Archive for the 'Social Commitments' Category

Be Green Packaging is a Proud Support of AHA Santa Barbara

AHA! serves teens and families year-round with after-school programs in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, a summer program in Santa Barbara, and in-school programs in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Goleta.

AHA! offers an outdoor program throughout the year, groups for parents, and donation only therapy for families in need.

AHA!’s aim is to create a community of socially and emotionally intelligent adolescents who are committed to compassion, character, positive creative expression, and the celebration of diversity.

AHA!’s innovative experiential curriculum guides teens to set goals and to stop bullying and hatred. It lends invaluable skills for understanding and managing emotions and relationships. From this place of security in themselves, teens are inspired to do good, achieve in school and serve their community.

They deliver this curriculum in a mentorship setting, with one or more facilitators always present for every six teens.

In 2012, AHA! is set to serve about 1500 teens and families. AHA! is growing because what we do works: Santa Barbara area high schools have reported decreases in truancy, disciplinary actions, and suspensions with the introduction of AHA!.

AHA!’s after-school programs offer important mentoring and learning for any teen who wants to be there. After-school programs are especially important for teens, who are most likely to get in trouble during the hours between school and dinner time. With AHA! they get structure, substance, and support to prepare them for a balanced, happy life – and healthy snacks to boot.

ALL PROGRAMS ARE FUNDED BY DONATIONS. No one is turned away for lack of funds. Go to “Program Information” to find out more about what we offer. To contribute to AHA!, go to “Donations”.

Whole Planet Foundation Thailand Trip: Day Three

Day Three

The Whole Planet Foundation journey through Thailand continues into the third day, and although we have received a brief message from Be Green CEO Ron Blitzer that the group is en route on a 3 hour car ride to Alter Eco’s rice production paddies, we have no idea of their whereabouts or activities.

IMG_7497Since the group is off-grid for the time being, let’s get acquainted with the different members participating on this excursion. The experience has revealed that the different companies represented on the trip are also triple bottom line businesses that share a passion for environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and innovative products.  Accompanying the Whole Planet Foundation and Be Green on the trip to Thailand are members from Seventh Generation, Hint Water, Hain Celestial Group, and Izze Sparkling Juices, among others.   A common thread connecting these forward thinking companies with the WPF is that they all share its philanthropic ideals and strive towards producing natural, sustainable products that create a pollution-free environment and encourage a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Seventh Generation is the nation’s leading brand of household and personal care products that help protect human health and the environment.  Their products offer a healthy solution for the air, surfaces, fabrics, pet, and people within the home and for the community.

http://www.seventhgeneration.com/

Hint Water, started in Northern California by Kara Golden, uses pure spring water and adds a splash of natural flavor to create a healthy alternative to sodas, juices, and other sweetened drinks. Hint focuses on great tasting food and healthy living.

http://www.drinkhint.com/

Genji Sushi is dedicated to the finest quality all-natural sushi and Japanese-inspired cuisine in a grab‐and‐go style. Its sushi bars are located within 138 Whole Foods Market locations in 18 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the U.K. At each location, skilled chefs prepare a variety of fresh items on‐site, including raw, cooked, vegetarian and vegan-friendly sushi and sides. The company mission is to contribute towards healthier food consumption habits on a global level.

http://www.genjiweb.com

Hain Celestial Group produces natural food and personal care products in both America and Europe and is committed to helping consumers lead a healthy lifestyle. Hain continues to implement environmentally sound business practices through quality, innovation, and value.

http://www.hain-celestial.com/

Izze Beverage Company based in Boulder, Colorado uses natural fruit juice and sparkling water with no refined sugars, preservatives, or artificial flavors.  In addition to supporting the Whole Planet Foundation, Izze also focuses it social efforts on the Global Education Fund, further emphasizing the need to focus on our children and future.

http://www.izze.com/

Be Green Packaging Joins Whole Planet Foundation Trip to Visit Microfinance Recipients in Thailand: Day 1

Whole Planet Foundation logoWith operations in 50 countries and over $224 million dollars donated since its inception in 2005, the Whole Planet Foundation is a major force for positive social change worldwide.  The WPF works with a global network of microfinance lending institutions by offering them grants, which are then disbursed to the local communities in which they operate.  These grants allow the local microfinance offices to offer what are known as microloans — typically on the order of about $100 — to members of the community.  Although a small amount by Western standards, it can be life changing for poverty stricken individuals in developing countries.  The efforts of the WPF, in conjunction with its worldwide partners, have positively influenced the lives of thousands of families and individuals, allowing them to rise to a new standard of living, which often includes access to education and other essential needs.

Every year the WPF invites some of its largest annual contributors to travel to a selected destination where they are working with microcredit lenders.  The trip is a chance for companies and individuals donating to the WPF to see the change their contributions are making firsthand. This year, the WPF invited the group to Thailand, where they will be visiting with the communities and recipients of their donations.

Be Green Packaging’s CEO Ron Blitzer joined the group for the second time following his trip to Brazil with the WPF last year.  As a founding member of the Whole Planet Foundation’s ‘Change for Change’ fund, Be Green Packaging has been involved with the organization for many years.  A long-term supporter, Blitzer was interested in seeing what kind of impact the company’s donations were having on people’s lives, this time in Southeast Asia.

Days 1-2

After arriving in Bangkok the night before, the group started the day off touring the Grand Palace where their guide educated them on the history of Thailand, it’s people and their rich culture.  They travelled through the city on some of Bangkok’s many rivers where they got a firsthand glimpse into some of the more impoverished shanty towns existing on the banks of the polluted waterways.

After a bit more sightseeing to help them adjust to the local culture, in Blitzer’s words “The real adventure began” as they boarded an all-night train to Surin to visit with the Small Enterprise Development group and microloan recipients in the field.

microfinance program

meeting with local microfinance coordinators

The group arrived at the Chamuang Village Bank house in Surin around 10am after a long, bumpy train ride.  The weather was typical of equatorial regions — hot and humid.  The local bank put together a presentation for the group covering their activities and programs in the area.

villager crafts

locals display their wares in the village of Chamuang

Chamuang is located near Tramuang in Surin province.  It is a small village consisting of roughly 650 people who make string beads, key rings and other souvenirs as their main livelihood.  The community welcomed the WPF team and the village Chief, Mr. Sonsok, spoke to the group through an interpreter.  The community leaders served a traditional lunch of rice, veggies, fruits and tea.

Blitzer and the group observed the very real effects of the microfinance efforts in the community — the people seemed happy and content and the children all had smiles on their faces as they played with the guests and among themselves.  The houses in the village were small with wood and steel siding and you could see the general prosperity the villagers enjoyed with cars and satellite dishes accompanying their homes.

cooking silkworms

locals making silk

After the visit to Chamung, the WPF group was off to another village where the locals made woven silk fabrics.  This community had been involved in microfinance programs for the past 17 years and it showed — they spun beautiful silks and gave the group a tour to see how the material was harvested from silk worms and woven into the finished goods.

The long day ended with elephant rides (yes, elephant rides) and quality time spent time with the residents of the local community.

elephant ride in thailand

getting ready for elephant rides

Stay tuned for more details of the trip as it unfolds.

CEC Invites Renowned Professors and Sustainability Experts to Present Groundbreaking Research on Local Food

As part of the Community Environmental Council’s long running Partnership Council Breakfast series, the Santa Barbara based non-profit invited UCSB Professor and internationally renowned agri-food systems expert David Cleveland and Sustainable Food Systems Consultant and Innovator Seth Nickinson to present the findings of their pioneering research into food related greenhouse gas emissions and how they relate to both local and national food systems.  While their talk specifically focused on the Santa Barbara County area, many of the ideas and concepts presented were applicable to any locale.  The research presented by the duo was both enlightening and shocking, revealing often overlooked, but hugely significant sources of greenhouse gasses from food systems (growing, harvesting, processing, transport, retailing, storage, disposal, etc.).  Additionally the duo presented ground-breaking research on how diet relates to greenhouse gas emissions and hence contributes to climate change.

For instance, by cutting out red meat and dairy from your diet just one day a week, it would be equivalent to a reduction in greenhouse grasses comparable to switching your entire diet to only locally grown food, which, while possible, can be difficult for many people.  While most scientific research done nowadays is mostly theoretical and hard to apply to real world scenarios, the research presented by Cleveland and Nickinson was at once easily understandable and accessible to those not involved in academia.  Very real changes with significant environmental impacts could be made immediately if one was so inclined to simply avoid foods or decide to focus on purchasing as many local products as possible.

The talk was moderated by Krista Harris, Editor of Edible Santa Barbara, a free-but-stylish-and-sophisticated quarterly magazine focused on the local, artisan food movement in Santa Barbara County.  Krista’s insightful commentary and knowledgeability about all things local perfectly complemented the presentation.  Anyone interested in staying up to date on the burgeoning local food movement is advised to check out her publication here: Edible Santa Barbara.

CEC Partnership Breakfast Local Food 3

Professor David Cleveland and Sustainability Consultant and Activist Seth Nickinson present ground-breaking food systems research

Save the World With $20: How Microcredit Lending Can Make a Huge Impact

It’s true, you can make a huge impact on someone’s life with only $20.   For the same price as a meal at your favorite restaurant you could fund an aspiring entrepreneur in a developing country and help them break the vicious cycle of poverty that puts a glass ceiling on what they can achieve.

In the 1980’s Muhammed Yunnus began studying societal trends in developing countries and had the incredible realization that by giving individuals small loans at fair interest rates, they could effectively lift themselves out of poverty.  Today, there are over 3,600 micro lending institutions worldwide helping over 75 million people at any given moment.

Microcredit lending works in the same way as a traditional loan, only with smaller amounts of money.  In third world countries, whose cost of living is often only a fraction of that in developed nations, it doesn’t take much capital to make a major difference.  For as little as $100 (in certain countries), an aspiring entrepreneur can open a shop or purchase supplies to start a craft or food business and ultimately lift themselves out of poverty permanently.

The infographic below created by CreditScore.net provides an excellent explanation of the microcredit concept.

Image Credit: Creditscore.net

Be Green Packaging is a long-time supporter of the Whole Planet Foundation, a international non-profit organization which has disbursed over $135 million to microcredit lending programs worldwide since its inception.  To learn more about the Whole Planet Foundation and their mission visit them here: Whole Planet Foundation.

Whole Planet Foundation and Be Green Packaging Visit Microfinance NGO’s in Brazil

whole planet microfinance client

whole planet foundation micro loan recipient

The Whole Planet Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Whole Foods Market that works to alleviate poverty via microcredit lending in communities worldwide that supply their stores with products.  By collaborating with existing microfinance infrastructure in various locations around the world, the foundation has a massive reach with programs now running in over 50 countries.  As of March 2012, the Whole Planet Foundation disbursed nearly $135 Million dollars in microfinance loans, positively impacting the lives of thousands of individuals and families.  The Whole Planet Foundation is a powerful way for Whole Foods Market and its suppliers to affect meaningful change in the communities that make their businesses possible.

sao paolo brazil

impoverished neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil

When Be Green Packaging CEO Ron Blitzer was invited to join the supplier alliance on the recent Whole Planet Foundation International Field Visit to Brazil, he jumped at the opportunity.  As a founding member of the Whole Planet Foundation’s ‘Change for Change’ fund, Be Green Packaging has been involved with the organization for many years. As a long-term supporter, Blitzer was interested in seeing just what kind of impact the company’s donations were having on people’s lives.

Both a founder and board member, Ron has banking experience due to his involvement with the Bank of Santa Barbara.  During the trip to Brazil, he experienced the banking process on a much smaller scale, as the amounts typically offered in microfinance loans are in the range of $150 – $250.  Although small by American standards, these sums allowed program participants to start businesses and help raise themselves and their families out of poverty.

loan being finalized at the Banco de Povo

loan being finalized at the Banco de Povo

While in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the group met with the leadership at the Banco Do Povo (a non-profit NGO that works with the Whole Planet Foundation), where donors experienced first hand the effects that the microloans had on the lives of the Brazilian entrepreneurs.

“What was amazing to me was to be able to see a family signing the documents and receiving a check to start a business. While the amount was only $150 dollars, the expression, excitement and amazement on the faces of the borrowers was exactly the same as it was at the Bank of Santa Barbara.  The amounts really do not matter when a banker lends you money it is always transformative.” stated Blitzer of the experience.

Whole Planet Foundation supplier group

Whole Planet Foundation supplier group

He went on to comment, “As a triple bottom line company, Be Green’s business model and focus on sustainability maintains that supporting people and the planet are as important to us as sales and profits.  Contributing and aligning ourselves with micro finance helps us meet our organizational and personal missions. It’s not just about biodegradable packaging, its about building a sustainable business model and making a positive impact on people and the planet as a whole.  Working with the Whole Planet Foundation is one of the ways in which we can have a direct, meaningful impact by helping to alleviate poverty worldwide.”

Be Green Packaging has a long-standing relationship with Whole Foods Market as the supplier of the compostable and recyclable bulrush food containers used in the Prepared Foods, Meat and Seafood, and Produce departments.

About Whole Planet Foundation

Founded in 2005, Whole Planet Foundation is a Whole Foods Market foundation that funds poverty alleviation worldwide where the company sources products. The nonprofit’s mission is to empower the poor living in developing-world communities with microcredit and the chance to create or expand a home-based business and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. As of December 2011, Whole Planet Foundation is funding microlending programs through microfinance institutionpartners in 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the U.S., supporting over one million people with a chance for a better life. To date, the nonprofit has authorized more than $26.5 million and disbursed more than $16.5 million through microlending partners worldwide. Learn more and donate online at wholeplanetfoundation.org.

About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging LLC, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradlecm certified, tree-free, compostable and recyclable packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries. The company’s products are made from annually renewable plant fibers that are safe for people and healthy for the planet. For more information about the company, please visit Be Green Packaging.  To order Be Green products visit the Be Green Packaging Store here Biodegradable Packaging

Community Environmental Council of Santa Barbara Hosts Talks on Impacts of Plastics and Emerging Alternatives

KathiKingSpeechEvery few months the Community Environmental Council, one of Santa Barbara’s most prominent and active environmental organizations, hosts a breakfast lecture and discussion featuring thought leaders and innovators  who come together to speak on a theme.  On May 31st, 2012, the CEC brought together a group of community leaders to speak on the topic of plastics and their impacts on the local and global environment.

The CEC’s own Kathi King spoke first, highlighting the significant problems faced by a world addicted to plastics.  Kathi made it clear to all in attendance that while significant gains are being made in the efforts to reduce plastic waste, such as the recent Santa Barbara and Los Angeles plastic bag bans, there is still much work that needs to be done.

ProfDawnOsbornProfessor Dawn Osborn from Antioch University spoke next bringing attention to the substantial plastic waste and debris accumulating at various UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico.  Her insightful talk also covered the unknown effects of plastic debris on endangered sea turtles and the powerful role of education as a tool for change.

RonBlitzerSpeechRounding out the mornings talks was Ron Blitzer, CEO & President of Be Green Packaging, a local Santa Barbara company that manufactures recyclable and biodegradable packaging for the food and consumer industries. Ron presented the story of his company which highlighted their plant fiber packaging as a very real and functional alternative to traditional plastic packaging.  Ron talked about the benefits of plant fiber packaging, the company’s extensive list of eco-social certifications, the current success of various partnerships with companies like Whole Foods Market and Gillette (P&G), and the biggest hurdles Be Green faces in trying to compete with cheap plastic packaging.  Ron also spoke about Be Green’s new domestic manufacturing facility in Jasper County, South Carolina– the first non-tree plant fiber packaging manufacturing operation in North America.

As always, the event was a resounding success, encouraging thoughtful discussion on events theme of plastics and their eco-social context and impacts.

ProGlidePack


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About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.