June 15, 2022

In recent years, fashion brands and retailers like H&M, Nike, Amazon and Target have responded to consumer calls for environmental sustainability by following an influential material rating system called the Higg Index. Introduced in 2011 by a group of companies led by Walmart and Patagonia, this metric is intended to help businesses shrink their environmental footprints by eliminating toxic chemicals and cutting down on water usage during production. According to critics, however, the Higg Index strongly recommends the use of Continue reading

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Although electricity prices usually tend to increase alongside the temperature, this summer Americans could see their utility bills rise to record levels. The video below explains how climbing natural gas costs have made air conditioning more expensive than ever, a situation made worse by tangled supply chains and the war in Ukraine. 

Questions:

  1. How do rising natural gas prices impact utility costs for consumers?
  2. Do you think utility providers should invest more in renewable energy sources to reduce their Continue reading
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September 17, 2021

Crocs clogs debuted in 2002 and quickly became a hit with consumers who wanted colorful and leisurely sandals to wear around the house. But soon backlash began to build against this funky foam footwear, as Time magazine in 2010 named Crocs one of the worst inventions ever. Then the pandemic descended on the world and many people stuck in their homes suddenly realized the benefits of wearing inexpensive and comfortable clogs. As a result, Crocs expects sales to increase by Continue reading

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August 26, 2021

For years now, many consumers have made an effort to cut down on their use of plastic bags by relying on cotton totes instead. Along with being better for the environment than non-biodegradable, single-use plastic, cotton bags can also serve as walking billboards for any organization that places their logo upon them. As a result, these totes can be spotted in stores the world over, emblazoned with branding from supermarkets, magazines, charities, and radio stations. 

But while cotton bags Continue reading

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April 13, 2021

Spring is in full swing with seasonal showers leading to blooming flowers and growing lawns across the country. But with these idyllic scenes come unpleasant sounds as roaring leaf blowers and rumbling lawnmowers tear through American neighborhoods. Along with raising an almighty racket, these gas-powered machines also emit more pollutants than most cars and trucks. According to California’s Air Resource Board, a commercial leaf blower operating for one hour emits as many contaminants as a Toyota Camery driving for 1,100 Continue reading

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January 9, 2020

In recent years, many Silicon Valley tech firms have pledged to make sustainability a top priority. But as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft develop environmentally friendly operations, oil companies are also using their technology to extract more petrochemicals from the earth. The video below takes an in-depth look at the history of oil extraction and how modern tech companies are risking their reputations by getting involved with the fossil fuel industry. 

Questions:

  1. How does machine learning help tech companies become Continue reading
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November 12, 2019

Major conglomerates like Procter & Gamble, Kimberly Clark and Georgia-Pacific earn more than $31 billion annually from toilet paper sales. But while this industry is certainly lucrative, it’s not exactly innovative. After all, one of the few significant developments these companies have made in recent decades is to sell larger rolls. Brands such as Charmin and Quilted Northern treat their products like commodities, meaning that they compete primarily based on price. By concentrating on value, the biggest names in toilet Continue reading

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October 10, 2019

In 2018 Americans spent an average of 27 minutes commuting one-way to work, an increase of about two minutes since 2009. While that may not sound too significant, it causes commuters to spend 20 more minutes per week on the road. That adds up to 17 additional hours a year compared to just a decade ago. In total, the average American worker spent 225 hours commuting in 2018, amounting to more than nine calendar days. 

Analysts attribute this recent Continue reading

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September 6, 2019

So far this year nearly 50,000 fires have been detected in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, the most recorded in almost a decade. According to international experts, the majority of these fires are not simply natural occurrences. In fact, a 2016 report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization found that cattle farmers were responsible for 80 percent of deforestation in Brazil. These enormous agricultural operations often burn rainforest in order to clear land for cattle grazing. Experts believe that Continue reading

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September 3, 2019

In the days before e-commerce, department stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney were the ultimate shopping destinations for millions of consumers. But with Amazon now dominating much of the retail world, these companies can no longer attract the same crowds as they did in their glory days. While Macy’s recently fell far short of its second quarter sales estimates, J. C. Penney has lost a total of $101 million so far in 2019. 

In order to make up for Continue reading

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