GreenWorks Blog

Monday, October 31, 2016
Healthier. Cleaner. More Efficient.

Greenworks members and guests recently visited Meritage Homes in South Carolina. We had 30 people attend from various organizations such as universities, NGOs, for-profit businesses and even from our partners at USGBC, Sustain Charlotte and Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful.

The visit's purpose was to show how Meritage builds into its homes (pun intended) sustainability practices. The presenter, CR Herro, Vice President - Energy Efficiency and Sustainability joined Meritage in 2009. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science at Arizona State University in Physical and Life Science, Masters in Environmental Policy from Governors State, and Doctorate in Environmental Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. Paul Berardi, a member of Greenworks, arranged the visit.

We learned where the largest waste occurs in homes (heating; refrigeration; appliances, lighting) - especially phantom electricity use like leaving on your computer and not controlling heating and cooling times); what we can do about waste (change technologies; build better homes using environmentally friendly materials); and how to consider post-sale behaviors (teaching home owners sustainable practices; using legislative incentives in mortgages for home-owners to care for the environment).

An interesting fact from a 2013 survey by the National Home Builders Association was that females are the critical decision makers in family home buying. This makes home buying an interesting cultural event. The importance of this information is that we can discover other cultural artifacts that may be used to influence sustainability practices. For example, how can we get home buyers to realize that when they buy a house in a location they are taking on responsibility for the sustainability of that location?

Home builders have a large opportunity to influence individual behavior. They can build communities with a sustainability lens. This lens leads to analyzing every aspect of building and the home ownership experience – including living in the community after purchase. Home builders are finally realizing that sustainability practices are good business. For example, homeowners who are sensitive to their energy bills are evaluating home builders on their practices and how those practices influence post-sale energy bills. Home builders also can educate homeowners. The daunting language of CFLs; KwH; etc. confuse people. So home builders have an opportunity – they can make an impact!

If you want to learn more, you can watch this video or visit Meritage online.

Food for thought: The most sustainable idea about buying homes is not to buy. Do you think we can create a culture where people are willing to adopt new behaviors to create better environmental outcomes? Are we willing to downsize your home, live more communally, and purchase based on dual outcomes of personal interest and environmental outcomes?

Posted by: Daniel S. Fogel, Wake Forest University @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, October 3, 2016
Consumer Sustainability at All Battery Centers

The average person has 12-15 battery-powered devices they use on a daily basis, but they give very little thought to the batteries that power them. No one thinks about it until it stops powering the device – car, cell phone, remote control. Then wait, what should you do? Buy a new one (obviously), but since little thought is given to them, most people don’t know you have options that can be better financially and environmentally. Most people also don’t think about what to do with the old battery and simply toss it in the trash. At the Interstate All Battery Center, we are here to educate consumers on both ends.

First, let’s talk about disposing of old batteries. There are two things to remember:

  1. Single-use batteries (i.e. AA, AAA, watch batteries, etc.) are safe for landfills. The only place to recycle them is in California, so the emissions to get them there from Charlotte are worse for the environment. They used to be made with Mercury but no longer are. Therefore, toss after each use.
  2. Rechargeable batteries (laptops, cell phones, cars, motorcycles, rechargeable AA/AAA, etc.) MUST be recycled. The chemistries in these batteries (lead, nickel, and lithium) are harmful to the environment. You can drop these old batteries at the All Battery Center for safe and secure recycling. Please do not put these in a landfill.

By following these two simple rules, everyone can help our environment. But what about those of us who want to do more for the environment? That’s where you need to make sure you do your research, and this is what our All Battery Center prides itself on! You need to make sure you are using the right batteries for your needs. Here are a few ideas for how to make your batteries last longer and reduce waste:

  • Buy rechargeable AA/AAA batteries for remotes and other gadgets instead of single-use alkaline batteries. Sure they may cost a bit more at the beginning, but you’ll save money in the long run and dispose of fewer batteries over time. Plus, you can recycle them locally when they die.
  • Buy a good quality battery for your car. You can buy a cheaper battery which may last for 1-3 years, but if you plan on keeping your car for a while, spend a bit more for one that will last you 4-8 years. We’ve even seen people bring in an 11-year-old Interstate Battery! Talk about reducing waste!
  • Rebuild your power tool batteries. If your power tools are nickel-based (NiMH or NiCd), we can rebuild them. This is better than recycling them and buying new ones. When we rebuild batteries, we recycle the battery pack, rebuild using cells that are more powerful and last longer than the originals, and then reuse the original plastic case. Nothing is wasted; everything is reused or recycled. Since they will last longer, you will also use fewer battery cells over time. We can also give you advice on how to use less electricity when charging your tool batteries.
  • Refresh your cell phone and laptop batteries. Technology drives our lives. We are dependent on our phones and laptops but buy a new one as soon as it gets slow or memory fills. You can keep your device running longer by maintaining it over time. This may be by putting in a new battery (their capacity begins decreasing after 1-2 years), fixing screens, or updating software.

Overall, there is a lot you can do in your everyday life to manage waste in our environment. One of our main focuses for retail and commercial customers is to make sure they are using the best battery for their needs, so they get the longest life out of it. Interstate Batteries actually recycles more batteries than we sell – we are very proud of this and look forward to doing our part in the world as batteries continue to become more prevalent.

Posted by: Kristin Smith, Interstate All Battery Center @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Wells Fargo Green Award Winner Continues Sustainable Practices

The Charlotte Area Hotel Association received the 2014 Wells Fargo Green Awards for the small business category. They remain a leader in sustainability and Sid Smith, executive director shared their continued efforts below.

“The Charlotte Area Hotel Association (CAHA) continues to operate all of it's recycling programs (food to Second Harvest Food Bank; furniture to Crisis Assistance Ministry's Furniture Bank; discount bus passes for hotel employees; and co-sponsorship of the Charlotte Green Team). But our soap recycling program has been changed. With the merger of Global soap (our former collector) with Clean the World out of Orlando, FL (who we now support), the process of collecting the soap has changed. Clean the World sends participating hotels a shipping box, they collect soap each day, and when the box is full they ship it back to them. While there is a small fee to participate, there's no more waiting for the end of the month for pick up, or delivering the soap to a central Charlotte location. Go to www.charlotteareahotels.com for more information.”

If you’re company has incorporated innovative, sustainable practices in the products you produce, the services you provide and within your company culture, apply for the 2016 Wells Fargo Green Awards. The application deadline is Friday, June 17, 2016.

 

Posted by: Sid Smith, executive director Charlotte Area Hotel Association @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Thursday, April 7, 2016
HanesBrands Gains Valuable Business Insight by Partnering with Sustainability Graduate Students

The Graduate Sustainability Programs at Wake Forest University allow students to gain firsthand knowledge and experience through a diverse set of world-class projects. Business partners also gain valuable insight into their operations by participating in student led, client based projects. Among these opportunities is the Hanesbrands, Inc. Zero Waste initiative—a global project to minimize waste disposed directly to landfills. Graduate students work with HanesBrands to design and implement a program in which all waste is reused, utilized for the production of energy, or recycled for cash.

During the week of spring break, consulting students will visit several HanesBrands textile production facilities in El Salvador to research best practices and identify opportunities to improve waste management processes. El Salvador facilities have implemented many innovative waste processes that are representative of actions taken by Hanes manufacturing facilities worldwide, yet there are many unique challenges remaining for processing waste. For example, Wake Forest students will learn how these facilities handle the waste stream of sludge (a byproduct of on-site industrial wastewater treatment systems associated with textile manufacturing facilities) and propose more sustainable solutions, including processes to increase landfill diversion.

The team of students will present their findings to senior leadership at Hanes in May at the conclusion of the project. Presentations will include a baseline study of all waste throughout their facilities, recommended policy and procedural changes, and suggestions on how Hanes can generate additional cash from its waste. This information will be supplemented with results from benchmarking studies on relevant companies, vendors, consultants and various waste management associations. Presentations to corporate leaders in Winston-Salem will be phrased in terms of legal restrictions for handling waste streams, a research initiative conducted by a Wake Forest University law student and supervised by Chris Fox, a double DEAC (Wake Forest MBA/JD) and Hanesbrands, Inc. Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Affairs.

Consulting project leaders are Dan Fogel, Sustainability Graduate Programs Director and Jon Clift, the programs’ Director of External Affairs. The team of Wake Forest graduate students includes Laura LoSciuto, Lauren Newton, Eric Panicco, Joey Burtner, Alison Ringwood and Kelsey Gaude in addition to Tim Woodin, a Chemistry undergraduate student. Two Wake Forest MA in Sustainability graduates and Hanesbrands, Inc. employees are also involved in the project— Philip Hunsucker, Environmental Sustainability Analyst, and Philip Henson, Senior Manager of Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

“HanesBrands is proud to engage with the Wake Forest Graduate Sustainability program on our Zero Waste project. The project provides a living laboratory for students to see issues through a real-world lens that reveals a business case for applied sustainability that they may encounter in their future careers. The students are professional and very intelligent, and their engagement with us has uncovered valuable insights and opportunities. The project serves as a catalyst for Hanes to prioritize its efforts and focus more attention on our solid waste management and zero waste initiative,” says Henson.

The Sustainability Graduate Programs at Wake Forest thrive on these partnerships. For more information contact Jon Clift at Wake Forest University (336-758-4464; cliftjs@wfu.edu).

 

Posted by: Daniel S. Fogel, Sustainability Graduate Programs Director, Center for Energy, Environment and Susta @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Why We Want our Customers to Use Less of our Stuff

I’ve been in the packaging business for nearly three decades, so it frustrates me to tear through a huge box filled with messy peanuts to finally unwrap the lone pair of earphones I ordered online. If I’m not shaking my head about the unnecessary space and freight charges this retailer must have incurred for shipping this over-packaged order, I’m pondering what I should do to dispose of the excessive packaging waste.

This is the antithesis of what the 2,000 e-commerce consumers we surveyed define as a rewarding brand experience. 

Consumers want orders to arrive in two days or less, wrapped in easy-to-open packaging, without the messy- hard to dispose of- waste, and shipped in a package that can be easily reused for returns.  They want sustainability by default and one of the most effective ways to lead your business to this ambitious end result is to simply use less packaging. 

Thankfully, many companies today are focused on right-sizing and material selection to deliver their products in a more efficient manner. But a good many of the packaging materials being introduced into the market do not deliver on the performance requirements also desired in the marketplace. This is why over-packaging remains the norm.

Following the recent historic COP 21 Agreement in Paris, I want to echo our President & CEO Jerome Peribere’s statement reinforcing our2020 Sustainability Goals and our commitment to help combat global warming of the planet by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

At Sealed Air, encouraging our customers to use less of our products is a critical part of our mission to create a  world that works better:

  • Creating stronger and better performing products reduces the need for excessive packaging and over packaging.
  • Eliminating excess and optimizing packaging allows brands to reduce the weight and size of the box.
  • Lighter packages mean lighter loads and fewer trucks needed to ship the same amount of product.
  • Fewer loads help save fuel, reduce transportation energy, decrease emissions and lower shipping costs for the brand.
  • And, beyond the sustainability impact, less mess, reduced waste and undamaged products improve the consumer’s overall experience with a brand.

One would think a company that produces packaging products and solutions would be threatened by the move toward more sustainable packaging, but that is not the case at Sealed Air.

Considerations for reducing the overall amount of packaging materials consumed by our customers, and optimizing packaging solutions for improved transport efficiencies are embedded in our packaging and new product initiatives. 

We have long embraced the trend toward “doing more with less” and we will continue to be deliberate in the ways in which we incorporate that philosophy into the innovation and design of our packaging solutions.  

It’s the right thing to do for our brand, for our planet, for our customers and for our customers’ customers.

Posted by: Ken Chrisman, President, Product Care Division, Sealed Air Corp. @ 11:30:00 am  Comments (0)
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