#57 Green Banana Paper: ’I learned everything I needed to know about running my business from YouTube’

This time, we’re with Matt Simpson, the man behind Green Banana Paper, a company developed purely as a way to give local employment to a demographic of island dwellers in Micronesia who would most likely have left for jobs in the city. Making wallets from banana trees, learn how this unique company’s process has been a labour of love for Matt, and a great example of alternative materials playing their role in building products of the future.


Show notes

So, Matt Simpson (below right) from Connecticut, arrives in Kosrae, Micronesia in 2008. He is a young volunteer teacher and picks up some work at one of the local high schools on the island.

He falls in love. With the people, with the island, with the work-life balance he encounters. Who wouldn’t? After work every day, he is merely a hop, skip and jump from the ocean where he spends hours surfing and lapping up the waves.

mattheadshot-1280-720-1.jpg

When his teaching contract came to an end, Matt, understandably, was reluctant to leave.

His time on Kosrae had taught him many things, including the fact that very few businesses existed on the island. And hardly anything was exported out of Kosrae. His former students who had now left school were either unemployed, or had already shipped out to find work in the US, most probably on minimum wage.

Matt decided to do something about it. And Green Banana Paper was born.

A bit lost in high school, Matt originally went into teaching because he felt an urge to help kids who, much like him, needed a helping hand to tread their own path in life.

Taking that philosophy into his business, he has built a business NOT to serve his own interests as a budding entrepreneur, but to satisfy and serve the needs of his team of workers and the Kosrae community in which his business sits.

As he explains to me during our conversation this week, Matt had absolutely no previous experience doing what his company now does. He learned everything from Google and YouTube. 

As his latest Kickstarter campaign came to an end last week, Matt’s business is ready and rearing to go. Yes, it has taken a good few years to get to this point. But Matt’s story is one of passion, belief and creating a business for the good of the many, rather than just the few.

Enjoy.

 
 
FXFA8319_580x.jpg
green-banana-paper-company.jpg

Episode #56 - The bamboo boxers making cotton look pants

Buddha Boxers founder Jason Spitkoski

Buddha Boxers founder Jason Spitkoski

A show title likely to get completely and utterly lost on our North American listeners, we appreciate….this time we’re with Jason Spitkoski, a man that has left his background as a tech developer behind to chase the dream of running a successful underwear business. He is the proud owner of Buddha Boxers, a company that is getting seriously comfortable that its raw material of bamboo is capable of blowing cotton out of the water as a sustainable material of choice in the 21st century.


Show notes

Consider the fashion sector for a moment, and specifically one of the backbones of the industry: cotton.

As the most widely used natural fibre used in clothing today, it is a hugely important crop. And more than 100 million smallholder farmers and their families rely on cotton for a living, with 90% of those farmers living in the developing world.

But cotton faces significant sustainability risks and challenges, not least its reliance on water and the impact of climate change. For every t-shirt made, around 2,700 litres of water is used in the agricultural process – the same amount of water the average human drinks in three years; it is certainly a thirsty crop.

As the World Economic Forum notes, water security is “one of the most tangible and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges faced today”. The world is likely to face a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply of water in the next 15 years.

It is also worth pointing out that, although cotton uses just 2.4% of the world’s cultivated land, it accounts for 24% of global insecticide use and 11% of global pesticides, making it the most pesticide-intensive crop grown on the planet.

NGOs and non-profits like CottonConnect and the Better Cotton Initiative are working hard to support smallholder farmers, with basic interventions, such as training and education, which can help farmers dramatically save water by adopting more sustainable agricultural practices.

However, many farmers do not have access to basic information when it comes to best practice for water use and conservation. Educating and empowering farmers and helping them gain access to finance are barriers to progress that need to be addressed urgently.

The global textile and garment industry is worth some $3 trillion. But the ephemeral nature of fashion – where what’s hot and what’s not can change in the blink of an eye – poses a series of formidable sustainability challenges, not least in the supply chain of brands everywhere.

So, as we so often pose on the The Better Business Show: what if there was a better way?

Well, this week, we caught up with Jason Spitkoski (top right), founder of Buddha Boxers. He went in search of ultimate comfort for his underwear brand, landing on bamboo as the perfect material of choice. But as he told me during our conversation this week, he got plenty more than he bargained for in setting up a business designed to get people thinking about the clothes they buy.

Enjoy the show.

Episode #55 - Meet the chocolate company leading the charge for Fairtrade

Show notes

Fairtrade Fortnight kicks off today. 

It’s a UK initiative, led by the Fairtrade Foundation, that runs until 12 March in a bid to bring more awareness to shoppers about where the produce they are buying comes from.

Fairtrade simply means offering fair prices for farmers in the developing world. This enables them to get a sustainable price on the produce they grow and a premium incentive to invest in their own communities.

When organisations sell their products through Fairtrade, they are paid the Fairtrade minimum price. The organisations will receive what’s known as the Fairtrade premium, and it’s up to the farmers and workers to decide how to use the premium.

Options include building wells and hospitals, buying better farming equipment and investing in a switch to organic farming.

By letting farmers and workers decide for themselves what is most important to invest in for their community, they are given vital control towards developing their overall futures as well as their livelihoods.

The Fairtrade movement has achieved so much, but there is a reason that Fairtrade Fortnight – this being the 23rd – is still such a big deal. And that’s because buying Fairtrade is still not front of mind when shoppers make their purchasing decisions.

So, this time around, the Fairtrade Foundation has been working with a new London creative agency to shift its marketing strategy as it looks to engage with consumers emotionally by communicating the “human element” of its work – and what unfair trade looks like.

As Cheryl McGechie, director of public engagement at the organisation told Marketing Week: "Faitrade is often a rational purchase decision; something people feel positive about but in a passive way. We want it to be emotionally engaging."

She highlights, for example, that the smaller farmers it represents are responsible for providing the vast majority of tea and coffee sold in the UK but that they still live in “very impoverished conditions”. 

And that cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast, for example, have to survive on just 40p a day.

Earlier today, the Fairtreade Foundation campaign kicked off. You can check out the video that has been doing the rounds on social media all day that promotes the idea that “no one deserves to be short-changed for a hard day’s work and that with the help of supporters Faitrade can help make it right".

The big boys are certainly ramping up their efforts. In stores and supermarkets you will no doubt see the likes of Cadbury’s owner Mondelez doing more than ever to push the Fairtrade story as it invests $400m in sourcing fives times as much of its chocolate sustainably.

Fairtrade is not an idea many people reject but we want them to increase the frequency that they decide to go to a different café because it is Fairtrade, that they switch chocolate bars, that they decide to buy Fairtrade bananas. "It is about nudging people to change behaviour,” says Cheryl

To mark the kicking off of Fairtrade Fortnight, we thought we’d check in with one of the brands that has been at the leading edge of the Fairtrade movement for the last 20 years. 

Divine Chocolate is a business with a clear social mission and a unique model in that the farmers’ co-operative supplying the cocoa from Ghana is a majority shareholder in the company, with a clear say over how it invests its money and drives the organisation on.

I caught up with the company’s CEO Sophi Tranchell to find out more.

For more information about Divine, about Sophie about the Divine story, just head to the website: www.divinechocolate.com; it's a perfect example of how the Fairtrade movement works and how much it has matured in the last few years.

Divine Chocolate CEO Sophi Tranchell

Divine Chocolate CEO Sophi Tranchell

Episode #49 - End of year review: Why Trump might be good for the planet, not bad

Show notes

These past 12 months have seen very strong progress by the business community in making the transition to being more resilient, robust, sustainable and responsible citizens. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, since I started writing about the business of sustainability 12 years ago, 2016 – even with all its Trump- and Brexit-shaped obstacles thrown in the way – has been one of the most exciting and uplifting of years working in this field.

This week, we are joined by five of our previous guests who give us their personal highlights from the past 12 months, an assessment of the most significant moments from 2016 (not least the shock victory of The Donald) and their hopes for the year to come.

Plus, I give you my top 9 highlights from 2016.

Thanks to everybody for listening to the show this year and being a part of such a fantastic community of better business makers. Happy Christmas and here's top an excellent 2017 one and all.

Enjoy the show.

Episode #47 - The fashion brand run by knitting grandmothers

Show notes

In the US, where the number of senior citizens in the workforce has nearly tripled since the 1970s, older workers are also increasingly working full-time instead of part-time. Seniors now working full-time are more common than those working part-time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of those working who are older than 65 will reach 23% by 2022. In the last decade, the average age of the US labour force has increased by about five years.

Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with this; working lives are being extended as life expectancy rises and public health improves.

And employers are starting to value older workers more.

In the UK, Barclays and National Express have both recently announced apprenticeship schemes designed to cater for older workers and to broaden the age diversity of their workforces.

The National Express scheme aims to recruit people for whom age and extended career breaks can pose a barrier to finding employment, including the over-50s and women coming back to work after having kids.

Company’s are starting to realise the value of having a diverse workforce, reflecting as it does their broad customer base and the wide range of skills and experience on offer.

No better is that being realised than at the DIY store B&Q, which has long championed employing older staff that have the real knowledge about doing stuff round the house that the new generation just can’t be bothered with.

Fast food chain McDonald's and pub chain JD Wetherspoons are two other notable companies now getting in on the act in encouraging older people to apply for jobs.

But imagine a company whose sole reason for existing is to give jobs to older people.

This week, Vikki Knowles meets Faustine Badrichani, the co-founder of Wooln, a New York-based business making high-end beanie hats and other knitted goods, entirely handmade by older ladies in the community.

If you want to find out more, head to www.wooln-ny.com.

Faustine Badrichani and Margaux Rousseau, co-founders of Wooln (Credi:  Aude Adrien)  p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.8px Arial; color: #232323; -webkit-text-stroke: #232323}
span.s1 {font-kerning: none}

Faustine Badrichani and Margaux Rousseau, co-founders of Wooln (Credi: Aude Adrien)

Faustine and  Margaux with the grandmas (Credit: La Femme Collective)

Faustine and Margaux with the grandmas (Credit: La Femme Collective)

Wooln's grandmas working on a new pattern together

Wooln's grandmas working on a new pattern together

From the new Wooln collection (Credit:  eakphoto)

From the new Wooln collection (Credit: eakphoto)


Also, this week...

Gareth Kane

Gareth Kane

I know we have many sustainability practitioners listening to the show – those working within businesses whose task it is to rally the troops, set goals, make improvements, sell the concept of sustainability to the board, and so on.

Well, we have a special segment of the show just for you this week.

Gareth Kane gives you his 10 Worst Sustainability Ideas – and how you can learn from them.

Episode #43 - Meet the business kickstarting a sportswear revolution

Show notes

This week, we're in the company of Rob Webbon, a man who has combined his passion for cycling and sustainability to kickstart a sportswear revolution with Grn Sportswear.

Over the last 50 years, the way companies produce fashion – and the way in which we consume it – has changed dramatically. 

The so-called fast fashion retailers argue that their model has democratised, and made ultimately accessible, fashion. No longer is it the reserve of the rich or elite to be able to afford the latest trends. Now, everyone, everywhere can experience that short-lived thrill of buying new fashion items and have the pleasure of wearing something new on a regular basis.

And it is this model that has driven large fashion retailers for so long, certainly in the UK and the US, and increasingly elsewhere.

To start, fast fashion was all about increasing the speed of production and cutting the time it takes to bring designs to the shop shelves. And rather than having just two collections a year, this speedier production process made it possible for companies to continuously rotate their product lines all year long.

And, of course, the ultimate is to then sell many more products and decrease the trend cycle – to have something new for consumers all the time.

The other big success for fast fashion has been reduced prices. 

In fact, fast fashion is now less about the speed of production and more about sales – shifting more and more products as quickly as possible.

And that means producing a lot of stuff at as low a price as possible, which puts pressure on suppliers to make huge volumes at a low price to tight deadlines.

It’s clearly a model with a big problem. And in the last five years, a real and growing movement has gathered pace against fast fashion as the status quo. 

And this has coincided with a number of the established high street retailers making public commitments to reduce their environmental impacts, as well as get their social and community story straight too, particularly along the supply chain.

The question is whether fast fashion can ever become sustainable – something the Ethical Fashion Forum defines as "fashion that maximises benefits to people, and minimises impact on the environment". If the high street brands are able to use their weight and influence – and put as much effort into dealing with things like water use in agriculture, human rights abuse, poor factory conditions and pollution as they have into developing fast and efficient production process – then there is hope.

But the industry must first address the big elephant in the room - that fast fashion as has grown up during the last decade is inherently unsustainable. The commercial drivers of the businesses that work within the current system are in conflict with reducing environmental impact, and looking after workers and farmers further down the supply chain. Something’s got to give.

A wealth of great new businesses have sprung up in the last decade, to hold a mirror up to fast fashion, to make it realise what a mess the model is creating.

And we meet one of those businesses this week.

Grn Sportswear, operates in a rather niche market, producing cycling gear for corporate and team events and clubs. But it is a great example of a company keen to rip up the rulebook when it comes to fashion and apparel.

And there’s loads of great takeaways from the founder of CEO of the business, Rob Webbon –from the materials used in the products, to the local manufacturing, to the ethics behind Rob’s model – that sportswear is to be loved, kept and cared for, rather than thrown away – something the sector he is operating in has been notoriously bad it.

Enjoy the show.

You can find out more about Grn Sportswear here.

Rob (left) with Peter Littie, Grn's chief peddler.

Rob (left) with Peter Littie, Grn's chief peddler.

Episode #42 - Put your money where your mouth is


 

The Better Business Show, in association with Triodos

 
 
 

Show notes

To Mark Good Money Week, Triodos has carried out a new survey into ethical and social investment. And the good news is that more than 60% of UK investors would like their money to make a positive contribution to society and the environment.

However, according to the survey, many people struggle to find options for socially responsible investments (SRI).

  • 62% say they would like their money to support companies which are both profitable and make a positive contribution to society and the environment.
  • More than half (58%) think that people should invest their money where it can support companies that make a positive contribution to the planet and society.
  • 47% believe that companies trying to make a positive contribution to society and the environment are likely to succeed in the long term.

But here’s the rub. 51% have never been offered the option of investing in SRI funds.

The SRI retail market is now worth over £15 billion in the UK – up from £12.2 billion three years ago; the demand for more responsible and impactful investments is clearly there.

But most investors have not been offered sustainable and ethical investment opportunities, and 46% would not know where to go to find out more about them.

The survey findings also challenge a perception that ethical funds are less profitable than mainstream investments, as survey respondents see investing in sustainable and ethical funds as ‘smart investment’ and nearly half (47%) believe that companies trying to make a positive contribution to society and the environment are more likely to succeed in the long term.

Indeed, over the last three and five years, the FTSE All World (which excludes fossil fuel companies) has outperformed the FTSE All World index. And this year, the MSCI SRI index has outperformed the MSCI World index (YTD).

It's a point we made during Episode #7 of the Better Business Show when we spoke to Ian Monroe at Etho Capital. And it's clearly a trend that shows not sign of slowing down.

The purpose of Good Money Week (which kicked off yesterday and runs until 5 November) is to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance – and to point people in the right direction.

This week, I caught up with Simon Howard – the chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), the organisation behind Good Money Week – to find out more.

Enjoy the show.

You can find out more about Good Money Week here: www.goodmoneyweek.com. And the website for UKSIF is here.

 


 
 

As part of Good Money Week, Triodos is really demonstrating the positive impact of socially responsible investing. There are plenty of options for you to put your money where your mouth is. If you like the idea of your cash playing a truly positive role in society and in supporting environmental change, then take a look at the Triodos offering – go to the website triodos.co.uk/goodinvestments for more information.


Friday Five #4 - The Disney-Dole deal to get kids healthy; the big HFC agreement; and why Tyson is buying into the vegan market

This is the Better Business Show Friday Five, our brand new show coming to you at the end of every week – digesting the very best stories from across the world of sustainable business in the last 7 days.

This time, we're talking:

Don't miss our two Better Business Show episodes a week by signing up to our weekly newsletter: www.betterbusiness.show

Friday Five #3 - Clooney's South Sudan mission continues, H&M shaking up TV ads, a boom in EV sales

This is the Better Business Show Friday Five, our brand new show coming to you at the end of every week – digesting the very best stories from across the world of sustainable business in the last 7 days.

This time, we're talking:

Don't miss our two Better Business Show episodes a week by signing up to our weekly newsletter: www.betterbusiness.show

 

Episode #39 - What's the point of banking, anyway?


 

The Better Business Show, in association with Triodos

 
 
 

Show notes

Since the economic crash of 2008, the world’s financial institutions have been desperately rallying to regain public trust and restore their licence to operate.

As we know, the recklessness of some banks triggered a disastrous string of events – many of which have been played out, illustrated and re-enacted by books, articles, plays and films during the last 8 years.

The practices of those institutions in which we put our trust, our faith – and our money – to use it wisely, has, quite rightly, been put under a microscope like never before and has encouraged more and more of us to question the purpose of banking.

I bank with HSBC. I have done all my adult life. I remember going into my local branch (it was called The Midland Bank back in the 1990s) when I was 16 having started my first Saturday job, filling in some forms and waiting for my cheque book and bank card to arrive in the post the following week. It was such an exciting moment in my young life. 

But never did I once question whether I could trust that bank to take care of my money. Never did I ask where that money would be spent while I entrusted the bank with it.

As I say, I’m still an HSBC customer, for both my personal and business accounts; the rigamarole of switching accounts has always put me off. I’m not disgusted by what HSBC stands for – in fact, in some areas, like its investment in climate research, it is showing leadership – and so I have remained as a loyal customer.

But perhaps where we keep our money needs to be challenged once in a while.

And, this month on the Better Business Show we have a perfect opportunity to do just that. 

What’s the point of banking? What can financial institutions, with all their power and influence, do to help create a better, fairer and more sustainable world?

This week, we spend some time with Bevis Watts, the UK managing director for Triodos Bank, a company which believes that banking can be a powerful force for good: serving individuals and communities as well as building a more sustainable society. 

The businesses uses its €12 billion of customer deposits to generate social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way. Triodos isn't just a bank: its changing the way banking is done. And its customers – some of which we are going to be meeting in the next few weeks on the show – are helping to build a movement that’s cultivating positive social, environmental and cultural change.

You can find out more about Triodos and the way it conducts its business, at triodos.co.uk – where you can also find out just what sort of companies, organisations and projects it is supporting right now.

Enjoy the show. And, as ever, let us know what you think.

Episode #35 - Be more flamingo. The business empowering women through high heel sales

Show notes

You don't need me to tell you, but there's a problem with gender.

It’s something the likes of Jeremy Corbyn – the man still battling to win his place as leader of the Labour opposition party here in the UK – is keen to address. He has called for small businesses to report their gender pay gaps, claiming that women were overrepresented in the lowest paying jobs.

Not long after Corbyn made the point, The Times published figures revealing that it is men that occupy all the senior roles in his team while women were relegated to the lowest paid positions. Even those are the far-left of the debate are failing to take appropriate steps to redress the balance.

The situation is worse in business. Take our supposedly enlightened cousins in Silicon Valley. Facebook and Twitter are happy to talk about the importance of diversity, but only 16% and 13% of their tech roles respectively are occupied by women.

As Gabriel Phillips writes in Management Today last week, “Many seem to work under the false assumption that there aren’t enough qualified women to work or even talk about the lack of gender diversity in the sector.

"A recent panel on ‘Gender Equality and Inclusion at the workplace’ hosted by PayPal failed to include a single woman speaker while Michael Moritz, the CEO of Sequoia Capital, said that the company was not willing to ‘lower their standards’ for the sake of diversity."

Outside of the developed world, millions of female workers worldwide continue to be deprived of basic rights such as schooling, a rest day or minimum wage. And our guest business this week is campaigning to support the wellbeing of women and girls through its own commercial venture.

Shoes by Shaherazad is a "for purpose" company and since launching earlier this year has already empowered many women in Kenya, Peru, Pakistan and Palestine through its 18-hour heels.

Enjoy. And, as ever, let me know what you think of Shaz and her story.

You can find out more about the business here.

Key quotes, points and takeaways from this week's show:

  • "Nobody should have to work an 18 hour day, but it happens."
  • "Empowered women buy my shoes, to empower women living in poverty."
  • "I've always worked with big UK retailers – and even there there's an imbalance in opportunities for women."
  • "I wanted to do something for women who don't have access to education and opportunity."
  • "I'm head of customer marketing for the Co-operative. But I wanted to do something for other people. I'm not capable of running a marathon, but thought if I can use my business skills to raise money for other people, that's what I will do."
  • "Our products are made in the UK. We don't use sweatshops and we make sure everyone is paid a fair wage."
  • "You can wear our heels for 18 hours and they won't hurt your feet."
  • "Women working in boardrooms shouldn't be hobbling; it's not a good look."
  • "I went to the London College of Fashion on weekends and learned the principles of design, found a factory to hep me and launched earlier this year."
  • "We work in 5 countries and aim to give 3 months of education for every pair of shoes sold."
  • "I didn't want to just give money to a cause. By supporting education, women can go on to make their own living and take control of their own futures."
  • "I want us all to be flamingoes. They believe in equal rights; the male and female share in child rearing and live in harmony."
  • "You do need to invest in good marketing and PR. Also, trust the people around you to get more done."
  • "Having more faith at the beginning would have been good; hold your nerve."
Real women modelling Shaz's shoes

Real women modelling Shaz's shoes

Episode #30 - We bought an off-the-shelf ethical supply chain

Show notes

I was delighted to have Rob Drake-Knight on the show this week.

He is one of the two brother co-founders (along with Martin, pictured together on the right) of Rapanui, an ethical clothing business taking supply chain traceability to another level. You can read more about the story here.

With a few hundred quid in their pocket, a garden shed as premises and a box of t-shirts, Rob and Martin set about creating a new brand whose power could influence customers to think more carefully about where the clothes they wear come from.

Eight years later and that is exactly what Rapanui is doing – and much much more.

As well as exploring the intricacies of running the business from the Isle of Wight, we also talk extensively about Teemill, a new feature of the business which allows anybody, anywhere to tap into the Rapanui factory, supply chain and back-end operations and start their own t-shirt business – with matching ethical, organic and fully traceable product credentials.

And as I rather excitedly explain at the end of this week's show, we decided to play around with Teemill ourselves and ended up setting up our very own t-shirt business. You can visit it here.

This is what the home page looks like....

 

This blog explains a bit more about the premise of the store and the range of products we have created. But essentially, if you’re a green geek and get excited about the words and wisdom of environmentalists, pioneers and innovators across the world of sustainable business, then you will hopefully love the t-shirts I have in the store.

Each is emblazoned with a great quote from the great and good of environmentalism – from the late great Ray Anderson and Jonathon Porritt, to Nick Stern and Peter Drucker.

Happy (ethical, conscious) shopping!


Episode #25 - The fashion house shaking up the industry by paying interns and ensuring models actually eat

Episode 25 supported by:


Show notes

This week, we're in the company of Heidy Rehman, the Founder and Managing Director of Rose & Willard, an ethical and feminist British womenswear brand based in London.

This is a company which has made pieces for Jennifer Aniston, Pippa Middleton, Gemma Arterton, Michelle Dockery, Naomie Harris and Elisabeth Moss and aims to lead a trend towards a more transparent, fairer womenswear and fashion industry in general.

Heidy Rehman, founder and managing director of Rose & Willard.

Heidy Rehman, founder and managing director of Rose & Willard.

This is a company with the lowest carbon footprint in the fashion Industry on account of the fact that it designs, cuts patterns, makes samples, manufactures and distributes all of its products from one location in South London.

This is one of the only fashion houses in London that pays its interns.

This is a company that is pioneering positive body image - making use of non-model models, despite pressure from the industry to use thinner models and to supply samples in a size 6.

This is a company that is always looking to source materials that are different, such as its fish leather.

“I was working as a top-ranked stock broker and unable to find clothing choices for women that could convey professionalism, femininity and individuality simultaneously,” says Heidy. “What I found on the high street was either too frumpy, desperately chasing trends or ludicrously expensive. 

“I created Rose & Willard to solve this problem. Just before I quit the corporate world, to focus on what is a labour of love for me, I released this report on Saudi Oil, which caused quite a stir. I hope to do the same in fashion industry.”

For more on Rose & Willard visit the website. You can also find the business on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


This week, we kick off a brand new segment of the show which will play out over the next few weeks.

We’ve been working with the team at Terrafiniti, an international consultancy that works with companies to help them develop leadership in ecological, social and business value. And part of that work culminates today in the launch of a brand new series of e-books which offer thoughts, provocations and big ideas for how we might create a sustainable future on a planet of 9 billion people.

In the face of scarce resources, a warming climate, erratic weather patterns, forced migration, hunger, poverty and a widening gap between those that have and those that do not, fostering the conditions that would enable everybody to thrive is a challenge that requires audacious new thinking.

So, we asked Joss Tantram, a founding partner of Terrafiniti, to share with us his best big ideas – and that’s what he’s going to do this week and for the next four weeks.

This week is Part 1: Discounting the discount rate.

The Towards 9 Billion ebook series is out now and can be downloaded for free at the Terrafiniti website.


Episode #24 - From ethics campaigner to viable smartphone business, meet the rather brilliant Fairphone

Show notes

This week, we're in the company of Bibi Bleekemolen, impact development manager at Fairphone, the smartphone business with a difference. How did this campaigning organisation go from banging the drum on supply chain ethics, to launching a smart smartphone with a super transparent supply chain – no mean feat of the often murky world of conflict minerals and widespread human rights abuse? We ask Bibi to reveal all.

Subjects explored include:
– Supply chain ethics – and big, fat problem with smartphones;
– The history of Fairphone as a campaigning movement;
– What does conflict-free mineral mining look like?
– How does Fairphone trace its components through the supply chain to ensure full traceability? And what does that mean, anyway?
– Why aren't big players – like Apple and Samsung – being more open in disclosing where their minerals and metals are coming from?
– The Dodd-Frank Act – and why it has been useful?
– Balancing the economic impact and the social impact of encouraging and supporting responsible mining in the developing world;
– How Fairphone's model might be replicated by others across the smartphone and electronics sector.

For more on Fairphone check out the website. And you can follow Bibi on Twitter here.

Bibi Bleekemolen, Fairphone's impact development manager

Bibi Bleekemolen, Fairphone's impact development manager

A semi-industrialised tungsten mine, Rwanda

A semi-industrialised tungsten mine, Rwanda

Mined, and washed, tungsten

Mined, and washed, tungsten

The Fairphone 2

The Fairphone 2

The Fairphone 2, exploded view of modular architecture

The Fairphone 2, exploded view of modular architecture


This week's news round-up features:

- 10 reasons why Glastonbury was greener than ever
Block-Hood, the videograme teaching kids how to design smart cities
– Ludovico Einaudi's solemn Arctic gig
- The GlobeScan/SustainAbility 'Sustainability Leaders Survey', which has Unilever on top, yet again

Enjoy the show. Subscribe. And spread the love.

See you next Monday.