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Flowers for Valentine’s Day: The True Cost of Romance

Whether you ordered your stunning bouquet to be delivered by a singing messenger, or will be running into your local grocer at the last minute, chances are flowers are a big part of your Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with flowers; they’re classic, romantic, aromatic, non-fattening, and a perfect and delicate expression of your love. Of course since it IS a flower holiday, the cost of skyrockets, but just like popcorn at the movies, florists count on your ignoring the cost in favour of the sentiment.

Sadly, the price tag is just one part of the high cost of flowers. Columbia is the second largest exporter of flowers, earning 1.3 billion in 2012. The Guardian recently posted an article about the growing industry and the price paid by the workers. According to the article “Behind the millions of imported flowers we buy every year is a mostly female workforce subjected to low pay and poor conditions”. These women leave their homes and children before dawn, working 16 hours, sustaining repetitive motion injuries and chemical exposure. They work at incredible speeds under tight supervision with minimal breaks, and near holidays such as Valentine’s Day they work double shifts – all of this for $269 per month.

There have been attempts, mostly unsuccessful, to form employee associations; however, members face intimidation and a culture of stigmatization. According to The Guardian, union leader López González’s was suspended without pay for four days simply for requesting a statutory break for her and her fellow workers.

The upside is that there is some slow progress being made with the forming of fair trade organizations that guarantee better conditions. The down side is low participation by Columbian flower farmers, and lack of demand by consumers for fair trade flowers. According to a spokesman for UK importer Quartz Flowers, “What we find in the UK with our customers [is that] if the product is of good quality, is consistent, then they don’t really ask for that [sustainability certification]”.

This year try looking for fair trade flowers, if your local grocer or florist doesn’t have them, ask why not and let them know you are not interested in flowers produced by suffering, impoverished workers. If you can’t find fair trade, don’t panic, there are other options – you can’t go wrong with fair trade chocolates and jewelry!

Florimex Roses – Canada’s Favourite Fair Trade Product 2014

Full Bloom Flowers

Fairtrade Canada

Fairtrade-Chic-Rose-Hand-tied1

Keep Your Friends Close and your Groceries Closer: BC Buy Local

Did you know we are smack in the middle of BC Buy Local Week? BC Buy Local Week takes place annually from December 1 – 7. Click the link at the bottom and watch the video, it will give you a deeper understanding of the HUGE impact that buying local has both on the economy and the environment, and more importantly, how your choices can make your community a better place.

The Buy BC Local website notes that “Local businesses enhance our community, connect and support us socially, and enhance wealth and employment by circulating dollars many times between businesses. Research shows that BC local businesses create more than double the economic impact of their chain competitors.” That means for every $100 you spend with local BC businesses, $46 is re-circulated back into the local economy compared to multi national companies where only $18 is kept locally.

A peruse of the Buy BC Local Newsletter makes it evident that many local businesses tend to be greener, more progressive and healthier. For example, Food.ee: Changing the Catering Business through Locally Sourced Foods and Compostable Packaging, or Modo the Car Coop. Not only are local businesses boosting the economy, they’re looking out for our health and the environment – a win-win-win! Add to that the fact that local businesses provide more support for local events, sports teams and charities and are more likely to buy local services and stock local products themselves – it’s seems a pretty simple choice.

Vancouver has done well with promoting local artisans and grocers. The City of Vancouver website has a devoted page to helping people locate local produce. BC Buy Local is taking the whole BC local movement one giant step forward by unifying the ideals and expanding the definition to include the whole province. In doing so they are providing much-needed information and awareness to build traction and take Buy Local from a concept to a reality.

Check out their website, sign up for the newsletter and find out where you can buy local and make a difference in your community, one dollar at a time. If you are a local vendor, they have information for you too!

Dec 1 – 7 BC Buy Local Week

Not just another fluff piece

Winter is on the way and with it, racks and racks of high-end down filled jackets, slippers and blankets promising to keep you cozy all season long. Generally speaking these are high-priced items, but a recent article has left us wondering, what is the real cost of all this down?

A review of the video attached tells you everything you didn’t want to know about how down is usually sourced. None of it is surprising for anyone who is versed in large factory farming methods, but it’s sure to bring a chill to anyone cuddle up in their down duvet! Force feeding, plucked alive, terrible conditions all suffered by these harmless birds to keep us warm and cozy.

Enter Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company who has just launched its “Responsible Apparel” campaign along with its intention to offer Fair Trade Clothing. This week they announced the launch of Patagonia® Traceable Down. The company says that the birds are neither force feed for fois gras or plucked during their lifetime. In fact, Wendy Savage, social and environmental responsibility manager for Patagonia says “Patagonia’s traceability program is hands-on every step of the way. We begin our audit at the parent farm, where the eggs are laid, and follow it all the way to the garment factory, where the down is placed in our garments. We need to understand every single part of the supply chain – otherwise we can’t truly feel comfortable claiming the down as traceable.”

Down is lightweight and efficient insulation, with Patagonia creating and following these traceability standards; it is now sustainable and a lot more ethical. Considering it already has organic cotton and recycled polyester, they are leading the charge towards sustainable apparel and should be an inspiration to other companies to utilize the holistic model set forth by Patagonia.

New eLearning Tool for Sustainable Purchasing from Reeve Consulting

With supply chain transparency quickly rising as a corporate priority –private and public sector organizations are asking themselves how they can more effectively engage with their staff around important ethical and sustainable purchasing concepts.

That’s why a new eLearning tool called The Green Learning Centre is creating a buzz. Powered by Reeve Consulting, The Green Learning Centre is a unique online communication and training program that builds employee awareness and understanding of ethical, sustainable and green purchasing in a fast, fun and effective way.

READ MORE

Supplier Engagement and Collaboration: McDonalds Releases 2014 “Best of Sustainable Supply” Report

We’ve long been advocates of the idea of working collaboratively with suppliers to scale up social and environmental performance, and a recent report released by McDonalds shows just how much can be achieved when organizations look to their suppliers for solutions to sustainability challenges. In their new report entitled, “Best of Sustainable Supply”,  McDonalds honours 36 suppliers and 51 projects that represent significant innovation towards more sustainable supply chains. McDonalds believes that innovation is key to their sustainability journey and their suppliers have a pretty impressive track record of innovating in the area of the three E’s: ethics, environment, and economics.

According to Jose Amario, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Supply Chain, one of the goals of the report is to share that innovations and knowledge with other suppliers,

“Every year, our suppliers focus even more attention on sustainability, applying innovation to make a real difference for the people, communities, animals and environment that touch our supply chain. And the benefits don’t end with us. Many of these innovations can bring about more widespread change in our suppliers’ own industries and in broader society”.

In a call for nominations McDonalds received 585 submissions, almost 40 percent more than the last time they engaged suppliers in this program. Stay tuned for information from Reeve Consulting on Supplier Collaboration and best practices as we work with one of our major retail clients on a supplier recognition program aimed to roll out in the fall of 2014.

Growing the Market for Fairtrade Products in Canada

 Did you know that Fairtrade Certification is the most widely recognized consumer eco-label in  the world? It’s not surprising given that Fairtrade certification includes minimum environmental, social and economic standards, all related to the production and distribution to a growing range of consumer products. The high recognition rate is good news for both ourselves and our friends at Fairtrade Canada, who have recently engaged Reeve Consulting to help them develop and execute a major Retail Engagement Strategy aimed at growing the availability of certified Fairtrade products in major Canadian Grocery Stores such as Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Whole Foods and Federated Cooperative Limited [PDF]. We’ll be working as key partner to the Fairtrade Canada Commercial team for the next 4 months as part of a new focus within the organization on the retail sector. If you’re a certified Fairtrade brand, a Fairtrade supplier or a friend of Fairtrade, we’d love to hear your ideas on how we can grow the market for Fairtrade products in Canada and beyond.

Same Great Team – Great New Space!

After spending most of the last 10 years located in the downtown core Reeve Consulting has recently moved into a fantastic new office near City Hall in Vancouver. We’re thrilled to be in a new location that comes equipped with video conferencing technology for servicing remote clients, has stunning views of the City and as an added bonus comes with a LEED Gold Rating for Interior Design and Renovation. We’re also really excited to be sharing the office space with MHPM Project Managers,  who were a strategic partner to us on a recent Buying Green Guide we produced for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Located on the 5th floor of the City Square building at 555 West 12th – we invite you to drop by to check out the new space or join us on a Friday afternoon after 4:00 PM when we typically loosen the strings and join with our MHPM friends in celebrating the end of the week. We look forward to hosting you soon.

Now Released: Report on the State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada

The fourth annual report on the State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada from Reeve Consulting, co-authored with the representatives from the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP), is now available for public distribution. This latest report documents current trends, best practices and the major challenges faced by municipalities as they implement sustainable and ethical procurement. It presents a best practices framework for sustainable purchasing leadership and a snapshot of how major Canadian municipalities are progressing at implementing their programs
 
If you are an MCSP participant, make the most of your report by sharing it with your City Council as an example of the value of peer-to-peer collaborations.
 
>> Download the full 2013 report [PDF]
 
Please note that preparation of the 2014 annual report will be starting in September 2014 and will be using an enhanced self-evaluation framework that allows for more precise self-reporting.

Sustainability at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit

Green Sports Alliance SummitI am excited to speak at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit http://summit.greensportsalliance.org/ on July 21-22 in Santa Clara, California. More than 600 industry stakeholders will be listening to 80+ industry leaders, discussing how companies can promote better environmental sustainability, engage in community outreach, and advance the green sports movement. Pivotal issues to be explored by a wide selection of dedicated individuals.READ MORE

Environmental Sustainability at Putin’s 2014 Russian Olympics

Like other Canadians, I was excited about all the gold medals we won at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, especially in hockey, our national sport, and in giant slalom, a personal favourite of mine. It was an honour to be involved in the event’s development. After serving as a Strategic Advisor for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics, I was approached by Russian authorities for advice on how to minimize the 2014 Olympics’ effect on the environment.

This wasn’t a minor issue. Sochi is a popular choice for eco-tourism because of its biodiversity and breathtaking natural wonders, and the International Olympic Committee had concerns about the Sochi environment and potential environmental impacts from its role as Olympic host. It was a great opportunity to be able to work with the Sochi environmental team. Many plans and initiative were incorporated into the country’s preparations, which can be seen in detail on the Sochi 2014 website < http://www.sochi2014.com/en/development-harmony>. These changes included habitat restoration, animal resettlement, compensation of the Games’ carbon footprint, innovative waste management systems, and using only wood and paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Many of the Olympic sponsors did their part as well, such as Dow Chemical, who provided a new technology and resources to keep the 2014 Olympics carbon neutral.

Companies such as Dow Chemical recognize the value of associating their brand with an environmentally sustainable Olympics. Of course promoting green practices and sustainability preserves the environment, a priceless goal, but it makes good business sense as well. Sustainable methods create less waste and are therefore more efficient. Furthermore, by getting involved, companies such as Dow show to the world that they’re industry leaders, and that their brand philosophy is about more than simply making a quick buck. It earns them respect, which can be invaluable.

The results of the Sochi 2014 sustainability sadly weren’t perfect. The Russian marketplace was not well-prepared for the demands of a green Olympics and many initiatives weren’t implemented as comprehensively as they could have been. However, it was a definite step in the right direction. Hopefully it will give Russians inspiration for further sustainability initiatives in the future. Certainly the Olympics’ marketing campaign frequently mentioned its use of FSC-approved materials and hopefully that idea has resonated with suppliers. Perhaps in the near future, people will look back on the 2014 Olympics and say that that was a catalyst for a new green movement in Russia.