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Partnerships

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Ready… Set… Grow!

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Author: the Inkslinger

This just in from Sarah T.:

One little tree makes a ton of difference. It’s a simple idea, and this is what it means: This year for Earth Day, Seventh Generation is partnering with two incredible non-profits to make tons and tons of difference in an area that needs it most. We’re joining forces with the Seed Collective and Replant New Orleans to promote urban reforestation in New Orleans.

It starts with SEED, an on-line experience developed by the Seed Collective, which employs wireless activism to create a reforestation-funding tool. Using your phone and your computer together you can support the replanting and regeneration of the urban forest ecosystem in New Orleans. Replant New Orleans, in collaboration with City Year and a host of volunteers, will plant real trees in New Orleans on Earth Day, April 22nd. Seventh Generation will donate one dollar to that cause for every virtual tree (up to 40,000!) that you grow using SEED.

Both of our partners bring a great deal of passion to their mission of regeneration and community involvement. On Earth Day, we’ll be bringing them together in New Orleans for a special day in which the Seed Collective will show all of the virtual trees that you grew and Replant New Orleans will get the Central City growing.

Everyone can help us grow (and plant!) these trees. All you need is a phone and an internet-connected computer. Here’s how it works:

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Saving the World With a Cup of Yogurt

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Last week’s Fortune magazine ran a most incredible story. It details a partnership between Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Danone, the French food company, to build a yogurt factory in Bangladesh. What’s so amazing about the story is that Danone believes that profits are not necessarily “always” essential to creating shareholder value, that there are times when it is appropriate to deploy corporate capital in the pursuit of social benefit that will ultimately create additional brand value.

(Danone) can see social benefits, something (Danone CEO Franck Riboud) says may ultimately be reported on Danone's bottom line along with the revenue from its Dannon and Stonyfield yogurts and Evian and Volvic mineral waters. "We're saying that profit maximization is not going to be the only way to measure value," says Emmanuel Faber, Danone's former CFO, who now runs Asia-Pacific operations for the company and who arranged the lunch between his boss and Yunus. "There is a whole emerging area of picking stocks for social impact.”

The factory – and ultimately 50 more, if it works – will rely on Grameen microborrowers buying cows to sell it milk on the front end, Grameen microvendors selling the yogurt door to door and Grameen's 6.6 million members purchasing it for their kids. It will employ 15 to 20 women.

Danone estimates that it will provide income for 1,600 people within a 20-mile radius of the plant. Biodegradable cups made from cornstarch, solar panels for electricity generation and rainwater collection vats make the enterprise environmentally friendly.

What if we lived in a world where companies didn't measure their performance only in terms of revenue and profitability? What if pharmaceutical companies reported on their bottom lines, along with those familiar figures, the number of lives saved by their drugs every quarter, and food companies reported the number of children rescued from malnutrition?... That's the world Yunus envisages.

This is a real breakthrough, if we can harness the experience and financial resources of the world’s largest companies to address fundamental issues of equity, justice, and poverty, the future may be brighter quicker than I had imagined.

Way to go Danone! And a serious kudos to Fortune for bringing stories like these to corporate America.

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Fair WAGES At Work

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Every once in a while you are privileged to be able to work with people who have found a way to tackle some of the toughest challenges our society faces. While I’m passionate about politics, the environment, and health care, nothing is of greater concern to me than issues of justice & equity. And while we know that systemically all these issues are related, choosing to work on creating a new paradigm for low income, minority women is work that most of us are simply unable or unwilling to do.

Creating the opportunity for women to build a life for them selves and their families on a foundation of secure, respectable, and reasonably-paid employment is a dream that is beyond the reach of many Americans. WAGES is succeeding in creating this new possibility. Working with over 50 Latino women in the East Bay area of San Francisco, they have created three successful, worker-owned home cleaning business cooperatives that have changed lives and created hope.

Seventh Generation has been challenged to find ways to reach out to the low-income community. WAGES has provided us with the opportunity to provide education and to ensure these women benefit from using safer and healthier products in the work they do every day.

While our partnership is in it’s infancy, it’s one that fills me with hope and possibility. Check them out. And if you live where they’ve got a coop and need some healthy cleaning help, give them a call!

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Seeding an Expo Forest for the Trees

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Author: the Inkslinger

So a bunch of folks here took off yesterday for the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. It’s a humongous trade show where people who make natural products show said products to the retailers and others who buy them. Think of it as a big giant schmooze-fest in a room roughly size of the Astrodome that’s filled with display booth after display booth of each manufacturer’s goodies.

Except for our booth. This year we decided to forgo the usual hey-look-at-our-stuff-isn’t-it-great route because there’s just too much at stake in the world these days. Instead we're building a forest. And here's our first tree:

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On Board With Greenpeace

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I grew up thinking that Greenpeace was the coolest environmental group around. They were willing to do stuff I only dreamed about. I wanted to be hanging banners from smokestacks that were emitting carcinogenic chemicals and fighting for the preservation of endangered species on a little rubber boat in the Antarctic.

Today the group is more relevant than ever, and through our Change It partnership with Greenpeace we're working to teach the next generation how to effect meaningful social and environmental change. For these and other reasons, I am thrilled to announce that I have just been elected to their Board of Directors. It's a huge honor, and it marks the fulfillment of my longtime wish to become part of Greenpeace and contribute to their work.

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