3 Things to Know About Our Partnership with Wildlife Works

We’ve been working hard since 2009 to make a positive impact on the world through innovation and sustainability. Because we want to keep driving progress, we’ve recently partnered with Wildlife Works to help preserve threatened forests. With the support of TreeZero and other sustainability-focused companies, Wildlife Works is:

  • Protecting 1.2 million acres of forest in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Preserving habitats for more than 300 wildlife species
  • Bringing sustainable development benefits to more than 200,000 locals

We are excited about this partnership and our goal is to share the benefits with you.

We’re Increasing the Sustainability of our Products

Through our partnership with Wildlife Works, our multipurpose paper is now carbon neutral. What does that mean? It means we’re cutting greenhouse gas emissions. We went back and purchased carbon offsets for every ream of paper distributed by TreeZero since the inception of the company. We’re committed to meeting the highest sustainability standards and will continue purchasing carbon offsets for future sales. 

We’re Helping the Environment

Saving the environment is no easy task and we understand people want to get involved. To continue moving the needle, our partnership with Wildlife Works is helping to provide training and employment opportunities to villagers near these forests. And by working together, Wildlife Works is helping to protect local wildlife, including elephants, giraffes and cheetahs.

 

 

We’re Advocating for Continued Change

It’s important to speak up and show the world you stand for something. We offer thanks to our customers – the thousands of companies and individuals who use TreeZero’s multipurpose paper every day. Together with Wildlife Works, we’ll continue to help preserve threatened forests and habitats.

This upcoming weekend, I’ll be at The Rethinking Animals Summit in New York speaking on the “Business for Sustainable Solutions” panel with Wildlife Works founder Mike Korchinsky. We’re sharing how businesses can be profitable while protecting the environment. We hope to inspire other businesses and more consumers to make sustainable choices – because every decision makes a difference.

Additional Resources

Arbor Day: A Celebration and Appreciation of Trees

Let’s celebrate trees this Arbor Day. Trees do so much for us.  They provide shade, reduce energy costs and increase our property values. Along our streets, they reduce storm water runoff that can carry pollutants to our waterways. Throughout our communities, they improve the mental and respiratory health, break up heat islands, create jobs and boost the economy.

In forests, they restore critical wildlife habitat, provide opportunities for recreation and maintain healthy watersheds to protect drinking water resources.  And no matter where they’re planted, trees are working hard to combat climate change, clean the air and shield us from ultra-violet rays.  Trees filter pollutants out of our air and water. They absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air.  Trees provide food for humans, birds and wildlife, alike.  One apple tree can provide 15 to 20 bushels of fruit a year.

Trees provide immeasurable beauty and serenity that feed the human soul. At times, they can take our breath away.  This Friday, April 28th, is Arbor Day.  Take notice. Observe. Celebrate and be grateful for the trees around you.  TreeZero invites you to plant a tree and make a positive impact in your community.

Visit us at TreeZero.  Learn more about how choosing our tree free paper helps the environment and your business or organization to be more sustainable.

Ready to go tree free? Email us and we’ll get you started.

Weekly Round-Up: Recycling – Opportunities to Improve

Below are several articles highlighting opportunities to improve recycling and businesses that are stepping up their game in use of recovered materials to make new products.

What you’re doing wrong when it comes to recycling – Waste Management officials say the Seattle area is considered a national leader with a recycling rate greater than 50 percent. However, that leaves room for a lot of opportunities. “We do a pretty good job but yet, nearly half of what we’re throwing away could be recycled,” says Michelle Metzler, Waste Management’s manager of recycling education programs. “So even though we’re doing better than most of the rest of the country, we still have a lot of opportunities.recycle right

The Recycling Partnership assesses its impactIn its recently released 2016 annual report, titled “How do You Create Impact3,” The Recycling Partnership, the organization has:

  • assisted more than 250 local communities and improved recycling for 19 million households;
  • increased greenhouse gas savings from 43,000 metric tons two years ago to 164,200 metric tons;
  • grown the cumulative tonnage of recyclables recovered from 15,100 tons two years ago to 57,500 tons today;
  • placed nearly 400,000 curbside recycling carts during the last three years; and
  • saved 382 million gallons of water and 2 trillion BTU of energy annually.

The Recycling Partnership has announced its third annual request for proposals to help local governments make the switch to cart-based recycling collection. The national nonprofit will be giving out funds on a rolling process throughout the year. Any county, municipality, solid waste district/authority or tribe with at least 10,000 residents is eligible to apply. For programs with weekly collections, carts must be at least 60 gallons, and at least 90 gallons for biweekly. recycling binAll carts must include embedded RFID tags as well.  The Partnership is offering $7 per household for cart purchases and $1 per household for education. Additional technical assistance and educational materials are worth an estimated $139,000. For Info visit Recycling Partnership.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition and the Recycling Partnership have started a new initiative that will build a roadmap for a stronger American recycling industry.  ASTRX is a systems-level project to increase recycling by strengthening each element of the materials supply chain to create reliable and valuable manufacturing feedstock. For packaging to be recycled successfully, we must consider how it flows through each of the five elements of recycling: end markets, reprocessing, sortation, collection, and consumer engagement. To increase recovery, ASTRX will examine each element of the recycling system, identify barriers to recovering more high quality materials, and develop solutions that support each element and thus help the recycling system as a whole.

P&G and Microsoft Demonstrate How to Move Beyond Recycling – In an article Gina-Marie Chesseman reports Procter and Gamble (P&G) set a goal to send zero manufacturing waste to landfill by 2020. So far, 56 percent of its global production sites send zero manufacturing waste to local landfills. The company works toward its 2020 goal by looking at waste through a new lens. As it states on its website: “The key is to not see anything as trash, but material with potential use.” “We made a strategic decision in the late 1980s to ensure our packaging could be recovered, recycled and reused in our new packages,” Virginie Helias, global VP of sustainability for P&G, told TriplePundit. “We solicited help from multiple partners, built new supply chains and, most importantly, committed to using post-consumer recycled plastic in our bottles.”

P&G recently partnered with TerraCycle and SUEZ to produce a shampoo bottle made from up to 25 percent recycled beach plastic. The bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo will debut this summer in French retailer Carrefour. And the rollout will eventually represent the world’s largest production of recyclable bottles made with post-consumer recycled beach plastic.

“Microsoft started nine years ago using compostable products and went to fully compostable dining ware in July 2008,” Mohan Reddy Guttapalem, Microsoft senior facilities manager, told TriplePundit. Microsoft’s Redmond campus achieved gold-level zero waste certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.

The company managed to divert at least 90 percent of its food, office and construction waste from landfills. And employee-driven reuse, recycling and composting programs helped the company reach its milestone. Microsoft also likes to conduct complete audits frequently, including periodically auditing waste streams and an annual audit of its waste-hauling vendor, Guttapalem said. The company then tailors its “outreach programs to the employees based on the results.”

Target offers car seat recycling program. Target is encouraging parents not to throw away car seats after they have been outgrown by their children. The retail store chain is offering a car seat recycling program beginning April 17, according to Parents magazine. Target, in partnership with recycling company TerraCycle, will accept car seats through April 30. toddler in car seatParents should bring that obsolete car seat to the store, drop it in a bin located either in the baby section or near the front. Then, locate a Target associate to receive a coupon for 20 percent off any car seat through May 31. Shoppers can buy the car seats in-store or online at Target.com. The recycled car seats will be converted into new products.

Why OEMs are bringing more recycled plastic into devices. According to HP’s latest sustainability report, the company incorporates e-plastics from used ink and toner cartridges back into new cartridges. It also uses other post-consumer plastic sources, including beverage containers. The report also noted that it used 6,200 metric tons of post-consumer plastic in PCs and displays in 2015, although it didn’t indicate whether the recycled content came from recovered e-plastics or other sources. HP isn’t alone in incorporating recycled resin in its devices. Dell has for years incorporated post-consumer e-plastics in its products. During the 2016 fiscal year, Dell used 3.4 million pounds of post-consumer e-plastics in its products, up about 55 percent from the year before.

SUBTITLE C: REGIONAL MEGA-FACILITIES ARE THE FUTURE OF COMMERCIAL COMPOSTING. Ultimately, the rates (costs to residents and businesses) associated with manufacturing compost from organic waste will always be higher than landfilling, even with economy of scale. Commercial composting is a manufacturing process that can take up to 120 days or more. The sheer time difference between landfilling and composting a ton of organic material is enough to multiply the cost of managing it exponentially. Also, compost manufacturing is different from most manufacturing because the cost of making the product exceeds the value of the product in the marketplace.  This is because compost competes with chemical fertilizers even though it shouldn’t since the benefit of fertilizers is mostly short term production gains, whereas compost provides soil health first, creating a healthy microbiome for long term production gains.

Whatever the solution is to the question of how we responsibly and economically manage our waste, we are bound to be more successful and innovative if we think backwards before we think forwards.  What were the lessons learned from RCRA and the consolidation of the landfill industry?  How can we implement and fund organic waste recycling programs using the lessons learned from curbside recycling?  I’ll end with a great quote by author Ronald Wright “Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up.”

Dozens dead after dump site landslide in Sri Lankan capital.  At least 29 casualties have been confirmed after a landfill landslide in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, and some estimates say that up to 100 people may still be missing, as reported by NBC News and other media outlets. More than 1,000 emergency workers have been brought in to the crisis area, though a military spokesperson told Reuters it is unlikely they will find any survivors. The incident occurred on April 15 during Sri Lanka’s new year celebrations and damaged an estimated 145 homes. Geological investigators believe that the landslide was caused by a methane explosion, as reported by The New York Times. Residents in the Meethotamulla area had been calling for the closure of this 300-foot-high site for multiple years. The Sri Lankan government has announced that the site will now be closed, as reported by BBC News.

Last year, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) released a report that linked 750 deaths to dumpsites in less than a year and outlined strategies for beginning to close the world’s 50 most egregious examples. ISWA is turning its attention the Estrutural landfill in Brazil’s capital first — one of multiple challenging sites in the country— and the urgency of this need has been recently demonstrated in other countries as well. At least 113 people were killed by a landfill landslide in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last month.

As outlined by ISWA, closing these dumpsites will also help countries work toward achieving the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. If allowed to continue in their current states, these sites could comprise 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Out of the 50 largest ones, 38 are also in coastal areas and are sources of the ongoing marine pollution crisis that has drawn attention from Sri Lanka and many other countries.

Now is the Time to Make Earth Day Everyday

In a recent blog post, Jason Clay of World Wildlife Fund made some interesting historical references to the conditions of our world dating back to the first Earth Day – April 22, 1970.   Since 1970 the human population doubled.   The non-human vertebrate species’ populations declined by an average of 58 percent.  The global average temperature increased by about one degree Celsius. In 1970, the US imported about $54 billion worth of goods and services.  That number rose to $2.7 trillion in 2016.

Manhattan skyline

Manhattan skyline in 1974, photographed by Alexander Hope for Documerica. Courtesy of the National Archives

By 1970 millions of Americans were fed-up with the state of the natural environment.  Civil society was ripe for activism and government solutions. They were ready for business and commerce to clean up their acts.

Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI (D)) understood this disgust along with the rising demands of citizens.  He proposed a national event to galvanize action – Earth Day.  “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.”

NYT first Earth Day

A throng of thousands along New York City’s 5th Ave., as far as the eye could see, came out for Earth Day 1970 demonstrations receiving front page coverage the next day

Clearly, we’ve made great progress since the first Earth Day. But so much still needs to be done.  I’d venture to say, focusing on just one day falls short of the vision of the father of Earth Day.

Our reliance on fossil fuels and the inefficient use of most, if not all, energy continues to make the most significant impact on the environment. Energy is the life blood of our economy.  But extraction, refining, generation and transmission of most of our energy sources creates enormous amounts of waste, emissions of particulate air pollution and heat trapping greenhouse gases.  Yet, many of these externalities are not accounted for on the cost ledger of our businesses or personal budgets.

What does the American public think?  According to a March 2017 Gallup Poll, 59% of Americans believe the environment should be prioritized over energy production.   This is not an unreasonable expectation.  Just think about the amount of solar energy hitting the earth each day. If properly collected, stored and transmitted, solar energy could provide more than is needed to meet our daily energy needs.

LED bulbs avoid the use of significant amounts of energy.  They reduce maintenance costs and eliminate mercury associated with fluorescent bulbs.

Imagine if procurement officials from colleges and universities gave preference to recycled materials and low carbon commitments in setting selection criteria for goods and services?

Would energy efficiency and use of renewable energy increase significantly if fossil fuel energy use by industry and commerce were listed on the loss side of balance sheets?

Senator Nelson said, “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity…that’s where all economic activity and jobs come from.”

This Earth Day, by all-means, plant a tree, organize a clean-up, recycle.  Better yet, organize efforts to make long-term commitments to reduce the impact of your organization.   What material impact does your company have as a result of the use of energy, water and waste generation across the entire supply chain?  Do you measure it?  Do you set expectations for your suppliers to reduce natural resource use? Can you meet and exceed the environmental expectations of your customers?

If not, I encourage you to set stretch, time-based goals. Work to make the change you want to see in your organization and the world.  Look for opportunities to embed sustainability measurements, goals and requirements across all functions of your organization and with all your suppliers and customers.

If you don’t do it.  Who will?Gaylord Nelson quote

Easy ways to “go green” at the office to celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is coming up at the end of the month. You’re already trying to be as “green” as you can be at home, so now it’s time to make your workplace just as sustainable.  There are lots of simple changes you can make to raise awareness of environmental issues, create a sustainable workplace, and encourage your co-workers to make and participate in sustainable choices.

Here’s a few ways to make any office Earth Day-ready:

  1. Think Before You Print. Refrain from printing things that can easily be read or saved on the computer. And, if you decide to print, TreeZero encourages you to use our tree free multipurpose paper. We also suggest that you set up your printers to print two-sided, set your margins as wide and your font size as small as possible. Not only will you save paper, but you’ll think twice about what you’re sending out.recycle bins
  2. Recycle Everything You Can. Recycling is one of the easiest, least demanding and least expensive ways to go green. Strategically place recycling bins around the office to encourage people to properly dispose of paper, aluminum, plastic, glass and other items. As your office becomes more involved in the recycling, you can also set up separate bins for items such as batteries and ink cartridges.biking to work
  3. Commute Smarter. Walk or cycle to work if you can.  Take public transportation (tip: buy bulk passes to save money). As a bonus with either of these two options, you’ll get additional exercise on your way to and from work.  If you must drive, carpool or car share.  According to the EPA, ditching your car for two days per week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year.dog at work
  4. Conserve Water. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap. Don’t pour left over water down the drain.  Use it to water the plants.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to bring your dog to the office, use left over water to fill the dog’s water bowl.green team 2
  5. Start a Green Team. Get your office to create a sustainability team. Gather team members from a cross-section of the company and work together to develop and maintain green practices for your company. Keep it fun and encourage company-wide participation rewarding creative ideas.  Your new Green Team can inspire, activate, and engage employees to create meaningful changes within your company.  Otherwise, what’s the use of these tips if no one is using them?

Let us know how you’ve made your office a more sustainable place to work. Share some of your favorite sustainable ideas.  We look forward to celebrating and supporting Earth Day 2017 with all of you!

Celebrating International Day of Forests: A Special Round-Up on Deforestation

March 21 is International Day of Forests – The theme of the 2017 International Day of Forests celebration is “Forests and Energy” to increase awareness of forest-energy interconnections and strengthen engagement between forest and energy practitioners and policymakers. Individuals, groups, governments and businesses are encouraged to organize and partake in awareness raising and activities regarding the importance of preserving and protecting forests such as tree planting efforts.

Teenager Is on Track to Plant a Trillion TreesNational Geographic’s Laura Parker reports on a teenager and his environmental group.  Starting his project as a nine-year-old, Felix Finkbeiner aims to restore the world’s forests. Finkbeiner is 19—and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees—150 for every person on the Earth.

The organization also prompted the first scientific, full-scale global tree count, which is now aiding NASA in an ongoing study of forests’ abilities to store carbon dioxide and their potential to better protect the Earth. In many ways, Finkbeiner has done more than any other activist to recruit youth to the climate change movement. Plant-for-the-Planet now has an army of 55,000 “climate justice ambassadors,” who have trained in one-day workshops to become climate activists in their home communities. Most of them are between the ages nine and 12.

The Earth Has Lungs. Watch Them Breathe – By Robert Krulwich – What a difference a leaf makes! Well, not one leaf. We have 3.1 trillion trees on our planet—that’s 422 trees per person. If we count all the leaves on all those trees and take a look at what they do collectively to the air around us, the effect—and I do not exaggerate—is stunning. I’ve got a video from NASA. When you see it, I think your jaw is going to drop—just a little. It tracks the flow of carbon dioxide across the planet over 12 months, starting in January. Most of the action takes place in the Northern Hemisphere because that’s where most of the land is, and so that’s where most of the trees are. The biggest temperate forests are in Canada, Siberia, and Scandinavia.

That’s what the NASA video shows us: We can see the Green Machine turning on, then, a few months later, turning off. When it’s on, when the leaves are out, those ugly, poisonous-looking swirls of orange and red vanish from the sky. The machine works. And this happens every year. It’s as though the Earth itself has lungs.  But for all of its lung power, CO2 concentrations keep building in our atmosphere. We’re apparently pouring so much CO2 into the sky that the trees can’t keep up. Twelve thousand years ago, the Yale study says, there were twice as many trees on Earth. Apparently, we need their help. We need more trees. We really do.

The Nearest Forest is Farther Away Than You Thought – By Kastalia Medrano – New analysis of American deforestation offers a surprising stat: The average distance to the nearest forest increased by nearly 14 percent in the last decade. To put it another way, the total forest cover lost is comparable in size to the state of Maine.  The forest cover is also vanishing at a rate more than a full order of magnitude greater than we previously thought. A pair of researchers made the discovery by analyzing forest attrition — the complete removal of forest patches, including small ones — across the continental United States.

Two Redwood Trees

Redwood Trees Providing Canopy

The western part of the country especially was shown to have vastly accelerated rates of attrition.  A study detailing the research was published recently in the journal PLOS ONE. The focus for this study was on four primary drivers: commercial logging, agriculture, urbanization pressure, and forest fires.

More Companies Reporting Progress toward Deforestation-free Supply Chains Recent years have witnessed a groundswell of private sector commitments to reducing deforestation linked to the agricultural commodities that underpin vast corporate supply chains. A growing number of companies have been sharing their progress toward those pledges, according to the latest annual report from Forest Trends’ Supply Change initiative. The report, Supply Change: Tracking Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-free Supply Chains, 2017, looks at 447 companies that have made 760 commitments to curb forest destruction in supply chains linked to the “big four” agricultural commodities: palm, soy, timber & pulp, and cattle.

“Corporate commitments to deforestation-free supply chains continue to gain momentum as stakeholders demand more sustainable businesses and products. As companies move to address these demands – and the ever-growing threats to their supply chains, including climate change – we’re learning that meeting these goals is easier said than done,” said Stephen Donofrio, Senior Advisor for Supply Change. “It requires a reformulation of an entire complex system – from suppliers to retailers, among many other non-corporate actors.” The report, which examines 718 companies that Supply Change has identified as “exposed” to the big four commodities, include:  Commitments on palm and timber & pulp continue to lead the way, thanks in large part to more well-established certification programs and scrutiny around palm oil-driven deforestation. Commitment rates remain considerably lower for soy and cattle, which is troubling given their outsized contribution to tropical forest loss.

HSBC overhauls deforestation policy after Greenpeace investigation – HSBC has launched a new zero-deforestation policy after a Greenpeace investigation found a link between the banking corporation and organizations destroying Indonesia’s forests and peatland.  The new policy requires its customers to commit to protecting natural forest and peat by 30 June 2017 by publishing their own forest protection policies. It also says the bank will no longer provide funding to companies involved in any kind of deforestation or peatland clearance, breaking its links with destructive palm oil corporations. More than 200,000 people around the world signed a petition to put pressure on HSBC thanks to a Greenpeace campaign that also encouraged people to send emails directly to the bank’s CEO and protest outside high street branches.

Prince of Wales brokers pact to end cocoa deforestation – By Terry Slavin. The world’s biggest buyers, producers and retailers in the cocoa supply chain met in London recently to sign a statement of collective intent to end deforestation in the global cocoa supply chain. The agreement, the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain, was brokered by the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit and signed by 12 of the biggest companies in the supply chain, including Cargill, Olam, Ferrero, The Hershey Company; Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé. The 12 companies hope to unveil a joint framework at COP 23 in Bonn in November. Crucially, ministers and senior government representatives of the two leading cocoa producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK attended.

The Prince of Wales told participants: “It is clear that the private sector has a critically important part to play in saving our remaining forests, particularly through tackling the deforestation that has too often, alas, been associated with global commodity supply chains. The commitments made in this regard over recent years by a number of the world’s major companies, including some of those represented in this room, are hugely encouraging. But we all know that delivery on such commitments can be challenging, to put it mildly, and that the list of commodities covered remains far from complete.

And until now, one of the important omissions from that list was cocoa, which is why today’s announcement is so very heartening.” The statement commits the companies to work with public, private, and civil society partners to develop a common vision and joint framework to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa sector by 2018. Among other commitments, the companies will work with producer country governments to “professionalize and economically empower farmers and their families, and deepen support for inclusive and participatory development of cocoa-growing communities, with a strong focus on gender empowerment.”

Exclusive Look Into How Rare Elephants’ Forests Are Disappearing – By Laurel Neme – A high-stakes game playing out in a remote biodiversity hot spot pits the palm oil industry against the ecological integrity of the last place on Earth where critically endangered Sumatran elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans live side by side. At issue is destruction of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem—a UNESCO World Heritage site at the northern end of Sumatra—principally by forest clearing for oil palm plantations. Roughly the size of Massachusetts, the Leuser’s 10,000 square miles straddle two provinces, with 85 percent in Aceh and the rest in North Sumatra.

Sumatran Elephant

This little one gets a nudge as they cross a river in the Leuser Ecosystem.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL HILTON FOR RAN

The region encompasses Sumatra’s largest intact rain forest and a mix of habitats, from high alpine meadows to peat swamps. Palm oil—the basis of products such as cosmetics and shampoos, processed foods and biodiesel—is versatile and has a long shelf life.  But oil palm plantations gobble up forest—and not always legally. A new report by the NGO Rainforest Action Network details the illegal razing of lowland forest, critical habitat for 22 Sumatran elephants, by oil palm grower PT Agra Bumi Niaga (PT ABN). The clearing likely also affects tigers and orangutans that depend on this forest. The Rainforest Action Network is a San Francisco-based NGO with a 30-year history of campaigns targeting major corporate brands implicated in forest destruction, human rights abuses, and climate change pollution.

Successful Forest Protection in DRC Hinges on Community Participation – By John C. Cannon The tens of millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who depend on the forest must be considered to keep the world’s second largest rainforest intact.  The Democratic Republic of Congo’s extensive forests seem like a bright spot in an otherwise-troubled country. With forests covering an area larger than Colombia, DRC has managed to sidestep the surge in losses that forest-rich countries in South America, Southeast Asia and elsewhere in Africa have suffered. It has become an important country partner in the UN’s REDD+ program. Short for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,” REDD+ promises DRC hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental and development work, coming from the governments of Norway, Germany, France, the U.K., and the EU.

In exchange, the country’s leadership has agreed to preserve the country’s stockpile of carbon tucked away in the vegetation of its forests, estimated to be around 22 billion metric tons (48.5 trillion pounds).  The goal now is to maintain DRC’s status as a high-forest, low-deforestation country, while proving to the continent and the world that a strategy as global as REDD+ can work. REDD+ has potential to slow the emissions from forest destruction and provide poor countries with funds for development, but as research in DRC and elsewhere is proving, it will only do that if it’s implemented properly.

The solution is far from one-size-fits-all, researchers say, and it will depend on the earnest commitment of local communities. For DRC, as the light of economic and political stability flickers on the horizon, the question is more basic. The country’s forests have survived decades of dysfunction, conflict and failed governance.  Now, they stand on the leading edge of a global climate solution. They’re attracting the attention of donor countries and at the same time international corporations looking for new places to develop while also bringing the promise of economic prosperity. Will they survive this ‘success’?

Drought and forest loss cause vicious circle in the Amazon – If dry seasons intensify with man-made climate change, the risk for self-amplified forest loss increases even more and could put the Amazon rainforest further at risk, an international team of scientists found. Despite a trend of boosting forest areas around the globe, the rate of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest increased in 2016 for the fourth consecutive year.  Researchers at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) found the Amazon rainforest could be exposed to higher risks of dieback if dry seasons intensify and rainfall decreases.

This could lead to a vicious dieback circle, they said in a study published in Nature Communications. “The Amazon rainforest is one of the tipping elements in the Earth system,” said lead-author Delphine Clara Zemp, who conducted the study at PIK. “We already know that on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts,” she said. “So more droughts can lead to less forest leading to more droughts and so on.

Yet the consequences of this feedback between the plants on the ground and the atmosphere above them so far was not clear.” The researchers found the close relationship between deforestation and drought could put the Amazon further at risk. When it rains, trees absorb water through their roots and then release it back to the atmosphere. Tropical forests produce most of the water they need themselves: they pump moisture which then rains back to them.

deforestation amazan

Yet logging and warmer air – due to greenhouse gas emissions – reduce precipitations and hinder the moisture transport from one forest area to the other, affecting even remote areas. “Then happens what we call the ‘cascading forest loss,'” said co-author Anja Rammig from the Technical University of Munich, who is currently working as a guest scientist at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. A fifth of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest, says the conservation group Cool Earth.

Small farmers play big role in felling Peru rainforest: satellite maps – By Chris ArsenaultDeforestation in the Peruvian Amazon has risen this century – destroying an area of rainforest 14 times larger than Los Angeles – with small farmers behind most of the cutting, according to a new analysis of satellite maps. Small farmers account for about 80 percent of Peru’s forest loss, the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), a Washington, D.C.-based research group, said on Wednesday. “One of the big findings of this report is that deforestation is not driven by sexier issues such as large-scale oil palm (plantations) or dams, but widespread small-scale agriculture,” said Matt Finer, MAAP’s director. Small producers clearing forests for farms or cattle grazing along with logging roads and illegal gold mining have caused Peru to lose 1,800,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest since 2001 and the trend is steadily increasing, the analysis said.

Cameroon to restore 12 million hectares of Congo Basin rainforest – Cameroon has committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2030 as part of the Bonn Challenge initiative, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has announced. The initiative is a global effort to restore 150 million hectares by 2020, and more than double that to 350 million by 2030. The pledge is the biggest to date in the Congo Basin, home to the world’s second-largest tropical rain forest, and brings the 2020 goal into range with a total of 148 million hectares pledged. Cameroon’s pledge will also contribute to the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), which aims to bring 100 million hectares under restoration by 2030 through the Bonn Challenge and concurrent programs.

Weekly Round-Up: Water Stewardship – Some, for all, forever

Access to clean water and sanitation services are human rights.  And, yet, according to Water for People, 1.8 billion people around the world still don’t have access to safe water. 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation, and more than 840,000 people die each year from water-related diseases.

Each of us lives in a watershed.chickencreek watershed sign The US Geological Survey defines a watershed as the area of land where all of the water that falls in it and drains off of it goes to a common outlet. Watersheds can be as small as a footprint or large enough to encompass all the land that drains water into rivers that drain into a bay, where it enters an ocean.

Often it seems we waste water by design.

We flush our toilets with drinking water.

54% of urban water use in the US is for landscape irrigation1.

Water lost due to aging infrastructure in the US is 1.7 trillion gallons annually2.

The estimated cost of upgrading infrastructure: $2 trillion over 25 years2.

As much as 70% – 90% of the world’s fresh water is contained in the ice that cover the Antarctic continent.

As much as 43 gallons of water is used to produce a pound of paper3.

A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers4.leaky water faucet

Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10% on water bills4 .

The Food Service Technology Center has tools and calculators to help estimate the cost of leaks in restaurants and food service operations.

Stormwater pollution is the #1 source of water pollution in the United States; and the # 1 pollutant in stormwater by volume is sediment.  One gallon of motor oil can contaminate one MILLION gallons of water.

Thirsty business: CDP 2016 Annual Report of Corporate Water Disclosure.  The report and underlying data analysis aim to shine a light on the linkages between water, energy and private sector efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The report, written on behalf of 643 investors with $67 trillion in assets, revealed water-related impacts cost business $14 billion, a five-fold increase from last year.  Additionally, 24% of greenhouse gas reduction activities depend on a stable supply of good quality water with 53% of companies reporting that better water management is delivering GHG reductions.

Liquidity crisisAs water becomes ever more scant the world needs to conserve it, use it more efficiently and establish clear rights over who owns the stuff . “NOTHING is more useful than water,” observed Adam Smith, but “scarcely anything can be had in exchange for it.” The father of free-market economics noted this paradox in 18th-century Scotland, as rain-sodden and damp then as it is today. Where water is in ample supply his words still hold true. But around the world billions of people already struggle during dry seasons.

Drought and deluge are a costly threat in many countries. If water is not managed better, today’s crisis will become a catastrophe. By the middle of the century more than half of the planet will live in areas of “water stress”, where supplies cannot sustainably meet demand. Lush pastures will turn to barren desert and millions will be forced to flee in search of fresh water. But putting food on their tables requires floods of the stuff. Growing 1kg of wheat takes 1,250 liters of water; fattening a cow to produce the same weight of beef involves 12 times more. Overall, agriculture accounts for more than 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. And as the global population rises from 7.4bn to close to 10bn by the middle of the century, it is estimated that agricultural production will have to rise by 60% to fill the world’s bellies.

This will put water supplies under huge strain.  Overall about 41% of America’s withdrawals go towards cooling power stations. Climate change will only make the situation more fraught. Hydrologists expect that a warming climate will see the cycle of evaporation, condensation and precipitation speed up. Wet regions will grow wetter and dry ones drier as rainfall patterns change and the rate increases at which soil and some plants lose moisture. Deluges and droughts will intensify, adding to the pressure on water resources. Late or light rainy seasons will alter the speed at which reservoirs and aquifers refill. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture (the water content of air rises by about 7% for every 1ºC of warming) increasing the likelihood of sudden heavy downpours that can cause flash flooding across parched ground. This will also add to sediment in rivers and reservoirs, affecting storage capacity and water quality.

US Drought Monitor.  Established in 1999, the US Drought Monitor is a weekly map of drought conditions produced jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The map, which comes out every Thursday based on data through the preceding Tuesday, is based on measurements of climatic, hydrologic and soil conditions as well as reported impacts and observations from more than 350 contributors around the country. Eleven climatologists from the partner organizations take turns serving as the lead author each week. The authors examine all the data and use their best judgment to reconcile any differences in what different sources are saying.

Watering Restrictions Currently in Effect in Atlanta Area – Drought conditions across Atlanta and most of Georgia have worsened.  52 counties have moved from Level 1 to Level 2 Response, requiring outdoor water use restrictions. In the City of Atlanta, outdoor landscape watering is only allowed two days a week, determined by odd- and even-numbered addresses. Even-numbered addresses and properties without numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursday and Sunday before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Even on allowable days, it’s encouraged that watering be limited to when plants are showing stress.

Drought and forest loss cause vicious circle in the Amazon – If dry seasons intensify with man-made climate change, the risk for self-amplified forest loss increases even more and could put the Amazon rainforest further at risk, an international team of scientists found. Researchers at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) found the Amazon rainforest could be exposed to higher risks of dieback if dry seasons intensify and rainfall decreases. This could lead to a vicious dieback circle, they said in a study published in Nature Communications.

no water - drought

The dramatic effects of drought.

“The Amazon rainforest is one of the tipping elements in the Earth system,” said lead-author Delphine Clara Zemp, who conducted the study at PIK. “We already know that on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts,” she said.  “So more droughts can lead to less forest leading to more droughts and so on.” The researchers found the close relationship between deforestation and drought could put the Amazon further at risk. When it rains, trees absorb water through their roots and then release it back to the atmosphere. Tropical forests produce most of the water they need themselves: they pump moisture which then rains back to them.

ISCIENCES: Global Water Monitor & Forecast monitors fresh water resources worldwide and forecasts changes with their Water Security Indicator Model.  Each month they document current anomalies and provide forecasts with lead times from 1-9 months.

The Coca-Cola Company is the first Fortune 500 Company to replenish all of the water it uses globally. Being a steward means holding something in trust and taking care of it. And that’s really what everyone does with water. Water is a finite resource, but it’s infinitely renewable. And that’s where stewardship becomes very important. At the end of 2015 Coke met its 2020 goal to replenish 100% of the water used across its entire system by replenishing 337.78 billion liters of water to nature and communities. Working with a whole host of different charities and conservation organizations, Coke supported 248 community water partnership projects in 71 countries and over 2,000 communities, which focused on safe water access, watershed protection and water for productive use. In many cases, these projects also provide access to sanitation and education, help improve local livelihoods, assist communities with adapting to climate change, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, engage on policy and build awareness on water issues.

Beer giant AB InBev’s former water guru offers some advice – By Hugh Share – There’s no single definition of “water stewardship.” My view is that it is something to be continually strived for, not something that can be simply achieved, and I’d challenge any company that claims to have achieved it.  When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) talks about stewardship, it uses the words progression, improvement, direct operations, value chain and commitment. The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) states that its members are aiming to continually improve and to act, engage and influence on matters related to water stewardship. Much like our health, we can’t simply lose weight or apply an intervention and declare we’ve achieved “health.” We must continue to eat well, exercise and maintain ourselves if we’re to stay healthy.  We need more pragmatic thinking that generates real-world results. I’ve seen the same case studies for years, examples that are force-fitted into different guidance documents, over and over again. The bottom line is we all need to talk less, act more and work together — quicker, more efficiently and to scale. See the great tips on water stewardship Hugh has for NGOs, businesses and governments.

Sources:

  1. Hydro Point Data Systems
  2. US Council on Competitiveness: Leverage: Water and Manufacturing.
  3. Environment Canada
  4. US EPA

5 Simple & Practical Tips To Make Printing More Sustainable

Concern for our environment and sustainable practices have never been as important and popular than now.  As this awareness increases and stakeholders become increasingly sensitive to any and all efforts made to help our environment, more sustainable printing practices should be on the top of list.

5 Simple & Practical Tips To Make Printing More Sustainable

Here’s a list of five simple and practical printing tips that you can start implementing today at home or at your office to make your printing more sustainable.

Tip #1. Use tree free paper.  Using tree free paper is not only environmentally friendly and it’s usually as affordable as recycled tree-alternatives. (Did you know that using one pallet (40 boxes) of TreeZero  paper saves 24 trees?)

Tip #2. Print on both sides of the paper.  If you need to print, this is about as simple an environmentally friendly idea as you can get. Do it and you’ll halve your paper costs and cut down on your carbon footprint.

Select Two-Sided Printing

Select Two-Sided Printing

Tip #3. Maximize your margins. Many people default to standard margin settings out of convenience, but by expanding your margins you can significantly cut down on the number of pages printed, while still maintaining a professional look.

Tip #4. Use it again. You printed a test sheet and are about to toss it in the recycling bin, but there’s a whole side of blank paper just waiting to be used.  Pop your non-confidential documents back into the printer and use the other side of the page next time.

Recycling Bin

Use the back of paper from the recycle bin to make notes

Tip #5. Alternatives to Printing.  Ask yourself “Do I Need to Print?”  Challenge your printing habits.  You may still want to print some documents, but think about these alternatives:

  • Save, don’t print. Do you print because you worry you won’t find something online again? Transfer your paper organization skills to the computer.
  • Read on Screen. We want to find information online quickly. We tend to “scan” or “skim” as to read through online content.  If we see paragraphs with longer lines, we may tend to skip it.  This habit makes it difficult to read online but over time you can adjust your “skipping” habits and decrease your need to print.
  • Say No to Printing PowerPoint Presentations. Typically, PowerPoint presentations are filled with graphics and colored backgrounds and little text. Instead of printing, use the functions within PowerPoint to take notes or make comments. By writing the information down yourself you become more familiar with the material, can make digital edits others can easily use and be green all at the same time.
  • Use Scrap Paper and write it down.  Grab a sheet or two from the recycle bins near the printers. Use those to write your notes.

Weekly Round-Up: Energy Efficiency and Climate Change

Energy efficiency and climate change are often discussed, and are important topics today.  Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are the fastest growing fuel sources.  But, the burning of fossil fuels will continue to be the largest source of energy powering the US and world economies for the foreseeable future.  The extraction of these fuels, as well as the thermodynamic forces used to convert fossil fuels into energy and mobility, also emit various emissions from particulates to methane and CO2.   Thousands of scientists have dedicated their careers studying the impact these emissions are having and could have on the world’s climate. 

Below are some recent articles regarding energy efficiency and climate change that we feel could be of use our customers and consumers.

Energy Efficiency

Office Energy Use. According to You Sustain, an average US office with 50 staff members emits around 530 tons of carbon dioxide yearly as the result of electricity and gas consumption, employees’ travel, water use and waste generation. This is equivalent to the energy use of an average American household for 41 years.

Energy Efficiency Grants and Incentives. Many cities, counties and state agencies offer rebates, grants and incentives to businesses and individuals to purchase and use energy efficient appliances and equipment. A comprehensive list (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) can be found online.

Your energy saving checklist by Dr. Paul Swift: Here’s a checklist of the top 6 things you need to do to stop wasting money on energy: 1. Check your figures – know how much you’re really using every month.  Speak to your energy supplier about getting a smart meter. Check you’re not using more than you should against sector benchmarks. 2. Take a walk around your premises – find out what equipment uses the most energy. Note the wattage of all of your equipment. 3. Get your timing right – only use energy when you need to. 4. Kit yourself out – invest in energy saving equipment. 5. Get employees on board; 6. Keep warm – stop heat escaping.

How Energy Star for Homes WorksWhat is your home telling you? Take the whole house approach to learn how the systems in your home can work together to provide the most comfortable, efficient living space.   With expert help from Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, you’ll get the home you deserve.

Climate Change

Seven Climate Change Records Broken In 2016.  1. String of Storms shatter statistical milestones. 2. Species Wiped Out – The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal wiped out by climate change. 3. Carbon Dioxide levels reach record high yearly minimum – In September, carbon dioxide in our atmosphere stayed above the 400ppm mark, and according to scientists, we may never see it dip back below this number in our lifetimes. 4. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than ever. 5. Warmest August on record. 6. 2016 Could be the warmest year ever. 7. One record to be proud of: The solar industry is soaring in 2016.

Shocking footage reveals Antarctic ice shelf crack is now wider than the Empire State Building as scientists warn it is ‘close’ to calving off and creating a giant iceberg –  Shocking new footage has revealed just how close a massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, is ‘close’ to falling off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and creating a huge iceberg. Experts are concerned the huge calving event, which would create an iceberg with an area of more than 5,000 km², roughly the size of Delaware or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable. This, they warn, could contribute dramatically to sea level rise.

iceberg calving

The massive crack, now wider in parts than the Empire State Building, would create an iceberg with an area roughly the size of Delare or Wales, could leave the entire shelf unstable, scientists fear.

Weekly Round-Up: Sustainability – A Journey, Not a Destination

Sustainability means different things to different organizations.  It could be environmental stewardship, health and wellness, fair trade, women’s empowerment or an “all of the above” approach. Sustainability is a journey not a destination. sustainability infographic

One of the frequently quoted definitions of sustainability is from Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Commission): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.”

Here’s a round-up of sustainability news, tips, happenings.

TOP GREEN COMPANIES IN THE U.S. 2016In partnership with Corporate KnightsHIP (Human Impact + Profit)  Investor Inc., and leading sustainability minds from nongovernmental organizations and the academic and accounting communities, Newsweek has ranked the world’s largest companies on corporate sustainability and environmental impact.

Why Companies Are Becoming B CorporationsBy Suntae Kim, Matthew J. Karlesky, Christopher G. Myers, Todd Schifeling – Certified B Corporations are social enterprises verified by B Lab, a nonprofit organization. B Lab certifies companies based on how they create value for non-shareholding stakeholders, such as their employees, the local community, and the environment. Once a firm crosses a certain performance threshold on these dimensions, it makes amendments to its corporate charter to incorporate the interests of all stakeholders into the fiduciary duties of directors and officers. The first generation of B Corporations was certified in 2007, and the number of firms earning certification has grown exponentially ever since. Today, there are more than 1,700 B Corporations in 50 countries. Although any company, regardless of its size, legal structure, or industry, can become a B Corporation, currently most B Corporations are privately-held small and medium-sized businesses.

A global view of corporate social responsibility (CSR)  – More businesses than ever are contributing to the greater good across the world, according to the most recent Grant Thornton International Business Report. The survey asked what companies are doing to make their operations more sustainable and why. Here are some of the top findings:

  • Cost management emerges as the key driver for CSR followed by customer demand and because it’s the ‘right thing to do’.
  • How a business is perceived to be operating is also important, especially in China.
  • Vast majority of businesses are involved with local charities, either through donating time, money or products/services.
  • Businesses are working to reduce their environmental impact, with increasing numbers calculating the carbon footprint of their operations.
  • More than half of businesses now view integrated reporting as best practice.

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and 18 Others Commit $1 Billion To New Cleantech Fund, Breakthrough Energy VenturesBill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, Jack Ma, John Doerr and 15 other high-profile investors have formed a new venture firm. Breakthrough Energy Ventures will pour at least $1 billion into cleantech companies over the next 20 years. The firm’s goal, according to its own website, will be: “to provide everyone in the world with access to reliable, affordable power, food, goods, transportation, and services without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.” Breakthrough Energy Ventures will invest in tech ventures at any stage, from seed through commercialization. The deals will focus on electricity, manufacturing, agriculture, buildings and transportation. 

Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development –  On September 25th 2015, member countries of the United Nations adopted a set of 17 goals to end povertyprotect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.sustainable dev goals