Coast Protien, little bites that make a big difference.

I am sure a lot of you have heard about Coast Protein already.

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Dylan Jones, Founder, and CEO completed his undergraduate degree at UBC and maintains a strong affiliation with our school including selling his bars at the UBC bookstore on campus.

The coast protein story is much like many other start-up stories in that Dylan identified a problem: food security on our planet, and identified a solution: insects. Insects are amazing creatures both for our eco-systems and for their nutritious content. They produce 100x less methane than cows, use 2000 times less water, use much less space, resources, and capital to produce AND they are healthy. They contain all 9 essential amino acids, are high in B12, magnesium, calcium, Iron, basically all of the good stuff.

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Coast Protein decided to use this, and create a more North-American friendly version of insects, rather than the fried whole crickets you would find on the streets of Cambodia. They opted for a cricket protein powder and a cricket protein bar. If any of you have tasted these bars, you would know that they taste just like any other bar, and if no one told you, you would not be aware that they were made out of crickets.

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 3.52.03 PMI have had the pleasure of working closely with Dylan for their marketing initiatives and actually had a chance to see them making the bars hands-on. The biggest struggle they are facing is not becoming a ‘one-time thing.’ They have found that a lot of people are willing to try the cricket bars, but they are not willing to incorporate them into their diet on a regular basis. It will be interesting to see if people prefer to choose these bars due to their environmental impact, health impact, of lifestyle choice association they may get with the brand.

 

Find out more on their website: https://www.coastprotein.com/

Shop now! https://www.coastprotein.com/collections/products

 

 

 

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Eco-Fashion Week Vancouver

The eco-fashion week is run by a woman who started of in Montreal as a high-end fashion professional, but found the harshness of the fashion culture too much on the East Coast so moved to BC for a more “friendly” approach. It was here that she learned the huge environmental implications of fast fashion. Previously, we had 4 seasons in fashion; Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

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Now, however, we have 52.

That means people are buying and throwing away at a faster rate than ever before, which is filling landfills, and claiming finite resources at an exponential pace. The purpose of the eco-fashion week is to start the conversation on how we can do better in this industry. Inviting big names such as LuluLemon, as well as smaller boutique local shops, help to get everyone involved in the conversation.

This initiative also involves the models. Instead of taking an average of 45 seconds in the change of clothes between runs, they spend 10 minutes. This gives the model a better sense of where the clothes came from, and understand the implication of the piece they are wearing, which is essentially what this event is all about.

The Battalion at Eco Fashion Week 2011

I found it interesting when I heard the owner speak at the beginning of this year when she talked about leather. While this has a high association with cruelty to animals and is not a sustainable practice of making clothes, she speaks to picking one item, spending more money on it, and having it last. Leather jackets last a lifetime. She encourages choosing something like this over a faux-leather, throw away in one year, jacket that many of us buy. That is also sustainable. Or, finding the local eco-conscious brands around your community and purchasing clothing from them instead of large chain corporations that have no care for the environment.

 

This is just the start of this conversation, and I am interested in where this will go in the future.

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Find out more about eco-fashion week on their website: http://ecofashion-week.com/

Also, they are always looking for volunteers, so keep them in mind for your next volunteer opportunity!

 

N.E.O.M – The Beginning of a New World?

Saudi-Crown-Prince-Mohammed-bin-SalmanUS$500 billion is the price tag on the new mega-city spanning across three countries; Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. The idea behind this? Move Saudi Arabia away from its high dependency on petrodollars, and towards a more diverse, progressive society. The Prince of Saudi Arabia is the mastermind behind this, hiring Klaus Kleinfeld as NEOMs CEO.

This area is going to be treated as a hub of innovation in sustainability, entertainment, biotechnology, food, and much much more. He has high ambitions and is not being stringent on the cash front. NEOM will be entirely powered by solar panels and wind turbines, making it completely sustainable. They also have plans to not import any food, rather create all the food necessary there, a seemingly difficult task due to the salt water and arid land. NEOM also has ambitions for women moving up in societies rankings, working alongside men in all positions. Advertisements of the mega-city even include women running in crop tops, something not seen at all in today’s Saudi Arabia.

The first phase will be completed in 2025, so not too far away. It will be interesting to see how this works out. It will cost loads of money but could be a huge hub for technology, medicine, food, and entertainment creation. Innovation is a hot topic right now, and this city seems to encompass all aspects one could dream of. It is nice to see that a top priority for the prince was sustainability and even gender equality. Definitely a forward thinker, I am excited for what is to come in this new city.

You can read more about it on their page where they even have an interactive satellite image of the current progress (0% as of right now): http://discoverneom.com/

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Definitely something to keep on eye on over the next 10 years, and maybe one day even visit.

 

Which Country is Leading The Way in Sustainability?

I stumbled upon a pretty cool infographic that shows which countries are the most, and least, sustainable in the world. You can read more about the article here: http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2017/10/infographic-which-country-is-leading-the-way-in-sustainability.html

or

read up on the “trilemma” index here: https://trilemma.worldenergy.org/

 

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Surprisingly to me, Europe contained 9 out of the 10 countries, with New Zealand being only non-European country. Canada, coming 22nd, was even lower in the ranking than the US, at 14. This was surprising to me as although I knew Europe was on the forefront of innovation, I expected Canada to be higher up on the list. Looking at the metrics, however,  which are energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability, it became more clear. Canada is one of the worlds largest exporters of oil, a non-renewable energy system. Therefore it is pretty impressive that they are up at 22nd if we take into consideration that they are the fourth largest exporter in the world of such a negative product.

Speaking with a friend, however, we discussed Canadas oil-drilling and whether it was good or bad. Whilst extracting oil is harmful to the environment, we came to the conclusion that it was likely better for the world if Canada did produce a lot of the oil due to the increased regulations and environmental concerns while doing so as opposed to, say, Indonesia. Not ideal, of course, but better.

I think sometimes when it comes to sustainability it is important to be realistic. Hopefully, in the near future, we will see a lot more renewable energy and countries moving from traditional, planet-destroying techniques to more sustainable ones. Having said that, we must keep in mind the huge costs, implications, and changes that occur due to a switch in energy source, so whilst we convert having the more regulated countries produce the “bad stuff” is likely the least worst thing.

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2017/10/infographic-which-country-is-leading-the-way-in-sustainability.html

 

Plastic Bank – The Ultimate Social Enterprise?

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David Katz, listed as number four in Salt Magazine’s list of “Top 100 compassionate business leaders,” is the CEO and founder of Vancouver based Plastic Bank.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 5.35.45 PMLast year, I went to a Marketing conference where I saw him speak for the first time. Dynamic, passionate, and an amazing public speaker, he immediately caught my attention. What kept it was his business idea. It is seemingly so simple, yet so incredibly impactful. His mission; eliminate all virgin plastic on the planet.

Plastic Bank essentially sets up banks in developing communities, such as Haiti, where citizens can return used plastic in exchange for money, services or things. He then sells this ‘social plastic’ to plastic consumption giants such as coca-cola, for a slightly higher price due to the social responsibility associatedScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 5.37.39 PM with it. Genius? I think so. Plastic Bank intertwines poverty reduction with exceptional marketing skills. His business model hinges on the corporate social responsibility associated with the social plastic, which with higher customer awareness will increase in value over time making his business model even stronger.

 

During the conference, he had ten minutes designated to questions and answers. One of the women sitting at the center table put up her hand and asked;

“Instead of trying to reuse plastic, why don’t we try to reduce the amount of plastic being used? We all know the harm it does to our environment, our planet, why are you endorsing the use of plastic, albiet reused?”

 

He stood for a second, looking around at her and her table. Then he responded;

“Look at your coffee cup, what is that lid made of? Look at your pen, what keeps the ink inside? Look at your water bottle, is it made of plastic? What about your hairband, book binding, the laminated name tag you have hanging around your neck? It is all made of plastic. While the planet would love nothing more than no more plastic consumption, it is in almost all of our day to day products. We are not, as a species, going to be giving up plastic any time soon, so I am looking at how to make our bad habit the most sustainable as possible.”

To me, that was the best response he could have given. He showed us that he is aware of the negative impact plastic has on the environment, with plastic bottles taking around 450 years to disintegrate, but he was also aware of human consumption and habit. Plastic Bank is an awesome company, doing awesome things, with an awesome leader, and I hope to be hearing even more about their progress in the near future.

 

Find out more;

https://plasticbank.org/

Look at what Plastic Bank is doing right now here: https://plasticbank.org/whats-happening/

Watch David Katz co-founder speak about Social Plastic here:

Rafikis from the Mamas of the Mura Masa

By now, you have all probably seen the Rafikis sold in multiple shops across Canada; Davids Tea, Fossil, Indigo, etc.

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Beautiful, simple, unique, and decently priced, it seems like a great idea. On the Fossil website, where this image was directly taken, it states

“Named after the Swahili word for “friend,” all proceeds from the sale of this accessory help support education in a developing country by giving school supplies to a child.”

Me to We is half charity, half social enterprise, with its aim to cover the administrative costs in the charity with the profits created from the social enterprise, and they are doing really really great things. Having said that, I had a close encounter with the charity just this summer, and it seems they are over-marketing themselves slightly.

 

These two photos, above, were taking in the Mura Masa (Kenya) whilst the Mamas taught us how to make Rafikis. After we each made our bracelets, we then had the opportunity to ask some questions. How does the pricing structure work? Where do the materials come from? How much do the mamas actually make? What happens if these large companies stop buying these bracelets? How often do they work?

Once we delved into the actual structure of this enterprise, it all started to unravel. While the mamas did make money doing this, they made significantly less than would be assumed. The markup on these types of bracelets is about 800%, the materials are all shipped in from China, and the mamas were only actually able to work 2 times a week, meaning they don’t make much money at all even if they wanted to.

Having said this, any help is positive, and the communities built up with the help from the charity are plentiful. It is merely a reminder to look deeper into the social enterprise’s mission before assuming they are completely “good.”

ESG; The New Metric from Impact Investors

ESG. It stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, and it is becoming a widely used acronym around the world. Big investors have announced that ESG is a key investing metric, and to pass, companies must show progress in all three aspects. According to this study, companies who show a strong ESG, are much less likely to suffer large price declines and show significantly better 3-5 year return on equity than those who have not focussed on ESG. Companies in the bottom 5th (i.e. have the worst ESG) have a price volatility of 92%, whereas the top 20% of companies (i.e. have the best ESG) show only a 32% price volatility. This means companies that are trying to be sustainable, follow good practices, and look at aspects of the business other than maximizing profits, are actually maximizing profit and investment opportunities in the long run.

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What does this mean moving forward?

Hopefully, a stronger fixation on what is good for the planet and society rather than what is good for the pockets of a few high-up c-boards, because, after all, it seems this will actually help the profits. I am skeptical, though. Could this just be a new fad in business or another study to persuade companies to go green only to find the top major companies that do most of the damage aren’t even trying? It will be interesting to see what happens in the near future regarding this study, as well as looking further into what they consider to be good ESG. Is a company that recycles half of its waste considered “good for the environment” or do they have to become waste free? Does a company have hired minorities, females, and those with disabilities to an equal level or do they just have to speak about it in their general meeting to be considered “social”?

 

 

I will continue to follow this movement to see if a new light comes on the questions that I have.

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