Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.
(1) Green Houses
A European initiative which wants to reward energy efficient homeowners with cheaper mortgage rates launched this week. The European Energy Efficiency Mortgage will explore the link between energy efficiency, a borrower’s reduced probability of default and the increase in value of energy efficient properties, potentially leading to lower-risk loans for banks and investors that qualify for better capital treatment. The project will be led by the European Mortgage Federation - European Covered Bond Council (EMF-ECB) and partners including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and energy giant E.On. It marks the first time a group of major banks and mortgage lenders have come together with organisations from the building and energy industries to push for a pan-European mortgage financing mechanism. To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to within two degrees, Europe needs innovative ways of financing and increasing demand for energy efficiency in homes and we think this is an ingenious market-based initiative that incentivises even the least sustainably minded people to act in a sustainable way. Where else could this approach be applied?
(2) They're All Ladies
Swedish fashion retailer H&M has released a new ad that subverts societal expectations for how ‘a lady’ should act. The spot—set to a new version of Tom Jones' 1971 hit "She's a Lady"—shows women including actress Lauren Hutton, model Adwoa Aboah, trans actress Hari Nef, and Design Army's chief creative officer Pum Lefebure doing everything from picking dinner out from their teeth in public, presenting in a boardroom, or unzipping their jeans to feast on some french fries. While showing women as they are shouldn’t be a radical feminist notion in 2016, H&M has managed to make a powerful statement in a world where brands continue to market to women as a single group all motivated and interested in the same things (see: the new Mii car for women from Seat and Cosmopolitan). We hope the public’s positive response to this representation more rooted in reality will inspire other brands to market beyond outdated generalisations of what it means to be a lady.
(3) What the Fork?
France has become the first country to ban the use of plastic cups, plates and cutlery as part of its plan to tackle climate change. Though France has been in the spotlight recently for its various bans (prompt: burkini), we welcome this latest measure. The law, which comes into effect in 2020 and is part of the country’s ‘Energy Transition for Green Growth strategy’, requires producers to ensure all disposable dishes sold in France are made of biologically-sourced materials that can be composted. The law is not without its critics though: Pack2Go Europe, a Brussels-based organization representing European packaging manufacturers, says the law violates European Union rules on free movement of goods. The Pack2Go Secretary General has also suggested that the ban might make the environmental situation worse as people may misunderstand the extent of degradability and assume it will do no harm to leave packaging in nature. It sounds to us, however, like Pack2Go has identified a good opportunity for an informative social marketing campaign, rather than a reason to reverse a milestone piece of legislation.
(4) Gum for Good
A pilot by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and chewing gum manufacturer The Wrigley Company has seen a massive 30% reduction in the amount of waste littered. The ‘Bin it for Good’ campaign encourages people to do the right thing and put their waste in the bin while at the same time making money for local charities. Street bins in five pilot locations across England were converted into donation boxes associated with various charities. The greater the change in the weight of the litter that went into the bin, the greater share of funding that charity received. The success of the pilot—average reduction of litter was 30% but as high as 52% in one location—has prompted wider rollout, and the programme has now been extended to a further four areas—Nottingham, Haringey, Sutton and Kettering—until December 2016. This is a great example of simple and effective behaviour change aligned to a sustainability issue relevant to the corporate sponsor.
A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has found that for refugees, the internet has become as, if not more, important than food and shelter. In Tanzania, for instance, some refugees were selling up to ten days of food rations in exchange for one month of phone data. Refugees are using internet on mobile phones to communicate with separated family members, gain access to essential services, and reconnect to the local, national and global communities around them, making it a critical tool for "self-empowerment" and "survival". The UN suggests internet access has the potential to boost the wellbeing of refugees and of the communities that host them, but notes that locations in which refugees live frequently lack digital infrastructure or affordable connectivity, and so is calling on large technology companies and mobile network operators to help ensure that refugee populations are not left behind while the rest of the world digitally transforms. We’re in the business of helping organisations deliver both commercial and social value and so are encouraged by the UN’s desire to engage with the private sector for more effective solutions to humanitarian issues.