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) Tree Tally
New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation has found a way to calculate the ecological and economic benefits of the most basic of urban features: street trees. Data collected during a citywide tree census in 2015 has been amassed into a New York City Tree Map that provides statistics on each of the 685,781 registered trees, including the amount of rainwater each tree retains each year as well as the amount of electricity conserved and its estimated contribution to the reduction of air pollution. Numbers are based on figures laid out by the U.S. Forest Service that estimate the total ecological benefits a tree gives in dollars. Estimates include citywide savings of $85,358,133 for energy conserved each year and $10,913,204 for stormwater intercepted each year, with total annual benefits offered by New York City street trees tallying to roughly $111,417,758. NYC Parks has found a great way to present a host of environmental data in a way that feels relevant to the city’s residents and is visually engaging. We’re now waiting for a London version of the map so we can see how well our trees are serving us in comparison!
(2) While You Were Watching
Sandy Hook Promise, an American gun violence prevention organisation, has released a powerful PSA that cleverly illustrates the need to watch for warning signs of gun violence. To get the full effect of this film you should watch it before reading on as we're about to ruin the punchline. The ad gets viewers invested in the budding romance between two high school students but takes a dark turn when a shooter appears in the doorway of the school gym. Students scream and scramble in terror, and the screen fades to black before introducing us to the ad’s real storyline, one that had been playing out in the background the whole time. We’re walked back through moments of the ad we just watched while focused lighting and tighter frames call our attention to a different teen, one we had taken for an extra, that at various points was watching gun videos on his laptop in the library or being bullied in the hallway. Consumers have become overly accustomed, and therefore somewhat immune, to a certain style of social marketing that instills fear or tugs at heartstrings, so this approach of integrating an important message into a story that initially feels relatable and safe shows a deep understanding of human behaviour employed incredibly effectively. We were blown away.
(3) Tech/Trump Truce
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has invited high-profile business executives, many of whom opposed his campaign, to a round-table technology discussion next week. During the election, Silicon Valley was the most resolutely anti-Trump part of the country and many are now wondering how businesses like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google will decide to navigate the new political landscape. Some suggest that defiance is the only path for those attending next week’s meeting: “There is only one purpose for a trip to Trump Tower: to deliver the message that our industry will not be complicit in the systematic disgrace of our democratic institutions, the establishment of an authoritarian kleptocracy nor the oppression of citizens,” said a prominent venture investor. Others argue that Trump and tech industry may not be so different. A longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur pointed out that “Trump embodies the harsher aspects of Silicon Valley — a brash and arrogant disrupter, convinced that the world is all wrong as it is and only he can change it for the better.” Our view is always that businesses should engage with the issues relevant to them rather than just shouting from the sidelines and Trump’s election poses an interesting debate for businesses which will now have to decide whether to fight for their principles from afar or get involved with his administration and try and change things on the inside.
(4) The Wealth of Women
The growing number of women creating and inheriting significant wealth is behind a rising interest in gender lens investing, where the prism through which investors assess potential investments is how those businesses advance or support women and girls. Since 2014, assets under management in public market equities and debt have grown fivefold to $561m, and in response, indices and funds are emerging that focus on gender diversity within companies’ boards of directors and in their senior leadership. There is evidence that it pays – both socially and financially – to invest in women and girls. Data shows that companies with more women leaders achieve higher total shareholder returns, and international development initiatives increasingly focus on investment in girls to advance global development. One of our own Gates Foundation-funded tobacco-prevention campaigns has seen success with a gendered approach. SKY Girls inspires girls in Botswana to express what they do and don’t want in their lives and to have the confidence to stick to these choices. It has become the most popular teen brand in Botswana and recently racked up six wins at the country’s prestigious Segai Awards.
(5) Good Gifts
We’ve got a few good suggestions for those of you that are still searching for holiday presents. If you’re looking for a nightdress for a friend or family member, look no further than Good Nighties, which sells supersoft nighties ethically-stitched in India and Sri Lanka. And, while we’re on the subject of comfort, we also recommend trying a pair of mahabis slippers on for size – the brand is driven by the belief that improving small everyday experiences can positively impact our daily wellbeing, an idea we’re definitely in step with. Finally, for those in your life with a sweet-tooth, consider delicious sweets and treats – think chocolate-covered candied peel and orangecello – made by Lucky Peel from an oft-unloved and wasted ingredient, orange peel. For even more ideas, consult these good gift guides from Refinery 29, Sustainable Brands, or Seedcamp. Those based in London’s Soho can also head to the carefully-curated This Because pop-up shop on Broadwick Street. It’s full of beautiful products that make a positive impact including tote bags made from old bouncy castles, and needlepoint stitched by prisoners. Good luck with your gifting!