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Behind Jaden Smith’s Successful Entrepreneurial Career In Sustainability

Steven Li

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jaden smith

Many were introduced to Jaden Smith via his role in Karate Kid, in which he played a determined youngster looking to fight his school bully. Since the 2010 movie, Jaden has emerged a successful artist but also a successful entrepreneur, particularly in the realm of sustainability, having started two companies in the space.

Jaden founded his first company, JUST Water, in 2012. Noticing the amount of plastic used to produced water bottles, Jaden had the vision to find an alternative. That alternative became a paper-based bottle with a cap made from sugarcane. And with that, JUST was formed. But Jaden didn’t just end there. Following up his work with JUST, Jaden started a foundation, 501CThree, which currently provides “a low-cost portable water filtration system” to residents of Flint, Michigan, and hopes to serve as a coalition of individuals all working together to combat sustainability issues.

But Jaden’s successful entrepreneurial career is no surprise. With his music and work in business, Jaden propels his success with a combination of his music platform and his impact-focused mindset.

Altogether, three essential factors define Jaden’s success.

Appeal to Gen Z

At just 20 years old, Jaden has already written several hit songs, including Icon, which has over 100 million streams on YouTube, started a record label backed by Jay Z, as well as one company prior to 501CThree. With all of his success in the music industry combined with his interest in starting companies since 2012, Generation Z has the propensity to see Jaden Smith as a thought leader in many respects.

To young people, it’s always refreshing to see other young people changing the world. Take, for instance, the students behind March for Our Lives, one of the most impactful movements in our modern day. Being completely student-run, seeing students take the initiative to solve big problems adds fuel to the flame.

This is especially true when it comes to the issue of sustainability. In fact, Gen Z is willing to pay a 10-15% markup on sustainable products, according to Adweek. This is a phenomenon that hasn’t been seen before with any other generation.

Perfect Timing

When it comes to the issue of sustainability, Jaden has been spot-on. He told CA Technologies in a 2017 interview that he “saw so much plastic out in the world” and wanted to do something about it. As of recent, companies and cities are working hard to tackle the plastic problem. For instance, Los Angeles recently approved an ordinance to restrict the usage of plastic straws. Cities like San Francisco have completely banned them.

When it comes to the issue of providing clean drinking water to Flint, this is an area that even politicians have faltered in. Jaden’s team, on the other hand, is leading the way in making an affordable filtration system for Flint’s residents.

In short, the timing of Jaden’s ventures is impeccable. He recognizes the elephant in the room and acts quickly to attempt to solve those problems.

Consistent Execution

Being successful in business is all about recognizing the right opportunities, but also executing consistently. That’s what Jaden has done. His ideas don’t just stay as ideas – they’re turned into meaningful projects that end up impacting people directly.

In a campaign Jaden did through 501CThree, he responds to the water crisis in Flint with “they need to have a backbone for them to rely on,” and with that, delivers The Water Box, a filtration system that allows for Flint’s residents to not have to drink the contaminant water right from the tap.

When Jaden sees a community in need, he thinks of a sustainable solution. And that’s why the Flint community can get behind him too – because he and his family helped them in a time of need.

And with the help of his platform, Jaden continues to spread the word about Flint’s water problem. That’s where his music platform pays off, as he’s able to reach millions of people online to amplify his messages.

Conclusions

As Jaden’s entrepreneurial career continues to grow, it will be no surprise to see him continue to tackle difficult challenges pertaining to sustainability. The Flint water crisis is just one crisis of many, and there are many other communities impacted in different ways.

But from Jaden’s story, it’s important to recognize the importance of collaboration. Because that’s what makes Jaden’s work meaningful.

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Amazon aims to be a decade ahead of Paris Agreement goals

Min Cheong Kim

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Amazon

Though Amazon has had a troubled sustainability past, often being dubbed as a company that lags behind other prominent technology companies in their strides to be more environmentally-friendly, it seems to be making a change. Just this week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the company’s goals to be a decade ahead of Paris Agreement goals. Here’s what you need to know about Amazon’s sustainability future.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces new sustainability milestones

“If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge. We are excited to have others join,” said Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.

As the first signatory of The Climate Pledge, which calls on businesses of signatories to be net zero carbon by 2040, Amazon aims to be 10 years ahead of the United Nations Paris Agreement goals. The companies that sign the climate pledge would agree to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis, implement decarbonization strategies parallel to the Paris Agreement, and neutralize any remaining emissions by 2040.

Amazon has loftier goals

In addition to these commitments, Bezos announced an order of 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, a producer of emissions-free electric vehicles. In February, Rivian announced a $700 million investment round led by Amazon, who invested $440 million. Rivian’s vans will start to deliver packages to Amazon customers in 2021 and the plan is to have 10,000 on the road by 2022, then all 100,000 by 2030. This would save 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030. 

Further, Amazon is pledging to reach 80% of renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030. So far, amazon has launched wind and solar renewable energy projects that could be enough to power 368,000 U.S. homes. Adding on to the announcement, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Amazon is launching the Right Now Climate Fund which commits $100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands, and peatlands globally. 

The newly launched sustainability website will report on Amazon’s commitments, initiatives, and performance to be transparent on their progress towards reaching The Climate Pledge. On the website are various updates and information on Amazon’s commitment to sustainability such as Shipment Zero and the company’s renewable energy projects around the world.

The company’s troubled sustainability past

Amazon has a massive environmental footprint due to a high record of carbon emissions by delivering about 1 billion packages a year to consumers. The company has been a target for environmental activists who were disappointed in the limited action taken to offset the emissions produced. In the past, Amazon had withheld their emission data from the public, creating more suspicion and doubt against the company’s environmental efforts. 

More than 1,500 Amazon employees plan to walk off the job to protest the company’s environmental responsibility as a part of a worldwide demonstration ahead of the U.N. climate summit in New York. While the recent announcement addresses most of the concerns of the protestors, Bezos noted that the company will continue to work with oil and gas companies because they have access to the best available tools for transition to sustainable approaches. 

Conclusions

As one of the most influential companies, this environmentally conscious announcement could set an example for other companies. Nonetheless, Amazon had a past of broken promises in regards to their social responsibility towards environmental concerns, and it will have to show firm action to convince the skeptics of their commitment. 



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Sixty-five companies band together to form an environmental partnership

Anna Pasek

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Companies band together to form an environmental partnership

Oil and Gas tycoons recently started taking responsibility for the environmental impact of their industry. Sixty-five companies banded together this past year to reduce their footprint through what they call the ‘Environmental Partnership’. The partnership is a coalition using sustainable extraction technologies, protecting both the planet and the future energy interests of the United States. Many quickly dismiss environmental commitments from an industry that has an objectively negative effect on the Earth. Coalitions like the Environmental Partnership foster false promises from big business. However, the National Center for Public Policy Research stated Thursday that the partnership has been largely successful in lowering the impact of the energy industry in America. 

The Environmental Partnership itself functions as a forum to share information regarding industry breakthroughs that reduce emissions. Improvements focus mostly on methane emission reduction, as methane is one of the main contributors to global warming. The majority of the equipment used in energy farming — pipelines, drills and the like — has the potential to leak this harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Fixing the plumbing

Over the past year alone, participating companies conducted more than 150,000 leak surveys across 78,000 production sites to find and fix leaky rigs. The leak rate across the board averaged to about .016%, much lower than EPA estimates. The majority of the leaks were fixed in just 60 days. ‘Pneumatic controllers,’ devices used to control gas temperature and pressure during extraction, also saw a remodel during the last year. 30,000 ‘high-bleed’ controllers were replaced, and 38 member companies simply stopped using them. Fixing leaks and replacing high-bleed controllers can cut site emissions by 40% and 60%, respectively, according to the EPA. 

On top of requiring their members to uphold more stringent emission standards, the Environmental Partnership also hosts industry workshops for oil and natural gas producers. Participating companies learn about new techniques and technologies that reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions. Member and non-member companies share scientific data to further the improvement of sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies

Upwards and Onwards

The Environmental Partnership accomplished much more than those few examples this past year. Since their founding in 2017, they’ve grown their membership from just 26 companies to their current total of 65. Their membership increased by a startling 50% in just the first six months of operation. This total includes over half of the nation’s top energy firms. In their annual report, the EPA cited a 16% drop in methane emissions in the energy sector. It is reasonable to assume that this is in large part due to the work of the Environmental partnership. 32 of the top 40 natural gas producers and 21 of the nations top oil companies are members.

What they’ve accomplished in the last year exemplifies the success of a marriage of environmental responsibility with capitalism. The partnership meets the ever-increasing demand for energy while cutting emissions to 25 year lows. While production more than doubles across the board, member companies cut emissions by half. All reports state the partnership is fulfilling their goals and living up to their mission, something the world has recently been lacking.

To get a full view of what the Environmental Partnership has been up to in the past year, take a look at their annual report

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McDonald’s is finally realizing its global influence on the environment

Avery Maloto

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McDonald's

While its famous arches are at the corner of towns and cities across the globe, it is no surprise that McDonald’s holds the highest brand value of any quick-service chain in the world. However, with over 37,000 locations in more than 100 countries, the company is under public pressure to adopt a greener mindset. As time progresses it seems McDonald’s is realizing its global influence on the environment. At the forefront of the fast-food industry, McDonald’s is beginning to take a sustainable stance in its practices.

Going plastic free with its guest packaging

As the world’s largest restaurant chain, McDonald’s feeds over 68 million people daily. With this, there is no doubt that its sales generate an unsettling amount of waste. However, in efforts to minimize its environmental footprint, McDonald’s has taken on the task of going plastic-free. 

Stated in a press release, McDonald’s made it a goal to make 100% of its guest packaging come from renewable, recycled, or certified material by 2025. With only 6 years left to reach this goal, it seems the company has a lot of work ahead of itself. However, test trials have already begun in Germany and Canada. 

With the European Union placing a ban on many single-use plastic items in 2021, McDonald’s is still trying to learn how to comply with the new regulations. But, for 10 days, the company opened up a nearly-plastic free restaurant this past June. Although not perfect, the experiment ended with results that many seemed to be McLovin’.

Here are some of McDonald’s sustainable swap-outs during the trial:

  • Edible waffle cups replaced condiment sachets and containers.
  • Paper straws replaced plastic straws.
  • Wooden cutlery replaced plastic cutlery.
  • Sandwiches were wrapped in packaging made from grass, not paper.
  • Chicken McNuggets were served in paper bags, rather than cardboard boxes.

Since this test-run, McDonald’s opened up two additional green restaurants in Ontario and British Columbia. Reports have not yet been released on the Canadian consumer responses. 

McDonald’s wants to save the bees

The plastic-free trial is not the only green project the fast-food giant has tackled. 

In Sweden, McDonald’s has teamed up with NORD DDB and JCDecaux to take on a surprising task: making tiny hotels for bees. Across the country, the company is transforming the backs of billboards into bee sanctuaries. Placing six hives on the back of each advertisement, McDonald’s strives to provide the insects a home to nest.

As stated by NORD DBB, “30% of wild bees in the country are threatened, mainly because they do not have enough resting areas”. While bees are responsible for a large portion of our food production through pollination, McDonald’s initiative behind the project is “to give back to the creatures, from a food provider to another food provider”.

If the initial trials are successful, the partnering companies will expand their project in 2020 to create more ‘hotels’.

Conclusion

McDonald’s efforts to become more sustainable are admirable. Many are excited to see where its green mindset will take it. However, it seems as if many of the company’s initiatives are still in the early stages. And until McDonald’s fully creates a permanent environmental game plan, the public will just have to wait and see.



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