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On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on Made-To-Order: Can Zara Make the Shift to True Mass Customization? :

Interesting article! While I completely agree that as a fast-fashion company, Zara needs to be tech savvy in order to drive toward a more dynamic product mix that reacts faster to changes in consumer tastes, I wonder if 3-D knitting technology is directly in line with Zara’s customer promise. If Zara’s goal is to provide customers with an ever changing set of clothing options at an affordable price, then wouldn’t investing in customization be directly at odds with this? I think the Adidas and Ministry of Supply examples you provide show applications in which this 3D knitting technology would work: both of these companies provide products that are perceived to be of high quality that last. I would argue that Zara serves customers that value continued variety over customizability, but I guess that is the hypothesis that Zara is testing by investing through this investment!

On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on No More Chocolate For You: Global Warming and Cacao Trees :

Thanks, Max! It’s definitely scary to think about the peril the chocolate industry is in. I think you raise a lot of valid points around whether Mars is doing enough in the short term to address climate change versus only taking a long-term view. From my point of view, I feel as if Mars could be working harder to advocate for stricter standards for cacao farming across the entire industry. Shifting focus on how the industry as a whole can improve their farming standards will increase the impact of any measures taken immensely. It would also benefit Mars to advocate more aggressively in this way, because by doing so, it shares the responsibility of sustainability with its competitors, thereby maintaining a level playing field with others in this industry.

On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on Blue Bottle Coffee: Riding the “Third Wave” :

I completely agree that Nestle’s acquisition of Blue Bottle provides the company with a great opportunity to improve its commitment to environmental sustainability in the long run. I recently had a conversation with an employee from Blue Bottle, and she mentioned that while their 3 core values are “deliciousness, hospitality, and sustainability,” they have not done much to engage with the public about the initiatives that they have in place to showcase their sustainable buying practices because they just don’t have the time or resources to do so internally. Nestle will provide Blue Bottle with the resources and frameworks for which Blue Bottle can better showcase their commitment to sustainability as well as help Blue Bottle further reduce the carbon footprint of supply chain process through leveraging economies of Nestle’s larger scale. Only time and greater transparency from Blue Bottle will tell to what extent this plays out!

On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on Throwing Away Billions :

This is a really interesting article! As with the other comments, I wonder if this change is addressing the right aspects of the waste program within Barcelona. In fact, I could actually see a case in which this program ultimately does harm instead of good. As you mentioned, waste disposal systems traditionally pick up waste at certain locations at routine intervals per week. Ultimately, this sets an bound on the capacity of the system: assuming trash cans are not allowed to overflow, people who generate trash are only able to fill each can up once per disposal cycle. By putting sensors on the system and removing trash based on how full the trash cans are, you are effectively increasing the capacity of the system by decreasing the disposal cycle time. Individual users of the system, who now aren’t bounded by the capacity of the trash cans themselves, now have even less incentive to reduce their generation of waste which could devolve into higher waste generation per capita. Therefore, I’m not sure this program is sending the right message to the people of Barcelona. I hope this program is either complemented with other features that also encourage the reduction of waste or establishes some sort of bounds on frequency at which it picks up trash at each location.

On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on Monsanto: Our climate change Messiah? :

Thanks, Aaron! In general, I do agree that genetically modified crops have historically and will continue to provide benefit to the world through increasing food availability through improved yields. You ask, though, if Monsanto is the right company to lead this initiative, and I’m not so sure. I have worries about potential misaligned incentives between Monsanto and stewardship for general health and sustainability. Although operating in a highly regulated sector, Monsanto is a for-profit company and, at the end of the day, is looking to improve its bottom line. I worry that Monsanto is vulnerable to lose sight of the risks associated with fundamentally altering food crops in the pursuit of additional profit. While they have not been caught in an egregious error yet, should we, as society, really be comfortable allowing this type of risk to persist knowing that so many people depend on these crops to survive? In this regard, non-profit organizations would likely be less susceptible to the incentive to cut corners or ignore potential issues and therefore be better positioned to pursue GMO advancement in a more balanced way.

On December 1, 2017, Caroline Hunting commented on Royal Dutch Shell: From Hydrocarbons to Electrons :

Thanks, Kristina! I completely agree with you that while Shell’s acquisition of NewMotion is a positive step in shifting their asset portfolio to cleaner energy sources, they are still not doing enough to proactively address the growing concern of climate change. When I worked at Shell, their mission statement was to be “the most innovative energy company in the world.” However, in practice, their general strategy has been to patiently wait while allowing other players develop the new renewable technologies and invest through acquisition once the technology is economically attractive. They proved this back in circa 2012 when they divested the wind energy arm of the business entirely when the business was forecasted to be unprofitable in the short-term. It begs the question as to whether Shell is entering into its acquisition of NewMotion with the noblest of intentions. Further, if they really do claim to be at the forefront of energy innovation, shouldn’t they be doing more?