Tag Archives: sustainability

The World Needs a Better Toilet

In the United States we seldom think about the importance of toilets. Good hygiene and working sewage is just something that the average citizen assumes will always be there, and always work. However, this is not true for the rest of the world where hygiene is a critical health and wellness issue.

More than half of the world’s population – roughly 4.5 billion people – live without access to toilets and the safe sanitation they provide. Estimates are that globally, unsafe sanitation costs the world’s population $223 billion (yes, billion) a year in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost wages. It is an issue that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is taking very seriously, pledging $200 million over the past seven years to help reinvent toilets, and pledging another $200 million more to get companies to understand the problem – and business –  of human waste.

At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, held last fall in Beijing, companies showcased new toilets that could recycle water, separate urine from other waste, and even with solar roofs. Mr. Gates told the audience that human waste contains 200 trillion rotavirus particles, 100,000 parasitic worm eggs, and other harmful organisms.

This might not be an easy subject to discuss, and a lot of bad jokes will undoubtable be told in class, but it is an issue that affects the world, and one that product innovation can help to solve.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the business of waste, sanitation, and fixtures.
  2. What happens when sanitation is poor? What are the impacts?
  3. Show Bill Gates video: https://youtu.be/M9nRsJinHhM
  4. View Gates Foundation site: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  5. View Toilets for People for an example of a business: https://www.toiletsforpeople.com/
  6. Have students research other companies with a similar mission and objective.
  7. What social issues matter to the students?

Source: Wee, Sui-Lee (6 Nov. 2018). In China, Bill Gates encourages the world to build a better toilet. New York Times.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Will Get Rid of Foam Cups by 2020

We know Planet Earth is in trouble with changing weather patterns, and a significant problem with plastics polluting and harming the oceans. The planet deserves the respect, and need the help, of all citizens and corporations.

One significant problem faced around the globe is the increased use of foam packaging, which has often been cited as a source of many environmental problems. A number of environmentally-focused organizations have challenged global companies to reduce or eliminate their use of polystyrene.

One company heeding the call is Dunkin’ Donuts. The company recently announced its plan to eliminate all polystyrene foam cups throughout its global supply chain by 2020. The coffee giant will replace foam coffee cups with double-walled paper cups. The majority of the company’s international operations have already begun using paper cups; New York City and California will be adopting the new cups this year.

The move to eliminate foam cups is a significant change in the company’s supply and distribution chains. This is no small matter – there are more than 9,000 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the U.S. alone – that’s a lot of coffee cups!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss setting SMART objectives (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).
  2. Show video about Dunkin’ Donuts switch: https://youtu.be/3kAP01BeRo4
  3. What are the SMART objectives set by Dunkin’ Donuts?
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop five SMART objectives for a product of their choosing. Have the goals reflect various strategies including growth, sustainability, profitability, etc.
  5. Discuss the objectives. How would the objectives change if a different strategy was used?
  6. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  Sustainable Brands (9 February, 2018). Dunkin’ Donuts to eliminate foam cups by 2020.

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Don’t Throw That Packaging Away!

What does your recycling bin look like? If it’s like ours, it is probably filled to the brim with boxes and packaging materials that are a result of online shopping. Too many times, a small product is encased in a large box and the result is a lot of unnecessary waste that goes into the trash. Is there a better way to reduce waste and have more sustainable packaging? Yes, and it’s called RePack.

RePack (based in Helsinki, Finland) currently operates in Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Helsinki and uses a simple concept that brands selling products online can offer shoppers a returnable and reusable packaging option. Not only can consumers do the right thing for the environment, but they also receive incentives and coupons for using the innovative packaging.

The way it works is simple. A customer places an order with select retailers and selects the RePack option for packaging. Once the item is received, the packaging is simply dropping into the nearest post box for return to RePack. It’s free to return the package, no matter where in the world the shipment is delivered. When RePack receives the returned packaging, the customer automatically receives a reward, usually a voucher for money off the next purchase.

The packaging is designed to last at least 20 shipping cycles and was designed specifically for clothing. The packaging is made from recycled polypropene and folds to letter-size when empty. Retailers also benefit as the average order value has been shown to increase by up to 30%, and it builds good will and sustainability practices among a brand’s best customers.

Go ahead, keep shopping online and you can still do the right thing for the environment.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How much do they order online? What do they think about the average packaging they receive?
  2. Show RePack’s Web site and video: https://www.originalrepack.com/
  3. Discuss the consumer buying process. At which step does packaging become important?
  4. How could RePack be utilized by U.S. retailers?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a retailer and develop a promotional campaign around using the RePack packaging.

Source:  Hellgren, J. (2017, Oct. 30). Looking for circular packaging? Meet RePack. www.SustainableBrands.com.

 

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