This Week in Sustainability – Less Meat at Starbucks, Roundup Reapproved, UK moves up deisel/hybrid vehicle ban & more…


(Podcast and videocast link below) 

Starbucks goes a bit meatless….too*

Late last week, KFC announced it was test selling chickenless chicken nuggets. Apparently, they were pretty good!

Not to be outdone, or left behind, earlier this week Starbucks announced plans of its own for plant-based meat sandwiches, as part of its ‘migration toward a  more environmentally friendly menu’.

Migrating, seems a slowish-moving concept for the normally trendsetting Starbucks. The Seattle based company had better get a move on it.  Almost 40% of US consumers are actively incorporating, not migrating towards, more plant-based meat foods into their diet.

The coffee chain said it would roll out the meatless breakfast patty sandwiches in Canada and the US sometime this year.

Whose next Olive Garden? Applebees? Chilis?

Not in my glass please – US Environmental Protection Agency reapproves Bayer-Monsanto’s terrible Roundup

It’s the classic test.

Two glasses of water on a table.

Two experts standing behind each glass.

One, is full of plain water, the other has a single drop of Roundup, Bayer-Monsanto’s broad-spectrum glyphosate-based herbicide .

Bolstered by dozens of peer-reviewed research articles linking glyphosate and cancer, the first expert, tells you the World Health Organization recently declared Roundup as probably carcinogenic to humans.

For those who may not know what carcinogenic means, it means any substance or agent that tends to produce a cancer.

The second expert, from the chemical industry, counters, tells you Roundup presents low or limited potential risks to birds and mammals.

Never mind that humans are mammals.

And never mind the fact that Roundup’s other risks include damage to other species (i.e., non-humans) and threats to their, and our, natural habitats (weeds are part of critical to biodiversity, and not always bad!).

Lori Ann Burd, of the Center for Biological Diversity recently said, “The Trump EPA’s assertion that glyphosate poses no risks to human health, disregards independent science findings in favor of confidential industry research and industry profits.” This is Trump administration “allegiance to Bayer/Monsanto”, nothing more, nothing less.

I sprayed this Roundup on corn crops in my youth. I never knew what was in it, but you just know instinctively that it’s bad. It has this complex, chemical, stewy smell that stays vivid in your nasal passage for days, and is one you never, ever forget.

So, why take the risk?

Agro-ecological solutions are better. So are front and back yard gardens, leading to less subservience to Big Chem and Big Ag vested interests.

What to do?

BlackRock is invested in Bayer-Monsanto. Write them. Tell them to divest. Home Depot and Lowes sell likely carcinogenic products.

Ask them to stop. Remind them that several lawsuits are pending against Bayer-Monsanto, and Home Depot, for selling the stuff.

Also, you can check out the Climate Victory Garden movement.

Oh by the way, which glass of water would you take?

UK to ban sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2035

The entire sustainability tribe knows that we can’t wait until the 2050, the date originally set by ‘experts’ to stop the world average temperature from rising above 1.5-degree Celsius

Otherwise known as the irreversible environmental impact calamity temperature.

That’s why we ought to stand and cheer the UK government’s announcement this week that it is bringing forward it’s ban on diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2040 to 2035.

It’s a good thing, and we should cheer. But not too loud.

The Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark will phase out new petrol and diesels by 2030. Norway will do the same but in 2025.

Seems British PM, Boris Johnson is feeling some #Climatecrisis heat, saying 2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming.’

Sounds serious, even as Friends of the Earth’s Mike Childs said the UK 2035 target leaves “the UK in the slow-lane.”

Shout out to @Fastcompany sustainability reporting!

Yesterday, I was speaking to Paulo Vieria , a PhD student working on corporate sustainability communications.

Paulo is trying to better understand how companies express sustainability via various channels, including social media, leading us to discussion how companies represent themselves on the different platforms.

Typically led by communications teams, companies on Twitter attempt to engage stakeholders, but it’s hard to come off as something more than self-serving marketers or or clandestine focus group leaders.

And of course, there is the terrifying potential for a negative response from any number of Sustainability Tweeps, if a company misrepresents, even in the tiniest way.

I don’t envy corporate sustainability folks in the least. Unhappy or bland engagements are so much easier to score than successful ones, it would seem.

On LinkedIn, there is a bit more professional to professional dialogue, which means individual executives are more cautious. It is, after all, their own reputation on the line.

We also talked about how The Guardian leads the sustainability mass media market by a long shot, but that others are joining in. Even Bloomberg is getting
real!  No, that doesn’t mean you get my vote, Mike.

Mainstream media, we decided, is doing more and more serious sustainability reporting.

That’s a good thing right!

Right after talking with Paolo, I got my daily @Fastcompany email.

Normally, there are one, maybe two sustainability related articles. This time?

Three! And good ones too:

The North Face’s latest quest? Clothes that last forever  Elizabeth Segran – @LizSegran

This new sugar substitute is made from food waste Kristin Toussaint – @kristindakota

How this Danish energy company is transitioning from oil and gas to all renewables Adele Peters @adele_peters

So, a great big sustainability shout-out to you @Fastcompany and to all the other media outlets now taking sustainability more seriously than ever before!

BlackRock: assets still on fire, but at least its looking at the fire extinguisher

In some positive news this week, the mammoth $7 trillion asset manager BlackRock questioned Siemens at its annual general meeting about the
German company’s contract to help develop the enormous Carmichael coal project down under in Australia. 

Greenpeace calls it a greenwashing move by @Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, particularly seeing how much coal and fossil fuel the US investor still

Others see it as a baby step by BlackRock towards meeting the terms of Fink’s January letter to the world, proclaiming stakeholder and
environmental virtue must come first.

I’ll let you decide: cynic or optimist? Most know where I stand.

But I will say this: in the context of the long, slow and incremental evolution of companies and investors towards greater sustainability
(and the still fairly clubby big corporate world), this is a notable intervention.

Check out the podcast or videocast to listen to Alice Korngold, of Korngold Consulting (@alicehorngold) explain why we should believe BlackRock’s move is notably positive, but one made in the context of a long way to go before the asset manager will have a fuller sustainability impact.

* Feature photo not a Starbucks’ sandwich, but it looks good right


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