Sustainability as a Quality of Life Indicator

07/18/2014 § 3 Comments

By Brad Lufkin, Education and Research

Quality of life (QOL) has a number of definitions that can include factors such as healthcare, employment, politics, and development. Sustainability, however, is also inherently linked to QOL; in order to have healthy, productive residents with meaningful lives, the environment must be cared for. The degree of environmental pollution, for instance, is a product of sustainability efforts, and has a clear influence of QOL. Even when viewed from a product perspective, however, the continued production of goods and services that maintain life functions is reliant upon the natural ecosystem. There is a certain level of natural capital that is simply necessary for the continuation of human life. Sustainable practices help protect that natural capital.

Here is a back-of-the-napkin, down and dirty regression, plotting countries’ quality of life against sustainability.

Quality of Life regressed against Sustainability.

Quality of Life regressed against Sustainability, using a sample size of 67 countries.

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Say “I Do” to Eco-friendly Weddings

07/08/2014 § 2 Comments

By Meghan Ploch, Rain Garden Development

I have been a guest at several weddings this summer and a Maid of Honor for one this coming weekend, and much of my time has been planning and helping with the big day. With so much of my time dedicated to these special days, I have been reflecting on different ways the traditional wedding could become more sustainable. Having a eco-friendly focus on a wedding doesn’t mean that style or elegance is sacrificed. Approximately 2.5 million weddings take place each year in the US producing up to 600 pounds of waste and 62 tons of carbon dioxide. Green weddings can be every bit gorgeous as conventional weddings, but without the waste. « Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s be Functionally Chic

07/08/2014 § 1 Comment

By Henri Venable, Bicycle Initiative Intern

Sustainability is an important topic, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, it’s a topic incessantly accompanied by a lot of doom and gloom. Well fear not, this is a nice lighthearted post with just a little sustainability thrown in.

Bicycling is on the rise in the United States (finally!) but the perception remains that bicycling is purely a recreational, as opposed to functional, endeavour. You can’t possibly do your grocery shopping, go to work, chauffeur your kids, or blah blah blah on a bike…so they say. These lovely people beg to differ.

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Making Sense of Green Product Labels

07/02/2014 § 1 Comment









By Amishi Kumar, Green Purchasing Intern

green Labels

Common Ecolabels

One of the trending marketing ploys is the sudden emergence of all things green. I’m sure you’ve noticed the growth of environmentally friendly products in department stores, grocery stores, and malls. It is important to become familiar with the various branding efforts used by companies so you can decipher which products are more interested in the green in your wallet versus promoting a more sustainable, green product or service.

An easy and simple way of verifying the integrity of a product is to look for a valid third party certification or seal of approval. Many regulatory agencies and other external parties have realized the importance of providing objective assessments and quantifiable requirements for the protection of consumers. To obtain the seal or certification from these parties, the producer usually must pay a fee for testing and verification that their product meets a comprehensive list of requirements. Here is a list of some common “ecolabels”:

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Sustainability, Local Government and Volunteers

06/30/2014 § 1 Comment

Emily Hughes, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale



In class we have been discussing the e-book, Community Based Social Marketing which describes how to build effective programs that lead people to adopt sustainable behaviors. After identifying the behavior that needs to be adopted and crafting a relevant message to a specifically defined target audience, the most interesting and challenging part of the social marketing strategy is harnessing social norms to instigate behavior change.  According to the book, people are unlikely to change how they behave based on information they have, but they will change their behavior if they feel social pressure to act in a certain way. Our classroom discussions prompted me to think more deeply about how it might be possible to implement effective behavior changing strategies on larger scales.

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The Real Food Movement Continues to Grow

06/24/2014 § 3 Comments

Angela Babb, Food Planning and Implementation

Last month, the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees signed the Real Food Campus Commitment, which directly affects over 400,000 students across 23 campuses as well as faculty, staff and the surrounding communities.


The Real Food Campus Commitment, developed by the Real Food Challenge, states an institutional plan to purchase 20% sustainable food by 2020. For the CSU system, this is approximately $25 million that will be transferred annually to more sustainable farming and fair business operations. Twenty-five colleges and universities across the U.S. have already signed the Real Food Campus Commitment, but the size and impact of this pledge at CSU is unprecedented and provides important succor to real food advocates across the nation.

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The Growth of Corporate Sustainability

06/16/2014 § 3 Comments

By Brad Lufkin, Education and Research

More often than not, in order to convince businesses to adopt sustainable practices, it has to be shown that the practices make financial sense; unless these efforts help the company’s bottom line, no action will be taken. With rising consumer pressure and increasingly available technology and processes, however, the adoption of sustainability as a key business tenet is inevitable.

One of five Walmart facilities equipped with solar panels in Puerto Rico. One of Walmart’s broad sustainability goals is to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

One of five Walmart facilities equipped with solar panels in Puerto Rico. One of Walmart’s broad sustainability goals is to be powered by 100% renewable energy.

The “business case for sustainability” is tired at this point, and it’s now generally accepted that participating in sustainability initiatives will lead to improvements to a company’s bottom line. So what is the delay in the adoption of sustainable practices across the board? One of the major hurdles seems to be the bureaucratic organization companies — sustainability wasn’t a primary concern when many business structures were initially developed, so there is a delay in operations and results. Behavioral economists also blame status quo bias and groupthink for some of the stagnancy seen in the adoption of corporate sustainability [1].

Despite this latency, however, there are burgeoning trends in corporate sustainability that provide direction for the future.

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