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Archive for May, 2012

Marine Stewardship Council Releases Sustainable Seafood Marketing Toolkit

Posted in Tools by Jessica Bird on May 25th, 2012

Source: FIS


Image © MSC

The UK based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has recently launched an online marketing toolkit that is designed to help partners promote their commitment to sustainable seafood and increase sales of MSC certified products. The toolkit includes ‘shopper touchpoints’ or phrases in a number of different languages and a series of images that can be adapted to suit the needs of each campaign.

From “MSC introduces web-based marketing toolkit” by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The online platform offers MSC partners a ‘turnkey’ solution to engage with consumers on seafood sustainability issues at the point of sale. As consumer demand for certified sustainable seafood continues to grow, the web-based toolkit is designed to allow more MSC partners to take part in marketing activities that help drive shoppers’ preference for MSC labelled products, enhance partners’ sustainability credentials and reward fisheries that have demonstrated they are operating sustainably. […]

“This online toolkit builds on the lessons that we have learnt and provides a wealth of inspirational ideas and materials that are available to all partners to download and which have been shown to connect with shoppers very effectively.” said Simon Edwards, Global Marketing and Communications Director, Marine Stewardship Council. […]

Providing a flexible marketing solution has been a feature of MSC’s marketing support and partners with a valid Ecolabel Licence Agreement are free to adapt these ideas to fit their own retail template to promote their MSC labelled range. This new platform complements other MSC tools and activities that promote partners’ commitment to sustainability such as joint marketing campaigns, sustainable seafood product finder, and a new seafood app.

Read the full article here.
You can explore the marketing toolkit here.


The Plant: From Meatpacking Factory to Vertical Farm and Food Business Incubator

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on May 23rd, 2012

Source: Co.Exist


Photo by Plant Chicago via Flickr CC

From “A Meatpacking Plant Transformed into a Vertical Farm” by Ariel Schwartz

When entrepreneur John Edel was a kid, he loved to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory, a massive indoor plant conservatory in Chicago that was largely neglected until the mid-1990s. Edel’s fascination for indoor growing never waned. In 2010, the entrepreneur bought “The Plant”–an empty 93,500-square-foot Chicago meatpacking plant–with the intention of turning it into a net-zero waste and energy vertical farm. “Edel was interested in ways of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the city,” explains Melanie Hoekstra, director of operations at The Plant. The building is uniquely suited to food production; it contains food-grade materials (these allow for legal and safe food preparation) because of its meatpacking history. Instead of combining farming with other types of manufacturing, The Plant is sticking entirely to food–and lots of it.

So far, the plant’s tenants include a handful of bakers, a kombucha brewery, a tilapia fish farm, a mushroom garden, and three aquaponics farms (including Skyygreens). The Plant is currently on the hunt for a brewery. When everything is up and running, waste won’t be able to escape The Plant. The brewery’s spent grains will feed the fish farm, waste products from the fish will nourish the mushroom garden or feed the plants, and the plants (found in the aquaculture operations) will clean the water and send it back to the fish farm. The net-zero energy building is also installing a combined heat and power system (set to be up and running next year), which will collect methane from The Plant’s food waste-gobbling anaerobic digester. The system will turn that methane into electricity and heat. The heat, in turn, will be converted into steam and sent to the brewery, which will use it to boil kettles.

Despite its grand ambitions and reliance on volunteers, The Plant’s construction is moving along at a fairly rapid pace. The shared kitchen space will be finished by 2014, and the outdoor gardens will come soon after that. Everything–including common areas–will be finished by 2016 or 2017. The reaction so far from the surrounding neighborhood has been encouraging. “Folks in the immediate vicinity are generally excited at the very least because it’s not just a vacant building at the dead end of a street where lord knows what could happen,” says Hoekstra. Eventually, some of those neighbors might even end up with new jobs. The Plant anticipates that its tenants will hire approximately 125 people to do everything from manning the mushroom farm to making cake in the bakeries.

To learn more about how The Plant works, watch this short video.
For more information visit The Plant’s website.


Fix-it culture thriving in Amsterdam repair cafes.

Posted in Models, Movements by Jessica Bird on May 18th, 2012

Source: NY Times


Photo from 1010uk via flickr CC

From “An Effort to Bury a Throwaway Culture One Repair at a Time” by Sally McGrane

AMSTERDAM — An unemployed man, a retired pharmacist and an upholsterer took their stations, behind tables covered in red gingham. Screwdrivers and sewing machines stood at the ready. Coffee, tea and cookies circulated. Hilij Held, a neighbor, wheeled in a zebra-striped suitcase and extracted a well-used iron. “It doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “No steam.” Ms. Held had come to the right place. At Amsterdam’s first Repair Cafe, an event originally held in a theater’s foyer, then in a rented room in a former hotel and now in a community center a couple of times a month, people can bring in whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just like to fix things.

Conceived of as a way to help people reduce waste, the Repair Cafe concept has taken off since its debut two and a half years ago. The Repair Cafe Foundation has raised about $525,000 through a grant from the Dutch government, support from foundations and small donations, all of which pay for staffing, marketing and even a Repair Cafe bus. Thirty groups have started Repair Cafes across the Netherlands, where neighbors pool their skills and labor for a few hours a month to mend holey clothing and revivify old coffee makers, broken lamps, vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as at least one electric organ, a washing machine and an orange juice press.

“In Europe, we throw out so many things,” said Martine Postma, a former journalist who came up with the concept after the birth of her second child led her to think more about the environment. “It’s a shame, because the things we throw away are usually not that broken. There are more and more people in the world, and we can’t keep handling things the way we do. I had the feeling I wanted to do something, not just write about it,” she said. […] “I think it’s a great idea,” said Han van Kasteren, a professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology who works on waste issues. “The social effect alone is important. When you get people together to do something for the environment, you raise consciousness. And repairing a vacuum cleaner is a good feeling.” […]

Ms. Tellegen added that older people in particular find a niche at the Repair Cafe. “They have skills that have been lost,” she said. “We used to have a lot of people who worked with their hands, but our whole society has developed into something service-based.” Evelien H. Tonkens, a sociology professor at the University of Amsterdam, agreed. “It’s very much a sign of the times,” said Dr. Tonkens, who noted that the Repair Cafe’s anti-consumerist, anti-market, do-it-ourselves ethos is part of a more general movement in the Netherlands to improve everyday conditions through grass-roots social activism.

“It’s definitely not a business model,” Ms. Postma said. She added that because the Repair Cafe caters to people who find it too expensive to have their items fixed, it should not compete with existing repair shops. The Repair Cafe Foundation provides interested groups with information to help get them started, including lists of tools, tips for raising money and marketing materials. Ms. Postma has received inquiries from France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, South Africa and Australia. […]

Theo van den Akker, an accountant by day, had taken on the case of the nonsteaming iron. Wearing a T-shirt that read “Mr. Repair Café,” Mr. van den Akker removed the plastic casing, exposing a nest of multicolored wires. As he did, Ms. Held and Ms. van der Rhee discussed the traditional Surinamese head scarves that Ms. Held, who was born in Suriname, makes for a living. When Mr. van den Akker put the iron back together, two parts were left over — no matter, he said, they were probably not that important. He plugged the frayed cord into a socket. A green light went on. Rusty water poured out. Finally, it began to steam.

Read the full article by Sally McGrane.


Solutions for a Hungry World: AlertNet

Posted in Opinion, Research, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on May 14th, 2012

AlertNet have released a special report “Hungry World“.  We heard about it via Nourishing the Planet, who featured the article “Top 10 Food Trailblazers”  in their newsletter recently.  The report includes articles on a range of issues to be considered when we think of feeding the world in 2050, such as Africa feeding the world; Growing food in cities; Land grabbing for food security, and food commodities speculation.  As well as the articles, the report also features a “package” of videos and a series of blogs.  It’s all too much to try and include here, so follow the links and explore!

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/multimedia/in-focus/hungry-world/

 

 

 


Social-Ecological Innovation: Steering away from multiple earth-system thresholds

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 10th, 2012

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre


Photo by Stephen Cummings via flickr CC

“Many economic and technological solutions that address sustainability are ecologically illiterate and too linear and single-problem oriented.”

 

From “Time for social-ecological innovations” by Sturle Hauge Simonsen:

Humanity is now influencing every aspect of the Earth on a scale akin to the great forces of nature. If we are to stay within the planetary boundaries, major transformations are needed in the human-environment interactions. This includes innovations that can increase human well-being and at the same time enhance the capacity of ecosystems to produce services.

In a new book entitled “Social Innovation — Blurring Boundaries to Reconfigure Markets“, [Stockholm Resilience] centre researchers Per Olsson and Victor Galaz provide the first comprehensive description of the concept ‘social-ecological innovation’.

They define social-ecological innovation as “social innovation, including new technology, strategies, concepts, ideas, institutions, and organizations that enhance the capacity of ecosystems to generate services and help steer away from multiple earth-system thresholds”.

The chapter is part of a book edited by Alex Nicholls of the University of Oxford and Alex Murdock from London South Bank University. The book focuses on new innovations “that can grapple with the central real-world challenges of our time”.

“We need to move away from quick technological fixes and foster new types of social-ecological innovation,” argue Per Olsson and Victor Galaz.  “Many economic and technological solutions that address sustainability are ecologically illiterate and too linear and single-problem oriented. To solve the many complex and interconnected human-environment challenges of today we need a change of mindset.“

Olsson and Galaz point out that there are numerous examples of major socio-technological advances that have improved human life. The flipside is that too many of them have degraded the life-supporting ecosystems on which human well-being ultimately depends. Current large-scale transformations in areas like information technology, biotechnology and energy systems have huge potential to improve our lives in a sustainable way. However, this can only happen if we start working with, instead of against, nature. “Too often our societies change without improving the capacity to learn from, respond to, and manage environmental feedbacks. For example, a systemic shift to biofuels might slow climate change but lead to destructive land-use change and biodiversity loss,” Per Olsson explains.

Olsson and Galaz also warn about the tendency to apply single, technological solutions to complex problems. “This enhances the self-reinforcing feedback that keeps us on unsustainable pathways. Social-ecological innovation focuses on the interactions among a multitude of innovations that together can break current lock-ins and lead to systemic change.”

As a scientific approach, social-ecological innovation links research on social innovation and institutional entrepreneurship with resilience thinking and research on social-ecological systems.

Olsson and Galaz list a number of criteria for the kind of solutions they view as social-ecological innovations. In summary such innovations should:

  • Integrate both social and ecological (and economic) aspects.
  • Improve human life without degrading the life-supporting ecosystems (preferably even strengthening ecosystems) on which we ultimately depend.
  • Deal with multiple social and environmental challenges simultaneously (be sensitive to the fact that solving one problem often creates new ones, there are no ultimate solutions).
  • Work more directly for social justice, poverty alleviation, environmental sustain- ability and democracy than profits for individuals.
  • Break and/or help avoid lock-ins and create social-ecological feedbacks that help us stay within the safe operating space for humanity as defined by the planetary boundaries.
  • Include the creativity and ingenuity of users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and businesses etc.
  • Utilise the power of social networks and organizations nested across scales (from local to national to regional to global) to enable systemic change at larger scales.
Read the original article by Sturle Hauge Simonsen


FeedToronto: A vision for growing food in public spaces

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on May 7th, 2012


© Drew Adams, Fadi Masoud, Karen May, Denise Pinto, Jameson Skaife

FEED TORONTO: GROWING THE HYDROFIELDS is a prize-winning design proposal by students in the Masters of Architecture and Masters of Landscape Architecture at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Awards:

  • 2011 Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence
  • Finalist, ONE PRIZE Mowing to Growing Competition, 2010

Designers: Drew Adams, Fadi Masoud, Karen May, Denise Pinto and Jameson Skaife

“The hydro corridors of Toronto are sprawling lengths of continuous, mostly vacant land. They are unusual terrain: both physically sparse but culturally intense. Stippled with electrical towers, planted in acres of mowed grass, they hold the promise of light, energy, and power. They have immense cultural equity, but with an underwhelming physical existence. Rather than pursuing the transformation of a complex network of privatized lawn landscape to create productive greenspace, this project takes on the proposition of finding the greatest and most immediate place for urban agriculture by using public lands. Growing hydro corridors can be done across North America, as they are a staple of most cities. If made into a standard this practice would not only circumvent the need for the buy-in of countless individual land owners, it would also also align the ground of the site with its significance as a place of energy production—this time through food. FeedToronto is proposed as a force of fiscal, ecological and social productivity. It re-imagines over 6,000 acres of mowed lawn as an abundant urban green that generates affordable, nutritious, local food.” From the submission

Read about the project and see more images on the Adams-Masoud site:

http://www.adams-masoud.com/index.php?/projects/feed-toronto-growing-the-hydro-fields/


Funding small-scale solar projects for widespread gains

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 3rd, 2012


Photo by Rajiv Patel (Rajiv’s View) via flickr CC

From “Solar rooftops sought in poor communities” by Bernice Yeung:

San Diego is home to more than 2,600 solar residential rooftops – more than any other California city – but in the neighboring lower-income community of National City, there are only about a dozen.

A bill before the California Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce this month seeks to equalize renewable energy installation in the state by promoting small-scale solar rooftops in the disadvantaged communities. The bill targets neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and those that “bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution, disease, and other impacts from the generation of electricity from the burning of fossil fuels,” the bill said. Bill author Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, said the legislation would create jobs and build “cleaner, safer, and healthier neighborhoods.”

[…]

The legislation would require the state to install enough systems to produce 375 megawatts of renewable energy – or about 1,000 small-scale projects – in disadvantaged communities between 2014 and the end of 2020. Utility companies are required by a 2011 state law to achieve a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2020. The renewable energy systems supported by Fong’s bill would take the form of rooftop solar installations on apartment complexes and commercial buildings, and each project would be limited to producing 500 kilowatts of power, a project the size of a typical Costco rooftop. Advocates say passage of the bill could improve both the health and economy of these low-income communities.

Through a program known as “feed-in tariff,” the owner of the solar panels would be able to earn revenue by selling back unused energy to the local utility company. Additionally, the bill promotes the hiring of local workers to install the solar panels. And because reliance on carbon dioxide-emitting power plants used during periods of high energy demand – called peaker plants – could be decreased with an increase in renewable energy creation, there are health implications to the bill, said Strela Cervas of the California Environmental Justice Alliance, which sponsored the legislation.

[…]

Read the full article by Bernice Yeung on California Watch.