Monthly Archives: September 2015

Savings Breakdown: When Solar Will Start Paying Off


by Erin Vaughan

We all know solar benefits the environment. It’s healthy and sustainable—but can it save you money, too? We at Modernize believe in knowing your options when it comes to solar. With so many factors involved—costs, rebates, and incentives—it can be difficult to figure out how much this all is going to cost you in the end, but with some smart planning, you can get a good idea of how long it will take to pay off your initial costs and start saving some green!

Buying the Right Equipment

When you start crunching the numbers, your overall savings will be offset by the cost of equipment and installation. But system costs can vary, depending on the size, your area, and whether you want to go totally off the grid. To get started, you’ll want to think about the energy needs of your home. Start tracking your energy costs. Look at not only the total cost of your bill, but also your usage, which your utility company will express as the number of kilowatt hours (kwh). The average US home uses approximately 900 kwh per month, but your household’s consumption may be higher or lower.

You’ll also want to start thinking about your setup—would you like to be tied to the energy grid, or is your goal to get totally off-grid? Keep in mind an off-grid system will be larger and more expensive. Additionally, if you’re not tied to the grid, you won’t be able to participate in sell-back programs that exist in some states, which allow you to feed in excess power to the local grid and pay you for it.

Generally, the average system costs around $10,000. You can use that as a rough estimate of startup costs in your calculations—or go ahead and pick out the system you want and get a quote. That will help you figure out your eventual savings

Leasing Equipment

If $10,000 sounds too daunting a price, you may want to consider leasing your equipment. Many installation companies have lease-to-own programs to help defray the startup costs of solar energy. Leasing also has other benefits: the solar company performs all maintenance on the equipment. Of course, like any leasing program, you’ll have to pay interest—in this case, usually about four to eight percent. It’s something you’ll need to factor in when you’re making your cost versus savings worksheet.

Federal Tax Incentives

Now we get into the good stuff—the money the government pays you for using solar. The current tax return rate for solar costs is 30 percent, so subtract that from your overall costs. Note that the rate is expected to drop as more people adopt solar, so time is of the essence!

Local Incentives

Now we get to where it can get really murky. Each state and municipal area is different in how they handle local incentives. For instance, Austin, where I’m writing from, has a rebate program with Austin Energy that gets you $1.00 per square foot of solar film used. You’ll want to do your homework in order to really calculate the savings here. This database is a great place to start.

Some states and areas also have net-metering, which means they connect you to the city’s grid and pay you for when you generate overages (think really sunny days). This is especially true in areas that get higher numbers of full sun hours (check out this map for more details on your area’s sun hours).

Savings on Your Bill

If you’re thinking about solar, you’re in it for the long haul. And that’s where the savings really are—in the lower electricity bill you’ll pay each month. Going with the national average of 900 kwh per month, and estimating that your area gets an average amount of sunlight, even a 3kwh system could cut your bill in half. If you pay about $100 per month in electricity, that’s $6,000 after 10 years. Think about what you could do with all that money.

These are just the basics of costs and savings for solar. To really get started, you’ll want to start doing research about your area’s costs and programs. Good luck and happy savings!


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‘Social Dieting’ Surge: Cash and Camaraderie-Fueled Weight Loss Contests, Team Challenges an Increasingly Popular & Profitable Way to Lose Lbs. at Home and Work



NEW YORK, NY, September 2015
 – Weight-loss wagering industry pioneer HealthyWage, the world’s leading purveyor of corporate and team-based weight loss challenges and financially-induced diet contests for individuals, today announced that, year to date, it has paid out winnings of over $2,500,000 to participants for a collective 750,000 pounds lost through its various cash rewards-based weight loss programs—most of which leverage the power of “social norms feedback” and other key behavioral economics principles. View details of three germane, high-level research studies on the efficacy of social dieting along with incredible dieter success stories, including recent $10,000 winner and a 151 pound weight loss, below.

“Our financially incentivized team and other competition-driven diet contests, and other of our social network-supported weight loss wagering programs, are strategically designed to help participants stay engaged in the positive new behaviors,” notes HealthyWage co-founder David Roddenberry. “Our social dieting strategies include elements like healthy competition, teamwork, expert and peer-based support, encouragement and, of course, peer accountability that, in combination, is a powerful and exciting weight loss tool.  The latest independent research, and our own company’s years of experience in the field, wholeheartedly supports the efficacy of social dieting. Plus, in addition to making weight loss efforts more successful, it also makes it a lot more fun!”

So successful is HealthyWage’s social weight loss wagering approach, participants are cashing in while slimming down in droves.  Check out these representative HealthyWage participants, including Anastasia Woods, the company’s most recent $10,000 winner, who each lost notable weight (some over 150 pounds) and won big money for their slim down success (before/after photos here):


  • Blake Stephens (Washington, PA) – lost 151 pounds, gained $5,200 – as a participant in a corporate wellness team challenge and in a personalized weight loss bet
  • Kristin Westerfield (Indianapolis, IN) – lost 114 pounds, gained $4,000 (pictured below)
  • Anastasia Woods (Edmonds, WA) – lost 41 pounds, gained $10,000
  • Nancy White (Colorado Springs, CO) – lost 101 pounds, gained $4,000
  • Darchelle Worley (Seattle, WA) – lost 44 pounds, gained $3,500 – as a participant in a team challenge and in a personalized weight loss bet
  • Diana McVeigh (Baltimore, MD) – lost 65 pounds, gained $2,647

View before/after photos for the above, and other, representative HealthyWage participant weight-loss wagering WINNERS from here.

Studies Show Social Weight Loss Is Contagious 
In a Harvard study, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that social networks play a significant role in the incidence of obesity, including both its proliferation and its remediation. The researchers concluded that social networks are closely tied to obesity, and examined the reasons why social networks affect people’s weight, including the fact that people “are influenced by the evident appearance and behaviors of those around them” and because “social contacts might change a person’s tolerance for being obese or might influence his or her adoption of specific behaviors.” The researchers also found that “weight-loss interventions that provide peer support — that is, that modify the person’s social network — are more successful than those that do not. People are connected, and so their health is connected.”

Similarly, a Brown University study concluded that social networks and teamwork play a significant role in enhancing weight loss outcomes in weight loss interventions. The study found that team-based weight loss competitions significantly influenced each other’s weight loss, suggesting that shedding pounds can have a “contagious” ripple effect. This finding further substantiates the connection between social networks and health behaviors — particularly related to diet and exercise. In short, the Brown University study found that competitive, team-based weight loss competitions can be very effective. Published in the journal, Obesity, lead study author Tricia Leahey remarked, “We know that obesity can be socially contagious, but now we know that social networks play a significant role in weight loss as well, particularly team-based weight loss competitions.  In our study, weight loss clearly clustered within teams, which suggests that teammates influenced each other, perhaps by providing accountability, setting expectations of weight loss, and providing encouragement and support.”

In addition, a Mayo Clinic study on “Individual- Versus Group-Based Financial Incentives for Weight Loss” not only found that “sustained weight loss can be achieved by financial incentives” and that “financial incentives can improve results, and improve compliance and adherence,” but lead author, Jeffrey T. Kullgren, M.D., M.S., M.P.H., also cited the advantages of social dynamics for employers offering such awards to help control health care costs while also improving the health of employees, noting, “We found that these incentives were substantially more powerful when delivered in groups…” The study concluded that “A group-based financial incentive was more effective than an individual incentive.”

“Losing weight with friends, family members or co-workers in a competition format can make weight loss easier and more likely,” notes Roddenberry. “Since a team has to win as a group, every member has a stake in the other member’s success. The result is an elevated incidence of support and positive peer pressure. And the desire to beat other teams, to win both money and bragging rights, adds to the excitement and motivation of a contest or competition where cash prizes are at stake.”

About HealthyWage™
Industry-leading health and wellness, HealthyWage, provides cash incentives, social and expert-based support, tools and resources, and goal-setting and tracking technologies to address our nation’s obesity epidemic and improve America’s collective health.  HealthyWage is at the forefront of the weight wagering movement, having formally created competitive, cash-fueled programs for more than 90 Fortune 500 and other companies, hospitals, health systems, insurers, school systems, municipal governments and other organizations throughout the U.S., including General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and CVS Health, and their program has been more informally run at more than 3,000 companies and organizations.  The company was founded in response to academic research that proves even small cash rewards triple the effectiveness of weight-loss programs; that people are more effective at losing weight when their own money is at risk; and that social networks play a large role in the spread of obesity, and will likely play a large role in reversing obesity.  Learn more online at

HealthyWage Participant Kristin Westerfield:

N.A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, “The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years,” New England Journal of Medicine 357(4): 370-79 (July 2007)
Teamwork Makes Weight Loss More Fun & Successful

Leahey, T.M., Kumar, R., Weinberg, B., Wing, R.R., “Teammates and Social Influence Affect Weight Loss Outcomes in a Team-based Weight Loss Competition,” Obesity, 20 7, 1413-18 (2012)


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The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind

Network scientists have discovered how social networks can create the illusion that something is common when it is actually rare.

Majority illussion
One of the curious things about social networks is the way that some messages, pictures, or ideas can spread like wildfire while others that seem just as catchy or interesting barely register at all. The content itself cannot be the source of this difference. Instead, there must be some property of the network that changes to allow some ideas to spread but not others.

Today, we get an insight into why this happens thanks to the work of Kristina Lerman and pals at the University of Southern California. These people have discovered an extraordinary illusion associated with social networks which can play tricks on the mind and explain everything from why some ideas become popular quickly to how risky or antisocial behavior can spread so easily.

Network scientists have known about the paradoxical nature of social networks for some time. The most famous example is the friendship paradox: on average your friends will have more friends than you do.

This comes about because the distribution of friends on social networks follows a power law. So while most people will have a small number of friends, a few individuals have huge numbers of friends. And these people skew the average.

Here’s an analogy. If you measure the height of all your male friends. you’ll find that the average is about 170 centimeters. If you are male, on average, your friends will be about the same height as you are. Indeed, the mathematical notion of “average” is a good way to capture the nature of this data.

But imagine that one of your friends was much taller than you—say, one kilometer or 10 kilometers tall. This person would dramatically skew the average, which would make your friends taller than you, on average. In this case, the “average” is a poor way to capture this data set.

Exactly this situation occurs in social networks, and not just for numbers of friends. On average, your coauthors will be cited more often than you, and the people you follow on Twitter will post more frequently than you, and so on.

Now Lerman and co have discovered a related paradox, which they call the majority illusion. This is the phenomenon in which an individual can observe a behavior or attribute in most of his or her friends, even though it is rare in the network as a whole.

They illustrate this illusion with a theoretical example: a set of 14 nodes linked up to form a small world network, just like a real social network (see picture above). They then color three of these nodes and count how many of the remaining nodes link to them in a single step.

Two versions of this setup are shown above. In the left-hand example, the uncolored nodes see more than half of their neighbors as colored. In the right-hand example, this is not true for any of the uncolored nodes.

But here’s the thing: the structure of the network is the same in both cases. The only thing that changes is the nodes that are colored.

This is the majority illusion—the local impression that a specific attribute is common when the global truth is entirely different.

The reason isn’t hard to see. The majority illusion occurs when the most popular nodes are colored. Because these link to the greatest number of other nodes, they skew the view from the ground, as it were. That’s why this illusion is so closely linked to the friendship paradox.

Lerman and co go on to tweak the parameters of the network, by changing the distribution of links and so on, to see how the majority illusion depends on them. It turns out that the conditions under which the illusion can occur are surprisingly broad.

So how prevalent is it in the real world? To find out, Lerman and co study several real-world networks including the coauthorship network of high-energy physicists, the follower graph of the social-media network Digg, and the network representing links between political blogs.

And the majority illusion can occur in all of them. “The effect is largest in the political blogs network, where as many as 60%–70% of nodes will have a majority active neighbours, even when only 20% of the nodes are active,” they say. In other words, the majority illusion can be used to trick the population into believing something that is not true.

That’s interesting work that immediately explains a number of interesting phenomena. For a start, it shows how some content can spread globally while other similar content does not—the key is to start with a small number of well-connected early adopters fooling the rest of the network into thinking it is common.

That might seem harmless when it comes to memes on Reddit or videos on YouTube. But it can have more insidious effects too. “Under some conditions, even a minority opinion can appear to be extremely popular locally,” say Lerman and co. That might explain how extreme views can sometimes spread so easily.

It might also explain the spread of antisocial behavior. Various studies have shown that teenagers consistently overestimate the amount of alcohol and drugs their friends consume. “If heavy drinkers also happen to be more popular, then people examining their friends’ drinking behavior will conclude that, on average, their friends drink more than they do,” say Lermann and co.

In other words, blame the majority illusion.

That’s important, but it is not yet a marketer’s charter. For that, marketers must first be able to identify the popular nodes that can create the majority illusion for the target audience. These influencerati must then be persuaded to adopt the desired behavior or product.

That’s a goal that any good marketer will already have identified. At least now they know how and why it can work.

Ref: : The Majority Illusion in Social Networks


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NEW APP: GOOGLE BLACKMAIL You can pay them not to spam you “quite” as much!

Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

Give Google Contributor a try

Posted: 24 Sep 2015 08:09 AM PDT

Recently I’ve seen several interesting conversations about ad blocking, and I wanted to remind people about a great offering called Google Contributor. With Google Contributor, you contribute a certain amount of money each month. That subscription means that you see fewer ads on the web, and you support the sites that you visit with your money.

You get to decide how much to contribute (I do $10/month, but for example you can do $2/month if you prefer). The more you contribute, the fewer ads you see. The handwave-y explanation that when you go to a website, your monthly subscription actually bids on your behalf in ad auctions. So you end up buying the ad yourself rather than someone else. This is cool for several reasons:

1. You support the sites you visit without expending any energy.
2. You see fewer ads.
3. (And this is the cool part) you get to decide what to show in that ad space instead of ads.

That’s right: you can pick a custom URL to show to yourself instead of ads. It’s like buying space on a billboard and showing nature scenes instead of ads. Personally, I like to show a dynamically generated Mondrian-like pattern:

But here’s the part I love: when you sign in, click the gear icon and then “Advanced settings,” and at the bottom of the page you can provide any custom URL you want (it does have to serve over https). You could replace ads with pictures of kittens, or your family. Or make ads your todo list, or a reminder to get back to work. Think outside the box, like Paul Ford. It’s the open web–you can have all kinds of fun with your HTML.

Here are some common misconceptions about Google Contributor:

Q: I thought Google Contributor only worked with ten websites or so?
A: No, it works with millions of websites. Contributor launched with a small set of websites initially, but if a website runs Google ads like AdSense or DoubleClick for Publishers, it’s likely to be compatible with Contributor.

Q: Isn’t there a waitlist to join? Or I need an invite or something?
A: Not anymore! You can sign up immediately and support tons of websites with one monthly payment.

Q: Can I see which websites I’m supporting?
A: Yes! You get a report that looks like this:

(Adding a few more questions)

Q: Why don’t you support Google Apps accounts? I thought it only worked with Gmail accounts?
A: This is very fresh news, but I believe Google Apps accounts are now supported. Try it out!

Q: Why doesn’t Contributor support country X or currency Y?
A: It’s safe to assume that the Contributor team has heard that feedback. I’m happy to pass that feedback on as well. That can be a complicated issue though.

If you like the web and use it as much as I do, why not support some of your favorite websites while reducing the number of ads you see? Give Google Contributor a try now.



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How Marijuana Legalization Helps Businesses Prosper

america's booming cannabusiness logo_02
Entrepreneurs Who Saw The Potential Could Reap Rewards,
Says Co-Founder Of

Shifting attitudes about marijuana are proving to be a boon for businesses that cater to people interested in buying grinders, rolling papers and other smoke products.

“I think those of us who acted early and are already poised to take advantage of these societal changes will prosper,” says Ryan Ward, co-founder with Brian Rudderrow of (, an online store that promotes itself as a “smoke shop.”

“The legalization movement is just going to grow, and with it, business is going to grow as well.”

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that support for legalization of marijuana has increased in the U.S., with 53 percent of Americans in favor. That’s a huge difference from 1969, when Gallup first asked the question and just 12 percent favored legalization.

Perhaps even more telling, 57 percent say they would not be bothered if a store or business selling legal marijuana opened up in their neighborhood.

That would be a different business from what Ward offers, though. doesn’t sell marijuana, which remains illegal in most places, but the online head shop does carry numerous smoke-related products such as water pipes, vaporizers, rolling papers and grinders.

“We cater to smokers of all types,” Ward says. “But we do see a much higher demand in states where marijuana is legal.”

He is convinced that the trends favor the legalization movement and, with that, the growth of his and other businesses. For example:

 Recent history. So far, four states – Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – and the District of Columbia have passed measures to legalize marijuana use. Another 14 states have decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana possession, and about half the states allow medical marijuana.

 Generational look. Most of the opposition to legalization comes from older Americans. The Pew survey showed that 68 percent of Millennials favor legalization. That compares to 50 percent of Baby Boomers and just 29 percent of the Silent Generation (those 70 to 87 years old.)

 The future. The movement continues to gain momentum and proponents are optimistic that more states eventually will legalize marijuana, though opposition remains. Voters in Ohio are the next to face the issue when they go to the polls in November.

Ward follows the legalization efforts with an eye toward what they might mean to his business and the overall business landscape.

“Even as you see the legalization happening, there is still a certain taboo about marijuana,” he says. “A lot of people are concerned about being seen going into a store or coming out of a store that sells these sorts of products, so the ability to be able to shop discretely online is huge right now.”

Ward honed his expertise in the world of online shopping while working at eBay. Determined to venture out on his own, Ward teamed with Rudderrow  to launch after it became clear the legalization movement would create business opportunities.

“We’re excited about what we’re doing and about the ability to be able to build something that’s lasting,” Ward says. “Our goal is for everyone to see Weedshop as the Amazon for this industry.”

About Ryan Ward

Ryan Ward, an entrepreneur and former employee of eBay, is the co-founder of (, an online store that sells smoke products, such as water pipes, vaporizers, grinders, rolling papers and much more. A native of Philadelphia, Ward earned his MBA in England and has spent time traveling the world.


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Ways to Conserve Energy Use at Home


By Mary Sauer

Each year, Americans are spending troubling amounts of money on their energy expenses. In fact, the average family will spend close to $2,200 on their utility bills during the course of a year. The truth of the matter is that many individuals are spending more than necessary because they are not making an intentional effort to conserve energy in their home.

For some, it’s easier to neglect energy conservation practices because, for whatever reason, it simply isn’t a high enough priority. For the readers of My Family Survival Plan, we know this isn’t the case. You care deeply about saving money and minimizing the impact your day-to-day choices have on the earth. So, let’s take a look at some the best ways to conserve energy at home.


Heating and Cooling

Heating and Cooling account for just about half of energy-related expenses in the average family home in the United States. Because of this, focusing your efforts on conserving heating and cooling energy could be the most effective starting place.

Use a smart thermostat to program your HVAC unit to adjust based on your needs each day. Adopt the recommendations provided by, setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees during the day and bumping it up to 80 degrees while you are away from home or asleep. During the wintertime, opt for bundling up so you can lower your heater’s settings to 68 degrees during the day and as far as 60 degrees while you are away or asleep.

As much as 20 percent of heating and cooling energy is wasted because air is leaking through ducts, doors, and windows. Spend the time and money to regularly check for and repairs leaks and you may see a significant difference in your heating and cooling costs over the long term.


Your typical American family can expect to send 10 percent of their utility budget to the lights in their home. Lessening the energy consumed by lighting is all about making a few smart habits and sticking with them for the long term.

An easy fix is to switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which not only last a lot longer before needing a replacement, but also use up to 75 percent less than traditional light bulbs. When it comes time to replace your bulbs, always recycle your old bulbs and check with your local power company about rebates or discounts for CFL bulbs.


Appliances and Electronics

The electronics and appliances in your home have this annoying trait: they use energy passively even when they are not in use. Cutting back on this passive energy consumption can be accomplished with a few different strategies.

Use a power strip for your electronics and turn it off when they are not being used. Give up your desktop computer for a laptop, which consumes significantly less energy. If you stick with a desktop, set it to hibernate when it is not being used instead of using a screensaver.

When it comes to appliances, they key is to use them less. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using your dryer, and opt for warming food in a toaster oven instead of heating your conventional oven. If it is time to replace an appliance, chose an energy-efficient model whenever possible, using the guide provided by Modernize for making the best choice for your needs.

Don’t stop here! Approach energy conservation with your whole home in mind, developing a holistic plan to include each room, appliance, and electronic device. Involve your whole family in your energy conservation efforts, educating them on the effect their day-to-day choices have on the budget and the well-being of the world we live in.


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9 Companies That Are Changing Their Habits To Save Our Planet

Climate change is not simply an environmental issue. It’s a business problem.

Ahead of the global climate negotiations in Paris this December, some of the world’s largest corporations are finally coming together to take a stand on the importance of combatting climate change.

As of Sept. 18, this so-called We Mean Business coalition of organizations working with nearly 200 businesses and over 100 investors committed to promoting sustainable operating practices and facilitating the transition to a low-carbon global economy. The sentiment here is that climate change is not simply an environmental issue; it’s also an important economic opportunity for those willing to step up to the challenge.

Members of the group come from a spectrum of professional fields and industries — technology, food, automotive, fashion and more — and operate in countries all over the world. The Huffington Post asked 9 of these companies what sustainability means to them and how they’re positioning themselves to become leaders in tomorrow’s low-carbon economy.

Here’s what they told us:

  • 1
    Hewlett-Packard Company
    In 2014, the company reduced its carbon footprint by 10 percent compared to 2013 levels, with considerable emission reduction related to its supply chain and product use.

    Investment in renewable energy sources is also key to HP’s environmental strategy. The company has increased installed capacity for on-site renewable energy at its facilities by 150 percent.

    In 2015, it signed a 12-year purchase agreement for 112 megawatts of wind power with renewable energy company SunEdison. This contract will allow HP to reach its 2020 operational greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, five years ahead of schedule.

    “Climate change is one of the most critical environmental, economic and societal challenges facing the world today,” said Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president and chief progress officer. “At HP, we are working to reduce our carbon footprint across our entire value chain, fundamentally rethinking the way we do business to help drive a low-carbon economy.”

    (More about HP’s efforts here.)

  • 2
    H&M is the world’s No. 1 user of organic cotton.

    In 2015, it committed to procuring 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources whenever possible.

    Electricity to power H&M stores represents more than 80 percent of the company’s total energy use. But by 2020, the company plans to cut how much electricity it uses per square meter by 20 percent, compared to where it was in 2007.

    “We believe that we all have a responsibility to meet climate challenges,” the company said in a statement. “So we want to be as climate smart as possible — for example, by only using renewable energy in our stores, offices and warehouses wherever this is credibly available and feasible.”

    (More about H&M’s efforts here.)

  • 3
    In 2015, L’Oréal USA announced it cut its CO2 emissions by 57 percent from a 2005 baseline, saving nearly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The ultimate goal is to reduce its environmental footprint 60 percent by 2020.

    Aside from cutting CO2 emissions, the company is investing in numerous renewable energy projects, including solar panel use at facilities in Mexico, India, Germany and the U.S.

    L’Oréal pledges that 100 percent of products will have an environmental or social benefit, and that 100 percent of strategic suppliers will be evaluated on their social and environmental performance.

    “L’Oréal USA is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and improving our environmental performance through innovative sustainability solutions,” said Jonathan Maher, vice president for corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

    (More about L’Oréal’s efforts here.)

  • 4
    The company has pledged that by 2020 it would generate renewable energy to match 100 percent of its energy needs. In 2014, it generated renewable energy equivalent to 42 percent of its total energy consumption.

    In 2015, IKEA Group and IKEA Foundation announced that they would spend $1.13 billion on renewable energy and on communities at risk.

    IKEA owns and operates 314 offsite wind turbines and has installed 700,000 solar panels on its buildings.

    “Our coworkers, operations and supply chain are already being affected by more frequent extreme weather, and unchecked climate change will affect millions of people in our direct supply chain and beyond,” said Steve Howard, the company’s chief officer of sustainability. “But the transition to a low-carbon economy offers huge opportunities, bringing new jobs, economic growth and energy security. For IKEA Group, taking action on climate change is a driver of innovation, investment and renewal.”

    (More about IKEA’s efforts here.)

  • 5
    Xerox Corporation
    In 2003, Xerox was an early adopter of greenhouse gas reduction targets across its worldwide operations. The company successfully achieved more than a 39 percent reduction since then.

    Xerox has also been minimizing its environmental impact through recycling efforts. In 2009, it pledged a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfills by 2015. The company reached this target three years early and, in 2013, surpassed it.

    One hundred percent of Xerox’s new eligible products have met current Energy Star requirements, the international benchmark for energy-efficient consumer products.

    “Our commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of our workplaces and those of our customers is grounded in our core values established over 50 years ago,” said Diane O’Connor, vice president for environment, health, safety and sustainability.

    “We market our services and products using the tag lines of ‘printing can work better,’ ‘transportation can work better’ and ‘healthcare can work better.’ Better is from the perspective of cost, productivity and environmental benefits and it applies across all the sectors we service,” she added.

    (More about Xerox’s efforts here.)

  • 6
    Kellogg Company
    For its 2020 goals, the firm has pledged to increase the number of plants using low-carbon energy by 50 percent and to implement water reuse projects in 25 percent of its sites. It is also committed to achieving zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains such as soy, palm oil, timber and fiber.

    In 2014, the company achieved a 25 percent reduction of waste to landfills since its baseline year of 2009.

    “The body of science behind climate change has grown clearer and more focused,” Diane Holdorf, chief sustainability officer, said in a statement. “Failure to address climate change will make it difficult for our children’s generation to have a higher quality of life. For companies like Kellogg, we understand the risks for our security of supply as well as food security to feed the world’s population.”

    “However,” she went on to say, “we recognize that we cannot do it alone. We Mean Business brings together like-minded companies and organizations to bring about an economy that is less harmful to the environment.”

    (More about Kellogg’s efforts here.)

  • 7
    Electric vehicles are at the heart of Nissan’s environmental efforts. The company has sold more than 185,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars around the world — 83,000 in the U.S. alone.

    Nissan was named the No. 1 full-line manufacturer in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual “Trends” report. Its fleet-wide fuel economy rating of 26.2 combined mpg exceeds the industry average of 23.3.

    Two full-time workers in each of Nissan’s factories are dedicated to identifying and repairing air leaks in manufacturing equipment. In the team’s first year, they located and repaired more than 3,500 energy-wasting leaks.

    “Nissan’s commitment to sustainability incorporates a variety of activities, from delivering the world’s first electric vehicle (EV) designed for the mass market to becoming the most fuel-efficient full-line manufacturer in the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual fuel economy review and reducing energy consumption within our manufacturing operations,” said Paige Presley, EV and technology communications.

    (More about Nissan’s efforts here.)

  • 8
    Across its manufacturing network, Unilever has reduced its energy consumption by 20 percent, saving 1 million metric tons of CO2 since 2008. Its low-carbon practices have also saved it $278 million.

    The company has achieved its target of sending zero non-hazardous manufacturing waste to landfills.

    Unilever is a member of the RE100, a group of companies moving toward 100 percent renewable energy.

    “The effects of climate change threaten us all, impacting both consumers and the supply chain and often hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Businesses and governments need to take urgent action, as these climate-induced extreme weather events will only become more frequent in the future,” the company told HuffPost, adding, “If we don’t all tackle climate change in a constructive way, global growth will be stifled.”

    (More about Unilever’s efforts here.)

  • 9
    Between 2007 and 2014, Mars reduced its fossil fuel-based energy use by 9 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent.

    It has partnered with global trading company Sumitomo Corporation of Americas and the developer BNB Renewable Energy Holdings to build the Mesquite Creek Wind Farm in Lamesa, Texas. The farm is now producing the equivalent of 100 percent of the company’s U.S. power needs, or 12 percent of its global energy requirements.

    By the end of 2015, the renewable energy Mars uses will be almost 300 times what it was in 2007.

    “Society is faced with immense challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and deforestation,” said Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and health and wellbeing officer. “We can recognize our ability to help make a difference in tackling them and the positive difference big business can have. As a family business, we have the freedom to take a long-term view and to invest in innovative and sustainable practices that will allow us to achieve this, while continuing to grow as a successful business.”

    (More about Mars’s efforts here.)


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