worthwhile truly does not come easy. You asked me about my most successful project, but I can't tell you how many other ideas have failed. Have resilience and keep on fighting the good fight.

If you don’t have all of these things yourself, then that’s okay. I certainly didn’t. It is imperative to have a support system. One individual alone cannot break down all the barriers. 

What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning to take the first steps in launching a sustainability project at university of work?

Find what your passion is, whether it’s water conservation energy efficiency or zero waste initiatives. The passion is going to be what drives you through, but it also connects the dots. 

Then create your undeniable reality and do your due diligence. Build your best value proposition. Whether at your workplace or your school, if you want to be a climate disruptor, there are probably 10 simple solutions already within your grasp -- you just need to find them. There are all these low hanging fruit. For me, it was always the thought: if they can do it with a lightbulb, I can do it with a urinal.

Jared Greenberg is "pee'd off" about unnecessary water waste
Jared Greenberg is "pee'd off" about unnecessary water waste

How I’m using my Kellogg MBA and Net Impact experience to lead a fish farming nonprofit

I first visited Haiti in 2014. At the time, I was a management consultant based out of Los Angeles, California working with Fortune 100 executives from some of the most well-known companies in the world. While I really enjoyed the novelty of my work, I believed that my business knowledge could serve an even higher purpose beyond entertainment, high-tech and consumer goods.

When I traveled to Haiti — a land of beautiful, grassy vistas that is home to some of the most welcoming people I have ever met — I witnessed extreme poverty. Haiti was one of the most gorgeous places I’d ever seen, but it was also the most destitute place I have ever been.  While many charities supplied food and clothing to help the poor in Haiti, I wondered if there was a way that I could help the poor in a realm that I had more expertise in: business, change management and people management.

Changing views of my career and purpose

It was hard for me to grasp why there was such a huge difference between the life I knew in the United States and the life I could see while standing in the slums of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I came to acknowledge that if I was born under different circumstances, I could have been born in Haiti. By taking on this perspective, I felt an even stronger connection to the people of Haiti. They could have been me, a person from the “first world”, and I could have very well been them.

Instead of feeling sad or helpless about the situation and doing nothing about it, I felt a renewed purpose in my career; I wanted to take my business acumen and apply it to the problems that I saw in Haiti. After all, problem solving was part of my job as a consultant — I diagnosed issues and then designed strategies to resolve them. My strength in identifying and solving problems led to my involvement with Fish4Hope.

A brief background of Fish4Hope

My brother and fiancé started Fish4Hope, and the organization is the reason why I visited Haiti in the first place. In one year, the organization raised over $140,000 to build 15 homes, four fish ponds and a fishing trade training system. After I visited the first completed Fish4Hope village in 2014, I was inspired to join the team. Like my brother and fiancé, I wanted to become an entrepreneur who brought business-based solutions to the poor, helping them gain valuable, lifelong skills that allow for self-sustainment.

Shortly after joining the Fish4Hope team, I accepted Kellogg’s offer of admission with a clear purpose for how I wanted to use my MBA; For the sake of Fish4Hope’s current and future beneficiaries, I wanted to become a better businesswoman.

Studying through a social impact lens

Being a part of Fish4Hope while earning a full-time MBA enriched my view of Kellogg’s coursework and extracurricular opportunities. The social enterprise course offerings and robust Net Impact Club programming developed my understanding of the intersection of for-profit business, non-profit business and social impact. I viewed my entrepreneurship, marketing, operations and management & organizations (MORS) coursework through a social impact lens; I constantly asked myself, my professors and my classmates how these concepts could move markets and make the world a more endurable, dignified and peaceful place to live.

During my time on the leadership board of Kellogg’s Net Impact Club, we worked to build programming to serve the needs of the 75%+ of Kellogg students who see social impact as an integral part of their post-MBA career. I’ve made such amazing friends through the Kellogg Net Impact Club who share a passion for purpose. They also serve as great sounding boards when I seek feedback and advice related to Fish4Hope.

Doing what you already love to make a significant impact

Thanks to my Fish4Hope experiences, I learned that making a difference to those in need doesn’t mean giving up what we really love.  My fiancé owns and operates a chain of martial arts schools — a job he absolutely loves — while redirecting his profits to fund much of Fish4Hope’s operating costs. My brother is passionate about process re-engineering, and he does this for a living as a change management strategist. Because of his day job, he’s able to bring his analytical mindset to the way we roll out processes in our Haitian villages. Another leadership team member owns a photography studio, which has been extremely instrumental in bringing powerful images of Haiti to our donors and supporters. As for me, I leverage my consulting and MBA background in order to improve Fish4Hope’s operations.

Through the collective efforts of our leadership team, volunteers, supporters and partners on the ground in Haiti, we’re able to invest 100 percent of public donations into building fish farming villages for those who need it. Today, Fish4Hope continues its work transforming communities into lively marketplaces that are made possible by the sale and profit of fish. We welcome all volunteers who want to take part in our projects by way of donating their skillsets, time or finances. We also offer supporters the opportunity to join us when we travel to Fish4Hope villages to meet beneficiaries. Through Fish4Hope, we aim to do what we love, with people we love, to tangibly and transparently make a difference for those in need.

If you’d like to learn more about Fish4Hope, visit, find us on Facebook or email us at You’re also invited to take a trip to Haiti with us! To donate to Fish4Hope, consider doing your online shopping via Amazon Smile – just select Fish4Hope Foundation as your charity of choice. Amazon will donate a portion of the proceeds from your purchases to our projects. Every little bit can have a huge impact.

Linnette Lam is a June 2016 graduate of Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. During her time at Kellogg, she served as Vice President of Alumni Relations of Kellogg’s Net Impact Club. She also volunteered as an MBA intern with Piece & Co., a social impact fashion startup. Prior to Kellogg, she worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP and received her B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

This blog post was originally published on The Inside Perspective, the Kellogg Full-Time MBA Blog.

Would you like your Net Impact story featured on our blog? E-mail

Linnette's nonprofit, Fish4Hope helps the people of Haiti.
Linnette's nonprofit, Fish4Hope helps the people of Haiti.

SIRUM: the for Unused Medicine

Dx: Americans are wasting medicine that others need, but can’t afford
Rx: SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine)

Described as “the for unused medicine” SIRUM in a non-profit organization that uses an innovative technology platform to save lives by allowing health facilities, manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies to donate unused medicine rather than destroy it. 

Kiah Williams, a co-founder of the organization, has just been announced as a keynote speaker at the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia this November 3 - 5.

SIRUM saves lives, money, and time

A 2014 New York Times poll found 1 in 4 adults reported they skip or cut back on prescriptions due to cost. This is because many prescription drugs that are needed to save lives, come at such a high cost. For example, one unit of Invega Sustenna, a drug used to treat schizophrenia, is listed on the drug cost database at $1,250, but can retail online for over $2,000. Yet each year hospitals, pharmacies, manufacturers, and nursing homes are sending billions of dollars worth of medicines to be destroyed. Medicines are also being flushed down the toilet resulting in waterway contamination. Enter SIRUM: the non-profit allows organizations to save lives by donating their unused medications. 

The platform enables the closed, safe peer-to-peer redistribution of medications and unlike traditional drug redistribution programs that rely on intermediaries, they connect donor facilities directly with recipient safety-net clinics and donors can select the clinics or pharmacies that will receive their medications. SIRUM tracks the value of the medications using the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost database and does quarterly follow ups with the donors, reporting the value of the drugs donated and the estimated number of patients assisted.

The company has redistributed nearly $7 million dollars’ worth of medication--enough to help more than 150,000 patients--across California, Colorado, Ohio, and Oregon. Forty states have established Good Samaritan laws that protect eligible donor and recipient organizations involved in medicine donation, so there is room to expand the organization. 

Kiah Williams, Social Entrepreneur

“If we’re recycling five-cent soda cans, we should be recycling medicine,” said co-founder Kiah Williams. Prior to starting SIRUM, Williams led negotiations to create the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association.  Williams is a native of West Philadelphia, but now lives in the Bay Area and runs SIRUM out of Silicon Valley. Her inspiring work also landed her on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for Social Entrepreneurs. Williams is passionate about making lifesaving medication available to everyone who needs it.

“I believe healthcare is a fundamental right, and that health equity sets the stage for reducing inequality,” she says. 

Register today for the 2016 Net Impact Conference, so you don’t miss out on hearing more about how SIRUM’s work is saving lives from co-founder Kiah Williams.

Kiah Williams is saving lives by saving medicine.
Kiah Williams is saving lives by saving medicine.

Get Inspired by Anna Middendorf, College Student and Intrapreneur

What can professional intrapreneurs learn from today’s college students? We think a lot. Launching a passion project within an organization takes guts -- and it doesn’t matter if it takes place on campus or in the office. For our Climate Disruptors series, we’re highlighting the lessons learned from students who have spearheaded sustainability success at school, showing that you can make change from any position. 

Anna Middendorf is a rising senior and Division 1 field hockey player at the University of Connecticut (UConn). Over the past three years, she has competed across the country with her team and coaches. In August 2015, Anna had an ‘aha’ moment that led her to start her intrapreneurial efforts for  sustainability in university athletics -- introducing better recycling at games, raising awareness for green themes and finding allies along the way. In this process, she faced a lot of challenges and resistance, but ultimately came out a stronger champion for change.

Why did you first decide to take action on sustainability?

Anna: It was quite simple: from my position as a student athlete, I saw a problem up close and wanted to fix it. As a DI athlete at the University of Connecticut, the last three years have been absolutely incredible for my personal growth and for the opportunity to compete at the highest level possible in the United States. But I also knew that in 2015, UConn was ranked number three in the country in terms of public Division I schools subsidizing sports teams and programs with $27.2 million.

Despite all this, I saw very little sustainable awareness within the athletic department. The recycling at games, whether at a large event or a small one, was poorly managed. Catering food waste for teams was far too high, and athletes’ involvement in sustainable advocacy was virtually nonexistent.

Were there any existing efforts underway to make athletics more sustainable?

The few Green Game Days of the year were organized by student-run organizations. But on the whole, the athletic department is shy to affiliate itself with any projects or discussions revolving around climate change, due to its “controversial” nature.

What was the most unexpected challenge you faced?

The recruitment of the right allies was a rocky process, though I began with a few fantastic peers from both inside and outside the athletic department who did not hesitate to get involved. What was more difficult was finding approval from the decision-makers of the athletic department. After I finally found the like-minded executives I had been looking for, unexpected role shifts and new personnel stood in my way to success. 

After losing my most powerful allies, I was told to put my suggestions on hold, and I thought about calling it quits on more than one occasion. 

How did you ultimately push through on your path forward?

I found in the end that the only way to succeed was to change my approach; I needed to go all the way to the top of the food chain sooner rather than later. I ended up running for a position on UConn’s executive board of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, giving me a proper link to the top. Now, detractors had to listen to what I had been saying for so long, especially after my peers on the board all agreed that this was a cause worth fighting for. Today, we are in the process of overhauling the complete recycling system of our facilities. We are working on a video from athletes for the entire student community, advocating for the change we want to see in our university. 

What are some of the ingredients that lead to intrapreneurial success?

In my book, a successful intrapreneur needs to have a vision, be a team-player and not accept no for an answer. Growing up in a big family and having been on a field hockey team for most of my life, I think the team factor has always been my strongest suit. On top of that, I am just really passionate about this project. I genuinely believe in its timeliness and importance. I was never going to take no for an answer, because I couldn’t imagine graduating in less than a year from a place that I was not able to change for the better, at least minutely.

What advice would you give to someone launching their own project at work or school? 

I have found again and again that passionate people are all that you really need in order to get a project going, more than financial support, expertise or anything else. 

Bouncing ideas off one another and constantly re-imagining what is possible has been the driving force for any of the ideas we have come up with at UConn. A group of individuals voicing their opinions as one will always be more effective than one individual standing up alone. 

Interested in making an Impact at Work? Visit our Climate Disruptors page to learn how.

Launching a passion project - whether in an organization or on campus - takes guts
Launching a passion project - whether in an organization or on campus - takes guts

24 Reasons to Celebrate America’s 240th Birthday

This November, thousands of people passionate about changing the world will come together in Philadelphia to make history at the 2016 Net Impact Conference. Well, 240 years ago a different group of people also gathered in Philadelphia with the goal of bringing people together and changing the state of society. These men, the Continental Congress, adopted the Declaration of Independence making history in Philadelphia, on July 4th 1776. 

In honor of the 240th anniversary of Congress declaring the American colonies free and independent states, (and because we want to see you this November in Philadelphia) we’re celebrating on Snapchat and giving you 24% off to the 2016 Net Impact Conference - just follow us (ntmpct) to receive the discount code. Plus, we have compiled a list of 24 reasons to celebrate America this Independence Day!

Now here’s 24 Reasons to celebrate America this 4th of July:

1. 24% off of NI16. Just follow us on Snapchat (ntmpct) for the code, which expires at 11:59:59 on July 4th. (You might have seen that coming.)

2. You can make your celebration Red, White and Green. Check out our Impact 4th of July Pinterest board. 

3. Freedom!

4. And those who fight for it. It's always a good time to thank and celebrate the men and women who are currently serving and those have in the past served our country. Check out organizations in America that are helping Veterans. 

5. We invented sliced bread.  While the rest of the world had bread for over 3,000 years, we were the first ones to slice it, and everything we have done since then has been “the greatest thing since sliced bread.” 

6. Students across America are working to improve their communities and campuses through the Newman's Own Foundation Challenge. 

7. And while we're on that subject, Paul Newman; an American, actor, director, racecar driver, environmentalist, activist, philanthropist, and all around talented guy.  

8.  American cities are making an impact.  For example, Philadelphia has expanded recycling options through out public spaces, added additional types of plastics to the list of recyclable materials, and instituted e-waste drop-off centers.  Philly has planted more than 89,000 new trees and retrofitted more than 5,500 homes to make the city as a whole more sustainable.  

9. Gay marriage is legal in all 50 States. 

10. We're a melting pot of cultures, religions, and ways of life.  Diversity of thoughts and opinions is always worth celebrating!

11. Vegan condoms.  They're a thing and Sustain makes them.  

12. We have the world's largest electric vehicle charging network.  ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Corridors are transforming the transportation industry by providing the charging stations, mobile app, and a network that allows people to charge their cars anywhere they go.

13. Baseball. It's the only sport where even the best players are successful a third of the time and it's America’s pastime. “Go (insert your favorite team here)!” 

14. Our natural beauty. From the Rocky Mountains, to the Great Lakes, to Yellowstone National Park, our country has some amazing scenery.  

15. While we didn't invent them, fireworks are awesome and definitely a reason to celebrate this weekend.  

16.  Even our largest retailer, Walmart, is seriously stepping up its sustainability game.  Read more about their plans for women economic empowerment, clean energy, responsible sourcing and more on their website. 

17. Chanting U.S.A. with a crowd of people you don't know. 

18.  Employees across the country are using their day job to inspire change at their companies.  Even though their titles might not include Sustainability or CSR, these disruptors are truly making an impact at work. 

19. 4th of July hot dog eating contest: delicious, fun, and impressive. The record is 68 hot dogs (including buns) in 10 minutes. 

20. Beyonce.

21. Even our banks are getting involved with sustainability: since 2007, Bank of America has provided more than $53 billion in financing for low-carbon activities. 

22. By 2020, there will be a bike path that you can ride from Northern Maine to the tip of Florida, thanks to the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

23. Net Impact members are taking spent grain from the beer brewing process and making granola out of it.  Here's their pitch for the Forward Food Competition:


24. It's fun to celebrate our accomplishments as a country.  In 240 years, we've come a long way. Plus, we all have the day off.  So celebrate responsibly and safely and Happy 4th of July!


It’s the 240th anniversary of Independence Day and to celebrate Net Impact is offering 24% off conference registration for this weekend only.
It’s the 240th anniversary of Independence Day and to celebrate Net Impact is offering 24% off conference registration for this weekend only.

Using Instagram to Measure Food Deserts

48 million Americans struggle with hunger

Food deserts are areas where is it difficult for residents to access healthy fresh food. They are largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers, and other healthy food providers in the area. There are socio-economic factors to food deserts; they are most commonly found in communities of color and low-income. Due to difficulties in accessing healthy food, communities in these areas are at higher risks of malnutrition. 

Food deserts are usually measured by the distance people have to travel to get to a large grocery store. As a part of First Lady, Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, the USDA created a food desert locator. Over 2 million people, or two percent of all US households, live more than one mile away from a grocery store and do not own a car (Source: Food Empowerment Project, While measuring distance is easy, researchers have a much harder time measuring what residents in these areas eat on a daily basis. Usually, researchers rely on surveys to collect this information, however they cannot record every meal. How can researchers get a better idea of what people are eating on a day to day basis? The same way you find out what your friends had for brunch last weekend: Instagram.

Mining Instagram as a research method

A research team from Georgia Institute of Technology published a study where they analysed three million public food-related Instagrams tagged with food words and geotagged each location. They divided areas into food deserts and non-food deserts and compared information from a food desert to a non-food desert with similar demographics. Nutritional value of the food was estimated and in every region in the US, food-related Instagrams had higher cholesterol, sugar, and fat contents in food deserts than non-food deserts. Researchers were able to use a model to accurately predict whether an Instagram picture was from a food desert or not 80 percent of the time. This study shows the difference that access to food has on what people eat and which foods people choose to show off.  

Communities living in food deserts are in need of better access to healthy and affordable food. Net Impact has partnered with Newman’s Own Foundation to launch the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge and some of our own participants are working with communities living in food deserts to educate and bring affordable healthy food to residents. Visit Net Impact’s Newman’s Own Foundation page to learn more.

A team of researchers found a new way to measure the types of food resident of food deserts are consuming: Instagram
A team of researchers found a new way to measure the types of food resident of food deserts are consuming: Instagram