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Sustainable Brands Detroit 2017 Sets Out to Redefine the Good Life


(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Sustainable Brands kicked off their 2017 event in downtown Detroit with a record crowd of over 2,000 attendees.  After a day filled with extended interactive workshops, the official welcome ceremony featured a who’s who of sustainability thought leaders. Koann Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Brands, welcomed the crowd that packed the Cobo Center’s main hall. She set a somewhat sober tone for the event, citing that we live in an age of unintended consequences, and that we have clearly gotten off track in our pursuit of happiness. “Our push for productivity and efficiency has inclined us to forget how inextricably connected we are.”
But, she said, “Businesses are uniquely equipped…to help us shape our collective future.” Describing the decision to move from San Diego to Detroit, she called the actively rejuvenating Motor City, ‘a fantastic living lab.” Indeed Detroit could be the poster child for a place where the industrial age has run its course and is now ready for what comes next. Citing Harris poll data, she said that a clear shift is happening across the US in the definition of the good life.


Next, Kim Patel Ford’s VP of Sustainability spoke. Quoting her boss, Bill Ford, who she was standing in for, she said, “You can do good work for the planet and for the company.” Describing the company’s shifting commitment to mobility, she quoted Mayor Mike Dugan, who said, “Great if you have a good job, but if you can’t get there, what’s the point.” 

 
Cradle to Cradle originator Will McDonough made a number of terse, but punchy points.   
How do we make the world better because we are here?
Being less bad is not being good.
We need to think differently about carbon. There are three types: Fugitive carbon, Durable Carbon, and Living Carbon  We need less of the first one and more of the other two
By 2050, the weight of plastics in the ocean will be equal to the weight of all the fish.
As a roadmap for making things better he suggested five goods, to take the place of the numerous less bads.
Good Materials are safe, healthy, biological.
A Good Economy is circular, sharing, and shared
Good Energy is clean and renewable.
Good Water is clean and available.
A Good Life is creative and dignified.
What’s next is what’s now.
How much can we give for all that we get?  
Goodness is a living things.
It’s going to take forever, but that’s the point.

Why Spend Money on Being a Good Corporate Citizen?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) —The fifth edition of Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit in New York, was full of inspiration, encouragement for weary travelers on the road to sustainability, and a healthy helping of good old practical advice.

Baltimore Gas & Electric’s CEO Calvin Butler opened the event with the question that was probably ringing in most heads around the room. Why are we using money on being good corporate citizens? The next two days went a long way towards answering that question in a variety of convincing, sometimes familiar, sometimes innovative ways.

For Butler, it is both a matter of making a deposit in their reputation account and down payment on their commitment to make their community stronger. If nothing else the company has shown what endurance looks like after 200 years in business. It also helps that the investment banks the company works with, all want to know what they are doing about climate change.

Here are some other responses from Day One of the event.

The Ford Company Fund, having spent some $1.5B over the past 68 years certainly agrees with the sentiment, but for somewhat different reasons. For one thing, President Jim Vella says Millennials won’t stay without this kind of outlet. Sounding a grander theme, he cited the Ford founder who said you cannot have a sustainable company without a sustainable society. Among the many projects he described, the idea of building tiny houses for the homeless seemed particularly unique. Says Vella, doing nothing is “risking the future.” The world is demanding this.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, said that, “When businesses lead, it gets you away from that Democrat-Republican paradigm.” Reed encouraged the business leaders in the room to partner with cities as an effective and immediate way to sustain progress on climate action.

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