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On November 20, 2016, Sonia commented on A Wholly Digital Whole Foods :

Great post!! What Whole Foods is doing through Infor is fascinating, and I’m particularly inspired by how it is using the technology to improve sustainability in its own practices and in suppliers’. However, I wonder if Whole Foods will face any pushback from brands for just that reason — increasing transparency in terms of supplier practices such as water consumption, sourcing, etc. will naturally prompt additional pressure on suppliers to improve. This is a great thing, but from the supplier perspective it has the potential to raise costs and introduce added complications; I wonder if Whole Foods will lose any suppliers as a result of this. Ultimately, suppliers will with any luck realize that any changes they may need to make as a result of this initiative were probably inevitable, given the increasing demand by consumers that brands they choose are sustainable and responsible. I am heartened to hear that Whole Foods is leading the charge in order to drive meaningful change in this landscape.

Great post!! Net-a-Porter is indeed ahead of the curve and seems to have landed on some very interesting ways to integrate print and digital. Indeed, it would not be surprising if all print magazines were instantly shoppable one day soon, as this seems like a natural progression in an industry where people are still dedicated to print but do much of their shopping online. I wonder also if Net-A-Porter could use the massive amounts of data on customer behavior to add some sort of personalization feature, whereby the site becomes a personal shopper by recommending items based on past purchases. A lot of websites already have a “recommended for you” list, but it seems to me there is room to make this feature more sophisticated.

On November 20, 2016, Sonia commented on Keeping “The Happiest Place on Earth” Happy :

Super interesting post! It is fascinating to think about digitization in the entertainment — and specifically theme park — context: it isn’t something I’d previously considered, but it’s so true that with technology making entertainment widely accessible and more efficient, tolerance for the long lines and crowds at Disney may plummet. To me, MyMagic+ sounds like a viable and interesting solution, and I’m sure there is endless potential to harness this technology to enhance visitor experience. However, one potential issue that came to mind while reading about MyMagic+ is that of privacy, which is a common by-product of the move towards digitization in many industries. I wonder how comfortable visitors to Disney World will feel knowing that they are essentially wearing a tracking device that enables Disney to monitor their every move. Will Disney require every visitor to its theme parks to wear these devices, and if so will this deter certain people from visiting? Though there may be some hesitation at first, it does seem to me that in general people’s tolerance for perceived privacy infringements is rising. In a way, MyMagic+ represent the world we are rapidly moving towards, where we are all constantly tracked by companies, the government, etc… and are okay with it!

On November 20, 2016, Sonia commented on Talking Trash :

This is a great post, and so interesting! It is truly mind-boggling that the waste removal landscape has been dominated by only two players for as long as it has, and that there has been so little innovation in the space especially given increasing focus on sustainability. It sounds like Rubicon is doing great work and has the potential to be a true game-changer; that it provides a compelling alternative to Waste Management and Republic Services might also help those two companies clean up their act and develop their own innovative solutions to sustainable and low cost waste management. The idea of installing sensors in waste bins is a fantastic one and, after an initial investment in this type of technology, would likely help Rubicon reduce costs further in the long term. Perhaps there are other ways, too, that Rubicon could harness technology to further move the needle.

On November 20, 2016, Sonia commented on Bezos, the Washington Post and the future of news publishing :

Great post! It is very true that widespread digitization is transforming the news media landscape; it will be critical going forward for publishers to find new ways to drive revenue, so Bezos’s experimentation at the Washington Post is exciting and, I think, important. This is also an interesting case from a pricing standpoint, as more and more publishers are asking consumers to pay for online content that was previously available for free. In general, digital content tends to be priced lower than printed content; but as the world becomes increasingly digital, will publishers and others be able to change that mindset and demand more for the digital content they produce? Is there a way to further this mindset shift by creating additional features to digital content that are not available in print?

On November 7, 2016, Sonia commented on Not So Fast: The Unglamorous Side of Fast-Fashion :

Great post! I completely agree with you that Forever21 has a huge role to play in making sustainable fashion the “new normal,” and it is heartening to see the company start to move in that direction. Interestingly, other fast fashion brands are starting to move in this direction — for instance, H&M is currently conducting a massive campaign to get consumers to recycle their clothing. Ideally, if a few heavy hitters in this retail segment are able to capture market share through some of these initiatives, reflecting a growing desire from consumers to see companies move towards sustainable practices, many other brands will be pressured to follow suit. However, it is also important to note that, while highly visible initiatives like a clothing recycle programs are great, there is a very dark underbelly to many companies like Forever21 that we don’t see. It would be to the advantage of Forever21, I believe, to be proactive and vocal in addressing them, and to be the leader among its peers in tackling the industry’s toughest challenges.

Thank you for this great post! Though the measures Nestle has put in place thus far to increase the sustainability of its bottled water business are admirable, I agree with you that there is much more Nestle can and should do to lessen its impact on the environment. As the above comment mentions, the idea of sustainable bottled water is sort of paradoxical. I think you’ve made some great suggestions in terms of other things Nestle could do to mitigate the adverse effects of bottled water production and consumption; to me, the most exciting is the prospect of developing innovative materials to replace plastic, so that bottles themselves could be disposed of safely and easily. I am aware of products targeted towards at-risk populations that employ biodegradable or even edible packaging. If Nestle could put resources behind driving innovation in that vein, and subsequently use the power of its immense global supply chain to bring that innovation to scale, the implications would be enormous.

On November 7, 2016, Sonia commented on Implications of Climate Change on US Navy Operations :

Super interesting and illuminating post! I had not considered the implications of climate change on the Navy, and it is fascinating to think about how warming temperatures and melting ice caps would open up increased navigability of uncharted avenues, and prompt the advances of other countries looking to stake a claim to arctic resources. The fact that this is referred to as a national security issue speaks to the idea that the United States takes the threat posed by other countries very seriously, perhaps more seriously than it lets on to the public. At the same time, it is indeed deeply troubling that securing government funds to combat climate related risks remains a challenge. I hope this is something we as a nation can address in the very near future, before our inaction has even more dire consequences than it already has.

This is a great post, and a very interesting and pertinent follow up to Friday’s case discussion on Ikea. It is critical that Unilever and companies like it use their influence and expertise to improve the sustainability of global supply chains; beyond the irreparable harm to forests and to indigenous populations that current practices cause, the fact is that we cannot continue with business as usual: we are degrading our natural resources — our planet — at a rate that simply can’t be sustained. I agree with you completely that Unilever can’t stop at its supply chains, and am struck by the statistic you mentioned that 68% of GHG emissions occur after Unilever’s products reach consumers. It’s easy to get discouraged reading that statistic; it’s one thing for a company like Unilever to make a strategic decision to green its own business practices, but it is quite another to incite behavior change at the consumer level, influencing the everyday practices of millions of people. As much as Unilever can do this through product innovation, the better: realistically, the less people are required to sacrifice convenience for sustainability, the better. Though as a large corporation it may be unusual, Unilever should also work to expose the realities of climate change as they relate to CPG companies, and not shy away from being provocative and holding other companies accountable. Calling out the beauty industry in Dove commercials is a start — but I would argue that Unilever could stand to be even more daring, and there is so much more the company and its brands could do to move the needle on climate change!