Vancouver 2010 Olympic Medals: the Untold Story

Flickr / US Mission Canada

Did you know that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic medals are made of recycled gold, silver and bronze recovered from used electronics?  It’s true, the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Games has worked with their domestic sponsor Teck Resources to ensure each of the 1,000+ medals contain recycled metals from electronic waste.  This is a great achievement worthy of its own medal and should be shared to inspire the world to take on similar initiatives.

With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games well underway, many Olympic champions have risen to the podium to accept their medals, how many know that the medals they receive symbolize more than an ultimate athletic achievement.  On Sunday, Kevin McCarty had the amazing opportunity to sit with the athletes’ families during the speed skating and cross country skiing Victory Ceremonies.  He reported that it was a powerful experience to witness their emotion as their loved one’s bowed to receive their medals.  However, he also noticed that the story of recycled metal in the medals wasn’t made apparent during the ceremonies.

Some might argue that the Victory Ceremonies are not about environmentalism and social responsibility, but during the beginning of the ceremonies information was projected on three large screens above the podium that proudly outlined VANOC’s commitment to being one of the most sustainable Games in Olympic history.  So there is a place in the Ceremonies for environmentalism and social responsibility, but unfortunately the story of the medals was not apparent.  Additionally, there was a short video shown about the artists who designed the medals, but again, the story of the recycled content was not told.

We here at Reeve Consulting strongly believe in the power of purchasing to change the world we live in and feel it would be a great opportunity to promote sustainable purchasing while the world is watching.  The story of the medals and their recycled metal content is a great example of how VANOC is helping to change the world.  The Victory Ceremonies would be a great place to share this story.

Check out these related blogs for more information on the Buy Smart Program and related success stories:  Buy Smart Program; Vancouver Olympics Sources Ethically Produced Flowers for Medal Ceremony

Beyond the Sexy Consequences of Giving Flowers for Valentine’s Day

Flickr / sophiea

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, flower shops across North America are about to buy and sell hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cut flowers.

Are you planning on buying your special someone a bouquet?  Have you considered the consequences?  Many of them will likely be very positive, but there may be other related consequences that you wouldn’t want to share with your loved one.

Pause for a moment and imagine what is happening around the world as a result of Valentine’s Day.  North Americans are on the verge of demanding more long-stem roses than any other time of the year.  In response to this major demand, Latin America flower producers, in countries such as Ecuador and Colombia, are busy as can be cutting flowers and carefully packaging them so they survive the long journey north.  Boats, planes and trucks are gearing up to transport them all safely to your Valentine’s front door with a fairly large carbon footprint.

Sadly, as is the case with other tropical cash crops, such as coffee and chocolate, many flower producers across Latin America are reporting serious human rights violations in their workplace.  Acute pressure on production levels results in increased worker exploitation.  Did you know that the roses you may be buying this year might have been grown, cut and packaged by a woman who is working around the clock without breaks for very little money?

Don’t worry, I am not suggesting you avoid buying flowers for your loved one and try to explain the ethics behind it over a candle light dinner.  There are ethical and beautiful alternatives.

Here are two fairly simple solutions:

a) try to buy locally produced flowers (there are some green houses operating this time of year in North America), or

b) if you buy imported flowers from the south look for those that bear a FairTrade Certified Logo.

This year surprise your Valentine with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as well as a story of how these particular flowers are helping to make the world a better place.  This is sure to win you some extra points this Valentine’s Day!

See related blog entitled: Vancouver Olympics Sources Ethically Produced Flowers for Medal Ceremonies. This blog tells the story of how VANOC has made an effort to source flowers that meet ethical and environmental standards.

Vancouver Olympics Sources Ethically Produced Flowers for Medal Ceremonies

The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC) will soon be handing out 1800 ethically sourced bouquets of flowers to champion athletes during the medal ceremonies. At a time when men and women around North America will be buying flowers for Valentine’s Day, VANOC’s story of sourcing flowers from an ethically and environmentally minded company is timely.

VANOC awarded the contract to produce the bouquets for the ceremonies to Just Beginning Flowers, a Surrey-based non-profit social enterprise that sources ethically produced flowers from Ecuador and from local producers in the Fraser Valley. Although there has been some recent criticism about the Olympic bouquets not containing native plant species (see related article below), the owners and operators of Just Beginning Flowers state that the flowers they import from Ecuador are ethically sourced and meet Fair Trade standards.

Through their Buy Smart program, which Reeve helped develop, VANOC has set up protocols to ensure their suppliers are adhering to social and ethical standards. Just Beginning Flowers is considered one of the program’s success stories as they not only source locally and ethically from abroad, but they are also a social enterprise that has developed a training program for students that have barriers to employment. Furthermore, Just Beginning Flowers employs green business practices with the goal of minimizing the impact of their operations on the environment.

Check out the related Vancouver Sun  article which highlights the controversy about the lack of native plant species in the Olympic bouquets. This Valentine’s Day will you buy native plant species or imported flowers from Latin America?

For more detail on the VANOC Buy Smart program check out: Buy Smart Program Designed by Reeve Consulting Receives 2010 Games “Sustainability Star”

City of Edmonton Council Unanimously Accepts Reeve Developed Sustainable Purchasing Policy

Flickr / Stella Blu

Edmonton has now joined the ranks of other progressive Canadian municipalities that attempt to eliminate sweatshop labour in their supply chain. The new Sustainable Purchasing Policy (SPP) encourages City staff and suppliers to look at ways to reduce environmental and social impact by purchasing sustainable products and services.

In consultation with City of Edmonton staff, Reeve Consulting developed a policy that provides formal direction to continue excellent efforts around “green” purchasing and now compliments this with emphasis on the social side of the equation. To assist with policy implementation, Reeve designed a complete package for the City that includes the procedures and tools to effect significant change with a focus on rewarding suppliers who demonstrate leadership.

Last year, the City spent approximately $1.5 billion on construction, products and services. Using the Reeve developed tools, the City will initially focus on incorporating sustainable purchasing practices in ten product categories. Over time, sustainable purchasing criteria will be incorporated into all product categories.

Reeve Consulting is thrilled by Council’s unanimous support of the SPP and thoroughly enjoyed working with City staff who are so energized and enthused about making Edmonton’s supply chain sustainable.

Reeve ‘Out and About’ at the Samsung 2010 Winter Games Sustainability Summit

Say “Samsung Sustainability Summit” really quickly, five times in a row.  Not so easy, is it? 

After attending the Samsung 2010 Winter Games Sustainability Summit in Vancouver last Thursday, January 28, it has been easy to talk about Samsung and sustainability in one sentence. 

Samsung, as an official sponsor to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has grown with the IOC to become a leading sustainable supply chain advocate and practitioner.  In conversation with Ron Hulse, VP of Mobile Communications and Information Technology for Samsung Electronics Canada Inc., we discovered that Samsung appears to run a tight supply chain that fosters sustainability. From using EPA Smartway Transportation, to ensuring ISO 14001 compliance in 37 global manufacturing facilities, to trendy phones made of recycled products that use solar energy to function, to this Sustainability Summit, Samsung is well on its way to stepping out as a leader in sustainable supply chain management.

The Summit was buzzing with James Balog’s ‘Extreme Ice Survey’ presentation, a ground breaking photo documentary of the impact of climate change on glaciers and oceans around the world.  Balog set the scene by clearly demonstrating that climate change is urgent and we have a serious challenge to which to rise. 

Linda Coady, VP of Sustainability for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games highlighted how they are front runners in planning the most sustainable Games in Olympic history.  Sounds like sustainability is becoming an Olympic sport; hopefully records are broken every year.

James Tansey, President of Offsetters, was proud to say they are going to help ensure the 2010 Games are carbon neutral and that individuals will be rewarded for offsetting their carbon impacts during the Olympics.  And Tzeporah Berman, co-founder of Forest Ethics, spoke eloquently about influencing large corporations to rethink their supply chain logistics and strategies in order to help mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

Everyone’s approach to addressing climate change through supply chain management was impressive and it was inspiring to hear their stories.  Reeve Consulting looks forward to helping to make the Olympics carbon neutral by offsetting our carbon emissions during the Games!

Buy Smart Program Designed by Reeve Consulting Receives 2010 Games “Sustainability Star”

Vancouver 2010’s Buy Smart program of ethical and sustainable purchasing has been awarded one of the pretigious Sustainabilty Star designations for the 2010 Winter Games.

The Buy Smart program was originally envisioned by Tim Reeve, Terry Wright, John McLaughlin and other members of the 2010 Bid Corporation as part of Vancouver’s original bid submission to host the 2010 games.

Buy Smart is recognized as an Olympic first and complimented the Reeve designed ethical sourcing program for the 2010 Olympic Merchandising program.

With an Olympic sized shopping list and a spending budget of over $1 billion the 2010 games have the power to make a big impact in the marketplace.  Designed to leverage this spending power, Buy Smart has created opportunities for green business and technologies, social enterprises and Aboriginal entrepreneurs.  Buy Smart has played a key role in directing spending into communities that might not have otherwise benefited from the games, such as Aboriginal communities and Vancouver’s inner-city.

Buy Smart has been promoted widely within the International Olympic Committee and to future games Organizing Committee’s.  Delegations from both the London 2012 Games and the Sochi 2014 Games have been briefed about the Buy Smart program and how it can be used to leverage sustainability programming associated with the games and other major events

Reeve Consulting is proud to have worked so closely with VANOC, the 2010 Commerce Centre and other 2010 Games partners in the creation of Buy Smart and is thrilled to see it recognized as one of the key sustainability features of the 2010 games.

Purchasers Going Green

The Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC) hosted two half-day Sustainable Procurement Showcases sponsored by Grand and Toy in November. Reeve Consulting was asked to participate in a panel discussion as the local expert on crafting Ethical and Sustainable Procurement (ESP) Policies and Procedures. Fellow panelists included Vicki Wakefield from UBC, Kevin Koertje from Boise Paper and Scott McDougall from TerraChoice.

In the form of a fireside chat panelists covered topics ranging from leveraging your buying power or creating buying groups to influence suppliers into offering sustainable options; the importance of looking at full life-cycle when calculating the true cost of purchasing green products; and looking beyond the recycled paper label and asking questions about source. Kevin McCarty, from Reeve Consulting, talked about the importance of considering ethical issues as well as sustainability and how Reeve works with clients to develop procurement policies and practices that not only allow them to purchase ethical and sustainable products, but reduce risk and strengthen their brand.

To view Reeve’s 10-Steps to Activating ESP Click Here or go to the PMAC website at www.pmac.ca and click on the Sustainable Procurement Showcase under Events.

Ethical & sustainable purchasing around the dinner table

What happens when you bring some of the leading policy makers and practitioners in ethical and sustainable purchasing together over dinner? Lively and informative discussion on maintaining VANOC’s Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing (ESP) momentum, the influence of larger contracts vs. smaller ones, concerns of audit fatigue, as well as the importance of supplier engagement and looking inward at your own practices were all subjects discussed in a recent congregation of Vancouver-based thought leaders.

On November 30th Reeve Consulting hosted an Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing dinner with the goal of facilitating conversation between some of Vancouver’s movers and shakers and exploring the opportunities and challenges facing the ESP movement.

The wide range of guests included:
• Kai Alderson, Fasken Martineau
• Rory Carr, RC Products
• Harvey Chan, Mountain Equipment Co-op
• Daryl Doyle, SAP
• Councilor Geoff Meggs, City of Vancouver
• Monica Netupsky, VANOC licensing
• Melorin Pouladian, Lululemon
• Denise Taschereau , Fairware
• Tim Reeve, Reeve Consulting
• Kevin McCarty, Reeve Consulting
• Amanda Mungal, Reeve Consulting

Over dinner, the desire to ensure the momentum created by VANOC is maintained post-Vancouver 2010 was discussed. Small licensees, in particular, have been able to leverage the VANOC license to encourage factory compliance and there is concern that the once the Olympics is over the influence small companies have on their supply chains will dwindle.

Common challenges raised by purchasers were both lack of buying power relative to overall factory production and audit fatigue on behalf of factory owners. Rory stated that he heard reports of one factory that had to conduct nearly one audit a week to keep up with the demands of factory compliance. Harvey suggested one possibility for addressing audit fatigue is to place more emphasis on direct engagement with suppliers and less emphasis on using a particular audit. If a factory has passed a standard audit then accepting those results while directly engaging the factory owner may bring about a more fruitful outcome. These comments lead into deep conversation on ways to share factory audit information without losing competitive edge and better ways to directly engage suppliers.

Monica and Denise both suggested that educating consumers needs to be a high priority in furthering the ESP momentum fueled by VANOC. Rory suggested that combining this with some kind of positive recognition for companies that practice ESP rather than negative recognition might help consumers make more informed choices. Often consumers are made aware of the companies they shouldn’t buy from rather than the good ones they should buy from.

Melorin and Daryl recognized the significant opportunity for large companies to move beyond “greening” their retail product by “greening” their operations. Denise agreed, stating that in her work she often finds that “green” companies have put so many resources into their retail product that they have none left for internal operations and often turn to her when they realize their promotional items are in direct contrast to their own retail product.

Also, there was a good discussion of how purchasing organizations can contribute to human rights violations by putting unreasonable demands on their suppliers. For example, when a large order is needed immediately, then it may be that employees are required to work longer days that are in violation with international labour conventions. It was agreed that it is important for purchasing organizations to recognize their influence on factory labour conditions in order to help their suppliers comply with international labour standards.

The dinner wound down with everyone feeling energized and more connected. The Reeve Team really enjoyed hearing what our industry colleagues had to say and looks forward to another opportunity to continue these discussions.

Sustainable Fashion?

As Vancouver Fashion Week winds down today, one might ask oneself what impact fashion might have on the environment and working conditions around the world? What, if any, positive impact would sustainable choices in fashion make to the environment? For the fashionably conscious switching from haute couture to baggy hemp garments doesn’t really seem like a choice. Is baggy hemp the only choice?

Vancouver Fashion Week brought some answers to these question last Friday at their Eco Fashion Show in the Colin Campbell building. Thanks to Paige Donner from Greening Hollywood Reeve Consutling’s Amanda Mungal had the opportunity to attend the show and was quite impressed with the work of our local designers. Not only were the clothes completely wearable and fashionable, each designer considered the environment and working conditions in their choice of textiles.

After the show Amanda met up with Paige to discuss what makes fashion eco-friendly? The most immediate answer was textiles; what is the environmental impact of their processing, what if any employment standards are adhered to in the manufacturing plants, is the resource being used sustainable? But like most things the answer is a bit more complicated.

Bamboo has of late been the hot new trend in sustainable textiles but questions have been raised in regards to its carbon footprint as well as the amount of water and chemicals used during the processing. The proponents of bamboo have argued that at least they are taking steps in the right direction, which is true. All change and innovation has a growth period during which shortfalls will need to be addressed.

Another option is 100% organic cotton. Organic cotton is currently produced in 24 countries around the globe its production is growing at a rate of 50% a year. The switch to organic cotton is important not just for the sake of feeling earth friendly but consider this: regular cotton takes up 2.4% of the worlds cultivated land mass but makes up for 16% of the use of insecticides. Imagine the impact that a large-scale move to organic cotton would have on the planet. Cotton can be grown all over the world, reducing its carbon footprint and with Fair Trade practices in place it would be a financially viable crop that supported local economies. Organic cotton is still significantly more expensive than regular cotton, but as more people get on board production will rise to meet demand and prices will come down.

Possibly the most environmentally friendly ‘R’ and the most overlooked is Re-use. Our consumer society has not embraced this notion to its fullest as we are encouraged to regularly buy the newest item that is better for the environment. Some designers have embraced the concept of Re-using by creating new items out of previously used fabrics. Planet Claire is an example of a local designer who manages to employ the concept of Re-use by selling and/or incorporating vintage clothing, using earth friendly fabrics, including seaweed and employing socially responsible labour practices.

So to answer the question can fashion be sustainable, does it matter and could making sustainable choices have an impact? Most definitely! Furthermore, as discovered at Vancouver’s Eco Fashion Show it can be cutting edge and stylish as well.

Sustainable Purchasing: a tool for tackling waste reduction

From October 19th to the 25th Canadians are being challenged to reduce their waste. 

Since 2001, Waste Reduction Week (WRW) has been organized by a coalition of provincial and territorial recycling and waste reduction associations to inform, engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste.  The program targets schools, local governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals and provides educational resources to help Canadians reduce waste in all facets of daily living.

At Reeve Consulting we stand behind the three R’s of waste management (i.e. reduce, reuse and recycle) and see sustainable purchasing as a powerful tool to reduce potential waste at the source.  More and more governments, businesses and institutions are developing sustainable purchasing programs that aim to reduce the amount of waste they are generating.  There are many simple, yet effective, strategies to managing waste at the source.  Some examples include the following:

  • Work with your suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging they use.
  • Develop take-back programs that allow you to return products and/or packaging to your suppliers for reuse and/or recycling.
  • Rent or lease products that are only needed in the short-term so that they can be returned and reused.
  • Specify when buying new products that you require them to be made of recycled materials, where possible.
  • Embed clauses in your service contracts to ensure your service providers also strive to reduce waste.

Waste Reduction Week is an excellent time to start to assess how you can leverage your purchasing power to reduce the amount of waste your organization produces.  Contact Reeve Consulting to learn more about how your organization can build a sustainable purchasing program that will help to reduce waste at the source. 

Visit www.wrwcanada.com for more information on Waste Reduction Week 2009.