Impact Sourcing Means Going All In

Funding

In sustainable purchasing, there is often talk of “market readiness” for sustainable products and services. The idea is that sometimes organizations or consumers wish to purchase a more environmentally, ethically, or socially sustainable option, but the market has not yet produced this option, or does not produce it at scale. In these cases, purchasers can leverage their collective power to help influence the market to develop in a sustainable direction, through advocacy, or even direct investment. When it comes to sustainable services, sometimes the commodity that needs developing is the available labour itself.

Help develop a market-ready young person in Uganda

A few weeks ago we posted about a new trend in sustainable procurement and global economic development called impact sourcing. Driven by initiatives from organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, “‘Impact sourcing’ is an inclusive employment practice through which companies intentionally connect high-potential, disadvantaged youth to available jobs.” The practice is taking off, with tech giants such as Microsoft beginning to capitalize on a win-win opportunity.

However, the jobs created when companies are practicing impact sourcing are only one half of the equation: these high-potential youth still need the education and training required to successfully perform at their jobs. Impact sourcing requires capacity-building. In order to develop this market of young and promising employees, we must find ways to invest in their education.

The African continent is a place where there is an abundance of high-potential youth who are desperately in need of sustainable employment. In many African countries, such as Uganda, education is prohibitively expensive for much of the population, and youth cannot access loans to defray the costs. As a result, even if jobs appear through impact sourcing employment creation, many prospective applicants would find themselves under-prepared to fill the positions.

So what can be done? Reeve believes in grassroots capacity-building, which is why we are helping to support a young and promising Ugandan student to fulfil her higher education dreams. Please check out Rosemary Nakasiita’s story here, and consider how you too might help push toward market readiness for impact sourcing.

Help Rosemary Nakasiita Get Her University Degree on Indiegogo

Fair Trade Chocolate: Reasons to Celebrate and Indulge

Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – all perfectly excellent reasons to celebrate with chocolate. Something else we can celebrate is the ever-increasing availability of fair trade chocolate. When you purchase fair trade chocolate farmers in developing countries, receive a reliable and living wage, get a social premium to invest back into their communities. In fact, according to Fairtrade Canada “When chocolate bears the Official Fairtrade Certified logo, it means the cocoa production has been independently monitored, giving you the assurance the manufacturer’s claim is true…Fair trade also encourages sustainable farming, so when purchasing a fair trade products you’re also helping the environment.”

Fair trade chocolate has been available in health stores and specialty markets for years, but confection giants are getting in the game. In 2009 Cadbury made a commitment to use fair trade chocolate in their Cadbury Dairy Milk bars and have since added fair trade Easter Eggs. In 2009 and 2010 they were the world’s largest buyer of fair trade certified cocoa. Kraft, who recently took over Cadbury, has promised to maintain that commitment. Kit Kat, owned by Nestle, is following Cadbury’s example, due to volume, the impact of such large companies using fair trade ingredients is huge and make a real difference to the lives of families in developing countries.

While this exciting move towards the use of fair trade cocoa by large companies is exciting and impactful, it’s important that we don’t forget the Tazamania Proverb “little by little a little become a lot”. There are many artisanal, certified fair trade companies providing top quality chocolate – these specialty chocolate companies are the backbone of the fair trade cocoa movement. These small companies are passionate about making a positive impact in the world rather than just making profit. By choosing to purchase from companies that are fair trade certified, you can feel good about the choice you’ve made and sometimes making the right choice can taste sooooo good.

In a world where your purchases have more influence than your political vote, it is imperative that you take all factors into consideration before pulling out your wallet. 

-Scott Umstattd

Fairtrade Canada

Cadbury Dairy Milk – Fair Trade

Fair Trade Valentine’s Day Gifts

chocolate-banner

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

Lackluster Sustainability Performance At 2012 Ryder Cup Begs The Question, “Is It Greener Across The Pond?”

Martin Kaymer may have made European history at the Ryder Cup, but sustainability was on the back burner at this year’s tee-off at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

The sport of golf continues to be an area of contention for environmentalists, a top issue being the deforestation and loss of wetland habitats often associated with the development of new golf courses. Donald Trump’s recent $150 million golf course in Scotland was a low for Trump’s PR after heavy jeering by environmentalists during the opening ceremony.

However, in an effort to integrate sustainability into the professional golf tournament, the Ryder Cup Europe pioneered Green Drive, a formal partnership between the golf tournament and the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) to bring innovative solutions to one of the world’s greatest sports. By 2002, the initiative had led to the first ever set of Environmental Guidelines for Golf Events.

“A great deal of effort was put into the environmental sustainability of this event. We wanted to bring the event greening to a new level.” – Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director 2010 Ryder Cup, City of Newport, Wales

2010 Ryder Cup, City of Newport, Wales

According to A Review of the 2010 Ryder Cup Green Drive by GEO, the last Ryder Cup Europe tournament left a significantly lighter environmental footprint.  The aim of the tournament was to:

  • deliver a world-class event that showcased sustainability to event patrons and the local community,
  • encourage a legacy of environmental action in golf, and
  • advance the global sport and environment movement

The Action Plan set out clear objectives, supported by best practice recommendations for energy, water, waste, pollution prevention and ecological conservation.  These issues cut across a number of operational topics including venue management, transportation, catering, energy provision, and installation of fixtures and fittings.

2012 Ryder Cup, Medina, Illinois

Compare this to the 2012 Ryder Cup hosted by Team USA where American sustainability efforts were lukewarm.

Despite a triple-coalition between the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America, Audubon International, and FedEx to develop a sustainable golf-program that would facilitate eco-friendly improvements to public golf courses, few golf courses, including the Medinah Country Club, created a visible commitment on their online platforms to mitigate their environmental impact.  What limited information was made available about the 2012 Ryder Cup golf course operator’s “green” contributions revolved heavily on the change to Healthy Grow organic fertilizer.

But why does such a deviation exist from the sustainability standards set by Ryder Cup Europe?  The problem is three-fold: definition of environmentalism, centralization of authority, and level of community engagement.

Definition of Environmentalism

Under the PGA of America, environmentalism is considered a charitable endeavor whereby support of environmental causes is considered commendable, but not necessary.  This provides less incentive for tournaments to take part in creating a shift towards more sustainable operations.

Centralization of Authority

The second issue-at-hand revolves around the lack of centralization of environmental initiatives.  The PGA of America supports a “range of environmental causes” and at different levels.  Players and golf tournaments can independently donate or participate in environmental initiatives.  However, there is a lack of a central authority that ensures the necessary fulfillment of measurable environmental goals to be fulfilled.

Level of Community Engagement

The third issue centers on the lack of community engagement by the PGA about the importance of sustainability.  Unlike the 2010 Ryder Cup that implemented an immediate legacy program that included long-term outreach initiatives, the PGA of America has yet to implement visible community outreach programs to better communicate the value of sustainability.

Model of Sustainability

The PGA of America is the world’s largest working sports organization.  It has become a shining example of growing, teaching, and managing the game of golf.  At Reeve Consulting, we applaud the PGA’s partnership with the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program and hope that they will serve as a local, regional, and national model of sustainability for golf tournaments.

* The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition between teams from Europe and the USA hosted at alternating venues in the USA and Europe.

Maximize the Impact of Sustainable Purchasing – join us for the next BuySmart Learning Event

Are you familiar with the basics of sustainable purchasing? Would you like to customize your organization’s procurement process to align with sustainability principles? An upcoming BuySmart learning event focused on Maximizing the Impact of Sustainable Purchasing will put you on the right track.

Designed for staff in public, private and non-profit organizations responsible for purchasing, sustainability or corporate responsibility, workshop topics will include how to integrate sustainability into bid documents, create performance scorecards for suppliers, evaluate proposals and more. Presenters will additionally profile product guidelines and specifications among other helpful tools.

Presented by the BuySmart Network, a non-profit dedicated to advancing sustainability in BC and beyond, the event will feature new workshops lead by BuySmart Co-Founders Tim Reeve and Coro Strandberg, whose last co-facilitated session in February sold out with very positive reviews.

Guest speaker Vicki Wakefield, Purchasing Manager for Student Housing, Hospitality and Food Services at the University of British Columbia (UBC), will show participants how UBC is applying these tools within the request for proposals (RFP) process.

Pre-registration is recommended, as space is limited. Sign-up through the BuySmart Network’s Eventbrite site and join us for a morning of strategy, practical insights and useful tools that will help your organization leverage its purchasing power for social, environmental and financial benefits.

Cotton Supply Chain: organic & fair trade sustainability in the global market

2010 was a record-breaking year for cotton prices in global markets. In this post, Reeve Consulting presents an overview of recent market activity, considers the implications for working and environmental conditions in the supply chain and takes a look at how organic and fair-trade cotton sectors are fairing. We finish with a few suggestions for corporate and governmental purchasers looking to reduce brand risk and improve ethical and sustainable purchasing practices when it comes to cotton goods.


Flickr / kimberlykv

Cotton is the largest non-food crop in the world with over 24.3 million tonnes consumed worldwide annually. Did you know it’s also the largest employer? From farm workers to retail employees, an estimated 1 billion people are involved in the growing, processing and selling stages.

Given the ubiquity of cotton, it’s significant that 2010 was an unprecedented year for the commodity in global markets. The price doubled in a year and broke the $1 (U.S.) per pound level for the first time in 15 years.

Globe and Mail / Bloomberg

Rising prices affects the entire supply chain

A number of factors have been attributed to the sudden price increase, a main one being poor weather conditions in top growing regions, including floods in Pakistan, a severe cold snap in China, crop-killing hailstorms in Texas and, more recently, flooding in Australia. Speculation has played a significant role, as well as export restrictions put in place by India (the second-largest cotton producer) to protect domestic supplies and prices.

Consequently, the clothing sector is feeling the squeeze of both increasing input costs and a weak consumer environment. According to media reports, the prices of jeans, t-shirts and other cotton apparel will likely increase 2 – 15% in 2011.

Clean Clothes Campaign

To avoid passing a price hike to consumers, clothing companies may reduce costs by mixing in less expensive, synthetic fibers or by decreasing pack sizes on smaller bulk products like socks. Of greater concern is that companies will move production to lower wage countries with lower duty tariffs and weaker environmental restrictions. As examples, consider how garment workers demanding a fair minimum wage are currently being treated in Cambodia and Bangladesh. Anticipating such tactics, the Ethical Trade Initiative released a statement in late-September urging retail buyers to factor in the cost of a living wage for workers in their price negotiations with garment suppliers.

Organic cotton prices are linked to conventional cotton prices

A recent edition of Engage, an e-newsletter published by the Organic Exchange, takes a close look at the organic cotton industry. The opening article suggests the extraordinary times experienced by conventional cotton have on the one hand created a beneficial seller’s market. At the same time these conditions have had a potentially damaging impact on the sector by leveling the price of organic and conventional cotton. As the Organic Exchange (OE) puts it:

“Farmers are seeing their carefully tended organic harvest end up in conventional supply chains. Organic cotton procurers are struggling to meet their usual premium commitments (which don’t make sense anymore) and on top of this the lag time for organic buyers to respond to the market is adding a further complication.”

The article concludes that if organic cotton is to be secure in a stable, appropriate value chain it needs protection from the dramatically changing commodity price. This could come in the form of working partnerships that deliver benefit to farmers as well as buyers.

This concept is further covered in a recent article in the World of Organic Agriculture – Statistics and Emerging Trends 2010 journal:

“The sector must address the protection of the farm and fiber business model to ensure farmers and those who work with them receive sufficient returns to maintain investment in farmer development and productivity.”

Protection from the commodity market rollercoaster

A number of programs have attempted to protect cotton from market conditions. Perhaps the best known is the fair trade movement.  We’ve written a number of posts on the Reeve Consulting blog about the new garment certification program unveiled in 2010 by Fair Trade USA. For the first time the full supply chain of a product, not just the agricultural inputs, can receive fair trade certification ensuring workers are paid a fair, living wage for their goods and services. While only a handful of brands have completed the certification process, recent reports indicate more companies are working with Fair Trade USA to acquire certification.

Flickr / kimberlykv

Another example can be found in the recent commitment by Anvil Knitwear to double the production of organic cotton in the U.S. Through the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, Anvil will pay a premium for organic cotton as well as purchase any cotton making a transition to organic at a price close to the premium. The hope is that having a guaranteed buyer will encourage conventional cotton farmers to switch to organic production.

Social Alterations, an online education lab for socially responsible fashion design, has also focused on this issue and recently shared a post outlining approaches undertaken by two other global commodities – coffee and cocoa – that have similarly attempted to address the volatility of global commodity prices.

Purchasing cotton responsibly: ethical and sustainable purchasing considerations

When it comes buying cotton goods, purchasing departments can reduce risk and improve supply chain practices by considering the following:

  • Making a formal commitment to specify and support sustainable forms of cotton in purchasing decisions (e.g. organic, fair trade, ethically sourced)
  • Considering the origins of cotton goods including. More specifically, the working and environmental conditions under which they were made
  • Investing in long-term relationships with suppliers and focusing on continued improvement

To learn more about how our clients and organizations are benefitting from these and other sustainable supply chain practices contact us.

Are there too many eco-labels and green ratings?

Flickr / Jeff Keen

This is a good question and one we hear often at Reeve Consulting. In a recent article on GreenBiz.com, Joshua Saunders of GoodGuide tackles this issue and presents some valuable insights.

With over 300 eco-labels in the global marketplace, and more being added each year, manufacturers, businesses and consumers are faced with increasingly complex decisions when it comes to green ratings.

To simplify ecolabel decisions, Saunders suggests an oligopoly of labeling organizations with larger barriers to entry is needed. Essentially a handful of credible certification programs, labels and rating systems to dominate the market. A distinction is made between this and a “one choice” market, with Saunders stressing the importance of competition between ecolabels to fuel transparency, rigor, credibility, service and price.

Greenbiz.com

In fact it seems we’re not far from an ecolabel market dominated by a few suppliers. As Saunders rightly describes, ecolabels are segmented by product category, industry and geography. When purchasing a product, one doesn’t actually choose from 300 ecolabels, but a smaller subset that applies to the product in question.

Saunders also explains that, while more ecolabels are being introduced each year, more consolidation is taking place among the labeling organizations.  An example of this is the recent acquisition of the Canadian certification program TerraChoice by UL. This is exciting news, and we’re interested to learn about the next steps for Terra Choice when we connect with our colleagues Scott McDougall and Angela Griffiths.

Saunders article ends by stating there’s little doubt that the sustainable labeling field is moving towards greater collaboration and consolidation.  That’s good news because ecolabels are becoming an increasingly important tool for corporate and consumer purchasing. Everyone will benefit from more credible labeling and rating systems.

Read Joshua Saunders full article HERE.

Reeve ‘Out and About’: The Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit Workshop

Reeve participated this past Sunday, March 29th, in the Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET) Workshop organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) as a pre-conference activity to the 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver.

As a legacy of the 2010 Games, VANOC has been working with AISTS, the International Olympic Committee and other global sport organizations to create an easy-to-use web-based toolkit designed to help sport event organizers manage their footprint. This workshop was organized to provide understanding of the toolkit’s resources and website, and listen to first-hand stories from athletes and sport organizations currently involved in testing the toolkit.

The toolkit has eight chapters that will guide the user in creating sustainable sport and event strategies.  Chapter 5 focuses on how to involve the community and engage in Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing to support sustainable sport event commitments.  An innovative feature of the toolkit is the web-based SSET Wiki, which is an interactive platform that allows users of the toolkit to login and share best practices, ideas, statistics, stories and general comments and feedback.  The SSET Wiki also provides resources and tools that are linked directly to goals and objectives in the toolkit.

The workshop presented a wealth of information on how Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing can be leveraged by sports organizations to meet their overall sustainability commitments.  For example, VANOC shared some success stories of their Buy Smart Program, which was designed, with support from Reeve Consulting, to ensure that sustainability, ethical choices and Aboriginal participation are taken into account within procurement and licensing activities.  London 2012, Speed Skating Canada, and the International Cycling Union also recognized the role of Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in achieving sustainability objectives of sporting events.

Reeve sees the SSET as an important step in ensuring the sustainability of future large-scale games and is excited to support the enhancement of this tool through the interactive wiki web platform.  The SSET will help to embed Ethical and Sustainable Purchasing in future games and Reeve Consulting looks forward to participating in the application of this innovative toolkit.