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Adidas nails sustainability again with two new projects

Emily Dao

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Adidas has a history of sustainability wins. On multiple occasions, it has received accolades for its sustainability efforts. Recently, it even debuted a new shoe — not just any shoe though: one that’s 100% recyclable. Even after this revolutionary feat, it appears Adidas is only continuing to strengthen its push for greener products.

In a continued effort to tackle product waste, Adidas recently launched two sustainable high-performance wear prototypes in collaboration with designer Stella McCartney. The brand new apparel includes the first ever mass-produced garment using innovative technology to repurpose old cotton into new material. 

Adidas Releases a Recyclable Hoodie

The first unveiled piece is a 100% recyclable hoodie, the first of its kind. Made of garment waste, 60% NuCyclTM, and 40% organic cotton diverted from landfills, the Infinite hoodie is unique and eco-friendly. Textile innovations company Evrnu, which pioneered the NuCyclTM technology, partnered with Adidas to make the hoodie.

According to Evrnu, the process involves transforming old, discarded clothing into raw materials used to create new, premium-quality clothing. Due to the product’s sustainable engineering, the hoodie is fully recyclable and can be remade into new high-performance apparel. 

Adidas Releases a Biodegradable Tennis Dress

The second product, a tennis dress made from MicrosilkTM and cellulose blended yarn, is also the first of its kind. Made of MicrosilkTM, a protein-based material comprised of renewable ingredients such as water, sugar, and yeast, the dress is completely biodegradable.

Bolt Threads, a company dedicated to finding alternative, eco-friendly fibers and fabrics through bioengineering, played a joint role in making the Biofabric Tennis Dress.

The Adidas – McCartney Collaboration Goes Way Back 

In an Adidas press release, the company stated this push for a greener fashion industry acts as a response to the roughly 92 million tons of textile waste produced annually. McCartney, having a long history of using sustainable materials, labels the fashion industry as among the most environmentally harmful. She also said stalling research for alternative, sustainable materials is no longer an option. 

Since 2005, Adidas and McCartney have proven a groundbreaking team in attaining sustainability in fashion. Last year, the two partnered for a women’s activewear line made entirely of recycled materials. Specifically, Adidas used plastic found in oceans and organic cotton to manufacture the clothes in the line.

“By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality,” McCartney said. “With Adidas by Stella McCartney, we’re creating high-performance products that also safeguard the future of the planet.”

Conclusions

With Adidas taking major steps to champion sustainability, it may encourage more popular brand names to do the same. To achieve a more sustainable fashion industry, it will undoubtedly require more companies to rethink the way they create products. Recently, Burberry made an unexpected commitment, while H&M was slammed for “greenwashing,” or misleading consumers about the extent in which the company practices sustainability, if they do at all.

Adidas has come out with sustainable apparel without compromising for style.
Adidas has come out with sustainable apparel without compromising for style.

Regardless, what Adidas has shown is that it is possible to create sustainable apparel without compromising for style. If more businesses in fashion industry make a similar shift, it would have profound positive implications for the environment.

Advocacy

Kanye West Unveils Plans for More Sustainable Yeezy Shoes … Using Algae-Based Foam

Maryanne Derkaloustian

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Kanye West

Though Kanye West is known for his radical opinions, nobody expected him to come out with algae-based Yeezy shoes. Well, it turns out, he’s joining the cadre of celebrities who have expressed their concern for the environment. And more so, he is echoing the sentiment that every business has a responsibility towards sustainable development. At the recent Fast Company Innovation Festival, Kanye revealed a new algae-based Yeezy design and plans to make older models environmentally friendly too.

Though for now the details of it all are still unclear, Kanye’s intent seems genuine enough for a start. In this day and age, it is understood that innovation and sustainability go hand in hand in any business. People expect the brands they know and love to have a proactive stance towards today’s sustainability problems.

So to take a step back, what is the algae craze anyway? And why, out of all materials, is Kanye looking to use algae in the newest Yeezy shoes?

The Algae Problem

Algae is typically harmless, but not when it grows out of control. Because farmers use excess fertilizer, plants don’t absorb it and it runs into bodies of water to feed algae colonies instead. And global warming isn’t helping either. Because algae grows in warm conditions, this summer’s weather resulted in a significant spike in algae levels.

High concentrations of algae lead to high concentrations of cyanobacteria, which can have adverse health effects. These can range from abdominal pain to severe respiratory paralysis. Moreover, this surplus of algae blocks sunlight from reaching plankton, which effectively disrupts aquatic food chains.

Kanye West Has A Solution

The new Yeezys require far less fossil fuels than its more environmentally-taxing counterparts. Though the shoe still contains a few petroleum-based chemicals, the main component, the algae-based foam, eliminates a good amount.

Because algae is renewable and abundant, it is a perfect candidate to use to make a shoe. Using it to make eco-friendly everyday items can mitigate several environmental threats.

Kanye West Is Revamping The Older Models Too

Kanye West Yeezy Shoes
The Current Yeezy Shoes From Adidas

West hasn’t completely forgotten about his older models. The company plans to move its headquarters to a 4,000-acre ranch in Wyoming, where it can farm all the fibers it needs.

Production will also move to the United States, where the company will also work on creating low-impact dyes. After all, dyes also create significant fashion-related environmental hazards.

Summary

It is always a pleasant surprise to see celebrities show concern about the planet and actually do something to tackle environmental issues. Kanye West, known already for his radical approach to fashion, seems to be a shoo-in for an initiative like the one he’s started.

Although his ideas are at their earliest stages, they show great promise, both to the environment and fashion worlds. And we can only wait to see what comes of them.

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McDonald’s Unveils Two New Sustainability Initiatives That Could Power 2,500 Stores

Maddie Blaauw

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McDonald's sustainability projects new include two new renewables initiatives.

On Thursday, fast-food giant McDonald’s announces its latest sustainability plans to pursue two new renewable energy projects. These projects are virtual power purchase agreements with Apex Clean Energy and Ares Management, and are based in Texas. One project will be solar-energy based, and the other will generate power using wind energy. And altogether, these projects are estimated to be able to power over two thousand stores.

So just how much energy will be produced in the project and what will its impacts look like beyond just the numbers?

How Much Energy Will Be Produced In The McDonald’s Sustainability Project?

According to the business’s calculations, these two projects can produce 380 megawatts (MW) of energy. To give that number some context, that could power more than 2,500 McDonald’s restaurants.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, one MW of solar energy can power about 164 American homes. That means that the energy output from this project has the potential to power about 62,320 homes. 

However, this number can vary with differences in average sunshine, wind, and temperature that the solar panels endure. According to McDonald’s, this is contribution of renewable energy to the grid is more than any other restaurant company.

This agreement is also good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The restaurant’s power generation will aid in preventing 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This amount of emissions would otherwise be created during energy generation processes using non-renewable means like natural gas or coal.

This is equivalent to planting more than 11 million trees. It is also comparable to taking over 140,000 passenger cars off the road for a year.

So, What Is A VPPA?

A business produces a surplus of energy that it would rather sell to the grid than use itself. The grid is the supply of energy sent to other users, like private residences.

To do this, the business partners with an offtaker, someone who wants the electricity the business wants to offload. (This is frequently an electricity supplier.)

In a VPPA where the energy involved in the transaction comes from renewable resources, the company also receives renewable energy certificates, or RECs.

Energy from coal and energy from solar panels look the same once put into the grid. RECs are essentially proof that the energy that the company is selling is derived from renewable sources. The energy supplier pays for the energy and the RECs in a contract that typically lasts around 15 years.  

In short, this agreement gives McDonald’s an incentive to grow its renewable energy production. If this deal is a success, then it will majorly motivate other companies with the same scale as McDonald’s to make VPPAs as well and grow their renewable energy production. 

McDonald’s Sustainability Goals Broken Down

Many businesses have sustainability goals that deal with reducing their carbon footprint or energy usage, or utilizing renewable sources of energy.

Companies frequently make announcements of new sustainability goals. With their frequency, it is easy to become desensitized to them.

More than half of Fortune 500 companies have such goals. What’s more is that many of these companies take no concrete steps towards achieving their goals. This seemed to be the position of McDonald’s before this week.

Back in 2018, McDonald’s announced its Scale for Good environmental sustainability campaign. The goals contained within included reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 36% by 2030, and a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging.

McDonald's sustainability initiatives include a commitment to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging, a promise made back in 2018.
McDonald’s sustainability initiatives include a commitment to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity per metric ton of food and packaging, a promise made back in 2018.

According to the restaurant chain, this would “prevent 150 million metric tons of C02 equivalents (CO2e) from being released into the atmosphere by 2030.”

Additionally, it would be the equivalent of “taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year or planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.”

Like other Fortune 500 companies, these are lofty goals. Unlike a majority of other Fortune 500 companies, though, McDonald’s has taken a concrete step to achieving these goals by creating the VPPAs. 

Looking Into The Future

Consuming more energy from renewable sources is a major step towards overall environmental sustainability and a step towards preventing further environmental damage.

With the announcement of this deal, hopefully other companies follow suit and make real, serious progress towards their own environmental goals. 

Final Note: We encourage the McDonald’s team and other companies making a difference in sustainability to reach out at tips@mediusventures.com. We are always looking to work with companies to learn what they’re working on.

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Big-Name Photography Brands Commit To Becoming More Environmentally Sustainable

Maryanne Derkaloustian

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How are players in the photography looking at the sustainability issue?

These days, media attention as it relates to sustainable seems to be on obvious areas like oil and gas. That said, we shouldn’t forget about industries that are more directly relevant to what people do on a daily basis. For instance, photography is an important pastime and hobby that many enjoy.

And more than just a means through which people capture their lives’ most precious moments, it’s an industry. That means we should take a look at its environmental impacts.

So far, the camera industry has been relatively shy of sustainability coverage. If you’re wondering how the makers of the world’s most popular cameras look at sustainability, keep reading.

Big-Name Photography Brands Called Out For Not Being Sustainable

In the past, companies like Sony and Panasonic have been labeled as unsustainable by several sources including the Center for Sustainable Organizations. As a result, these companies have set up initiatives they (hopefully) plan to follow.

Sony and Panasonic React To Make Their Businesses More Sustainable

Consequently, Sony has announced it will power 100% of its worldwide operations with renewable energy sources by 2040.

And currently, the company powers 100% of its European operations with renewable resources. Additionally, Panasonic wants to eliminate all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Canon Has Been Tackling Sustainability For Almost 30 Years

Many of these newer initiatives tend to evoke suspicion about greenwashing among consumers, but Canon’s commitment to sustainability goes back almost 30 years. Since 1990, the company has been collecting copier toner cartridges with the intent to recycle.

And more recently, aside from its work in cameras, the company has been developing lighter, more compact versions of its printers and projectors that use less power.

Canon’s newest Inkjet Printers, look to reduce power usage. Photo Credit: Canon Inc.

Smaller Players Also Look To Make Photography More Sustainable

But efforts to make photography a more sustainable business aren’t just coming from huge companies; startups are getting involved too.

Take, for instance, Lomography, a film upstart hailing from Vienna, which recently announced the release of its new camera, the LomoMod No. 1.

The company makes most of its camera parts out of cardboard. And although the other main feature, the liquid-fill lens, is made of plastic, the camera body is all cardboard, flat-packed to be assembled at home.

The LomoMod No. 1. Photo Credit: Lomography

The flat packing also minimizes space taken up, reducing the amount of packaging required to hold it.

Summary

Though photography is far from being one of the most unsustainable industries, companies that are prioritizing sustainability are allowing it to stay that way.

Whether it’s small photography companies or brands that have become household names, their continued commitment to sustainability will hopefully allow consumers to continue to capture the most important moments in their lives without taking a toll on the environment.

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