Corporate America was out in full force at Sustainable Brands 2011 (#SB11) recently held in Monterey, CA, and so were we!
Bringing together concepts of business strategy, sustainability and innovation, the 4-day event focused on the connections between sustainability as a driver of product design as well as a mechanism for engaging with customers and employees.
We had a great time, made some wonderful connections and were exposed to inspiring initiatives and concepts in the realm of corporate social responsibility.
Below we’ve summarized a few of our insights.
Sustainability case studies – a closer look at some inspiring initiatives
While the week was full of inspiring sustainability stories, there were a few case studies that particularly stood out for us (click on the links for more information).
- Panera Bread, pay-what-you-can model – This American restaurant chain allows customers to choose the amount they pay for their meals. CEO Ronald Shaich shared that 20% of his customers pay more than the suggested donation while 20% leave less. By opening stores in diverse communities, Shaich has found higher-income people will offset the costs for their lower-income neighbours.
- Hewlitt Packard, building the energy-smart home – Taking a closer look at home energy management, HP Labs has developed sensing technology and a cloud-based application that clearly illustrates a home’s energy use, allowing homeowners to easily monitor and manage energy consumption from their dishwasher to TV.
- Nike, better world project – Earlier this year Nike launched the website nikebetterworld.com which highlights the company’s green programs such as the use of environmentally preferred rubber, jerseys made from recycled bottles, responsible packaging and more. The site also highlights the value of sport for addressing social issues, like HIV AIDS, obesity, even war.
Supply chains are a sustainability starting point
Supply chains were a prominent topic of discussion throughout the event and we were pleased to hear our colleagues recognizing supply chains as a key starting point for driving sustainability both vertically, through a business, and horizontally with customers.
One of the most encouraging supply chain initiatives we heard about was the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the goal of which is to improve the sustainability of apparel and footwear products by developing an industry-wide index for businesses to measure and evaluate their products’ social and environmental impacts. By pooling resources and knowledge, member companies hope to develop more sophisticated and uniform tools for evaluating their supply chains and engaging with suppliers on improvements. Founding members include Patagonia, Nike, Levis, Gap Inc., Mountain Equipment Co-op, Environmental Defense Fund and many others spread across North America, Asia, Europe and the U.K.
Collaboration is making sustainability initiatives stronger
As demonstrated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, we found that collaboration was a strong theme throughout the event.