March, 2017

Sustainability and Innovation

Environmental sustainability is the embracing of practices that are not harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.

Featured Article

Resorts and Hotels are adapting sustainable practices, which is good for the environment as well as their bottom line.

One local Resort has taken it a step further than most.

137 Pillars House, an internationally acclaimed luxury hotel in Chiang Mai, has proven to be a hotel that not only greatly values its guests, but also its environmental impact. Anne Arrowsmith, the hotel’s General Manager, contacted Warm Heart with a question on how to get rid of the large amount of garden trimmings and dead leaves collected daily by the gardening staff in a way that wouldn’t contribute to Chiang Mai’s infamous air pollution problem, which is largely caused by burning.

To help address this question, Warm Heart staff demonstrated how the hotel could use smoke free burners to burn the trimmings into a form of charcoal known as biochar. This process eliminates the production of harmful smoke while also providing the hotel with unique benefits. The biochar produced can then be used as a natural fertilizer for the hotel’s gardens, which cuts out the need for staff to buy chemical fertilizers. Additionally, because of biochar’s ability to absorb moisture and deodorize, it can also be used to help staff keep guest rooms smelling fresh and free of moisture and mildew.

The environmental action 137 Pillars House has taken through this project proves that consideration and implementation of responsible environmental practices can and should be an everyman’s job. Though the hotel has won countless awards and honors for its pristine and luxurious atmosphere, its investment in this project proves that luxury doesn’t have to mean wasteful or impractical. Every individual and every business, no how big, small, or prestigious, has the opportunity to better the local Chiang Mai community by considering their current impact on the environment.

Got the travel bug? Check out these top Eco-Friendly Hotels!

Environmental Corporate Responsibility

As consumers, we are asked as individuals to do our part for the environment. Conserve, reduce, reuse, recycle, to choose a greener lifestyle, reduce our carbon footprints.

But what about the big companies and corporations we support through our consumerism? They generate a giant carbon footprint, what is their responsibility and are they working towards reducing their footprint?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to business practices involving initiatives that benefit society. A business’s CSR can encompass a wide variety of tactics, from giving away a portion of a company’s proceeds to charity, to implementing “greener” business operations.

Recycling paper and changing light bulbs helps. But it is not nearly enough.

The goal of sustainability needs to be the aim of every CSR plan.

As consumers, we have the power to encourage businesses to implement strong environmental protection policies, simply by spending our money with companies who focus on sustainability.

Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer of the Ikea group, has been involved with sustainability over the past 25 years. In his short TED Talk he defines the way Ikea is going “all-in’ with their sustainability program. Watch the video for a full understanding of the difference a company like Ikea can make having a focus on sustainability. This could – and should – be the standard approach by all businesses.

While Ikea is striving for 100% sustainability, there are many other companies who are also making great strides, a few are highlighted to the right in our “Kudos to Corporations.

Watch this inspirational video!

Innovation

Adidas

Sportswear powerhouse Adidas is making big waves in the world of innovative corporate responsibility. The company has recently partnered with nonprofit organization Parley for the Oceans to produce a line of products made almost entirely from plastic ocean waste. Running shoes made from ocean plastics made their in-store debut in November 2016 as the company continues working toward its goal of producing 1 million pairs of the shoes from 11 million plastic bottles by the end of 2017. A line of swimsuits was also created from fishing nets and debris found in coastal areas.

Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in IT and networking, has a very strong CSR vision to build environmental sustainability into each business function and process. When IT companies make sustainability an integral part of technologies, products, and solutions, they better protect our planet while creating business value for their suppliers, their customers, and their own bottom line.

Rimping Supermarkets

Rimping is a local Thai business that has been in operation for 60 years. They are very progressive with their goal of “Aspiring to be a ‘Green’ Grocer. The Company’s philosophy is to uphold the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Their approach is responsible common-sense low-utilisation, repeated usage and recycling of everyday items. If only this simple rule could be followed on a local, national and global scale, it would help to save our planet from slow destruction.

Rimping provides their customers with free ‘Green Pack’ plastic bags to carry their shopping. The corn-based bags bio-degrade in about 8 months. With proper care this allows multiple reuse of the bag before disposal.

Parley for the Oceans

Parley for the Oceans addresses major threats towards our oceans, the most important ecosystem of our planet. They provide a space where creators, thinkers, and leaders can come together to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of our oceans and collaborate on projects that can end their destruction.

Lastik

Lastik has developed an innovative use for plastic bags, providing a way to help clean up our environment while at the same time providing an income opportunity for people looking for an ecologically sound entrepreneurial business opportunity.

Their system repurposes plastic bags into a new material that can be used to make everything from yarn to jewelry, notebooks, wallets, keychains, and a waterproof paper. The possibilities are unlimited. To teach others how to get started, they provide a collection of free training and product idea videos that they add to almost daily.

Sample product made from recycled bags

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.

Sustainable Agriculture Techniques

The Union of Concerned Scientists website offers current information on Sustainable Agricultural practices:

“Sustainable agriculture provides high yields without undermining the natural systems and resources that productivity depends on. Farmers who take a sustainable approach work efficiently with natural processes rather than ignoring or struggling against them – and use the best of current knowledge and technology to avoid the unintended consequences of industrial, chemical-based agriculture. One important result is that farmers are able to minimize their use of pesticides and fertilizers, thereby saving money and protecting future productivity, as well as the environment.

Below are some of the most common sustainable agriculture techniques employed by farmers today to achieve the key goals of weed control, pest control, disease control, erosion control and high soil quality:

Crop Rotation
Cover Crops

Natural Pest Predators

Understanding a farm as an ecosystem rather than a factory offers exciting opportunities for effective pest control. For example, many birds, insects, and spiders are natural predators of agricultural pests. Managing farms so that they harbor populations of pest predators is a sophisticated and effective pest-control technique. One of the unfortunate consequences of intensive use of chemical pesticides is the indiscriminate killing of birds, bats, and other pest predators.

Soil Enrichment

Soil is arguably the single most prized element of agricultural ecosystems. Healthy soil teems with life, including many beneficial microbes and insects, but these are often killed off by the overuse of pesticides. Good soils can improve yields and produce robust crops less vulnerable to pests; abused soils often require heavy fertilizer application to produce high yields. Soil quality can be maintained and enhanced in many ways, including leaving crop residues in the field after harvest, plowing under cover crops, or adding composted plant material or animal manure.”

Warm Heart Environmental Program advocates the use of biochar enriched fertilizer as the best solution to enriching your soils. We encourage you to make your own biochar, enriched compost, and EM solution. We provide all the information you need to get started with free videos and PDF’s. Please see the Resources box on the right.

Repurpose or Upcycle

Repurposing and Upcycling takes an old item and turns it into something new. With a little thought and creativity, it is surprising what can be created from items that would otherwise be discarded.

Bangkok hotel Mystic Place has brought a whole new meaning to the idea of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The hotel’s colorfully quirky atmosphere is fully displayed in each of its rooms, which are all uniquely designed around a theme. The “trash chic” room for example, was designed around the idea of making use out of the useless, and features décor and furniture made from items that in most cases would be thrown away.

“Trash Chic” room

As you can imagine, staying here means you won’t be checking into the typical generic hotel room. Instead you’ll find trash beautifully transformed and taking on a new, functional purpose. Walls are decorated with brightly colored rice sacks and crumpled up soda cans have been cleverly molded into end tables. The room impressively showcases the kind of recycling and repurposing that results in a unique combination of creative, artistic expression and practical purpose.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required





““If we get it right, we can make sustainability affordable for the many people, not a luxury for the few” ~ Steve Howard

Environmental News Daily Updates

We care about sharing information. We add a new link to related articles on a daily basis. To see a recap of all articles visit our Daily Updates Archive. (Worth a read!)

March 31, 2017

photo by Chandana Banerjee

She found a way to make plastic waste useful

By Chandana Banerjee

Medha Tadpatrikar helped design a machine in Pune, India, that heats up plastic to convert it to fuel. The process is eco-friendly in more ways than one.

In 60 cities in India, 16,876 tons of plastic waste are generated each day, according to data from the country’s Central Pollution Control Board. Multiply that by 365, and you have more than 6 million tons of plastic that end up in landfills a year.

Such figures were keeping Medha Tadpatrikar awake at night. She was also deeply troubled by an incident she had witnessed on a safari in India – a deer choking on a plastic packet that it had swallowed. “I realized how big this plastic problem is and how every creature on this earth is affected by it,” she says of the incident.

So Dr. Tadpatrikar resolved to find a way to make plastic waste useful. She and Shirish Phadtare started experimenting in Tadpatrikar’s kitchen, trying to “cook” plastic in a pressure cooker to create a practical fuel. “Plastic is made of crude oil, and we wanted to reverse the process to get usable oil,” Tadpatrikar explains.

Full Story

Corporate Carbon Footprints

Kudos to Corporations

Many large companies besides Ikea are committed to their environmental Corporate Responsibility. Here are just a few and what they are accomplishing:

Google
in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices

Apple
Apple is committed to addressing climate change, to developing green materials for safer products, and to using materials as efficiently as possible.

Avon
Avon has initiated a fundraising project with one of their products that has raised $7.5 Million for Reforestation Efforts in Brazil and Indonesia

Nike
Sustainable innovation is a catalyst for revolutionizing the way Nike does business and an opportunity that’s been integrated across their business in policies, processes and products.

Patagonia
Their goal is to reduce the adverse social and environmental impacts of their products and to make sure they are produced under safe, fair, legal and humane working conditions throughout the supply chain.

Lego
Lego creates a positive impact through their environmental actions. They address climate change by reducing their emissions through improving energy efficiency, and they source and use resources responsibly and improve their waste management.

These are just highlights of a few companies that are working towards Sustainability as a standard practice. Corporate Knights, the magazine for clean capitalism, lists the top 100 companies in the world today. 2017 Global 100 Results.

Sustainable Cities

Lake Zurich, photo by Ronile

Global design and consultancy firm Arcadis recently released their annual Sustainable Cities index, a report ranking 100 global cities on three areas of sustainability: social, environmental and economic. Topping the 2016 list was Zurich, Switzerland, which also claimed the top spot in the environmental category.

The city is currently working towards its ambitious vision of a “2000-Watt Society” in which all residents in the city reduce their energy consumption from a current average of 5,000 watts to the global average of 2,000 by the year 2050.

Scientists leading the initiative averaged energy usage all across the globe and came up with the vision as a way to balance over-usage in first world cities with under-usage in developing cities, without sacrificing a healthy standard of living.

Plans to achieve this goal include constructing new buildings, homes and businesses using low-energy strategies, promoting public transportation, walking and bicycling, and increasing use of renewable energy resources. The city also holds annual events to increase awareness, such as a day of action where the inner-city is closed to cars.

Stockholm, Sweden came in third on the list, and was runner up to Zurich in the environmental category. The capital city has laid out plans to become fossil fuel-free by 2050, namely by targeting transportation. In addition to embracing fossil fuel-free vehicles, the city also implemented a congestion tax which bills residents who drive past a control point in Stockholm’s main city center during rush hours.

You can check out the full report and findings here: 2016 Sustainable Cities Index

Sustainable Marketplace

Love to shop? Check out these merchants who have a focus on sustainability and environmental friendly practices.

Bambeco

Eartheasy

Harabu House

Hipcycle

Olive Barn

Reformation

Uncommon Goods

Vivaterra

World of Good

Past Issues

February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016 (First Edition)

Help!

Go to our #StopTheSmoke! Campaign now and make a donation!