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Great post on a very interesting topic! I love the idea of having sensors in shoes to gather even more data about the workout, and I especially am intrigued by and often think about how these cycling studios can use the power and energy from all the people cycling to power their studio’s electricity. There is a fun example of this in Portland, where you can bike to power your smoothie. [1] The smoothie shop is completely off the grid and self sufficient.

I would love to see FlyWheels technology and data collection somehow integrated with the app Strava – which is a social network for athletes, where you can track all of your workouts and share them with friends and teams to encourage each other. [2] You can also track your heart rate, miles and pace for each activity- and it works across running, cycling, and swimming. Many athletes do not only take spin studio classes but rather combine various types of exercise. Integrating or allowing the FlyWheel data collection to sync with the Strava app would allow those who are tracking their total workouts to see their performance and improvement not just for the indoor spinning portion of their training.

[1] http://www.moberiblends.com/
[2] https://www.strava.com/

On November 20, 2016, Yarden commented on At Nordstrom Lines Just Aren’t Cool Anymore :

Thank you for detailing how Nordstrom continues to improve customer service through mobile POS systems. I am a bit surprised to read this because while I have seen the mobile POS in full force at Nordstrom Rack stores, I have not yet seen mobile POS at any Nordstrom stores I have visited so far. I am curious as to whether they began rolling this out but then scaled back, or perhaps store associates feel more comfortable with their computer POS systems where they can get more information, despite having mobile POS available. I would be interested to know how the implementation and execution has gone for them, as Nordstrom is very unique in that they have so many different check-out counters, one or two in each department. This is unlike a Home Depot or Sephora store where you have only 1 (or sometimes two in the case of a two-story Home Depot) check out area where all the POS systems are lined up, and you have about 3-6 associates working at the check out lines. I imagine it would be harder to implement the mobile POS systems in a department store like Nordstrom where there are so many more people to train and so many more devices needed for each area of the store (shoes, cosmetics, mens, womens, athletic, etc).

I also think Nordstrom has a lot of opportunity when it comes to customer data and integrating and creating a seamless experience for the customer. One recent example was that I was trying to make a purchase in the store, but I did not have my newest Nordstrom credit card. It took almost 15 minutes for the associate to resolve the issue, and she had to make a phone call three times and take down my SSN, address, birthday, etc. I would think Nordstrom, in their efforts towards digitization, will need to invest in CRM in a big way.

On November 20, 2016, Yarden commented on Can you do your taxes faster than you prepare for a FIN 1 case? :

Great post Ken!
I have been using Turbo Tax for many years, and I have seen improvements to the platform and the user experience over the years. While many have mentioned above the risk to Turbo Tax of the legislation, both pricing and customer service have not been mentioned. I agree with you that Turbo Tax, to not only acquire new customers but also retain existing customers, should offer discounts for students or for people who have below a certain income level. Currently I find that while pricing is cheaper than going into a brick and mortar accountant or tax filing service, I still perceive the price to be high considering I am not getting 1:1 attention or a 100% guarantee that I am completing it all correctly.

Regarding customer service, I find Turbo tax to be lacking in a major way when it comes to digitizing CRM. They only have a “chat with a specialist” function through a messenger service online, and you often have to wait a very long time to be contacted or get a response. I believe there are many other new and innovative ways to interact with customers than a slightly antiquated messenger system. For example, there are chatbots now which could be loaded with specific information by topic. They should also have an option of integrating chat with phone options so that you can actually speak with the person you began the conversation with online, versus having to start all over again when you call in.

On November 20, 2016, Yarden commented on Profitization Through Supply Chain Digitization at H&M :

Great post! I think H&M’s efforts in digitizing their supply chain is quite impressive, and I am happy to see they have invested money towards this end because with increased efficiency they are also helping to combat waste and other climate change factors such as emissions.

I do think it is interesting you bring up customer data safety and cyber security as we have seen these kinds of hacks and breaches of information happen to retailers such as Target. I am curious what steps H&M is taking and whether they are investing money towards protecting this data (both their own, and their customers) as they are truly a global company. I have posted an article below from the Financial Times which I think is very interesting – H&M was called out in the article as having a somewhat weak cyber defense system which the company needs to pay more serious attention to. [1]

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/d6bde8a2-00c0-11e6-99cb-83242733f755

On November 20, 2016, Yarden commented on The Solution to Police Brutality: Digitization? :

Thank you for writing about this very difficult topic. I also do not have the answers as to whether the body cameras will inherently help the situation and lead to less violence and more understanding between the two communities. However, according to a New York Times article from this past October, not one NYPD officer is wearing a body camera yet. It seems a contract with the supplier had yet to be signed, but that they were intending to roll the program out beginning in a few months. [1] While other cities have rolled the program out, I think it is yet to be seen what the impact and long-term benefits or drawbacks will be of the cameras. Sadly we have seen cases caught on camera, some by a police car dashboard camera, which still unfold in terrible ways, despite the officer knowing the camera is on. For example, Breaion King, an African American school teacher, was treated horribly and violently by police officers after being pulled over. This was all caught on camera and did not deter the officers inappropriate actions.
I do hope that once officers have body cameras, they will constantly be more aware and vigilant and think twice about their actions.
I also think another interesting phenomena with regards to digital and police force is just with social media and how now every single person has a smart phone essentially and can record and share these horrific moments, which at least brings to light and surfaces issues and forces cities and judicial committees to face the event and take action.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/nyregion/despite-national-trend-new-york-police-are-slow-to-adopt-body-cameras.html
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/22/austin-police-breaion-king-black-woman-arrest-video

On November 7, 2016, Yarden commented on H&M: Making Fashion Sustainable and Sustainability Fashionable :

Very interesting article and discussion about a very important topic, thank you Jenna!
Most points have been made and I think what is so great about this article is that it really makes you think and start to feel more conscious about where you shop and what impact your purchasing behaviors are having on the environment. I think it’s similar to seeing a video about terrible conditions for the animals we eat such as chickens or cows, and then starting to eat only organic or free range/grass fed products. Similarly, if we saw a lot of the working conditions, air and water pollution, and waste coming from these clothing factories we may just be horrified enough to not purchase.

A lot of eco-conscious fashion brands have already been mentioned but I thought I would bring one new one up that was specifically founded based on the fact that there is just so much waste of raw materials.

It is called Tonle: zero waste fashion, founded by Rachel Faller, and all of their products are made from factory scraps, and they use patterns that use 100% of the material leaving no scraps.


On November 7, 2016, Yarden commented on Wal-Mart: An Unexpected Leader in Sustainability :

Thanks for following up on the food waste questions, that is really great to know! I think something like that is really hard to implement perfectly or uniformly across so many stores because of compliance and each city having different regulations around food donations and waste, but overall I am glad they are making significant efforts in the right direction.

Regarding your packaging concern- it looks like they heard that feedback from clients and are already taking action – in the corporate responsibility report you cited they also talk about the fact that they have new box sizes and are implementing best practices which may reduce cardboard consumption by 7.2 million cubic feet annually [1]. However they are still working on rolling this out across more of their online distribution centers so it’s likely they hadn’t yet implemented it in the warehouse closest to Boston at the time you ordered your goods!

[1] http://blog.walmart.com/sustainability/20160418/in-ecommerce-packaging-sometimes-more-equals-less

On November 7, 2016, Yarden commented on The Home Depot Owning the DIY Approach to Climate Change :

Great and thorough article about THD efforts towards sustainability. It is especially important for them as a large retailer with an average footprint of 100,000 square feet, to set the standard and the example for other big box retailers when it comes to climate change impact. When comparing THD to other big box stores, it does seem that THD is doing the most towards sustainability in their stores. A few other areas I was curious about and that I thought THD should be exploring.
1. using solar panels on the parking lots and the roof to get energy to run the store (or at least help to)
2. harnessing some energy from their green houses – the plants/outdoor area of home depots are quite unique and I wonder if there is anything they could do – also figuring out a way to conserve water when needing to keep all those plants alive
3. supply chain and transportation – what are they doing to minimize truck routes and number of trucks on the road, as well as to make their supply chain more efficient?

Thanks again for a great post!

Great post Sonja and one a bit close to my heart having lived in drought-stricken California for the last 4 years, and being an almond-lover! In fact I believe the 10% of California water use quoted in your post (and often quoted by most people) is a bit of a misrepresentation because it is actually 10% of California’s agricultural water, not total water. [1]

That being said, and as much as it pains me to say because I do love almonds and almond milk, I agree with @yz2236 in that we have to question whether almond growers should be weighing the environmental impact of almond production with the benefit to the economy. Is this a crop we humans truly need to survive? I believe the answer is “no.” Almonds seem to me a bit of a luxury crop – it is not essential for us humans to live healthy long lives. Perhaps we should put a pause on growing almonds throughout the entire state. I understand almond growers would lose their livelihood but perhaps the state should be paying them some kind of pension to not grow almonds? Water shortage is a very serious issue and I do worry that if we continue to arguably waste water on a luxury crop, we will be hurting ourselves more in the future.

Finally, I agree with Javier that stopping the irrigation leaks and only reducing water needed by 33% is too late. Only once a drought was realized did farmers invest in ways to fix leaks and reuse water!? That just seems wrong!

[1] “Get The Facts About Almonds” [http://www.almonds.com/get-facts-about-almonds-and-water?mobile=1], accessed November 2016

On November 7, 2016, Yarden commented on Carbon-Cutting Is Now En Vogue :

Thank you Catherine for this great post on LVMH’s efforts towards sustainability. I found it interesting that having worked for Sephora (a beauty company owned by LVMH, and LVMH’s most profitable arm) for 4 years, I never once heard about a sustainability initiative! It’s possible that these initiatives have not yet made their way to Sephora, but I do find it a bit odd and it serves as an indicator that sustainability is not truly part of the day to day operations of the company, nor top of mind for employees. I believe that in order for sustainability initiatives to work, the entire company needs to be on board and live them each day- each employee should know what he or she needs to do to help towards that effort. At the very least I would think that simple in-office/HQ initiatives such as getting rid of plastic water bottles for meetings would be a simple measure with a significant impact. Unfortunately, that was not my experience at Sephora, where an unbelievable number of plastic water bottles were used and wasted (vs reusable water containers) for every single meeting we had with clients at our offices.

Additionally, having lived nearby to a Sephora store in San Francisco, I noticed that the lights are literally always on in the store (even overnight! I actually inquired about it once and was told that it was a security measure because the store had been broken into a few times. The lights were on to deter thieves! This seemed like a huge waste of energy and while its possible this was an isolated incident, I do believe that LVMH and Sephora can and should be doing so much more towards sustainability. One example would be to leverage the LVMH network and optimize trucks – trucks could be shared amongst the various LVMH brands when making deliveries to locations such as NYC or San Francisco (all large metro areas) where there are multiple LVMH brand stores in the same area.

Finally, as a bit of an aside, and I do not have proof or a true source, but having spoken with someone who worked for Louis Vuitton specifically, the company ultimately ends up burning unsold merchandise so it does not get into “the wrong” hands. Unsold merchandise is first put up in discount for employees but whatever remains is burned. The reason is to keep the brand “luxury” and brand equity, they don’t want any of their products being sold on discount/sale or on e-bay or other discount sites. If this secretive burning practice is true, that cannot be good for the environment!

On November 7, 2016, Yarden commented on Wal-Mart: An Unexpected Leader in Sustainability :

DK- thank you for opening the conversation about Walmart and its sustainability efforts to date. I have to disagree with you that Walmart is a leader in sustainable practices amongst large retailers, but I suppose I commend them for at least some effort in working with suppliers to impact packaging size.

The average size of a Walmart Supercenter is 179,000 square feet. They have about 3288 of these supercenters in the US and almost all of them are open 24 hours a day. [1] While it is true that Walmart is looking into opening smaller footprint “express” stores, I personally do not believe this comes from a place of caring about the environment, rather a necessity for them to penetrate the urban market. Walmart’s US President Bill Simon even described the company as wanting to capture a larger share of the $415B “quick-trip” convenience market.

Additionally, the average Home Depot is about 100,000 square feet [2], but The Home Depot is taking, in my opinion, far greater measures to impact climate change. For example, Walmart could look at the following opportunities:
1. Replace all lighting with LED which is far more sustainable
2. Put up solar panels both in the parking lot and on their building and become self-sufficient
3. Higher efficiency HVAC units
4. Implement a fuel cell program

I would also be curious to know what initiatives Walmart has in place to deal with waste. 56% of Walmart’s business in 2014 came from the grocery department [1], and this industry is notorious for not having a proper way to deal with food which has expired or fruit and vegetables that are no longer at peak freshness. Does Walmart have a composting system for these fruits and vegetables? Do they have a system set up whereby food goes to homeless shelters?

Finally, while not related directly to climate change, I thought this article about crime rates at Walmart was fascinating – not only is Walmart wasting environmental resources, they are wasting our tax dollars!


“More than 200 violent crimes, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation’s 4,500 Walmarts this year, or about one a day, according to an analysis of media reports.”[3]

I would argue that we should question what kind of economic and environmental value is Walmart truly adding to this country.

[1] 24/7 Wall St “Walmart Now Has Six Types of Stores” http://247wallst.com/retail/2014/03/22/walmart-now-has-six-types-of-stores/, 3/22/14, accessed November 2016.
[2] Time Magazine “The Bigger Box Store: Home Improvement Stores That Are Double the Size of Home Depot,” http://business.time.com/2013/03/19/the-bigger-box-store-home-improvement-stores-that-are-double-the-size-of-home-depot/, 3/19/13, accessed November 2016.
[3] Bloomberg Business Week “Walmart’s Out of Control Crime Problem is Driving Police Crazy” https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-walmart-crime/, 8/17/16, accessed November 2016.