In Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 23, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Mark Massara, general counsel and vice president of social responsibility for O’Neill Wetsuits.

Mark Massara of O'Neill Wetsuits

Mark Massara of O’Neill Wetsuits

Massara grew up in Santa Barbara and witnessed first hand the devastation caused by the 1969 Union Oil spill along the coast.  As a result, he decided early on that he wanted to be involved in preventing degradation of coastal resources.

After graduating from law school, Massara joined the Surfrider Foundation (the first non-profit dedicated to coastal conservation) to work on a massive case against pulp mills dumping pollution into prime a surf area.  The case involved 40,000 violations of the Clean Water Act, making it the largest water pollution case in the US at the time.  During that three-year litigation, Massara watched the Surfrider Foundation grow from a few hundred members to 50,000.

In 1991, he joined the Sierra Club, directing the organization’s coastal programs.  In that role, he enjoyed a “front-row seat on the most pressing environmental law questions in the US.”

Three years ago, Massara moved to O’Neill Wetsuits, a company founded 60 years ago.  As vice president of social responsibility, Massara works to protect and enhance coastal resources in the areas where the company does business.  In particular, O’Neill Wetsuits is devoted to teaching children about coastal conservation in the Santa Cruz region.  The company has donated a building, built a laboratory and buses children in for educational programs.

Massara has dedicated his career to protecting the California coastline. In what ways is coastal preservation important to you?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Massara: Episode 93 of The Wendel Forum (27:45 mins; mp3)

O’Neill Wetsuits Website: http://www.oneill.com

Surfrider Foundation Website: http://www.surfrider.org

Sierra Club Website: http://www.sierraclub.org

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 92 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 16, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Gary Barker, founder and CEO of two companies. GreenHeart Global conceives, designs, develops and produces sustainable products for clients such as The Gap, LL Bean, Adidas, O’Neill and more. Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions designs, manufactures and sells a line of sustainable hangers (to replace plastic and metal hangers) that are used in more than 5,000 stores world-wide.

Gary Barker, founder of Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions

Gary Barker, founder of Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions

Greenheart’s flagship design is its Ditto Hangers, which launched in 2007 after several years of R&D.  As many as 15 billion plastic retail hangers are made every year with 85 percent of them winding up in landfill.  Wire dry cleaning hangers had not experienced any design innovation for 60 years. The Ditto Hanger, in contrast, is made of 100 percent compressed, recycled paper and other recyclable materials such as starch-based adhesive and soy-based inks.  Made using certified manufacturers and certified non-toxic materials, a Ditto Hanger can hold more than 20 pounds and has won several international design awards.  Consumers can purchase them themselves at the Container Store, on Amazon and through www.dittohangers.com, among other places.

In developing, manufacturing and selling Ditto Hangers, Barker learned a lot about design, materials, sourcing, manufacturing, shipping and warehousing logistics, marketing, PR, branding, logos and displays.  That knowledge is applied to Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions clients, including Disney, Levi’s and Addidas.  Launching a sustainable product “takes a lot of determination,” says Barker, who describes himself as a “bulldog” when it comes to his products.

Would you consider swapping out your hangers for Ditto Hangers?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Gary Barker:  Episode 92 of The Wendel Forum (27:41 mins; mp3)

GreenHeart Global’s Web Page: http://www.greenheartglobal.com/home/

Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions’ Web Page: http://dittobrandsolutions.com/home/

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 91 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Michael Funk.  Funk is a pioneer of the natural foods industry; founder and chairman of United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) and co-founder of Non-GMO project of California (a non-profit organization that educates consumers and builds sources of non-GMO products).

Michael Funk

Michael Funk, founder and chairman of UNFI

Genetic engineering began in the late 1980’s.  While the practice can be beneficial, Funk suggests applying the precautionary principle by which new technologies are proven safe before their widespread circulation. Existing GMO research is largely funded by the biotech industry, which, Funk says, is not independent.  Therefore, he’d favor a moratorium on GMOs in foods until further research has been done about its health and environmental impacts.  Already, there’s an epidemic of “super weeds” that are resistant to herbicides.  As a result, super weeds are, ironically, requiring more and different chemicals to grow foods.

In the meantime, Funk advocates labeling foods with GMOs.  Currently, there’s no federal or state oversight on labeling, a practice that can be tricky because although it’s easy to identify a genetically modified ear of corn, tracking down the origin of micro ingredients such as corn starch or corn syrup in another product is challenging.  The Non-GMO Project has developed a consumer shopping app that verifies GMO status of more than 9,000 products.

Nearly 50 countries – including the EU, Russia and China – already have mandatory GMO labeling.  In the US, intense lobbying by the biotech industry (outspending labeling advocates 10 to 1) has prevented labeling laws.  Studies show that once GMOs are noted on a food label, consumers chose not to buy it.

What do you think about GMO labeling?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Funk: Episode 91 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

United Natural Foods Web Page: https://www.unfi.com/Pages/default.aspx

Non-GMO Project: http://www.nongmoproject.org

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots, producer of gourmet mushroom growing kits nourished with recycled Peet’s Coffee grounds.

 

Back to the Roots co-founders Alex and NikBack to the Roots co-founders Alex and Nik

Back to the Roots co-founders Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora

Arora and his co-founder were about to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2009 when they learned during a class lecture that it’s possible to grow gourmet mushrooms in used coffee grounds. Inspired by the notion of turning waste into fresh, local food, they founded Back to the Roots. Since then, connecting families to food has become Arora’s “true passion,” and the company’s slickly designed, easy-to-use urban mushroom farm kits produce a gourmet crop of oyster mushrooms in about 10 days. Back to the Roots now also sells a three-gallon aquaponics garden, perfect for growing an herb garden on a kitchen counter or in a classroom.

Last year, President Obama invited Arora and his co-founder to the White House to discuss how the administration could support small businesses.  Arora says it was “cool to be representing Oakland,” which he describes as the epicenter of the start-up food culture.  In addition to a loan from the city, Back to the Roots received redevelopment funding to move its warehouse to Oakland.  The company also received a $25,000 loan from Whole Foods (which is fitting because produce guys from the Berkeley store were early advisors) and raised nearly $250,000 via Kick Starter.

With a core commitment to sustainability, Back to the Roots is a certified B Corporation.  Today, they’re working to build a global, “hip and fun” lifestyle brand that connects people to food.

Are you interested in growing your own food?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Arora:Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)

Back to the Roots Website: http://www.backtotheroots.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 19, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Karen Engel, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (the “EDA”), a public-private partnership serving the San Francisco East Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. The EDA strives to establish the East Bay as a world-recognized destination to grow businesses, attract capital and create quality jobs.

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

Karen Engel, Executive Director of East Bay EDA

The EDA has been pursuing its mission for the past 22 years. It serves as a platform for community, government, academic and business leaders to examine and improve the region’s economy so that local businesses can grow and thrive. To that end, each year the EDA creates strategic priorities that respond to and proactively address issues in the region, which is home to 2.5 million people and many micro-economies.

The clean tech sector, in particular, is a critical part of the East Bay’s economic future. In fact, the East Bay has the second largest clean tech sector in the country, following only Silicon Valley, and is home to cutting-edge research into biofuels, alternative energy storage and battery technology. Similarly, with UC Berkeley and its attendant national laboratories, the East Bay boasts more life sciences square footage than even San Francisco’s Mission Bay.

Addressing workforce strategies, the EDA is building educational systems and integrated courses in local high schools, community colleges and universities that support the East Bay companies and business sectors. Similarly, addressing infrastructure and transportation, the EDA is working to promote transit-oriented development so that new projects are centered around the region’s transportation nodes.

On January 31, the EDA will host its first ever East Bay Innovation Awards at the Fox Theater in Oakland, where it will bestow awards to the most cutting-edge of 85 nominated companies.

What draws you and your spending dollars to the East Bay?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Engel:  Episode 89 of The Wendel Forum (27:46 mins; mp3)

East Bay EDA Website: http://www.eastbayeda.org

Innovation Awards event info: http://www.eastbayeda.org/iawards/innovation_home.html

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 12, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes John Knox, executive director of Earth Island Institute, a non-profit, public- interest membership organization that supports people working to protect the planet.

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

John Knox of Earth Island Institute visits The Wendel Forum

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Earth Island Institute can be viewed as an umbrella or incubator organization that assists local and global non-profits creating improvements to the environment, explains Knox. The Institute gives project directors autonomy in executing their work and also offers groups the streamlined benefit of one board, one annual report and one yearly audit. In its three decades, Earth Island Institute has supported 135 projects, including Food Shift (dedicated to curbing waste and building a more sustainable food system) and the Plastic Pollution Coalition (a global alliance of individuals, businesses and organizations focused on ending plastic pollution and its toxic impacts).

Beyond serving as a fiscal sponsor for environmentally-focused organizations, Earth Island Institute also educates the greater public through its quarterly Earth Island Journal, which features investigative journalism and thought-provoking essays about the environment. The Institute also hosts public programs at the Goldman Theater in its David Brower Center (a green building in downtown Berkeley named for the organization’s founder), and bestows Brower Youth Awards to North Americans ages 13 to 22 who have shown outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with a positive environmental and social impact.

What organizations do you know that work towards protecting the planet?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Knox: Episode 88 of The Wendel Forum (27:50 mins; mp3)

Earth Island Institute’s website: http://www.earthisland.org

Food Shift website: http://www.foodshift.net/

Plastic Pollution Coalition website: http://plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ 

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 87 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 15, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Carla Din, director of East Bay Green Corridor, a nine-city partnership devoted to assisting green businesses, and Dr. Monika Weiss and Wolfgang Weiss,  CSO and CEO/CTO, respectively, of ergSol, an Oakland solar thermal company.

Photo of Carla Din, director of East Bay Green Corridor

Carla Din, director of East Bay Green Corridor, in studio

East Bay Green Corridor was founded in 2007 to advance a green energy economy in nine East Bay Area cities, including Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.  The organization develops policy and also markets and promotes clean energy start-ups with the goal of keeping those businesses in the East Bay. Unlike traditional accelerators, which focus on start-ups’ business plans and capital, East Bay Green Corridor introduces companies to its vast network of local supply chains, customers and resources, including several academic institutions and programs (such as the Cleantech to Market program at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business).  Already, it has worked with Alphabet Energy, which captures waste heat, Imprint Energy, which pioneers zinc-based rechargeable batteries, and Lucid Design Group, a cleantech software company.

photo of Dr. Monika Weiss and Wolfgang Weiss of ergSol

Dr. Monika Weiss and Wolfgang Weiss of ergSol

Din met Monika Weiss at a conference and since then East Bay Green Corridor has been facilitating relationships for ergSol, a developer and manufacturer of high temperature solar thermal systems based in Oakland.  Since the Weisses moved to the US 12 years ago, they’ve seen an increase in activity and interest in renewable energy.  With ergSol, a solar thermal system that can also be used for cooling as well as heating, they hope to bring US solar use up to the level of Europe.

How has relationship-building assisted your business?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Din and the ergSol executives: Episode 87 of The Wendel Forum (27:44 mins; mp3)

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

East Bay Green Corridor Website: http://www.ebgreencorridor.org

ergSol Website: http://ergsol.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 369 other followers